Kashmir to Kanyakumari – K2K Cycling Ultramarathon – Part II
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A Brief Overview of the Grueling 14-day K2K Cycling Ultramarathon
Table of Contents
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.
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 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.
Day 8 – 4th March 2023 – Nagpur to Armur – 315 km – Elevation Gain – 1650 Meters
From Nagpur, I started at around 0800 hours. It was the toughest day of the complete race. The distance was 315 km and the elevation gain was really high.
Almost half asleep, missed a right turn toward Hyderabad and went straight toward Warangal. Went on the wrong route for more than 15 km and then realized the same.
Went back again and took turns. So for me, it had become a really long day with 345 km and all the elevation.
Stopped at a bus stop and slept for 15 minutes on the cement bench there. Then started again on the road.
There were cotton fields on both sides of the road. Cotton on the road because of wind.
Stopped for lunch at 130 km at around 1345 hrs.
Post lunch, climbs started paired with strong headwinds which made it really difficult.
It was dry barren land on both sides and climb over a plateau. Heat, headwind, climb, and barren land with heavily honking traffic were making things worse.
Cleared that first steep climb and was waiting for things to be better then suddenly had another flat at around 130 km (Mine 170 km).
Fortunately, the support vehicle that had stopped for hydration was nearby and got the tube changed. This tube was changed by the technician and I heaved a sigh of relief.
Then started again. It was around 1645 hrs and the sun had started setting. Was riding and then reached a point from where Kawal Nation Tiger Reserve was going to start and I had to ride through that for around 50 km.
Had entered Telangana state. Fortunately, around 2100 hours, found a place to eat something in the area which was otherwise barren. Only unruly traffic and unruly people were there to add to tough times.
All those 50 km in pitch dark through a forest with gradual climb had been most challenging. It was getting colder since I was passing through a rocky plateau. No tea, no water, no eateries, just keep riding a small cycle through the jungle.
At around 0030 hours, I reached a toll gate and got some coffee there but nothing to eat. Again started but no relief from the climb.
Asked the staff at the toll gate and came to know that it will continue for another 20 km and then it will be downhill. So another 20 km and then on downhill which lasted for almost 10 km.
But taking full advantage was not possible because of rumble strips and lack of light. Then again slight gradual climb started and I reached the hotel at around 0430 in the morning.
Reached the room but couldn’t charge my phone or battery bank or lights or my watch since the plug was not working and being a small place, everybody was sleeping and nobody was bothered.
So another night passed without dinner. No food since all eateries had closed by 2100 hours. So ultimately ended my longest day in the race.
Day 9 – 5th March 2023 – Armur to Jadcherla – 270 km – Elevation Gain – 1730 Meters
Last night was spent almost on road and started half asleep at 0800 hrs. Got some bananas, idlis, and biscuits along with tea for breakfast. Not highly nutritious but enough to keep me moving.
Climbs continued with strong headwinds since morning. Had some coffee on the way to force me not to sleep on the saddle.
Was quite a dull and boring road, a very rough highway. Could see rocky hills around and a road passing through those, climbing and descending.
Found a restaurant on the way and stopped for lunch at around 1300 hours. Had done around 100 km by then.
Started again towards Hyderabad. Challenge was to cross the city, almost 45 km through the highly crowded city.
Reached Hyderabad at around 1830 hours. Highly crowded with cycles not allowed on the elevated roads which cut through the city so had to settle down on the less privileged highly crowded road with no traffic rules being followed.
Had fresh juice, coffee, and cookies in the city, and by the time I crossed the city and came out on the highway, it was 2205 hours.
Started on the Hyderabad Bangalore highway. Had another 83 km left for the day.
The rest of the ride was smoother except for night intercity buses and trucks which were honking like crazy and had speeds like formula one racing not caring about anybody else on the road.
Wanted to have dinner on the way but the crowds were highly unsupportive, so didn’t want to take chance since I had a long way to go.
Had some coffee and a sandwich on the go and continued. The hotel was almost 4 km inside the city so took some time to figure out and the dog chase added to the delays.
Reached hotel at 0239 hrs. Slept at around 0315 to get ready for the next day. Excitement was keeping my energy levels high for reaching the southernmost tip of India on a cycle.
Day 10 – 6th March 2023 – Jadcherla to Ananthpur – 280 km – Elevation Gain – 1120 Meters
Had sound sleep and woke with calls from the race organizer at around 0735 hours. Got ready in 30 minutes and was out for breakfast.
Had coffee and dosa to get ready for another long day. Since we were in the city, while coming out, took another wrong turn which added another 9 km to the tally.
So hit the highway and was looking for something good to eat. At around 100 km, stopped for lunch. Don’t have pics for the same but will post the video separately.
The weather was hot and headwinds were consistent enough. Would like to mention that whole of the route was full of headwinds.
All the roads in Telangana and Andhra were full of multiple rumble strips. Temperatures were in the range of 38 degrees Celsius.
The water in the sippers was getting warmer and had to be changed every hour or so.
Sleeplessness had started showing up. Checked the details of day 11 instead of day 10 and was expecting 230 km.
Saw a milestone and it mentioned 180 km left for Ananthpur, rechecked the details and started replanning.
So after quick lunch, started again and caught up with my co-rider while he was having lunch. Had finished 130 km by around 1500 hrs and had another 150 left.
