Bhubaneswar: It’s not always about speed or miles or knackering the muscles. But when all three come together with a peloton of highly motivated riders, the all night adventure of “Cycling Under the Stars” could turn into a memory of a lifetime!
This is what BCAC witnessed in the fourth edition of “Cycling Under The Stars”.
Coastal Odisha has been hit with a massive cyclone “Fani” which caused catastrophic devastation in the district of its landfall on 3rd May, 2019. Puri was the worst affected followed by Bhubaneswar, Khurda, Cuttack and other parts. The world famous “Puri-Konark Marine Drive” has lost its green canopy cover and so is the greenery of Puri, Konark and Bhubaneswar. BCAC flagship summer adventure “Cycling under the Stars – 2019” has to be postponed for Fani and rescheduled to 8th of June. Although drifted about a month from its original schedule, the josh was high among the cycling fanatics of BCAC, who were on their toes when we proposed the ride on Saturday, 8th of June 2019.
As planned near about 50 riders with all their night riding apparel and serviced bikes assembled at BCAC Club House at VIR-11. The youngest rider, who joined the peloton was Achintya (Ram) aged 11 years. This time only single lady rider Twinkle joined the night-crawlers on her brand new Scott Speedster 30. All riders received a warm welcome with sacred tilak and flowers followed by hydration and snacks. After mandatory bike check for helmets, front and rear lights and reflective clothing, riders assembled for a group snap cheering BCAC and the theme of ride – #RebuildOdisha. Riders were provided with personalized name badges for the “Cycling Under The Stars – Season-4”.
By 6:30PM the Season-4 of Cycling Under the Stars was flagged off by Mr. Lalit Das, ADG along with the president of BCAC, Mr. Sanjeeb Panda, ADG (both are senior IPS officers holding respected positions in the State Government) and are co-riders of this event. With bright front lights, reflective vests and flashing red tail-lamps the riders dressed in Neon-Green were creating an illusion of a green wave on the busy roads of Bhubaneswar. The peloton moved through AG Square, RajMahal, Kalpana Square, Ravi Talkies, Lingipur to touch the highway near Daya Bridge. All riders were riding in groups with cheering voices which was quite an eye-catcher for the public. The ride went quite smooth on the Bhubaneswar-Puri NH through Pipili Bypass, where we took a brief halt at about 20KMs mark.
Refreshment with hydration was well organized at this pit-stop by our super-efficient support staff Prakash, Rana and Manas. Though this was Shukla Sasthi (the sixth day of bright fortnight of lunar calendar), the moon was yet to appear as the sky was full of clouds. After crossing Uttara Chowk, it was literally pitch dark in the absence of any road lights and lights from the villages nearby. Cyclone Fani has literally uprooted almost 90% of Electric Poles and most of the villages are still waiting for restoration of electricity even after one month of this massive devastation.
After a brief halt, the peloton moved forward towards SakhiGopal which was another 20 odd Kms from this point. Disciplined riders rode in a single file along with the National Highway creating a well-organized group ride of this year. The darkness of the night was quite soothing and to our surprise, this year there was absolutely no headwind. This supportive atmosphere offered quite solace to the riders, eventhough the nigh time temperature was around 30/31 degrees Celsius with quite a bit of humidity. We were drenched with sweat, but riding in the night has its own charm and pleasure. All riders enjoyed thoroughly the roads while guarding our youngest rider for oncoming traffic and other road conditions.
Ride was quite smooth till SakhiGopal and we made a halt after the flyover bridge for refreshment. Some of the riders savored nicely prepared Indian sake while others enjoyed fresh cucumbers, alu-chop, ORS and cool water. Regaining the energy, riders moved forward to Bata-Mangala Temple which was our next brief halt for the night. We received gracious darshan of the Goddess and took her blessings to make our summer night adventure safe from any unforeseen event. There is an age-old belief that blessings from Goddess Bata-Mangala keep all travelers safe during their journey to Jagannath Dham – Puri.
Soon after we headed forward to Shri Jagannath Temple over the famous Athar-Nala (18 Channel bridge) that connects Puri to rest of the world since ages. Rolling over the Bada Danda (Grand Road), all riders were filled with ecstatic joy of having a Grand Darshan of Shri Jagannath Temple and the Nilachakra with Patitapaban. We offered our prayers for the people affected by Fani and took an oath to #RebuildOdisha while inspiring people to take care of nature and save the natural habitats. After a brief halt, prolonged photo-sessions and media interaction, we moved to our dinner point at WildGrass restaurant, a patron of Odisha Cuisines and Culture. We met with Yugabrata (Bubu), who was our host for the night with his never-blemishing smile. All riders received a warm welcome at Wild Grass with fragrant towels soaked with ice, which literally took away all the pain of cycling under a hot Summer Night. We had a sumptuous dinner with mouth-watering dishes and the famous Odia Dalma (A blend of lentils along with different vegetables and a signature dish of Odisha). After taking rest for some time, all riders are recharged for the most demanding stretch of the ride on the world famous Marine Drive Road from Puri to Konark.
