I had hoped it wouldn't come to this - but well, that's life. For the first time ever (i.e. in about 10 years), I have no choice but to cancel a cycling tour. The tour of Rajasthan has to wait; there are more important things to tackle. Need to say a big thank you for all the wishes from the readers of this blog. Hopefully, I'll carry them over for my next trip (when that happens!)
I had scheduled this trip to align carefully with several things : work at office, preparations for my sister's wedding, property purchase (and loan processing), and pleasant weather in Rajasthan. Clearly I had taken on too many things. The saying in Kannada goes, "ಮನೆ ಕಟ್ಟಿ ನೋಡು, ಮಾಡುವೆ ಮಾಡಿ ನೋಡು" (meaning: try constructing a house & arranging a marriage). It was no doubt coined well before the days of contractors & builders of all hues. But yet, they pose significant challenges. My simplistic mind had failed to appreciate the complexities of taking on both of them together, and then doing a juggling act with complexities of leading a software project and the rising heat of Rajasthan (as summer starts). As it turns out, the weather of Rajasthan was the deciding factor.
I am content to cancel this tour rather than be baked in the desert heat. I find that this decision has freed up my mind. I was trying to hard to meet all requirements. My mind was a mess. No longer.
The wanderer in me is not satisfied with this decision, of course. I haven't been to Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab & Haryana, Himachal, UP & Uttarakhand. All these are looking fair game now. Who knows where I'll end up after May. In any case, better late than never...
Obviously, the stars weren't right when I titled my last post "A fortnight in Rajasthan". The tour was in trouble the moment I booked the flight tickets. Work at office requires me to travel to Taiwan for a week. To be on the safer side, I am postponing my trip by two weeks. I will now be in Rajasthan from Feb 29 to March 15.
I had earlier planned to ride from Jaipur to Jaisalmer, and then take a train back to Jaipur. Due to the change in dates, I now have to account for changes in weather as well. I am told that it would be best to start from Jaisalmer now - apparently Jaisalmer can get pretty hot by mid March. So, I am not going to fly to Jaipur, and then catch a train to Jaisalmer. After that, I ride back to Jaipur.
Have I gained anything due to this schedule change ? I sneaked in a couple of extra days. Also important, I can now attend my friend Santosh Kamath's wedding and put on the much needed extra calories to burn in the desert !
Very few of my friends have heard of it. In a genealogical sense, 3-4 generations separate me and my relatives living there! Never mind those facts; Kanjarpane(ಕಂಜರ್ಪಣೆ) remains my native place.
I had a desire to visit Kanjarpane during the christmas vacation. On the fourth of January, I reached Subrahmanya at 5:30 PM. I had to stop riding somewhere, and what better place than Kanjarpane. This was my second visit to the place overall. The first one was thirteen years ago, but surprisingly my memories of the place were green. Kanjarpane is three kilometers away from Kukkujadka, which in turn is close to Sullia in Dakshina Kannada district.
Stopping by Doddathota, I peered around. I had been advised to take a shortcut from there to Kanjarpane. The only open shop in Doddathota didn't seem to be selling anything. Three people were discussing local affairs. My head light and tail light provided the much needed distraction. Their enquiries started soon after. It didn't take them long to start asking who I would be. I pondered over the question for a couple of seconds. Hoping for a faint glimpse of recognition from them, I replied, with some hesitation, "son of Abasama". Their reaction was a complete surprise. "ಓಹೋ ಅವರಾ ? ನಾವು ಅವರನ್ನು Englishman ಅಂತ ಕರಿತಾ ಇದ್ವಿ. ದಿನಾ ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆಗೆ ಬರ್ತಾ ಇದ್ದರು. ಮನಗೆ ಬಂದ ಮೇಲೆ ಐದು ನಿಮಿಷ ಬೆವರು ಒರಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತಿದ್ದರು !". (him? we used to call him an Englishman. He was an everyday visitor to our house. After coming inside the house, he would spend the first five minutes wiping off his sweat!) Dad had a way of leaving an impression on people. He used to be very particular about dressing up. Out of the house, he was always seen wearing a suit and Bata Ambassador shoes. In those surroundings, he would look out of place in these times. Can you imagine the situation thirty years ago ?
Sometimes I get phone calls from complete strangers. Typically, the callers get the phone numbers from my "About" page. And yes, that's the reason I keep them there.
Yesterday, at 8 PM, I was riding back from Madikeri towards Mysore. My phone rang. I had to excuse myself & asked the caller to call me again in half an hour or so. Next call at 10 PM. Guy calling was Praveen, obviously a kannadiga, and sitting in Shillong. Between jobs, and travelling his motorbike. He is using the Eicher map. He has been blogging extensively about his experiences on his blog page. He's ridden quite some distance already. Bangalore - Kolkata - Gangtok - Bhutan (yes!) and now sits pretty at Shillong.
