400km brevet ride

This blog is about my experience on a long ride, a 400km brevet ride. This site is a reference.After last week’s 200km partial recce of the brevet route, these were my thoughts

  1. Afternoon heat was not too bad. I should be able to ride well the whole day. However, we didn’t see north of Koratagere, so we can’t be sure.
  2. Night chill will be bad. Be prepared for that.

Accordingly, I wore 3 Tshirts inside my cycling jersey, wore an earmuff, and a pair of thinsulate gloves in case the cold became unmanageable. Made up my mind to cover distance in the morning. Here was a rough plan for the day. Ride steady in the morning, till the sun gets too hot. Take it easy in the afternoon if the sun decides to make life miserable. Cover distance at night. Was hoping to complete the brevet by 3am, since last week’s ride gave me confidence to ride fast on the highway at night, and I felt I could ride at 25kmph at night.However, the distance factor has a habit of making speeds unpredictable. Sometimes even 15kmph on a stretch where you have done 25kmph can be tough to achieve, after fatigue sets in. I got up at 3:10 and reached the venue at 5:45. No sign of the guys who came with me last week. Manjula and Arvind trooped in his car. At the stroke of 6, the 1st of us were flagged off. Rajani and Kiran came in at this time. Not wanting to waste time waiting now, decided to start. Was confident these guys would anyway catch up during my bad-road crawls. My goal was to return to the NH4 highway back from the Challakere/Bellary road section by sunset. Koratagere by 12:00 and Sira by 3:30 seemed reasonable goals. 9 hours for the final 180km of highway would mean end point by 3.

Phase 1: Ride to Koratagere : 1st control
As I rode ahead, I decidedly started pausing at the intersections, the left/right turns momentarily, despite having done the route last week. As if by Cue, the guy with the map and cue-sheet, aka Arvind caught up and was furiously pedalling on his hybrid. Not wanting to lose this God-sent beacon, I tailed him and ensured he was in my sights till the left at about 12km on the ride. There were a few guys close to me , and I instructed them to follow Arvind blindly till we got out of the Hesarghatta area. I tailed Arvind till we took the right on to Hesarghatta Main road. After entering the sperm institute, I slowed down in the bad roads, and Arvind and 2 others went ahead. The Sperm collection center midway on the right said Biosecurity Zone 2. My thought – High safety, since a place that collects sperms should be .. uh , impregnable? I looked it up today, here is a distraction if you need one .

By the time I exited out of the Sperm institute on the road to Madhure, Manjula and a couple of others caught up with me. About a km or 2 on this road, and on a sharp turn, saw someone in reflective clothing waving his arms wildly asking us to stop. On getting closer, the words spelt out ‘Secret Control’ and the face presented itself to be that of Sreepathi Pai’s, the IISc Randonneur and BrevetMaster for this years brevet rides. So, duly stopped and had my card stamped. Went ahead to Madhure, and Parameshwar who was tailing me started asking me of the route. He took me on my word that I knew the route ahead, so started tailing me closely.

Temple dividing road, before Madhure Temple dividing road, before Madhure

I walked across sections of Madhure, where there chunks of rocks on the road, a prelude to laying down roads. After the town, I waved past Arvind, who was having his breakfast. Parameshwaran followed me, and skipped breakfast as well. On the road to Doddabelavangala, waved past 2 more cyclists who were snacking on biscuits. Road to Dobbspet had been paved this past week, and managed to reach Dobbspet by 9:00 am. All this while, the sun was safely hidden behind clouds and mist. 8 km before Koratagere, the sun started shining bright, and I had take off a layer of clothing and put on some sunscreen. At our Koratagere Jeera Juice point, I filled a bottle with the fluid, and relaxed,and Mr Parameshwaran again caught up. He gave a thumbs up for the Jeera juice as well.

