The Pedalaton Expedition
We did it and how! It’s not every day that we decide to do something, plan for it and exactly stick with that plan. When we finished the journey, it was an awesome experience of accomplishment. The collective spirit of the group is what got us through the tough times.
Here’s the statistics
Total Distance : 332 Kms
Total riding time : 18.59 hours
Distance at end of first day :185.4 kms
Distance at end of second day : 146.6 kms
Average speed of pedalling : 17.91 kmph
Those statistcs may convey some info but what they definitely do not convey is the pain and the agony that we had to endure during the journey. The same goes for the photographs. We are all smiling and posing but if our bodies could talk, they would tell you a different story.
Now, let me introduce the team. From left to right. That’s me on the left most, Satish from SAP Labs, Shyam from Sasken Technologies, Shree Kumar from HP, Sandeep from Robert Bosch, Ajay from er…. damn!, forgot, Karthikeyan from Frost & Sullivan and Guru from Infinieon technologies. The person behind the camera is Abhivav from Frost & Sullivan, who rode all the way in his Yamaha from Chennai to B’lre so he can accompany us in the return journey.
Most of us met via blogs. Most of the folks were new to each other. But we bonded rather instantly. The commonness of purpose and the single minded goal acted as a rather strong glue. Except for one, none of us have done such a long distance before. We all wanted to push our limits and see how far we can go.
We all decided to meet up near Sony World at Koramangala at the ungodly hour of 3:45 early morning. And surprisingly every single one of us were there on time. That showed the enthsiasm of the team and I was fairly certain we’d hit it real well.
That’s me and Ajay cycling. Photo taken by Guru in motion during a down slope. Like I said, don’t believe that smile. You can only smile outside and not show the pain in the ass, the pain from lactic acid secretion in the thigh muscles, the jolt your body has been subjected to, aching arms and a perenially parched throat.
Notice the sweat soaked tshirt? Nope that ain’t sweat. That’s water we would pour on ourselves to cool us. We did sweat profusely but they would get dried rather instantly because of the constant headwinds This was another factor we didn’t account for. The headwind hits right at your face and slows you down. That’s like someone constantly pressing your brakes. But the headwinds did a great job of cooling you. It’s a blessing in disguise.
That’s Shree Kumar. The only guy with a decent long distance cycling experience. He is the guy who did the Chennai to Calcutta (yeah!) and the Bangalore to Ahmedabad cycling trips. He joined us pretty much on the last day and we were glad to have him as part of the team. He had this rather expensive Viper Firefox bike and a GPRS. He lead from the front most of the time and in a way helped in the whole team maintain a higher km/hour coverage.
That’s us taking one of the breaks. Infact, this photo was taken during our first break.
On the way, we noticed this Maruthi van get a flat. There were two elderly gentleman who had a worried look on their face. How could we not help out! The jack had a problem, so the changing of tyres turned out to be a bit more complicated than we thought. With nine enthusiastic guys, that’s hardly a problem. We got it sorted out.
Ironically, a little later, one of our own cycles got a flat. So, we got off the highway and headed to a village to find a punture shop. On the way, I saw something, that had my jaws drop. You see those two big trees up there? They were completely infested with bats… and not just any bats, but huge bats. They are the biggest I have ever seen. Heck, I didn’t even know they could be that big.
Here’s a close up shot. Imagine each bat’s hanging heigt to be the bigger than the size of your forearm. That’s how big each fellow was. And there were thousands of them.
Another shot of the gang cycling. We were very careful about safety. We would cycle in a single file. We had no other choice. The ‘highway’ was a misnomer. Not big enough, so we had to stick to the left most part of the road.
The night cycling was something I personally enjoyed. With the sun going down and a near full moon givng us some light, it felt wonderful. There a special charm when it came to cycling at nights. I thought it wouldn’t be very safe but I was wrong.
Water was the single most needed stuff. I assume each of us would’ve consumed upwards of dozen litres of water during the journey. This photo was taken during the second day at the break of dawn. We started the journey on the second day at 4:50 AM after just managing four hours of sleep.
Shree’s uber cool viper grabbed the attention wherever we went.
That’s us at the Andra – Tamilnadu border. 133 kms to go.
We passed through this strange looking bridge.
We were too tired and too focussed on burning the mileage to notice the scenery. The bangalore guys had a bus to catch that night and that was the deadline we kept focus on. We never really stopped to explore off road or to enjoy the senery.
That’s one of the highway dhabas where we stopped for lunch.
The experience was great. We were so hungry that anything would have done. But what we got was sumptious, real tasty food. No photo of us having food but it was a really good spread. We feasted.
That’s sandy getting a quick shut-eye in a pick up van. Most of us were exhausted and even a few minutes of sleep was something that we grabbed at.
That’s the Rajiv Gandhi memorial at Sriperumbudur. We are getting closer home.
There are tons of great photo opportunities that we let go. Honestly, photography didn’t even figure in the mind. When you are huffing and panting in the scorching sun with your thigh muscles burning with pain, you only want to focus and get on with it. Photography was an unnecessary distraction.
We finally reached on the night of Sunday. That’s less than two days. The biggest challenge was the scorching heat and the steep slopes. Infact at one stage, we felt we were climbing towards Chennai. Whoever said that Bangalore is at a higher altitude than Chennai is a liar. We have proof. Hey, if B’lore is at a higher altitude, then shouldn’t we be cruising down slope. We didn’t. We did helluva lot of climbing and that can be bloody tough. Even wiht an 18 geared cycle. And in 40 degree centigrate heat.
There were some strange turnouts. Before I started the journey, I weighed myself on Friday and I was at 79 kgs. On Monday morning, the day after we reached, I weighed at 81 kgs, much to my utter surprise. Yup, after the gruelling journey, I actually managed to add two kgs. Testimony of the amount of water and food we would’ve consumed on the way.
I was thinking that I would be completely pooped out on return. Infact, I was super glad that the next day (monday) is a holiday due to the elections and was envisioning myself to be sleeping througout the day. But strangely, I didn’t feel that tired at all. It was just like any other day and I didn’t feel tired at all. Just a little stiffness in the legs and some pain in the butt. That’s it. My guess is that the body would’e braced itself after the journey. Gotten tougher maybe. Whatever it is, I felt awesome. Felt great.
Would I ever do such crazy trips again? You can fuckin’ bet on that! 🙂