Friday, November 30, 2007

Race Day minus 15 (Prep for Bangalore Ultra-marathon)

30.11.2007, Friday
(Morning run @ 7:19 a.m)

MICO Sports Club

Cycling - 6 kms
Running - 4 kms
Cycling - 6 kms

Lap 1 - 2:46 min
Lap 2 - 2:41 min
Lap 3 - 2:38 min
Lap 4 - 2:43 min
Lap 5 - 2:49 min
Lap 6 - 2:45 min
Lap 7 - 3:01 min
Lap 8 - 3:00 min
Total time - 22:26 min

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Road to Ultramarathon Bangalore (kicks off on 16.12.2007)

29.11.2007, Thursday (Morning run @ 7:03 a.m)

Training grounds - MICO Sports Club

Cycling - 6 kms
Running - 3.5 kms
Cycling - 6 kms

Lap 1 - 2:36 min
Lap 2 - 2:42 min
Lap 3 - 2:46 min
Lap 4 - 2:51 min
Lap 5 - 3:01 min
Lap 6 - 3:12 min
Lap 7 - 3:01 min
Total time - 20:22 min

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Devanahalli - IVC Loop

The Loop:
BTM Layout - Hebbal - Yelahanka - Devanahalli - IVC Road - Devanahalli - Yelahanka - Hebbal - BTM Layout. This would measure about 95 kms.

There was a good response in the forum ( for the Ride plan posted by Harsha. The idea was to have a casual cycling trip on North Bangalore.

Manohar & Harsha had started at 5:30 a.m. from BTM. I woke up late, that meant I have to catch Manohar and Harsha along with others at Hebbal at 6:15 a.m. I started from Koramangala and while descending the Hebbal flyover to my delight found a bunch of cyclists. Viswas, Prashant,Uday had converged at Hebbal starting from different places.

We headed towards Devanahalli clearing the mist all the way. Various topics were discussed at the turn of pedals. It started with Ultramarathon in Bangalore, Ironwoman, Speciality of Trek bikes, Adventure Enduro Pune racing etc...etc.. We took a pitstop after covering 20 kms from Hebbal. I do not remember the name of the hotel. It was beside a place where some granite mining was going on and which can be seen from NH. We had a sumptuous breakfast and shared our cycling stories because most of us were meeting for the first time.

We asked for the directions to IVC road after crossing Devanahalli. We were asked to take the road which started with an unmanned railway crossing. Prashant pulled out his camera to take a few pictures. Thats when somebody asked how light is your Trek. I said "this light, lifting". Laughs allround and then Manohar, harsha and we took a pose lifting all our bicycles.

The IVC road has lot of residential layouts. Though nothing has been completed, construction is going on with the ambition that this part of Bangalore will improve after the new International Airport is reopened. The road was under construction and we had quiet some dirt tracks too. I like the dirt track with all those red soil. We relaxed for few minutes under the shade of a tree at the crossroads. We were not sure whether to head towards Doddaballapur or just back to Yelahanka. The majority voted for Yelahanka and back we were taking a road which connects to Devanahalli.

We were racing against time, as Harsha had to keep up some weekend commitments. We stopped after Hebbal flyover and after munching some PARLE - G biscuits... we dispersed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tour2Chikbamaggalur - Plan

Dec 21 - Friday - Bakrid (Holiday)
Dec 22 - Saturday - Holiday
Dec 23 - Sunday - Holiday
Dec 24 - Monday - Bridge it. Apply leave
Dec 25 - Tuesday - Christmas (Holiday)

Hurray! We get 5 days of leave and that sets up and interesting long distance touring opportunity. Well, Shree this time is doing East to West India trip, and hence I thought of coming by with some tour plan.

