Hi guys /Gals [if any – notice the capitalisation of the G, any feminists reading ?? ]
Ok enough of the lame jokes and let the report begin.
As planned I did the Belgaum to Vaijnath and back trip today. But I was in for a pleasant surprise. The night before, ie. yesterday I get calls from three people asking whether they can join me on the trip. One was a BZ’er raghu mohan, the other was Amit revankar and Rohit Shezekan. Rohit didn’t have his cycle in condition so he backed out [but I’m enabling him slowly] . raghu rides a Trek 4300 [from BOTS] and Amit a ACT109. I was more than elated to find people who share my passion about cycling and the ride to Vaijnath was a fun ride.
I got up early in the morning [read 06:45 on a sunday [sadists I say] – yeah I had to get up early this time], and got down to preparations.
Water Bottle – Check
water in water bottle – Check
Electral – check
Chikkis – check
Bread – check
Peanut butter and Jam sandwiches – ermmm Check
Lock – check
Key – ermmm check [I think]
Puncture kit – Check
ittyadi ittyadi ittyadi [etc. etc. etc.]
With everything ready and in place I started the ride to the meeting place [Arun Theatre / Panchamruth restaurant ] . i called up amit and raghu and both said they’ll be there in ten min [IST] so I got down to some serious business [read – Eat breakfast]. Amit arrived and he helped himself to some breakfast too. I gave him some cycling gyaan and showered him with BZ Jargon[it’s fun watch people’s faces light up on hearing the fun that goes on here] . Raghu arrived by then and he too had something to eat. By the time everyone was done with breakfast it was 09:00 hours. With a few starting line pics we decided to start off the journey.
At this point raghu suggested an alternate route instead of the State Highway which I had mapped the earlier day. He said there’s no traffic and its shorter. So we said Aye!! lets go. What e failed to mention was that this aforementioned shortcut was a offroad trail. It was AWE-FREAKIN-SOME!! We rode the trails, took lots of pics found some nice rock quarries / dried up ponds and rode around them. Did some fake photo ops and gave our collective egos some boost and then headed on till we met the State highway. Up until this point there was no traffic and we rode at out own pace [On tarmac i was uncatchable, off road raghu was riding like he couldn’t care less, and Amit, well the guy had a really short seat post and the seat couldn’t be raised to optimum level. He was having a tough time riding but still managed to hold on for dear life.
Once we reached the highway we tried to maintain Indian file, slowing down to catch up with the stragglers, or getting off road when @$$hole mining truckers tried to run us over.
After riding on the SH for about 6-7 kms we came across the turn to Vaijnath. We rode on for another 2km before we reached the base of the hill. Here we stopped for drinks and to regain composure and generally discuss how to go about climbing. Amit is new to cycling, so he was bushed by the time he caught up with us. He said he’ll try to ride it but will walk from where he couldn’t. So me and raghu decided to ride at our pace and try and tackle the uphill ride. I started off strong and kept the middle gear ratios. usually the center cog on the front and the two cogs in the center on a 7-speed cassette. [Pardon my ignorance, but I still cannot remember the gear ratios / teeth etc thingie ] . The climb starts off gradually and keeps increasing with a couple of blind turns. The problem with these blind turns is that, once you see the other side you want to go back to the time where you hadn’t seen it. The sheer anticipation of the climb saps you out. I had to shift down to the smallest cog in the front and second largest cog behind. Today was probably my most HTFU-mantra Jap day. At some point in time I remembered bikeyvenky’s climb of Nandi. He had mentioned that at times he just saw 4 feet ahead of him and concentrated on his pedaling. I did the same, and it worked. [Thanks bikeyvenky!! ] The only problem was riding continuously uphill is a pain [and I do not mean it figuratively] . Hats off to the pro’s who climb miles together.
Just when I could see the temple premises I started feeling like I was about to die!! The road loops around the temple and the entrance is on the other side. I could see the loop but again [Blind Turn !!] I couldn’t see beyond so stopped for the guys to catch up.At this point I was pretty happy with myself. In a month I have been able to cycle uphill and that too 25km away from the city . In 5 min raghu was with me. He rode leisurely at low gearing. I did some photo-ops and then we saw Amit. The guy really climbed [walked] all the way and that is commendable considering the fact that people chicken out soon, perseverance in any form deserves Kudos.
