Gates of Heaven 2022

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Gates of Heaven is a signature event organised by Bangalore Randonneurs. Prequalification is completion of an LRM after 2019. Having completed the chalukyas-1200 KM enabled me to register.

Preparation

After every ride more than 600 km, I find some numbness In my little finger. So got a hand gripper and used it for the last 45 days to strengthen my fingers for applying brakes during the large descents.

Practised hill climbs at jawadhu, kolli and Pallavaram hills.

Change of Dates

The ride was scheduled on the evening of new year day. Everyone was hopeful the event will take place but last minute lockdown imposition postponed the event to unknown dates. The event will take place as soon as the lockdown is lifted. This is the one thing we all know. Lockdown was lifted on the end of January and the event date was scheduled on 14th February.

Opening of Gates of Heaven

The event started with a grand celebration at gayathri vihar palace grounds with traditional dance and music.

Major Cities, Towns, Villages on the Route we covered in our bicycle in this one single event in 122 hours.

Bangalore – Kunigal – Channarayapatna – Arsikere – Birur – Lingdahalli – Kaimara – Mullyangiri – Baba BuddanGiri – Kaimara – Chikmangaluru – Aldur – Balehonnur – Sringere – Agumbe – Udupi – Karkala – Mudbidri – Bantwal – Belthangady – Charmadi Ghat – Kottigehara – Mudigere – Hanbal – Anemahal – Hettur – Vanagoor – Koothi – Somwarpet – Madapur – Madikere – Chetalli – Dubare – Kushalnagar – Hunsur – Bilikere – Holenarsipura – Hassan – Channarayapatna – Kunigal – Nelamangala – Bangalore

Gayathri vihar,Bangalore to Hotel Mayura, bellur cross( 107 km)

Bangalore is the silicon capital of india. The city was built by Kempegowda in 16th century. The city is also known as Garden city of india and now Brewery capital of india. Started the ride at 4:00 PM after listening to the drum beats, we covered the 107 km in sub 4 hours despite the Bengaluru traffic.  However a 45 minute break at the CP for restroom and dinner ate up our time. As everyone had already done a LRM as a pre-qualifier, no single rider lagged behind. Some didn’t even wait for dinner. They just got their brevet cards stamped and sped away. We also started as best as we can and continued the ride after eating a full meal.

Hotel Mayura to Yogesh Farm (115 km)

The next CP is Yogesh farm, where a volunteer had provided space at his home. After 145 km the roads were very dark and no shops were there. At 150th km we have to take a deviation from bangalore highway ans pass through arsikere. Sri channakeshava temple is restored in the recent years. The two distinct features of this temple are the temple compound wall and the khalasa on the temple shikara. The khalasa is the largest in the state of Karnataka. The temple is a perfect example of hoysala architecture, though smaller in size when compared to other hoysala temples. An interesting feature is its navranga ceiling wherein, its central portion is carved in conch shape. Since we were going at night we could not see anything and missed all this beauty.

 Occasionally when we find some shops we had some tea and snacks. We started feeling sleepy and slowed down. However we kept moving. It took 5.5 hours to ride the 115 km including breaks. A volunteer was waiting to help us locate the CP as the house is situated some 400m interior. After having sambar rice and banana, decided to have a short power nap. Naazia used this time for going to rest room and applying chamois cream. As soon as her job is over, she woke me up and then we proceeded to the next CP.

Yogesh farm to sitalaya temple (86 km)

Mullayangiri  is the highest peak in Karnataka, located in the Chandra Dhrona hill ranges of the western ghats, Chikmangalur. At a height of 1925 metres, at the summit there is a temple. Seethalayyanagari is a prominent peak which is adjacent to mullayangiri. Mullayangiri peak got its name from a small temple (gadduge/tomb) dedicated to a sage ‘Mulappa swamy’ who is believed to have meditated at the caves only a couple of feet below the summit. The caves are accessible and not very deep, they have a direct entrance to the garbagudi of the temple, which is now blocked by the temple priests. Apart from multiple versions of folklore and strong siddha culture around the belt, the origins or any information about the deity remains ambiguous.[Source – Wikipedia]

We had the best coffee at early morning 5:00 AM and surprised by the price. They charged only 5 Rs for the coffee. The climb was gradual and continuous. It was pitch dark towards lingadahalli. We took selfies at Lingadahalli police sation and then proceeded towards kaimara. Reached kaimara at 8:00 AM in the morning. I had dosa for breakfast and Naazia did not have anything as she said she could not eat. This is going to cost us a lot which we do not know at that point of time. Now We have to climb Mullayangiri hill and take selfie at the top and then descend two kms to reach the next CP. The 14 km climb was tiring particularly the last two kms were too steep. Finally after climbing to the top and taking selfie, The descend was like a whiz. We reached sitalaya temple at around 10:30 AM in the morning. Having completed 308 km in 18.5 hours which included a hill climb. Mohan sir gave us rice box and I ate it like I have never seen food.

Sitalaya temple to javed house (53 km)– Baba budangiri hill climb

The Baba Budangiri shrine is named after the sufi saint Baba budan, who is revered by both muslims and hindus. Its origin appears to be a syncretization of reverence for an 11th century sufi, Dada Hayath. It is said sufi baba budan brought coffee to india at this place and Dattatreya (incarnation of hindu god shiva) is also worshipped here. [Source – Wikipedia]

After 6 km descend we have to climb another hill. This was second hill for the day and it had some rolling terrains too. Monish sir was waiting enroute and encouraged us and also provided with soft drinks. We reached Babu budangiri hill top by around 2:00 PM. After riding in the scorching sun, finally there was cold breeze at the top. We had noodles and bhel for snacks and then resumed our ride. By the time we descended and reached kaimara it was 3:30 PM. We skipped our lunch and that was another mistake.