Tour to Chikmaggalur

1. Bangalore to Kunigal - 68 km
2. Kunigal to Ch'rayapatna - 78 km
(146 Km, 1st Halt for Night on 21/11) - 9 hrs of cycling, No great sightseeing places as far as I know

3. Ch'rayapatna to Hassan - 41 km
4. Hassan to Halebid,Belur - 40 km
5. Belur to Chikmaggalur - 20 km
(101 Km, 2nd Halt for Night on 22/11) - 6 hrs of cycling and 4 hrs of sightseeing in Halebid Temple and Belur. If possible Yagachi Dam at Belur

6. Chikmaggalur to Mulliangiri - 6 km
7. Mulliangiri to Chikmaggalur - 6 km
8. Chikmaggalur to Baba Budanagiri Peak - 26 km
9. Baba Budanagiri to Kemmanagundi - 32 km
(70 km, 3rd Halt for Night on 23/11)
9 hrs of cycling which involves a climb to Mulliangiri which is the highest peak in Karnataka, 6000ft and a must visit place. A climb to the Baba Budanagiri peak also in on cards. 3 hrs of sightseeing.

10. Kemmanagundi to Lingadahalli - 20 km
11. Lingadahalli to Birur - 10 km
12. Birur to Tiptur - 82 km
(112 kms, 4th Halt for Night on 24/11)
7 hrs of cycling and 4 hrs of sightseeing of few places near Lingadahalli like Shivgiri etc..

13. Tiptur to Tumkur - 62 km
14. Tumkur to Nelamangala - 39 km
15. Nelamangala to Bangalore - 27 km
(128 kms, 5th Halt will be on your cosy bed in Bangalore Home). No sightseeing, its more of Home coming.

Day 1 : 146 km
Day 2 : 101 km
Day 3 : 70 km
Day 4 : 112 km
Day 5 : 128 km

Total Trip : 557 kms

Tour Loop : Bangalore – C’rayapatna – Hassan – Halebid – Chikmaggalur – Kemmannagundi – Birur – Tumkur - Bangalore

Yardsticks to assess whether you can do this trip:
1. You have atleast done a 80+ ride to anyplace.
2. You are a good team player, means that you can push yourself and pull others along with you.
3. You have a geared bicycle. Well preferrably 15 or 18+. There were few cyclists who manage it with 5 gears. But when you are taking on the highest peak in Karnataka... well gears matter.
4. You are patient, co-operative and understand the fact this is not an organised tour and neither we are tour managers. Most of the time we cannot execute the plan to the T. If plan A fails... then we will be choosing plan B.
5. You should contribute Rs.1000 to tour pool money to meet out the expenses. When the pool dries up, the treasurer asks and everyone has to top-up.
6. We would be starting everyday by 5:30 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. though it might be misty/foggy. If you have breathing troubles, please thinkover.
7. Atlast, No one leaves or is left behind. Because your presence or absence matters to the team, once you have started.

Now, who is ready put your hands up.

Mountain2Sea Ride

Ride Date: 29.09.2007 till 02.10.2007

I was told that mountains can be quite addictive. Yes, I realize it now. After the scaling the heights of Nandi hills and traversing through the hills of Coorg, the only remedy for this addiction was hinging on another trip. The demons in me woke up and answered Shree’s call. Shree unfurled the plans of a ‘concept’ ride – “Mountain to Sea”. The plan was to start from Ooty, the queen of Nilgiris and take a downhill ride till the point we are embraced by the sight of splashing waters of the Arabian Sea at Kasargod. A bunch of 7, answered the call for the downhill concept ride and the online cycling community at Orkut yet again proved to be useful one. We assembled at Majestic to catch the bus to Ooty only to be told later to race against time and catch the bus at Kalasipalayam. Kicking ourselves and then the pedals, we set off and queued up in front of the bus, just to annoy the driver and ‘so called’ loadmen. The bus was fully loaded on the top casting a huge question mark on our trip plans. Will we reach Ooty, Will we not? Are going to be looted by loadmen to load the bikes? Should we split into 2 batches? Questions running through minds were countless. At last the drivers and loadmen agreed and 4 bikes were loaded to the bus-top and the other 2 found a safe haven in the boot. We never knew that, bad luck was smiling upon Anivash’s Firefox. We reached Ooty and the smiles on our face did not last long as we saw the “Grip Shift” of Firefox was completely damaged. The pain of Anivash’s heart was showing on his eyes. Nothing could pacify him and faking a smile, he left to Bangalore again catching the next bus.

