A Brief Overview of the Grueling 14-day K2K Cycling Ultramarathon
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K2K – successfully concluded the first of its kind India, multi-day and multi-stage, cycling ultramarathon.
K2K – Kashmir to Kanyakumari, 3650 km, 14 days and altitude aggregating more than 20500 meters.
14 riders were selected and registered, 11 started and 8 of them successfully finished the same with the mission of decongesting roads by using cycles as means of transport and handing over a better planet as a legacy to the next generations.
What I feel is we are abusing natural resources and polluting the planet too much and utilizing the share of generations to come.
K2K was organized in India for the first time by Dr. Chiro Priyo Mitra founded Delhi Randonneurs under the aegis of the World Ultra Cycling Association.
Journey started from Srinagar, J&K, on 25th Feb 2023 and concluded at Kanyakumari, the Southernmost tip of India.
I started the race with seasoned riders from throughout India and one from North America – Dr. Pawan Dhingra, Shashi Patole, Jasmit Wadhwa, Muneet Puri, Nitin Saini, Sakthi Raja, Lloyd Qadras, Manish Jain, Ashutosh Vyas, and Deepanshu Nihlani.
Out of this team, Lloyd and Sakthi were forced to quit in between owing to knee injuries, and Deepanshu was disqualified for using discreet support from motorized vehicles which were not allowed, and then was caught by Dr. Chiro Mitra.
We rode across the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamilnadu covering the full longitudinal length of India from North to South.
We started at bone-chilling zero degrees and as we advanced towards the south, it started becoming hotter and burning hot.
Roads were full of climbs starting from Srinagar and then after Nagpur to Bengaluru.
As we were heading south, headwinds started getting stronger and stronger.
Had a very good experience interacting with and enjoying local cultures in all these states.
Getting overwhelming respect and treatment at multiple places but not to mention Tamilnadu will be unfair.
Fantastic roads, no dust, no wrong-side traffic, pothole-free roads, and a lot of nice nutritious food by the roadside made my experience in the state fantastic.
Multiple challenges were faced in terms of bad roads, dust, pollution, irresponsible and wrong-side traffic, and mischievous four-wheeler drivers on road honking badly.
Trying to run us down, making fun of us, shouting at us, technical issues with bikes, barren highways with no water or food outlets for miles where we had to cope with varying temperatures day and night, no food or water available for miles on NH 44 especially in states on MP, Maharastra, Telangana, and Andhra.
Body aches and other physical issues because of ultra-long cycling hours, sleeplessness, and delusions where I had started seeing mirages.
Before getting into the journey…
Meet the Mind Behind the Words: Sanjeev Rattan
What started as a hobby and a frustration with traffic jams, soon became a passion. Sanjeev, 50 years old rider from Delhi, India, started cycling in 2016, and today, he rides long-distance multi–day ultra-marathons. He hopes to reduce their carbon footprint by cycling and motivating people to choose a healthier and more sustainable alternative.
For the said purpose, Sanjeev had earlier finished G2G, Delhi – Mumbai, and B2B, Delhi – Kolkata rides. Both were around 1500 km and completed in 5 days. Twice, he has completed Golden Triangle rides covering Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, and back to Delhi apart from 250kms races.
He has already been working towards spreading the message of a greener planet with multiple BRMs and has earned 7 Super Randonneur titles in the last 4 years from Audax Club Parisien, France by doing multiple 200, 300, 400, and 600 km BRMs.
Professionally, Sanjeev leads businesses in securing data and networks, transforming data into tangible outcomes,s and contributing to safe and sustainable earth by securing efficiencies through digital solutions for Defence, Law Enforcement, Smart Cities, Utilities, Telecom, and IoT networks.
Day 1 – 25th Feb 2023 – Srinagar to Madhopur – 300 km Elevation Gain 4806 Meters
It was the beginning of my longest cycling race. Highly excited. We started at 0400 hrs.
Just as we started, my rear tubeless tire went flat. Couldn’t do much with Tubeless but added a tube to the tire and started.
All this process delayed my start by around 45 minutes. Temperatures were still sub-zero. As we progressed, my hands and feet were getting numb.
On top of that, there was no tea or coffee stall open till almost 0800 hrs.
By then, had completed around 70 km. The road was nice, with a lot of security cover in Kashmir.
Patrolling parties stopped us at a couple of places to understand who we were and what were we trying to achieve.
Explained them briefly and they seemed quite happy and cheered us up. Soldiers in passing vehicles were saluting us.
As the day progressed, I started seeing beautiful snow-clad peaks and fortunately got a roadside eatery open where we could have some tea.
