Imagine a neighbourhood that inculcates a new passion and the residents there offer unstinted support to transform the passion into a professional aspiration. We spent an evening with Murali to chart his journey that began with his wife gifting him his first ATLAS cycle when they moved to Palava City and today continues across the realm of professional accolades and resounding applause from national cycling communities.
From an amateur rider to a professional cyclist, we are sure this journey was filled will challenges and learnings. Which are the most memorable of them all?
The captivating sight of cyclists in action, the enthusiastic fitness vibe of Palava, and the unwavering support of the family laid the foundation for my cycling journey. After becoming confident of riding 25km with my curiosity to explore Palava’s surroundings, it helped turn my wheels towards the stunning locations of Malangad, Kondeshwar, Karjat, and Barvi Dam. My most memorable moment was completing my first 100km while riding to the iconic Marine Drive!
My journey catapulted with the discovery of BRMs (Brevets de Randonneurs Mondiaux). These are gruelling long-distance rides that test one’s physical mettle as one rides over hundreds of kilometres and also integrates one in the cycling communities. I soon began conquering distances of 200km, 300km, 400km, and 600km within a calendar year and was anointed with the title of ‘Super Randonneur’ in 2018. Subsequent successes in 2019 and 2023 reaffirmed my commitment. And inspired to take on another challenge – I registered for the renowned Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) ride, a quadrennial event requiring one to conquer 1200km within a defined time period.
I trained hard, got qualified and had meticulously planned my journey. However, a fateful fall derailed my plans. I was left nursing a fractured right hand instead. This taught me resilience. Despite the setback, my dedication never wavered, and by 2022, I reintegrated into BRMs and resumed my journey with the unwavering support of Palava’s fitness community and my family.
We’ve heard you have many mentors who motivate you in Palava! Tell us what makes them special!
To begin with, my mother! She is my first mentor who encouraged me to cycle despite my physical injuries. My wife Santhi Sontenam, who laid the foundation for my journey!
Then my meeting with Manoj Bishnoi, an extraordinary cyclist and accomplished ultra-marathon runner. This transformed my outlook towards the sport. His dedication to cycling, including his daily 50km commutes, inspired me to join the Palava Cycling Club. Manoj’s boundless positivity and encouragement marked a turning point in my journey, leading me to set increasingly ambitious goals. How can I forget Dileep! His remarkable cycling achievements, including completing 1000km and 1200km rides, motivated and guided me in my own BRM endeavours! Ofcouse our Iron Man, Arijeet, who is a Super Randonneur, ultra-marathon runner, and more! His embodiment of energy has been a constant source of motivation at every stage.
Be it Mathivanan, Hemant, Shivanand, Hariprasad, the list is unending. I have been fortunate to find mentors, among other cyclists, runners, and fitness enthusiasts in Palava who have collectively nurtured my passion.
So, what are your future goals?
Firstly, I’m dedicated to conquering the coveted PBP 1200km ride and its formidable challenges. And thereafter I have an ambitious goal to explore the diverse landscapes of India on my bicycle!
Palava truly places health and fitness at the forefront, empowering residents to live fitter lives, pursue their sporting passions with world-class facilities, equipped with experienced coaches, a gamut of tournaments to compete and excel.