My accidental longest barefoot run

Maamara Ilai mele aa ~~~ aaa ~~~~
Maamara Ilai mele, maarghazhi pani pole ~~~

I got woken out of my reverie. Last I heard some other Ilayaraja number ( Idayil Kai… – from Unnal Mudiyum Thambi) inside my head, and this rude interruption drew my brain into a tizzy, trying to make sense out of my immediate surroundings. The next realization was that this sound was coming through a wire that attached itself to an earpiece which was belting it out (or rather in) to my ear. The other end of the wire was connected to my cell phone. Now I realized what was happenning. Somebody was calling me in the middle of a run. And I had set this unique ringtone for my wife, so it had to be her. My 1st instinct was to ignore it, figured I’d call her back,but she normally doesn’t call me while I am on the run, so I figured it might be something important like one of my sons deciding that this was his day to go on a 20km solo ride without informing his parents. But the green light in front of me was going to last for a few more seconds, so decided to cross the road before picking up the phone. So I dashed off to the other side of the traffic light ( any speed counts as a dash when done on legs that feel like logs) Anything where the weekly GoGreen ride starts (The RIS junction), and pick the call (Endomondo goes on auto-pause)
Me : Hello.
M’lady : Where are you?
Me : Running
M’lady : Thats a really long run. you have been away for a while
Me : Yes, I decided to keep going , so it has taken time.
She : You have to drop Vaibhav to his class. That starts at 10am sharp. So you have to leave by 9:45
Me : (Looking at my mobile, that said 9:23) Hmmm, I can’t do that today, I don’t think I can make it by that time. My legs are pretty tired.
She : (Sounding a little Aghast at my disturbing piece of information) You mean you can’t drop him today.
Me : Yes.
==End of Conversation=====
I continued running but spotted a 215C coming my way. Ran to the bus stop and decided to take the bus. Took it and sat inside. After it travelled a couple of blocks, figured I might reach by around 9:45, called home and told my wife I should be there by 9:45. Okay, she said, but please don’t make him ride today, he’ll be late , you guys won’t have enough time. Okay , I say.
I start reminiscing about the events of the day ( and immediate past) that led to this unusual situation. For the past few days, I have been unsuccessfully trying to increase my running distance from a measly 2-3km. I was doing multiple laps of my apartment Given that I was focusing on increasing my speed, and was failing miserably, I ended up calling off all attempted runs at about 2-3km. So in an attempt to at least push it to 5-6km if not 10 I decided to hit the road (after nearly a month). I decided to head to Puttenahalli lake. As I came close to the 1km mark, I realized I had marked the workout as a ‘riding workout’. Promptly stopped marking it at 950 meters and restarted from one end of the lake. I managed to do this distance at about 5:45/km so decided to do a few km going towards JP Nagar. One adv of running on the raods is that if you decide to call off a run, you need to run homewards using the shortest route, adding up precious distance to the workout. So off I went past the OnMobile office , crossing the 2km mark and decided to run towards Delmia circle. Once I reached the area close to JPNagar ring road, decided to at least try to run the mini-forest stretch. In the middle of this stretch, I completed 4km. If I returned at this point via 24th main, I would have made it 10km at least. I decided to run towards 4th block via East End main road and then take a call. I was finding it difficult to do better than 6min/km , having started the day with a bit of chest discomfort, and I did not really want to exhaust myself during the ride. As I neared 4th block, I crossed the 7th km mark. I decided to head towards the 3rd block swimming pool and Madhavan park. Once I reached Madhavan park, it felt like a travesty not going upto Lalbagh.So I duly went towards Lalbagh. It helped that the distance crossed 9km by the time I reached Siddapura gate. Since it was around 8:20 when I reached there, I decided to enter the park, and find a way to the West gate. I decide to explore a running route inside the park. By the time I got out I had crossed 11km. Crossed 8th main, and found a tender coconut vendor. Took my only break. Only when I stopped did I realize that I was quite exhausted.
Not finding any coconut with a little kernel, I settled for 100% Coconut water. After downing one tender Coconut , I started to pay up, when the vendor told me ‘ You should have one more , Sir ‘. That sounded like the cheesiest sales pitch I had heard for a long time – but – it worked! I asked him to give me another. After 2 TCs I started running again, and suddenly found it tough to run. I decided to try and ensure i did not cross the 7min/km mark. This of course was a massive climb-down from my goal of trying to achieve a 5min/km speed. Took the diagonal road towards Basavangudi, and then headed through PT road to South End Circle and then 4th block. From here, I reached 11th Main, Jayanagar 5th block and went towards the Apple iStore circle. I barely managed to hold on to this limit when I crossed the Raghavendra Math and the phone call came.
Once I decided to call off the run and took the bus, exhaustion overcame me. Once I reached home , Vaibhav was ready, and I dropped him off on the scooter.
As we waited for the elevator, I started asking him questions.
Me : Son, do you know the way to the class?
Son: Yes
Me : Can you bike there , alone?
Son : Yes

P a u s e

Son : But Appa
Me : Yes

P a u s e

Son : Amma won’t allow it
Me : I know that, but you tell me if you are confident of doing the distance alone.
Son : But the traffic?
Me : What about it?
Son : I am not confident about handling the traffic.
Me : Okay

Dropped him and came back, and the next question to me was whether I ran with a group. My wife continued to be an avowed barefoot skeptic , and still was afraid of suffering cuts from random glass pieces strewn across town. A few more questions about barefoot running, and about the glass piece searching for my sole.