Javed house to Hotel seetanadhi(129 km)

We reached Javed house by 4:00 in the evening covering 361 km in 24 hours. It took two hours to start from there which was another costly mistake. The first 20 km was in town traffic after which roads were butter smooth.

Chikkamagaluru is a peaceful, beautiful town with hills, valleys, streams and coffee plantations. It is believed that chikkamagaluru was given as a dowry to the younger daughter of Rukmangada, the chief of Sakrepatna kingdom. Chikkamagaluru has taken its name from Chikka(small in kannada) , Magal(daughter in kannada) uru(village in kannada) literally meaning “Younger daughters village”. Karnataka’s coffee industry is in chikkamagaluru and that makes it even more special.

 It was very dark through kollur, but very good curves , rolling terrain and butter smooth roads and the occasional vehicle movement, made the ride quite enjoyable. Had dinner enroute at 8:30 PM. One other person Mr Vikram joined us.

Sringeri town is the site of the first matha (Dakshinamnaya Sringeri sharada peetham) established by Adi Shankara, Hindu theologian and exponent of the Advaitha Vedanta philosophy, in the 8th century CE.located on the banks of the river tunga. The name Sringeri is derived from Rishyashringa-giri, anearby hill that is believed to have contained the hermitage of rishi Vibhandaka and his son Rishyashringa, who brought rains to the drought stricken kingdom of Romapada. [Source – Wikipedia]

We reached Sringeri and had coffee at a road side shop and discussing about the BRM route. By pure luck the shop guy told us we were in the wrong route. We rechecked our maps and went towards the correct route leading to Agumbe.

Agumbe is a world famous sunset point. We are now riding in the night, so no scope to see sun but moon. I have been to agumbe in 2012 along with my friend in bike trip. I still remember how steep and curvy the roads were. All three of us were giving our best to reach CP on time. There were some dog chases when we reached agumbe town. After completing the agumbe descends, we finally reached Hotel Seetanadhi.

Hotel seetanadhi to hotel kateel international(79 km)

We were late in reaching hotel seetanadhi. The hotel was closed and volunteers have already left the place. Some of them were sleeping in the front area of the hotel entrance outside the gate. We decided to continue without sleeping and I was on full throttle. We went through karkalla and reached white lotus hotel at Udupi by 6:30 am in the morning. There were some refreshments arranged by BR. We grabbed coffee and bananas and resumed by 7:00 am. The next control point was at 569th Km and we were at 529th Km. We need to cover another 40 km. The roads were highly rolling and I ran out of energy. I slowed down often during climbs which is not the usual case. Naazia was riding very well in this stretch. I needed fuel without which I will slow down. We managed to reach around 9:45 am at Kateel international. After having breakfast I was fully refuelled. We also took bath and tried to have power nap in the grass outside.

I stayed and worked in mangalore for 3 years and all memories came flooding. I have been to all the nearby places by car. This is the first time I am exploring the mangalore and its surroundings by bicycle. And also since it’s a familiar territory, I was a little excited. See my mangalore memories here.

Karkala to Hotel Samraat, Anemahal – charmadi ghat climb

We started at odd time around 11:30 am and could not find a good place for meal till 3:00 pm. We stopped at a sandwich shop and had enough sandwiches and also carried parcel.  We were at the bottom of the charmadi ghat climb and saw someone riding at the opposite side. He was quitting the ride and warned us to carry enough water before the climb. Soon we located a shop, had coffee, nannari sarbath , filled our water bottles and got ready mentally and physically to make the climb.

We started climbing the ghat section around 6:00 pm in evening and rode in heavy downward traffic till 8:00 pm. After that the roads were for us. It was a strenuous ride and our water bottles were empty. Luckily we found a water falls on the way to quench our thirst. We reached around 10:30 pm in the night. The organisers have earlier informed us that hotels will be available till 12:00 pm after which nothing will be available. We had fried rice and by the time body had cooled down a lot due to altitude and temperature. By now we were shivering. The visibility was also nil. We were also feeling too sleepy. It was a 23 km climb and body demanded rest. We were at 688th Km after an elapsed time of 54 hours. We need to complete another 512 km in 36 hours.

The next 300 km is going to be difficult and the last 212 km will be on the bangalore highway where we can makeup the lost time. Having come to conclusion after a brief discussion, We decided to halt there for a couple of hours sleep and then catch up during day time.

After a 4 hour good sleep, woke up and got ready to go. Neer dosa is very famous there. Had neer dosa at 5:00 am in the morning and proceeded within the dense mist covering the road. The roads became visible only after 6:30 am. It was beautiful scenery all around , pleasant hill views, gardens and coffee plantations and occasional little dog chases.

Hotel Samraat to Hotel sulokha, kushalnagar – Hotel Samudra

Reached Hotel samraat at Anemahal around 9:00. Mangalore bun is the specality and we each had one. Soon Fat bike anand sir reached and we had a discussion with Mr TK Prashant regarding the finishing of ride. He said it is going to take 48 hours from where you are to finish the ride. We were at 737th km. 470 kms to go and we only had 30 hours to go. In the last 12 hours we covered only 50 km and in the last 24 hours we had done only 167 km. This is where things started getting delayed.

