Wednesday, December 5, 2012

ChikMagalur - Mullayanagiri (Day 1)

One fine morning, when I opened my inbox, I found Mustafa's mail, regarding a ride/trek trip to Mullayanagiri and around. Most of my recent rides had the influence of brevets I did, where I was concentrating on time, speed, etc., and less concerned of scenaries and spending time around. Also, It had been too long since I rode with Mustafa. So I responded immediately to the mail. 

Plan was to go on a 2 days trip. Start by friday evening and reach Bhadravathi by bus on saturday early morning. Ride till  saturday evening covering Bhadra reservoir, Bhadra wild life sanctuary through complete trails, Kemmannugundi, and reach Chikmagalur and stay there for night. Next day, bike to the Mullayanagiri base, drop the bikes and trek to peak. Spend some time at the peak, climb down, reach Balehonnur from where the return bus tickets are booked, on sunday night, if possible, by riding. Take the bus back to Bangalore, back home by monday morning, and back to work. Simple!!

Preparations were, as usual, done in a lazy and don't care manner. I spent most of (12th oct, 2012) friday evening to shop new clothes for trip and to wear on monday to work (yeah, hadn't washed clothes). Then hastily filled the bag with some clothes, forgot some items including mobile charger, got ready and hurried to KSRTC bus stand. Akilesh with his new Rockrider 5.1, Jitendra with Rockrider 5.0 and Kalpesh with his legendary BSA Mach had already reached. Soon Mustafa also reached, with his Trek MTB. 

All set to go
We got into the airavat volvo bus we booked tickets for by 2230 hrs, after keeping all our bikes in the luggage space under seating area. Most of the bikes fit in the luggage space after removing the saddle, and all KSRTC buses we travelled till now allowed bikes to be carried (Something to note for the people planning rides away from Bangalore, even if they are lazy to pack bikes, like us and are ok with some minor scratches as a result). The conductor in this bus trip was the only person who just collected money only for luggage, that too, some 200+ bucks for 5 bikes and gave proper ticket for full amount. We then had a nice preride rest of 5 to 6 hrs in bus.

The bus dropped us at Bhadravathi by saturday morning 0515 hrs. We had some early morning snacks and tea in a nearby shop. Then we changed to cycling gears and got ready for the ride (No need to say, I had fit and calibrated my new cyclocomp meanwhile, which Kalpesh had brought :-D).

The Cycle tourers, I am the missing one
First part was the ride to Bhadra dam, which was 24 km. We were out of the town in 4 kms and were in moderate roads with surroundings covered by clean, green blanket of nature. But I was mad with the new cyclocomp. My eyes were fixed on that, thanks to the sparse traffic, I rarely looked on the road. Lucky I hadn't missed a right turn at a circle.

We stopped at a small shop in a village near Bhadra dam for breakfast. Small, soft idlies with tasty chutney and sambar forced me to eat 8 of them. We totally swallowed 28 idlies, 5 teas yet bill totalled 79 rupees. After gulping some tender coconuts too, we reached Bhadra dam. The first "permission denied" error in our plan, we weren't allowed to enter the dam premises and we got to see only discharge area of the dam. After spending some 20 min there, we started towards Bhadra wild life sanctuary through Tarikere road. Soon we were off the road, entering  villages through unpaved soil roads.

Waiting for idlies in the shop
4 cycles are here (rest one (the best one ;-) ) is parked in a safe place where the surrounding dust and dirt can't reach)
Bhadra Dam
While riding here, my bike would have thought, (if it could think) "I am surprised, you are riding. Not lifting me in hands and started walking here also!!!" (yeah, I am a guy who bought an MTB and always had ridden only in well paved roads, forget the trails). But not to disappoint the bike, as usual, whenever I found mud on the road, I got down, lifted iy, and crossed mud section walking (At last it will be me who have to clean when my bike becomes dirty :-| ). 

We passed through some canals (one was under construction) and reached a forest checkpost where the trail begins. I was eager to do my first trail ride. The second "permission denied" error showed up then. The guards there refused to allow us continue saying, "any animal, probably elephants may show up on the way". All I got was to fill a water bottle. We returned back disappointed, asking local people for the way to Kemmangundi and we were directed to pass through Tarikere.

