Dhananjaya Sir –  (Blog written by – VeloKofi) –

The manners are crisp and sharp, the attire is no frills and functional, impeccably punctual-the red colored cycle and a mischievous smile, does reveal a twinkle and daring.  We know, his days in the Indian Navy has had a significant impact on his personality and his cycling exploits; the last we know-21507 KM and counting and 8400KM so far in Calendar Year 2021.  Nah! this is not about mere numbers-for numbers and stats, we would need 20 A4 size pages, this is about a cyclist who has earned the respect and admiration, nonchalantly, from a mile long queue of other cyclists – veterans and new comers alike.

Dhananjaya Sir (DS), as we fondly call him, in conversation with #VeloKofi’s Sai, VP, Suku and Vipin on his cycling exploits and more.

VeloKofi: Dhananjaya sir, thank you.  There are four of us from VeloKofi; VP (Vidyaprasanna), Vipin, Sukumar and Sai.  Straight to our first question. How and why did you pick up cycling?

DS: I started as a runner. I had a couple of friends from Navy who were doing Half and Full Marathons regularly till the first lockdown in March. During the lockdown, a close friend lent his cycle and thus began my cycling journey.  Swamy, whom I met during one of the marathons, kind of instigated me to take up the 10×10 (10 days of 100km each).  The weather did not matter, nor did the time, my perception on cycling changed with the challenge. I was myself surprised on how much I could do at this age.  After 10*100, 15*50 (15 days of 50 km each) was done. I explored a bit more, for example- I went with a few friends on an overnight ride; started late evening, slept overnight at a APMC yard in Doddaballapur. Explored Melkote and did a 340 km route in that, via Nelamangala, Solur, Kunigal, Bellur Cross, Melkote and Srirangapatna. So yeah, its being a quite a journey so far.

VeloKofi: And the rest is history as they say! There is one question we are eager to ask and know.  Your red colored Kona cycle stands out. What’s the story behind it, why not a road bike or, some other famous brand?

DS: I am not brand conscious. My idea of cycling was to do long rides on gravel and off roads, so chose Gravel.  And importantly, I prefer comfort, safety and stability and it has helped me so far.  So you can see, I have two front lights, rear view mirror etc.  Of course! I am now open to other brands because you need speed as well.

VeloKofi: Did we hear right? Why two lights?

DS: HaHaHa… had a very not so memorable experience while riding past Srirangapatna…half the road was dug out and being late evening and inadequate lighting, I could not and had a scary experience. That’s the story behind the two headlights

VeloKofi:Couldn’t agree more on the safety aspect.  We have also seen that your cycling attire is always “no frills” and functional.  It’s inevitable that we ask this question; did your time in the Indian Navy, help you in anyway in cycling or running?

DS: “Do not leave the task in between”, that’s what Navy taught me – this gets imbibed.  “You have to take care of yourself”, is the culture that comes from Navy.   Chatter that happens in your mind during running is similar to the one happens during cycling.

VeloKofi:We have marveled at the way you manage your BRM rides, inevitably speeding up towards the end, very measured during the rest of ride.  How do you plan; your food, breaks etc.,

DS: I consume a banana and lot of water before I start the ride.  I consciously try to minimize or avoid breakswithin the first 70 km.  Rest of ride becomes easy.  I will take it easier from 11 to 1.  After lunch or in the last 60-70 km, I do not take any breaks.

VeloKofi:Need a different level of dedication and discipline to follow your tips ?.  20000+ KMs so far, numerous 200s, 300s and 600s, any rides that stand out; memorable one(s) that you would like to share, any ride or rides that was challenging. 

DS: Among 200K BRMs, Avalabetta was a challenging one.  Climbing Avalabetta and stretch till Ghati was challenging. 300K Vidhuraswatha BRM was historical –brought a lot of memorable points. – similar to a JallianwalaBagh, in Karnataka! It was a pleasure of seeing places.  Passing through SalurMarada, Gudibande was beautiful. 600K BhadraBRM is a memorable one.  It was memorable because it was my first and I did my 600K BRM immediately after my 200K.I sought tips and advice from 3 guys; Swami, Raghu and Venky on how to manage a 600 km ride and all 3 gave the same advice.  It’s a mind game.  After 300km, consider it as a reducing balance and slow down when required.  Not to forget, Twin Hill 600 BRM was equally tough. Yeah, there were quite a few rides that stand out. 

VeloKofi:Yeah Vidhuraswatha was memorable, great route passing through places of significance.  Now, you have been there and done that, seen many aspects of life, but even now, what motivates you to get out of bed, early in the day and ride out on a regular basis? 

DS:In the early days of cycling and earlier, running- my rides/runs were always with a group of friends. A commitment to reach a particular place or to meet friends, that is what made me rise early. I am always conscious of not keeping anybody waiting for me, that pushes me to jump out of bed on time ?.  Secondly, as I mentioned at the beginning, it is imbibed into me from my Navy days. 

VeloKofi:Amazing sir, you keep things so uncomplicated.  While your journey so far has been amazing, what’s next? Any dream rides or routes?We sure there are many ?

DS:Yeah there are a few on the horizon, LEL for example (London-Edinburgh-London), PBP and if possible, do a Bhutan 600 mile route.  I would also like try to do the Ultra spice.  PBP is something I am really looking forward to

VeloKofi: Why PBP in particular?

DS:PBP is an internationally recognized cycling event. In India, if you want to play any sport there are many struggles and many factors that are beyond your control.  At least in cycling, any individual can participate in an International event like PBP, purely on merit.  That’s what is so attractive in cycling. 

VeloKofi: You have been an inspiration to many.  Are they any folks that inspire you?

DS:Not any one individual or individuals, I pick good things from other riders.  Satish Krishnan helped in time management.  JP (Jaya Prakash) for competitiveness.  Mohan (Mohan Subramanyam) for all round support and guidance, Raghu (Raghu Reddy) and Venky from Wheelsports help with technical aspects. Younger guys are a great source of inspiration for me. 

VeloKofi:Now to our favourite question.  Do your drink coffee? Favouriteadda, favourite coffee type,

DS:Coffee is my main drink since my college days.  Filter coffee – you get good filter coffee at SLV Banashankari, Nandi upachar while you are on long rides.There is another new outlet – Daily Dose of Chai – near Hoskote. Love the Chai there and is suitable for rides on OMR. In the early days of cycling and earlier, running, I often used to go out with friends for casual rides; around town covering breakfast joints or coffee joints

VeloKofi: Articulated in such a simple and direct manner sir- not surprising though.  That’s brings us to ask – would you like to share any thoughts for the younger lot?

DS: Three things for young crowd and this will keep them young for ever

  • Pick up a sport of your choice and play that time.  Preferably a team game
  • Have a hobby – anything of your choice
  • Always try to learn something that you have never learned before

VeloKofi: Real pearls of wisdom! Thank you so much Dhananjay Sir, we see it as an honor for giving us this opportunity to share your story. Wish you many more milestones and successes in your Cycling journey!

Interview: SaiSrinivas, VidyaprasannaKambalur, SukumarSundaram, VipinDevis

Text and Edits: SukumarSundaram, SaiSrinivas