[4 bikes loaded to the bus-top]

[An inside view of the bus]

[Pain in the heart shows on the eyes]

[The gear shifter torn and dangling]

We were heading downhill but the roads were pathetic so we could not cruise, we stopped at a scenic spot called 6th mile which had a lake surrounded by pine trees. After eating few carrots which had just arrived fresh from the fields, we walked down to the lake. After spending a 15 – 20 minutes at the lake, we started again heading towards the 9th mile, another scenic spot.

[Carrots, fresh from the fields]

[Feasting on the carrots]

[6th mile, green water lake]

After spending few minutes at 9th mile, we headed towards Pykara water falls. It started drizzling and soon it started pouring and we had to stop. A huge tree worked as an umbrella for us and under it we did things we do best. Take photographs!

[sandeep n chandru return drenched in rain]

[Shree comes after a shower]

[My Hero Octane DTB leaning on a tree]

[Water running downhill]

When we reached Pykara it was bright sunshine again. The weather in Ooty changes drastically. We had a sumptuous lunch in a corner shop at Pykara and took a stroll down the road which lead to the Pykara falls. Pykara is more of a cascade than a waterfall. The water just flows like a river and forms wonderful cascades, which pleases the eyes and ears. The sound the cascades produce was a music to our ears and we sat by the shades doing nothing and hearing the river flow.

[stroll down the park, sheeps grazing on the meadows, wonderful cascades of pykara]

[adarsh admidst gushing waters, sandeep playing a lensman]

Returning from Pykara falls, we were thirst and the idea of having orange juice sounded great. We planned to go to the boat house which was just 2 kms away from Pykara. After a few ups and downs we reached the boat house. The boating lake was quiet a sight and parked our bikes had a chat.

[Orange juice, boar club, bikers relax n chat at the boat club]

It was getting dark and we have we decided to head to Gudalur and rest there for the night. Few of us pedaled fast and reached a ‘unknown’ reservoir which was covered with mist. The temperature was dropping quickly and cold wind was blowing across the water. We decided for the others to join us and took a stop at the reservoir.

[Wow, what a misty evening! The scenery was something to treasure]

It was getting late, but there was no sight of Chandru, Shree and Sandeep. We knew there was some trouble brewing and soon Sandeep, the messenger arrived with the bad news. Shree’s thunder had picked up a something and had gone flat. Soon all of us had to pedal back to the place where Shree was camping with his thunder.

[messenger arrives, puncture fixing lessons from Shree]

It was night and in the pitch darkness, with our lights on, we started pedaling towards Gudalur. It was drizzling all the way long and to keep us going we were singing in the night. We kept each other warning about the pot-holes as we went along, but Adarsh did hit a pot-hole and went down. He had few bruises on his elbow which would be his trip memoirs. Riding in night is not easy particularly in that stretch which had plenty of pot-holes. On our way to Gudalur, we stopped at a place to enjoy the misty evening and in the process devoured hot vadas in a tea shop and had couple of our energy drink (nothing but Tea). The tea shop owner was happy to see the brisk business. We pedaled our way towards Gudalur. Soon the city lights greeted us and we entered a sleepy little town. We got an accommodation in “SS lodge” for Rs.500. We had our dinner in a nearby hotel and then fell asleep with plans to set-off the next morning at 6.00 a.m.

[starting with a tea next day in Gudalur, cloud-clad mountain]

As we hit the road which was heading towards Calicut, we were greeted by wonderful tea-estates. Now, we wanted to make the most of this occasion and do some serious lens work.

