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 !
Most of you know this, but here it is again: The Tour of Nilgiris 2009 is an 8 day, 900 km bicycle ride. The dates: Dec 15-23. The TFN, as it is known, aims to provide a different kind of cycling experience. A chance to feel the rush of fresh air whilst you ride among the greens. Free of worries, all arrangements taken care of. Just you and your bicycle. Interested ? The Tour is over-booked, hard luck. If you feel like clicking the "I'm feeling lucky" button, then here it is.
What could you look forward to in the Tour of Nilgiris ? Things aplenty. Coming first would be the joy of riding your bicycle through the greenery of the pine trees and tea gardens of the Nilgiris. The scent of the Nilgiris - ah! have you experienced it yet ? Riders will, no doubt, look forward to the chill of the winter air, the morning mist in the hills and mountains, the streams and waterfalls, and the coffee estates. The pains of climbing the hills would be erased by the joy of reaching the summits. The joys of a descent would be rendered all the more sweeter by the pains of the ascent. Some riders will fight their bodies, some their minds. Hopefully, none would fight broken bones. The distant mountains will come closer, surround you, and as they recede, they will leave memories. The experiences will matter, the outcomes won't. And in a weeks time, these will become memories to be cherished for a lifetime.
Some riders, I reckon, will use the empty moments to ponder about anything. Or perhaps, everything.
As many of you know, I am back in Bangalore already. And, you know it right, I came back sans my bicycle, sans my mobile, SLR camera, three lenses, GPS receivers, bags, ah well. The list is painful indeed, and includes even KP's trusty pannier bags and my sunglasses. Needless to say, I had no choice but to abort the trip. This list is an effort to recount what happened, and how I reached back Bangalore. It's long, but I'm sure you are all curious to know all the details. And, I owe to you, the reader. So here goes.
I woke up on the morning of October 10th (Saturday). I had had a good sleep after the midnight break. But, where was my bicycle ? It was gone! And where was the friend-for-a-day ? He was gone too. His bedsheet and creaky bike were all that were left. I saw his chappals in a few moments, and I knew what had happened : friend-for-a-day (read more about this chap in the previous post. Sorry for the redirection) had flown off with all that I had. How many hours earlier, I couldn't say.
It took a few moments for the situation to sink in : I had lost even my mobile, and my purse. My trust had been royally betrayed. Trusting fool I had become. And here I was : 20 kms away from Dwaraka, not a penny in my pocket, and not a known contact around me either. No cellphone address book to contact people either. To be honest, I didn't feel bad. I didn't feel the pinch of the loss, and I feel it much now, either (at the time of writing). I'm happy I took the loss well.
And what did I have left actually ? The following
- Manohar's sleeping bag
- Shoes, and a pair of socks
- A towel
, a dhoti
- Dirty yellow riding shirt, spanky clean saffron dhoti
- Red shirt with sweaty stains, dirty blue track pant
- Two water bottles, slippers
That's all I have of all my possessions. I push everything into the sleeping back. No chance of taking the slippers. They are too big, and who needs them anyway ?
Oct 7: Woke up really late, at 6:45. Ok, I'm still in the village, and relaxing. No need to hurry yet. I've willingly piled up the delays today.
First, a visit to one (out of three) temples in the village. The old man has changed to spanky clean white clothes. Looks like the shoddy ones are for the market ! Half an hour of prayer, I'm about to yawn. Imagine me the atheist sitting in a small temple trying to look a little devout! Next up was what we, in kannada, call the somari katte. The old man was joined by another person from the same family tree(kutumba). Many more people joined us - farmers, the local politico and the local headmaster. I was the center of attraction. Many things were freely discussed - from the rains in north Karnataka to my salary !
Oct 5: It rained heavily in Palitana yesterday night (by local standards at least). Kids enjoying getting drenched, a sight to watch. Memories of a carefree childhood die hard indeed.
Rains ensured a cloudy day, a blessing for me the rider. I started off on the road to Diu, avoiding the typical highway route. The road was OK, a state highway maintained in average condition. The road I took skirted the Shatrunjay dam, the largest in this part of Gujarat, for a while. Then it wandered off into the hills. I had been warned discreetly by a tea shop owner to not take out my valuable electronic equipments till I reached a place called Jhesar. The hills here have a semi barren look, and the place has picked up a reputation for unsavoury elements. I took my precautions and nothing untoward happened. The sun was trying all the while to pierce the veil of clouds, but didn't succeed until afternoon. And only barely then, at that.
Paid a visit to Shatrunjaya first thing in the morning today. This place is about 2 kms away from Palitana, where my hotel is. Shatrunjaya is an important place for a jain piligrim. The main temple, and 41 other small temples, are located on the top of a hill. And how to get there? Well, you have two choices: either climb the 3600 or so steps up the hill, or take a doli . A doli is carried by two or people depending on the kind of comfort you want. I chose to walk up, kind of obvious right?
Wanted to set off from the Dhaba as early as possible, but still ended up pushing off at only at 7. I continue on the road, leading towards Bhavnagar, with Shatrunjaya being todays stop.
Long boring ride it turns out to be. The hot sun is aided here by the lack of trees close to the road. The only thing of interest on this road were the salt factories. These churn out mounds of salt. It is interesting to see salt formed in various crystalline structures in pools of water.
The land is parched in most parts along the road here. Villages are five kilometers away from the highway, a surefire indicator of where the more hospitable land is. Dried-up rivers have left in their trail a white residue, which can only be salt. Elsewhere too, there are small dry patches of land tinged with white. I have had enough of this salt and heat, except that my body is losing some.
Oct 2 : I have been observing, with some curiosity, the many ways in which tea is served here in Gujarat. There is the kaat(half) chai and the full tea. Full tea, at eight rupees, is quite expensive. However, if you consider the percentage of milk in it, then it is good value for money. The Gujaratis like their food and drink, and will pay for them too! The full tea is not considered full until the tea overflows from the cup into the saucer, and a significant amount at that. Many hotels stock more saucers than cups. The reason? The more popular half tea is served directly in saucers. This annoys me since the tea cools off fast. Not a problem for the locals who seem to rin through their tea fast.