Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fourteen Poets 400km brevet (actually 414kms)

"What is more interesting than a brevet with a hill climb? Obviously, a brevet with two climbs." Trust IISc Randonneurs to spice up the ride!

Karthikeyan, Vijay and Sandeep at the start. And 13 cyclists. A nice clear cool FRI night. 10pm start from IISc Gymkhana. Bone rattling start. Smooth and easy ride via Sankey, Infantry,Cubbon and Brigade. Onto Hosur road, busy at 11pm!  Karnataka border arch shows up - Yey, off we go!

We all go in a big group - Parag, Sunil, Deepak, Srinivas, Vignesh, Ananth, Sohan and Abhilash. Wonderful to ride in a large group. Chatty ride with each one at different times - Nice!

Pacy ride all the way, we cut through the little hills and Shoolagiri shows up. All of us except JP veer into the McDonalds/CCD and have a quick bite.  Fifteen minutes, we are back on the highway. The moon, a little shy of being full, shines brightly. A pacy chatty ride with Major Srinivas, Deepak, Parag and the Krishnagiri turnoff comes on. ~90kms done.  
It is a chilly night with nice tail winds. We rack up a good pace and stop at a brightly lit coffee shop around 4AM. Two cups of tea and biscuits and a water refill. Aah, heavenly to sip the hot liquid on a cold early morning after an exhilarating ride.

Back to the pace, we reach the first control point (160kms) at 5:40. We need to take of picture of the hotel board. Tis funny that a bunch of lycra clad adults jostle to take pics in front a ill-lit hotel board! 

U-turn and and in few kms we see the signboard "Elagiri -22kms", at the turnoff to Yelagiri. Road is so-so, bone rattling, a physical alarm clock that wakes every part of your body, and the buses honking and threatening to come on to you. 

Around 7AM we are the base of Yelagiri. Deepak and Srinivas commence climbing while Parag,Sunil and me stop to have a quick drink. 

On to the climb now. Fantastic weather. There for 14 hairpin bends each named after a Tamil poet Pavendar, Bharathiar, Thiruvalluvar, Ilango,Avvaiyar, Kambar, Kapilar, Kari, Pari,Ori,Aaye, Aadhiyaman (oops! forgot the last one). Parag races ahead and Vignesh who is relaxing just after bend 6 joins me. Chatting about religion, philosophy we enjoy the climb and reach the second control (ATM) at the top. The time is 8:06. Hungry!

Time for well-deserved breakfast now. Close to the ATM is  Hotel Lakeview where Deepak, Srinivas and Anantha are busy hogging! Parag,Vignesh and me join and shortly Sunil joins. Idli, vada and tea - Yum! When you are real hungry food tastes wonderful. Thank you Sunil for sponsoring the wonderful breakfast! After we all finish, Sohan and Abhilash come in, delayed due to puncture.

The downhill ride is done quickly and we go into Vaniyambadi and then onto a wonderful tree-lined road towards Pernambut. Sun is up, though not very hot. Third control point at Pernambut at 11:13 and we stop for a ice-cream at Arun parlour. Two ice-creams down and we are ready for the second climb. A long climb with the afternoon sun right on top and no tree cover, it is interesting. 

Post the climb, it is a rolling terrain and we reach Venkatgiri Kota. Stomach is growling, we search for hotels and to our surprise, no hotels! See a simple eatery, Sunil, Vignesh and me have Anna/Sambhar/Majjige while Parag is on fruit diet, loading up Potassium and NaCl -  Banana dipped in Salt . A few meters ahead we stop and have a drink and we are ready for a long ride to Mulbagal. 

A ~30km ride on a testy road leads to Mulbagal the third and final control point. One more ATM slip and cold drink, and few minutes later we are back on the 6-laned Kolar highway. Aah, after a testy ride, this is fantastic and we zip… One more short tea break and we speed up. The setting sun is beautiful. The whispery cloud paints a kannada word on the Orange globe and the word moves as if in an animated presentation. We enjoy the moment and capture it in our hearts. 

The twilight ride is brilliant and it slowly turns dark. Riding on Kolar road in the dark does not excite me. We form two groups Parag/Sunil, Vignesh/me and take turns to pull each other all the way and man we are doing good! A stretch break near Hoskote and we zip through. Hanging bridge at KR Puram looms ahead and after the climb, chaotic traffic smiles and says "Welcome to Bangalore". We are in the flow, it feels great and we (Vignesh & me) zoom into IISc Gymkhana at 9:49. Deepak and Srinivas who vanished in the Pernambut climb have reached earlier at 9:06. Karthikeyan and Srinivas welcome us -Thank you! 414kms done in 23:49 @17.4kmph including breaks.

Hungry again as we are yet to have dinner! Chappati, Fried rice, Mutter and Aloo Panner and Lemon juice at the IISc canteen. Parag/Sunil steam in. They have a quick bite, leave quickly and after a few minutes we leave too. It is about 11:30pm and we see the Anantha/JP on Nandidurg road and Parag/Abhilash near the Ulsoor lake. We wave and reach home around midnight.

Am happy that I completed the ride in sub-24 hours knocking nearly 2 hours from the last year ride. Of course the road was much worser last year, but it did not have the second climb. 
Running seems to have helped me, now I want to climb faster - the next goal! In a few days the 1000km brevet to Belgaum beckons and I am hoping that this serves as a good practice workout for the 1000! And a 600 to go for SR this year.

Thank you guys. First time with a large company. Lovely!

At the finish point
At the Tea joint before the first control 4:30AM

At the Tea joint before the first control 4:30AM
At the top of Yelagiri - mid way  point

Enjoying Ice cream at Arun parlour - Pernambut

Tea break on Kolar road enroute to BLR