Adversity Awaits

Like every other monday I open my laptop at my work station. A friend of mine stops by at my bay to drop a note about what he felt about my previous post which potraits an incidents that happened during the my cycle trip.

As I worked through the day I kept recollecting memories of the trip. On a big picture what I felt was the adversity that I had been through. The constantly changing challenges, the hard route getting hared due to unpredictable extreme weather, the silent roads of Tholpetty forest which make you realize that you are a tiny spec in the vast abundance of nature and many other adventurous yet soothing memories. Below are some of those memories.

Stage I – Rain

Day 1, we cycle from Banglore to Mysore, close to 180km. Neither my partner nor I have cycled such a distance during our training. We had our breakfast 40km down the route and soon entered Banglore-Mysore express highway[NH 275] after facing a some resistance from the toll gate guards(since we were cyclists). Both of us were excited, it was this day we had been training for almost 6 months. I asked my friend to take his GoPro out and mount it on his bike. He started recording small chunks of stretches and a few clips of me cycling front and back. Just around when we reached 65km, it started raining. For sure, it sounds relaxing, who does not like to go on a highway ride during rain while listening to melodies. But all that is good if you are in a cozy car, on a cycle the whole scenario could be life threatening. If you have not cycled on highways during rain, let me explain how it feels.

I have a road bike, a ACR(All Condition Riding) bike, with 25mm tubes. I have a bag that weighs close to 8kgs on my cantilever pannier rack, I was also wearing a 1kg backpack that consist of things that I could quickly reach out for in case of emergencies (first aid, spare parts, tubes, lights etc.). I had forgotten to keep my rain coat in my back pack and packed it in the rack bag. So I do not have a choice but to ride forward since there was no place to stop for shelter. We kept going, hoping the rain would stop soon. My glasses were covered with water droplets I could partially see through them. Fog and mud particle from the zooming heavy vehicles covers the vision. I had no idea what I was riding into.

Blurred vision being a challenge we had to fight through other things too, like wet clothes and uncovered wounds. Within minutes from when it started raining my clothes and bags had completely gotten wet and heavy. Everything suddenly became slow and sluggish. I stood up and aced through the immediate downhill reaching a speed of 68kph. The best moment of the whole day. I guess the wet cloths and bags would have increased the weight and in turn increased the road grip of the cycle compensating the lesser traction due to rain. But whatever, I had never cycled at this speed and my heart was pounding heavily.

Just when I was climbing up a small slope I looked down and saw that the cohesive nature of my tyres had carried and thrown all the small mud particles mixed with the water on my legs. He halted at a McD few meters away, we had our lunch just when the rain stopped. I was completely drained and had mud all over my body. After having lunch, I took bath at was basin in that McDonalds before we took off.

Stage II – Fear

Day 2, Coorg is our stop. We started off from Mysore after a long deep sleep. It was drizzling an we were already wet, at least this time I had my raincoat and other necessary things out with me. This time we faced adversity not in daylight, but late during night.

We had a few unplanned stops to rearrange my friends bags since he faced backpain. We ran out of sunlight sooner that day. We had to cycle through a small stretch of forest to reach the resort we booked. We could not find help from the locals since they were all afraid when we approached them in the darkness and avoided us. The 120 minutes I spent roaming in that dark forest with my cycle was one of the scariest experiences in my whole life. When we finally found our the place we had booked to stay in the middle of no where I felt so relieved. We found a group of people they who were drinking and partying. Those guys were kind enough to provide us some dinner and invited us to party with them. We danced, but did not strain much since we had 6 more days to go.

Stage III – Speed

Day 6, Ooty to Erode. I started this day wearing 3 shirts due to cold weather. We had our breakfast provided by a humble family at Ooty. 45km of downhill. Downhill is fun. Me and my friend started early at 6am. His breaks were loose and he could not risk speeding downhill, he stayed behind just like the routine. I never went below 50kph the whole time. Tackling through heavy government buses, quick bikers and tourist cars.

Slowly I bend my cycle road-ward to carve the upcoming right bend. I heard a sudden snap. The hook of the elastic chord had slipped off some how and hit the spokes of my back wheel. Within a blink of a second many things happened. I applied the breaks. My break shoes would not stop my tyers immedeatly due to the moisture on the rims. I slow down and eventually fall and the cord gets wounded into the wheel. I scratched my knees badly. I see blood pouring down my right knee. Strangely I liked the pain I made me feel alive. I quickly looked into the chord and removed the twined parts out. Looks like a jerk had undone it to snap. Bad luck. I started pedaling with no other option.

Stage IV – Heat

Day 6, we reached Mettupalayam after my accident. I took care of the first aid. The climate changed drastically from 12 degrees to 34 degrees celsious. I took off my additional t-shirts and kept heading ahead. This time we felt different we felt slow. We weren’t riding uphill. We weren’t tired cycling, in fact we had just started our day. It was the sun, the heat, the dehydration it cause. The sun is your second worst enemy while cycling while wind being first. We stopped at any places to take fresh juices and coconut water. We kept ourselves hydrated.

Soon we entered a man less road where I couldn’t find any help. I was tired and I have also had a couple of false alarms for my tube puncture. Around 1pm as I crossed a railway crossing I was pushed to my limits where I absolutely ran out of all the motivation to go further. I stopped looked back for my friend. Sat and leaned my back towards the parapet of the highway road. I wanted motivation. I was running low on my phone battery, low on edibles and water. I took out a pack of ENO an antacid relief powder you can have with water to cure indigestion. It had different flavors. I mixed it with the little water left. I kept sipping it once for every one kilometer. I did it for the next 15 kilometers burping all the way to the near by town to rest.

My Learning

As we all grow, we all some how sub consciously start learning how to deal with life. We learn how to make money, how to feed ourselves, how to stay out of trouble etc. This puts us in a routine which blinds us through the ever spirally loop of repeating actions/ habits. We live everyday just like the day before. We simply repeat. When you manage to break this routine and do something different, like travel, you get to face the adversity out there, unlike the same repetitive life that you are used to. The intensity with which you live increases, decisions you make become significant, mistakes you do counts big time.

Thus every man needs a break. A break in which he not only break the routine, but also collects memories and grows as a person.

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