Phase 2: Ride to Sira : Highway point
He went on to the SBM at Koratagere. Got our slips and continued on the road. He wanted to be close to me, so I rode ahead and saw him following me closely. I remembered this road as bad, but Nirmal’s description said that this road was moderate. I now realized that though no potholes were visible, the paving was highly uneven and progress was slow and painful. And yes, it was hot. I expected the peak heat to last from 12-3. I expected to reach Sira around that, since I had left Koratagere ATM at 11:07

Madhugiri hill(probably), in the distance Madhugiri hill(probably), in the distance

Madhugiri fort is a treat to watch, walls built along the edges of escarpments. I wonder, how they must have built it , before the industrial revolution.
When I reached Madhugiri, couldn’t see him, so just continued on the road. The road to Sira starts a nondescript road behind the bus stand, but knew this from before. I found a tender coconut vendor and had my fill. Continued on this road. Took another break for an Omelette from a road-side vendor. The locals , as usual animatedly wanted to know about the cycle, and cycling, etc. All fine, but both times I realized my cyclcomp had stopped recording the ride. Grrr, the local kids had turned the magnet around, while fiddling with the bike.
As I neared Sira, it was getting hot and dry, and more dry than hot. And as if to magnify the pain, I sensed a mild version of the loo. Granted that this was January, and the temperature was around 32 not 45, but still hot headwinds are incredibly energy sapping. Many points I felt I couldn’t go on. It is precisely at points like these, that past experiences help. I knew that if I stayed hydrated and was easy on myself during this time, I would have enough energy left in the evening. I had a longish break at another coconut vendor site, and stretched. Still didn’t see Param so went ahead and reached the town of Sira a litte after 3. Went to a hotel for some curd rice and Sapota milk shake. It wasn’t pleasant to ride now, so killed time and relaxed for some time. One of the locals told me that he had seen 4 cyclists , including a lady today afternoon. Figured Manjula and co might be ahead, but was surprised since didn’t see them going ahead.Called up Kiran, who informed me that he decided to not do the ride, so then called up Rajani who told me he was 10km from Sira. I bought some Coconut burfi and Chikki as an insurance for the night. Started till a little before 4pm.

Phase 3: Sira -Hiriyur – Eraballi – Aimangala – Hiriyur
After I went on the highway I caught up with Parameshwar, he was riding alone, and quizzed me on whether someone was ahead of us. We went on ,slowly till Hiriyur, had a 15 min tea break here before heading to Chellakere at 5:10 or so.

Ambedkar circle, in Hiriyur, start of Challakere road Ambedkar circle, in Hiriyur, start of Challakere road

Midway towards Eraballi , got a call from Rajani and learnt that Manjula was contemplating quitting. They had located a lodge on the highway before Hiriyur. So the mystery lady who cycled near Sira in the afternoon was definitely not her. Reached the Aimangala bypass at 5:45.

Road to Aimangala, leading back to NH4 Road to Aimangala, leading back to NH4

Took the photographs and then had a long animated discussion with a local who demanded to know our *goal* of riding (Nim uddesha enu saar?) and no amount of convincing that we were doing it for fun made him budge. Finally I had to start asking him why he was riding his motorcycle, and he seemed to get the message.we went on the Aimangala route, and I wanted to reach the highway before dark. Along the way, I noticed that some of the villagers housed the goats inside pens which had high wooden fences. The meant only one thing, that they had probably lost some of their domestic animals to leopards. Genuinely impressed now, this whole area is very hot and dry with barely any shade. And no forest nearby. Amazed at how a stealth stalker like a Leopard navigated at night to the villages to snatch local animals. At Talavatti, one of the locals ran his bike onto Parameswaran’s front wheels but thankfully no damage done. Underscores the need to ride in groups in remote places, should things go wrong. In Aimangala, noticed a fort on the right side of the road built with what looked like flat rock sheets stacked on top of each other. Was too focused on the riding and too lazy to start taking pictures. Reached the highway at 6:30 and continued towards Koratagere. Got the ATM slip at around 7:30 and decided to have dinner.