Another 95 kms to the selfie point, we kept on riding. Imran tahir from Hyderabad helped us with coconut water. WE took a power nap in a cement storage area. The climbs were very steep and roads not so good. Before a steep climb one man asked do we need water and filled it up in his home. Some passers by saw us and enquired and even provided with snacks. Also had to fix a puncture for Naazia when the momentum picked up. It took 8 hours for us to finish this 95 km stretch.

After reaching Hotel Samudra, took a room and rested there for five hours. We bathed and felt refreshed and then had dinner and also takeaway food kept ready before going to sleep. After sleeping for 4 hours , resumed our journey at midnight 1:00 am. We owned the roads. There was literally no one till we reached Abhyathamangala Post office. We took selfie there and knew we are going to late finish. We only had 7 hours duration left but 368 kms to complete.

Hotel sulokha to Infinity café, Hassan – CCD billekere

We reached Hotel Sulokha at early morning 5:00 am and opened our takeaway food and devoured it. Again we stopped at a tea shop and had two teas each of us. We were close to 900th km. I guessed we will be late by atleast 18 to 20 hours by the way we were progressing. It took much longer than that.

The unexpected help

At 1000th km Naazia was literally lying in the road and asking for food. She was not ready to move an inch. Seeing a girl crying, few people gathered around us. They could not understand our situation. They were telling 20 km away there is hotel, but Naazia was too tired to even move. I got some biscuits and juices and she just could not stop crying. I asked her if she wanted to quit andeven in that situation she said no. One village man asked what was our problem and we said we are having money and no food to eat. He asked us to put our cycle there itself and took us to his home. Initially we hesistated to leave our cycles and go, but the villagers told they will ensure nobody will touch them and it will be safe there. The man told I have two daughters at home, so no need to worry about safety. After reaching their home we were taken inside and treated like guests. His wife prepared lemon rice for us and we took picture with them and thanked them from the bottom of heart and resumed our ride. So many strangers helped us that day.

Infinity café to CCD yediyur

Reached infinity café at 10:00 pm in the night. Already late by 12 hours. The café was closed. Took selfie at the café and resumed. By 1:00 am Naazia was feeling dizzy again and we had to halt for the night at Bluebird hotel. I wasn’t tired but didn’t want to leave her and go as no one is riding behind us.

We halted for the night and resumed in the morning and had idly dosa for breakfast and resumed our rides. Everyone was already following with us. At 11:00 am Naazia needed one more halt. Had to rent a room and she slept for two hours. I couldn’t sleep as I was not feeling tired. Meanwhile I got some tablets for fever, Had lunch at the hotel and resumed our ride. It was running into fifth day.

CCD yediyur to finish point

Took selfie at CCD yediyur and kept riding towards nelamangla. At about 6 km before the finish point, Naazia went into a petrol bunk with make up kit and returned with fresh face, meanwhile I was looking after the cycles and looked tired. We then proceeded to Gayathri vihar and many of them from  bangalore randonneurs and Bangalore Cycling Network were present to welcome us. We had snacks with them and chatted for a while. They also dropped us at our hotel and we had dinner again and dozed off. It took 122 hours for us to finish the prestigious ride. Two more riders were also riding and they were behind us. They too successfully late finished the ride.

https://www.strava.com/athletes/7997889

Link to my activity – GOH 2022

This ride has taught me lot of things and that will be in a separate post.

Have a good day

mysterious kolli hills

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As we learnt our lesson from our trip to jawadhu hills and obviously this time we planned for overnight stay before the ride to kolli hills.. This was also a rehearsal for our upcoming 300 BRM to kolli hills. This time we are seven members and we transported our cycles by train. We are to catch up Friday evening train and so we left our cycles packed in the luggage department.

We boarded the train in the evening and reached Namakkal railway station. There we unloaded the cycles and came to know that the booking office at the station has been permanently closed and we cannot load our cycles while return. With this information we went to the lodge and got ready for the days adventure.

It was drizzling in the morning and it rained while we commenced our ride. We rode 20 kms and reached the base of kolli hills. We had a great breakfast before the ride and each of us started at our own pace.

Kolli hills has got an imposing 70 hair pin bends. The overall average gradient is only 5.3%. After reaching half way the visibility became dimmer and dimmer.  I climbed the 70 hairpin bends in about an hour and half. We were taking pics till everyone reached and then we descended downwards.

We had lunch at the same place where we had our breakfast and proceeded towards salem. It was a daunting ride in hot sun. We reached around 6:00 pm in the evening and caught up the train.

We were of the view that kolli hills ride is easy as we had assumed that the highest point in the hill is at 70th hair pin bend which was not true and we learned the hard way in the Trichy 300 BRM.

Kolli hills 300 BRM

The BRM was organised by Trichy randonneurs(TR) and till date this was one of the best rides I have ever participated. The route map was provided and we were super confident as we had already made it to the kolli hills practice ride earlier.

We booked the train tickets and loaded our cycles in the luggage compartment and reached srirangam via a short ride from Trichy. We stayed at srirangam yatri nivas and the starting point also happened to be the same. We had dinner in the evening and had a good sleep.

Everyone was there at the start point by 5:30 am in the morning. More than 50 riders have assembled there and it was like a festive mood. The ride started sharp at 6:00 am in the morning and breakfast was Provided by TR at 55th km at the first CP. We had idly, vadai and Pongal with sambar and chutney. Then a quick start and we are at 100th km. Prashant sir was waiting there before the start of the climb. Everyone had juice and filled up their water bottles at the local shop near the arch.