At the end, I was happy that I did a 16km ride without planning, marginally boosting my confidence of doing a decent job of the SCMM HM, which is what I am gunning for. Though the stark realization that I needed to train, also remains. Post this ride, my better half managed to run her 1st sub-1 hour 10k, so she’s less of a barefoot skeptic and more of an enthusiast.

Link to the actual workout.

September 29th, 2012 ride to Anchetti

Kanakapura road is quite scenic as far as highways go, but the road from Harohalli to Anchetti via Maralavadi is something else altogether! A well-surfaced, quiet, narrow road  nestled in the hills and forests. Quite amusing to see notices of “Elephant Corridor — Elephants have right of way!” .  It’s a very rolling ride with long ascents that can sap you.
— Sreepathi Pai

There is a  non stop upward incline on the way back from Anchetti, the one where you didn’t really see hills but are climbing like crazy – Vivek Radhakrishnan

Personally, I found this ride more challenging than Bheemeshwari especially some sections on our roadbikes were bone-jarring to say the least. There was a fair interspersing of climbs which made it a tough ride. – Dr Arvind Bhateja

These are three quotable quotes that I picked up from the annals of BBC from two rides organized on this route.

There was a time in 2009-2010 when the legendary Yogesh Rao used to send about 100 mails a day , motivating Bangalore riders to participate in monthly long rides organized away from every part of Bangalore. This , from my memory was a good tonic for regulars as well as folks who had recently taken up cycling. Other than saving time and money on commutes, the prospect of exciting weekend getaways on the cycle did attract a lot of people to cycling. Personally this was the 1st time I rode a real long ride (100+ with serious climbs). I had done it the 1st time with a day old bike, and never realized that this was one of the toughest rides in town. (I was a long ride newbie and probably any ride would have sucked the ride out of me )

Blog of my 1st long ride

You can read about what folks reported for that first big long ride that I remember.
Junta Speaks

Of late, after the stonehill race, Georg had organized a ride in the Magadi-Ramnagar region, that had its fair share of participants. I have been away from Bangalore for a while, so had stopped riding much in Bangalore. Also the fact that it had been 10 months since I had been to Anchetti made me want to ride that route again. I figured, I’d spread the word around a bit. My 1st target group was a bunch of Brevet riders who rode the 300,400 and 600 and a recce with me. They evinced interest (Only Aman turned up from that group, thats a different matter). I decided to announce to the cycling fora in Bengaluru as well , to check interest for the ride. And I tried and did it at least 2 weeks in advance. About 18 said they’d come, however 12 turned up. One of them, Anil decided to ride back at Harohalli. Karthik turned up unannounced, and Manjula and Sohan were notable absentees (There were other, but remember these two, since I was expecting them).
The goal was to start very early, and have breakfast at Maralvadi instead of Harohalli , to enable us to start the climbs earlier. I briefed everyone about the route at the start point, at Harohalli and finally at Maralvadi.
As expected the frontrunners went ahead, and stopped as instructed just before the Harohalli bus stand. The rest of us caught up with them, and we waited for all riders, did a count and figured that 11 riders were set for Anchetti. A 12th ride was on the route, expecting to go on to Mysore. Anil Kadsur wanted to turn back at Harohalli, having some work – presumably the urgent matter of running a quick HM to attend to.

Waiting for the platoon to arrive at Harohalli

Waiting for the platoon to arrive at Harohalli

Taking stock at Harohalli

Taking stock at Harohalli

We rode ahead to Maralvadi, and I rode with Ashok at a relaxed pace, conscious not to miss the lagging riders.Once we reached Maralvadi, we located an idli shop, and had Thatte idli. The chutney and sambar were quite spicy, so relaxed on the side offerings.

After Maralvadi, I rode with Sreeju,Parag and Ankush. I relished the 1st long elevation gain. I gathered from Parag that there were 3 ahead of us, which meant 4 were following. The group went ahead of me in the long downhill ( I think, don’t clearly remember). I felt like a quick sip and a snack at some point, and when I stopped I realized realized that the sun was out. Given that my sunscreen was packed to my pannier, I took out a handy 1ml satchet of coconut oil and smeared my face , neck and the exposed skin on my arms with it. At some distance before KaaduShivanahalli (this is the 1st time I got the name right, thanks to a few hoardings in Kannada in the village), I took a break and applied some sunscreen.