This place was a few km before Qazigund. By now, I had crossed Avantipora, and Anantnag and was heading south.
I covered another 25 km and reached the Qazigund Banihal tunnel.
As I reached the tunnel entrance and was talking to the in charge there for crossing the tunnel, my front tire went flat.
Again the same process started.
So ultimately, started again after inserting a tube in my front tubeless tire and I was back to basics and now both my tubeless tires were with tubes.
Cycles are not allowed in the tunnel but we had special permission from the National Highways Authority of India for this race.
We followed the same all the way.
So NHAI had instructed the tunnel operator company to block traffic on both the North and South ends so that cyclists can pass safely.
The length of the tunnel is around 9 km. We had an escort vehicle following us with no traffic in the tunnel.
Wow, it was an amazing experience.
On the lighter side, for the first time, I felt cyclists are also treated as VIPs with 9 km of tunnel made trafficless for them.
So I passed the tunnel and then started towards Banihal.
Till now, everything was smooth, gradual climb but the gradient was not so high, the road was smooth, and not much of a headwind.
The moment I crossed the tunnel, we could experience a headwind and it was downhill for around 2 km.
Then comes the moment, bad road, shooting stones, nice climb, strong headwinds, and unruly traffic.
Tunnel construction is going on in Banihal and also there were landslides and shooting stones every few kilometers.
It was 1300 hrs and we had done only 100 km. Flats and climbs had taken a toll on time. From there we started towards Ramban and Ramsu.
Then comes the nightmare – it was a bad road and a traffic jam of around 20 km in mountains, and even taking a cycle was an issue.
In the backdrop, you can see the huge queue. Here I left the highway for some time and entered the city of Ramban to avoid traffic jams.
The city route was better but still too crowded because vehicles had started passing through Ramban.
There I came to know that vehicles moving north, towards Srinagar, had been in jam for more than 48 hours.
By now headwind had become stronger, and the climb was quite high, could see that I have to reach the peak of the mountain and then the downhill ride will start.
So it was around 27 km of climb with a very high gradient. I had come out of the valley and was heading towards the mountain.
Dust, traffic, climb and cold headwinds had started giving me a tough time.
But the scenic beauty was amazing keeping me excited all the time.
Was feeling hungry but finding an eatery was a challenge. Had lunch at around 170 km, around 2 km before we reached Chennai – Nashari tunnel.
This is a newly built tunnel, 9.8 km, the longest in India.
Had the same experience as earlier, the tunnel was blocked for traffic and cyclists passed through the same.
The moment I crossed half the tunnel, the headwind became so strong that it was taking not letting me move.
After crossing the tunnel, the high-gradient downhill started.
As the road was twisting, the headwind was turning cross headwind and on downhill, I could feel the cycle moving away from me.
Took a break at around 180 km. Had tea and again started after around 20 mins.
By then, it was around 1700 hrs and the sun had started setting. Another 130 km were left for the day.
Reached Udhampur and the sun had set. From Udhampur, our route was through Mansar Lake towards Samba.
So I took a turn from Udhampur towards Mansar Lake to avoid Jammu.
By now it was getting dark.
It was a double road with no divider, pitch dark, through a forest, no habitation for long distances, full of potholes, and high gradient climb for almost 50 km.
After 50 km, it was downhill for almost 20 km but I couldn’t take advantage of that because of the darkness. Hit NH44 again at Samba.
Now around 42 km were left and it was around 2300 hrs and had started getting cold with dense dew. Was feeling very hungry.
Had 40 minutes break for dinner and restarted.
Then came the patch where the road was literally like grated cheese.
Had to walk for around 5 km since was not in a condition to afford another puncture or tire burst.
Reached our night transit by 0230 hrs the next day. Had a shower and hit the bed for a few hours of sleep. The alarm is set for 0530 hrs.
Day 2 – 26th Feb 2023 Madhopur to Rajpura – 274 km Elevation Gain 964 Meters
Got up with great difficulty at around 0600 hrs. Brushed and went to a restaurant for breakfast. Had breakfast half asleep.
Got ready. Checked bike. Cleaned chain and applied lube.
The weather is becoming more comfortable now. Hit the road again at around 0800 hrs.
Day 2 was more flat terrain passing through the states of Punjab, and Himachal Pradesh, and then entering Punjab again through Pathankot, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, and then Rajpura.
After starting from Madhopur, after around 18 km, we took a left turn towards Jalandhar.
The straight road was going towards Amritsar.
There was a nice climb for around 3 km. Reached the peak.
There was a temple and a lot of monkeys by the roadside. Nice road and very less headwind till around 0900 hours.
Nice downhill for around 3 km, the cycle had hit speeds of around 45 Kmph on that descent.