The climb up hill

Aerial view of kolli hills

The climb

From the image you can see how many hairpin bends could be. A total of 70 hairpin bend in a stretch of 20km to reach the top. From my previous experience I know it is going to take an hour and half to reach the top. Naazia had started climbing alone and followed by Lakshman sir. I was riding at my own pace somehow it was not my best. My best came during the practice session last month. At 35th hairpin bend volunteers were providing with refreshments. Halted for a few minutes and ate a brownie prepared by pradeepa mam. During the practice climb weather was awesome but during the event, It was very sultry. The joy on seeing Prashant sir after reaching the top expessed everything. But the worst challenging part is yet to come which everyone is unaware.

The lunch spot surprise.

Prashant sir just showed a direction and asked us to have lunch there. It was one of the steepest climb. Little did we know that the place where we are having lunch is the highest point in kolli hills. Since there are no hotels available, lunch had been arranged in contract with a local caterer. By the time lunch arrived, six of us were at the spot. All of us were lamenting about the unnecessary climb which Prashant sir tricked us and made to climb. We had tamarind rice and potatoes for our lunch and filled up our water bottles and resumed the journey.

Another surprise

As everyone is of the assumption that the climb is over, little did we know that only fifty percent of the climb is completed. We misinterpreted the elevation graph. There were many descends and ascends enroute and had difficulty in navigation to. There is an elevation profile in the bike computer which should be used in conjunction with the map to identify which way to go instead of navigating physically and finding the route to be wrong. The next check point is at karavallikombai, Kolli hills Tribal Cooperative Society. We reached the CP on time and took selfies and resumed the ride.

We rode across Jack fruit plantations and the views were very scenic. We could not halt to take our pics as we were right on time. There was no dog chase and There were monkeys occasionally crossing the road and the chirping sound of birds. As we started to descend, there was a puncture at rear tyre. We replaced a tube and started our journey. By now Shreyas has left us and gomathi shankar sir was passing by.

We halted for a coffee break and naazia was insisting that my tyre pressure is low and I was ok with the tyre pressure. As I did not pay heed to her words, She requested gomathi shankar to fill air in my tube. While he was trying to increase the pressure, my tyre and tube got bursted. We had a terrific laughter therapy while replacing with a new tyre and tube. Within 10 kms I had to fix another puncture and everyone behind us overtook one by one. Once we fixed we reached the next CP, took selfie and located a place for dinner. We still had to complete another 92 km in 5.5 hours.

I started feeling sleepy and my pace was going down. Had many coffee breaks wherever possible and kept the momentum going as another puncture or any other mechanical failure will hamper our chances of completion severely. Now we have to pass through many villages and face numerous dog chases. We reached the finish point fifteen minutes before cut-off.

Lesson learnt from this ride

  1. The hot weather made the climb difficult, so one should not presume about the conditions.
  2. Elevation graph and gradient graph should be taken seriously and analysed properly.
  3. Must use the elevation graph in the bike computer during a hilly terrain.

The next day morning we were provided with a small momento and departed from srirangam to Chennai. Overall it was a great ride experience.

Most of us who practice the climb at kolli hills must not stop at 70th hairpin bend. We must ride till the highest point in kolli hill which has more steep climbs enroute.

See you in another ride.

A trip to Jawadhu hills

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Jawadhu hills or jawadhu malai is situated in the Tiruvannamalai district of southern most state of india, Tamilnadu. awadhu hill is a nice weekend getaway from Chennai.  If you want to know more about the Jawadhu Hills. My first visit to jawadhu hills was during the ‘Greencruiser 400 BRM’ in Jan 2020 and my second visit was during ‘Jawadhu 400 BRM’ in the subsequent year January.

Many of us have already completed the SR series and wanted further practice at hills. Also after my first ultra randonneuring experience the feeling was to practice more hill rides. We chose to go to jawadhu as a weekend trip by car and return on the same day. Five cycles in a car , three in a rack and other two inside the back seat of Innova.

We gathered at padma’s house at 5:00 am in the morning, dismantled our cycles and put two of the cycles inside the backside of car along with the wheels of all five cycles. Then fixed the rack and loaded the three cycles and secured firmly. We had our first break near mamandur and then proceeded towards polur. We had our breakfast in a road side shop. Egg dosa and idly were gulped by us and then reached a friends house, known through Shiva Raju.

We unloaded the cycles and started the assembling the wheels and checked tyre pressures and then applied lubes to chain and gear. After assembly did a small test ride and gathered again. The area was full of paddy fields.

All five of us started riding from polur and reached the check  post after which we started climbing at our own pace. It was rising gradually and then once the hair pin bend sign boards are seen, the climb becomes steeper. For well practised legs it isn’t much steep. There were a total of five hairpin bends and at the end of the fifth hairpin bend a watch tower is available from where the panoramic views are stunning. I enjoyed the scene and forgot to take pic from the top. I realised it only after descending from watch tower.

Watch tower at Jawadhu hill

I reached there quickly in less than 45 minutes and descended till I saw padma and rode with him to the 5th hair pin bend. After taking some pics we rode again to the next person and climbed again. In this way all we repeated till all five of us were there at the top. We took some group pics and some local kids joined us too.

It was rainy season and the weather was also pleasant. We descended till check post and looked out for snacks in the nearest shop. And then took some pics befor leaving.

Then went to the friend’s house in polur, dismantled our wheels and put two cycle frames in the rear side along with ten wheels and then the remaining three frames in the rack. We then reached polur junction and lucky to have the meals. After the meals we proceeded via Uthiramerur route and then reached home by 10:00 pm in the night.

The journey time, dismantling and assembling the cycles at both onward and return took more time than the actual hill ride practice. So we decided that for the next hill ride practice sessions in the subsequent months will stay overnight.

See you in the next hill ride.

