Destinations Magazine

Cycling Trivialities - Part I

By Kartix

Life moves slow as you cycle. You get to know every dent on the tarmac and the trail that you are on; every bit of ascent and descent, every stone and every small little pothole. You can also feel the muscles working in your body straining to put in the effort to move on ahead. But, more importantly you can feel life move in front of you ever so slowly and you get the time and the urge and the patience to look at everything. This is the part of cycling that I love; that things move slow and you get the opportunity to take it in all in and enjoy the fullness of the picture its all making. And as I write this, I listen to the beautiful song ‘cycling trivialities’ by José González, its almost got nothing to do with cycling but it lent itself nicely to the title of the post!
A few years ago, Elrika and I decided that we would cycle one day to Goa but couldn’t believe it ourselves. For its quite a long ride and we had done a maximum of 70 km per day during an occasional weekend. The thought was revisited when I purchased a bicycle rack and panniers for my trusty 9 year old rockrider bicycle. Back in 2010, spending twice the amount I earn in a month on a bike itself was a daring move! But I am so glad I did not settle for any less, the bike has since done about three thousand km and still rides well. Anyway, back to the thought of a Goa cycling trip. Given our fitness levels, and the fact that I once tried to cycle from Bangalore to the neighbouring city Mysore that was 140 km away and fell 20 km short, I doubted we will go. Couple of sureshot mistakes I made: I carried my 8 kg backpack which got my back sore and I left at 10 am, so the sun got the better of me! Yet, the trip to Goa just remained a pleasant imagination to indulge in for a long while.
Last month, my friend Mathew (Matty) messaged a bunch of us that he intends to cycle to Goa and one of us has to come along since otherwise his family would shelve the plan! I thought it over a few minutes, chatted with Elrika, and in just a few moments we were in! It was a 550 km ride that had to be planned meticulously. As the day approached, Matty suggested an even better idea that we drive up on the highway till the Decathlon store in Hubli and then bike it from there to Goa. Using google maps, I planned a route of about 300 km that passes over the Western Ghats through four wildlife sanctuaries and a swathe of reserve and unprotected forests in between. One good hack that Matty knew was that selecting walking directions to a place on google maps gives good bike route options, given that we wanted to avoid most highways which are not safe for bike riding. I also made calls to book places to stay for the four nights during the journey, we were all set.
I had to then plan the load I would carry for this journey. Since I had made the mistake of carrying an overload on my bike the last time, this time I planned everything well. My list included: Two 1.5 l bottles, 3 sets of clothes + socks, slippers, running shoes(wishful thinking that I would run in the evenings!), binoculars, bluetooth speaker and charger, towel, Ipad & keyboard (wishful thinking that I would work!), medical kit, bike repair and cleaning kit, 2 extra tubes, matchbox and lighter and a bedsheet. All this went on one handlebar bag, a small shoulder bag and two pannier bags of 15 litres each. All of it together weighed in at about 8 kg, quite a load! Still, I was happy with my packing.
Cycling trivialities - Part IOn the day of the drive to Hubli and the ride on ahead, Matty arrived at about 5 am and we packed the frames of our three bicycles on the car rack meticulously and put all the tyres in the boot and backseat which took us thirty minutes and we took off for the five day journey planned ahead. Cycling trivialities - Part I
Was a pleasant ride full of conversations and excitement about the bike ride coming up. By 12 we felt a bit sleepy and stopped over a Coffee Day for a coffee and quick lunch. There we met Mohammad who has been cycling tens of thousands of km around India in his Hercules cycle he nicely rigged up for long trips. Here he is telling us about his logistics and we were awed by his endurance, strength and perseverance. Cycling trivialities - Part IAs I was chatting with Mohammad, I received a call from my mother. I figured she must be worried since we were driving and she was calling in to check on us. To my bewilderment, she told me that my well-packed pannier bags were left by the gate of our home. In all the packing of bicycles, I had forgotten to put the panniers in! In my mind, a levee broke and the ideas to fix this came gushing through. A mental list was being also made simultaeneously about which of the stuff was crucial; I was throwing away the ipad & keyboard, bluetooth speaker and some other items from the ‘required items’ list and thinking of alternatives that can be purchased in Decathlon, Hubli. In a couple minutes, we all started laughing at how stupid I was! More about the next five days of the trip and experiences coming up soon!

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