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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The skies cleared by the time I reached Karwar where the beach was just too inviting to miss.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today’s destination was Murdeshwar a coastal town 110 km away. Since the sun rises on the coast later than in Bangalore, I could sneak in a few more precious minutes of sleep.
When I left, I headed for a small detour to Malpe beach – the lodge owner had recommended a visit to the place. The beach, and Manipal University too. Chose to skip the latter though. I reached Malpe after an 8 km ride. The beach with its wide long stretches of sand was one of the cleanest I have seen.
Moving on, I headed to Traasi for breakfast, and then to Maravanthe, a beach bordered by the Arabian Sea on one side and the Kolluru river on the other. I was told the shoreline was not too safe.
I got off the highway at around the 105 km mark to head to Murdeshwar. Back to sights of green – rice fields with the mountains in the background.
Murdeshwar town was another 5 km away. It was a Sunday and it turned out a religious procession was going down the streets with some mythological characters being paraded around. A few revelers took the festivities a notch further by including me in their merriment with a generous shower of colours.
Checked into the nearest lodge and came for a quick visit to the temple and the beach. The Shiva statue here, the second largest in the world, looked imposing even as its silhouette stood out in the sunset.
The Murdeshwar temple itself has ornate carvings with scenes from the epics and a cave museum narrating Ravana’s story.
I did venture out onto the beach as well. Thanks to the heavy influx of tourists, the beach is nothing to write about. Ended with a quiet dinner. That’s about it for day 4. Day 5 would take me to one of the most charming coastal towns in Karnataka.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After much deliberation the night before, I decided to bike ahead on the day of the statewide strike.
Initially the plan was to ride to Sakleshpur and see how the situation was thereon. With my stocked supplies, I was confident of getting there without any worries. Left a little late considering Sakleshpur was only 76 km away. Had a lucky break just 7 km into the ride though. One of the breakfast joints on the highway was open. Had just finished a quick breakfast when some cops appeared and ordered the restaurant to shut shop for the day. (I don’t understand Kannada, so I assume the cops did ask them to close down. For all you know, they might have just asked for some idli sambar.)
The route kept getting more scenic as I rode ahead. The strike also kept buses and trucks off the road, and boy was I glad? I mean, this is what a cyclist would pray for – clear but not too warm weather, pothole-free roads and no mean trucks threatening to knock you off with a shoulder push.
The scenes were a refreshing change from the previous day when I’d ridden through sparse green cover. Deciduous trees spotted the landscape for a while, and a small patch went around rice fields. Near Sakleshpur, passed through coffee plantations. Did pass by a mob burning tyres as well; in this case being ignored as a cyclist worked in my favour.
Reached Sakleshpur by early afternoon. With time in hand inspite of a quick downpour, I revised the day’s halt to Nellyadi, another 58 km away. Hit the ghats soon, and even though most of this was a descent, I stopped several times to soak in the sights and sounds.
Even went off road to step around a stream. Spotted some huge butterflies.
All this lingering came with a price. As evening set in, I still had some distance to cover, and it became a race against time to get to Nellyadi. There weren’t any villages on the way too, so I had to grind the pedals to get to the destination. Place turned out to be a dot-sized village. Put up with the first lodge I found. Didn’t have much choice; would have had to ride for another 21 km to find the next town. Wound up with a riding distance of 134 km.
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.