Praveen wanted to get some road directions. Most maps show a short route from Agartala to Aizwal. My tour of the North-East had taught me that it didn't exist (or if it did wasn't motorable). I told him as much. And confirmed it today morning by calling Inspector S K Das - who's currently posted in Agartala (remember him from my Tour of North East ? He was posted in Teliamura then).
Praveen is probably busy getting permits now. Good luck to him for the rest of his journeys! Finally, turns out he's not that much of a stranger after all. He knows one of my close friends from engineering days. Is it a small world, or are the junkies somehow connected ?
The biggest waterfall in Kodagu (Coorg) District. That's Mallalli Abbi Falls for you. 22kms away from Somwarpet, this falls is the waterfall you need to see in Coorg. Neither the Irpu falls near Ponnampete nor the Abbi Falls near Madikeri come close to the majesty of this water fall. I'll let the pictures do the talking !
Trekking enthusiasts : this is a good place to visit on the way to Hegdemane, and before you start climbing Pushpagiri.
Recently, I got a chance to visit Boston. The reason : My work (the Parallel Compositing Library) was selected to be presented at HP TechCon 08. This is an annual company internal technical conference. The acceptance rate is about 10%, so acceptance is a matter of some prestige It's definitely one of the highlights of my employment in HP.
Boston seems to be a favourite among bikers. Everybody whom I spoke to regarding my visit to Boston strongly recommended I take some time to ride around.
Rough altitude profile (inaccurate):
Final Update for now: Six of us finally finished the tour - Avinash, Gourish, Goutham, KP, Prasad and Me. Abhinandan did days 1 & 4 of the tour. All of us are back in Bangalore and probably reliving the adventure I will post the photographs, the route we took, maybe a detailed story and statistics in a few days (hopefully).
Update: 5:20pm We reached Kushalnagar half an hour ago after visiting the Tibetan monastery. Afternoon was the hottest in terms of temperature. We all enjoyed the last leg of our journey and hooray we are done! 360kms and 5 days of fun. We are waiting at the bus stand now to come back to Bangalore.
Update: 12:50pm Another very relaxed day this is turning out to be. We reached Dubare elephant camp quickly. The elephant ride was supposed to start at 9:30, and none of us were really interested. So we proceeded towards the Harangi reservoir. The chief minister was coming visiting, so a huge crowd had gathered - but no water was released to show him. fortunately there were no security hassles as the CM came on a helicopter. But the public wasn't allowed inside - and that includes us. So back we came. A short distance from the junction and we reached Nisarga Dhama - an island on the river cauvery and a popular picnic spot. And we are just lazing around after lunch here. We have ridden a relaxed 40km till now. We intend to roam around it a bit and then visit the Tibetan colony at Bailkuppe. And then we will stop at Kushalnagar and catch buses back to Bangalore. Did I forget to mention that the overall weather till now was fantastic?
Update: 6:10am We are starting off towards Kushalnagar; our last day of riding. Many interesting places to see on the way...
Update: 6:20pm We reached Siddapura an hour ago. Not too many choices for lodging. We might probably settle for Diamond lodge. Forgot to tell you, we didnt make it to the falls. We reached a point three km away from the falls and found that going to the falls needed us to walk for a few hours since the falls is deep inside the forest. It needs forest department permission too. Overall we figured we couldn't spare the time for it. So we decided to go to Siddapura and stop there for today. We used some interior roads on the way. We enjoyed excellent weather most of the day - including some showers. Some breathtaking vistas too. And an excellent (but sparse) meal at a place called Hatur. Overall an eminently relaxed and enjoyable ride of 60km - and that brings up the 300km of the tour.
Update: 9:40am finally we are starting after repairs ! 18km to the falls.
Update: 8:50am Abhi is pumping air to his front tyre using our small hand pump.
Update: 8:30am We are starting off from Virajpet towards Barpole Falls. We slept so late yesterday that we didnt get up till 6am. Now Abhi has joined us. Surprise - his front tyre has no air. I am pissed with him for this. This means we are getting delayed all the time
Seven of us are going on a 5 day tour of Kodagu district - basically Madikeri and places around it. We will be meeting at 8:45 PM at Majestic, and catch a bus to Somwarpet (in Coorg) - our cycles go with us. After that we spend five days riding around. We intend to leave Coorg on Sunday night. The rain god seems to be showing us some mercy, after the downpour that sent Jog falls to everyone's inboxes
Update: 11:45pm Reached Virajpet at 9:45pm riding in the dark. The weather today was just too good. It drizzled for some time in the afternoon. We faced the hot sun for a relatively short time. But we reached Kakkabbe at about 3.(I just dozed off while writing this and woke up at six. Abhinandan woke me up to say that he is outside the hotel. By the way, he is rejoining the tour which is very good indeed.) Coming back to the story. Next we went to the Padi Igguta temple - after a short uphill climb. Iggutappa and Cauvery are the gods of Coorg. Unfortunately the temple was being renovated. So back we came to Kakkabbe, had tea. At this point somebody suggested us Chelavara falls. We decided to go to the falls. Sorry the text box has run out!
