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.

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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.

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Pearl Valley

Today’s ride was to Pearl Valley. Three riders including myself. I left home at 5.45 am and caught up with Ajeet at Silk Board by 6 am. Trilok was to join us a little later – it was a 17 km ride from his place to the meeting point. While Ajeet and I caught up on each other’s whereabouts, Trilok stormed on to the scene, hammering away on his pedals.

The ride to our destination was a quick 32 km ride, made more pleasant with the weather getting cooler as we moved away from the city. Locally called Muthyalamaduvu, Pearl Valley has a lake which feeds a waterfall. The waterfall incidentally turned out to be pretty dry during our visit. It is said to slide off the slopes in drops that look like pearls from a distance, hence the name Pearl Valley. Too bad if you thought of finding some pearl oysters around.

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Along the way, Trilok shared his experiences about his ride from Bangalore to Mumbai. Ajeet joined in soon, and together the two kept our trio entertained with stories about treks and tents, in particular, how to sleep to keep a tent from blowing away in the wind.

A holiday well spent. Adios, and happy Dussehra to all you folks.
Till I write again.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Karwar Beach

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Yes, beaches in Goa can be serene like this.

 

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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.