The feeling on this patch of the ride was no less than a Royal King’s Parade! With the sound of horns, music and shouts of the “HhhhhhhUuuuuMmmmPppppppSssssss”, this stretch never actually let the spirit down even while covering 100th kilometer. It was pitch dark with absolutely no electricity in this stretch. The Ghost Talks added a bit of chillness to the rider and all riders were riding in a single group all along. After almost 10Kms from Puri, the group got divided into two. Around 30-35 riders stayed in the leading peloton and others stayed in the back supporting the newbies. Suddenly one of our support vehicles met with an incident and got stuck in the middle of nowhere. Though there was nothing major, but the trailing peloton has to halt for certain time to get the vehicle straight and running again. The circumstance around this incident was indicating something shady, although in BCAC we don’t ever promote any such beliefs without proof.
We all reached Chandrabhaga Sea Beach safely around 2:30AM in the night and stopped for an hour for a quick nap on the sandy sea-bed. Some riders felt the company of sea-crabs on the sandy beds of the beach and some could find another opportunity to trek small distances in the moon-lit beach of Chandrabhaga. This part was the real “Cycling Under the Stars” part of the ride with absolutely no electricity, pitch dark roads and the growl of wild foxes, jackals and dogs.
By 4:00AM all riders geared up for the third leg of this Night Ride through Konark Sun Temple, Gop (Village) and Nimapada. We halted briefly at Gop to have a morning tea and moved on towards Pipili through Nimapada route. The day was coming brighter and the sun was getting hotter. With the pleasant morning winds and soothing greens of villages we rode back to Pipili for a breakfast at road-side location. By 9:30AM all riders reached back at Bhubaneswar (after covering 160+kms distance) with a bag full of memories, a refreshed mind and a little tired body along with an unquenchable thirst for riding the same patch again – that too under the stars.
The arrangement was splendid with precise planning and superb execution by team BCAC, and especially by Sanjeeb, Ajay and Santosh. And with that we are supported by winds and clouds as compared to last year of Cycling Under the Stars. The Season-4 of Cycling Under the Stars was so enchanting that almost all the riders completed this ride without a single casualty (except a single puncture throughout the entire route). Biranchi, who was spending his leave also joined as a volunteer with the group. Ajay finished this ride on Raleigh Classic Man (single-speed and the highly sought-after dowry demand of 70s and 80s), while Sujit Goswami, Dr. Manas Baisakh and Brajendu Das partnered on the tandem bike for the stretch.
Sujit Mishra, Dr. Utkal, Rakesh Das, Srikant Dash, Sanjay Patra, Sai Maheswar Biswal, Anshul Srivastav, Shudhanshu Gupta, Srinivas Sahu, Yash, Manan, Raj Kumar Gunwant, Sujit Goswami, Dharmendra Panda, Siba Shankar Senapati, Bijay Das, Dr. Manas, K Balaji Subudhi, K Tirumal Kumar, Soumya Ranjan Biswal, M. Vidyasagar, Kumar Devadutta, Amit Paikaray, Shakti Prasad Parida, Kshirod, Twinkle Mohanty, Divyanshu, Manoj Prusty, Kamlesh Soni, Rashmi Ranjan Swain, Brajendu Bhusan Das, Manas Ranjan, Pramod Patra, Udaynath, Biswajit Tarai, Harish, Shankar Lal Sharma, Achintya (Ram), Abhiman Bhanjan, Budheswar, Gangadhar Nayak, Lalit Das, Ashirvad Patnaik, Santosh Rout, Ajay Nanda, and Sanjeeb Panda were part of this grueling whole night crazy adventure ride.
BCAC takes this opportunity to thank Yugabrata (Bubu), Nata Babu and their team along with Biranchi, Prakash, Rana and Manas for their support to make this season of Cycling Under The Stars a memorable event. Hereunder are a few observations made by our participants of Season-4:
“OMG… What a lovely memories I have created for lifetime during the event – Riding under the Star. Conceptualized, Organised and Executed with utmost care and perfection. A ride which all riders including 11 year Ram (I must appreciate the kid) and a lone lady Twinkle could do with ease. All stops were carefully planned and personally cared by Sanjeeb ji, Ajay and their team relentlessly throughout the journey. A bow to all of you for your efforts and the passion for BCAC. Thanks to you all” – Sudhanshu K Gupta
“This is by far the most disciplined ride and BCAC complements all the participants. The group bonding was at its best. Ajay and Santosh have once again organised everything with minute details. Bubu has been our perfect partner as usual. The support from Prakash and Rana is the strength of our event management. Young kid Ram continues to inspire us. The lone girl Twinkle, Goswami-Das duo on tandem bike, Ajay on the highly sought after dowry demand item of a Raleigh cycle couple of decades back are the few riding remembrances.
Weather was the best with minimal head wind and no rain, and a pleasant summer night. Welldone BCAC…” – Sanjeeb Panda
“I have planned this ride with my buddy Manas and BB Das Sir on a tandem bike. We enjoyed every bit of the road while riding on a tandem gave a wonderful opportunity to connect with my cycling partners. That quick powernap on Chandrabhaga beach was quite refreshing. This was one of the most memorable rides for me with our Club. Enjoyed every minute of it.” – Sujit Goswami