Wheels have fascinated me, be it cars, bikes or bicycles. During my college days I dreamt of building a factory that will make world class motorcycles. Somehow post college as I started working in software I felt that the dream died down. I still kept the passion alive by riding first a Royal Enfield Thunderbird and then a 1960's Willys Jeep. Even when we started The Bike Affair, I was not sure that we will make bikes. But we have finally managed to make them.
We travelled far and wide, rode many a mile on the bike, visited many factories across the world and discussed with God knows how many individuals. After extensive tests finally Astr brand is born and we have the bikes with us now. Over this period I have ridden prototypes of the actual bikes for close to two years. But still riding the fully completed bike is quite a bit different from riding the prototype.
Last saturday we had the Bidar ride which was organized along with GoUnesco's heritage run @ Bidar. Initially I thought of riding the Surly Ogre which is a 29er with rigid fork and built as a sturdy go anywhere touring bike. We felt that the tyres were too wide for a highway ride and wasnt too sure about taking it. When Dharma said he was taking his fixie I decided that I will also join him on the Sidewinder. I had the yellow 52 cm demo bike with red rims. A flashy nice bike I should say.
Initially I thought of putting on bull horn handle bars, but we had only the black ones and it didnt go well on the bike and we replaced it with the stock riser handle bar. I did lower the quill stem to make it a little bit more aggressive. I didnt have any time to borrow the bottle cage adapter from Dani for the ride. So I didnt have much of a choice but to carry the bottle in one of my jersey pockets.
On the D-Day we assembled at BHEL and were glad to have the support vehicle from Karnataka Tourism. We had about 15 riders starting off with a mix of all kinds of bikes from Aero road bikes to Fixies. As soon as the ride started off the roadies and Teja pushed away and I started at a steady pace. Slowly Raushan and I found our tempo matching and enjoyed riding together. Akshay joined 10-15 mins later and within no time we reached Sangareddy and stopped for breakfast. The faster group was almost done with breakfast and pushed off. The roads were good and no steep uphill or downhills, in other words perfect fixie territory. I didnt miss the higher gears much and was trying to be in Zone 2 at a moderate speed. The next stop point came a little too early and was easily avoidable, but we did stop anyways. People often refer to fixies as gearless.These are single speed bikes with gears, but with a single gear ratio rather than many gear ratios. I was riding the stock gear ratio of 42/18 which translates to quite a relaxed gearing. So it is reaonably easy on the climbs, but can demand quite a high cadence while riding downhill (or atleast I thought so till I came home and did some maths).
The ride after Zaheerabad was supposed to be a short one, but seemed never ending because of the winds and the heat. I enjoyed Raushan's company during this hard ride. We finally reached the Bidar fort and were greeted by the roadies. We took our own time and the start of the return was delayed by a flat on Akshay's bike.
We eventually did start back and I tried a few times to stick to one of the roadies wheels. It was quite exciting to ride with high cadence in the draft, but it was tiring as well. Most of us reached Zaheerabad together. Raushan hadnt been feeling well for the last few days and decided to take a bus at Zaheerabad.
By this time, the fatigue was setting in and the prospect of tackling some bad and narrow highway traffic in the night was tempting us to join Raushan. But we kept going, I had to take a break at Zaheerabad and stopped at a shop with Teja. We flagged down Karthik and decided we will ride together for the evening.
About 15kms before Sadashivpet, Teja was tempted by seeing a sugarcane truck and we stopped. My butt was quite thankful and the tired body was asking for all the sugar we could get. While munching on sugarcanes and discussing Novak Djokovic's invinsibility on the tennis court we spoke to Raushan. The surprise was that he had some issues with the bus and hadnt taken the bus. So he had started riding and overtaken us when we had stopped without us noticing him. The mental strength needed to complete a 600km brevet is remarkable and Raushan had just completed one a couple of months ago. So we knew he would be able to manage without issues.
The sun had almost set and we pushed off as a team. In this entire journey the bike was just doing its job and I had as such no issues. I realized that the front wheel bearing lock nut was a little too tight and if adjusted the wheel would rotate more smoothly, but it wasnt much of an issue.
Karthik wanted to drop off at Sadashivpet as a not so friendly trucker had driven him off the road for no apparent reason. But he somehow changed his mind when he realized that we were just 18kms from Sangareddy. Amongst the three I was suffering the most physically, but didnt want to give up. I was extremely lucky to have two more riders, with their lights and motivation helping me. So off we started to Sangareddy. By this time we were riding in a single file and I was leading most of the time so that I could restrict the pace given that I was suffering the most and with the lowest gear ratio. Once we crossed Sangareddy we felt almost as if we were home and just kept going.
My onward average speed was about 23.5km & return was around 24 till my cyclo-computer battery died. So the average cadence was around 85 which is slightly on the lower side. Post ride analysis conclusion is to do more high cadence drills as 85 shouldnt be that difficult to maintain. Just like most things in life, we see things which we dont have and try to find reasons why things wont work. But at the end of the day, it is more about how determined one is and then you start appreciating how good things are and how they are more than enough for you to achieve what you desire. For this bidar ride all I needed was a 42/18 ratio on a fixie, and to make life easy I had a damn good fixie.