Sheetal Bambulkar (b Oct 27, 1978) of Mumbai and Dr Meera Velankar (b Dec 11, 1975) of Bengaluru completed a tandem cycling brevet (200 km in 13 hr 30 min) in Vadodara, Gujarat on Dec 20, 2015. The duo covered 206 km in 12 hr 27 min and became the first women’s team to have done it.
The ride started from Malhar Point at 6.00 am and ended at Sussen Circle at 6.27 pm. (Brevets are timed, nonsupported and internationally affiliated longdistance cycling events).
Tandem riding, has unique challenges. It’s heavy, of course, and the steering is a bit wobbly. But most importantly, you have to carefully coordinate everything with your co-rider. Stops, turns, acceleration and deceleration have to be done together.
This is made possible by the riders’ carefully delineated roles. In tandem lingo, the person in front is the “pilot” and the person in back is the “stoker.” The pilot steers and is more or less in control. The stoker’s role is complex- she provides power, but also entertainment, motivation, emotional support and supplies. While the pilot directs the ride, the stoker keeps things going— she talks, offers words of encouragement, opens power bars and handles the water.
For this ride, Sheetal was the stoker and Meera, who has more brevet experience, was the pilot.
“We are just two women that have crazy dreams,” says Meera.
The first women team to achieve this feat.