Thursday, December 29, 2011

B2M - Bangalore to Mysore and back

Back TO Back Century Rides - Bangalore-Mysore-Bangalore on SH17

Date         : 29th and 30th OCT 2011
Riders      : Rajanikanth and Sohan.
Cycles     : Trek 3700 and Rock Rider 5.2
Problems : Accidents,Flats,Rains and Hotel bookings.

Day#1 Saturday 29th OCT 2011 - Riding to Mysore

As usual myself and sohan woke up late and left whitefield around 6:45 AM.
Due to city traffic we reached BIDADI around 8:45 AM and had idli/vada @Hotel Raghavendra Veg.

On the way to RAMANAGARA I got a call from sohan that he met with an accident asking me to wait for him. Once we met i got to know that he wanted to avoid a speed braker and went to the left and while getting back to the road his tyre rubbed the gap and he fell to his right. His right shoulder and right leg had several bruises. His helmet had got crushed. We moved ahead and got some FIRST AID items from a nearby medical store.

On the way to CHANNAPATNA - the land of toys,  I again got a call from sohan and this time he had a Flat By the time i came back he had identified and removed that part of tube without removing the wheel. We fixed the flat quickly and we moved on.

On the way to MANDYA, we had enquired about a decent hotel. I reached early and finished my lunch and was waiting for sohan. I ensured that my bike was parked in such a place that i could see it while having my lunch. Sohan joined and we left the hotel together after some time. From MANDYA it was a rolling terrain with several ups that gave a nice workout to my legs. My next stop was at SRIRANGAPATNA. Due to rain the socks had become wet and i was desperate to take them out and dry it while i wait for sohan.

Sohan joined and we took some more snaps. It was very funny to see sohan at his creative best.

Around 5:30 PM i was at the COLUMBIA ASIA HOSPITAL. It was yet another 30 mins ride into the city and we checked a few places and finally settled at SK Continental.We went out and had dinner @ RR hotel. We returned back to our lodge and spoke for sometime before closing our eyes.

Day#1 summary :

Overall i took 10 hr 39 mins for 175 kms including an approximate 3 hrs break for brakefast + lunch + Attending to sohan's accident + Fixing flat tyre + heavy rains in mandya + socks drying program.
Day#2 Sunday 30th OCT 2011 - Riding back to bangalore

Our start was again delayed due to delay in hot water delivery, brakefast search and heated argument with a medical store owner as the crepe bandage he had given for sohan was damaged. Somehow we reached SRIRANGAPATNA quickly and took some snaps on the bridge overlooking the famous KAVERI river.

Now i had a flat. This one was a crazy one. Some stupid white color sharp plastic object had pierced my tire. I fixed it to find that i was not able to pump in air. I changed the tube. No use. I changed the pump. No use. I was not able to inflate the tube.

I had to walk for sometime to find a Local Bike Shop aka Puncture Shop. Even he couldn't inflate my tube. He suggested me to go to the other side of the road to get it inflated with the help of a Air Compressor. We suspected that it could be a valve problem and we wanted something that could fill air quickly. Somehow we got it resolved and while we were at it we had to answer expected questions from general public like how much is the bike ? where are we going ? where do we come from ? Is it a race ? Do we get money doing such things ? Blah Blah.
We decided that we won't take the KANAKAPURA route. This was due to 3 reasons.

1) We had wasted 1 hour and we wanted to be on good roads after dark.
2) Kanakapura route has few more kms than the SH17 route.
3) My brother stays near Bangalore University. If it rains heavily i can stay there if i enter Bangalore.

