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