I(we) successfully completed the Pedalathon(cycling from Bangalore to Chennai on the Old Madras Road).
We were 9 in total. Kiruba, Satish, Shyam, Shree, Sandeep, Ajay,KK, Myself(left to right in the photo). And of course, How can I forget Abhinav(guy taking the photo). He was the most useful guy.. to tow the tired.
It was a great experience and a bucket full of surprises. Surprise no. 1:- No nth minute drop outs(as it usually happens for all trips/treks), but nth minute inclusions!!!! And the Inclusion was Shree!!! (will tell about him later).
Surprise no.2- All of us(9 people) meeting exactly at 3:45 near Sony World, Koramangala and starting off at 4am.
Initially all were full of enthu and we were cycling pretty fast. As we covered about 20kms, our Sandy started falling behind. He was pretty apprehensive about his stamina from the beginning ... and it was I who had pushed him to join Pedalathon. So, it was my turn to worry now, seeing him mentally & physically down within the first 35-40 kms. There was still a long way to go. I tried hard to be along with him and to encourage him.
Just about 15 kms behind Kolar, a car driven by an old man was punctured. To add to the troubles, the passenger in the car was older than him and they were struggling to change the tyres. It was here that our team got into action. Also, myself and Sandy got some time to catch up with the rest of our team. The tyre was changed (Ofcourse, team work) and the car was ready. I realised the greatness of our work when the old man joined both his hands in gratitude. I was dumbfounded...
With a feather in our caps, and with the Kamat Upachar only a few metres away, it was time for breakfast(9 am). Had a hearty breakfast of idlies, kesaribath, vada, dosa.....Again started at 10am. Slowly the front tyre of KK started giving troubles. The air was very low, and we suspected a flat tyre. The nearest puncture shop was at Narasapur(about 10kms). With no other way, we deviated from the highway to Narasapur. On the way, we saw our Surprise no.3: Hundreds of bats, as big as eagles clinging on to the trees en-route. We could see them only on 3-4 trees(100s in number), but none on other trees nearby. Don't know why....
With KK's tyre problem fixed, we had already lost a lot of time, it was time to push ourselves now. Thankfully, Sandy recovered after being fuelled.
Stopped to have our lunch near Nangli at a road side dhaba at around 1pm. After a nice lunch, our bodies wanted some rest. while some took a nap on the rope cots, some went to attend nature calls. It was again a big break of more than an hour. All were ready, and Sandy went missing. Thinking that he has gone to attend nature call, we waited for some more time, but no sight of Sandy. Then, someone saw his cap behind a lugguage auto. He was cooly sleeping and we were waiting.
Had a long way to go now(about 80kms) before dusk... The sun was shining bright and the heat kept on increasing as we neared Andhra. We had to take more frequent breaks. My Butt.. was already paining like hell. The heat was taking it's toll on Satish and he had to be towed by Abhinav. After some time, Abhinav shifted on to Satish's cycle and Satish on to Abhi's bike.
Had our snacks near Palamaner at 5:30pm. The road after Palamaner was awesome. We were crossing the Eastern Ghats through the Rayala Elephant Sanctuary. The sudden downward slope gave us ample rest and improved our avg speed a lot.
After the ghats, it was dark now and nearly 30 more kms to Chittoor(our destination for the 1st day). Guys with headlamps on their cycles lead the way and we reached chittoor at 9pm. A hearty dinner and a good night's sleep in an a/c room, gave a boost to our energy.
1st day stats - 185kms covered, max speed 35+kms(near the ghats), moving average 17+kms/hr.
2nd day: Surprise no.4: Though tired like hell, we started at 5am.
Satish also had some problems with his cycles, so he decided to board a chennai bus from Chottoor. So, now 7+1. With a tough deadline to meet, we actually did better the second day.
Breaked for breakfast about 10kms before Ranipet.
After Walajapet, we joined the Golden Quadrilateral. From here, no trees on the roadside. The road is very good for motor vehicles, but not for cycles. It was like cycling inside an oven. We were drenched fully. We, also took regular water breaks to prevent dehydration.
For lunch, we again preferred a dhaba(so that we can rest for sometime on the rope cots) near Kanchipuram.
Again had a long break. Now it was about 65kms more to Chennai.
The journey afternoon was worse. Humid climate was killing us(but not our spirits).
By now, myself, Ajay and Shree were far ahead of the rest of the team. When we reached Sriperambudur, we met Jacob(another case-study in himself). He had ran till Sriperambudur(42kms from Chennai) to meet us, so that he can again run back along with us. Oops.. what a guy!!!
Jacob started along with us, but since Shree had a bus at 8:30, we had to hurry up.
And.. atlast we reached Poonamallee(Chennai outskirts) at 6:00pm. While we were waiting for the rest of the team, we met Satish.
Surprise no.5: All in good (atleast not sooo bad) shape, no mishaps (I was expecting a few casualties atleast :-) )
2nd day stats: 150+kms covered, average speed 18+kms/hr.
Now... travelling inside the city...it was the most difficult part. Somehow we reached the Koyembedu bus-stand by 8:00pm.
Rk met me there at 8:30pm. We were too tired to move around. Shree's bus was at 10 and our's was at 11. So, we were just sitting and chatting on the chairs. At 9:30 Kribs came along with Sandy in his car. He took me to his home. I had a nice bath there and a glass of buttermilk(thanks a lot to Krib's mother. It soothed my upset stomach).
As soon as I got into the bus, I was into deep sleep. Woke up only when we were in Koramangala, where Sandy and Ajay got down.
It was fun to see the group of autodrivers coming behind us and return back dissappointed when we alighted our bicycles.
So allz well that endz well.
Now a brief intro about our cyclists:
Kiruba:- dad of 2, In his 30s, Rowing champion, trekker, marathon runner, legendary blogger, cycles everyday to office etc.. etc.. and who knows what all he has in stock.
Shyam and Satish :- Marathon runners, regular cyclists. I must say.. Shyam is an energizer battery.'Never say die'.
Shree :- Long distance cyclist. Has done Bangalore to Mangalore, Mangalore to Ahmedabad, Mysore to Chennai, Chennai to Calcutta..etc..etc. by cycle. Keeps pedalling on and on... singing some song to the pitch of his voice. This guy can easily do long distance cycling with an average of 25kms+ an hour for sure. It was really really tough to keep up with him.
KK:- Cricketer, trekker and practising for marathon. KK, your speedo was very useful.
Ajay :- runs from Electronics city to Koramangala irregularly, cyclist, tough guy.
Sandeep :- Ran half marathons with me, trekker, cyclist, can be used as a donkey during treks.
Abhinav:- The most useful guy in this expedition. Tough guy and a good cyclist too (maybe even he didn't knew about it before).
And finally me :- I'VE COMPLETED THE PEDALATHON. Can anyone believe it!!!!
OOps... each one is a case study.
Needless to say.. Even with the application of lots of sunscreen, I'm roasted. And my Butt... it's difficult to sit. Some body pains, but the gains surpass the pains.