Kona Sutra

That's my new bike! I have been riding the Kona Sutra for a couple of weeks now. Purchased from BOTS.

The Sutra has a steel frame and weighs approximately 14 kilograms. It is equipped with Avid BB7 disk brakes, strong Mavic rims, and bar-end shifters (front: friction, rear: index/friction). For the rest of the specs, look at the official site. Note that the bike lacks pedals and mud-guards(fenders). I got the 2009 model. The newer 2010 model has mud-guards and a different colour/graphics.

Me and my Sutra (click to enlarge)

Me on my Sutra(click to enlarge)

The pedals in the picture are local pedals. I paid 60 rupees for them. Small change compared to the cost of the bike : 52,620 rupees only.

Wondering why this bike was chosen ? I wanted a reliable, all-purpose bike. Disc brakes were high on my wish-list. I have been riding MTBs since 2003, but I was looking for an easier ride for a change. Plus, I wanted a bike which was available in India. The Sutra fits the bill, with a name that is hard to beat!

The Sutra feels very stable during the ride. This feeling is hard to explain; it needs to be experienced ! I just love the way I can modulate the brakes! I'm still getting used to the riding position and bar-end shifters. The bike absorbs some amount of road bumps. Nothing like having shocks, but that was expected anyway. She climbs pretty well too. I did the last 15km of the ride to Somwarpet in 50 minutes. I'm not in the best of shape, so it is all about the bike 🙂

My pet peeves : few things I do not like about the bike (these characteristics are shared by most of the imported bikes, and can all be remedied using accessories)

  1. No side-stand. Makes this a pain to park
  2. No guard for the front chain-ring. Need to be careful while I'm riding the bike and wearing jeans.

I seem to be going faster on this new bike. Much faster than my older bikes for sure. To me, this represents a problem. Other riders on the road have a certain assumption about bicycles : how fast we can move, the position of the reflectors on them, not to mention the cost of causing an accident! This bike breaks these assumptions, and I better be wary...

I'll post a review of this bike and my experiences in Jan, 2010. I want to ride the bike before posting anything that looks like a review. I'll soon be upgrading the bike to include the B17 Brooks Saddle, and perhaps 1.75 inch wheels. Happy riding to me...

Filed under: Uncategorized 19 Comments

First CAM Ride: Riding & More

I mentioned a couple of posts back about Cycling & More. I joined this ride too; basically helping out my organizer friends. This turned out to be a fun-filled two day ride, with 36 riders riding from Sakleshpur to Sunticoppa (near Madikeri).

For most riders, this was an initiation ride into touring: some had ridden 20 kms max a day, and most less than a 100 kms a day. There were road bikes, mountain bikes, two "single speed" bikes, and a Kona Sutra, my new touring bike (more about this in my next post!). There were two couples riding as well : Divya & Chinmay(Chaitanya. Thanks Harsha for the correction. Sorry for the goof-up. I hate getting names wrong!), Madhavi & Sampath.

Bringing up the rear was my responsibility on day 1. Secretly, I was glad that I could ride easy on my new bike - no need to spend energy chasing the road bikes and other speeding bikes, see ! Greenery surrounded us everywhere, but mountain views were scarce. The road was mostly nice, there were no bike malfunctions, and no punctures; no real 'excitement' ! Only three riders gave up and opted for the support vehicle. The last rider reached Somwarpet, 65 kms away at 3 PM, having started at 8:45 AM. Slow and steady finishes the ride 😉


The tale of the Haves and the Have-nots

Oct 9: The house where Mahatma Gandhi was born and lived is preserved as a museum. This opens at 8 AM, before which I have enough time to down two cups of chaai, and photograph a few kaathaiwadis. These middle aged and old men go berserk posing in front of my camera, and I have a hard time taking leave of them. Anyway.

The house is an interesting place. A few rooms are very well preserved, among these being the room where Gandhiji was born. The principal attraction is the section of the house converted to a museum of pictures. Lots of pictures. One striking aspect of these is how the Mahatma is almost always bare chested, and wearing perhaps only his dhoti. This sets him apart from all the other subjects in most of the photographs. Other dignitaries are covered in the photos, which aren't really arranged in a chronological order, as I would have wished.