27 kms from Harohall

27kms from Harohalli. This place is possibly about 40km from Bangalore as the crow flies. Amazingly serene

I got a call from Ashok, and it was apparent he had headed off i a different direction. I guided him to the right route, and not being able to figure out who the other 3 guys behind were, I decided to head back. I met Dipanjan on the way ( a rider who had followed us , unannounced), he knew the route and had decided to head this way , knowing that a bunch of us were riding it. I went past Sreedhar, then Ravindra, and finally reached Ashok. Given that he had deviated a bit and come back, I figured he had to be the rearguard guy. So from this point onwards, I rode with Ashok, bringing up the rear. Sumit, Aman and Karthik were probably far ahead.
There is a deviation on the route just on the final stretch to Hunsanahalli , the right goes to Kanankapura and the left to Hunsanahalli. This was the point that I had asked riders to watch out for. Unfortunately well before this route, on a sharp downhill bend, a road takes off to the left. Some guys (including Ashok) had got confused here.
There were a lot of butterflies on the route , many times dangerously getting in the way. My spokes killed a few specimen. As Ashok said, there were a huge amount of butterflies from Hunsanahalli to Anchetti as we headed into Tamil Nadu. The greenery in Tamil Nadu is a little more canopy-ish , never realized this before (The Karnataka section was more bush – like)
I got phone calls from Sandeep and Sreedhar at Anchetti that they had reached. Meanwhile Dhawal also got in touch with me.

Parag finished his lunch at Denkanikotta when we were about 10km before. I knew we could get there fast. I knew there was one tough climb at Marakatta , near the Agro -Forestry institute. It was always difficult to explain to a mixed group of riders on the difficulty of the ride.

The stretch from Hunsanahalli seemed to increase the presence of Butterflies. I was happy that I wore protective glasses for the day, something that I don’t always carry. May of the butterflies just crashed to my eyes , to my clothes and on to the spokes, meeting their tragic end. We reached Anchetti slowly (me and Ashok) with Ravindra following maybe 500 meters behind.

We lost Ravindra once we reached Anchetti, and he became unreachable on mobile. I had a lunch of a double omelette and Ashok downed some Parothas, then we started off from Anchetti. I warned folks about the double hair-pin and the slightly steep slopes around there. I had to stayed back at Anchetti for sometime , since I found my eyewear missing. Located it in a shop, rehydrated and started back. I didn’t see anybody till I crossed the hairpins and then after sometime, caught hold of Ravindra, and then Ankush, Sandeep ,Sreedhar and Ashok. Got a call from Parag,and quickly exchanged this information. He was surprised that Ankush and Sandeep were behind. After riding sometime, Ashok told of his intentions to quit at Denkanikotta, while the remaining wanted to ride back. Again, some quick co-ordination with Parag, who said he’d wait ad Denkanikotta so that we catch up and ride together. So all of us went to Denkanikottai, we went to the local Saravana Bhavan, some juice and buttermilk later, were set to start again. Unfortunately we came up against a police roadblock due to the Ganesh immersion processions. It took us probably another half an hour for the police to remove the blockade from Hosur road, and we went ahead. Sreedhar had taken a head start and was ahead. We caught up midway to Hosur , and took a break for 45 minutes, with some folks even taking a quick catnap. We stopped at Ramkrishna Lunch Home, Mathigiri for a pre-dinner carbloading session. Highlights were
1) An argument on whether long rides help in burning calories or building bulk, inconclusive – but the food was good
2) The local dogs had gathered , and a few of us ended up feeding them – good for them too.
Ankush started ahead at this point along with Sreedhar. The remaining threesome road steadily on Hosur road, this part of the ride possibly being the fastest. However this was also the most painful with the constant honking, sounds and dust of the busy highway. Once we went off the main highway and went via the contours of Madiwala lake, I relaxed a bit, and the resultant cool down of the body meant that I pretty much slowly trudged home.

I am no expert on grading difficulty of rides, but here is a summary

1)The ride is more difficult than Nandi.
2)There are a few tough climbs , but no single long climb like Nandi.
3) From 47km to about 130km mark, you rarely come across a flatland. It is either uphill or downhill.

Not a ride for the fainthearted. But well rewarded with majestic vistas, bountiful greenery, good climbs and long downhills in forest sections. A few of these descents are almost straight, so as you careen down, you see well in advance of you approaching a spot.

The total trip distance for me read 198.53km, that included the ~8km detour that I took to catch up with Ashok

PS: Some quotes from the ride that I cannot forget.

  • If I show a photo of the surroundings, I can easily claim that I spent the weekend in Coorg. Look around you, hills all around  – Ashok Kaliyamurthy
  • Those climbs near Denkanikottai are the most killing. You think that the worst climbs are over, and then , again you are looking at a steep incline – Ankush

PPS : Blogs by fellow riders

Parag’s report on the ride

Aman’s ride report