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.
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.
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.
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.
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)