Once he reached us we rode on to the temple, and this is where I realised that I had stopped just about 100m from the entrance. [Damn you blind U-turn!! ]
We locked our bikes together, cracked some jokes on the “macho” ACT109 trying to get naughty with my Schwinn Hybrid and the Trek just leaning in.:P This is where I realised that I had packed my long 6-feet lock alright, but forgot to carry the keys [So much for pre ride checklist – Check [ for next ride ]] [See i love my parentheses] . Then we went into the temple to pay obeisance. Vaijnath temple is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. there is a Shiva Ling and the Nandi Bull [So can we call this the Nandi of Belgaum?] we did what we do [devouts prayed, agnostics thought about what they are praying to, Atheists were thinking of what to do when they get back. ]
we came out of the temple and did a photo-op again. raghu asked us if we were interested in riding even more uphill, as there was a fort from the Shivaji era called Mahipal Gadh. I said Aye, but Amit had to get back home soon so we decided to turn back . Mahipal Gadh got added to the wishlist.
The ride downhill was awesome fun. As usual I let the Schwinn go and did it go or what…Zoomed all the way downhill and had to stop for a baraat [Yeah I was dancing atop my saddle to “Kala Kawwa Kaat khayega sach bol” ] . We rode all the way to the junction with the SH and from there decided against taking the same off road route back as we wanted to head back via the city. On the way we saw this old lady and her grandson selling mangoes. We turned in unison without informing each other [Yeah mangoes do that to every Indian I guess!! ] . Bought a couple of dozen of good mangoes and asked the lady to freshly cut two for us there to eat. At this point I remembered I had packed sandwiches and go em out. I distributed them among all [had packed two sandwiches per head] and when I started distributing seconds i realised I hadn’t applied either PB or J to one set. Luckily raghu [or was it amit ] said no to another and I ate two.
gave a sandwich to the grandson who was very intrigued by the bikes and the strange fat man with a helmet and backpack. He looked happy [which made me happy] .
The mangoes very simple superb. I mean there is a difference in the mangoes you get in the city and those you find in the villages. The one’s in the city usually are ripened artificially or adulterated with some agents. After thanking the lady we rode off and kept riding until we cam across this “Rasavanti Gruh ” [Juice Center or House] Ordered for fresh Sugar cane juice had it and left from there. Somewhere on the outskirts of Belgaum, in Hindalga we encountered a gradual but pretty long incline Rode it all the way and felt like it was Mount Everest.
We reached the city from here on and the first stop was the BSA Go Showroom. Amit gave his bike for servicing and asked for the seat post to be changed and we left for the day after saying our goodbyes.
All in all, the first ride of Belgaum Cyclists [Still thinking of good name for the club I intend to start] . Some things I learnt from the ride :
1. Checklist is very important : really!!
2. Riding in a group is slower but fun.
3. Better equipment does translate to better performance [Whilst raghu and me were pretty comfy [barrring my tale of the sliding seat post] Amit was having a tough time]
4. Inner roads are better than Highways.
5. HTFU works all the time.
6.Amit needs a new bike [hehehe..I’ve been at it the whole day. If Amit reads this he’s going to roll his eyes]
Distance Covered : roughly 40-45 kms yet to map the revised route and dunno if i’ll be able to map the off road sections.
Time Taken : 4.5 hours with 1.5 hours of stoppages.
PS : The all important PS. I reached home by around 3 and freshened up and took rest till 18:00. Then i started feeling hungry as we mostly had fluids in the morning. So decided to head out to grab a bite to eat. As I was headed to Bogar Ves [main city center], I saw the time and realised the sun was about to set. I headed back to Blackhole [Nanawadi] which was on the same route as the morning ride. This is a open stretch of land which has many ruts and some rock ponds etc. Also houses the army commando training Center. I was in a race against time as the sun was setting fast so I sprinted all the way there. Reached just in time and took some pics. Pottered around for a while and tried my hand at offroading, although I was apprehensive whether my tires / rims would take it. My apprehensions were allayed with the first bump i took and from then on I kept on riding. After I had enough of riding on tractor ruts and grassland I headed towards Bogar Ves. I encountered a bunch of friends who I hadn’t met for a while, so showered some Gyaan there too..:D The usual how much , why, couldn’t you buy a bike, and then let me try happened and then I headed to Bogar Ves [ finally!!! ] Met Amit again who had come to collect his bike [Didn’t happen] and both of us decided to eat faloodas. Enjoyed a good half falooda and then headed back home. I had some dinner and hurried home cause I wanted to write this report when all the memories were fresh in my mind. The pics are coming soon.
[Daayyaammm!! thats a long PS]