04 October, 2008

Pedalling an adventure !!

Whew! Just came back from one of my most amazing trips. Bangalore - Maddur - Bangalore on my bicycle. Covered a distance of ~180 Kms pedalling alone in about 32 Hrs! 'Twas a mix of fun, adventure (sometimes bordering to mis-adventure) and lots of hard work pedalling on State Highway 17 . The moment i proposed the idea to my friends, the unequivocal reaction was - Are you nuts?? Well, here's what i have to say to the ones scratching their heads (penned this at Maddur)..

Some people like to hitch and hike,
But i have an itch for the pedal bike.
Out on the winding roads, sweating drop by drop,
On the pedal bike you don't stop even for the top cop.
Grime, dirt, dust and gravel,
All for the thrill of highway travel,
For once i'm one with the na-ture,
Feeling that my 27 Yrs is not ma-ture!
On the way i meet a motley crew,
And with them, sip a hot brew.
And to Michael this is what i say,
One more trip on my cycle, that's all i pray :)

Don't have the photos yet. Should get them washed by Monday.
Originally i had calculated the distance to be around 140 Kms, Maddur being 70 Kms from Bangalore, But then it takes cycling upto 20 Kms just to get on the Highway.

What was the stimulus for the trip?
Go to the Cafe Coffee Day at Maddur, sip some coffee and catch up on some reading. Yes, it was as simple as that!!

Travelling out of Bangalore through the City Market was easy as it was a Holiday(Gandhi Jayanti). Once i was out on the Highway, i realised that the journey will be testing as the roads are not level. It was miles and miles of undulating highway in front of me. So, 'i'm on the Highway to Hell'. Well, things were a bit easy as the skies were slightly overcast. Crossed Kengeri and made a pit stop at the Go-Karting track. Rested for a while, clicked a few pictures. And yes discovered that Sprite with Glucose is actually an awesome thirst quencher:). From there reached Bidadi. The fun was on but one thing was really annoying me. Turning back every few seconds to check if some thundering Truck/Bus was approaching at break neck speeds. So, here's Lesson 1:
When you go on the Highway, ensure you have a nice rear view mirror!
Well there was more in store for me. The sun was now beating down with full fury and i was heating up pushing my cycle over those up - down - up highways. So here's Lesson 2:
When you go hiking/cycling, start early. Make Hay BEFORE the Sun shines! Hey!! Hey!!!
Lesson imbibed and i kept trudging along and pretty soon crossed Kengeri and Bidadi. Beyond Bidadi was Ramanagaram, the famed hills where the famous Gabbar sequences were shot in Sholay. The sun was slowly setting and i stopped by to grab some pics of flora turned into Fields of Gold by the dazzling Sun. In between all this the Sun had almost settled and i was still a good 8 Kms from Ramanagaram. So here comes Lesson 3:
If you're on the Highway aft Sunset, you need HeadLamps even when if you're crawling on your bicycle. Or else your adventure becomes a mis-adventure :(
Well i tumbled and fumbled in the dark with a prayer on my lips. Finally i made it to Sagar Lodge for the night halt. The place wasn't a pretty one but i was more than happy to be there. Aft dinner met a guy named Manoj Pandey, a business traveller from Delhi. Heard him rant against his Boss and he also mentioned some facts: (a) Ramanagaram in called the Silk Town. (b) There's lot of export oriented Textile industry, the big one being Madura. (c) My lodge was notorious for being a safe haven for one night stands right under the nose of the Commisioner of Police's Office!
Unperturbed by any of this, i rested and re-charged and started for Maddur at day break. Mission/2 accomplished as i reached Maddur Coffee Day. It is a nice building on the Highway with lots of greenery around. The Coffee was actually awesome and the Corn sandwiches were one of the best i've had in a long time. Well, a filled stomach, some nice coffee and Ogden Nash for company - i think that's all i'll ever want. And in a flash i realised that when people ask you questions like why you want to go on such an excursion, you really can't explain it. The journey has to be undertaken to get the answers. As for me, this is all that i can say(i read this in Grade 6) :

A Little Song of Life (by Lizette Woodworth Reese)

Glad that I live am I,
That the sky is blue.
Glad for the country lanes,
And the fall of dew.
After the sun the rain,
After the rain the sun.
This is the way of life,
Till the work be done.
All that we need to do,
Be we low or high,
Is to see that we grow,
Nearer the sky.

Even though i spent quite some time over there, it seemed to be a fleeting moment. I started on my way back knowing that it was going to be a long and arduous journey - getting back to Bangalore before dark. Had a quick lunch at Ramanagaram and headed for Bidadi. I was covering the miles in good ime but felt exhausted a few Kms from Bidadi. All the cycling over the past 24 hrs was taking its toll on me. I was tempted to hitch hike some of the distance in a Lorry or something similar. But then it wouldn't remain a purists bicycling trip! Ah, Lesson 4:
You don't need to be a purist in every aspect of life. It's sometimes wise to adopt a give and take policy. Bangalore was still far, i was tired and it would soon be dark.
I decided to HicthHike and was lucky to get a lift upto Kengeri. That's -25 kms +big saving on time. The Truck Driver Nagaraj was a nice fellow and i ended up clicking some pictures of him and promised to post them to him. Kengeri to CMH Road was monotonous with the traffic being just crazy. At around 7pm it was KFC @ CMH Road. I was a tired but a happy man. Gobbled up a Chana Snacker and headed home to catch some much needed rest and sleep.