Saturday, March 29, 2008

Kodaikanal Cycling Trip

After a long break from cyling, i decided to join the Madras Bike Hash ( the group that bikes 100+ km every week ) in their cycling trip at Kodaikanal in the last week of 2007. Though i had been off the bike for more than 2 months, the cycle was in top condition . So far, i've spent 10k on my cycle. Thats not much in absolute numbers but consider this one - the cycle just costed me 3k - 7k has been spent on doing up the cycle ( electronic speedo ) and maintenance !

For a long time, i was eyeing the cycle - carrier , to transport the cycle on the car. It was time to buy that one . The cycle below on Indigo Marina is my mean machine !

Day 1 : After a 500 km drive from Chennai to Kodai the previous day, i was all set for the day 1 of the cycle ride - From Kodaikanal town to the start of the forest near Barijam lake ( 34 km ).

After a breakfast of hot idli's, vada and dosa, we started our ride from the guest house, which is very close to the kodai lake. Once we hit the roads, the low gears immediately came into play. I was riding a 6 gear cycle, with 1 large crank and 6 sprockets at the rear. Straightaway i had to downshift to gear 2. The climb was a gradual one and i was quite comfortable doing the uphill. But the uphil just kept getting longer and in short while, i had to shift to gear 1 to overcome a pretty steep uphill. After about 6-7 km, we reached the end of the uphill stretch. The next few kms were a riders delight. The road sloped down , thickly wooded sections on either side of the road, smooth pot hole - free roads and the cycles were the only traffic on the road. Soon we were doing 40 kmph on the downhill section and all the eyes were only on the road and the fingers close to the brake lever.

I couldn't resist the temptation to up the speed and soon i was doing close to 50 kmph. Thats when this huge curve appeared ahead. I pressed the brake levers with all my might but couldn't over do it since the rear wheel was skidding away. I tried to sway my body to the right ( the road curved to the right ), trying to keep the cycle on the road. Soon i realised i had carried a lot of speed into the curve. While i was braking and bending my body to the right side, i was also making a promise to god - if i ever got out of the curve safely, i would never speed again. For a few moments, i thought i may live to keep that promise. But thats when the water bottle fell off the bike and the rear wheel went over it. The cycle went down with me on top ( turned out to be lucky ). I clung on to the handle bar and as a result i didn't fall hard on the road , but the cycle took me down gradually. I was sliding along with the cycle ( i was on top of the cycle ) for a brief while and finally my body fell on the road and the photos tell the rest of the story ...

Both wheels were bent and thanks to the mechanics we brought along, that was mended. The initial few mins was the most toughest - i was hoping i hadn't broken something and thankfully, i didn't. I decided to tear off the lower half of my pant and take off one of my fav shirts and continued biking.

The next few km was downhill and i slowly was recovering from the fall , mentally and decided to go the full distance.

The only woman cyclist - Nidhi. She was awesome on the bike - did the 34 km !!

The next 5-10 km was a steady effort on the bike as we went through some beautiful stretches.

The uphills are sometimes, very cruel - i see a 40 m climb and cycle up, in the hope that the uphill stops there . If not for a downhill, i would be happy with flats from the summit. Once i reach the 40 m summit, that is when i realise the uphill stretches another 50 m . I engage the lowest gear and just pedal the hill away. I absolutely loved the uphills - it took some effort, suffered a bit but the ride was worth everything.

25 km into the ride - most of us were exhausted by now. I missed bringing the energy bars. Especially on one long climb - we were riding up and up and up for about 5-6 km. I really wished someone had a banana or a choclate bar. So, next time, i will never miss taking an energy bar along.

We did about 34 km and decided to stop biking - we almost reached barijam and we had to get permission from forest offices to enter into the reserved forest area.

We biked a km into the reserved forests and turned back - the metal road was easily the most beautiful stretch we biked in. Maybe, someday i will get the permission and ride into the forests.

After a testing day 1, we decided to take it easy on the day 2. We went up some serious inclines and but decided to do some easy riding , a few km into the ride. No more suffering during the trip !! We still did some uphills but these were gentle ones.

Some lessons learnt

  • Get a mountain bike, to ride in the mountains. Roadbikes can go out of control
  • Take energy bars along while riding in the mountains - we won't come across shops to buy on the road
  • I am tempted to say " don't speed" on the mountains - but i think i will surely do these high speeds next time am at kodai :)

Smoking to Killing

He smoked the sticks earlier , he kills people now

I mean, he stopped smoking and started killing - yes, play a game of ultimate with this guy and try to keep up with him. I did and i suffer.. all the time.

Sooper work Abhi - salute !