Then started headwinds, the road was nice. There were stalls of sugarcane and orange juice by the roadside every few km.
A friend came riding almost 80 km to meet and cheer up. Was a pleasant surprise.
Traffic started increasing once we reached Jalandhar. Had covered around 140 km by 1400 hrs and had a lunch break.
Started after around 45 minutes. This part of the highway was quite busy and headwinds were there.
A lot of eateries around. Every few km, one can find nice eateries along with KFC, Mcdonald’s, Domino, etc.
Most of the places have clean washrooms so a comfortable zone except for heavy traffic.
Was riding on the highway crossing Ludhiana, Khanna, and Sirhind and then reached Rajpura at around 2200 hrs.
By now, saddle sores and sleeplessness had started showing their effect.
After showering and dinner, hit the bed at around 0000 hrs but my body ache was not letting me sleep.
So at around 0200 hrs, took a muscle relaxant pill and slept.
Day 3 – 27th Feb 2023 Rajpura to Gurgaon – 275 km Elevation gain 858 Meters
Got up at around 0630 hrs. Started after breakfast and got ready at around 0800 hrs.
It was a new route where I was supposed to leave NH 48 and get onto a newly built expressway.
After around 13 km of start, got on to the route to Rohtak.
Found it interesting in the beginning but later on, it started getting hotter.
Almost nothing on the highway, no traffic at all making headwinds stronger and stronger.
Restrooms were available only on food plazas built every 35 km.
It was quite a boring route with nothing in sight for long distances. Luckily I found a juice stall and had orange juice and started again with my co-rider, Dr. Pawan Dhingra.
Had early lunch by 1300 hrs. I had completed around 100 km only.
So started and reached Rohtak by around 1630 and then we had around 105 km left for the day.
By the time I came out of that city, it was around 2000 hrs and another 67 km left for the day.
The rest of the route was known to me so was comfortable and rode at around 30 km per hour before I hit Delhi traffic.
Reached destination by around 2330 hrs. I had started from Punjab and crossed the states of Haryana, and Delhi and then again entered Haryana.
Then came the interesting part. One of the riders, who was 14 km behind me and finished 10 mins after me when I was riding at an average speed of 28km per hour.
I was surprised. Shared the information with my co-rider and reported the incident to the organizer.
Since I live in Delhi, changed my bags where I left my warm and dusted clothes and got cleaner jerseys and shorts from home.
Got the cycle repaired and serviced. One of our supporting partners made sure that all the cycles are serviced before morning.
Got new carbon wheels and tires for the rest of the journey. I could understand that it is going to be hotter from here.
3 days had passed and I had done 900 km courtesy detouring because of taking the wrong route on haphazard roads in Rohtak.
Slept at around 0130 hrs.
Day 4 – 28th Feb 2023 – Gurgaon to Dholpur – 260 km Elevation gain 1121 Meters
Day 4 started a bit late again around 0830. Started for our next destination, Dholpur in Rajasthan. It was quite a known route. Had done a lot of BRMs on the same.
Passed through the cities of Faridabad, Mathura, and Agra and moved towards Dholpur.
This route is very challenging and irritating when it comes to traffic. Nobody bothers about the right side of the road.
Wrong-side traffic moves crazily. Had lunch at Mathura at around 150 km and left for Dholpur.
After Agra, the road was ok but quite monotonous with bad traffic trying to hit cyclists at every opportunity drivers get.
Was flat terrain for the whole of the day except for early morning for an hour or so?
Not much of a climb except for flyovers. Since the bike was serviced at the night, rolling was also very good.
Crossed three states during the ride today – Started from Haryana in the morning, crossed Uttar Pradesh, and reached Rajasthan.
Headwinds were increasing crazily as we were heading towards the south of India.
Reached Dholpur at around 2200 hrs. The hotel was by the roadside on the highway itself. Was able to catch some sleep at Dholpur.
Day 5 – 1st March 2023 – Dholpur to Lalitpur – 270kms – Elevation Gain – 1380 Meters
Started from Dholpur at around 0830 hrs. Had finished more than 1150 km and started losing track of dates and days now. Road was an ok one with quite heavy and unruly traffic.
One motorbiker hit my cycle after around 20 km. Then started threatening me and shouting about why are cycles allowed on roads.
Anyways, moved after wasting 15 minutes and realizing that arguing with these guys is useless.
This milestone says Kanyakumari is 2418 km and Gwalior 24 km on NH 44.
Other-side of the milestones says I have left Muraina 10 km and Srinagar 1225 km behind. Day was very bright and was getting hotter with strong headwinds.
