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Khamma Ghani BRM 600 - the Ride Marshal's point of view

The Cycling Club of Baroda (TCCB) conducted Khamma Ghani BRM 600 on February 18, 2023.

For every Randonneur, a BRM 600 is an important milestone, because it is the last

step in achieving their coveted Super Randonneur (SR) Title.

In typical TCCB tradition, the flag off was in the wee hours of Saturday morning.

29 brave hearts push off to battle with all vigor and spirit!

The route starts from Vadodara towards Hotel Sun N Shine in Manglej village, where team members Vikas and Sachin take care of timing and stamping rider's brevet cards before the riders move towards Halol highway. The first Marshal, Burzin, catches up with the riders on the Halol highway, cheering them as he passes by, clicking pictures whenever possible.

And then the Marshal gets a call that all marshals fear: A rider has met with an accident!

In typical randonneuring spirit, the co-riders assist the injured rider, while help arrives.

Rushing to the spot in minutes, the Marshal finds that a participant has indeed been hit by a speeding motorcycle!

Requesting the other riders to carry on with their BRM, the marshal takes the rider and his damaged bicycle to safety in a nearby hotel and waits till the rider establishes contact with one of his family members to arrange a ride back home.

Providing some intermittent relief to the rider and after confirming that his ride back home is minutes away, the marshal pushes off again towards the rest of the riders.

The riders continue their journey towards the next control point, trying to push themselves as much as they can, before the sun rises atop their heads and the noon heat sets in.

Entering Godhra Bypass, the riders start taking short breaks at Hotel Trupti.

But past noon, the heat starts taking a toll on the riders, making them severely dehydrated and weary. Sadly, two seasoned riders decide that they just can't push further and hence, they inform the Marshal in-charge that they are quitting. They arrange their own transport back home, conceding to fight another day.

Riders are consistently moving towards the next control point, Shahi Satluj Dhaba (Makhan Singh), in Dokva village. The second Marshal car, with experienced riders and Marshals, Parthiv and Divyajeet, reaches the control point in time to start receiving the first batch of riders rolling into the control point, exhausted.

At this point, the riders have ridden around 154 kilometers on their bicycles, in the heat and highway traffic and really need some rest and lunch.

Taking such rider needs into account is one of the most important aspect of BRM route Planning. So, the riders start relishing their well-deserved meals, while other riders keep rolling in. The marshals at hand, Parthiv and Divyajeet, efficiently make all necessary control point records, while also managing the ordering and distribution of the rider lunches.

After a while, the first marshal, Burzin, rolls in with the last batch of riders to the same control point and all the riders continue with their lunch and rest breaks.

Coordination between marshal cars is also crucial now, because by this point, riders have gotten distributed into small groups, in accordance with their individual paces. So the two marshal cars continue with their daunting task of keeping an eye out for as many riders as they can, before the sun sets for the day.

As the riders start arriving into the city of Modasa, they face the hurdles or rash drivers and heavy traffic. Here, one more rider is forced to quit due to such issues and the marshals help him out in procuring transport to his hometown.

By now, the sun has set and as the darkness falls, groups of riders begin to strategize. The faster of the bunch decide to not waste time and cover as much ground as they can, before they can take a big break. While others settle in at nearby eateries to refuel themselves.

One rider from the last bunch decides that it's been about 250 kilometers till that point and he doesn't want to push further. So at 09:30 pm, following protocol, he informs the marshals of his decision and takes refuge in a nearby temple at night, with the informed consent of the temple caretakers.

Still 85+ kilometers to the next control point, the riders dining in Modasa, pack up to begin their arduous climbs in Rajasthan.

All riders, at their own pace, battle the climbs of Rajasthan while also facing totally different temperature range than what they faced during the day.

Some riders face punctures, in the dead of the night, adding to their struggles. However, the Randonneuring Spirit kicks in and co-riders begin helping each other out, to get the gang back on the road.

Marshal Burzin stays in pursuit of the trailing riders, while Marshals Parthiv and Divyajeet move forward to the next control point, Bittu Da Dhaba, which is the turn-around point in this challenging BRM. They reach there to make sure all arrangements are in place BEFORE the exhausted riders roll in.

