Last weekend was really crazy, tiring, exciting, all at once – thanks to my sister for giving me an idea during a random dinner chat.
Last week, I had plans to go to Bangalore with one of my friends and I was telling about my plans to my family. Having known that I am a little adventurous, and known for taking my bike for longer distances, one of my younger cousins asked if I am going in bike. My sister jokingly said to him that I am going in cycle this time. My face lightened up – I have always wanted to do long distance cycling trip and said to myself I am doing it this time, if not both ways, at least one way and Bangalore to Chennai looked like a real possibility as my friend had a cycle in Bangalore which he was not using.
During that week after completing my work at Bangalore, I prepared his cycle and myself for the trip – made seats in comfortable position, fixed the chain that was not working and some small fixes(The cycle has been used for only 2-3 times in the past one year). It had a 6-speed gear, and was light so I thought it would not be like last time(I had already done a Chennai – Mahabalipuram – Chennai, 4 years ago in a heavy cycle, and it was a terrible experience). Within Bangalore, I travelled about 50-60 KM in two days just to check if I would be able to use the cycle efficiently and whether the cycle was in good condition. The tests were successful, but the cycle lacked a few basic things – Shock Absorbers, Tail lights, Seat cover(Seat was very very small and hard). But did not have time to make any alterations. So I decided, no off-roading, no-night riding, the seat cover was a major issue which I did not get fixed, but this gave me some room to innovate which you will see below.
I did not set any time limit for my journey, so I had all the time I needed and I just wanted to complete the ride. The route was straightforward – Bangalore – Hosur – Krishnagiri – Vellore – Chennai, and the mantra was simple, ride as much as the body allows and rest, and repeat it the next day until I reach Chennai. I thought I should easily be able to cover the distance in 3 days having done a 100 KM journey in a day once(Mahabalipuram trip)
The D-day arrived, I started at 5 in the morning. I had slept only 2-3 hours the previous night, but was still looking fresh and excited at what I am after over the next few days. The morning weather was really good, and the highway was awesome and safe, 6-lane with service lanes in many towns, and scenic as well with ups and downs. The traffic was also not that heavy. I really enjoyed the ride. In approximately two hours and ten minutes, I had reached Hosur. The Hosur – Krishnagiri route was even great, but it was getting hotter. The roads had several steep inclinations as well as several good downward slopes, which offset the heat. I reached Krishnagiri at 10AM and had completed about 85KM in 5 hours including breaks almost every hour. Having reached Krishnagiri in a quick time, I was convinced, I will be able to complete the entire journey in two days. Rested at Krishnagiri for close to 45 minutes, did some basic exercises to keep my muscles flexible.
I started at 10.45 from Krishnagiri and moved into the highway. I had come from an elevation of 1000m(Bangalore) to about 600m(Krishnagiri) and it was getting hotter for me. I was feeling uncomfortable now, I felt all sort of distractions – Painful legs and butts, Heavy bags, Hot Sun, I attacked three of the above distractions – I removed my clothes and put it around the seat so my seats got comfortable, bags became less heavy – two problems solved at once!! and I had purchased a cap which made me feel little better. I know the more I ride, the less painful I will feel. This is an experience I had got from numerous treks I have participated. I usually feel pain at the start and later my legs just adapt to the pain and it can take on any climb. I am really glad it worked here as well. I was able to move forward and kept going, stopping almost every one hour for food, drink, snacks, etc. I was not as quick as before, on an average I was doing only about 14-15 KM an hour.
Reached Ambur at around 3.15 in the afternoon. and still had 3 hours of sunlight left so I thought I will push till Vellore, which was 50 KM from Ambur. The next 50 KMs was the longest I felt, it took me about 4.5 hours to reach Vellore from there. Reached Vellore at 7.30 PM, after a 14 and half hours cycle ride covering approximately 200KM. I was feeling great at what I had done that day.
The worst part of the trip:
I booked a hotel room at Vellore for Rs. 300 per night, a decent price I thought for a decently maintained room. I had not considered the other factors – it was on ground floor, and on the entrance, which was right opposite to the busy bus stand and very close to highway. I planned to sleep early that night, and wake up early for the next day ride, but thanks to the continuous honking from the buses,and vehicles, I had not slept until midnight. I did not know when I slept that night, but I woke up at 9.30 AM the next day. I had to ride under Sun again for the whole of the 125+ KM to Chennai!
The ride started at 10.30 AM and I was riding slower than my previous day. When I started the day, roads were good, and traffic was less. The weather was hot initially, but became cloudy later in the day. As I moved closer to Chennai, it was all four-lane, with the small lane on the side for motorcyle or cycle effectively closed by sand, and very less service lanes, and speeding vehicles going much closer. I was glad I did not choose to ride this route in the night.
I was riding at roughly between 14-15 KM per hour that day. Reached Kanchipuram at 3.15 and Sriperambudur at 5.15 and finally home at 7.15, feeling accomplished. Covered approximately 320KM with riding time of 22-23 hours split over two days.
A great way to spend a weekend, alone and on budget! 🙂
Bangalore to Hosur Route, just after Electronics city toll gate.
At Krishnagiri, 117 KM to Vellore and 253 KM to Chennai!
Between Kanchipuram and Chennai. You see my Jeans pant and TShirt being used as seat cover.