Sunday, December 8, 2013

Cruise to Coast - 18,19 Aug 2012

My second cycling trip with CAM. Three of my office colleagues (Yashwanth, Mitesh and Praveen) and two of my trek mates (Vinaay and Anton) gave me company. The most popular CAM ride and one couldn't have asked for a better month to ride - August. We missed out the first ride as seats filled up very fast but made sure we were amongst first few to register for the second one. Though we started about an hour later than scheduled on Friday evening from hockey stadium near Shantinagar, we reached Bagamandala around 6AM. After hot chow-chow bath and tea/coffee at KSTDC, we got ready with our pack to carry and rented cycle selection. It rained after few cyclists having their own cycle had started. Shortly, rain relented enough for us to ride with our rain-coats on.

Bagamandala - view from our starting point. (Talakaveri is very close from here)

It took about an hour to cover gentle upward slope stretch about 8-9km from the starting point. It was all misty but rain stopped completely pretty soon. Out came cameras and as is my wont, I started my spree of clicks in auto mode. It ended up being one of the reasons why I ended up cycling lot less than my previous ride with CAM. We were treated with awesome views of western ghats, scenery all the more wonderful thanks to clouds. Lots of small and few sizable streams and waterfalls dotted our morning journey.


Time for group pic
Then started a stretch of about 10km steep down slope. The road was battered though because of monsoon. We had been advised to be very careful by CAM organizers and we were doing just that. Then at a curve giving a view of western ghats, some cyclists including my three colleagues were taking a breather. I stopped a little longer for clicks before proceeding. I was all alone and suddenly I was going fast on the bad downward slope. I simply lost control trying to steer along the curves, knew I was going to fall and eventually fell off the road on grass filled with small thorns. To this day my colleagues believe I was upto my usual acrobatics show off, but trust me, I wasn't. Luck or fate, I was only meters away from fatal fall from mountain side, though it is possible I might have got stuck amongst the trees too. It took a few minutes to stop my shaking. I had scratches all over my body, the thorns were tiny and difficult to locate and pull out. I remember taking out a few days after the event.

My colleagues had dutifully stopped some way ahead waiting for me. Thankfully, there wasn't any damage to cycle - some consolation - and I reached them soon enough to have avoided them coming back for me. Rest of the downhill was uneventful, given I was extra careful and tried to keep in middle of road. Frequent use of breaks made it rather stressful than enjoying the downhill.

The route until lunch was mostly flat with few ups and downs. Yashwanth and Mitesh went ahead as they were faster than me and Praveen. By the time we both neared lunch hour and upward slopes, we were very tired. The numerous small breaks earlier in the morning for snaps, rest, rain and cautious ride on downhill definitely were a factor - I kept this in mind to improve my show on the next CAM trip ;) Last few kms to lunch point was in support vehicle.

Awesome western ghats views
After lunch and short break, we had another 3-5 km of steep uphill to climb. A sharp shower sent us scurrying into bus stop shelters and the humidity made us uncomfortable inside the rain coats. By 2:30pm, we finally reached the end of steep climb and took a long rest. All four of us had a round of tea/coffee, talked about the trip so far and stretch to come.

End of steep climbs and start of good roads
Another two hour ride got us to Bekal fort - the famous spot where song of Bombay was shot. The ride had some more streams, short steep ups and downs. Very good roads for most part were a welcome change to complete this stretch despite the pain and cramps (specially for Praveen). Last few km before Bekal was through manageable village road and we had to ask for directions a lot very close to the fort. And of course, there were strange stares from passerby's throughout the event and at some places, people even tried to block the path.

Whats not to like about the afternoon stretch towards Bekal
We spent close to an hour roaming inside Bekal fort. The eventual end point for the day was at Kasargod, another 20km ride from Bekal. Suffice to say, most of the group chose to not ride and go in our bus, with cycles loaded onto canters. The fort is very large and one hour is enough to cover only about quarter of the area. Well maintained garden and lush green grass cover including on fort walls and the weather made it an unforgettable experience. Lot of time was spent in trying to click butterflies, pigeons, flowers, unusual angles of fort, worms living off holes in fort wall, pics of self to be put on fb, the sea waves lashing against rocks and the beach. Myself and Praveen were too tired to actually go to the beach.

Bekal Fort - reminds of Bombay song? ;)
Waves from Arabian sea lashing against rocks outside the fort 

Where earth, sea and sky meet
After reaching hotel in Kasargod, we spent time in resting our tired selves. I did sirsasana instead of stretching. After bath and dinner (very cheap compared to Bangalore :P) we slept. Or rather tried to amongst fire-crackers bursting in middle of night outside the hotel.

Starting early morning second day ride on empty stomach

By 7AM next morning, we started towards Jalsoor on practically empty stomach. The route was fairly straight forward, except for one major deviation. The roads were better than the good stretch we had afternoon the previous day. Mitesh and Yashwanth were ahead again. Myself and Praveen was happy to be cycling at all, given the stiffness and cramp. We aimed first to just reach the breakfast point (around 16km from Kasargod).

By 8:30AM, we made it to the breakfast point without much discomfort. After hungrily devouring the breakfast, we both decided to keep going further. Our aim now raised to cover 100km combined for both days.

Time for breaking fast
There were many ups and downs, the road though made it easier than broken mountain roads. After some struggle, dragging and lots of break, we were finally forced to give up around 11AM. Not before we both completed 100+km though. In retrospect, we could have done few more or even completed till Jalsoor, but we weren't in a shape to argue with canter guys nor take risk of getting stuck behind the support vehicles.

More awesome roads
After a short ride in bus, we stopped nearby a bridge over Payaswini river. Cue to bring cameras out for some more DP clicks. The idle time was more bearable seeing others in the group with us in the bus. Certainly, finishing 100+ was itself satisfying, especially given the state on first day evening and second day morning, but felt a little sad to not complete either day's ride.

Payaswini river
After everyone gathered around the big tree at finishing point in Jalsoor and some refreshments, we left for Bangalore around one-o-clock. Some fun at lunch point due to my dislike for curd/butter-milk. During the ride back, we had lot of discussion with fellow cyclists and CAM organizers on past events. All in all, a good cycling event with friends.

Well earned rest at Jalsoor
On the way to Bangalore, can you spot the cricket match going on ;)

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