Nandi 200

The good start to the year continues. Cycling-wise I meant.

Started the Nandi 200 km brevet yesterday with some good hours on the saddle thanks to the commutes and the previous weekend’s long ride. I did some last minute changes to the bike – always a tricky thing to do just before an event. Got the rear tyre changed, and then did some do-it-myself cleaning of the chainring, cassette and derailleur. Being not too experienced at this, I ended up screwing up the gear shifting a bit, and got a quick fixing job done at RR Cycles. Even then, I didnt have a comfortable feeling switching gears. Note to self: No last minute tinkering hereon.

Some 40 odd riders kicked off the ride from the Airlines restaurant. Quite a good turnout.

IMG_20170115_054407260.jpg

The ride went smoothly upto Nandi Hills with a few gentle climbs with a bit of a chill near Doddabalapur. A flat in the riding party was a minor delay. All in all things were going pretty fine when we reached the Nandi Hills base.

I have done the climb only twice before, with the most recent one in July last year. This time I was confident of doing better and shaved off a good 12 minutes off my previous best with a time of 1:02:53. Yes, still a lot of room for improvement there. Now if only I do the climbs regularly. Even then, for a leisure cycling who does not really train, I will take this.

Conquering Nandi was a deceptive high; I still had a good 130 km to go, and a clear sunny sky to ride under. Not the best combination. The idli-omlette breakfast notwithstanding, I could feel the drop in energy levels the climb had brought in. Rode with several breaks till the next control point at Chintamani, and made it 20 minutes before the cut-off time. After a quick lunch, it was a simple equation: 73 km, 5 hours. Didn’t take any long breaks and rode through Hoskote before the perennial

finished the ride in 12.5 hours. The last 10 km seemed the toughest, having to navigate through the Bangalore city traffic.

Other highlights:
As happens most during a brevet, made some friends during the ride. We had each other’s backs, whether it was a puncture or anyone feeling any fatigue.
Yummy pulav by the organizers at the control point.
A couple did the brevet on a tandem bike. In a post-ride conversation, I got to know how syncing the riders’ cadence is critical to minimize effort.

Didn’t click many pics. Just a few at Nandi and some post-ride ones. Sharing a couple of them.

IMG_20170115_093833231_BURST000_COVER_TOP.jpg

img_20170115_190602459

Advertisements

Bangalore – Goa: Day 5-7

In case you’ve missed the story so far:
Bangalore – Goa: Day 1
Bangalore – Goa: Day 2
Bangalore – Goa: Day 3
Bangalore – Goa: Day 4

 

This was to be the itinerary going forward:
Day 5: Ride from Murdeshwar to Gokarna
Day 6: Lounge around the beaches at Gokarna
Day 7: Ride from Gokarna to Goa

I’d have loved to say this was how I planned it when I set out from Bangalore, but no. Someday, yes someday, I’ll stick to the plan to the tee.

The ride from Murdeshwar to Gokarna was a short one – 77 km with the route along the Panvel-Kanyakumari highway being mostly smooth. My only regret was the road not being close enough to the coast. Some pictures from the ride.

img_20160912_082021

 

img_20160912_102441

 

img_20160912_131507

 

The distance not being too big, I rode at an easy pace, reaching Gokarna town by early afternoon and checked in at Zostel. Located on a hill, the place offered a stunning view of the beach.

img_20160912_140535

 

 

img_20160912_183417

 

Whether you are a solo traveller or traveling in a group, Zostel is a great place to put up at while in Gokarna. The place had comfortable dorms and cottages, and a chilled out common area stocked with books and board games. Free wi-fi too. The place had a motley group of backpackers from across India and a few from the Netherlands and Germany too. Having ridden solo for the last 4 days, I loved the buzz around the hostel.

The common area had some funky art work.

 

The next day a few of us trekked around the beaches nearby. Some of the beaches had intriguing names – Om beach (named so because its shoreline resembles the Sanskrit letter Om), Half moon beach, Paradise beach and Devil’s cliff. Had breakfast at Namaste Cafe – idyllic seaside location with not so great food.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

In the afternoon, we went into Gokarna town, intending to to see the temples, only to find foreigners were not allowed in any of them. Once again, religion baffled me with its rigidity.

Gokarna to Goa

When I left for Goa, the day’s destination was not fixed. One of the guys at Zostel had recommended the beaches at Palolem, Patnem and Agonda, none of which I had been to before. I decided to take a call later during the day. If I made it in good time, I could even go all the way to Benaulim.

After the 10 km ride from Gokarna to the highway, the ride got more comfortable with the weather being on my side too. Overcast skies are so much better than bright sunny ones when you’re on the bike. And so it was this time too, except that it began to rain an hour after I had started. The rain kept making fleeting appearances for a while, and though it got cooler, I sweated heavily under my raincoat. Damn, off with the thing. Braving the rain seemed better than getting warmer under a waterproof jacket.

img_20160914_095809

 

The skies cleared by the time I reached Karwar where the beach was just too inviting to miss.

img_20160914_120202
Karwar Beach

 

img_20160914_120838

The ride on to the Goa border was plainly uneventful. Uneventful enough for me to ride leisurely singing songs to myself. That the roads were largely remote for long sections helped me practice belting out my vocals without a worry. Clicked a few pics and carried on happy to have come within touching distance of my destination.

img_20160914_131636

 

Turned out I had rejoiced too soon. The road thereon got steadily uphill, I had no food to refuel with and the ghats offered no sight of a restaurant. For once, the endless sights of greenery and winding roads seemed monotonous. Well, that’s what draining energy levels can do. Quick fix: stopped at a shop, picked up a bar of chocolate, topped up my water supply and went on. And just like that, the route looked prettier.

img_20160914_134305_hdr

 

img_20160914_135323

By now I had decided to halt at Palolem. I reached the quiet beach after a quick late lunch. Time to chill out with a few beers. And that’s what I did.

img_20160914_182600
Yes, beaches in Goa can be serene like this.

