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

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