A Biker Takes the Pedal again and a story of crossing a 100 Kms
Golden hills and back
Cycling has come as no accident. As a kid in my 6th standard I picked up the skill to pedal a bicycle. It was a hired cycle at Rs 5.00 an hour rental which was no easy money those days. It was really a dream come true. Slowly cycle was the main stay for my commute till I got my first motorcycle. The addiction to pedalling was on a declining trend. Again for my army training at Officers Training Academy we were given cycles which was mandatory( no other vehicle is permitted) to move around within the academy . Again after joining my Battalion I purchased a Hero hawk while at Jalandhar during 1988. It was just launched and the dealer told me “ Saabji 3 aaye hai, do Bej chuki hai, lena hai to abhi lo” Rs 1,400( 25 USD) cash down and the cycle was mine. Needless to say it was a head turner at that time. Used it for more than a year. After that cycling was forgotten for good. Fast forward to 2011 again cycling bug bit me. After a lot of net picking ( read wasting time on the net) I thought of buying a road cycle costing about Rs 30,000/-. With a bad right Knee it was a risky proposition I thought. The idea was dropped. But some how it had to happen so after another 6 months thought of buying a ordinary cycle. No risk here only Rs 3,500 to loose. So plonked my new avon cycle inside my Jazz and drove home. The initial enthusiasm for a couple of days was there and I took it out for about 2 to 3 kms of pedalling and then it seemed to be over. The cycle was parked in my garage for the next 3 years till April 2015. Fortunately the bicycle was taken care of by filling the tyres and little pedalling inside my compound once in a month or so. Suddenly the cycling bug bit during april 2015. I had decided to do a little pedalling and get used to my cycle. Slowly the distances started to increase from 5 kms to 10 to 15 to 20. The driving force was that I was using my ordinary cycle. So twice weekly I was doing 20 kms and was enjoying it. The distances slowly kept increasing and the route to golden hills was done many times up to 35 kms one way and back touching the 70 kms mark. I was keen to buy another ordinary cycle and I told the dealer to get me a Hero Hawk. But some how he convinced me to go for a geared cycle and said the montra blues from Hercules was a very good buy for the price. I had to retune myself to the fact that I can buy a geared cycle also and it would be better to pedal compared to my grearless cycle. It took a week to convince my self to buy a montra grossly deviating from my idea of pedalling only on an ordinary cycle. So the montra was home. One of the excuses to buy the montra was I could pedal longer distances with less effort. The first outing with montra was confusing. I changed the gears too much tried to pedal fast etc and in the bargain got my knee pain again. Came back home montra was left untouched for another week so that I could get back on track. After a week I tried out the montra again but every thing was done slowly and things started falling in place. Montra retraced the routes done on my ordinary cycle till the 70 kms mark and I knew I had to go up the hills and complete the 100 kms. But it would be on my montra. So the day was 16 Aug 2015, a day after independence day. Both cycles were fitted out for night riding with a headlight and tail blinkers and for me starting out at 5-00 am was routine. So on 16th I was planning to start around 5-30 am. Had to get up at 4-00 am and prepare for the ride. Had an ok sleep and was up at 4-00 am. First was to make a cup of tea and also prepared an Oat meal with boiled eggs. Had a fast bath and took my breakfast at 5-00 am of oat meal and boiled eggs. This I calculated was good enough for 4 hours till I require another refill. 3 cheese sand wiches one apple some biscuits, pomegranate seeds taken out and packed in a small box was all packed into a cramster bag. That was my diet for the ride. On the hardware side One lock, puncture kit, btwin hand pump, required allen keys were also packed. 2 water bottles were taken mounted on bottle holders on my montra which I thought will last till I reach on top of golden hills. Then I had a belt pouch a sleek one from kalenji, having my Bank ID card some cash and my phone. Also I took a small gorilla pod for taking selfies with my phone. Another phone was also packed as a backup. Had a spare out fit of one lower pant, shirt,etc again as back up. Quite some weight was put behind on the montras carrier. The spare dress was to change in case I get drenched enroute due to rain. With all this I started rolling by 5-20 am destination was golden hills. For the first one hour it was slightly raining and I was wondering how long this may continue. After I crossed the 20th Km the weather cleared up and thankfully I was not drenched except that my white T shirt back and cramster bag colour changed to mud. Not much hassle I was thinking and pedalling. The entire route was full of Ups and downs of varying intensity with hardly any straights worth mentioning. Had to play a lot with the gears to maintain pedal pressure and not to strain my body too much. It was like the front cog was shuffled between 2nd and 3rd and rear between 4th and 5th. Two days back I had purchased a full length tights and my crotch area was giving me trouble. In spite of having enough experience on bikes never to to put on any new out fit on extended rides, I felt silly that I ignored logic to wear an untested outfit. I was having my regular 3/4th pants packed in fortunately and I decided if things go out of hand I will change over. I pulled down and loosened my lowers to the extend possible and it gave some relief and I felt better. By 8-20 am I reached the foot hills of Golden Hills. This was the permitted end point for me by my better half for the days ride and if I tell her I going up the hills she may throw in the towel and spoil the bout at my home so the idea was to inform her once I reach the foot hills called Kallar. After taking a few pictures there I called her up and informed her I am going up the hill. After getting a dressing down from her for not informing my intentions to go all the way up she relented telling me to give her updates frequently. So now it was a climb of 12 kms all the way to the top. I knew I had to do it slowly and put my front cog in first and the rear cog on the 3rd and started my slow ascend . reached the start of the first of 22 hair pin bends on this route. Had some pictures and moved on. Having done more than 45 kms already the climb was taking its toll. It was a struggle not to strain my muscles too much and develop cramps. So some pedaling was followed by a little walk and then pedal. The 12 kms took its toll and finally after quite a bit of struggle and 2.5 hours I reached ponmudi hill top. I also had a cut off time of 11-30 am so that I can reach back home by about 3-00 pm. mission accomplished was my first thought forgetting that more than 50 km remains to be pedalled back to reach home. took a 45 minutes break and first was to have a black coffee and an omelette and recharge myself. this was followed by taking some photos and I was ready to pedal back. the down hill was a breeze of 20 minutes compared to my 2.5 hours of climbing up. but one has to be extra careful as there is traffic on the road and they don’t expect cycles in mountains. the montras brakes were excellent and it was a smooth roll all the way down. sun was up and shining and I was feeling the heat. but any way just had to concentrate on my pedalling and maintain the proper pedal pressure by switching gears as required. Finally reached home and I had done my first 100 Kms+ on my cycle.