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10May/068

Pedalathon!

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.

The full team : Ajay, Guru, Kiruba, KK, Sandeep, Satish, Shree and Shyam. Abhi was on a motorcycle, constituting the support team. He turned out to play an important role too...

I got up at 2:45 AM in the morning of Saturday (6th May). The meeting time was 4:00 AM. Kribs, KK and Shyam had flown in from Chennai. I didn't want to be embrassed by reaching even a minute late. Everybody had the same thing in mind, so we finally ended up meeting at 3:50 AM near Sony world (Koramangala, Inner Ring Road) !

After a short round of introductions and some cycle tweeking, we all started off. I remember that we covered 20+ kms in the first hour of cycling. Everybody patted themselves on the back, which was the natural thing to do 🙂 Our pace started to slacken with time. Initially, there was talk of having breakfast at Woodys (10ksm after Kolar?). We finally settled for Kamat - some 16 kms before Kolar. Ajay and Shyam reached Kamat first. Kribs, me and KK reached together. And then we waited for the rest to join in... Meanwhile, a Maruti Omni stopped with a punctured front tyre right near us. Two old men were inside the vehicle and had all the tools and the stepney ready. Kribs initiated the repair, starting off with a jack. The entire team joined in. We did a good deed and I ended up learning that it wasn't so difficult a job.

Everyone had their fill at Kamath. Idli, Vada, Dosa, Poori, Kesari Bath and Lime Juice rounded off the breakfast. And some "downloaded" (actually offloaded) stuff. Breakfast had consumed an hour of our time! It was time to hurry - we had covered only about 48 kms till there.

While starting, KK noticed that he had very less air in his front tyre. What was good was that he had a small pump with which he pumped in enough air to continue for a few kms to the nearest village (Narasapura) with a cycle repair shop. We deviated from the highway, and after several enquiries, landed in Narasapura. The deviation had its plusses as we got to see some really big bats hanging on a few trees. At the cycle shop, it turned out that the tyre hadn't got punctured - probably some valve tube issue. Few others took the chance and pumped in some air into their tyres.

After this break, our pace picked up. We reached Kolar at a good speed and kept the momentum after Kolar too. Guru, me and Ajay reached the deviation to Mulabagal at 12:00. Initially we had planned for lunch nearby, but since we reached too early, we decided to continue. At this point, the odometer showed 94 kms. KK wanted to complete 100 kms before stopping, so he had continued. Ajay wanted to stop at a place where he could get drinking water, so he continued too. 20 minutes later, Kribs and Sanjay joined us. So we were still waiting for Satish and Shyam. Satish seemd to have some problems at this point. Abhi (on the bike) had also gone ahead - which wasn't so good because Satish seemed to need some help. However, it turned out that Satish was only a few kilometers behind. Abhi returned back by the time Satish joined us. And the motorcycle was put to good use to tow Satish...

About 10 kms later, we found that the frontrunners had stopped at a Dhaba in Vaddhalli. Nobody wanted to continue without lunch - so we decided that this was the right place. Everybody had a hearty lunch at the dhaba and then a round of sleep. I, in particular, dozed off in the chair itself. Sandeep had gone on and slept in the carriage of a luggage-rickshaw - unmindful of the dust there. It was funny seeing him get up and dust his shirt!
I think the break cost us about 2 hours - but I am not sure.

After we started off, we continued at a good clip to Palamner. Sometime after this, Abhi and Satish swapped vehicles. It was 5:40 in the evening when we reached Palamner. Just after Palamner, we got to go down a ghat. Perfect timing for a downhill ride ! We stopped for tea after the ghat and waited for everyone to catch up. When we were ready to start, it was already dark. Chittoor, our intended halting place, was still 25 kms away. Abhi resumed riding the motorcycle at this point.

Only me and KK had Shimano torches fitted to our cycles. So we decided to travel in a single file - with me leading and KK somewhere in between. With time, we broke into two groups - one led by me and another by KK.

Some 10 kms from Chittoor, Satish started experiencing some problems with his chain and again had to be towed by Abhi. Everyone was quite tired by the time we reached Chittoor. So we ended up settling for an A/C lodge which didn't have extra beds (3 rooms total). 450 rupees per room.

Everybody was quickly headed for dinner at different places (Many hotels in Tamil Nadu serve only idli-dosa items, but no meals). And crashed into their beds once they were back! Some team members decided they needed a bath to save time the next day.

Overall, we had done 185 kms on the first day...