Ride on till Porbandar

Oct 8: Nothing much for today. Had the earliest start of the tour : 6 AM to be precise. The weather is cool and riding is pleasant. The surroundings are changing as I make my way towards Porbander. Coconut trees and greenery everywhere. 50 kms go by pretty quick - by 9:30.

After breakfast, things go bad again. A strong headwind and sun come back in contention as tormentors. Nothing much really to talk about the day. Another one of suffering... I slept more under the Banyan trees and drunk more water that I can keep track of.


Staying in a village at last

Oct 6 : Late start from the dhaba again. Dhaba boys pleasantly surprised after seeing the camera. Am on my way to Diu as early as possible. Very slow progress. Bad roads. I am tired for no particular reason.

When a motorbike rider asks me to visit his home for tea, i quickly take the offer. We go to Ramesh's fathers ashram. This is a small cool place surrounded by neem trees. A place where he has spent about 12 years as an ascetic, chanting Om so many times that he runs out of breath every now and then. I talk for a while with the old man. As happens everywhere else, the old man asks about my salary. He cannot believe that people can earn in lakhs by just doing a naukri. Caste is an important item of discussion too, and again he is surprised to know that I'm a brahmin. Too many surprises in a day for the old man, so I shift attention towards Ramesh, who has just returned, tea in hand. Ramesh grows pretty much the same thing as everyone else around here, but has a considerable amount of land, 200 bighas(2.5 bighas = 1 acre). I bid Ramesh goodbye at 10.


Next Tour : Starts Oct 1

Welcome to my next journey. I'll be touring Gujarat, Rajasthan and Punjab for the whole of October (approximately the area marked in green below). Again on my bicycle. Starting from Ahmedabad on October 1st. More than 30 days, 3000 kms for the stat junkies.

I'll be blogging live (approximately once per day). Hopefully, you'll see better stories this time. "More experiences and insight, less data", I keep reminding myself. I'll also upload interesting pictures when I am able to.

If you are a first time visitor here, feel free to have a look at my previous journeys - the links to those are on the right hand side of this page.

Filed under: Uncategorized 8 Comments

Resizing dSLR images on my mobile

I'll be carrying my Nikon D80 during this trip. One issue I have faced all these years : how to upload those images ? I'm not carrying my laptop during this tour, and I don't plan to waste time visiting cyber-cafes. My E71 will be my laptop, pretty much.

The solution we came up with is quite simple : instead of the standard SD cards, use micro-SD cards. These fit inside my camera via an adaptor. After I shoot the images, I remove the card, push it inside my mobile, and then upload it to my website using GPRS. That all seems fine, but an image from the camera is upward of 3 MB. That could take ages to upload via GPRS. Also, I don't intend to show the images in the full resolution on this website, since that takes too much bandwidth as well. So I really need to resize the image to something that's small enough : on the order of a 100 kB or so.

I've solved this problem by writing another small python script to resize images. Python for S60 really is neat, and provides all that I need to write this script with ease.


Enough coding… Well, almost!

Spent the last day & more trying to figure out a way to get my KML files show up on WordPress. I was thinking of uploading my tracks at the end of every day. I'm giving up on this - almost. The killer turned out to be "newMediaObject". Looks like there is no way to add attachments to WordPress posts using XML-RPC. And that's the only way Geo Mashup will pickup KMLs. So, time to stop coding. Except for one part : I need to write some code to resize images from my D80. That will keep me occupied for some time tonite 🙂

Filed under: Uncategorized 1 Comment

Geo-Blogging Using WordMobi

As mentioned in earlier posts, I have enhanced WordMobi to do Geo-Blogging. The interface is functional, though fairly basic at this time. With my changes, WordMobi should be able to pick up GPS data from either the built in GPS receiver, or an external bluetooth GPS. Worst case, you can enter a value manually.

The rest of this lengthy post describes the user view (selling the idea first 😉 ), followed by software requirements, modifications and installation steps you need to get it working for yourself.


Geo post testing

This is a test post for mobile geo blogging. Coordinates are from the inbuilt GPS on my E71. More details about this in the next post.

Note: The "balloon" for this is on the map. However, you won't see it unless you zoom in!

Filed under: Uncategorized No Comments