I barely slept a couple of hours before the start of the tour. Took off to the starting point Koramangala and reached at around 6 am. There was a sea of riders and wellwishers waiting. Once I reached there, saw the breakfast spread and jumped in to gulp some. Met Neeta Katwal for the 1st time. Saw SreeHarsha and a few other blokes who were not riding but had come to see us off. At around 6:45 my wife and son surprised me by showing up to see me off. Good of them to come despite being a weekday and Vaibhav having school. We waited for a chief guest who I believe never turned up(RACF correct me if I am wrong), and duly the ride got flagged off at around 7:30 (as against a *final* start time of 6:45 per Sameer).
Given that I had done a recce 2 weeks ago of the same route, I rode at a steady pace trying to stay clear of traffic. Before hitting the underpass on the ring road, saw Deena who was looking for the road. Took the right at Haralur road and went towards Jigani. So far the ride was pleasant despite the bumps. The recce really helped in setting my expectations right. When I did the ride in early Dec, I was quite exhausted by the time I reached Jigani but none of that this time. After the triple humps we finally reached Hosa road, where I found Mark, Malvika and a bunch of other riders searching for the road. I promptly went ahead and asked them to follow me. They did, a bit uncertain at first but I hollered that I knew the route. I would think a few of them were taken by surprise by the 1km of mud road just after the Hosur road crossing. Bunch of them overtook me after a while and I continued riding. Vishnu was my constant companion from the start. Once we reached the Jigani – Harohalli road, Sagar and Mohan joined us. We did the downhills and I reached 60.5 (my highest recorded time) in one of them. On one stretch they had laid out the Ragi for threshing by passing vehicles I made the mistake of going fast over them and so did Sagar, paid for it by a lot of grass getting on my drive train and some into the chain links. After sometime I found pedalling very difficult and since I had carried limited hydration fluid ( after being told of the legendary TFN support) , found the going difficult. Sagar helped me with his Gatorade a couple of times, and then pointed out to the grass in my cycle. We stopped about 8km from harohalli and he helped me get rid of all the grass. Took us a good 20mins or so. Mohan and Vishnu were far ahead by now. I decided to stop by Jayaram’s if I found Vishnu or Yogesh there. Went there with Sagar, but found no cyclist so decided to continue. Sagar took the right towards Bangalore and I proceeded alone towards Sathanur. I think Santosh whizzed past before Harohalli and mentioned that the motorcycle support was on its way. However there was no sign of any one and I just keep chugging along. About 5 km before Kanakapura I got quite exhausted and chanced upon a Elaneer(tender coconut) vendor. Took care of 2 of them with some good coconut kernel as well. Got to give my tired legs some respite. Once done, I continued and after some time, our turbanned support guy whom I would meet often the next few days turned up. Took some swigs of pulpy orange juice from Gagan and continued on my way. At the start of the day, Santosh had mentioned that we needed to be at the 1st support station by 10:30. A quick calculation showed that this was about 90 km from the starting point and given the terrain , definitely a challenge. I was hoping to hit this station at around 11:30 and hoped to reach Halguru at around 2 pm. I think I finally made it to the 1st support station at around 12 pm or so. i found Vishnu, Sameer , Pranav, Prem , etc there when I reached there. Took a 10 min break here and then proceeded on the downward journey to the river. On the way to the river, saw what I believe was a jackal, tried to notify the others behind me, but the fellow had made his/her escape by then. On our way down we took a few pictures and met the official photographer and official blogger who was chugging along in his noisy 4 wheeler. They took some photographs of us and proceeded on from the base. I went into the water for 10mins or so, and a few of the others dipped their feet in the water.
I started later than the rest of the folks from the river, by the time I reached the Bheemeshwari camp, my fellow riders were far ahead. I passed Prem and some one else. Passed Haresh after some time, and after some hufffing/puffing , finaally caught up with Vishnu. Around a bend too many, finally ran out of water. We went into a school and they refilled our bottles with pristine local water. Both of us , thankful gulped some and continued on the journey. By the time I reached the edge of the climb to the main road, I was quite desparate for the support station , and quite hungry. Gobbled up the offering at one go, took a few hearty breaths, and enquired about the sweep truck. Navin Mathew was on hand , and promptly pointing to a truck on the wayside said – Thats the sweep truck and will start from here in 20 minutes. you guys better get going. Given that I had decided that today was going to be the longest of the tour, and the one day that I’d be likely to get swept, I decided to go for it. We got some motorcycle support from Naveen on the way. I think the period from 3 to 5:45 on day 1 was probably the most intense ride of my life. It gives me some confidence that I can push myself in the future if need be. From here, we just kept pushing till we reached the 2nd support station. I believe the SS told us that there were about 40+ riders still behind. So I figured there were enough people to be swept behind so they would take time to reach here. I tried and overtook as many as I could in this stretch. But on the whole a bad idea. As we neared Kollegal, I was beginning to get blurred vision and couldn’t focus on the road, Gave Vishnu a heads up and thankfully he was closeby till we reached the destination. Looked at the cyclocomp @ arrival, and it showed 198.03 km. Quite the end of a long day. Not to mention that I had fairly intense back pain when I reached Kollegal. I hoped it would go away by the morning of the morrow. Met Namit Nangia later at night and he mentioned he decided to push as well looking at me pedalling , since he figured I was doing it to avoid the sweep truck. There was a small get together of the beer loving bikers (BLBs). Had a fairly good nights sleep but woke up with some amount of discomfort in my back, some stiffness and some pain, and a swelling/inflammation. I decided to start the next day slowly and see if the biking eased up the pain on my back.