I was pissed off and i started riding very fast from SRIRANGAPATNA and that was the last time i saw sohan. I reached MANDYA,MADDUR and CHANNAPATNA without any break. I had my lunch @KADAMBAM. I called sohan. No reply. I carried on and had a 15 mins rain break@Ramanagara.
I reached BIDADI,KENGERI and NAYANDALLI junction. The rain god smiled again. I had to take shelter for 20 mins in a deserted shed beside the blue hyundai showroom. I was alone. Yes the rains were with me. And the darkness too. It is not the situation that makes the man, but the man who makes the situation. I started again but I took another 30 mins break near mysore road to eat meat. I reached Home by 8 PM with muck and dirt on my body but a smile on face.

Day#2 summary :

Overall i took me 11 hour and 45 min including the lunch and rain breaks and the riding time was 8 hours 30 min. For folks planning to ride on SH 17 i would recommend a road bike or hybrid bike as it assists the rider to ride fast ( to some extent )  and in turn save some time to reach early.

Overall Ride Summary :
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz  i am sleeping. No i am dreaming. No i am planning my next big ride.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sore Bums and Red Eyes

Cycling 365 days in an year is FUN. But trying to cycle 365 km in a day is definitely a Pain In the Ass. The bums become sore and eyes become red. I was not wearing the sunglasses after dark.

I had done my 200kms brevet ride during June 2011 and i had used my MTB. I wanted to do the same for the 300km brevet ride on 17th December 2011. I always believe that riding long distance using a heavy cycle with FAT tires will help anybody to improve his stamina and endurance levels. This 300 km ride involves getting into and out of 3 neighboring states ( Karnataka, AndraPradesh and Tamil Nadu ). Looking at the elevation profile overall there is about 1750m of climbing.

These pictures are credited to IISC Randonneurs -

The climbs especially from Krishnagiri ( TN ) towards Bangalore ( KN ) were really challenging because this was at the end of the ride when the rider's are already tired. Adding to it this challenge has to be executed carefully because it would be dark and monster size lorries make scary noises riding beside riders. For a normal brevet rider on an MTB cycle ( AVG of 20kms ) it takes about 12 hours to complete the 200km stretch.This means the rider starts these climbs around 6pm.

I woke up @ 4AM. Got fresh and had hot idlis ( Thanks to my wife ). Left my home and reached the start point by 6AM . I met few more riders. This even is organized by IISC folks.

After the regular formalities where the cycle is checked for FRONT headlight and REAR tail lamp the rider's get their cue sheet and a stamped yellow brevet card. The rider's are supposed to wear reflective jackets throughout the ride.

Brevet rides are still in it's infancy in India and due to less number of participants and volunteers, NOT all  checkpoints will be manned. Instead the riders are supposed to collect ATM slips using their cards to prove their timings.

As soon as the ride started i found that the one of the rear brake pads stopped working and started playing seesaw. I had to fix it with a 5mm Allen Key. I moved on somehow managing to ride through the zero visibility foggy highway. The rear brake-pads started making squeaky noise whenever i used them. I was not in a mood to get down and fix it. I kept on riding. By 12 pm i had entered Andra Pradesh the neighboring state.I had completed Bangalore - Malur - Bangarpet - Bethamangala - VenkatagiriKota. Somehow I had covered the first 100kms within the first 6 hours of the ride. This included the tender coconut and banana breaks. I never stopped anywhere for breakfast as the hot idlis i had @home gave me enough energy to keep going.

It took me 75 minutes as i passed through some hilly areas with several small climbs to enter Tamil Nadu and i was at the Peranampattu town in Vellore district. While doing this I was stopped by several amused localities to know what is happening and why we are doing this. The problem is they never get to see branded cycles with flashing tail lights and confusing gadgets and phones mounted on the bikes.

It was HOT by this time and I collected the 2nd ATM slip. I just had 1 sweet-lime juice and i could see that folks were struggling to find a good/decent hotel to have lunch. I could see some frustrated riders. Next stop was Vaniyamabadi and on the way i had a Tea and Bun. On NH-46 while riding towards krishnagiri, I met Ganapathi Subramanian and Kiran Kumar as well as Chidamabaram Subramanian @ Mufasa's Hotel. It was around 5 pm and I had done 182kms by 11 hours. At Mufasa Hotel I had a bowl of curd rice with a plain omlette and a glass of butter milk.