The tired souls finally start pouring in at the control point, have a quick midnight bite and rush on to their assigned hotel rooms to grab as much shuteye as they can, before restarting the next morning.

The same time-proven pattern continues. Batches of riders roll in, have a bite to eat, take an hour or two of sleep, freshen up and then push off onto the highways again!

The last rider reaches the turnaround point at 02:50 AM, well in time, inspite of all the hardships faced.

How do they do it.... one may ask?

Well, my personal observation? SHEER WILLPOWER and DETERMINATION!

As the sun begins to rise over the sands of Rajasthan, the battle is only half-won. Now begins the tedious return leg of 300 odd kilometers back home.

One more rider decides to forfeit, as she just doesn't feel the energy to ride all the way back.

With a heavy heart, her bicycle is loaded up on the marshal's car, as the begin their journey back.

But the rest of the riders are rested, freshened up and ready to give their best shot.

All the small groups continue at a consistent pace towards Modasa, taking small tea and "Bhajiya" (a popular snack) breaks along the way.

Marshal Burzin receives another phone call just as he starts from the turnaround point, that one rider has fallen ill along the way, just a few kilometers beyond the previous control point. So, with one bicycle already mounted up on the car rack, Burzin reaches the location described by the sick rider. He seems pretty shaken up and informs us that he is feeling really ill and doesn't have the energy to move further. So we get his bicycle mounted up as well, and then they move ahead. Taking a short snack break along the way, Burzin gets him something to eat, making him feel better.

In the pattern similar to the previous day, one marshal car leads the first group of fast riders, while the other marshal car trails the slower riders, towards the finish point.

The morning continues uneventfully and the riders carry on towards the next control point, along with the temperature steadily rising again as the day progresses. Burzin and his band of merry passengers continue cheering up all riders they meet along the way, refuelling themselves AND their car, all the while clicking photos too.

Shahi Satluj Dhaba is the upcoming control point and riders start rolling in. Ever helpful marshals Parthiv and Divyajeet have already reached there, picking up one rider with them along the way, who was severely dehydrated.

The regular formalities ensue a late afternoon lunch for the riders reaching there.

Just as Burzin is about to reach this control point, he again gets a call from one rider, informing him of a severe case of hit and run. Quickly getting into action, Burzin drops off the 2 bicycles and its riders at the control point and rushes to the aid of the rider at the accident site, which is 14 kilometers away.

Reaching there, he finds a group about to break into a brawl with the rider but he quickly pacifies the situation, mounts up the damaged bicycle and makes a swift exit back to the control point. Thankfully, the rider has not sustained any injures.

As this control point closes towards the later part of the afternoon, the riders have conquered 500 kilometers in their arduous journey, with the last 100 kilometers to go!

Spirits are high as the riders push themselves through Hotel Trupti at Godhra Bypass and then towards Kalol, leading them towards Halol highway.

All riders are doping themselves with sugarcane juices, coconut water, fruits and the ever-popular Badam Shakes as they pedal hard towards glory!

But as luck would have it, one more rider faces an accident with an over speeding autorickshaw at the 590-kilometer mark!

Taking into account his injuries and the damage to his bicycle, he has no option but to quit and return home.

The final cut off time for a BRM 600 is 40 hours from flag off, which, in this case would come to 10:00 PM Sunday night.

The rest of the riders finally reach the finish point at Malhar Point, Old Padra Road, Vadodara, where they are welcomed by team member Pooja.

The evening is livened up by friends and family joining in to welcome the finishers at Malhar point where a few riders break into festivities to celebrate their accomplishment of their Super Randonneur (SR) title.

I would like to personally congratulate all participants of this challenging BRM 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

This BRM has been a tough one, especially with all the accidents, injuries and DNF scenarios.

But rising to the challenge and facing it head on are what makes a good RANDONNEUR !

A big round of applause for all those who achieved their Super Randonneur (SR) title with this ride ! A very commendable feat !


Burzin Mysorewala

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