This was my second cycling trip with my friends from office. Last time we had gone to Chikmagalur. We started cycling from Jayapura. The route we took was Jayapura- Horanadu – Kalasa – Kuderemukh – Hanumanhundi Falls – SK Border – Sringeri. Most of the guys who were there last-time were there this time too.
This time, we cycled from Bandipur to Ooty via the Kalhatty Ghat. We reached Bandipur by about 7 in the morning. It took 1 hr to get all the cycles ready. As the cycles were getting ready, the first-timers were given a quick talk on how to use the gears effectively.
Finally, everyone is ready with their cycles.
The ride through the forest was one of the most enjoyable parts of the trip.
It was still cool and pleasant and there were so many animals all along the side of the road.
The ride was a short one. 20-30kms. After which we reached Masinagudi. Before starting to cycle we had all had a milk-shake from the CCD at the entrance to Bandipur. After the cycling through the reserve everyone had worked up a healthy appetite.
I just went absolutely crazy during breakfast. I had some 4 double omelettes, 3-4 Dosas and somewhere around 5 teas.
The “Killer – Kalhatty” climb was on top of all our minds. So, I decided to stock up on as much energy as possible. After lazing around a bit, we all started cycling again. After some 10 kms we reached the start of the climb.
From that point, there were 36 hair-pin bends that needed to be covered to reach the elevation of Ooty. It was one of the most relentlessly steep roads that most of us had ever seen.
Of course, I had seen much worse! After all I had climbed from 3500 mtrs to 5650 mtrs to reach the mighty Khardun-La in Ladakh on cycle(I like to occasionally toot my own horn, sorry!).
There were boards at every hair-pin bend counting down from 36.By the time we covered the first few hair pin bends, the Sun had started to bear down upon us harshly. By around 12 it had become so mind-numbingly hot that I could see the water vapor rise from my exposed arms. The heat was making it hard to focus and pedal on.
By the time I finished 30 per cent of the climb I had finished my bottle of water. From then on, it was stopping now and then to get water from vehicles coming down the road.
I must have gone through at least 5 liters of water in the time it took me to reach the halfway point which is marked by a tea-shop. I think it was situated just before bend number 16.
By the time I reached there the support vehicle with a couple of guys who had decided to not continue cycling because of some problem with the gears was already there. Raghu had also reached there before me.
I walked into the shop, got a bottle of cold water, and finished it off in one long gulp. Then I had a couple of teas and decided to lie down till the others caught up. In any case, I decided that I was going to cycle again, only after the Sun let up a little. I then had the idea of asking one of the cars passing by on their way down to carry water bottles for the guys climbing up.
When they eventually showed up, they told me that the water was a big relief for them in the heat!
After the Sun had let up, everyone started cycling again. After a while I too started. The bends started coming faster. Also, the climb became steeper. Towards the end there was an especially steep and seemingly-unending climb. I had decided before-hand itself that I wouldn’t push my cycle for even 10 cms.
When jumping up from the bench on which I was sleeping on at the tea shop, some muscle in my hip had suddenly started to cramp. I had ignored it then. But, now it was starting to act up.
So, I cycled in a zigzag manner to reduce the amount of force I needed to put down on the pedals to allow my legs to relax and feel loose again.
Finally, after a satisfyingly-tough last climb, I started my descent to Ooty. When I got to the police check-post I found Raghu sitting there. We went and had some tea and home-made chocolates and then started to cycle to the YWCA guest-house were stay and dinner had been arranged for the night.
We got there just in time to order dinner for the night. By the time we got the keys to the rooms the rest of the guys except Shailesh had arrived by the support vehicle. Some of them had managed to cycle almost 90 per cent of the way up, but had to stop because it was getting too late.
Shailesh arrived an hour later, just when we were starting to go out to look for him. He had lost his way in the town and had to wander about quite a bit as a result.
The stay was one of the high-points of the trip. Each room was a suite and we had taken a cottage for all of us.
Ooty to Kodanad View Point
The Kodanad view-point is around 40 kms from Ooty.. The weather was cool, the roads were amazing and there were plenty of tree-lined downhill sections with winding roads and amazing scenery.
After spending some time at the view point we started on our way back to Bangalore.
This was my second time cycling with my friends from office. Being together with people you see everyday in office in such a different environment, doing something completely unrelated to work allows you to see everyone in a different light. I felt that everyone learned something new about their colleagues and that I think is a very important part of what makes trips like this so much fun!