Everything was going smoothly and I entered the city of Gwalior.
I asked the route a gentleman there and he put me on the wrong route towards Shivpuri where I had a detour of another 14 km so had to come back all the way to be on the official race route increasing my day by around 28 km.
Stopped for lunch at around 1345 hours and by that time had finished around officially 80 km but unofficially was at around 108 km.
Started riding after lunch towards Lalitpur.
By around 1730 hours, I had reached Jhansi. After lunch, this had been a nonstop ride covering around 100 km in 3.5 hours with very strong headwinds which subsided by around 1800 hours.
I had the option of reducing my overall distance that day by going through the city but I preferred going by passing the city which was around 12 km extra.
Didn’t want to get lost in the small lanes of the city again.
So it was getting pitch dark. Traffic was lesser. Nothing to be seen for long distances.
The hotel was very near to the road. Reached at around 2245 hours after doing almost 40 km extra that day.
The day had ended with climbs started, detouring, no eateries for long distances, not-so-friendly traffic, and the crowd looking at you like you are an alien with good roads.
I started from Rajasthan and crossed through Madhya Pradesh and then entered Uttar Pradesh again. The hotel was not so friendly.
Had rashes and saddle sores. Was continuously applying anti-inflammatory ointment. Hit the bed after showering and dinner for starting a new day.
Day 6 – 2nd March 2023 – Lalitpur to Narsinhpur – 247 km – Elevation Gain – 1260 Meters
Started at around 0830 hrs. The weather had become hotter.
Temperatures soar in the day to around 35 degrees Celcius and at night around 10 degrees. Headwinds had become worse. Route was quite empty with a few trucks honking really badly.
Was hot so stopped wherever I could get something cool for hydration. Route was having small villages and the highway was so free that it looked isolated.
No eateries or anything in that region. The climb was gradual. By now, climbs had become part and parcel.
At around 90 km at around 1230, again my tubeless tire burst. Was not carrying a pump so was alone in that isolated area. Requested the organizer for support and started walking.
Walked for around 4 km and found a small eatery. Stopped there for repair and lunch.
Received spares and pump through a villager coming on his motorbike. Organiser had arranged to send the same to me.
Almost 2 hours were spent in all this and it was around 1430 that I could start from there.
Had around 157 km left for the day and the time left was very less. Climb was never ending so speeding was possible only on descents and during sunlight.
The rest of the day was spent riding with 2 breaks for water and using the restroom. Before reaching Narisinhpur, could find a lot of sugarcane fields. By the time I was around 2 km from the hotel, again had a puncture.
Now I decided to walk down to the hotel rather than repair or change a tube in the pitch darkness of night. Walked and reached the hotel at around 2345 hours where my co-rider was ready with dinner in the room.
Had a shower and dinner and dozed off by around 0130 hours. Felt it like a really tough day but didn’t know the future had more plans.
Day 7 – 3rd March 2023 – Narsinhpur – Nagpur 276 km – Elevation Gain – 1542 Meters
I passed through the National Tiger Reserve Pench. These two days had been in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
We crossed it at around 1600 hours and I had covered around 160 km. After this park, we entered Maharashtra heading towards Nagpur.
Started riding again after making a few videos and pictures, started again. The further road for around 25 km was full of rumble strips.
At around 2000 hours, somehow my rear light went off.
I put it on charge and kept riding on that busy highway without rear light since did not want to waste time but that was a mistake and I shouldn’t have done that.
Not at all advisable.
Reached Nagpur bypass at around 2130 hours and then got the shock of life for the hotel. The hotel was a cheat and he had given the wrong address and name.
The address was opposite to airport whereas the hotel was in a village some 10 km from there. Bad streets, chasing dogs, crossing through some new localities, reached the hotel at around 2355 hours.
No food, nothing at all for the night. Had some biscuits and slept at around 0100 hrs.
Types of Bike – Accessories Used for the Ride:
- Giant Defy Advanced 2022 carbon bike with Zipp carbon wheels. It has 105 groupsets.
- Selle Italia Flite boosts pro team saddle.
- KMC Sx11SL chain.
- Magicshine lights were used for both the front and rear.
- Use Castelli shorts and gloves and a Bell helmet.
To be continued…
Sanjeev Rattan, a 50-year-old cyclist from Delhi, started cycling in 2016 to reduce carbon footprint and promote sustainable transportation. He has completed multiple long-distance rides, including G2G, B2B, and Golden Triangle rides, and has earned 7 Super Randonneur titles from Audax Club Parisien.
In his professional life, Sanjeev works in data security and digital solutions for various sectors, including defense, law enforcement, smart cities, utilities, telecom, and IoT networks.