CHALUKYAS 1200 – My first ultra randonneuring experience – Part II

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Warning: Long post as well as late post.

Ride story:

Breakfast at 4:00 am

Got up at 3:00 am on the ride day and had breakfast by 4:00 am and checked out of the hotel by 4:30 and reached the venue by 5:00. It was raining not so heavily. Wearing our rain coats and waiting in the rain opposite kanteerva stadium.

Kanteerva stadium to VRL refreshments (86 kms)

After collecting the name card and got the bike check done and greeting each other in the rainy day, had a good start.

early morning rains near kanteerava stadium, bangalore, 14-0ct-2021

At the sixth kilometer my co-riders Hub got jammed and could not be rectified. Asking for help from passers by for cycle mechanics number, few passing cyclists stood by and helped us only to find it could not be rectified. Finally two riders who started late gave contact of nearby cycle shop and also spoke to him. The cycle shop was around 1 km from the point of breakdown.  Soon we went there and identified the most suitable cycle. The owner Sachin came to the spot and helped us and we could not rectify the issue then and there. Alternate cycle was suggested. Only M size cyle was available which is the closest possible thing. We know we were running out of time for our first control point. After dismantling and fixing the handlebar extender, water bottle cage, spare tyre and seat, we have lost a good two hours. Resumed our journey with great spirit. Our consistent practice helped a lot. We need to reach VRL refreshments by 11:40 while we started at 8:30. Managed to cover 80 km in three hours in the traffic and elevations.

Some tense moments handled wisely

VRL refreshments to Hotel Anand Vihar

After having breakfast at VRL refreshments and started, we were the last of riders. Saw one rider quitting due to back pain at the same location. After a ride of two hours, had to fix puncture for fellow rider and used the chance to fill up water bottle. Felt a good relief after seeing few riders on the way. Talking to them was such a big relief. They all had lunch break and riding fast. Soon we were slowing down and decided to have lunch. Had lunch at around 4:00 PM in the evening and again started riding. It was a very long ride through chitradurga. Rode through wind tunnels, where our average speed dropped to 12 kmph. At around 200 kms we had to take a deviation from pune highway towards hosapete. Finally reached check point at 8:20 PM in the night. Covered 160 kms in 8 hours with a lunch break and puncture break. Looks good on paper but not sufficient for long rides with good elevation en route. Most of the star riders have already left the CP by the time we arrived. The few who were there greeted us. A Great dinner had been arranged by BR. Tried to have a power nap but couldn’t. After a gap of one hour, resumed our journey.

Hotel Anand Vihar to Hotel Nandagokula – Night ride (138 kms)

Before starting from CP we were advised to carry food for the night ride. Fortunately numerous coffee shops were available till mid night post which climate took control. Temperature started dropping and had to take many coffee/Tea breaks. In the land of coffee only tea was available at most places. Took pics inside a wind tunnel and headed to nearest petrol bunk for sleep. I slept for a good 45 minutes while others were chatting. After waking up from sleep, had a warm up run for half a km and then resumed the rides. Rode 64 kms in the next three hours to reach the CP with 1.5 hours buffer. Reached around 6:45: 386 kms in 24 hours seemed too slow but for the elevations. Since its early morning decided to have breakfast later.

Touring around Pattadakkal, Aihole and Badami and reaching Pakwan hotel

Group of monuments at pattadakkal
Aihole

We were made to take pictures at the three UNESCO heritage sites. Thanks to the organisers for routing through these beautiful heritage sites and making it a mandatory selfie point. Rolling terrains, Good roads, bad roads, village roads, gravel roads, mud roads, concrete roads, Tar roads. This is just preparing us for the deadly 100 km ride from 523 km to 623 km till gokak.

Badami cave temple

Hot sun greeted us all the way. No clouds. No use of carrying rain coat. Literally dehydrating ride since we were riding at noon. Finally reached pakwan hotel around 3:30 in the evening. With 1.5 hours to closing and tiredness forced us to take lunch here. Almost full of cyclists here felt happy again. By the time we reached everyone were leaving. It was Day 2 evening and we have not yet slept after riding for 36 hours with only breaks for eating and resting. A good one hour break left us with only half an hour of buffer time and we have to start hoping we get to sleep in the 623 km CP at Gokak.

Started like this and then…
sunflower fields on way to pakwan hotel

Pakwan hotel to Gokak (Deadly 96 kms)

While starting from pakwan hotel we had seven hours and 15 minutes to ride 115 km. This time includes sleeping time for whole second day night and continuing for the third day. Even imagining seemed difficult. We could see many riders  in this stretch. Endless amount of village people stopped by and enquired us. We got bored answering the same question time and again. We joined HariRaju and Lokesh. Four of us took turns to the enquiry. Finally decided to act dumb. Still motor bike riders came in front of us and kept asking the same questions. And the roads were bad roads combined with rolling terrains with no lights except our bicycle lights. As usual one of my water bottle flew away when I left my cycle in one of the ditches in the middle of the road. Waited and looked around and could not locate it. Continued the ride. Now came endless amount of tractors with baggase loaded and we could see few fellow riders fixing punctures enroute at many places. We were quite lucky not to have any puncture or may be I finished all my quota of punctures earlier this year in February. Then came good roads. Picked up speed and reached Landmark hotel to see 60 cycles parked there.

Gokak to vidhaan soudha

Spent 5 hours at this spot but slept only for 2 hours. Half an hour for dinner, 20 minutes for toilet and bath and changing clothes, 10 minutes for water filling , getting signed in brevet card, collecting drop bag, putting your phone, bike computer and battery bank for charging. Packaging was right except I carried way too much protein bars. I consumed 6 protein bars for 1200 kms. However I carried 24 nos which is excess.

