Posted by: Arvind | June 29, 2009

Solo Cycling Debut

Bugged by the fact that beach cricket’s ruled out in Erode, I wanted to do something, actually,  anything to avoid starting the day at 11 AM. So I decided, yesterday, that I would head to Bhavani, about 16 km away, by cycle. After adequate preparations (Thanks, Giri!) I was all set to make my first solo cycling trip.

I woke up a couple of minutes before the alarm went off, something I’ve been doing frequently, of late. I boiled milk on my own, convincing myself that it was a part of the cooking lessons that I am supposed to be undergoing.

After promising to update Appa every half an hour, I set off at 6.03 AM. Heavenly weather and no breeze at all! I was only praying it would remain the same during the return journey. I got out of the city in about 15 minutes. And in half an hour, I was just 7 km from Bhavani.  Surprisingly, I didn’t feel like taking more than a couple of pictures on the way.

Milestone

Milestone

On closer inspection, this "beautiful" stream had more tannery effluents than water!

On closer inspection, this "beautiful" stream had more tannery effluents than water!

I actually surprised myself with the speed at which I was covering the distance. I was expecting to take about one and a half hours to reach Bhavani, but at this rate, it would take less than an hour! And as you can see from the video, I wasn’t going too fast either. (The shaky nature can be attributed to my lousy multi-tasking skills than the road condition)

After the promised SMS update, I continued. I reached the NH 47 intersection in a shortwhile. I was a little unsure if I had to take the flyover. I asked some guy who was walking by for the route to Bhavani. He said something seemingly unintelligible and pointed in all sorts of directions. Soon it dawned upon me that he was speaking in Hindi. He was genuinely surprised when I asked him again in Hindi. He now pointed me in the direction which didn’t require climbing a huge flyover. I thanked him and proceeded.

At 7 AM sharp I reached Bhavani, a.k.a Carpet City. I then took a detour to Mukkoodal, the place where Bhavani and Kaveri meet. The usual obession for the third river meant there was an underground stream (of course!), named Aagaya Gangai (Akash Ganga, for the uninitiated). Wicked! Again the promised SMS update to Appa.

Carpet export is a big business here, they say

Carpet export is a big business here, they say

The river(s?) wasn’t very clean and the place was crowded too. But I was sweating so much that I didn’t mind the dip in the water. Why isn’t the water cold at 7 in the morning? Beats me! Another couple of photos and I set off to the Sangameshwarar temple, a minute’s walk away. Since it was only 7.15 and not yet time for the next update, I didn’t switch on my phone as yet.

At Mukkoodal. Kaveri flowing in the background.

At Mukkoodal. The Kaveri flowing in the background.

A long chat with the Pujari about the temple’s history and the number of sannidhis in it made me spend nearly 45 mins there. It was totally uncrowded and thus extremely peaceful.

Sangameshwarar Temple

Sangameshwarar Temple

8.00 AM : One hour since the last update and phone switched off. Faced the repurcussions :)

I then set out in search for a joint to have breakfast at. Found a road side stall that was selling Idlis, Dosas and Parotta (No! It’s not Brotta!). It cost me just 16 bucks and I was full enough for the return trip to be comfortable :)

Breakfast Point

Breakfast Point

I set off on the return trip wondering if I could manage to cover the distance in one hour. I stopped to buy sunglasses, and made a great bargain (I think!) for 35 bucks. It was starting to get hot and the traffic had become denser now. So, I really thought I wouldn’t be able to meet my one hour target. I once again surprised myself with my speed. I was greatly helped by the fact that there was no wind now, though!

I got a lot of weird looks from the people on the road (the roads were more or less deserted during the onward journey). I have to accept, I was quite a sight. A cap, sun glasses, three-fourths, backpack, shoes, on a cycle and to add to that, my latest love, The Thundu!

I love the Thundu. Giri, thanks for the tip da :)

I love the Thundu. Giri, thanks for the tip da :)

Out of the 17 kms to be covered on the return trip, I had about 9 kms left at 9.00 AM. To make it by 9.30, I would need to clock the quickest half-hour on the trip and had the suddenly maddening traffic to deal with. Again, it wasn’t as difficult as I’d imagined it would be. I reached home at 9.30 AM sharp, and I wasn’t exhausted.

I guess I’m up for bigger challenges, maybe something over 20 km this week. Any suggestions, anybody?

This is the route I took today :

I shall upload the rest of the pics and the videos later today.

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Trip Statistics :

Distance : 33 km

Time : 2 hours riding time, one and a half hours halt

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List of items I carried :

  1. Backpack
  2. One and a half litres of water
  3. Cotton
  4. A towel (The Thundu :) )
  5. A set of spare dresses
  6. Polythene bags
  7. Old newspaper
  8. Camera, spare batteries, tripod
  9. Bananas
  10. Biscuits.

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Suggestions for other newbies out there:

  1. Don’t carry a backpack. Have something that you can place on the carrier.
  2. Don’t head to Bhavani expecting a nice dip in the river.
  3. Do NOT take your music player with you. Giri had warned me against it, and thankfully, I followed his advice.
Posted by: Arvind | May 13, 2008

Valparai Diary

Finally wake up to the alarm shaking off that yearning to go back to sleep

Leave from home to the railway station, hoping to catch a train and suddenly having second thoughts about going on a solo trip.
Reach the ticket counter but it’s closed. Finally opens as the train arrives. Usual cases of people cutting the line and arguments with them adds to the fun. Not even that obnoxious lady squealing in faulty English can shake the sleep out the man behind the counter. Finally get the ticket as the train starts. Rush into the last compartment of Kurla Express to Coimbatore.
6.15 AM : A mad man on the train livens up the journey. Tries to imitate Rajnikanth miserably. Suddenly flicks someone’s chappals and runs, only to return it in a couple of minutes.
6.45 AM : Stuck at Irugur, yet again! I just can’t believe it. Something about Irugur and me that ensures an half hour stoppage there every single time I cross it, whatever the mode of transport (bus/car/train)!

Stuck yet again at Irugur Station!

Yet again, stuck at Irugur!

7.45 AM : Finally reach Coimbatore after some more delays on the train. Take bus to Ukkadam bus stand
8.00 AM : Hungry, but hop on to Pollachi bus, which leaves immediately.
9.00 AM : Reach Pollachi and have breakfast at Saravana Bhavan near the bus stand. Bad choice! Extremely crowded and took 45 mins to finish a breakfast of Dosa and Pongal!
9.50 AM : Finally get a seat in a bus to Valparai. Seats can be reserved with hand kerchiefs, do have one with you. Otherwise getting a seat is pretty impossible.

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