After our late lunch Chidu took off quickly and I started riding with Gana and Kiran. Both of them are amazing long distance riders and fortunately they had decided that they would ride slow for sometime until the food settles down in their belly. I just had to trail them and sometimes i was asked to ride in between them in a straight line - Paceline. Riding with them helped me maintain a good pace.

From Vaniyambadi to Krishnagiri it is 55km and It was dark by the time we reached Krishnagiri. And I had almost covered 225kms. I had to do the last 90kms on a dark and dusty highway with huge lorries around. Usually brevet rides will be bit longer than the actual km. In this case instead of 300 it was around 315 km.

Anyway somehow i managed to ride along with roadies Gana and Kiran and managed to reach Hosur by 10 PM. There were some steep sections between krishnagiri and hosur. Sometimes i felt i should have brought my RoadBike as the fatty tyres on my MTB demanded more pedalling power. Thanks a ton to Gana and Kiran who frequently used to turn and see if i was behind them. Kiran offered me his Nutrition bars whenever we used to stop to sip water.

Around 11 PM i reached electronic city and it was 12 km to the finish point ( SILK Board junction ). I really don't know what happened to me. Maybe it was the joy of completing the longest ride in my cycling career. I was in Euphoria. I just started riding very fast. The empty flat road with street lights on everywhere was so different from the dark and dangerous noisy highways.

In few minutes i was @ the end point. I met the IISC riders and organizers and gave them my ATM slips and Brevet cards. I became a randonneur 6 months back when i did my 200km in 12 hours but finishing a 300km in 18 hours on a cold and chilly Sunday morning really made me humble.

Unfortunately my Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS watch only works for 12 hours and in between for some 20+ km i forgot to switch it on. This is the partial data -

I plan to do the Brevet 400km in the month of Jan 2012. Till then Keep reading Keep riding.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cam rides : Part 2

CAM ride#2 : Sep 24 and 25th 2011 Sirsi – Lushington falls – Shivaganga falls - Siddapura

If you have not read please click here - PART1

Unlike the previous ride the journey was a long one as we were heading to Sirsi. This north Karnataka hill station is popular for a large number of waterfalls. We were put up at Hotel Madhuvana. Again for some personal reasons i wanted to use this ride as an oppurtunity to ride hard.

Highlights and pictures of Day#1 :

The plan was to start at Sirsi, go to Sonda and reach Shivganga falls - Quickly. Though I was the first to reach the falls, i didn't feel alone. There were lot of monkeys who greeted me and ran away. I shared my chocolates with the rider who finished second and took his dry fruits. After some time I had lunch that had come with the canter and waited for my wife. On the way back to hotel i decided to ride slow and stay with my wife for some time. It was during this time that we got down to a stream, spent some time in the water, took some snaps. After some time i started pushing myself and reached the hotel early. I had a good time talking to few others in the hotel while drinking tea. After some time my wife arrived. I was really happy to see her complete the day1 ride without getting swept by the support vehicle. Day1 ended with a quick bath and a quiet dinner.

Day#1 route map

Shivgange Falls

Lunch time
 Manohar D.C from CAM team fixing a rider's flat
 That's me
 Green Aisle

 Bright Sunny Day
Cycle Engine
 Pee Break

 Green Frog

Highlights and Pictures of Day2 :
Sirsi - Lushington Falls ( Unchalli falls ) - Siddapura

I started on time for the Day2 ride and i didn't stop for breakfast. Thanks to Mr.Vasu who offered me banana's i was able to ride hard. Both of us were together for sometime exchanging the lead position. After some time I started mashing on uphills. I desperately wanted to be the first rider to reach Lushington falls. A funny thing happened on the way. Since i was riding hard, i didn't had any other rider immediately behind me At one point i took a left and i think Mr.Vasu didn't take it. I was on the wrong route and i was going on and on and on. I couldn't find anybody. Finally i got a dead end. There was right and there was left too. I didn't know which way i should proceed further. Fortunately there was a board. But there was no reason why it was existing there. I couldn't read anything on that board.
Black Board with Black Letters

But fortunately i saw Mr.Vasu coming from the right side and i joined him to use the left road. After some time i got separated from him by riding hard and fast and reached the falls. I was at the gate and i didn't dare to go further. As i was tired i just sat on a concrete bench.

