Monday, April 2, 2012

Cycling, and I..........

It was my 6th class summer vacation when I learnt cycling. My parents put a condition that I could go visiting relatives only if I learn cycling and swimming. I learnt spending time in water easily but learning to cycle appeared to be a tough task. It took me a month and more to learn, with so many falls and wounds. But once I learnt, I found real fun in cycling. In my holidays, when my parents were busy in farm activities, I had to spend time alone because there were no kids nearby, of my agegroup then. So, I used to ride in the road in front of our farm, where there was literally no traffic at all. I did my first long distance ride (??) in my 9th class, when our school NCC organized a cycle expedition to Navakkinathu Maadhaiyan temple, in nearby forest range. The trip totalled 25 kilometres. After that, I got to commute with cycle to attend my tuitions when I was in 11th and 12th classes. After completing my 12th class, my dad gave his TVS XL super to me for farm related activities and then whole through my UG life, I hardly got to ride a bicycle.

When I came to visit IISc after my UG, I was happy to see that students here used bicycles to commute between departments, mess and hostels. When I joined, after settling down in hostel, the first thing I bought is my Hero Hawk NuAge, single speed. I fell down three times from my cycle in first 2 months. One in the road to CEDT, adjacent to BSNL office, where I was looking back to see whether friends are coming, I missed balance and ended up hitting the silver oak tree on the leftside. The next one happened near my hostel, around 4 AM when I was returning back from lab, tried to close my eyes in darkness and ride, ended up hitting a pit, and fell down in nearby bush. (Though one of my friends always says that I was sleeping while riding and never accepted my theory). The third one happened right in front of a girls' hostel. I had to brake and stop at right most end of the road, when trying to overtake people walking in front of me, and I was unable to land with my right leg and fell down. These three falls made me feel more experienced with cycle and I made sure that I never fell down afterwards.

The first long distance trip I heard about in institute, was from Kalpesh, when he said, he was going for a 50 km trip to a nearby lake called Hesharghatta. I was not knowing about populaires or brevets then and was thinking, wow, 50 kms, a huge one. Anyhow, slowly interest was building up in me to do long rides and I wanted to fit gears to my hawk. I got them fit and did my second long ride of 12 kms or so, from institute, to SP road,to MG road and back to institute.

Then came the announcement for first of the two rides which inspired me a lot and made me an addict of cycling, 'Shavandurga 100, the monolith populaire'. It included three stretches of challenging slopes, the pipeline road, Manchenbele climb, and Mahalaxmipuram layout slope, and it took me two more rides to conquer the later two and they became my favourites. In this ride, I understood the importance of cuesheet, by not following it initially, and ended up doing 8 more kilometres. I had a flat in back tyre in Magadi road and I luckily found a puncture shop within some kms. I finished the ride in 7 hrs 47 minutes. The experience was fantastic and I wanted to do more long rides, but stopped for a while due to placements.

My next ride was, Arkavathi 150 Populaire. This was called as a launch ride for the following Brevet Season. This is when I got to know about Brevets and endurance cycling. I did this populaire also with my hawk, and this was when I realized the need for a much more comfortable, and advanced bike. I completed 150 kms in 9 hrs 52 minutes, thanks to my hawk for not giving any trouble, but I was completely exhausted around 120th km and thereafter made Kalpesh and Shankar, to wait for me every 6 to 7 kms once.

Shavandurga 100 - With Jitendra and Tulsiram
Arkavathi 150 - with Kalpesh and Shankar 
walking in the Manchenbele Slope
I wanted a good bike but initially was thinking whether to spend too much on a bike. After attending a presentation by Sreepathi about Brevets, I got convinced. But the time for me to select and buy a new bike was too short as the next ride, the first Brevet was only two weeks later. Considering my weight and rough handling, I decided to go for an MTB. I wanted to buy Merida MTA510, which was available in a good offer, but available frame size was too small. That was the first time I hated myself being tall. Then I heard about and read reviews of b'Twin RockRider 5.3 and I went for it. I got it by November 24th, 2011.

Then came my first brevet, Huliyurdurga 200. I learnt a series of lessons from this brevet and my failure in this. I started without eating or drinking anything, hadn't taken anything to eat in the way (not even a water bottle), hadn't taken puncture patch kit or replacement tubes. It was just my bike and I. That too, rode a brand new bike, which I had hardly ridden for 5 kms. I was comfortable for first 90 kms, then was slowly getting exhausted, and was in need of atleast some water. But I was in a stretch of road where I couldn't find any shops. I asked people passing by for shops nearby and found the next shop is only after 4 kms. I almost was fainting, stopped riding and waiting for some riders to comeby such that I could have some water. Luckily, Kalpesh and Mustafa cameby to save me. Got some water and managed to the shop. Spent a lot more time there, to get back to normal and managed to next control point and lunch. There itself, got water cage of Kalpesh and fit on my bike. Then the ride was smooth till the last 10 kms. Got a flat at 195th km and had only half an hour to finish the remaining 10 km. I searched for a cycle shop nearby and got my tyre fixed, and completed ride in 14 hours 15 minutes, 45 minutes behind the schedule. Had I saved the hour I wasted out of water, I would have managed this situation and finished Brevet successfully. My first failure taught me what not to do.

Huliyurdurga 200 - with no preparations, and dressing completely uncomfortable
My second (first successful) Brevet was Kolar Gold Fields 300. It was a wonderful brevet, through Three states. I was too careful in this ride, properly dressed for cycling, maintained cool, went with all the necessary preparations, nicely rode, saved half an hour around my 250th km for managing flats if occured, enjoyed shoolagiri climb, and finished 313 kms in 19 hrs 20 mins. I felt very happy that day and it is one of my best days. I missed Chellakere 400 and Tristate 600 brevets because of personal and academic reasons, though I prepared myself well for my longest rides. Still feeling bad and looking forward to do them in july.

Meanwhile I did some rides to Hesharghatta and other places. The rides to Hesharghatta were always interesting as I have done all the rides with different set of people, in different climatic conditions. I have seen the dry lake, foggy grassland which made me to feel, at the world's end, greeny lands of fodder institute, as well as dry versions of them too. Other interesting trips include, Nandi Hills, Sathanur - Anekal (195 kms - Recce for Tristate 600 Brevet - Beginning part), Mulbagal - Chintamani - Chikkaballapur (254 kms - Recce for Tristate 600 Brevet - End part), Muthathi (175 kms ridden).

Hesharghatta - to foggy grassland
Muthathi - With Jitendra and Kalpesh

As of now, I have done around 1800 kms, every kilometre giving me a different experience, increasing my desire to cycle more, and more frequently. Slowly buying and using proper cycling gadgets. I am still making mistakes, learning from them not to repeat. Will slow down for next 3 months, with less number of rides, to spend more time on project. Thinking about buying a touring bike or a roadbike, not having a conclusion yet. Waiting for the Bangalore - Ranebennur - Bangalore 600 brevet, and brevet month (July 2012) to rock back.........