Monday, July 20, 2009

Ever since I heard the route description from Harsha, I wanted to do cycling on the Harohalli – Jigani stretch. After reading the ride stories and routes & maps section, I set off at 6:30 a.m. on a morning ride. I had stuffed in 1 snickers & 1 Dairy milk to power-up me on the climbs. There were few vehicles on the road on Saturday morning and that helped me reach Yogavana hills, exactly at 7:30 a.m. (that was 1 hour of ride) and I was feeling good and had set into a nice rhythm. I stopped at Harohalli to refill water and I took the detour from the Kanakpura main road towards Jigani.

The cyclocomp read 38 kms at Harohalli. This time I had put my GPS on the job and it was tracking the route faithfully. There were 4 small climbs altogether. The first 3 climbs took me up by 50m and dropped me off and the last one was a 100 m climb. The Harohalli – Jigani stretch was very scenic and the roads were fantastic. Alas! I was on a mountain bike on such a good road, riding a road racer would have been awesome. Moment I hit, Jigani the traffic was too much. After having a small breakfast at Bannerghatta, I returned home at 10:50 a.m.

Trip Data:
Start : BTM 1st Stage (6:30 a.m.)
End : BTM 1st Stage (10:50 a.m.)
Distance : 85 Km
Average Speed : 22.3 Km
Total Ascent : 450 m

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Weekly Hike of 20%

Hee.. Heee. It was appraisal time and after getting the hike on pay packet, I just thought of giving myself weekly hike on my running mileage. So far so good.

Week 1 : 27 Km
Week 2 : 33 Km
Week 3 : 40 Km
Week 4 : 48 Km (Planned, Done 18 Km, 5 days left).

Though I took up running as a cross training exercise to improve my cycling performance, I have been addicted to the runner's high which is luring me away from the my short term goal of MTBH 2008. So intend to carve out a plateau at 48 Km and log a weekly biking mileage of 150 Km.

After grazing through few pages of the book titled "Why not". My insanity is tempting me to leap one step forward. I find myself googling for "Half-Ironman". Alas! I do not know swimming and I can't the hit the waters and do that 1.9 Km of swimming stunt. So I ask myself "Why not?". I will learn to swim and make it to the Half-Ironman in Singapore next year Sept 2009.

Will that happen? Time will tell. Till then, its time to lace up & pace up!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Running at Agarakere

For all the folks, who are visiting this blog and finding no new content on cycling. Here goes the reason - My internet connection is down and hence no blog updates.
For my fellow cyclists who have been asking me why am I not joining the weekend rides, here goes another reason.

I have been busy gathering miles in my morning runs....
Week 1 - 27 Km, Week 2 - 33.5 Km, Week 3 - 40 Km (planned, 17.5 done).

Now, why am I suddenly running more than cycling?
Well, to increase my stamina, pro-cyclists have suggested me to do trail running.
Me & Shree are regular runners now-a-days at Agarakere (Agara Lake, near Silkboard). Occasionally Manohar & Harsha join us for a run.
25 Weeks to go.... for MTB Himachal.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Trail Tour (Mysore, KRS) - 01/03 & 02/03/2008

Shree, Mallik and Abhi where busy giving shape to the trail tour. The idea sounded interesting and I decided to join the trail riders. After giving the dogs a work out in the early morning and after scaring a few dogs by barking back at them, I was halted up a pack of dogs on an uphill. I better call up Shree and ask him to come and join me, said me conscience. A ring to shree, soon got me company and suddenly I realised Shree had a calming effect on the dogs. I dunno the peace treaty Shree has signed with dogs, amazingly they went mum after seeing him. Abhi had just picked up a flat tire somewhere else and I was pesimisstic in making to the Railway station on time. Shree had his own set of problems, with the wheel squealing all the way. He would get restless and check his wheel and kick himself for having not located the source of problem. We reach City railway station and make the count of trail raiders to 8. Hi...Hi...Hi... greetings exchanged and each other eyeing the bike of the other and after updating their shopping lists for the next buy for the bikes, we reach the luggage room only to be told that the room opens only after 6:00. We decided to take the Thanjavur - Mysore express at 7:30 a.m. I was happy that our bikes got a neat little place in the luggage compartment and so did we in sleeper class.
Idlis, Madur Vada, Coffee... find ways to our tummies and the payment time to the vendor gives me the opportunity to play the role of treasurer for the trip. Boys! Rs.500 for the kitty, calls out the treasurer in me and I get fresh minted notes which are yet to kiss the dirt.
Its 10:45 or so and we reach Mysore and unload our bikes. The RPF guy issues gate pass for the bikes. We dress up pushing the eyeing public to the obilivion and tight our bags to the carrier. Ready, set, go.... push...push..push... on the rail track a few metres and we meet a road which will take us to KRS dam.

Our first pit stop was a hotel which was 10 kms away. We did not waste time and mind counting the idlis and vada we ate...all I can say is... the shop had run of idlis and they had to make another set and give us fresh steaming idlis. I was amused like kid with the new accessories I had got this trip. A Garmin etrex HCx - GPS, a wonderful Camelbak and seat post rack. The bikers were impressed with seat post rack, probably they were with aching hearts after having seen their bikes getting rammed by hammers as they got their carriers fixed on their bikes.
Trail riding started in the backyards of KRS dam. The trail was inviting to the riders, the tyres were too inviting for the thorns.

[pic: Abhi @ blue lagoon, bikers raring to go]

Innumerous, I would say the no. of times, the thorns kissed the tyres and left a mark a hole on the tube. Raghu would beg to differ, as he painstakingly counted the no. of kisses. The meticulously marked the where,why,who and how. We ended with 24 flat tires...with the trail riders agreeing to gift Faiq a "metal" tube. Heee... my bike and raghu's were spared without the 'deadly' kisses (prickly should be the right word, I guess).

[pic: Raghu fixing punctures @ blue lagoon]

At times, I was wondering whether we were on a trail tour or puncture fixing tour. Infact, I have loads of puncture fixing photos and videos. At times the morale of the riders where so low, that Raghu had to pep up the scene with his idea of making a film titled "Pumping to Glory".

Here is Raghu's Gyan sharing video - Titled "Giyo-mini pump for Dummies"

All that stays in mind after the trip is the wonderful sunset, the lovely coleman dome tents, retreived venugopalsamy temple, Yummy MTR foods and the amazing speed we picked up from Srirangapatnam to Mysore. OK...OK... another scene that refuses to fade is that of almost getting conned by a shop keeper at Srirangapatna who wanted to Rs.15 more than the MRP printed on the bottle.

[pic: lining the bikes , hexagonal dome tent]

Well, one question is still unanswered? The one Faiq asked, why were we doing this?
Well, my friend Faiq, we did this trip to hone our puncture fixing skills and expand our skillset.

[pic: Paddy fields - Treat to eyes, Gautham n Mallik @ Blue Lagoon]

[pic: Trail riders - Raghu, Murali]

[pic: Mass puncture fixing exercise, Shree riding]

[pic: who moved my wheel, bikes in the back drop of paddy fields]
I look forward to another puncture fixing tour. So, guys... next time when you bored... ping me. Lets go on a puncture fixing tour.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Enduro3, 2008 - Pune (Race Report)

The race for Enduro started right away in Bangalore for us. We were racing against time to catch the flight with our bikes and marginally made it to the angry ground staff at the Indigo counter waiting for us. Paying Rs.500 for each bike as luggage fee (hmm.. damn the oversized baggage rule), we boarded the flight to Pune and found a nice little accomodation in Manjunath's friends house. We named ourselves as "Bosch Bikers" and participated in the "IT All Men Category". Our team code was ITM10. [pic: Sandeep, Gautham, Manjunath)

Feb 8th. It was the race day and waking up n after doing the morning routines, we reached the venue Police grounds, at 6:00 a.m. only to be shell shocked as the organisers had shifted the venue and did not bother to inform us. The flag off was at 6:30 a.m. and we had just 30 mins left and neither of us new Pune well. The few police in the campus asked to go to Kharve road which was a good 8 kms away. (Hey! Organisers, How on the earth can you shift the venue without informing the participants). Entering the new venue, Bharati Veediyapeeth, I got hold of a NEF guy (organiser) and let go my anger. The guy pacified me and said they informed many participants and a few were missed out. It seems Murphy was smiling on us and hence we did not get a call from the organisers. To add further to the agony, the celebrity-politician arrived late, by a oophing 1h 15 mins. The event which was supposed to be flagged off at 9:00 a.m. was flagged off at 10:15 a.m. Do not ask me who is that celebrity politician. He has got enough of the limelight in the last few days and has been making headlines after saying "Maharastra was only for Maharastrians". Interestingly, the politician was flagging off an event in which 200 participants out of 600 were North Indians. The partipants were riding all kinds of cycles from the conventional Atlas ones (fondly called as Dhoodhwalas), BSA SLR, Lady bird, Thunders, Firefox, Treks and Hero Hawks. People in all shapes slim, round, fat and puny were all riding and enjoying the 'un-timed section through the city roads to reach the NDA campus'. Gears or No gears.... It did not matter. This race was strongly advocating the point that its not about the bike, it was always the biker who mattered. Rightly so, I spotted many women in BSA SLR and men on Atlas Goldline ahead of me in the racing section. The unique thing about this race is not how strong you are, its about how strong your team is. My teammate Sandeep could not match the pace of me and Manjunath. We screamed our hearts out to encourage him... but we were n't sure whether it was encouragement or irritation from his point of view. Hmmmm enough, I rather go shooting pictures while I wait for sandeep. Here are they... I shot 200+ pics and a few are here.
BubbleShare: Share photos - eco-friendly toys
See the Nature around the racing track

Press play above and you will see the glimpses of the cycling section. My camera let me down at after 200+ shots. The motor which drives the lens got stuck and I could not shoot more pictures. I missed to freeze the best moments of the event, the swimming and the trekking part.

We did cycling for 50 kms. (Road - 80%, Dirt - 20%), trekking for 50 kms (though the event was only for 40 kms, we got lost in the woods and covered a further 10 kms). Manjunath, my team mate braved the cold waters and swam 200 metres at 9:00 p.m. in the night. The event was paced with cycling, trekking, swimming - close of the day and again at early morning 3:00 a.m. we were flagged off for a night trek back to the place were our bikes were stationed at Panshet dam.

The timed section of the cycling race started from NDA campus. We started cycling at 11:20 a.m. and finished it at 3:31 p.m. at Panshet dam. We started to trek immediately and reached the river bank for the swimming leg at 7:57 p.m. The swimming leg started at 9:00 p.m. for us and it took 8 mins for Manju to swim the distance of 200m. The day closed for us and it was dead time.. means the clock does not tick any more for the participants. We slid ourselves in the sleeping bag and took a nap only to awakened by blaring megaphones asking us to get ready for night trek at 2:45 a.m. The knees were dancing, teeths were drumming and the body was shivering to the 3 or 4 deg cold temp. Braving the cold, the 600+ participants set out with their torch and head lamps in a quest to reach Panshet dam. We reached the Panshet dam TC (time counter) at 12:04. Interestingly, another team ITM12 was close on our heels and we had to sprint to the finish line after a good 13.5 hrs of trekking in the mountains. To delight both the teams, the organisers awarded the same timing of 12:04 p.m. I made the crime of loosing the time sheet just before the last passage counter. While crawling between the thickets, one of the shrubs had pulled of the time sheet tagged on my backpack. I did n't see it falling and was full josh to reach the finish line as early as possible. The ITM12 team said they saw a timesheet lying in a bush, but could not pick it as it was out of reach. The organisers said, sorry guys, we are happy that you finished, but you will not be ranked. :-(. Fine we said, we had a fantastic race and completing it gives us immense satisfaction and top-of-the-world feeling. If we are ranked, we would be finished 5th among the ITM participants. The event was over and it was time to hang up the shoes and chillax.

Now, How do we get back to Pune? ITM12 said guys let's pedal all the way back to Pune and we (ITM10) were game for it. After pedalling our way for 45 kms we settled on a cosy bed and got lost into the utopian world of post-event-dreams. :-)

We were happy to see that another team from Bangalore which consisted of Ravi ranjan, Donald and Sriram finished 3rd among the amateurs category (fiercely contested category, unlike IT)
We will be back next year. Now, we know the terrain, rules and tactics and also from seeing other teams we understood 'what it takes to be a winner'. Next year we will return with a plan and trained team to put a fight for top position in IT Category. Did any one think of participating in Open category? Save it for the superhumans...Open category needs a strong conviction to finish, and months of preparation, becoz you are gonna put twice the effort that of amateurs category.
My next race will be MTB Himachal, scheduled this Sept in the hills of Himachal. The 9 day event starts by Sept 26th and ends on Oct 5th. 258 days to go....

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Enduro3 - 1 day to go

I am just going for upgrades one after the other. I upgraded from Sunday Morning rider to Daily Commuter and then soon in good company I got addicted to long distance cycling tours. Now, its time to add a bit of racing and adventure to cycling and see where it takes me. Enduro3, happens on Feb 8th and Feb 9th in Pune. Organised by NEF (National Educational Foundation) in the NDA Campus (National Defence Academy), this yearly event claims to put Indians on endurance test. Cycling (70/140 km), Trekking (40/95 km), River Crossing at Night and Riffle Shooting are the events lined up for 48 hours. To give mental shock for the participants, the organisers have said no food and water will be given during the race and the participants have to plan and organise on their own. hmmm, it means I cannot leave my saddle to cool off and have a chai in the tea shop with bun in the other hand or stop at a hotel in the noon and let my senses loose over the food. Hi-tech thinking in me says.... I will have to buy MRP (Meal Replacement Powder). I heard it for the first time and I am yet to taste it. Later common sense prevails, and says nuts, biscuits, dry fruits and chappatis with jam should be enough. Idea of MRP goes down the drain. Whether it is sense or non-sense, it will be known in a couple of days. :-)

I will ride a Trek, Manjunath has bought himself a new Hero Thunder while Sandeep has decided to stick with his Hero Hawk road racer. We had mixed opinions on using a road bike for this event. I called out some good souls who had participated last year, but none of them were able to give a clear idea. We decided to take the gamble after spotting 1 or 2 guys riding a road bike in the You Tube videoof last year's Enduro. But, whether these guys reached the finish line is not known :-<. Sandeep was comfortable using his own bike rather than dust his friends bike parked in the garage. Instincts say that should be OK. In the gear up for enduro, I have covered 50 Kms of running in 2 weeks (missing a few days). My routine has been to cycle for 5 kms.... run for 4 or 5 kms and then pedal back home for another 5 kms.

To top it at all, when Bangalore Bikers and Bikeszone Janta decided to have duathalon I joined them as it sounded to be a good thing to drainout the body and then load it with carbos just before the event. I was happy to cover a distance of 48.5 km with a personal best speed of 26.5 kmph. Route being Banashankari - Kaggalipura - Near Yogavana hills, a U turn - Kaggalipur - Banshankari - Lalbagh. Reaching lalbagh, we started a gentle run in the park. I just had strength for 3 kms of run (mixed walking with it, shamelessly though) and caught up with other bikers who had finished their run for a chat. Ravi n Donald did 2 laps (6.5 kms). Only Balu, Gaurav, Rohan and Sriram did 3 loops of Lalbagh and completed the 10 Km run. Running after Biking was not easy, as I had thought. hmmm throws up another challenge. We have packed the things, not sure how much the bag weighs... I intend to stuff bare minimum clothes... and intend to have a lighter backpack for the Trek. We are participating in the IT Challenge category. Wish us luck and a place on the podium. photo courtesy : abhi, rohan

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Savandurga - Machinbele - Big Banyan

KP and me, decided to go on a long ride with decent inclines. I proposed Savandurga, and KP gave it a nod. I had heard about Savandurga from Gaurav during my Tour2Chikmaggalur and his comments was that Savandurga was nice weekend getaway of a bike.

I left my home at 6:15 a.m. and caught up with KP who was waiting for me at GPO near Vidhana Soudha. We started at 6:40 a.m. and the plan was to catch the Magadi road. After getting directions from people, we were on the Magadi road. We had too much of traffic on the road and which left me wondering what all the people were doing at early hours of the day. Once we crossed the road which leads to the NICE Expressway, the road was all ours. An odd mini Truck or BMTC bus would cross us now and then, but the conditions were apt for cycling with the sunrising on one side thereby clearing away the fog and the cattles grazing on the roadside complemented by the site of villagers getting ready for their daily work. At times, we had to cross thick fog, the fog was so dense that KP had to call me on my mobile to check whether I am ahead of him or behind him ;-).

[pic:KP Cycling, on Magadi road]

20 kms ahead of Magadi, we noticed the roads curling upwards and sending out an invitation " Take me on". Most of the roads, were being relaid, courtesy :- Pradan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. All credits to the people laying the road, the roads were of high quality. The villages on either side of these roads are gifted ones. KP was sharing his Treking & Biking experience in US during the climb. It was 9:00 a.m. and 12 more Kms to go, I was very hungry and opted for a pitstop. There were no roadside shops, but the lays chips packet I was carrying was enough to feed two of us.

After 10 kms or so, we reached Magadi and took a 30 mins break to taste some "Tatte idlis" and Vada. I also packed some "puliyogare" directly into my stomach, expecting hard climbs ahead. The hotel man was friendly and started a debate.... on which was the highest peak of Karnataka. He was staunch on his point that Savandurga is the tallest. Well, me and KP said its "Muliangiri". He said, "Well, my wife is from Chikmaggalur and he has been there many times and seen that Muliangiri is no the tallest". Settling the discussion by agreeing to his point, we exchanged greetings and headed towards Savandurga. The Hotel man, suggested that once we should make a trip to Shivganga which is 30 kms from Magadi, he said Shivganga has too steep inclines and it would be fun to climb on bicycle.

Savandurga is just 8 kms away from Magadi Village. As we were racing on the flat road, KP asked me to slow down and enjoy the view on the left. Wow, it was quiet a sight... a huge monolith jotting out of the earth, gleaming under the sun. I pulled out the camera and saved the scene for eternity.

[pic:Savandurga, a sleeping elephant]

We had a small pitstop and thats where KP gave a session of bicycle gyan to me. The story of How "Thunder turned into a Wonder". He had dressed his Thunder with components which would cost 12K and upwards. The Crank was from Shimano Deoro. So were the rear deraileurs. The gear shifters looked nice. Now, his bike was sporting a 9 speed cassete. The headset was a threaded conventional one. The wheels were 'canibalised' from his "omega". All that remained unchanged was the Frame of Thunder and ah.. that sticker 'Thunder MTB" ;-)
After the gyan session, we took the diversion to Savandurga and near the foothills of the huge monolith, we had some tender coconuts. As the tender coconut-wala said it would take 4 hours to trek the mountain, we decided to give it a skip. We enquired, who built that fort on the mountain. He said it was 'Bangalore erstwhile Chieftain: Kempe Gowda". The fort on the mountain was clearly visible from the foothills.

[pic:KP and his wonder]

[pic:KP, before monolith in Savandurga]

We bid adieu to the 'sleeping elephant' and we were soon hitting a good patch of road leading us to Machinbele dam. 6 kms, away from Savandurga is Machinbele dam. And as all dam sites would have it, this dam site also had some short and steep climbs, before gifting the biker with a splendid scenery of blue waters under blue skies. We stopped and took the shade in the bus stop there, which presented the view of the waterbody. If atall Bangalore hosts an Ironman in future, Machinbele is the nice place to hold the swimming leg of the competition. KP was sharing his cycling adventures during his Pune to Goa trip and the sheer determantion he possesed in those days when he used to climb all the peaks enroute Goa. Each climb was coupled with a downhill ride, taking him to the sea level. Numerous was the number of climbs he said enroute Pune to Goa.

[pic:machinbele dam -view from mainroad, backdrop - Savandurga]

It was around 12:00 a.m. and the sun was mercilously baking us. To make the conditions worse, we had very very bad roads and a bit of head wind resistance. At times, there were tippers passing on these roads, which would force us to slow down or stop. These tippers where carrying gravel,sand and all other stuff for a building complex, which housed 2 huge antennae pointing towards the sky. I wonder whether it is for Chandrayan project (India's Man Moon misson) or its a part of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Life). Anyway, I took a picture of it, because it is not that often we get a chance in our daily life to see such mordern structures ;-)

[pic: Antenna for Chandrayan?]

When we hit the 100 km mark and the clock struck 1:00 p.m., we were at Ramohalli. Yes, this is were the 400 year hold Big Banyan tree stretches on a whooping 3 acre land.

[pic:Big Banyan, as I open my eyes, after sleeping]

After downing some tender coconuts, I took a little nap under the shades of the magnificient tree. It was 1:45 p.m. and we decided to leave the shades of the Big Banyan and here we go again on the worst village roads and the scorching sun. Enroute Kengeri, I stopped by a roadside Hotel for lunch. KP decided to give the lunch a miss and have a evening snack at house. 4 parotas, and 1 omlette , my tank was full and we hit the road ahead. Soon, we joined the mainstream traffic flowing towards Bangalore from Mysore. This time, it was good road but bad traffic. Each Bangalorean knows about the traffic and I would not mince words hear. When I reached home, at 4:45 p.m. I smsed KP and received a reply 2 kms to go for me. :-)

[pic: bad roads, not so good for road racers]

Another wonderdul weekend ride comes to an end. As I open bikeszone webpage, Harsha is talking about a single day 200km trip on a Saturday. Hmmmm.... tempting.

Trip Stats:-
Loop :- Bangalore - Magadi - Savandurga - Machinbele Dam - Big Banyan - Kengeri - Bangalore
Distance :- 140 km (start and finish at Koramangala I block)
Moving Time :- 6h:52m
Moving Average :- 20.5 kmph
Max speed:- 51 kmph
Average Cadence: 69
Fuel:- Tender Counts - 5, Water - 5 litres