First of all thanks to all of you for the support and the tips. for those who were in touch with me during the entire ride, Sandeep, Shanky,Vishak,Manish,Dipankar,Sapna. And also my parents and GF who supported me right from the beginning.
I thought of this ride(and doing it solo) when i was hanging from a bar in a crowded KSRTC bus returning from Wayanad while our bikes were loaded on the top. Riding with those friends with whom i had done Wayanad trip, i somehow felt i was capable of maintaining much higher speed over a much longer distance. From here started that quest for the trip to Goa and preparations for the same. This ride was supposed to be in November first week and i was training as per that schedule. But due to some other commitments, i was forced to do it last week. My target was to cover all that distance in 36 hours. I did plan the major stops but fully avoided mapping waypoints as that makes it less adventurous and i always love to find unknown things.
The preparations went as follows, Daily ride of 35km for almost a month, gradually increased from 20kms. Weekends 100-120km, Two back to back centuries a week prior to my ride. Getting my bike serviced from Rohan and new Schawalabes from Sachin. Sachin gave me his spare headlights too.
The stuff that i carried Mini repair kit frame pump Puncture kit with spare tube four Parle-G packs 18 Energy bars Red Bulls Pack of dates First Aid kit and Moov Spray, 16 pouches of enerzal Toilet Kit etc etc
over the complete ride, i DID NOT stop any where during riding for more than 10 minutes(that includes lunch breaks too) because franky i did not require it.and also i did not want to loose the momentum. I kept on eating Cakes/ParleG/energy bars/Bananas every 2hrs.
And this is how the ride began.....
I had planned to start at 01:30am on thursday morning but it rained continuously. I felt my dreams will be shattered but luckily the rain gods listened to my prayers and i went to meet Vishak to do a final check on bike. He has helped a lot in knowing about bicycle tuning and giving me his toolkit to use. I am very grateful to him. It was 11:pm by the time i had good meal. Packed the stuff and tried to rest for sometime but couldnt get sleep due to excitement. It again started raining again at 12 and continued till 2am. Finally after having a nice bath and some prayers i started for the biggest adventure in my life. My roomie took couple of snaps of and i pushed the pedal ahead. It was sharp 02:58am on Thursday 7th October 2010.
My day one target was to reach Shimoga which is 295-305km from bangalore.
DAY-I Weather was nice and i took the ORR and headed towards Tumkur. Headlight which Sachin gave me was sufficient for 23-26kmph. After riding for an hour i felt some pain in the left knee and i feared for the worst as abondaning the ride was the last thing i wanted. Took a break of couple of minutes, had some ORS and started again while putting less effort on left leg. Somehow the pain subsided over the descents of Neelmangla-Bangalore road. Weather was really nice and i was cruising at 24-25kmph. Noticed a bypass to Guppi some 10km before to Tumkur so headed that way. Though a shortcut, road is really very bad at some places and i ended up in many potholes. Not good for road bikes.!!! Found an Indica and a Spark punctured on the way. I completed 102km exactly at 0726hrs and took couple of snaps and updated the ride details on FB. Also had one energy bar. Now i was full of confidence about completing the ride. Started riding again through the flats. Luckily sun wasnt shining fully and i was saved from the heat. Passed guppi eventually and joined NH206 which took me all the way to Honnavar. Found a companion here in the form of HT electric wires which produce nice humming sound . They were with me till Jog. Anyways i kept on drinking water/ORS and eating and taking snaps in between. The land was not as barren as some had told but some nice paddy fields and also greenary, thanks to the rains. Reached Tiptur at 10am i think. some slopes on the way with few ascents helped keep the average up. Had some water and snacks at a shop after doing a short climb. From here i had a glimpse of western ghats. Started riding again. There is a nice lake on left some 50kms from Kadur. I finished 200 at around 1240hrs. Ate some bananas here. Was averaging around 23.4kmph until this point. A funny thing happened while passing through Kadur.
A truck and a Tempo were ahead of me. A dog was trying to cross the road, first the truck and than the tempo horns scared him. When i passed him, i just made some sound to irritate him. Little did i know that he will get insulted and follow me for some 100-150mts. I was literally scared and pedalled for dear life!!!!!! Finally he gave away and i was left panting at the end of around 500mt sprint!!!
