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 !
Unlike my other trips, I am posting well in advance this time. This is a good opportunity to show what goes on in the mind of a 'tour'ist!
Rajasthan needs no introduction as a state. Magnificent forts abound the land of the Rajputs. So do culture and craft. And then the great desert. A riot of colour, should I say ?
This trip will start and end in Jaipur. Jaipur was chosen for the convenient direct flight from Bangalore. My tour runs Feb 15 to Feb 28, inclusive of to and fro travel. I get about 12 days of cycling. This will be a relatively relaxed trip - averaging about 80 kms a day. Rajasthan is a large state. A trip around Rajasthan can exceed 1600 kms easily. To account for my time constraints, I will take a train from Jaisalmer to Jaipur.
This will be a down-to-earth kind of trip. I am doing everything to look ordinary. I will be wearing regular shirts(no jerseys), track pants(torn at the bottom for effect!), chappals(no shoes) and a cap(no helmet) to protect me from the sun. My fancy sunglasses will perhaps be the only thing sticking out. No laptop, no GPS. Ordinary looking water bottles. My smartphone will let me blog. The new Sony NEX5-N will capture the moments of the trip. This is a camera capable of shooting dSLR quality pics, sans the looks to match. The overall aim is for the locals to think 'here comes the college student'. I have been mistaken for an army man; that won't happen this time.With my belly, chances of anyone mistaking me to be from the armed forces are rather slim.
Why all the effort to portray an ordinary look? I will be trying to stay mostly in villages, and with some care in temples. Less gadgets mean less distraction for the local folk. Less worries for me, and more time spent talking about everyday topics!
Avoiding highways will be priority, and to certain extent avoiding lodges too. How would I charge my batteries if I avoid lodges ? Solar charging via a 5 watt panel. The solar panel should be a limited crowd puller; it also gives me a readymade 'cause' for the trip.
Thats it for now. Updates as I find things to write about. If have any questions, just ask!
It has been over an year since my last post. Meanwhile, some folks have mailed me complaining about spam emails originating from my website.
This website runs off WordPress. I had fallen back on updates. I have updated the software now & checked some parts of my website. Hopefully, this should fix the situation! Thanks to folks for bringing this to my attention.
Meanwhile, I have been suffering from some kind of a writing block. Hopefully, will get out of this and start writing soon...
Cycling has taken a backseat for the past couple of months. Exercising for my back, and waiting for it to heal are more important.
Life without some activities can get boring. So I am participating in Google's online coding competition, CodeJam. For those of you in the know, the qualifying round is already over. 8523 qualified for the next round, including me. 10492 participants had a crack at the problems.
This is perhaps the first time that I am participating in a competition I do not expect to win. Earlier I have avoided competing in certain competitions fearing failure! So this is a big improvement for me - and it took me some effort to force myself into this. Advancing to the next round would be good for now.
I am embarrassed to find myself placed in the 5839th position. I got 43 points - 33 for problem A and 10 for problem C. I knew I hadn't been solving problems of late, and this is just an additional confirmation. My score shows me how negligent I have become. A very bad mistake cost me 23 points for problem C-large. I had to use a 64 bit integer to avoid a numeric overflow. But I overlooked such a simple thing! Problem B, "Fair warning", was IMO the most difficult of the three problems. For some strange reason, I didn't write a single line of code for this. Naturally, I missed out solving this.
By now you are perhaps wondering why I should be ranting about this, and that too in public. Most of you guys are here for articles related to cycling. However, I consider myself a geek first ! And for a geek to realize that he has gone bad w.r.t. coding can be very bad indeed. Many of my readers are from the IT industry, so I am hoping this rant is is relevant to at-least some of you.
Nothing in the kitchen, I promise. What else then ? First thing : MTB riders rejoice - we are planning a race for MTBs right here in our backyard ! The first round of meetings for this has happened already. Ride-a-cycle Foundation will be involved, and so will CAM. The details are still being figured out. For now, I can tell you these : we are planning for this event in September, most of the riding will be off-road, and we will have a few days of riding. Finally, there will be ample opportunities for families of the riders to get into the action. More details as we finalize them, promise !
Quick change of topic. I have not been riding for the past two weeks. I have some back pain. Nothing major, but it hasn't gone away in the past 5 months. Time enough to be concerned. It started in a very strange fashion. I woke up after a night long ride in a sleeper bus one fine day of november. Bending down to put on my shoes seemed as difficult as lifting a hundred kilo weight ! The pain eased in a few days, but never went away. So I asked around for recommendations for a doctor. Rohan(from BOTS) recommended Mr (and not Dr) Badri, a bio-mechanist. Nothing serious, he assures me. No cycling till my back heals, and no other activities. I hope to be back riding soon !