Till now, the climb was not much. By around 1630 hours, reached the city of Kurnool. We were entering the state of Andhra Pradesh from there. Tried some local fried dumplings there.
After Kurnool, we entered Andhra and again climb started in the dark. At around 2100 hrs with 80 km left, I stopped for dinner.
Was feeling very hungry. Headwinds continued in the night. The cycle was not rolling at all and I didn’t want to touch the tire although I knew that air pressure was less.
I had broken one valve on day 4 and didn’t want to repeat that in the midst of the night.
After dinner, had 2 water refilling breaks of 2-3 minutes each and reached the hotel at around 0155 hours.
Hit bed at around 0230 to get ready for the next day to Bangalore which was around 230 km.
Day 11 – 7th March 2023 – Ananthpur to Bangalore – 223 km – Elevation Gain – 1471 Meters
Started at around 0820 in the morning towards Bangalore.
I had worked in Bangalore and had been there multiple times by flight and train but for the first time, I was going to that place on a cycle.
Was looking for some nutrition and at around 40 km, at around 1030 hrs, saw a food court with KFC by the roadside. Got into it, and were their first customer.
Had some nice chicken popcorn, and enjoyed the fill to gulping it with nice spicy iced tea. As it was getting hotter, had some sugarcane juice on the way.
I was riding but was not convinced with the climbing number for the day as I had not experienced the same till now. Some climb here and there but not much.
Had crossed 150 km and was looking for lunch but couldn’t find it. Still was not finding any climb.
Was surprised since Bangalore is located on a Deccan plateau at an altitude of around 900 meters and still it was a very less gradual climb.
Then all doubts got cleared after another 10 km. I could see a steep climb of around 2 km ahead of me.
Thought this is the climb that takes me to the top, but it was not. Had to cross 4-5 hills with each climb at a very high gradient.
A roller coaster ride, with nothing spiral about the road but a straight climb of 2-3 km and then descent with road joining in between and then another climb.
That continued for almost 20 km and then we plan the road but under construction. That continued for another 5 km and reached Bangalore Airport.
After the airport, traffic was heavy, a lot of flyovers but suddenly got a tailwind.
It was at around 2030 hours that I got tailwind and the cycle was moving by itself and I just had to sit on the saddle for almost 25 km.
That was the only tailwind in the whole race. Was excited to be in Bangalore on cycle and now Kanyakumari was not very far.
Bangalore roads were known so reaching the hotel was easier. Reached there by around 2330 and had a surprise waiting for me.
My friend from Bangalore, Lakshmikanth, was waiting for me with beers and a big food platter. Checked into the room, invited my co-rider, Dr. Dhingra and we had a sumptuous dinner after a long. Hit bed and had sound sleep.
Day 12 – 8th March 2023 – Bangalore to Salem – 190 km – Elevation Gain – 905 Meters
After some good dinner and sleep after so many days, woke up fresh. Today was an easy day, with not much distance or elevation.
I was in the state of Karnataka and was to enter Tamilnadu after a few kilometers.
Crossed the city of Hosur. A lot of fireworks shops. This part of Tamilnadu is famous for fireworks and crackers. The same are supplied from here to the whole of the country.
Once I entered Tamilnadu, the roads were fantastic. No four-wheeler was entering the shoulder, leaving the most solid line for 2 wheelers.
Couldn’t find many wrong-side drivers as had been experiencing them for the last 11 days.
Lots of roadside eateries with good food and important to mention that cost of food was almost one-third of what we pay in North India.
It has scenic beauty with an exceptional headwind so was stopped at multiple places and took pics. It was a lighter day after a long so was relaxed and having fun.
Reached the hotel at around 1900 hours and slept well.
Day 13 – 9th March 2023 – Salem to Virudhnagar – 274 km – Elevation Gain – 1108 Meters
Started around 0800 in the morning. A transit point for tonight was changed and 40 km were added to shorten the distance for the last day. Was a cool smooth ride. Was enjoying the road, scenic beauty, coconut groves on both sides of the road, and local food.
Was a good ride with nothing unusual except for very strong headwinds. Reached the hotel at around 2300 hours.
Then came the surprise, what was booked online after changing schedule on the go turned out to be a roadside filthy lodge with no food, full of mosquitoes, only one charging point in the room, and a very hard mattress.
So somehow slept for around 3 hours.
Day 14 – 10th March 2023 – Virudhnagar to Kanyakumari – 200 km – Elevation Gain – 595 Meters
So ultimately, was the day that I was waiting for. Started at around 0700 hours and stopped for breakfast. It was a smooth ride.
Not much traffic and the best part was nobody bothering you on the road.
The headwind was very strong now as I was nearing the sea, the point of confluence of the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal, and the Arabian Sea.
As I was heading toward Kanyakumari, was enjoying seeing so many windmill farms coming up.
Densely populated by windmills, headwind was being perfectly used. Liked that.
I Rode at a leisurely pace and reached Kanyakumari at around 1545 hours.
Had reached the destination concluding the race. It was an honor to ride with such distinguished riders except for one, who cheated and was disqualified, for 14 days.
All the excitement of success had taken away fatigue and was ready to party and enjoy the place for the next few days.
Sanjeev Rattan: The Storyteller
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.
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.
—That’s All for Now—
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.