Ate couple of energy bars and started again. Shimoga was 107km from here. At this point i realised that im far off from Bangalore and no return journey was now not possible.
Anyways i kept riding and passed Arsikere. Started feeling some heat now and poured in some water over the head to cool-off. Crossed a railway crossing at around 1445hrs and came a very very bad section of road. I got down from the bike and pushed for over a km. Sure i would have got a puncture if i had ridden over. With lot of dust around and scorching sun i was getting tired. Energy bars and water kept me going. A Honda City passed me with a C'dale F7 on top. Again came a small stream of water where i cooled-off again.
Nothing eventful happened until i reached Tarikere only to notice clouds gathering over the horizon. Did some quick recce and found a lodge on the highway(hotel sagar i guess) just in case i needed some backup. Rode without any problems till Bhadravati and just when i thought ill make it to Shimoga, it started raining heavily. Did not have any option other than to wait under a tree. Wasted some 10-15 minutes there and after getting irritated by the attention i was getting from the other bikers who had taken shelter i left for Shimoga. Luckliy the rain stopped in some minutes and i pushed again. The nice weather and the greenery around made me forget the exhaustion and i really enjoyed the ride till Shimoga city. Just checked in to the first lodge i saw after confirming that i can sleep with my 2nd sweetheart . Time was 1826hrs. An exhaustive Day 1 had come to an end with 305.76km on the odo. My FB account and Cell was flooding with messages from 'You are an idiot' to 'You are an inspiration' stuff. Loved that. Spoke to some friends, had bath followed by a nice dinner, icecream and went to sleep at 2035hrs.
Though covering 306km was not easy, what lay ahead on day 2, shunned this fully.
Following is a brief stat for day 1. (avg speed and trip time got reset on decathlons DC-7 cyclocomp after 12hrs. Will get it checked from them.) Total time: 15hrs and 28min Total riding time : ~14-14.30hrs. Distance covered : 305.73km
Day II I did not keep any alram purposely thinking that ill automatically wake up after I am back in shape. Exactly same thing happened but only at 0610hrs Anyways quickly checked that all body parts are in shape and got ready by 0645. Weather was pleasant with sun rising in a cloudless sky. Just to warn me of all the heat i will be facing later in the day. Me thinks. Here I took one important decision to skip Jog falls and try to reach home in two days as 285km looked like an achievable target.
Started for Sagara which is approx 70kms from Shimoga. Here onwards hilly terrains rule most of the part. The Flora changes from small bushes to big trees. Road is also generally nice with few bumps(without any signboards) in between. I was doing preety well until something suddenly went wrong with my left knee while negotiating a climb. Got down from the bike and sprayed some moov and gave myself some rest. Did some 5omt running and i felt better. Mind you, this was somewhere way inside forest, i was alone and frankly was little bit scared also as i had passed one Tiger-Lion safary park soometime back!!!. Anyways pushed ahead and after the hilly area was over i came under some intense sunshine quite early in the morning(9-9.30 I think). I feared running out of water as i was feeling thristy quite often. Luckily found one nice and clean water stream near one field and got cooled again. Got the water filled from a house i found on way. Met couple of young chaps who were curious about my bike and wanted to ride it until they saw the seat height and got scared(I said it cannot be lowered). I met Mr Arun, a mechanical engineer, now fulltime into farming. He has done cycle trips to Kanyakumari and some other southern cities in his heydays on Atlas bikes. I offered him a ride on my Schwinn and he was impressed a lot. Only 5th guy till than to get my bike to ride!!! I continued ahead and passed the bridge to Jog falls. The road condition changed from small climbs to unending twisting and turning curves and from smooth to bumpy and at times no roads at all!!! I realised this will be my test. I managed almost all climbs without getting down except few where i forgot to change gear while watching the mesmarising mountain views and ended up in very high gear. It had rained sometime back in that area so the whole atmoshere was amazing. Took some snaps on the way and reached the traditional view point to have a look at Sharavati valley. I felt great standing there, watching at the vast water basin some 1000mts below. What i felt can be understood can be understood only after riding through that terrain and reaching the summit. sadly took just one snap here which wont do any justice to what i saw. I forgot all my pains until one tourist uncle asked me whether I have cycled from Jog falls. When i told him about my ride, he called his family members to tell about me and a kid took my snap too
I cant really recollect about where the climbs and descents are, but I will suggest getting some good brake pads before doing this route. I ended up with hell lot of rubber over the rims. Anyways I finished the ghats and was very happy that Honnavar is just 33kms ahead which i can do in 2hrs and than ride home. What came next was a complete shock to me......