Had a sumptuous meal at landmark hotel, gokak arranged by BR and a good 2 hour sleep after 40 hours only to start again. Started at early morning 3:30 in the dark, reached Reliance petrol pump, which was a selfie point. Had a tea break. It was 5:30 in the morning. Henceforth only good roads. Increased pace and caught up with other riders on the way near vidhaan soudha. Missed home made sweets by Belgavi cycling club by reaching late by 5 minutes. However it was not a CP.

Vidhaan soudha to Sugar N Spice

Saw Rudhra from WCCG tambaram chapter during the 1200 km ride only once. He iss a super fast rider. Had breakfast there in a small hotel and then crossed two ghat sections. My road bike crossed 60 kmph mark for more than 5 minutes. I was very much worried about the sudden speed anxiously holding the brakes despite which my bike moving at 50- 60 kmph. Riding in hot sun is better for me than in the cold lightless night. Reached Sugar N Spice and welcomed by Huballi cycling club members. They filled our water bottles while we had our lunch. It was day three evening and I was sleeping in hot sun in the verandah of the hotel only to be interrupted by the alarm set for 30 minutes.

Sugar N Spice to DVG socials

My corider Naazia started hallucinating during the ride. Despite covering 120 kms in 6 hours, the balance 16 kms took 3 hours to complete due to severe hallucination for her. The mistake on our part is not sleeping on the way and relying on facilities provided at CP. Instead of sleeping at CP, had we slept on the way at some petrol bunk , could have completed the ride much earlier. It costed us too much. Had good food arranged by BR and a very sound sleep for a couple of hours.

DVG socials to Kamat Upchaar

Woke up at 3:30 am and got ready for the final day ride. It was a great and fresh morning ride. After an hours ride, we reached our first 1000 km mark riding bicycle. I took a screenshot of it and shared in social media. At 6:30 we stopped for breakfast at the top of a hill in a small road side shop. Had idli and vadai with sambar and chutney and resumed our journey for final 200 km.  I was sleeping on the roadside in broad daylight due to lack of sleep. Reached Kamat upchaar at 1:30 PM in the afternoon.

Kamat Upchaar to Finish point

Started after an hour and half break, Heard lot of stories from fellow riders regarding their hallucinating experience and some were still hallucinating in broad day light and still riding at good pace. It started raining 60 kms before we reached the CP. My rear derailleur got jammed. Rode without shifting gears and completed. The last sixty kms in rain and traffic was very tough for riding as well as navigating.

CHALUKYAS 1200 -My first ultra randonneuring experience – Part I

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Having completed an SR series in august 2021, wanted to taste ultra randonneuring experience. Registered for the event 45 days prior with bangalore randonneurs(BR). So had 45 days in hand for planning and practicing. Two zoom sessions were organised by BR in which an idea about the route, things to carry etc., were briefed by experienced randonneurs. We were also provided with food information, like shop names at particular km. So we know in advance where food will be available and where there is likely not available so that we can stock up.

S NODescriptionHandle bar bagFront top bagSaddle bagAttached to cycleDrop bag
1Jersey    2
2Padded shorts1   2
3Rain coat1    
4Bandana1   2 nos
5Gloves1   2 sets
6Socks1   2 sets
7Power bank1    
8Snacks1    
9T shirt1    
10Phone 1   
11Puncture kit 1 set   
12Multi tool kit 1   
13Dry lube 1   
14Charging cables- phone and bike computer 1 each   
15Spare batteries  1 set each   
16Wet lube  1  
17Chain tool  1  
18Spoke tool  1  
19Spare tubes  2  
20Bottom bracket  1  
21Spare tyre (Ralson 700 x 25 C)   11
22Portable air pump   1 
23Water bottle   2 
24Front light   1 
25Rear light   1 
26Protein bars 2 nos 3 nos10 nos
27Electral 5   5

Since the event was in bangalore, we have to transport our cycles. Neither of us owned a car. So we decided to use a cycle carry bag and go in train. We have to dismantle both the wheels and put the rest of the cycle as it is inside the bag. We had to take an auto from home to central station and then put the bags below the seat. We had to book second AC in train for this reason. The third AC and sleeper classes cannot accommodate two cycles plus luggage and it will be difficult for other passengers. And also we cannot keep the cycles at different seats since we have to keep an eye on it or otherwise Somebody put the leg on the shifters or luggage on the spokes or derailleur it will become a disaster. After reaching bangalore, Carrying the cycles and luggage was very difficult. Porters also charge very heftily seeing the oversized dimension. It is better to put cycles in luggage compartment or otherwise by car.

We reached one day prior and had sufficient time to assemble the cycles and fit with all accessories in respective bags. We handed over the drop bags and AIR waiver form to the organisers and also met couple of people who are also participating with us in the ride.

Accommodation

We have to be careful in choosing accommodation. Should be close to the start point. Should be flexible with 1 or 2 hours delayed checkout. Most of the hotels have check out time at 12:00 pm, However the ride may start at evening 4:00 PM. We have to inform the staff well in advance that we will be checking out late and not to make any calls on the day of the ride. Do sleep as much as possible during the day before start of ride.

The ride is for more than 3 days and immiediately after returning( either completing or quitting) we would like to sleep at the earliest. Our luggage should be at the place where we would like to return, since we may be too tired or even hallucinating. Some hotels may not have luggage storing facility and we should consider this before booking.

Note of Caution: It is better to finish late than to quit at LRMs since transportation from the place of quitting to start point may not be easy most of the times.