 

img_20160915_093417
So serene, even this guy agrees.

So that’s the story of my ride from Bangalore to Goa. 694 km in 6 days.

Of course, there was still one minor task to be done – getting back to Bangalore. I was to board the bus from Margao, 40 km away from Palolem. On the face of it, the ride to Margao should have been comfortable. Of course, the rains thought otherwise and gave me company for most of the ride. By the time I reached the bus station, I was soaking wet.

Perhaps that was nature’s way of compensating for being kind on the other days.

Thanks for reading.

And another big thanks to Bangalore’s Simply Pedal, a community for cyclists. This is where I started going on long rides on the weekends, and gained confidence to do longer tours. If you are a cyclist enthusiast from Bangalore, check out their FaceBook page and the Meetup page. Okay wait, check out the pages even if you aren’t a cyclist from Bangalore.

Thanks once more. Till we meet again.

Bangalore – Goa: Day 3 (Nellyadi to Udupi)

Read about the earlier part of the tour here:
Day 1
Day 2

The previous two days of biking ensured I slept well the night before. Yes, slept well even in the poorly ventilated lodge with a fan that tried its best to keep me awake with its metronomic tuk-tuk. And once again, I struggled to wake up before 6 am.

Once I was up though, I went through the morning tasks quickly. Gobbled down an energy bar and headed off on the bike by 7 am – My starting times were getting later each subsequent day. The route this morning was much smoother and I rode along without much trouble. The descent through the ghats was done the previous day; today I could coast through the forest at an easy pace. It was a bit cloudy as well, and with the birds chirping in the background, and the trees lined up on both sides of the road, I would have gladly taken these conditions everywhere I rode.

img_20160910_081918
Across the Netravathi river

The breakfast stop was at Perne, 25 km away from Nellyadi. While I tore bits from the omelette, the man running at the breakfast joint recounted how a gas tanker had skidded on the bend outside and had caught fire a few years ago. Not a good story to tell a cyclist. Actually, not a good story to tell anyone on the road.

img_20160910_085640
Outside the breakfast point at Perne

After I moved on from Perne, the weather started getting more humid and sunnier as I headed westward. I could see I was getting a deeper tan as well. Reached Mangalore, and bypassed the city to head towards Udupi.

IMG_20160910_123210.jpg

My power combo of energy bars and bananas was working pretty well, so did not need to stop for any meal after breakfast.

Now the stretch from Mangalore to Udupi was a deceptive one. The route has a gentle gradient, nothing that would have you huffing and pushing the pedal. The humid weather and the almost naked terrain though made it tough. It’s not just the physical toll such conditions take. The monotonously sunny landscape throughout also dulled me mentally, mostly because I expected the route to get more scenic once I got closer to the coast. Of course, the highway was not all that close to the shoreline, much to my disappointment.

So just kept my feet on the pedal and continued. Just before Udupi, I caught sight of an elephant ambling ahead on the highway. Pedalled quickly and positioned myself a few meters ahead of the big guy. Pulled out my phone to click a selfie, but had no idea elephants could walk fast as well. The mahout later told me the beast was getting nervy by the sound of the road roller. Handed some chikki and a 10 rupee note to the elephant and went further on my way.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Turned off the highway to head to Udupi. The first sight of Udupi surprised me. I thought it would have been a small quiet town. Rode into a place that seemed like a suburb in Bangalore. A bustling market, a few guest houses and streets agog with the sound of honking motorists. Even 400 km away, this place seemed closer home to Bangalore.

So what do you do when you are in Udupi. Check out a local Udupi restaurant of course. But with a twist. While I love the South Indian breakfast – idli, dosa, utthappam, a South Indian dinner does not cut it for me. Settled for plain old rice and dal fry. Yeah, you read that right.

Bangalore – Goa: Day 1

So I started from home at a little past 6 am. The day’s destination was Channarayapattana, 152 km away from Bangalore.

There is rarely a day in recent history when Bangalore’s legendary traffic has not hogged the limelight. This day wasn’t any different, yes even at 6.30 am. Got stuck between seemingly endless lines of trucks just after I had crossed Yeshwantpur. Oh, and this was before I managed to miss the road towards Nelamangala, and somehow ended up outside Yeshwantpur station. Which again is not to surprising given my propensity to go off track.

Long story short, I spent a good part of the early hours getting out of the city. Didn’t stop for long breaks to make up for it, except for breakfast and lunch and the occasional stop to stretch a little. Rode through Solur, Yadiyur, Hirisave without any distinct change in scenery either, so pedaling on seemed a better prospect. Maybe the mileage will be rewarded with a leisurely ride in the days to come.

Oh and yes, also felt like I could have gone even lighter with my baggage. Quite sure it weighs less than 10 kg, but after 100 km, every gram of weight made me pay the price. Something to think about in the next tour.

On account of the statewide strike in Karnataka today, I have stocked up on water and bananas. That’s going to be my superfood, let’s see how it goes. Might have to do a curtailed ride – droopy eyes and sore legs aren’t complaining.

Signing off with a few pics. Adios.