Phase 4: Nature makes its own calls
Was quite sleepy at this time. We started after dinner and went towards Sira, sometime on the road and Parameshwar wanted to take a break at Kamat after the Sira bypass. In what looked like an eternity , after multiple breaks on the road to stretch our tired muscles, we reached Kamat.We checked in at around 10:30 and left around 11. I had some sour chewies which I use to avert sleep. I am actually quite paranoid about dozing off, since I have dozed off even on a bicycle once. On a highway where cars do speeds of 100+kmph that is suicidal.So afer a few breaks of stretching and waking up,full of Bravado we told each other we’d cycle nonstop till Tumkur. The determination lasted maybe 500 meters(Time unknown, since I was pretty delirious now) I kept taking breaks now , and riding slowly. We may have rode maybe 6 km for the next hour with multiple breaks, Tumkur now felt in a distant country. Forget in 2 hours , I started having doubts whether I would finish the ride in time. I told Param as much, that I need a break, and possibly some sleep.Sometime before midnight we checked into a dhaba for some tea and omelette. I just realized that for about 2 hours, we had rode a grand total of 10 km , and about 30km for 2 hours before that. This was ridiculously slow since I was averaging 23.5km on the saddle despite bad roads before that, and had reached the 205km mark by 4:30, in a total of 10.5 hours, averaging 20kmph overall including breaks.My shoulders and neck were really hurting from the roadbike pose. From the 255km mark to the 295km mark it had taken us 4 hours. I wanted to try sleeping now so we asked the Dhaba owner, he made us take the charpoys outside and there I lied down on my stomach. Felt relieved straightaway. Told Param to go ahead and promised to catch up with him, but he was happy to let me lead the way and follow, so he too slept setting an alarm for after 30 minutes. I don’t think any alarm was necessary. This was just by the road and the traffic was diverted to the service lane, topped with horns , dogs barking and trucks coming close to the Dhaba to park their vehicles. And it was really cold, we didn’t borrow any blankets, just slept with our clothes on. It didn’t look like I was getting any sleep , and was constantly aware of the noise outside.Only when I caught myself waking up did I realize that I had slept for a while. As we got up gearing again for the ride, we saw 2 riders go past. I waved to them, and they seemed to notice us.

Phase 4: Recovery and quiet finish
We started and soon caught up with the two riders on the road, it was Arvind and another guy. We went past them, and Param’s question to me was, are there others ahead. My response was yes, I believe Rajani, Vasu ride faster so they must be ahead.(My apologies to Arvind, if I offend you) The stretch from Sira to Tumkur is a looong , steady uphill, and amazingly something you attack with fresh legs, seems incredibly difficult to do after 300km of riding.
The 1st visible effect of sleeping was that we managed to reach Tumkur at around 2:45 am, despite the uphill climb.We reached Dobbspet toll plaza at close to 3:15 am, took another break to fill in some tea and snacks. I bought a couple of bubble gums, knowing that chewing gum is a very effective way to fight sleep. Popped one into my mouth and didn’t let go of it till the Nelamangala toll. Incredibly difficult to hold a tasteless piece of gum in your mouth, only the knowledge that If I spit out , I might again feel drowsy made me keep it in. I kept popping in the sour chewy candy once in a while to keep me alert as well. We reached the Nelamamngala toll plaza at about 4:50 and called up Sreepathi, and he informed that we were the 1st to call. Only now I realized that we were actually ahead of the rest of the riders. I had pretty much expected everyone to be ahead during our sleepy meandering and rest for a good 2-3 hours. In hindsight, faced with such a situation, I’ll probably look for a place to sleep 1st thing. Its amazing how just 1 hour of sleep refreshes you.
After taking a short break where we ate some dry fruits and snacks that we still had with us, we raced down the Nelamangala – Yeshwantpur tolled road. Reached below the elevated highway and now had to deal with early morning traffic. The elevated highway stretch surprisingly ended quickly, but the stretch on ORR was a real bummer. Lot of patchy road till we took the ride towards IISc. Why this road? The other road straight towards Mekhri circle and then left on BEML road was equally good and pleasant, and more importantly approximately same distance. We reached IISc shortly after 6, and I chatted with the watchman while waiting for Sreepathi. He seemed to think there was another ride today, and I told him that yesterday’s riders were just returning. So finally our Brevet Director turns up and stamps our cards. I learn now that Manjula is still riding, and she was with Vasu and Rajani. I expected Vasu to race ahead of the riders. Sree told me that most of the riders were near Tumkur at 6 in the morning, so it looked like a tight finish. I waited for some time for other riders to arrive , and we were repeatedly seeing riders go straight on the road , but most of them were local riders on a Sunday morning. I took my leave wanting to reach home as soon as possible. Amazingly, my wife was concerned about me riding home from IISc (after enduring the highways at night). Called up Sree at 11 and he told me all the riders made it save two. And apparently one of them just because he didnt turn up at IISc (He returned to Bangalore on time). Pretty commendable performance, I thought the heat in Sira, the long night, and the sleep deprivation made this a difficult ride. Special congrats to Manjula and Arvind, since just last week they were not sure about doing or completing the ride, but showed their mettle. Never doubt the ironlady and the man with the map and cue-sheet 🙂

