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
Manjula, having conquered the climbs
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
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
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.