[enroute devala, tea estate, biking in a private tea estate]

[me, biking in tea estate ; sandeep n shree join us in the tea estate, devala - 8 to go]

[devala - breakfast point, adarsh pumps air, smoking mountains near devala]

After devala, we came across a ‘smoking mountains’. The clouds which were strewn on the mountains looked as if the mountains were smoking.

Seeing the silent killer climb, I thought it the climb deserves a video rather than a photograph. For the first time, I put the video option in my DSC-W5 Sony Camera for real use. The transcripts of the video session is below

[sandeep takes on an incline on Hercules Top Gear]

Gautham : What a climb, lad!
Shree : Your taking a video is it? Cool man
Gautham : Ya! Hightime we had a video of our club
[a grueling mini-turck passes by]
Gautham : May be after this video more guys will flock this terrain.
Shree : [laughing] sakathayeethey.
Gautham : [taking a interview] So Shree, where are we heading to?
Shree : We are heading towards meen-mutee falls now. Then we will be going to kalpetta
Shree : [showing this hands towards a hill] look at that. See that hill, look at the way it is jetting out.
Gautham : I think it’s a tree
Shree : Now, not that. There is a single hill. Can see that its big. Do not you think its fantastic.
Shree : So plan for the day is very simple, depending on how people ride, we go the meenu-mutee falls
Gautham : menu-mutee falls, Oh! Interesting. Do we get fish there?
Shree : [laughs], depends on your luck. But may be not. Then we go to edakal caves. Finally we end in Kalpetta.
Shree : [calls out sandeep, who is climbing in the front]
Gautham : Sandeep, a short commentary from you.
[Gautham goes near Sandeep, as Sandeep continues to pedal hard]
Gautham : Sandeep, you have been doing a better job. Infact a terrific job, climbing with a cycle with just 5 gears. How are you finding the ride.
Sandeep : [comes near the camera and breathes very hard and jocularly says] you can make it out.
[after seeing Chandru pedaling hard in front of Sandeep]
Gautham : let us catch up with our good friend. This has been his first mountain biking trip. He looks to be exhausted without having a tea.
Gautham : Chandru! What keeps you going?
Chandru : [jocularly] Ya the cycle. [laughs all around]
Gautham : come-on, are you short of words?
Chandru : short of breathe actually. [once again, laughs all around and then Sandeep and Shree keeping singing the cycling mantra, keep moving keep moving keep moving keep move keep moo… voice fades]

We crossed the Tamil Nadu state border and entered the Kerala state border. There was just a check post on either side of the border. We were heading towards menu-mutee falls in God’s own country. We reached menu-mutti falls spot and hire a guide for Rs.200 who took us a 1 km trek to reach the falls. The 1 hour trek was very good where passed through small streams, a tea estate, did a few climbs on the rocks holding the roots of the trees and soon arrived at the menu mutti falls whose sound was deafening. The falls was in its full flow, hardly giving any chance for us to go near.

[Treking to meenumooti, a small stream enroute meenmooti, a viper awaits us]

[meenumooti falls, tasting a keralite lunch, chembura hills]

[me in tea estate, a re-grouping at chembura viewpoint, hey! we reached kalpetta]