Random musings
My cyclocomp showed about 445km at an average of about 22.85 but I missed out about 11km because of the magnet not being aligned. I’ve been praised to the heavens even before this blog about me being a strong rider(among other things), but I believe it is just a case of realizing my strenths and limitations. I tried covering as much ground as possible before the Sun made its presence felt. Also , took it very easy during the hottest part of the day. I forced a break at Sira. I also had a sudden recovery during Feb 2011’s 300km brevet after I simply lied down for 10 minutes. Micro-resting seems to be an undersold activity during an endurance event, and I’m beginning to believe in it.

Newbie cyclist and commute ease

This is a verbatim transcript of  a thread in Bangalore bikers club.I’m just reproducing it here to try and encourage non-cycling visitors to take up cycling as a means of commute.

Absolutely, please share
I also have absolutely no shame in admitting the following; if it can get more people cycling.
1) I was hardly the model of fitness when I started out. I was at least 10-12 KG overweight
2) I was not leading a healthy lifestyle at all. I hadn’t exercised for the past 3 years
3) It was difficult initially for the first week or so but it got far easier after that.
The *only* caveat is that you need to invest in a cycle that’s easy to ride.
Darshan
On Jan 24, 2012, at 9:30 AM, S Chidambaran wrote:
That’s great info.  Can I share it on  other fora?Its important since you have cycled for just 2 months and have felt the difference. Was it tough initially.One of the problems that I face when I tell people about our cycling experiences wrt to ease of commute , the refrain is that “You are used to it, since you cycle a lot”. Difficult for them to believe that it will make a big difference to them in a short while. Talking about the real experience of someone who has recently taken it up helps.

Regards
Chiddu

On 01/24/2012 09:25 AM, Darshan Bildikar wrote:

This is great!!

BTW, I have been cycling to office daily for the past two months. It’s definitely faster than a bus (1.25 hours), bike (1 hour), car (1.25 hours); assuming peak traffic. I reach exactly in 40-45 minutes (irrespective of what the traffic is like) covering a distance of 15 KM one way.
Every argument that I had against it has come to nought.
1) Too far
2) Not fit enough
3) Too much pollution
4) Will take too much time
I am now in the process of evangelizing this in my team and have already converted two other people. Hopefully more will follow 🙂
Darshan

 

Here is a link to the thread     Cycling the fastest way to commute

 

400 brevet practice and recce ride

This was a ride that took a lot of email exchange(s). As Vasu Mishra put it, after 82 mails we decided on a route and time. We were scheduled to meet at the IISc gate at 9:00 am. Sohan reached the place at 8:50 am. I reached at around 9:20 or so. Vasu, Arvind and finally Rajanikanth all assembled at around 10:15 am or so.

We actually started @ 10:30 am. The goal was to do a 280km ride and include a late night ride. The goal was to do the Brevet route upto Sira and then come back by 1 in the night or so. Vasu didn’t care about the route , he just wanted to spend time on the saddle. Arvind could not park his car inside the campus,so he parked it in a residential area near the gate.

Start point, IISc Gate

Start point, IISc Gate

The initial route in the new cuesheet was far better than the roads I recce’d with Nirmal and Mustafa. One thing that I didn’t like is too many twists and turns on the route.

We reached Madhure at about 12:40 and had lunch. No idea of the name of the hotel, but its at towns end and the food was good. She opens before 6 am and a suggested b/fast place on Brevet day.But it was quite a bit of torture to reach the spot, with left turns, right turns and what not. I suspect quite a few will miss turns on Brevet day. I don’t remember the exact route myself. Hope I can trace it on the day. We had a fairly relaxed ride, the riding style governed partly by the road conditions and partly by our mood. Everyone on the tip was keen to include some night riding.

After we passed Madhura , a good-looking college (or school) girl waved at Rajani and (i’d like to believe) me, and said Hi boys. For somebody used to being called Uncle by all well-meaning kids , this was a bit of a surprise , a pleasant one at that.Though more incidents of this sort might leave some internal disturbances at home. The stretch to Dobbspet on the state highway was very good.

