Monday, December 17, 2007

Bangalore Ultra Marathon 2007

78kms, 12:07hours, 151BPM average heart rate, 10liters of water, 3 PowerGels, 7 Endurolyte capsules. 2 PBJ sandwiches, 2 biscuits, 0.5 liters of Gatorade, Iodex and Moov.

Photo credit: Ravi Kaklasaria

I have run a long race - starting from the post-surgery rehab last October, the dip-stick test at the Midnight marathon, to packing 60-89kms a week for the last 6months, I have run it long, long and hard.

The Bangalore Ultra was really not a run, it was a collective dream of a dozen lunatics who fantasized brining Ultra marathon running to India. More than 100 ordinary men, with slightly less degree of lunacy, decide to live that dream for months.
This is no melodrama, in fact it is far from it. Every other week, we went to RFL to take our weekly dosage of pain for months in row. There was wonderful camaraderie as we followed each other’s progress or otherwise.


In the week running up to the D-day, there was fear, apprehension, excitement and anxiety churning up a weird concoction in the tummy. It was like I was taking an important exam, but only in this case, all I could do was eat well and rest while I waited.
On Thursday morning, I was the first one to collect my Bib and T-shirt. I was the last one who had registered to run the 78kms distance. Bib No. 017.
At the rooftop pasta party at Bangalore Bistro, we added a tinge of humor to an already heady mix of emotions, while we stuffed ourselves with cartloads of pasta.
My mom cooks potatoes and sweet potatoes, cuts down on chapattis during the week leading up to the marathon, this time I switched to boiled rice (or brown rice) which is higher on nutritional value.

Sleep came in bursts the previous night. I remember having woken up thrice, at times, even alarmed that I would wake up late and miss the run.
I was riding my faithful silver bullet to the venue with Sudhir. I didn’t care much about how I would ride back. If I were in shape to finish, I figured I would be in shape to ride back home. I refused to think about what would happen otherwise.

I started at 4:30AM, picked up Sudhir and was at the venue at 5:30. The race started precisely at 6, flagged off by Nisha Millet. She was such a sport, I saw her run her two loops as well. Flagged off by the runner for the runners!

The Strategy
How to use some gray matter while running

Start slooooow
I have always liked to take a sprinting start to avoid the elbowing and generally like to lock into a good pace early. But this time I vowed that I would not do less than 1:40hours on each loop of 13kms.
This was impossible even at my slowest pace, I would have to start walking right from the beginning. I also promised to stick to a low heart rate – less than 140BPM for at least one loop and keep it very low for the first 4 loops. I let everyone pass, resisting the huge temptation to lock into a faster pace. I just put my head down and told myself, “I haven’t started running, my race will start only after 4 loops (52kms).”

And when in doubt, follow your heart

I stuck to my HeartRateMonitor reading, when it goes up above the target for the loop, regardless of the time, or gradient or cheering pretty Manipal medicos, I walked. Whenever the svelte Nischal passed me, I factored in a few missed beats as well.
I stuck with it keeping the BPM below 150 for the third loop and about 155 for the fourth. But by then, there were other things that needed my attention.

Treat Yourself!

After 4 hours of running, the clouds cleared up, I had to pull out my goggles and sunscreen. I told myself, the next 4 hours would be tough. 1 liter of water per half-loop of 6.5km, about 1 PowerGel every loop after the first, 1 Endurolyte capsule for every 1-1.5hours of running (so much math, that I need a secretary to run with me next time around). For now, I had to make do with what was around.

Running mates

I have mixed experiences with running mates, but this time I had no luxury of choice… laggards can’t be choosers. Someone passed me around then and asked me, “which loop?” I had no clue. All I knew was I had 7more hours to run. I ran the second loop with Sanjeev and Jai…
… then I caught up with Sudhir.
Woah, it will take a while to explain this giant of a guy. Let’s save time and check him out here. We both were doing similar pace and we decided to keep it going as long as we could.
I had to hard sell the Ultra to Lingu (an outstanding salesman at IBM himself) on Friday. The half marathoner was pushing it all the way to 52kms. I met him on this penultimate loop. Sudhir, Lingu and I set the pace together for a long part of that laborious afternoon. Lingu finished his 4 loops in 7:xx hours.

As we neared the end, Sudhir continued to keep me company… A lot of what transcribed is quite hazy, but sample this!

Me: “But it may get dark by the time we finish”
Him: “that is not a problem, I have a torch”
Me thinks: He carries a torch in his pocket for all of those 12hours!

Me: “Hey, can’t take your pic man, the battery has run out.”
Him: “No problem, I always carry extra batteries”
Me thinks: I didn’t even bother carrying an towel, too heavy!

Me: “Guess I am cramping up, let’s walk till the next aid station.”
Him: “No problem, I have Moov with me, let me know if you need painkillers.”
Me thinks: Damn you, there goes my excuse.

Me: “13kms is still 13kms.. am going to take it easy”
Him: “I feel I can take off, I think I will”
Me thinks: Must have packed some of that in his pocket too

Whether it was painkillers, camera, mobile phone, cash, torch, determination or girt, the pocket seemed to have a never-ending supply!

Just Keep ‘Moov’ing

The guys at the aid stations were fantastic. It is not so much the front runners who need the aid, it is the once who struggle at the end. And RFL really understood that well. After about 2pm, there must have been about a dozen ‘lunatics’ left on the trail. It was then, I began to notice the mobile help. The volunteers were on bikes carrying muscle relaxant sprays to help ease cramps. I always had generous helpings every time they passed. On the last lap, at aid station 3, they ran out of sprays. I tried Moov, it worked well too. The ointment mixed beautifully with the red mud and sweat around my legs to form a heavenly shade of red. I seemed to work. But if it was the right calf now that needed attention, the next moment it was the left quad, then it was the left hamstring, then the left here, then down there, up here too… ‘moov’ing simply wouldn’t end at all!

