Sunday, August 22, 2010

More on the 1st August Nandi Hills Cycle ride

Group photo before leaving Cubbon Park;Courtesy Prabhakar of GGI
I left home in Domlur Layout a few minutes before 530 am and covered the 7.2Km to Cubbon Park in about 31 minutes at an easy speed of 14Km/hour. I met another rider Jayant coming in from Banarghatta road at the St. Marks Road/MG road intersection. When we reached the assembly point at the Seshadhri library circle there were a few cyclists already  there and more cyclists were arriving from differents parts of the city. Around 615 am we started off after a few group pictures. I rode mostly alone (though I chatted with several cyclists along the way including a few from GGI ) covering the 9.1Km to Columbia Asia hospital after the Hebbal flyover in 26 minutes. While having Lucozade from a  bottle  handed out by a volunteer from Tandem trails I noticed messages and missed call from Vasu.  He was a few hundred metres ahead and decided to wait for me to catch up with him which I did in a few minutes. I learnt that Chandra had dropped out at the last minute. We  rode on together  for about 29Kms in just under 90 minutes till the turn off point from Airport Road towards Nandi hills. En route we took a comfort break when we also refueled ouselves. During this stretch Yogesh Rao of BBC - one of the main organisers of this ride - joined us from behind and after checking that we were doing fine took off at a very high speed. We were quite amazed at the power he was able to generate on his hybrid bike. The ride was generally  comfortable with sporadic traffic - we rode on the shoulder most of the time.

A stretch to the base of Nandi Hills

We ran into a large  bunch of cyclists, including Yogesh Rao, at the turn off point from Airport road. Many cyclists were having breakfast here. Vasu and I decided to press on without  breakfast at this time - I had a bite of the energy bar that I was carrying. The next lap of  13.5 Kms to the base of Nandi was covered in about 50 minutes. The weather continued to be fantastic and with very little traffic this was the best stretch of the ride so far. We encountered a short stretch of gradient which gave us taste of the hill climb that awaited us. We passed the 2nd idly point and reached the base of Nandi hills. At the base of Nandi Hills we saw several cyclists including Shreyas eating breakfast after having done the ride up the hill.  Vasu and I refueled ourselves with water and some Kit-Kats and started the climb up around 9:20am - after about 3 hours since I left Cubbon Park. At the first climb Vasu hit a wall(he had run 27Kms the previous day!) and slowed down quite a bit. On his urging I pressed on. It was quite tough and challenging and I quickly shifted the gears to 1 and 2. For the next 50 minutes or so I alternated between 1 and 2 and 1 and 1 going up at the speed up between 5Km/hr and 10 Km/hr. There was a light mist and intermittant drizzle and the scenary looked even better than normal . Saw several cyclists speeding downhill. While car traffic was low there were quite a few motor bikers going in both directions. Though I felt tired and sore I did not stop even once - however at the last steep turn just as the arch was in sight I took a narrow turn, my cycle slowed down too much and I lost balance and fell. Fortunately for me I got a foothold and avoided rolling down and did not get hurt. Picking myself up immediately I crossed the arch to reach the 'lower top' in about 53 minutes of cycling from the bottom. Drank more than half a bottle of Lucozade and on hearing that hot breakfast and tea was being served on the top I started cycling again after a couple of minutes break. Another cyclist,Upendra(?), gave me company during this stretch. We reached the top in about 10 minutes of real hard  cycling as the muscles were quite stiff and sore by now and the seat was also beginning to hurt a bit. We were directed to the government bungalow for breakfast by some volunteers. While heading towards that a couple of people(Deepak and MJV) recognised me and were kind of surprised to see me as they normally associate me with long distance running and not cycling.

Hot upma and lemon rice was being served in a hall which was filled with cyclists who had conquered the hill that morning. Bhaskar Rao , the transport commissioner of Bangalore and an avid cyclist himself was there chatting with cyclists and ensuring that everyone was being served. In the breakfast room Manjula shouted out to me and cheered the fact that I had done it. It is thanks to Manjula's encouragement that I got the confidence to attempt this. After having some excellent upma and chatting briefly with a few cyclists I decided to start the return leg. I tried to check where Vasu was but could not reach his phone.

The ride downhill, ofcourse, was much easier - I was on gears 2 and 6 most of the time. I moderated my pace and did not go down too fast- never went to 3 and 8 as many cyclists did. On the way down I stopped briefly and chatted with Yogesh - checking whether he knew where Vasu was. I did not time myself downhill very accurately - I probably took around 20 minutes to reach the base. When I found that Vasu was just leaving the top I decided to continue my return journey. However, soon I realised that it did not make sense to make the long trip(which usually seems even longer on the return leg) alone. So I decided to stop and wait for Vasu  a few Kms from the base. We then cycled the return leg together till Mekhri circle. Despite the headwinds , high traffic, a couple of voluntary stops to rest and refuel and a few forced stops due to traffic lights we made steady progress at about 17 Kmph. I was extremely glad that we decided to ride back together. It would have been boring and more painful ride if I had ended up doing it alone. Vasu's company was simply fabulous and we chatted about a number of different topics during the 6 hours or so that we cycled together. We split around 2:15 PM when we reached Mekhri circle. I reached home just after 3PM after  stopping at 5 traffic lights enroute - fatigued but happy with the great experience of  having cycled  133Kms in 8 hrs 15 minutes of cycling time in a total of 9 and a half hours of elapsed time door to door!! 

While it took me about 53 minutes to cover the 7.4Kms from the base to the arch several experienced cyclists did this in amazing timings with the top three doing it in less than 25 minutes. Also once cyclist, Prakash S, did the climb three times in incredible timings of 35 m, 42m , and 37m respectively !

Mumbai beckons...yet again..

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