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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Anchetti ride , Nov 5 2011

Date : 30th October, Place : Siva’s Road,Bangalore

My 1st trip to the great Siva’s Road. Gana , Kiran and me were plotting a long ride, drawing inspiration from Gana and Major Srinivas’s recent trip to Mullayangiri.
Me : Anybody interested to go to Ooty.
Ganapathy : Done already not interested. Lets go someplace where I haven’t been. How about Kodai?
Me : May be too far, would that not be 400 one way, tough to do in a span of 30 hours or so.
Kiran : Of course not, we drive to a place close by and then start climbing.
Me : Ahh, makes sense
Ganapathy : I have a carrier, what we’ll do is to drive to a place closeby , start at about 3/4 in the morning, spend some time atop , come back and then drive back.
Me : Sounds like a plan.We should be able to share driving duties and sleep in the car.
Kiran(probably more to himself) : Yeah man, I need to get riding on the saddle every week. I’ll surely join.

So I fortify the plan in my head and let my family know that I would be disappearing on Friday night and coming back on Saturday night. Wifey points out that it ain’t no fair that I go out like that. I reason that of course night riding makes sense since I can spend more of the weekend with the family. And also ,wondering as to where I am picking up these new found friends from. My social circle must be beginning to feel more and more lunatic to her.

Date : Nov 4th, Build up to the night.

Back and forth messaging on FB revealed that Ganapathy had a defective car,so that was a no-go. I suggested since I’ve a car, a Thule 9103 should fit. If not,we can hire for a day( was planning to inquire Pedals & Wheels , Velo Village and Tapprs to try and rent a carrier) So finally at about 7 pm called Pedals and Wheels, and it turned out they did not have one for rent. Called Gana by phone and a small conversation followed.

Me : What carrier do you have? A Thule?
Ganapathy : No its a BSA one,and it would fit only a sedan.
Me : Are you sure? Shall we try and see if it fits my car ?
Ganapathy : Hmm, not sure let me see. Wait, the package cover does show a hatchback,so maybe you could fit it.
Me : Okay ,you know what, I’ll come over and we can try and fit it. If it does , our Kodai plan is on.
Ganapathy : Okay, let me update Kiran. He’s still at work.

So I move over to his place along with my son.We go down and try to attach the carrier in the rain , find a shade , park the car, fiddle with a torch and finally nail it. Came back to find vedant being entertained by Gana’s mom. She got a little apprehensive (to put it mildly) about the last minute plans. I also helpfully let in that I would have to go home and confirm my plans. So in an atmosphere of eerie excitement, I go home, after finalizing the plan with Kiran on the phone as well,instructing him to get home and get ready. Rough estimate showedthat we would be ready by midnight,reach Batlagundu by 7 and start on our way up.

So I got back into my car and drove home. Got a call from Gana as I was driving , and we had a 3 way chat.

Ganapathy : Hey Chiddu, just been thinking about our trip. It may be a little tight. Just talked to Kiran and it looks like we may not have extra time to account for any unforeseen incident.
Me : True, I guess, if we have tobe back by 3 am on Sunday, we have time for dealing with 2-3 flats on the bikes, but none on my car.
Ganapathy : Okay so lets go on a local ride, around Kanakapura road.
Me : Okay , are you guys game for a ride to Anchetti. Its about 180-190km.
Ganapathy : Yeah , anything you say.
Me : Its going to be an intense ride with a lot of uphills/downhills, plus there is a stream in the middle. Let us start at around 5:30 am, should have enough time to then come back by daylight. Night riding can be difficult on the rural roads.
Kiran : 5:30 tough for me, can we start @ 6.
Me : We need to start early,it can get very tough if the sun comes out. I’m going to sleep now and get up early, let us start at the earliest. Try to get to Merida junction as early as possible.

The conversation ended on the unfinished note , and I went home. Duly informed wifey that the Kodai trip was cancelled. Short and sweet conversation

Me : We decided to cancel the trip , had a chat on my drive back home. Was cutting it too close.
Wifey : Good, you cancelled the freakish idea.
Me : Ganapathy’s mom was quite apprehensive.
Wifey : You men are all the same, he doesn’t regard mom’s advice, you don’t regard your wife’s.

