Tag Archives: adventure

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.

It was around 11 am, surrounded by tall trees of pine forest on the way from Gudalur to Ooty. It was Day 5 of our trip and we had already ridden 570 kmĀ from home. As I cycled the elevation of Ooty mountain I looked to the sides of the roads and noted that I was just passing through the 33rd bend I had 56 more to cross. I looked back and realized that I had created a huge gap from my friend. He is falling behind, but I could not do anything about it. Each of us were fighting our own battles, after all he would have been only meters away from me, I thought.

State Road surrounded by tall pine trees of Gudalur Forest

My muscles were numb, I could feel my body temperature was higher than usual, I am struggling to climb this beast mountain. Who doesn’t. I convinced myself that I know the route for the next 15km and I wouldn’t get lost, I wanted to listen to songs badly in order to keep pushing myself forward. I switched off the GPS and put my earphone on.

Half an hour later I realized I hadn’t noticed the temple that I was suppose to pass by. I turned my GPS on again and found that I had missed a right and gotten stranded 5 km inside Mudhumalai forest. I was told by the locals to abscond that area as soon as possible, since it was mating season for the elephants and they would behave furious around that time. There aren’t electric fences to safeguard yourselves in that area. What am I going to do?

I hopped on to my saddle and started sprinting through the forest to get back on track. While pedaling hard through the ups and downs to flee that scene my tire hit a pothole and my back wheel got punctured. Cursing myself I quickly started carrying my 20 kg cycle and ran to the closest electric fence. It took me 5 minutes to change the spare tube and fix my flat tire. I told myself these two words “DON’T PANIC”.

Once I got back on track I kept cycling through the rural parts. I felt dead, my legs wont move anymore. Hunger had stricken. I only had 10 Rupees in my purse. We had spent all the cash at Wayanad for dinner and didn’t find any ATM to draw money. I found a small grocery store at Devarshola, smaller than the cabin in which I work. I explained my position in a language the store guy could only partially understand. He knew I needed food. He got that 10 rupees handed me a pack of biscuits worth 30 rupees. I thanked him, and tied the pack with a towel to my hip. I started eating those one by one, making slow progress in the distance. All I had to do is NOT PANIC. I kept pedaling for the rest of the day and reached Gudalur, where we had proper supper before we found ourselves a descent place to stay.

There were many instance as such during our 1200 km trip. And at these times where you loose your shit and start crapping your pants all that you require is to say yourself “DON’T PANIC”. I remember these instance very well and will not forget the learning I get. One learning I got from these experiences was that all the decisions that I took during this intense endeavors has attained a new level of significance. I had the need to decide properly where to eat, sleep, draw money, listen to songs etc.

On Day 7 when we were on the highway moving from Dharmapuri to Erode. I was stopped by a Police man. He asked me about my trip and why I was doing it. I told him my story and expected him to motivate. On contrary he told something that broke my confidence. He told that an old man with his grand son had been cycling on the highway. One of the huge trailers had loosened it’s side rivet and slipped off and crushed them. Both old man and the kid had died then and there. I didn’t know them personally, but the story shook me. It is when I realized that how much ever you precisely calculate and make decision, there are few things you can’t control. This uncertainty exists universally and cannot be manipulated. It was neither the old man’s mistake since he was trying to drop his grandson at school and taking only his regular route nor the driver’s mistake that the rusted rivet would break apart and topple the whole trailer. At this point I started strongly believing that all the decision that I take could only be the best. I am where I am supposed to be. Hence forth I never expect anything to be absolutely controlled in my life, and while facing situation that makes me crap my pant I don’t scream and cry for help I simply smile and say to my self “DON’T PANIC” !

Watch this: Learn to Travel. Travel to Learn

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