ROADHAMMER-600 BRM   My first Super Randonneur title 

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Exactly two years ago on this day I completed my first 200 k brevet with my WCCG madipakkam chapter friends. Missed 300 k due to my cousin brothers death and completed 300 K at Pondicherry. Completed 400 k with our team again. My first attempt at 600 k ended in me and my friend quitting at 520 k unable to control sleep despite having sufficient time. After quitting from my maiden attempt at VPV-600 in mar-2020, within a week whole country was under lockdown due to covid-19 and all our practice came to halt including daily rides. My cycle was lying idle for six months time. Initially I dusted every week. Later spiders occupied and then for drying clothes etc., There was no lime light when brevet activities would resume and our fitness levels started dropping despite working out at home daily. I started gaining weight again. Looked out to others and started running inside home. My weight increased despite running 1000 kms in two months during jun-july. Even that too came to a halt during august. Hopes of completing SR within the year too kept distancing. However kept talking to SR aspirants and kept the hopes alive. For we would not repeat the mistake of quitting again. We endured the long wait during the covid-19 lockdown at its peak till august. Conducting brevet rides in india resumed from mid-september. By now we all are carrying extra packages around our waist. Trichy randonneurs  announced Auroville-600. However subsequently Madras Randonneurs announced Roadhammer-600, saving us from transportation and journey. 

Practice rides 

Started riding at the beginning of sep-2020 after a gap of six months. We assessed our fitness and found we can pull this off. Coupled with non-stop daily rides -thanks to WCCG madipakkam chapter friends for giving company in all daily rides. Completed 3000 k in sep-oct and slowly returning to normal rhythm. Did my first 100k in last week of sep-20 and one more 100 next week followed by 200k next week. 

Previous day Preparation 

We started hydrating one day prior to the ride start which helped a lot. Charged all our batteries, battery bank, packed all things required for the next day ride. A good night sleep followed by afternoon nap on ride day helped a lot during night ride on day-1. 

Ride experience 

Day-1 (4:30 PM to mid night) 

At start point, Just buy cycles

Seven riders commenced the ride from JBC Velachery at 4:30 pm on 30th oct. Four time SR Sudhakar sir sir took lead and I followed him leaving others behind. We stopped at 85 km for a small bite. Control point was only five km away. Rudhra caught up with us there and flying ahead of us. Again we overtook him and clocked 65 kms in next two hours. A coffee break at 140 km to refuel made me feel better. Sudhakar sir sir was carrying rice and having few spoons every half an hour. I haven’t planned that much for nutrition. A lesson I must take from this experience.  Speed increases once we fuel us with right food at right time.  

Sudhakar sir , me and the biriyani cover

Day-2 (midnight to next day midnight)- day of surprises 

 Reached second CP at 1:00 am exactly. We took photo and posted in the group. Soon the organisers responded- We are at CP-2 and where are you. It was a manned CP. Luckily we just read the message and went to A2B ullundurpet on the opposite side of road. Mr Prasanna was waiting fr us there. Had a delicious coffee again with some sweet bun. Refilled water. Took half an hour break. No one has joined us. So me and Sudhakar sir sir proceeded expecting to reach u-turn point by 6:00 am in the morning.  

We rode another 40 km. It was 4:20 in the morning. Had a meal top up and a coffee to keep awake and rested for a while. We were actually choreographing photograph of nap to post in group. Once done two of us started again. Hardly we could pedal. I know its not because of tiredness but due to the rising elevation after the perambalur. A consolidated 1000 m elevation is awaiting us in the next 60 km. Since it is about to dawn we were not feeling sleep also. Reached U-turn point at 7:30 am in the morning . A solid 6:30 hours for the third 100 k. There were no shops open even to refill water. However due to constant food recharge at night, helped in combating elevation without break. It was a rolling terrain , so the same climbs have to be done on return also.   

A small nap for 30 minutes, bath, breakfast(idli vadai), and then resumed the ride by 9:30 am. Just after two km saw rudhra toward check point. Told him over phone that u-turn is near and went ahead. No trees on the way even for a shade and a very hot day. Only sun god was testing us. Wind god didn’t help us nor test us. By 11:30 am we were at 355 km. Had an egg omlette, refilled water and proceeded again in the impartial hot sun right at 12:00 mid noon. Rode for another 1:30 hours. Found a hotel near ullundurpet. Had vegetarian meals instead of usual biriyani. 

My co-riders tube got punctured. Fixed it and then within 15 minutes tyre got burst. Replaced the tyre. The reason was liner had a twist and so we had to remove the liner. All memories of puncture did not haunt me. Quickly on to the wheels, we reached 400km at 4:42 pm. Had a quick food recharge at A2B ullundurpet . The break was for more than 30 minutes. Since we had sufficient time at our belt we could afford.  Another coffee break after vikravandi  toll at 7:30 helped in recharging a lot. By now karthos got fired up and moving steadily still 70 km behind us. At 10:15 had dinner at vasantha bhavan at 470 km. When we came out saw rudhra having juice. Three of us rode together to the next check point at Only coffee, silavattam.  

Day-3 

Around 12:45 we reached the CP. Still 80 km to go in 8 hours ,we decided to take a nap. A two hour sleep helped a lot. Started at 3:10 am in the morning, saddle soreness inflicted me. Took a coffee break near chengalpet and then slow ride since we have to see map and enquire at each turn, verify again. The route via kayar was very sceneic in the morning with mist, mountains and forest. Finally reached JBC-velacherry around 8:10 am in the morning with just a 20 minute gap and greeted by karuna , waiting for me at JBC. karthos reached by 8:30 with no spare time. No words to appreciate karthos who rode without sleep and alone for 500 km. A man of great mental strength and will power. Me karthos and rudhra got our first super randonneur . Sudhakar sir completed his fifth title. The moment we waited for eight months had finally come to fruition. 