Soon,put my already asleep kiddo into bed, checked some mail and tucked myself in ,setting the alarm to 4 am. I get up, do my morning ablutions , get ready by around 5:10 , got my things in place, and got my phone to check wtih the twosome, saw a couple of pending messages.

Ganapathy : (11:34 pm) What’s the start time and where is the meeting point?
Ganapathy : (12:08 am) Looks like only you and I for this ride. What time do we start?

For somebody who was looking for some good company(Ganapathy is a strong rider), this was a bit of a setback. Figured he might be asleep since I hadn’t replied. Minor setback this,but I felt a bit irritated for not responding. Pondered a few options, fast paced thoughts running on my mind. Almost like two entities talking to each other

Thought 1: I’ll go to Mysore road, maybe Mysore and back.
Thought 2: Might get bored,let me just ride till I get bored and head back.ChennaPatna, or maybe even Maddur.
Thought 3: Let me go to Anchetti all alone. Its raining,so may not be hot too.

Came out of my reverie, and decided to text back.

Me : (05:13 am) Whenever you are ready.

Went for another round of coffee and some bread. Refreshed and streched while I mulled my options.Was determined to do at least a 100k ride. Tried another message.

Me : (05:31 am) Are you on?
Ganapathy : (05:39 am) Didn’t get ready because I didn’t know the timings last night,Will be ready in 5 mins
Ganapathy : (05:45 am) What say?
Me : (05:45 am) Ok

Called him, had a quick chat, decided to meet at the Konankunte junction on Kanakapura road at 6:15. Eventually we met at 6:30 am. Further down the road, met Balakrishna on his roadie,doing some pre-TFN practice with 2 of his friends. Once we crossed Kaggalipura, Gana started exulting on the beauty of the road.

We reached Harohalli at about 7:45 and continued towards Maralvadi.Spent a while photographing the rainbows.

Rainbow beyond Harohalli

Gana by now seemed to have been bought over by the ride,and seemed to be enjoying the scenery. I told him to wait for about 5km after Maralvadi, at the start of the elephant corridor. And also told him that eventually one loses track the number of uphills/downhills. Need to record using a GPS and count later on. We reached the fairly big dam at the start of the elephant corridor. We took up to the dam and took some photographs . After being here for a few trips, this was a first for me. Generally ride steady with minimum breaks at least till Anchetty.

Rainbow beyond Harohalli

Saw a silk cocoon on the road, that looked like it had fallen off some basket. Lucky escape for the silk moth, photographed it and left it on the side of the road.

The cocoon
Normally the goal is to reach Anchetty by mid-day , reach the stream by 12:30, have a frolic and leave by 2 , so we reach Anekal by 5:30 or so. But we had to take a few breaks. Gana’s tyre needed some air, we took a couple of photos at this spot. The steepness of the climb is visible in the background.

A view of the climb

Picture below , us taking a break for Gana to pump some air into his tyres.
Break enroute, me comfortable on the road
Break enroute, me comfortable on the road

Sun came out for short stretches with a bit of intensity. Having missed packing sunscreen, bought a few satchets of Coconut oil from a shop in a hamlet a few km after Kasivanahalli. (Forget the name now)

We actually reached Anchetti well after 1pm. Gana told me he’d not be eating out, so I tried finding something.

Anchetti town, our bikes parked

Went to a bakery and ate one egg-puff along with a small Appy pack, and a cup of tea. I had packed 2 liters of juice and 1/2 a liter of water.Still had about a liter of juice left. Figured that might vanish in the next stretch, culminating in the steepest part, with the 2 hairpins and the 100m uphill stretch after that. Gana was amused by my habit of sitting on the side of the road at every break.

Finally we reached the peak of the tour. Heard the waterfall, but could not detect a path to it. I tried creating one, but could not , and made it back. Pleaded with Gana to try, and he seemed to have found one possible way.We parked our cycles behind the bushes. Dark clouds loomed, and we were having 2nd thoughts on the feasibility of getting down to the stream. Eventually adventurism won over safety, and we crouched down through the undergrowth , clearing some space, fighting thorns with sticks picked up from the ground. I was amazed at the force in the falls,the best I’ve ever seen. Went about swimming, and jumping into the water, the usual routine.The current was too strong, and my attempts to reach the base of the falls was quite futile.