Update: 11:20am Just returned from Talacauvery. A nice uphill slope for 8km, fantastic weather, even better view of the surroundings. Very pleasant ride indeed! Coorg honey and jam made for a great combination. We quickly went to the temple, climbed up the hill and came back. This was the highest point in our journey till now. The ride downhill was even better. 11 plates of 'pundi' at the hotel completed the experience. Checked out of the hotel just now. Off to Kakkabbe.
Update: 6:00am I was so sleepy yesterday night that i just dozed off. Had forgotten to mention a few thing. We are staying at KSTDC. Good rooms. Bad food. Relatively expensive. And there is this police station next door. They had quite a few questions for up yesterday we plan to climb up to Talacauveri next. It is the starting point of the river kaveri. A good 8km climb.
Update: 10:00pm We reached Bhagamandala at 6:30. It was a pleasant ride - there was every hint of impending rain but it never came. We benefited at times since the clouds shielded us from the sun for quite some time.The road was downhill for a long time - and we lost much altitude. The constant theme for the afternoon was paddy fields with mountains in the background. So we will have some fun tomorrow. slightly more than 150km for the entire tour at this point.
Update: 2:10pm We just reached Madikeri. Abhinandan had found the going difficult yesterday and wants to join up later in the tour if possible. So that reduced the size of the company to six. We had an excellent ride amidst greenery to Abbi falls. A few uphill sides too The falls was full of water. The weather has been anything but rainy, actually quite sunny. We had the first incident of the tour too - Gowrish lost control on the last descent to Abbi and had a bad fall. Fortunately its not too bad - he has escaped with a few scratches and skin scrapes on the face.
Total distance till now - 118km. We intend to reach Bhagamandala by evening.
Update: 5:30pm We reached my uncles house an hour earlier. About 80km of riding happened today. One highlight was the long descent from Somwarpet. We are relaxing after coffee for now.
Update: 1:30pm reached Somwarpet and rushed into Ganesh Darshini for lunch. 56km travelled till here. The last few km were mostly uphill. No sign of rain - instead we have bright sunshine. This change in weather happened yesterday here -and is the official reason for non avialability of juice, ice cream, etc. Four of the riders are half asleep after lunch ! We will be staying at my uncles house about 25km from here, nobody is in a hurry .
Update: 10:30am caught the two "leaders" finally -they were waiting for us in Shanivarasante. Many nice views of paddy fields along th way. Next stop Somvarpet.
Update: Its 8:30am and we have reached Kodlipet after a ride of 24km. Only the last six km was good road. But we are now in coorg and after this all roads are good, or so the locals claim. Gowrish and Avinash have good way ahead and we are have stopped for breakfast. Their mobiles brent reachable and we hope to catch them in Somwapet. Mean while, everybody enjoyed the views of the hemavathy river.
Update: We have changed plans already! We could not arrange transport for our cycles to Somwarpet, so we made a flash decision to start near Sakleshpur. The bus has dropped us Ballupet - about 8 km from Sakleshpur. Ballupet is in Hassan district. The road from here is bad for about 15km (the locals say). Prasad has a 25 year old cycle - a Puegot with thin tyres. So we have decided to play it safe and wait till daylight before we start. I see the kaka shop opening - so passing time should not be a problem By the way, it is 4:30am now. We will start towards coorg in just over an hours time.
Currently confirmed riders are : Avinash, Prasad, Abhinandan, Gauthaman, Gourish, KP and Me. As we ride along, you might see the hills that we climb below (it will basically be the altitude profile of our route).
PS1: If it's all blue, then you are looking at the sky and we haven't started !
PS2: I intend to update this graph from my mobile phone (with GPRS), so no guarantees
At last By "content", I mean - Pictures, GPS tracks and Stories. For more details, please click here.
A group of crazy people belonging to Bangalore and Chennai had been cooking up the idea of a pedalathon. Their plan was to do Bangalore - Chennai on their cycles in 2 days. The finalised route was over Chittoor. Supposed to save about 30 kms of the journey.
I wasn't privy to their initial plans, but fortunately got involved last thursday, courtesy Satish. Satish enquired in a mail about several aspects of long distance cycling. Hence I also got to know about their plans. Frankly, I hadn't cycled in very large groups and I was interested in doing it. I readily threw my weekend plans and became part of the pedalathon team. I was also keen to try out my Viper in a long distance trip. So I got a carriage fitted onto the Viper. Thanks to Lalu( my mechanic) , this ceased to be a hassle.
The "official" website for the trip is : pedalathon.pbwiki.com.