Many readers (most recently Vishwas Narendra) have been asking me questions about touring. To help them, and as a pass-time for me, I am planning the following things
- Write a small article about touring on bicycles in general
- Relive my first cycle tour by blogging about it ! This will also contain valuable information for those intending to start touring themselves
Expect to see more updates soon...
I had written in my last post that I hoped to ride 500 kms in a day, perhaps after training. Secretly, I believed that this was possible without specific training. As always, there was no way I could prove myself wrong without trying!
I backed myself to scale the 500 km peak. This was possible, I told myself. Maintain an average of 25km an hour over 20 hours - and that's it. Easier said than done : my regular speed is somewhere around the 20s. The temperature was rising with each passing day. So, any attempt had to be made soon. After a week of dilly-dallying, on the evening of the 19th February (that's two weeks ago), I finally made up my mind.
Mentally, I had broken the march to 500 to three parts : the first 300 in 12 hours of riding, and the rest in two batches of 100 kms consuming 6 hours each. 20 hours of moving time @ 25km/hr, 4 hours of "stoppage time" breakfast, lunch, dinner all inclusive. An aggressive plan, but 500 is no small goal either.
For many years, I've had this idea of riding for a full day. The recent talk about B2C1D (Bangalore to Chennai in 1 Day) only helped rekindle this desire. The basic idea for me was simple : ride for one whole day. 24 hours, all breaks inclusive. And then see how far I would reach, how far I could push myself. I knew this wasn't easy, but I sure knew it was more than possible. I wanted to ride alone, and without any kind of support. Harsha offered to accompany me in a car for night riding, but I wasn't too keen on that.
My plans firmed up last Thursday, and I decided that Saturday would be the day to try this out. That would leave most of Sunday free for me to rest. I planned to start at 4 AM on Saturday and finish at 4 AM. I planned to stick to the Bangalore-Chennai road (Bangalore-Krishnagiri-Chennai), and turn back at a suitable time. If I ended up home after riding 24 hours, then I could just drop asleep.
I carried a couple of electral packets, Parle-G and a packet of dates. I had cycled for 15-17 hours at a stretch earlier, but anything beyond was unknown territory. Dates have served me well over the years; I typically eat them when I run out of juice. Electral was more of an insurance policy. I equipped my bike with a headlight (Shimano, 300 rupees), and had ample batteries. I also carried Gauthaman's GPS receiver, a torch, spare tube, toolkit, two water bottles, spare clothes and the bike lock. I was prepared for all possibilities !
After 5 hours of sleep, I woke up at 3:28 AM last Saturday, for what would turn out to be the longest cycle ride for me ever. I had set the alarm for 3:30, and was pleased was wake up before that. Getting up two minutes before the alarm showed that I was keen on the ride, I told myself. I had packed my bag the previous day to save time. Prior to leaving, I gulped down a glass of water. In a few minutes, I felt very uncomfortable and ended up vomiting. Now, that's a very bad start to a long day. Postponing the ride looked like a good idea. Continuing with the plan looked like a better one. After all, how many times would I be this close to doing something this "crazy" ?
I'd like to wish all my dear readers a happy and happening 2010. My two-week long vacation ended a few days back. My bike aged by over a thousand kilometers on a variety of terrain: road, off-road, no-road, downhill. I found enough time to visit many of my relatives, including a short stop at my ancestral village after 13 long years. Getting out of the holiday mood has never been this difficult.
In the coming days, I expect to post some stories about the vacations. Plus the long promised review of my new bike.
I was stumped yesterday evening by a receipt lying on my office desk. It was from the Department of Posts, India, and asked me to pay a customs duty of Rs. 1161 + PF Rs. 100 = 1261 total. The folks taking care of posts at office told me that I'd have to go to the post office, pay the money and collect the parcel. I was left wondering what that could be. I hadn't ordered anything, nobody had told me they were sending me a parcel, and my friends and relatives wouldn't have my office address! Clueless indeed I was.
My teammate, Manju, jumped in to help. He put forward his theory: parcel must be sent by someone in HP, for the simple reason that only they would be able to find my office address with ease. I bought this theory, but deferred the visit to the post office till today morning.
Once at the post office, things became clear. Parcel was from my colleagues in Europe. We work quite closely. The contents: A shiny new, gray coloured riding jersey. Fits me like a skin. Although I had to pay the duty, it didn't break the bank and I didn't have to seek financial advice from one of those sites like lovemoney.com. The note with the gift said
We hope this shirt will accompany you safely in all your bike trips !
A very thoughtful gift, and one that I appreciate very much. Thanks again to Patrick, Philippe, Engelbert, Markus, Jochen & Wolfgang !