The 3rd day was very adventurous, I met with a crash near a village called Boys Town. We were riding for the whole day in rain and when were riding down, I saw an autorickshaw in front of me and I applied brakes. To my horror, my brakes did not work and in the downhill ride the bike was gaining moment and I made full force impact on the back of the Autorickshaw. My front wheel was out of shape with horrifying rim bends. I was bleeding and the auto driver started showering all kinds of good words he knew in Malayalam. I had no clue of what he was saying, but for sure he was in no listening mood either. I was bleeding and reached out to my mobile to call my friends you went ahead of me. There was no signal available and I only passed the message to another vehicle which was going downhill to inform my friends. After a few minutes, all my friends came and we struck a deal with auto driver to take me to the hospital and then to a bicycle repair shop. I will pay the expenses for the damaged bumper and the torn resin sheets. He took me to a government hospital and my first aid was over. I asked the auto-driver whose name was Santhosh to take to the bicycle shop. We reached the bicycle shop and the bicycle repairman showed us the nearest shop where we can buy a new wheel. He fitted the new wheel and then tweaked my brakes. Soon the bunch of cyclists joined and got all their brakes tweaked. And then end of all, of I have to thanks somebody apart from Santosh the driver, it should be my helmet. If not for the helmet, I would have had some very serious injuries to my head. Taking inspiration from Gowrish, another friend you met with an accident at Abhi falls in our last trip and continued cycling afterwards, I decided to continue the trip. It wasn’t easy at the beginning to pedal after such an incident, but I am still clueless of the thing that kept me going. After our halt at Srikandapuram, the next day we set-off to Kasargod. We had lost lot of time due to this incident and hence we decided to finish our journey at Kasargod instead of Mangalore.

[3rd day, start, finish at srikandapuram, fixing the broken chain]
The weather was very bad and to make the matter worse, the roads were pathetic. The sun was scorching and was tanning us, reminding us that we were no more in the hills of waynad but we had entered the district of kannur where the sun bakes the sand. We had to take many breaks enroute Kasargod, because we had to replenish the lost liquids. After our mid-day meals at Kanchankad, we continued pedaling fast as we had to reach Bekal fort atleast by 2.00 a.m. Bekal fort welcomed us and the very sight of the sea was pleasing. Yes, we have made it, Mountain 2 Sea!

[Bekal fort, a beauty were moutain embraces the sea - a site for which we had been riding for]

[happy souls - group photo, rocks of the bekal beach, Bombay film shoot point]

We started in the hills of Ooty and now the sight of Arabian Sea was pleasing us. We have few more miles to go to Kasargod. Nearly another 20 kms to be covered and we have to catch our bus to Mangalore. We left Bekal fort around 4:00 p.m. and reached Kasargod and on the way we saw some wonderful backwaters. We took bus to Mangalore after tying the bicycles to the bus top. After a wonderful ice cream treat in Mangalore and Thali meals we caught an omni bus to Bangalore at 11:00 p.m.

All that starts well ends well. But what happens for something which starts bad. Hmmm, all that starts bad ends worse. We got down in HSR Layout in Bangalore kicking ourselves that the bus was very late and we will be late to office. To our horror, all the 5 bikes were smashed by some branch of the tree and our bicycles were heavily damaged. Manohar’s thunder was the one to suffer slight damage and he could ride his bike back home. Sandeep’s Hercules too had minimal damage. Shree’s and my bike had lost their grip shifter and my handlebar was totally bent. Chandru’s literally collected the parts of his bicycle, his front fork, front wheel, handle bar, seat and rear wheel. He took an auto back home with all the bicycle parts. Me, Shree, Sandeep pushed our bicycles to my house and left it there. A costly lesson had been learnt, never put your bicycle on the top of a bus, find some other means of transporting the bicycle.

[never take you bike on bus top.... lessons learnt]

Trip Stats

Start: 28.09.2007, 8:45 p.m. Bangalore End: 29.09.2007, 10:30 a.m. Ooty by Bus
Start: 29.09.2007, 11:00 a.m. Ooty End: 29.09.2007, 09:30 p.m. Gudalur, ~50 kms
Start: 30.09.2007, 06:00 a.m. Gudalur End: 30.09.2007, 06:00 p.m. Kalpetta, ~70 kms
Start: 01.10.2007, 06:00 a.m. Kalpetta End: 01.10.2007, 09:30 p.m. Srikandapuram, ~100
Start: 02.10.2007, 06:00 a.m. Sri’puram End: 02.10.2007, 06:00 p.m. Kasargod, ~120 kms
Start: 02.10.2007, 06:00 p.m. Kasargod End: 03.10.2007, 06:00 p.m. Bangalore by bus
Cycling Total Distance Covered – 340 kms

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