A group of five cycling enthusiasts from MGIMS bagged the titles of randonneurs in a brevet event held at Nagpur on 11th September 2016. Dr SP Kalantri (Professor of Medicine and Medical Superintendent, Kasturba Hospital), Dr Nikita Bhugra (resident), Mr Sumedh Manikpure (undergraduate) and Mr Wilfred D’souza (undergraduate) finished 200-km brevet following Zero Mile-Talegaon-Nagpur Airport route within the stipulated time of 13.5 hours. Dr Ashwini Kalantri, Assistant Professor, Dept of Community Medicine–who had already champed 200 km and 300 km in the previous brevets, had taken up a 400 km- brevet. This time, he followed the Nagpur-Pandhurna-Morshi-Paratwada-Amravati-Nagpur route and completed the ride in 26 hours.
A brevet is a long-distance, non-competitive cycling sport in which a cyclist attempts courses of 200 km, 300 km, 400, and 600 km within a specified time limit. Organizers ensure that the participants strictly adhere to all the rules. Control points along the way ensure participants cover the entire route. Everyone finishing the ride within the specified time limit is considered a finisher, a randonneur.
The 200 km brevet this time, unlike the usual ones, started at 5 pm from Zero miles, Nagpur and continued all through the night. The cyclists had mentally prepared themselves to face harder challenges that come along at night– poor visibility, highway traffic, dark night, deserted cycle repair shops and unpeopled café shops. However, nothing could deter the adrenaline rush in these cyclists- their grit and determination to chase the target made them pedal passionately till the dawn arrived. A total of 45 cyclists (23 for 200 km brevet and 22 for 400 km brevet) from places like Nagpur, Wardha, Sevagram, Akola, Washim, Hyderabad and Satna had participated in the event. Various checkpoints at regular intervals on the way served these riders with food and beverages to keep them moving.
Cycling has become a new trend in MGIMS- the medical school at Sevagram. Many, including the faculty and students have taken up cycling as their way of life. No hierarchy rules them when it comes to their affair with the sport. On a Sunday early morning, one can see senior professors mingling cozily with the recently admitted undergraduates on their way to 50 or 100-km rides around Sevagram.
Dr SP Kalantri (59) became the second-most senior person from central India to complete a 200 km brevet. Understandably, he seemed to be on cloud nine, as he successfully completed the event in a little under 12 hours. Biking has become an integral part of his life- every morning, he pedals almost two hours- and considers physical activity a key measure for preventing lifestyle diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart attacks. He even tops the weekly covered distance amongst all the cyclists from Wardha and Nagpur region. “Nothing, I believed could challenge my love for medicine”, says Dr. Kalantri. “But cycling, I must admit, is coming closer with every ride I take!”, he adds.
Dr. Ashwini Kalantri, who is just a 600 km brevet away from being a Super–randonneur, also expressed his joy on the completion of his 400 km brevet. When asked about his passion for cycling, he said, “Exercise is the best medicine. Cycling brings me joy and a sense of well-being.” “At MGIMS, a lot of people have taken to cycling as their routine activity. We focus on getting these enthusiasts closer by taking up themed rides together every Sunday”, he added.