Flyover on NH4, Dobbspet

Flyover on NH4, Dobbspet

The stretch till Devaryana Durga on the Madhugiri road was good. As expected, it deteriorated after that. By the time we reached Koratagere , it was about 4:30 or so.
We stopped at a small bakery/tea shop. Tasted a local jeera juice that was quite refreshing. For those doing the brevet,this is the shop just before the road hits the Koratagere -Tumkur road.

Jeera juice point,Koratagere

Jeera juice point,Koratagere

As we were getting ready to go away from this place, a local biggie who had come by to the same shop insisted that we all have a juice or tea on his behalf. After some resistance, seeing that the guy would not give up, all of us had another round of Jeera juice on their behalf. Then he introduced himself as Koratagere Shashidhar, and started dictating his resume which something like this.
a) Knows a Congress leader who was(or is) head of the state Sports federation
b) Had undertaken a walk from Bangalore to Bellary to protest against illegal mining.
We exchanged phone numbers and then proceeded towards Koratagere to check out the ATM(for the control). The State Bankof Mysore  ATM was open now. The locals would have been amused by the city folks coming to the town and taking photos of ATMs.

ATM control, Koratagere

ATM control, Koratagere

We decided to head back via Tumkur since that looked like the closest part of the highway.The rest of the folks went ahead,and by the time I got to the bakery point, I lost sight of them. As I went ahead on this route, it was apparent that the road was in no great condition. I tried calling a couple of my fellow riders but guess they were concentrating on the road as much as I was, and didn’t hear the call. It was dark now, and even with the lights it was very painful to go ahead. Arvind called back,but by this time we were already 5km into this road and going back to Dobbspet via our onward route felt excessive. The road however continued to be non-existent to patchy and there were quite a few aggressive drivers on this road. I guess for many parts of rural Karnataka, the wider the road,the bigger the potholes. We contined in this fashion, and I continued to tail the group by a km or so. At some point , the road turned to compacted mud which apparently had been watered recently. Started silently mumbling to myself that technology had changed from the time roads were built by compacting mud using water, when I realized that it might be a a precursor to the laying of the tarred road. And soon enough, we hit the first pucca stretch on this road (with the highway barely a km away)

Eventually we hit the highway, and we checked our watches.We had taken more than 2hours to navigate a measly 24km stretch, riding almost continously, and there were no real climbs. Our(at least my) shoulders and arms were quite sore at this point. There were a lot of street-side outlets before we hit the main road. We asked folks at the intersection, and they told us that there were hotels about a km into the highway. So we decided to go ahead, and surely enough, we found a “Family Restaurant”. Sure enough, there were a lot of family cubicles in the restaurant, separated by a red curtain. Didn’t see any women and children in the restaurant, and we were the only folks who were not drinking any alcohol. And unfortunately such places don’t cater to a lot of bikers, so every thing we ordered was extra spicy (save the Roti and curd rice). I ordered Curd rice to quell the fires. We started from here, and Vasu pretty much raced ahead, and I tried to closely follow him.
We kept taking breaks for the rest of the gang to catch up till we hit the Nelamangala – Bangalore toll plaza.From here we crawled the remaining 20km stretch in about 2.5 hours taking breaks and more breaks. The elevated highway turned out to be a big bane with furious headwinds and sidewinds, and at one point I caught Sohan losing balance. It almost felt like the wind would blow us off the highway. And it was pretty cold now, with the time past 1 am. There were a few chai/egg stalls at the end of the elevated highway just before the Yeshwantpur station. Rajani and Vasu had gone ahead, the 3 of us went to the 1st stall and had tea. R & V were standing a few meters away but we didn’t see them till we started cycling again. So we had two breaks within a 20 meter distance. The final stretch till Arvind’s car was real painful in the cold and windy conditions. Sohan bid us farewell at Yeshwantpur. Arvind offered to drop me. We bid bye to the other two at the start of BEML new road.
Sine we parked at residential Sadashiv Nagar,we had a police troop coming and checking our credentials – Arvind’s papers. A couple of dogs in the area went on high alert for a while as we were fiddling and trying to mount our cycles on top, although they didn’t vocalize their thoughts. We went off eventually,and Arvind dropped me at home @ about 3:15 am. Went through my relaxation routines and finally was in bed at 4 am.