Gana pointing to our cycles parked

On the side of the stream

Here I am trying to clear some pathway to get to the stream.
Do you spot my head

The stone is the prominent marker, if you reach this spot,you have gone too far.

The marker at the end of the stretch

The stream itself

By the time we made our way down, it was already 2:45 pm or so. By the time we made out, it was close to 3:30pm. After a good massage from the water, we made our way out. And discovered that there was a very easy pathway out. We started and made our way out to Denaknikottai. Had to take a break 1st ,despite being the better fed of the two, though I rationalized that it could be because of the swimming and diving into the water. Gana advised me on reducing the load on my backpack the next time. Food for thought,maybe I need a pannier on my MTB, and a bottle cage, to carry a bottle ,so I don’t have to carry a backpack.

The next break was forced by Gana, who got exhausted at the curve next to the Agro-Forestry institute, despite my advance warning on a steep climb approaching. He had acquired a pack of GluconD( in leiu of the regular gatorade) at Anchetti. He got it out,and refilled a little. Assured him that this was the last of the killer uphills,and we continued. Reached Denkanikottai soon, I had my 1st decent meal of the day, at Hotel Saravana Bhavan: Pongal with a Wada, and a little helping of a sweet. The sweet was part of the mid-day meal, and it looked like they had made it in excess. The freebie I presume was in lieu of being a Bangalore Cyclist frequenting Denkanikottai. Gana just bought another liter of Mango juice, but I felt much better with some solids in my stomach. Despite knowing that the meal takes a while to digest, psychologically I was feeling much better and leading the way soon. We took another break at Hosur( we decided to head via Hosur instead of Thali since it was 5:15 when we left Denkanikottai)

I had to take breaks twice now, despite being the betterfed , Now I started feeling sleepy , washing my face twice did not help, so forced a break under the Bommasandra flyover, went to a bakery and gobbled up a malai sandwich, an apple juice and finally a cup of tea. Gana’s eyes gaped open at the unusual combo. My explanation : 1st two for the sugars, and the tea for its caffeine and its refreshing ability.

The rest of the trip was non eventful, save for the painful traffic on the BTM stretch. I took my leave from Gana at Bannerghatta Road, and headed home. Gana was a real superman to ride the entire ride on a semi-fast mode.

Here are the entire set of pictures I had taken, on the ride.

Here are the pictures taken by Gana.

An extremely satisfying ride , the last time I had been to Anchetti was on Oct 23,2010 with Vishnu and Subin, via Karadikal. This ride was a long time coming, and was itching to go again.

Riding this ride, I could’t help feel about my 1st long ride on BBC.
That was before I had met Yogesh, and a whole lot of folks. The meticulous planning that went to the original ride was just fun to watch. I had just joined the forum, and was just watching with a drooly mouth the discussions in BBC. Two names stood out, Georg Leuzinger and Yogesh Rao, both of whom I hadn’t met. I remember the ride for the stream, and the uphills.
Here is the entire discussion that happenned during that month.
Anchetti fever, Aug 2009

I had to walk some of the uphills around Denkanikottai. And I rode all alone in pitch darkness between Denkanikottai and Thali.

The mail train after the event, a bunch of still-in-awe cyclists posting on the net. Here is the link

Here is the photographs taken by Yogesh on Aug 30,2009 :Yogesh’s pictures

If you have come this far, chances are that you are not really bored.I wasn’t really intending on blogging about my cycling , but I thank Gana for prodding me. And for Opendro who told me that I was one of the guys who inspired him to take up biking. So a thought that maybe a post about one of the most beautiful routes around Bangalore (if not the most) might inspire someone to take up cycling. Here is a ride that seems to have everything that you would like in a day. A long ride. (194km is not a trivial distance), lots of hills, some mild climbs, some long moderate climbs, a few killer climbs, and some looong downhills. Greenery, lots of it. And if the sun comes out,hot, very hot. And to top it all, your own non-chlorinated swimming pool. I am actually surprised that more people don’t go here often