Many things have happened since my last post : I spoke at FOSS.NITC, we rode to Nandi Hills one fine Sunday. However, I am tempted enough to post only what I did last weekend...
Warning : this is a long post and generally makes more sense to a cycling junkie
Ugadi being a Thursday offered a golden opportunity for a trip. I converted Friday into a holiday and took off towards Mangalore on my cycle (tempted to say "what else" ? wait for my next post ).
My first goal was to reach my Uncle's place, which is near Madikeri. The challenge was to do it in a single day. The problems are many : the sheer distance (240-250 kms), the bad roads and the ghats. I had tried it two years ago - and failed. Would I succeed this time ?
My planned route was : Bangalore-Srirangapatna-Ilavala-Hunsur-Sunticoppa(15 kms from Madikeri)-Hardur(my uncle's place)
I placed my bets on starting early. I started off at 3:15 AM. I wanted to reach Srirangapatna as early as possible. Now, there are two schools of thought in cycling - one favouring pedalling more with smaller gears and the other favouring pedalling less with large gears. If you followed the last Tour de France, you already know that Lance Armstrong favours the former and Jan Ullrich favours the latter. For this trip, I decided to try the latter approach. Since the slopes till Mysore weren't all that steep, I could get away with it. Even on the ups, I wouldn't downshift gears. And the road is very good for the most part. Most of the time, I was pedalling in the highest possible gear! The result : I reached Srirangapatna in 7 hours! 124 kms in 7 hours, inclusive of breakfast, accident, breaks, etc is very good indeed
Did I say "accident" ? All I meant was a nasty nasty fall. Near Shivapura (Maddur Tiffanies), there is a short stretch of road which is still not good. I was moving fast and didn't want to reduce speed. And I tried to go around a pothole. I fell badly. I ended up with a wound on my right knee and pain on my left thigh. Scratches on my right palm, left hand and just above the left cheekbone. Enough of this medical description My watch got brushed against the road and ended up with scratches all over. The front rim of my cycle got bent, the brakes stopped working... A little pressure on the front rim straightened it a bit - good enough to proceed.
I pedalled lightly and had breakfast at Maddur tiffanies. My legs were paining, and I even toyed around with the idea of returning home. The challenge had been taken and I already had a head start. If I had a good chance of meeting the challenge, it was now! So I decided to continue.
At 7:30, I reached Maddur and went hunting for a cycle shop. I found one, but it wasn't open. The cashier of the nearby hotel pointed out the cycle mechanic to me. I was able to persuade him to repair my cycle. He didn't have his equipment and I wasn't willing to wait - so he just about straightened the rim and I started off. Atleast an hour wasted due to this accident 8:00 AM when I set off towards Srirangapatna, 50 odd kms to go!
I had thought that the pain would slow me down a bit, but no! My cycling muscles were seemingly not hurt, and I regained my rythm very fast. I reached Srirangapatna at 11:15 AM. 7 hours! My moving average at this point : 22.2 kms/hr
Two tender coconuts were enough to see me off towards the next leg of my journey. Some 2 kms after Srirangapatna, I had to take right turn towards Ilavala (this road leads towards Edamuri also). To my relief, I found that this road has been repaired. I reached Ilavala in about an hour, if memory serves. My average had dropped slightly to 21.7 kms/hr
36 kms remained to Hunsur. I had decided to stop for lunch there. Friends had warned me that the road was under repair. It turned out to be much worse than I imagined. Nearing Hunsur, my back tyre burst. The reason was simple : it was worn out. I cursed my lack of preparation. Luckily, a cycle shop was just half a kilometer away. He didn't have a spare tyre - but he put a patch piece in. This turned out to be good enough to reach Hunsur. I reached Hunsur at 2:45 and promptly got both the tyre and the tube replaced. I had lunch there (most hotels were closed). At 3:15, I was out of Hunsur.
The bad road had wreaked havoc to my rhythm to the point of no return. The sun over my head did no good to my spirit and I trudged on slowly - averaging 12 kms an hour with lots of stops. The only consolation was that the scenery is much better after Hunsur.
It was dark when I reached Kushalnagar. After a short rest, I put on my headlights and continued. A few kilometers after Kushalnagar, there comes a place called Anekaadu (Elephant Forest). It was pitch dark when I reached there. The range of my headlight was a few meters at most. I was apprehensive of hitting a crossing elephant. Lone elephants are most dangerous, I have heard. Luckily, nothing bad happened. I heaved a sigh of relief once I crossed the long uphill slope of Anekaadu. I stopped for coffee at the next roadside shop. Ended up talking to another person who resides near my Uncle's house. My uncle's son travels on his motorcycle quite a bit and he made the inevitable comparisons.
I made steady progress after coffe. It was 9:30 when I reached my uncle's home. Hooray !!! I had covered 240 kms and achieved the goal, inspite of the obstacles... After dinner, I just dropped asleep.
The next day was a rest day. My uncle is a coffee planter and his house is inside the estate. He is a keen nature lover and tries to grow whatever he can. Right in front of his house is the (mandatory) coffee drying area and then comes his plants. There are lots of varieties - flower and ornamental plants, aromatic plants, fruits trees, ornamental trees, etc. And my aunt is a great cook - she pampered me with great coffee and many eatables.
I must have regained all the weight that I might have lost on Day 1.
Day #3 was again a cycling day. I had to reach my mother's place : Irodi village near the Karnataka-Kerala border. The place is about 30 kms from Vitla (16 kms from Puttur). My uncle estimated the distance to be around 140 kms. I started off late at 7:00 in the morning. I climbed till Madikeri (1126 meters above sea level). By this time, I had noticed that one of the spokes in the back wheel had come off. The brakes had lost most of their punch One more visit to a cycle mechanic. He wanted an hour and 60 rupees to correct the trouble. I had no choice but to agree.
I utilised the time to finish my breakfast. At 10, me and the cycle were ready to continue. Going downhill was the best part of the journey. I would have really enjoyed it - except that the road was not very good for the most part. And the brakes were not working well too. The back tyre had less than ideal pressure. I took care not to speed up too much. In an hour and a half, I was a Sampaje - 28 kms or so away and effectively the end of the downhill slope.
After this, the road would be hilly till my destination. Ihe conditions were hot and humid. I was wet with sweat. The occasional breeze kept me comfortable for the most part. Even though I wasn't feeling hungry, I stopped for lunch at Sullia (at 1:00 PM). My pace improved after lunch and I reached Vitla around 5:00 PM. I stopped for much needed food and rest at Anekal (on the Karnataka-Kerala Border). My final destination was only 7 kms away, which I finally reached at 7:30 PM. I had covered 148 kms on the third day and my average had dropped to 16.2 kms/hr. My brother had arrived there by bus (there was a motorcycle plan sometime!).
On sunday, I attended my grandma's shraddha. Sunday evening, I cycled to Mangalore. I had got two KSRTC tickets booked to Bangalore through a friend. Transporting the cycle turned out to be the least of the isssues this time around. Monday morning, I was back in Bangalore.
Trip stats :
Total Distance : 421 kms
Max Speed : 45.4 km/hr
Average : 16.7 km/hr (don't remember correctly)
BTW, 240 kms in a single day is the max that I have done ever. My next challenge? Bangalore to Mangalore in a single day. That's 360 kms, atleast. I am planning to buy another cycle for that - the Road Pro 2200, costs 25k...
And, before you ask for it : sorry - no pictures. I didn't shoot any!