Yes, that’s what I did on August 4th, 5th weekend, my biggest adventure till date.
My neighbor had been on a similar ride somewhere from whom I learned about the club ‘Cycling And More’ (CAM). He sounded like the ride was easy , but I was still skeptical. But that didn’t stop me from hunting CAM s website for best time/route. Finally, I saw a poster which said “Cruise 2 the Coast” route being Bhagamandala-Bekal Fort-Jalsoor covering 145 kms in two days. I was attracted to Bekal Fort, as I hadn’t seen it and it was a ride on western ghats, which I consider heaven on Earth. There were maps for both days’ rides and a graph depicting the elevation for the route. It had a steep slope for first day and gradual uphill on second day. I had a notion, that, I will be descending for the first full day for 100kms as I would be going to sea level and second day would be tough as I would be ascending from sea level. I was totally wrong about this.
Preparation: I don’t think I had prepared for any adventure as much for this. I had called the organizer and was suggested to have gloves and cycling shorts. I visited Declathon Sports shop twice. Got a Quechua jacket, Btwin gloves and cycling shorts. On asking for advice from a person there, for the number of energy bars to carry, he suggested me to take a box full of 20 bars. I dint buy his words, took only 4 energy bars, 2 Gatorade bottles and hoped that it would help replenish my energy. (2 bars and 1 bottle were still left after the ride 😀 ) I was prepared with things I thought would suffice for the ride and was excited. As I work in 2- 11 shift, I had to bunk the office for half day to catch the bus on Friday night. I had worked extra the previous night with manager’s permission to leave early on Friday. Still there was lots of work on Friday, I was in so much hurry that I had thought I lost my wallet and almost blocked my credit card, with my wallet safely hid in the bag. The journey till pick point was tiring; it was raining and in a city like Bangalore, I always felt the journey to other places easier than moving from an area to another in city.
Day 1 :
We reached Bhagamandala in Madikeri district early in the morning. After the breakfast we were allotted cycles according to height. I got a MTB Merida, which was my chariot for the next two days. I checked my brakes and other stuff; everything was fine other than that it didn’t have a stand. We all took instructions and were set to conquer the Western Ghats. The first few kms were bit uphill where my cycle chain snapped. I called for help as I didn’t know a thing about fixing a cycle other than pumping air into the tires. It was 7 years since I had cycled properly, fortunately nothing happened after this. The cycle was a great companion all through the trip. It was about time I experienced the first and the steepest leg of the whole ride, it stretched for about 15 kms. I couldn’t enjoy it to the fullest as the bag which I had clipped to the crossbar was giving bloody kisses to the tire, worse, the road was patchy. By the time the steep was over, I had found a nicer place for my bag to be clipped and that helped a lot, as I didn’t have anything on my back and still carried things. I had made a list of places for the route till lunch as to have a track of where I was. I had a long way to go. As I was passing by, kids were giving me high 5s and I could see elders giving an encouraging smile. This boosted my energy and made the ride less painful. But as I covered the road, people became hostile; they looked at me as if I was an alien with a helmet and a jacket. I was getting tired and the ride was turning out to be painful km by km. I was desperately riding to get to Odayanchal, the lunch place. I pushed the cycle during uphill many a times, and before every town there was one!! Finally I reached the lunch place and I was one of the first three to reach that place. A fellow cyclist patted me for the nice ride as it was my first one. We had lunch and I was thinking that we will be descending to sea level and the ride would be easy, I was wrong again. There was little descend and most of the afternoon part was very difficult for me. The rains and clouds didn’t come to my rescue too. It was too hot and it was 23 kms to Bekal fort which I found hard to believe that it was just 23. This was the part where I had pushed the most, the most in my life. Never was I so desperate to reach a place. I didn’t want to wait for the canter to pick me up as I had to finish this one. It wasn’t a descend as I thought, but plain and little graduations, very very tiring. The glimpse of the fort was so relieving in the end. I made the final pedals for the day to reach the fort only to find my bums aching so much that I couldn’t even walk properly and that didn’t give me the pleasure to enjoy the beauty of the fort and it was too sunny. I was in the first lot of riders to reach the fort which made me a loner in an expert’s lot. They set to pedal for the last 20 kms for the day to reach Kasragod, the halting place but I chose to call it a day. I went and enjoyed the cold waters of beach, met the other riders outside the fort and travelled to Kasargod in bus. I slept a good night’s sleep at Speedway Inn after a sumptuous meal at a Udupi hotel.
I asked my fellow rider whether it was ok to continue with the paining bum or just sit and watch the scenery from the bus window. He told me that it was usual to pain and asked me to go on. I wanted to reach the 100km mark, hence thought that I will ride till breakfast and few more thereafter to make it 100 but little did I know that I would complete the ride for that day which would make the total count to 125km. I had seen the graph that there was a steep uphill at Mulleria after breakfast at 15kms, which was a sign of full stop for me. But fortunately for me, the breakfast point was kept at a further point and I had unknowingly finished that uphill, by pushing of course. I learned that breakfast was at 22 km mark and I saw a descent in the graph in just few kms. I really wanted to enjoy it, hence decided not to stop at breakfast though I had covered 100 kms in two days. This steep was awesome, smooth road, no smooches between my bag and tires and awesome weather. I continued cycling, wanted to go as far as possible, happy that I chose to pedal, as this turned out to be the most beautiful part of the whole ride. Greenery all around soothed my eyes and mind, at times I just left my hands and embraced the flowing air, enjoyed this part of the ride thoroughly. There was a stretch of few metres which was surrounded with lush green trees, I just sat there to rest enjoying the beauty. Cauvery was flowing along the road which made it even more exciting. My eyes fell upon a bridge across the river, I didn’t know that I could cycle there until I saw a person taking his bike on it. Water on both the sides, and just a series of wooden planks to ride on, amazing experience indeed. Had a tasty glass of butter milk too there. It was just few kms to Jalsoor, end of the ride. I pedaled the last few kms to find the finish mark which would mark my biggest adventure till date. I was so ecstatic to complete 125 kms and surprisingly the bum pain had reduced. The lunch at Sullia accompanied heavy discussions about ones past adventures. This is one among the things I like about such trips, I get to know people who are experienced and have much to share about other activities which adds to my adventure wishlist. We set off to Bangalore after lunch. I had hardly clicked any pics this time as I dint want to be occupied in its safety, rather wanted to enjoy the ride fully. I bid my fellow riders goodbye and it was around 11.15 p.m. when I reached a point near my home. I had to walk the last few meters to home. Its dogs’ arena at Yemalur, the place where I stay. Dogs started circling around me when I walked, I was a bit afraid but made it to my home hoping not to be chased or bitten, thus ending all the adventures for the weekend.