Got down at Pumpwell(Mangalore) at 6:55AM. Soon, I am at Raji’s house(daughter of my father’s elder sister and a close relative). I get fresh, have breakfast and start off at 8:30 .
An artist friend of mine, Jagadish K Bhat (henceforth JKB), has offered accomodation at his house at Karki. Karki is a few kilometers away from Honnavar; and falls midway between Mangalore and Panaji.
JKB has told me that the distance is close to 190 KM. That is bad news. One doesn’t generally tart so late to cover so long a distance. Thus, I plan to reach Kaki no earlier than 10 PM
The going is smooth for some time. I am amazed at the rythm that is building up. Near KIOCL(Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited), I am tempted to get down for a photo. I resist that temptation because I don’t want to break my speed.
Halfway to Udupi, at Mulki, I take my first break. I guzzle a lot of water. The road is of moderate quality but generally there are few potholes. The occasional bridges and the backwaters remind me of my proximity to the sea. Meanwhile, I am keen to find out how far Honnavar really is. The best way to find that out is by looking at the milestones. Not that they are dead accurate, but they atleast give an idea. Fortunately, soon I see a board “Honnavar - 137 Udupi 15″. I decide to stop for lunch only after I get that distance below 100.
I reach the outskirts of Udupi in good time - about three and a half hours. After Udupi, it is time for a double lassi break. Drank Nandini Lassi for the first time (didn’t even know that it existed). At 12:30 PM, I am still about 108 kms away from Honnavar. My body is asking for food. I tell myself that I’ll stop at 1 PM. At 12:53, I come across a tempting hotel. I check the impulse to get down and run in
At 1:04, I see a milestone - “Panaji -299″. Means Honnavar is less than a hundred away. I stop at the next small hotel “Ganesh Prasad Veg”. have no hesitation to go for boiled rice. I gulp two extra rice plates in a hurry - leaving the waiter amused.
After lunch, the going becomes slower. I am an estimated 100+ kms from my destination. An hour of cycling sees me in Maruvanthe beach. I had heard a lot about the beach - about how on one side of the highway is the sea, and on the other flows the river and their confluence being an amazing sight. In my mind’s eye, I had pictured the raging sea on the one side, the river on the other and the highway separating the two. I had imagined that their union would be grand. Cut to reality : it is nothing out of the ordinary. What a letdown. I didn’t even bother to take a snap.
Slowly, the shadows lengthen. Just before dark, I am forced to pedal a steep uphill.
I am facing lots of issues with my NiMH cells. For some mysterios reasons, the GPS receiver is showing that the low power sign. I am forced to use my torch cells for the GPS. I put the GPS to battery saver mode as well. I purchase a few batteries as well for my torch. There are other problems as well. My cycle chain is slipping whenever I try to accelerate a bit. This annoys me no end.
As soon as it is dark, I turn on the “headlights”. At 7:00 PM, I am atlest 55 kms away from Karki, so I call up JKB’s father and inform him that I’ll be late.
I like cycling in the dark. It is cool. The moonlight has ensured that I don’t need to use my torch much.
After umpteen number of breaks (that’s what happens when I know that I will surely reach), many calls from JKB enquiring where I am, etc, I finally reach their house at 11:15 PM ! On reaching there, I find that JKB’s parents have not had their food yet - the traditional hospitality of North Kanara is at display. We quickly settle down for dinner. It is 12:20 AM when we switch off the lights.
All in all, it’s been a long day. I’ve covered about 190kms, nearly half the distance to Panaji. That means the cup is half full My legs are feeling a bit stiff. I expect a tough day tomorrow.