Road leading to Lushington falls
 1st to reach :-)

Finally the Lushington falls, The roaring beauty

After some time as expected Mr.Vasu arrived. We both had tea and biscuits. After some time few more riders reached the falls. On our way back i saw my wife as well as other riders. I wished all of them and left for siddapura. I started riding hard and this was a rolling terrain. Out of my previous cam ride experience i knew that 2nd day ride should be quick else i will be picked up by the support vehicle. The hot sun was out and i could feel it. Adding to it the boredom. I was riding alone constantly under the fear that some animal might cross my path.

On the way to Siddapura

Finally i reached siddapura and i was happy that i finished first. After 30 minutes Mr.Vasu arrived. After few riders the bus arrived with the rest of riders. The canters arrived with cycles too. Only 4 out of the 30+ riders were able to complete the 2nd day's ride. As usual everybody had their lunch and boarded the bus. It was fun to watch the 1992 bollywood blockbuster cycle-drama movie - Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander, staring Aamir khan. It was nice to see people shouting and cheering the protagonist during the climax.

CAM rides - Part 1

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. – Ernest Hemingway

True Indeed. I felt it when I registered for a cross country cycling ride organized by a bunch of passionate bangalore based cyclists-The CAM group.

They truly deserve a lot of appreciation. Right from the time we registered online everything was handled professionally. The Payment receipt, Pickup/Drop points and route details,briefing about the ride rules, the hotel bookings, food delivery, fixing flats and replacing worn out brake pads etc.

Just get into an ultra luxury bus that picks you on time and sign a indemnity bond to declare that you do understand the risks involved and you will not hold anybody reponsible for any untoward incidents that might happen during the ride. This is just a process. So don't bother too much.

CAM rides are FUN.I could see riders from different spheres of life.There will be people who don't even remember when was the last time they had cycled and then there are those who are regular riders. There will be couples (I call them Cycling Couples) and retired senior citizens.

CAM rides expand your friends circle allowing you to meet people whom you know but have never met. I am talking about our FACEBOOK and DAILYMILE buddies.

CAM rides are FLEXIBLE. Each rider has an option of choosing his category from several routes. Some are short and some are long. Riders ride at their own pace sometimes leading others and sometimes trailing others. Just a word of caution for those who think they can ride category#1 route. Never underestimate the ride going by the total distance. There will be tough climbs bigger and better than your weekend nandi hill climbs. Towards the end of the ride just be sure that you don't get sweeped by the support vehicle. Nobody is expected to ride after dark and the cam team does not want anybody getting lost or hurt in the dark.

CAM rides are DIFFERENT. Normally a rider looks ahead and rides. But most of us were looking left or right. Every now and then we would get down to capture those foggy hills,those pristine silent streams, those tall lush green trees under a big blue canopy with white cotton candies.

CAM ride is a CHALLENGE. Its a ride that you do without waiting for rains to subside, when the dew is on the grass, when there is fog in the air, when there is dirt and muck all over the place, when there are landslides waiting to embrace you. Get ready to get down and carry your bike to the other side of a stream. And all this when blood sucking land leeches attach to your feet anytime.

CAM ride is a SPIRITUAL experience. I have personally seen people completing their first day rides quickly to freshen up and drop into nearby temples/mutt to come back refreshed/rejuvenated.