Ride stats : 221.94km in about 10 hours 47 minutes. We started @ 10:30 am and returned at 1 am for an approximately 200km ride, slower than the 15kmph mandated for brevet rides. But this was also because of many breaks. But we managed one objective, that of riding till 2 in the morning. Probably better prepared for sleep deprivation, but we have to wait and see.

Road stats : Much better roads than the 300k one. We have about 150km of slow roads and 250km of good tarmac. (Though we didn’t do the Koratagere – Sira stretch,which would be bad too)

Pongal Eve ride to Harohalli-Jigani

The phone rung at 6:00 am. Got confused in my sleep. Hmmm…. , that was not the song I had set as an alarm. Was just hoping it would go away, since I had kept it out of reach. Saturday mornings are generally painful for my wonderful wife, especially the days I don’t go out very early for a cycle ride. The days I scoot off early, she hears the morning rendings of Ilayaraja hits about 2 snoozes. The day I don’t, the kachcheri goes on for a couple of hours before I wake up, comprising multple alarms an multiple *snoozes*. Having slept the night not feeling 100% gung-ho about going for a morning ride (though I had the thought of going for a very early ride towards Muthathi/Malavalli and back), I didn’t let the alarms motivate me into getting up. So turned off the alarms after a few snoozes between 4 and 5 in the morning. So the song startled me, I groped for the phone , found it and saw the name of Manjula flashing on the screen. Had a short conversation. Told her I felt lazy but now that I have woken up, would definitely go for a ride, but wasn’t sure of when I would be ready. Gave her Shankar Shastry’s number. Got up from bed, and realized that since it was 6 am , might as well get my elder son ready for his Cricket on Sat mornings, which start at 6:30. So woke him up, and got him ready while I went through my routines of getting ready. Got my road-bike for the long ride, my thought was to go and walk with him and continue riding. Meanwhile my younger 4-year old gets up and wants to come on the drive to drop his brother. So off we go, I drop him and come back. Now Vedant insists on coming with me for my cycle ride. Here is my recollection of the conversation
Me : I am going a little far. Don’t you think you will be tired and sleepy.It might get hot later too.
Vedant : No, I also want to go far, I won’t sleep. I won’t feel tired. Please, please , pleeeeeze let me come with you.