Karthos

Lesson to learn – Under estimation of the route (elevation) 

Comparing the route with VPV-600 we assumed it is simpler. No loops. No headwinds. No bad roads. But still in for a surprise elevation twist. However much better than the ullundurpet stretch or the vandavasi stretch. The elevation at the last 60 kms was very deceptive and tricky. Literally no water for the last 30 odd kms. The route starts from JBC-velacherry and the through kayar leads to GST at Chengalpattu. From there straight to samayapuram toll at Trichy and return is same all the way. There were two CP on the way and two on return. Except the under-estimated elevation at the last 60 km everything was easy. 

Vidyasagar (myself)

Riding stats 

Distance: 616 km 

Elevation gain: 1904 m 

Moving time: 27:34 hours

Elapsed time: 39:40 hours

Avg speed: 22.3 kmph 

Max elevation: 143 m 

The finishers of 600 BRM

Thanks to organisers, madras randonneurs  for conducting  the event and helping us complete the SR. Thanks to coriders . A big thanks to WCCG madipakkam chapter friends and Vinoth, arun and Vignesh, Karthik seenu for constantly following up with us. Thanks all for the motivation and support. 

Its a late post just by two years. hahaha.

Cycling in Chennai -Lakes in and around Chennai

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It is monsoon time in Chennai and time to await and visit our favourite lakes and check dams.

  1. Chembarapakkam lake – https://www.strava.com/activities/5935276486
  2. Puzhal lake – https://www.strava.com/activities/5088349174
  3. Poondi dam – https://www.strava.com/activities/4622841030
  4. Cholavaram lake
  5. Thaiyur lake – https://www.strava.com/activities/4435424708
  6. Kondangi lake – https://www.strava.com/activities/4517865699
  7. Seemapuram check dam – https://www.strava.com/activities/4633279528
  8. Madipakkam lake
  9. Puzhuthivakkam lake
  10. Hidden lake
  11. Siruseri lake – https://www.strava.com/activities/6157562715
  12. Vichoor lake – https://www.strava.com/activities/5099520410
  13. Kumizhi lake
  14. Mambakkam lake – https://www.strava.com/activities/5713675261
  15. Porur lake
  16. Sholinganallur lake
  17. Pulicat lake
  18. Perungudi lake
  19. Ottiyambakkam lake – https://www.strava.com/activities/4532218652
  20. Nanmangalam lake
  21. Vandalur lake
  22. Chitlapakkam lake
  23. Madambakkam lake
  24. Manimangalam lake

SL7 High Altitude Training Centre – Ooty

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Went for a three day training camp at SL7 HATC, ooty. Reached metupalayalam by train and from there i pedalled to the training centre. 60 kms from metupalayalam with 2500 m elevation gain, and some rain, with no pain, reached the centre with rain washed bike and myself. I was welcomed with great hospitality.

Day 0:

Everyone arrived at the camp one by one and stayed at respective rooms on sharing basis. The common meeting point for discussions was close to my room. One gang from Vellore / Ranipet stayed close to my room and they were super enthusiastic with so many gadgets and playing music all over the night.

Day 1:

All of us got up early on the day, had our breakfast and ready on time as planned. The group has planned for a easy ride on day 1 . We started the ride at 7:00 in the morning, decided to go on our own pace, slow and steady and reached half way point at kattabetu. We had our breakfast there and then regrouped into smaller groups based on our speeds and went back to our start point. On the first day covered a total distance of 62 km with 1200 m elevation gain, and completed the ride by around 1:30 in the afternoon. Since it was a relaxed pace ride, we did not bother about speed and timings. Post ride, we had our lunch arranged by SL7 and happily went to take rest and prepare for the big day. On the evening met for tea and had our discussions regarding next day ride.

Day 2:

The sufferfest began as soon as we started the ride at 7:00 in the morning. We were climbing the whole day and at some places the climb was very steep such that persons wearing cleated shoes had to get down from the cycle and walk uphill. It was a very good practice ride for LEL and upcoming spartan 600. There was heavy rains and some had their brake failures and returned via shortest route to avoid descents during rains. Rest of us completesd the 129 km sufferfest with an elevation gain of 3000+ metres. Completing the ride gave a tremendous boost to confidence.

Day 3:

The relaxed ride for 60 km with 1000+ metres elevation passed through a muddy section, where an old man provided with buckets of water for cleaning our cycles. He was a native of kancheepuram and settled in ooty when he was ten years old. Such help from unknown people and crucial times reminds me that i should also help people without expecting anything in return. We complated the ride well before lunch and had a relaxed evening. Post evening we had a stretching exercise session by Sreenath, the founder of SL7 and a yoga session subsequently. It was a wonderful finish to the three day camp.

About the SL7-HATC

  1. Resist against resistance
  2. Unique in Asia. The only high altitude training centre for cyclists.
  3. Accommodation is neat and clean.
  4. Dormitory and private rooms available.
  5. Hot water for bathing is available.
  6. Cycling cleaning space is available.
  7. Ideal location for bird watching and photography.

The centre is located in Ithalar village in ooty. Around 15 km from ooty bus stand, the centre is situated in a private secured place with scenic views and away from the disturbance of tourists. It is ideal location for cyclists to train for climbs.

cheers

See you in another post.