From a retired employee to a Super Randonneur
R. Sundararajan, a resident of Indira Nagar, continues to be an inspiration for many of his contemporaries and the younger generation. This Septuagenarian is India's first Grand Super Randonneur (someone who has completed 200km, 300km, 400km and 600km rides in a year) and has completed the super Randonneur series 7 times. This endurance rider has pedaled close to 95,000 kms since he took up cycling at the age of 60.
An alumnus of The College of Engineering, Guindy and a retired employee from Engineers India Ltd, New Delhi, Sundararajan explained that he took up cycling to keep his body and mind fit after seeing most of his batchmates suffering from medical conditions like blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems and more.
He recounts how it all began, “I was looking at options to keep myself fit and one day I took my son’s cycle and rode up to VGP Golden Beach from my residence at Adyar and returned back. I pedaled 20 kms in 4 hours. Today, I can achieve the same distance within 40 mins. I was used to cycling during my college days and I chose this activity as I don’t have to rely on another partner and it also looked cost effective. There were not many cycling groups back then when I started riding and many became interested in cycling after the introduction of performance cycles by TI cycles in 2009. Now there are many cycling chapters in the city with thousands of riders – people of all ages and from all walks of life.”
He further adds, “Then I started taking part in endurance rides when Audax India Randonneurs kick-started their randonneuring rides in India from 2011. I went on to become the 1st oldest Super Randonneur in India by completing the endurance rides in 200km, 300 km, 400 km, and 600 km rides in the same year. I loved taking part in Randonneuring events as it is non-competitive, self-supported and an endurance building activity. Each ride must be finished within a stipulated time determined by Audax club of France which makes you take the ride seriously and it helps you to overcome your limitations.
Sundar’s passion for cycling didn’t stop with Randonneuring events. He rode the highest motorable road in the world, Khardung La (elevation at 18,379 ft), at the age of 68. He has also captained a team of 20 cyclists in a 4500 km ride from Kashmir to Kanyakumari in 2016, propagating Government of India's Swatch Bharath clean India movement. It was a ride of about 150 km per day on an average, for 33 days covering Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Pondicherry and Tamilnadu.
His cycle trek from Manali to Khardung La Pass is a difficult feat to achieve by any rider and Sundar has achieved it, despite his age. Sundar sees this accomplishment as a personal achievement and recounted an experience on how he had a wheezing attack during his trip to Ooty (altitude of 7000 ft) when he was in his 50s. “With constant practice and perseverance, I cycled to an elevation of 18,379 ft when I was in my late sixties,” he beams.
When asked about his routine and aspirations, he tells, “Before lockdown, my day started at 5 am and I used to cycle at least 30 km everyday and my weekend included long-distance rides. Now I cycle to carry out my daily routine like going to the grocery store and vegetable market. I always combine my practice with yoga and swimming to relax. I look to complete Super Randonneuring Series, three more times. I have always wanted to take part in the Paris-Brest-Paris ride - a 1,200 km ride held every 4 years, from Paris, to Brest in Brittany, and back again. I lost my chance to take part in the 2019 edition due to a minor accident and I am unsure if I can participate in the next edition with the ongoing pandemic.”
Sundar has also released a comprehensive book on cycling ‘Pedal Shakti: The Power of Cycling’ in July 2019, released by Director General Of Police Dr.Sylendra Babu. The book has sold 600 copies all over India.
“This book is a compilation of my knowledge and experiences with inputs from many cyclists around the world. This book is for those who want to get into cycling for fitness and commuting and are interested in long distance cycling. The book contains information such as the history of cycling, and covers various topics to guide a beginner at each step - choosing the right cycle within the budget to selecting the gear, fitness, diet, power based training, BRM and Randonneuring and more,” explains Sundar. Those who want to purchase the book can contact Sundar at 98401 65451.