CAM rides brings a CHANGE. Many people use a rented cycle as they don't own a one. But once the ride is over they say that most of them get one for themselves. I have personally seen 2 cases.

And CAM rides are for those who want to spend quality time with their family members by going out on a vacation and at the same time just want to burn some calories so that they can come back lean and mean.

CAM ride#1 : July 2nd 2011 - Makkandur-Mandalpatti base-Mandalpatti peak-Kalur-Madikeri

Regardless of the distance any journey will be a short one ( if you get sleep ) and sweet one ( if you get a good dream ). On a dark drizzling windy pre dawn we all landed at Makkandur a small village 5 kms away from Madikeri. Riders were shivering and rubbing their palms against each other while crickets were rubbing their wings and legs making that scary and strange noise from the bushes.

We walked a few meters and reached makkandur home stay that was surrounded by beautiful green hills.Rooms were alloted quickly and everybody got freshened up. The ride started around 8 AM.

Have a look at some pictures where i have tried to capture nature in all its glory during my ride.
Day#1 ride map 
Misty mountain on the way
 Inviting stream and Wet Cottages
 Pee Break
 Green is the theme of the day

 Landslides What next ?
 Merida on Mountain
 True Offroad
 Foggy tree and a Calm Lake
 On the way back found another stream

Riding from the base to the peak of Mandalpatti was the best part of our ride. Fortunately we didn't get the usual visibility problem while climbing though there was FOG at the peak. Its a 600 meter high point with steep hairpin bends. A rider can sit and spin using low gears or get up and mash to work against the force of gravity. But there are other better options. You can get down and push. Or you can give up.I saw all this happening around during my ride. Some riders failed unreasonably and some riders succeeded inexplicably. This experience makes all riders humble.

Once we came down we were served with lunch beside a tea stall at the base. It is the support vehicle (canter) that gets the lunch on all rides. During rainy season riders tend to apply too much of brakes during downhill riding to control their speed and thus the brake pads get worn out. Those tiny pads make some noise and that's when a rider realizes that it's high time it gets replaced else it is the rider who will be making a different noise later.

Post lunch the riders started again with a sense of accomplishment but their happiness was short lived. The real fun started now. The riders were expected to come back to makkandur home stay via kalur and madikeri. The kind of uphills they faced was too much. I saw few giving up and sitting on the road waiting for the support vehicle. It was getting DARK. And i was in no mood to get swept by the canter.

It was getting darker and my wife was riding at her own pace and i slowed down and waited for her. We reached madikeri and had to get into the canter along with our bikes. There were few more riders in it. I felt embarrassed. Once i reached the homestay i took bath and got ready for dinner. Post dinner I saw that some people preferred tents and some rooms. Mr.Vikrant was helping folks to setup the tents. What an amazing guy he was. Inspite of managing so many things with so many people around he was still as cool as an iceberg.

My day1 ride was more of taking snaps, riding casually with others and fixing flats. Day2 ride was the final ride and i had decided that i will ride hard no matter how the terrian is or how the weather is.

Cam ride#1: Day#2 July 3rd 2011 - Makkandur - Madapur - Kushalnagar - BylaKuppe

The 2nd day ride was a short one in terms of distance. We had to reach BYLAKUPPE - A Tibetan refugee settlement. There are a number of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries. This small town is famous for its Golden temple. For more info please refer

Remember CAM ride is NOT a RACE. But its a race against yourself. You can always use cam rides as an oppurtunity to improve your average speed, stamina or cadence.

The 2nd day ride had some nice uphills between makkandur and madapur. This was a non-stop ride for me and i enjoyed spinning uphills and coasting downhills. On the way i overtook a few riders who were leading everybody. I reached Bylakuppe and i had finished 2nd. Some of the riders were swept by the canter as it was getting late for lunch and departure. Note that the 2nd day ride has to get over soon by noon. Everybody had their lunch at a nearby hotel and got into the bus leaving behind nothing but pleasant memories.

Cam ride #2 contd: