Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tour 2 Chikmaggalur (5 days, ~650 km)


It was a long weekend as Christmas was around the corner. Cyclists from Bangalore were hitting the road with long tour plans. Shree had made us dream big by deciding to pedal all the way from India’s east to west. Yes, you read it right. Shree had started from Arunachal Pradesh and was heading towards Gujarat and was somewhere in West Bengal when we started the tour. Harsha, Manohar, Prashant were doing a 4 day Tour-de-Coorg which would measure up a 400km loop. Sandeep was doing a solo ride from Bangalore to Kanyakumari. With such an infectious environment, we decided to throw our hat in the ring. Me, Arun and Gaurav had planned for a Tour to Chikkamaggalur, which would span out for 5 days and we would end up wearing out the tires for 650 kms.

So this is how the tour went.
Day1: Bangalore–Nelamangala–Kunigal–Channarayapatna. Halt here.(166km)
Day2: C.R.patna–Hassan–Halebeedu–Belur–Chikkamaggalur. Halt here.(110km)
Day3: Chik'ur–Muliangiri–Kemmangundi & back to C'ggalur. Halt here.(108km)
Day4: Chikkamaggalur–Hassan–Channarayapatna–Bellur Cross. Halt Here(140km)
Day5: Bellur Cross–Kunigal–Nelamangala–Bangalore.(120km)


I and Gaurav had prepared well ahead of this tour. Both of us, had did a few 100 kms a day Cycling trip and a bit of cross-training too. Both of us had run 26 kms at the Bangalore’s first ultra marathon. Arun was doing his first mega-cycling tour with us. I and Gaurav rode Treks while Arun had a bike made by a company called “McKenzie”. We had never heard about this brand in our cycling forum. The Trek 4300s were designed for a killer up hill ride whereas the McKenzie would kill the rider if attempted to climb those lofty mountains. Arun made the wise decision of staying back at the low-land ghats and do some sight seeing, while me and Arun left to take on the highest peak of Karnataka – Mulliangiri – 1918 m (~6000 ft).

On the first day, we pulled of a ton. We were ecstatic when we crossed the 100 mile mark. We had done many 100 km single day distances, but to pull of the first 100 mile (160 km) was a truly a precious moment to treasure. We were happy that Arun had made it and it was a commendable feat for a guy doing his first tour. A 100 mile, on debut. (Arun, you are literally set to go miles!!). We cooled off our legs at Hotel Kiruba, Channarayapatna. For Rs.550, we got a neat accommodation for 3 people. Earlier, we had started at 7:15 a.m. at the Dairy Circle in Bangalore.

On the second day, Arun asked us to proceed further as he was tired and needed some more time to sleep and thereby gain strength. His plan was to start by 9:00 a.m. or so and visit Halebeedu and Belur temples. I and Gaurav, started at 7:15 a.m. towards Hassan. After some 10 kms, we stopped at Hotel Athithi for breakfast. Powered by Idli –Vada and Kesari bath we turned our pedals towards Hassan. After gulping a few tender coconuts at Hassan, we mounted ourselves on the saddle :-) and headed towards Halebeedu. The road to Halebeedu had sparse traffic and the road was all ours. We came across fields planted with cauliflower and to add to the scenery we had sunflowers at the road side. Who can resist a photo-shoot with the sunflowers :-) ? Beside the sunflower fields, we pulled out some awesome snaps. Given a chance and no duties to fulfill in life, I would camp for eternity beside the sunflower fields.


Halebeedu was calling and we had another 10 kms to cover. After having few bananas in a village shop we started turning our pedals to Halebeedu. Soon by noon, we were in Halebeedu. This temple was built somewhere in the 12th Century (Historians, correct me if I am wrong). It was a master piece of Hoysala Architecture. There was too much of a crowd and it was difficult to get a guide quickly who would tell us the “Halebeedu” story. Mindlessly we roamed around the park in Halebeedu and after 15 mins or so entered the temple and saw the sculptures. The sculptures were beautiful and each one was a master piece, strenuously carved on stone. I plan to come here some other day and leisurely explore the sculptures. Someone said, for the cyclists, it’s the journey which counts rather than the destination. It was right, we left temple premises quickly (not to mention the wonderful nap we had beneath a tree in Halebeedu).



Belur was 17kms away from Halebeedu and under the scorching sun we were pedaling hard to Belur. Just before Belur, there were 3 speed breakers just waiting to pull Gaurav down. I had carefully reduced my speed to go over the speed breakers, and there was one stupid jay walker who crossed behind me and just in front of Gaurav. Gaurav braked hard and forgot to apply the rear brakes. Applying only the front brakes, brought down Gaurav. Thankfully, the fall was not major and he had few scratches on his arm and a cut on this Knee. As, he was wearing helmet there were no injuries to his head. We rushed to the nearby medical stores and bought stuff for a quick first-aid. This is my 3rd cycling tour, and all the three had some incident this like. A jinx that has to be broken next time. We lost time, because of the incident and we decided to give Belur temple a skip. We pedaled all the way to Chikmaggulur crossing all the wonderful water bodies’ enroute. The legend says that a king decided to donate lands to his daughters. Chikmaggulur means “little daughter’s land”. Hey! Anyone heard of “Doddamaggulur”? We got a nice accommodation for Rs.325 at Hotel Rajmahal. The hotel owner, Yosuf was kind enough to allow us to keep our bikes in the room :-).


On the 3rd day, we started at 6:45 a.m. towards Chikmaggalur. It was the 3rd day of Dattatreya Jeyanthi, a Hindu festival to honour Lord Brahma. The Dattatreya peak was on the Bababudangiri range which also housed many mosques. Needless to mention, fearing the communal clashes the Karnataka police outnumbered the pilgrims and were stationed every 2 kms enroute Muliangiri. Our plan was to climb Muliangiri, the highest peak of Karnataka in the morning and then descend down to the foot hills of Muliangiri by noon. Chikmaggalur was at an altitude of 1050m and Muliangiri had an altitude of 1918m. The last ~175 m was too tough to climb by bike. That meant a climb of around 750 to 800m. Most of the road to the summit was a dirt track and just a 2 kms of it was good tarmac. The higher and closer we went to the summit, the tougher it got and the inclines were so steep that I feared we would be booked for “attempt to suicide”.





Cycling sitting on the saddle was very difficult, because the front wheels where lifting while pedaling taking it close to a wheelie. We did not get down and push the bikes except for one last climb, were the velocity of wind was too heavy and the steep incline had only loose gravel. We lived up to the spirit of cyclists, ‘not to give up and get down to push the bike over the inclines’. As soon as we reached the summit, a stranger who had come to the summit on a car, shook hands with us and congratulated our effort. We parked our bikes and locked them safely. I wondered, whether locking the bikes was essential. Who would dare to take our bikes and maneuver those hair pin bends of Muliangiri? We had a photoshoot at the summit with the temple as the backdrop. We wanted to make sure that this moment remains frozen for eternity and wanted to boast to our friends, see that… we had been there and done it. After climbing some hundreds of steps to temple atop the hill, I literally got a feeling of being at the top of the world (or should I say Karnataka). I could see easily some 10 or 15 lakes from the top and many Blue Mountains dotting the horizon and not to mention the cool gusty wind. I sent out sms to my friends, parents and fellow cyclists. I was more than delighted to receive all those congratulatory messages. This is what they had to say about our feat.

My sms: This sms is sent to you from the highest peak of Karnataka, Muliangiri – 1918m. Believe it we cycled all the way up.

Replies:

· Great job! One more feather added 2 ur cap of achievement
· Great man. Congrats to you and your team :-)
· Great yaar. All the best. Continue
· Great! I’ll be climbing Darjeeling tomorrow. Currently somewhere near the base :-)
· Congrats! I’m missing it
· Congratulations! Wish u a safe descent
· Ooo congratulations Gautaman.B J once you come back you share your experience. All the best man
· Super, that’s great enjoy ur ride.
· All the best – dad n mum
· Hi. Gr8. All the best.
· Whats the degree of slope? :-)
· Wow! Brother you rock!



We also went into the cave in the summit. The cave houses a Shiva lingam. I was ready to crawl into the cave, but all I could do was crawl into it for 20 metres. Gaurav was not willing to go further and asked me to retreat. Oneday, I would return here again and I am sure I will crawl upto the end to see the Shiva lingam. J. We met two guys from Bangalore at the entrance of the cave. They introduced themselves as Yogesh and Sudarshan. They appreciated the adventurous cycling tour we were pursuing and were also eager to know, How then can get into cycling. We shared our phone numbers and I also gave an intro of bikeszone & Bangalore bikers cycling forums. They were delighted and so were we. The thought of cycling downhill was scary. Instinct said, you better push the bicycle downhill for atleast 100 metres. That’s what we did. We pushed the bikes, till the time we felt it was safe for pedaling. In no time we were at the foothills of Muliangiri. After reaching the foothills of Muliangiri, we decided to head uphill towards Kemmangundi. The roads were pathetic, but interesting and challenging to bike around. The pounding our palms, hands and bums took enroute Kemmangundi is going to help us get stronger for the Himachal MTB race, slated in October 2008. The route to Kemmangundi was covered with wonderful grasslands which cannot be described by words. It’s a must visit for nature lovers. There is no particular monument or temple at Kemmangundi… its just the scenery enroute Kemmangundi.






There were 2 falls – Hebbe and Kalhatti falls, but we decided to give them a skip. At Kemmangundi, we had a sumptuous lunch after a hard day’s climb. We filled tender coconut water in our bottles and decided to climb all those mountains once again to reach our base camp “Chikmaggalur’. We were racing against time…it was getting darker and we were pedaling hard to finish all the climbs before night. And we were pretty close, in finishing all the climbs except for one which we did with the help of bike light. Not to mention, the light thrown by all those police vans which were returning after the festival also helped us. At the top of the mountain, I pleaded Gaurav to give me a break. In the darkness, with the help of moonlight we devoured 7 packets of Lays chips and downed 2 bottles of coconut water. After, regaining strength, we started our descent and it was zero pedaling in moon light. All we had to do was dodge and maneuver the potholes in the road and we did them pretty skillfully. Gaurav, played the role of a torch bearer (literally) by holding the light in his hand as we had lost the screw to fix the light on the bike. He did a fantastic job of showing me the light to the hotel. Or would it be fitting to say, he was a guiding light :-) ? When we reached the Hotel it was exactly 8:00 a.m. and we had covered 108 kms will all those monsterous climbs. Effort wise, I would put the ride as a triple – Nandi climb.

Arun, called us to inform on the 3rd day evening that he has finished visiting Belur temple and was already near Channaraypatna. He wanted to ride till Bellur cross, 50 km after C’patna. His plan was to ride to Bangalore on the 4th day, so that he would get one full day to regain strength to spring back to work. It was fine with us and we asked him to carry on with his plan.

The 4th and 5th day was nothing but crazy riding with all the enthusiasm of home coming.

BubbleShare: Share photos - Delicious Christmas Recipes.


We braved the gusty head winds and the scorching sun to reach Bellur cross on the 4th day. We stayed in Hotel Mayura for Rs.450. This time we were double lucky, we got to keep the bikes inside our room and also we got hot water to take bath. We started the 5th day at 6:45 a.m. and reached Bangalore by 2:30 p.m. As, I dropped on the bed, I was thinking…. Boy! It was a nice fairytale which had come true. Yes! I am ready for MTB Himachal 2008, just a few more training loops and I will put a good show at the race this year. :-)

9 comments:

FrNZi said...

Awesome dude!!
That was fantastic.... Hope ride with you guys sometime soon on a weekend trip...

And good luck for MTB himachal

Shree Kumar said...

Gautham: good effort - both riding and writing. For MTB himachal training, the darjeeling climb would have been fantastic. Since its very far, I have a few other climbs to recommend - kalhatti ghat climb to Ooty and ride to Bhagamandala from a place called Karike! Let's do them after I return :-)

Prashanth said...

G'man,

Just saw your videos... The roads are horribly bad. You have ticked quite a few miles on such roads. Kudos. All goes in as preparation for the next MTB-H. Habbe Falls would have been a wonderful visit. Do it the next time you are in the vicinity... need not be on a bike.

Sunflower fields for ever? Are you inspired by the new eclairs Ad?

Have you tried Electral to replenish the minerals during climbs? It works wonders.

It was a wonderful idea to keep both start and finish at home. No loading/unloading of the bikes any where. But Highways can be monotonous and boring. More over you have to share the road with killer monsters. I wish transporting bikes were much simpler.

Keep pedaling.
PK

Sudhir P said...

Hey,

Awesome stuff! Awesome post! Awesome photos too.

Hope to pedal w u someday soon

ROhan said...

Nice writeup man !

PRABHU said...

hi,
really awesome stuff u have did. CONGRATS!!
after reading this willing to be a part of ur pedaling team, along with u to pedal on weekends.

Gauthaman said...

@Sudip, @Prabhu :- Thanks for the comments. Would love to ride with you when opportunity presents. Are you guys members in Bikeszone?

@ROhan :- Thanks. Cycling fever is running high in Bangalore and all the roads lead to BOTS. ;-)

Divya said...

Great going. I am totally inspired. I have taken to cycling very recently. Thanks a mega ton for the descriptive blog. :=))

Ron said...

Great to see you guys cycling in India. Those roads out there do have some character! Do you have a GPS to keep track of the altitude change?

I'll keep checking this blog from time to time. Happy trails.


Ron
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