Village Road
Akhilesh and Kalpesh in a pass through canal
Jitendra and Mustafa in the pass
Leave the people, see the canal under construction
We reached back the Tarikere road. We took a break to down some cakes and biscuits and started towards Tarikere. Soon, I again started riding, looking cyclocomp. Kalpesh and I rode fast till Tarikere and waited there whereas Akhilesh, Jitendra and Mustafa were taking breaks to capture pictures of lakes along the way and reached slowly, enjoying the scenaries. 

A small debate started in Tarikere, whether to reach Chikmagalur through Kemmangundi or directly. Since the day was getting hot, and Kemmangundi route involved more climbs, some wanted to reach directly. Some were ready for any of the two routes. I was thinking, riding in direct route was not any different than riding in places around Bangalore, as the direct route has less scenary. So I was the lone bird arguing for Kemmangundi route. Wanting all to enjoy the greenary, I even said, "whoever want to take direct route, they can ride forward, and rest can join me towards Kemmanugundi, and we ll meet at Chikmagalur by late evening". Some more hot discussions over nice cane juice resulted in selecting Kemmangundi route, posing a condition on me to ride slow, with group.

We were back on road in some min, and my cyclocomp look - ride mode started. After 7 kms, when I was slowing down, I found Kalpesh shouting to stop. After all reached, we found we were in wrong route - direct route through Birur and Kaddur. Now none were ready to go back. I couldn't even utter a word. Well, I was also drained much on heat and wanted to save energy for next day trek. So, eventually, I also gave up and we started riding towards Birur. Now knowing we have less distance to cover for the day, we started taking more breaks. We stopped at Birur for lunch.

Some plates of puri and pulav were downed to power rest of the ride. We reached Kaddur by 1500 hrs and took the Chikmagalur road and stopped for a break 4 kms after. Here the funny arguments started again and Mustafa and Jitendra challenged me that, they would reach Chikmagalur by 1700 hrs and catch them at Chikmagalur as I would be riding slow. This flashed a thought in me that, if Chikmagalur is possible by 1700 hrs, there is a slick chance to ride to Kemmangundi and back the same day. This thought induced me to push forward. I rode till 1535 hrs, got bored of lone riding and stopped for others. Akhilesh reached me in 10 min. No sign of the rest three in next 10 min and we lied down on the road side for a power nap.
Kalpesh, Akhilesh and Mustafa on the way to Chikmagalur
The trio reached after taking a break in a shop and woke us up by 1620 hrs. We then resumed riding with all the uphills remaining. After some distance, Mustafa felt weak. He threw up what ever he had eaten. The same problem he had faced in two of his previous rides. But as usual, the iron guy, after some rest and hydration with gatorade, was ready to ride, and no way thinking about taking a vehicle to reach Chikmagalur. 
On the Final Leg (See the cyclocomp :-D)
After some riding and one more break, 9 kms of scenic uphills were left. We encountered the climbs fast and reached the land of coffee by dusk. Well, the first day ride portion came to an end, though, not exactly as planned. We rented a dorm, left our bikes, got refreshed, had a nice non vegetarian dinner,  and fell asleep awaiting a wonderful experience the next day.
Welcome to the land of coffee
Rest for Bikes
We rode 127 kms that day, with more breaks and in slow pace, and not much scenaries to enjoy after Tarikere, except near Chikmagalur. Akhilesh's first long distance ride, and he made a first day century in his debut. Jitendra proved silly knee pain can't stop him from cycling, the maximum it can do is to force a break. Kalpesh, as usual, the guy who dares to do any ride with BSA Mach, and did that again. Mustafa, once again encountered 10 kms of continuous climbs at the end with just fluids, even after throwing up completely. Though not went as planned, the day was quite eventful.

Some more Images :-

5 tourers
A lone bird at Bhadra River bank
The perfect tourer
Its me
To Chikmagalur
A break... We will reach Chikmagalur by 5 PM


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  3. Nice travelogue, and as you described chikmagalur is a beautiful place to be visited during Mansoon. You could see the beauty of watefalls. Also, chikmagalur is famous for guest houses like best homestays in chikmagalur, resorts and hotels provides good hospitality for the tourists.

  4. Interesting Travelogue..sounds had lots of fun.. cool :) Visit this homestay in Chikmagalur to experience the comfort and safe stay during your trip.

  5. Hi Karthik. I'm in chikmagalur now for the next 2-3 days with my mtb and would love some suggestions on what short mtb dirt trails I can take. For someone who doesn't have great road sense :/ riding solo.