As it is , I don’t need much persuasion to let my son tag along.Okay, so figured I’d just go on Kanakapura road and see how far I could go with my son. I had to take the MTB now, and thankfully had filled up the tyres a day back. I did not expect to catch any of either the Mysore riders but thought may chance to see some of the guys who are going to Muthathi. I left the house maybe around 7 am and with my son and some supplies trundled towards Harohalli. As I crossed the NICE road intersection, saw a rider going in the distance. And as I turned a curve in the downhill here, saw a few cyclists on the road. Met Rajanikanth , just waved to the rest and continued cycling. Given that I was carrying a pillion rider in the sub-5 category, I wanted to keep steadily going till the inevitable time when he would droop off to sleep. Rajani continued with me,and I met another set of riders down the road who were also going towards Mysore. This was about a km before Kaggalipura , just some distance after the AOL campus. Rajani also informed that Anil and his cohorts were ahead , as well as Manjula and some other riders who were planning a return at Kanakapura. Rajani caught up, chatted for a couple of minutes and zoomed ahead sometime after Somanahalli Kere. Then at some village before the Pyramid Valley detour, a black village dog took sudden interest in us. Seeing it approaching, I just stopped. It continued towards me, I tried to call out gently towards it,since I was not in a mood for an aggressive chase by a dog. It took my invitation and smelt my calf, taking care to wet my skin with the tip of its nose. Okay, so confident that I don’t have a barking dog in my hands, I started cycling slowly,and pronto, the dog started ambling slowly.I pedalled harder, the dog dutifully ran beside me, harder. Vedant was enjoying this and wanted to contine playing with dog in this game. So i continued for another km or so with the dog giving me company,but finally decided to go ahead. The Dog also ran out of breath.
About a km before Harohalli, met Anil Kadsur and his gang, who told me Manjula would wait for them in Harohalli. So i reached Harohalli and went towards Hotel Vasu, when I found Manjula walking towards the main road. By this time, I had made up my mind to do the Jigani route, since that accorded me the chance of doing some climbs, while the Kanakapura road lacked those. I told her this , and immediately she converted from a 100km rider to a potential climber. I also waved her ahead, since breakfast with Vedant would involve an indeterminable length of time. We went into the hotel,and immediately (maybe seeing Vedant) , folks created a table with 2 adjacent seats for the 2 of us. And the questioning of ‘Where are you coming from Sir’ proceeded. By the time we finished breakfast here, Anil and his gang turned up. Spotted Mudit in the group and wished him luck for the 400. Told them that I had flagged off Manjula towards Jigani and was planning on that route, given my preference for a climb over clocking distance. In any case, I was quite convinced that a short climb with a kid would be a bigger workout than a longer ride.(Its another matter that I wasn’t sure if I could manage it) I did see today’s ride as a challenge, but decided to not give up in case any of the climbs felt too difficult. The Anil gang declined my invitation of doing Jigani,so I went ahead to catch up with Manjula. Managed to catch her up about a km before the 1st major climb. Had to really entertain my son at this point, who was getting a bit restless. Pointed him the hills in the distance, the coconut groves off the road, and the few caterpillars crossing the road. These helped in reviving his energy. Of course in the middle he questioned – When are we going to that far-away place? Had to tell him that we already were in a far-away place, and we would be doing 3 steep climbs going ahead. Once I caught up with Manjula, we didn’t really ride together but either led the way or followed the other. Riding with a kid means not being able to do a steady pace. I saw the 1st hill in the distance , and once I showed it to Vedant, his eyes lit up as well. Gulped in some extra juice and then pedalled towards the base. About 1/3rd of the way up, I could sense the strain, and at a couple of very steep points , just rode a little criss-cross to try and reduce the steepness. But I finally made it to the top without stopping. Waited for Manjula to catch up here, and then we went ahead. At the 2nd small uphill just before the start of the elephant corridor,I got a call from Rajanikanth. He apparently would have followed us if he knew we were taking this route. Then suddenly realized that I was talking and still climbing steadily, felt a little kicked on that count. At the elephant corridor, Vedant had a sudden urge to check out the thickets, so had to go into the bush inside about 30-40 meters.Flagged off Manjula ahead and met her again at the base of the final , long ,steep climb. Looked like she was working on her phone,so went off ahead. Managed to clear the 1st stretch, where my son , helpfully tried to mimic me, huffing and puffing. The 2nd set of curves were easier , and finally stopped at the lone shop at the end of the stretch. The turkeys,pheasants and hens didn’t seem scared of us and let us take a few photos.

End point, after the climbs
End point, after the climbs

Manjula, having conquered the climbs
Manjula, after the climb

Manjula had a banana here, and fed a mite to a turkey, who took off with the piece, and it was a good distraction to see it run around till the others gave up, and it gobbled up the mite.

I’m a turkey
Close up of a turkey

Vedant refused to eat anything other than watermelons.But just as we were ready to leave , asked for bananas, and the wish list again changed to juice and chikki when we went into the shop.

Stiff upper lip, I did the climb, Appa
I did the ride, Appa

So a Maaza and some chikkis to-go later, we went off. This stretch is ridiculously horrible these days due to the heavy mining of the rocks going on in this area. The roads are wretched, there is a thick layer of granite dust on the road, and the air too thick with the dust from the mining and the lorries ferrying around churning up the dust.The sun too, which was quite intent before and during the climb,had become quite relentless. There were a lot of headwinds on the route as well,though didn’t feel any on the actual climbs. After negotiating the granite dust and the rocky roads, reached the Jigani ring road and Manjula.
Not far into the main Bannerghatta road, Vedant started dozing off with the helpful request “I want to go home”. Had to pinch the poor fellow and throw water in his eyes,alternately till I stopped at Bannerghatta. Drank two helpings of tender Coconut water, while Vedant gobbled up the Coconut solids (Ganji). I recovered enough energy to do the final stretch at a slightly faster speed, and he regained some energy to stay awake. Amazingly, it was close to 1 pm by the time I checked in chez moi. And the cyclo-comp showed a measly 77.97km distance. Haven’t been this exhausted by an 80km ride in the recent past. One +ve aspect of the day was that Vedant didn’t resist going to bed in the afternoon and slept for four hours, and I had to have an extended siesta too,during the course of which, cramped a hamstring.
A good way to celebrate Pongal, with Vedant going on his 1st long ride, albeit not having to pedal.