In between me and Honnavar stood 4 huge climbs followed by descents with no twists and turns and right under the scorching sun. I managed the first climb only to find another one coming up in matter of minutes,just after finishing descent. I gave up and just walked the entire climb. Same thing happened at the third climb and i just sat on a rock right under the sun. I was demoralised, thristy and very tired. Also thought of dozing off after reaching Honnavar. Finally emptied a can of Red Bull and couple of Energy bars. RB did energise me a bit and somehow i finished all the climbs and reached Honnavar. I cannot explain in words what i felt looking at those barren hills with the road going all the way till the top. Those who will follow my footsteps can hopefully explain it better. I really believe this was the test of my endurance and i did pass it somehow.
Anyways reached Honnavar at 1700hrs, a complete 1hr 30minutes behind my plan. My house stood 115kms from Honnavar. I decided to push and cover the distance at night as i was familiar with the roads. Passed Kumta at 1845hrs and stuffed myself with some Bananas and water. It will already getting dark and i had trouble adjusting to bright headlights of incoming traffic. The NH17 is a two lane road with quite lot of traffic. Ride till Gorkarna junction went without any problems until one tempo without any lights came directly into my lane. I jus spotted him in time and got off the road. Got scared a little. Still i was in dilemma whether to continue or stay at Ankola. Anyways pushed ahead and just when i had covered 4-5kms i got blinded by lights of incoming vehicles and almost banged a truck head-on. I know i had a very very narrow escape. I was shaking litterally. Took the bike aside and had some water. Called dad to book a room in a hotel at Ankola. Reached there after covering remaining 24kms and had a siegh of relief. Day two ended here with some amazing and some horrific moments. Finally i had covered 533km in two days with around 26hrs of riding. Got fresh and had a refreshing fish curry and fried fish dishes at the hotel. Went to sleep feeling bad that my sweet home is just 54km away, at the same time happy for what i had achieved.
Day two stats total time : 13hrs(0645-1930hrs) total riding time : ~11:45hrs Distance covered : 228km -
Started at 0515hrs and after paying a visit to our kuldevi Shri Aryadurga, headed towards Karwar. Traffic was near non existent. This route is very scenic with three nice and small ghats on the way. One of which passes next to Sea Bird Naval base(largest in asia). I had something very surprising while on the descent. Guess what. I found two cyclists!!!!!!! They came all the way from Austria and headed towards Kerala. Total distance on odo 12000kms. Mind boggling. We chatted for sometime and exchanged contact details. Anyways i reached Karwar in no time and raced towards Goa. I crossed the Goa border at sharp 0811hrs. Got couple of snaps from local police guy. Just 4 kms remained to reach to my sweet home. I choose the route were we used to cycle during school days. Remembered how we raced down those descents, how i had crashed couple of times, once taking down another guy with me.. Yeah i became little emotional here. Finally reached my home at 0830. I did done it after surviving through the ordeal on 2nd day. Was feeling great. Took the bike on shoulders and went down to my home. Met my parents and did some photosession. Thats how i completed my journey with 587.72kms on the odo.
This ride gave me lot of confidance.
Lessons learnt, 1. I was faster riding alone rather than in a group. 2. People showed lot of curisity towards me and my bike whereever i stopped(i choose places with less people, Dipankars advice) 3. I told them that my friends are coming in car behind and doing sightseeing as I am riding slow. This thing paid off i think. 4. Though i skipped long breaks fully, i took snaps with N82 cam everytime i stopped to cherish those memories. 5. Get water full water supply all time. We never know how far is the next shop or house in a forest.
My target will be to do this distance in less than 24hrs. May be after I get a road bike!!!! Once again thanks to everyone and also those handful of people who will read the above boring rant. Here are some pics...