We had started off from the hotel at 4:45 (?) the next morning. Satish had chosen to discontinue due to the chain problem. So, the size of the group became 7 cyclists. Again, we started off as a group. As soon as we reached the highway, we took a short break. After the break, we went really fast. We were clocking about 20 kilometers an hour, on the average. Kribs felt hungry after an hour and we all decided that we needed to stop for breakfast much before Ranipetai. After a lot of searching, we stopped for breakfast some ten kms before Ranipetai, at 7:30. Breakfast was quite cheap, at 70 rupees for 8 people (excluding coffee). The sunscreens bottles were out at this time, as were the pain sprays.

Shyam informed us that some 13 kms later, we would be reaching the Golden Quadrilateral road from Chennai to Bangalore. Ajay, Guru and me finally reached that road at 9:00. And waited for the others to join. Chennai was still 107 kms away. After this, we were riding fast, hour after hour. In particular, our group of 3 set a scorching pace - moving at an average of over 22 km/hr! We finally stopped at a dhaba near Kanchipuram, waiting for the others. Eveybody arrived, and we ended up having lunch in that dhaba itself.

I don't remember exactly when we resumed cycling, but it was atleast 2:30 in the afternoon. We thus had enjoyed a long break (some sleep too). Now the remaining part of the road beckoned...

Our pace post lunch was quite slow. We were clearly tired. We drove slowly to Sriperumbudur and reached at 4:00. Even before Sriperumbudur, I could see an India flag fluttering in the wind. I had no problems deducing that it would probably a Rajiv Gandhi Memorial. Meanwhile, I asked Ajay whether Sriperumbudur reminded him of something. He promptly answered, "isn't that the place where they got him?".

Just as we reached Sriperumbudur, we stopped near the deviation. And a guy near us accosted us and introduced himself as Jacob. Shyam and Kribs had described him earlier as a good marathoner. He had apparently run the Mumbai marathon in 3 hrs 15 mins. He guessed correctly that I had been from Chennai to Kolkata (how, I have no idea). Turned out that he had come to Chittoor and from there to Sriperumbudur on a bus. He intended to run back from there to Chennai with our team. It was plain to see that this guy was a crazy marathoner ! (He apparently runs from Chennai to Mahabalipuram and back every sunday).

I had a bus to catch at 8:30 PM from Egmore. Jacob estimated that we still had 33 kms to go before we reach Koyambedu. So we set off, and Jacob started running. He caught up with us 6 kms later, where we had started for a tea break. But we saw him coming walking. He was saying that it is too hot and humid - and that it was best to walk, else he would get dehydrated.

From there on, we made slow progress and reached Ponnamalee (outskirts of Chennai) at around 6:00. I cooled myself with a Kulfi there. In a few moments, we saw Satish. We checked the progress of the trailing group - they estimated that they would take an hour more. We decided to continue and after a few breaks, reached Koyambedu at 7:00. We cooled off with some cold drinks and then went to the private bus stand. Kribs and Shyam had called me up and suggested that I board the bus at Koyambedu itself rather than at Egmore. This was a great relief. We checked at Parveen travels and they charge 100 per cycle. Finally, it turned out that my bus would come to Koyambedu not before 10:00 PM.

The rest of the time was spent waiting for the bus, eating and drinking.

Overall, it was a very good trip. I am still surprised at the kind of energy shown by everybody. It is great that 7 out of 8 finished the tough trip !! It really was a great effort by everybody...

Total trip stats (from KK's meter):

Days : 2
Distance : 326 kms
Total Riding Time : 18 hrs 21 mins

Please see related posts on kiruba.com and Guru's Site.

Some pics :

Andhra-TN border

Scroll the image above to see a panaroma which I took of the whole team (sans me, of course). To the left is the dhaba where we had our lunch on Day 2. From left to right : Kribs, Shyam, Ajay, Guru, KK, Sandeep, and Abhi.

Comments (8) Trackbacks (3)
  1. I liked the way you kept on pedalling yaar.. singing songs to the pitch of your voice and moving on and on…. It reminded me of ‘yaare koogaadali oore horadali, ninna nemmadige bhangavilla’ song.

  2. Guru : yes, that’s my normal way of cycling. Part of the reason why I don’t keep an MP3 player is that I am my own MP3 player 🙂

  3. Nice report….got the perspective of the front runners…:)

  4. hey Shree,

    you again got Sandeep’s name wrong (as Sanjay) ! 🙂

    As Guru said, it’s amazing the way you keep pedalling on and on. Thanks for setting the pace for the trip.
    BTW, what happened to the photos taken in front of dhaba on day 2 (panaromic etc.) ?

    Cheers,

  5. Ajay & Guru : And you guys did well to keep pace with me.

    Ajay : Thanks for reminding – I changed the name everywhere now.

    PS : look at the end of the post for the panaroma. I hate to say this, but you might need to use the latest version of Mozilla for best results…

  6. woooow .. awesome !

  7. Frigging rock stars!! You guys had great time … Sooper!


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