400k brevet recce

Starting the new year with not a bike ride, but two long drives in a car.Beginning of the year was a trip to Coorg. After borne the brunt of bad roads on the 300k brevet, decided to take a look at the roads of the 400k before deciding whether to do it on a roadie or an MTB. After missing my alarm clock, ended up about 45 mins late from my scheduled time. Mustafa and Nirmal from IISc took a few minutes to get ready as well, and we started off from New BEML road at about 7:15 am. The initial route out of the city was quite confusing and it looked like we took for ever to reach Hesarghatta. Took photographs of every landmark on the way. We reached the road to the west of the lake and then kept going till we hit a town called Madura. The roads so far were not great, but in the village/town, the roads were almost dug up and just dumped back on. The roads continued to be back till we hit the state highway. Had to take a right at some bus stop to go towards Madhugiri. From this spot till a point in the road where there was a diversion towards Dobbspet, the roads were just miserable to non existent, including an uphill stretch with loose gravel. Pretty tough on a roadbike I say. This stretch was bad enough to try and change the route, and I believe an attempt will be made.

From here, the road was great till we hit the highway at Dobbspet. We had breakfast, having driven the car at average speeds of 22kmph.From here we had to go towards Devarayana Durga, Korattigere and then Madhugiri. Beyond Devarayana Durga, road gets slightly bad, and worse from Korattigere. The stretch from Korattigere to Madhugiri was tolerable, and from there to Sira were quite horrible. Sira comes about the 180km mark in the Brevet route. One suggestion was to change the route with 2 ATMS in Korattigere as control.

We wanted to go back at Korattigere but decided to chart out the original route anyways. The stretch from Madhugiri to Sira was less than ideal. At Sira we joined the main highway , and for the 1st time hit speeds of 60+kmph on the car. A sudden burst of chug-chug-chug sound felt unusual. I stopped the car on the shoulder and opened the door to investigate. The smell of burnt rubber was unmistakeable. The driver side rear tyre had gone. We quickly changed to the spare tyre, and noticed that the inside of the original tyre had divested itself of a big chunk of rubber. We tried fixing this in a few shops on the highway but without success. We got out to the town of Huriyur at its 2nd exit. Found an ATM to the left, to act as a potential control. We wanted to fix the broken tyre , so asked the townfolks and found a tyre shop which unfortunately didn’t stock my size. The mechanic there opened the tyre . The tube was almost burnt and lot of burnt rubber flesh littered the inside. We kept trying and finally found a mechanic who organzed a used tyre and tube. While he fixed it,we went and had lunch. By the time we got out of town, it was 5 pm.

From here we continued towards Chellakere. The roads were good all the way through.

Road to Bellary
Road to Bellary

Even though the original route did not include the town, we went till the heart of the town and identified 2 ATMs, as a possibel change of route. We went back, and took the right towards Aimangala (that formed the original route). Found no ATM, so we took pictures of the signboards as possible controls.The last brevet required people to read Tamil, this one shifts the focus to Kannada. Can’t accuse IISc Randonneurs of Tamil Chauvunism.

For the control on the way back, we wanted to exit into the town of Hariyur , we were discussing this , sometime after passing the toll plaza , and realized that the town was upon us and the exit not in sight. We went back, deciding to take the 1st u-turn and decode the exit. We missed the 1st u-turn. the 2nd one did not come up ttill another 10km or so. Its extremely draining to search for a Uturn in the middle of a highspeed highway at night. Found an exit, took some photographs to check if it was the right one, but visually didn’t see where the exit went, and also realized it was a one way exit, so went back to the highway. Again we left town, and decided to chuck the idea of making riders take the exit(at night, easy to get lost).

Failed exit part 1
Failed exit part 1

Failed exit part 2
Failed exit part 2

We went on , and some time after Sira,we went to the Kamat there. The Kamat closes at 12 but another hotel next door.(Hotel Sagar) seemed to be open 24 hours.

Possible last official food station
Possible last official food station

Possible last official food station

After charting these spots,we just decided to head to IISc. reached there at 11:30.I took a break and a lemon tea. Left at midnight and was home at half past midnight.

Here is a link to all the pictures taken during the recce

Pictures of the recce