In 2013, life was weighing Vivek down, both figuratively and literally. Vivek had battled obesity for many years. At one point, he weighed in at 125 kilos. He was just 27. Naturally this took a heavy toll on his life – both physically and personally.

Then one day Vivek was re-introduced to the world of cycling. His elder brother being an avid cyclist, Vivek borrowed his old MTB and started toodling around the neighbourhood. Soon the rides became longer. As his passion for it grew, so did his fitness. And the inches and kilos began to fall away. In short order Vivek began racing in the community cycling races around Bangalore. His mountain bike gave way to a slick road bike

and he began to train harder.

Flash forward a year.

Vivek has now lost more than 50 kilos!

As the son of Late Dr Sita Bhateja, and both as a member of the family and an employee of Sita Bhateja Speciality Hospital, Vivek was weaned on the philosophy of giving. It came as no surprise when he decided he wanted to give back to society through his passion for cycling. And so Vivek, decided to ride the Tour of the Nilgiris as a charity rider. He had big shoes to fill alright, considering last year’s Sita Bhateja Speciality Hospital charity rider Gautam Raja raised 1.2 lakhs. Vivek was on a mission to better that.

And so he did!

Through his charity ride, Vivek raised nearly 2.5 lakh rupees which will go towards a new free spine surgery programme at Sita Bhateja Speciality Hospital. Read more about it on the next page.

Day
1

Bangalore to Mysore

Started the day off with butterflies in my stomach. I’ve been riding a decent amount consistently but have never ridden such long distances at a stretch. I was hoping I didn’t get swept.

It all turned out great! The first day’s ride was breezy. Made it to Mysore intact and wasn’t last either. 160 kilometers. Great feeling!

Day
2

Mysore to Ooty via Kalhatty

Today is the dreaded day when I would I go up against the legendary pain of Kalahatty. As an ‘hors categorie’ climb, this is everyone’s biggest challenge. 36 hairpin bends and 12 kms of a climb. All of which would come after a full 110 odd kms of riding.

I made it to the base ok and then began the climb. I struggled and slogged it out. I wanted to beat it but it became just too much for me. My back started hurting and it was getting late. In the end, I could beat neither the clock nor my body. I feel terrible but, I know there’s no dishonour in not finishing it. People have trained for years to climb Kalhatty. I know I’ll be back next year!

Day
3

Ooty – Khodnar – Ooty

Day 3 turned out to be a complete washout. Dense fog held up riding until very late so organisers called off the stage entirely. Caught up on some much needed rest.

Day
4

Ooty – Pallakad

Day 4 was a crazy, fun, quick day. We belted mostly downhill for 150 kms. Speeds were exhilarating and I got caught up in it entirely. Only hiccups of the day were the multitude of punctures. I had two! Luckily, I wasn’t the only one. People pitch in and help each other out with fixing flats and suchlike so it didn’t ruin the day. Feeling better and riding stronger. Time to push on. This one’s for all those people who can’t afford quality medical care and will need our hospital’s help.

Day
5

Rest!

Rest day! Just chilled out. Spent some time cleaning the bike along with most other riders. Our trusty steeds haven’t let us down. We can’t let them down either.

Day
6

Pallakad – Valparai

This was a long ride after the rest. More than 100 kms including a climb with 40 hairpin bends. This time I hung on till the very end and didn’t get swept. Views were spectacular. Had chai with some of the lads while looking out onto the great wide open spaces. Tired but happy.

Day
7

Valparai – Munnar

Day 7 was excruciating. It began with cold weather and then became warm and then cold again. We rode down into the plains before heading up to Munnar. Beauitful countryside but a really long ride of nearly a 180 kms. I had never done anything like it before. A century ride is one thing but nearly 200 kms with a horrifically long climb at the end of it was just too much. I made it through 80% of the ride but then the clock caught up yet again and I got swept. Wish I could’ve made it but I know I will the next time around.

Day
8

In and around Munnar

Today was about relaxing and cooling off after yesterday. The competitive sections all completed, this was all about the camaraderie. We rode around God’s Own Country at a leisurely pace, taking in the sights and sounds. Its all done now. Friendships and bonds have been formed which I know will last forever. More importantly, I’ve done it. Its been a long hard year but its been worth every single bit of pain. I’m stronger, fitter, healthier and happier than I can remember. My ride has raised enough money to treat a number of people. People who wouldn’t have been able to afford it otherwise.






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