Hugs and Misses

2:05hours left to 6PM, last lap 13kms left, our previous one was 2:15 or so. It was a tough ask. I held Sudhir back on the onward loop, 6.5kms to go in about 1 hour. As we approached the aid station 4, the Iron man, Doc and Kirean passed us, we were not the only ones on the trail, yippee (I couldn’t exclaim too, I would risk a cramp). Sudhir was itching to go by now, and decided to leave me fight out the last few kms alone. I held back, the last thing I wanted was a cramp. When it comes, it comes hard… ask me how I know! I didn’t want to blog this story again. I was only about 2-3mins behind Sudhir thou. I passed doc even as he was quitting the race at the AS3 after his 100.4km run. Wow!
15mins to go to the finish 2kms away. On any day I would take 6mins to cover that distance if I pushed.
For a brief moment, the thought of finishing in 12 hours titillated me, my legs responded with a warning pull. I limped back to the ground reality. I said I would walk but not do anything foolish that would make me quit or finish any less strong.

Nobody roots for Goliath

Wrong!! With one km to go, I heard an uproar in a distance, I looked at my watch 11:59, Sudhir had made it. I looked ahead, I saw the 1km mark.

As I walked back to ONV, there was one man who walked towards me at a distance… A1, the man himself. I don’t think I cried, but I would have come very close to crying while we hugged. I felt like the last guy to be placed on campus, the whole campus waits for the moment and the party begins.
I entered ONV relishing the applause and soaking in the moment. It was H U G E…

Hall of Fame

I earned the title of "Longest Survivor on the Trail" and made it to the Ultra Hall of Fame

The morning after

I waited for about an hour at ONV, mostly walking on my feet before I put my sore bum on the bullet saddle. I rode back home feeling nothing at all…
I woke up the next morning with a stiff fanny, and lower back… gone by noon. It was Monday as usual.

It took a while for me actually realize what I had done. At the post-run party at Koshy’s Mahesh remarked, “It was all about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. 200 people stretching themselves.. imagine what it would do to the society at large.. all our limits are only in the mind…

20 days of training left for the Mumbai Marathon 2008, is a sub-four marathon the boundary in my mind…
For now, Superman has to go… Up Up and Away!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

BH3 presents The Bike Hash 2007

Bike hash 079
Originally uploaded by Manojbhat

What is BH3?
It’s a lot of things, but definitely not Borane. All the Hash dope is on my post on my first Hash shot here.

What is the Bike Hash?
Nothing different actually. The site is serene, the hashers insane, the beverage chilled and the circle is round. On the bike hash, however, you get your bums on the saddle and pedal away into the countryside.

How do you hare the Bike Hash?
Jugy, Sunil and I hared this one. Hares recce the area and lay the trail with chalk powder complete with false trails. This was the third one that I have hared, the first two were with Abnash. We started at Eagle Ridge on saturday morning riding on the Bullet. With Google Earth and Gramin GPS to guide us we ran into lotsa dead-ends, many roads ran straight into a pond or lake. We marked a 7-8km shorter route for the walkers. We got back early on Sunday morning to mark the longer route. For two hours, Jugy and I sweat it out trying to find a loop for the long riders. We managed a good one finally not before we checked out more villages and puzzled village folk.

When, where, how, why, who, which, what-the, whatever
The Xmas Hash Bash was on 37 Crescent on Saturday and the Bike Hash wouldn’t start till the hangover had subdued. The bikes were sponsored by TI Cycles who brought in 50 new Hercules and BSA bikes. There were a few bright Trek cycles too that stole the limelight. All traces of the cyclonic rain of the previous week had totally disappeared. The sun was at its blazing best when we started at 11 or so. It turned out to be a 19km route at the longest and many fellow runners from RFL got all the heat training for the upcoming Ultra.
Back at the circle at Eagle Ridge, future sutures did the RA honors, Jugy was fired, Sunil was made new GM, the new mis-management (me included) was announced, yada yada yada…
(gosh, am so bored today)

There is a much better version blogged by Nischal. Read it here.
Hash Bash
Bike Hash
Bike Hash
That’s it for now…

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Paapa Vinasam run at Tirumala

My childhood pal, Vijay married Kalpana in Tirumala on 28th Nov. There was no way I could have missed the wedding and the opportunity to ride the good roads to Tirumala. I added a cherry on top – a 16km run on Tirumala to Papavinasam.

BubbleShare: Share photos - Delicious Christmas Recipes.

Head out on Old Madras Road via Kolar, bear left at Chitoor, the bypass is potholed and very avoidable. I reached Tirupati at 6 in the evening, after 4hours of riding. There’s a through security check before you begin the 20-24km ascent of Tirumala hill. It was pitch dark when I started the climb. The well-lit, well-marked, one-way curvy section, is a treat to any biker. The brightly lit tilak, padma and chakra of the Lord visible almost right through the uphill ride plus the steady traffic on road ensures that the throttle is on leash.

I walked into the wedding ceremony - leathers, boots, helmet and tank bag in tow. The vara pooja and reception was held on Tuesday. I stayed with Vijay and Centhil in one of the guest houses at Tirumala.

The next morning, I pulled out my dri-fit tee, shorts and running shoes. I stated off towards Papavinasam about 8km from Tirumala. It is a very scenic ghat route that cuts across lush vegetation, offering multiple view points of the Tirumala hills.
Upon ‘wiking’ I find, Tirupati has seven hills representing the seven heads of a huge serpent.

The fist thoughts that come to mind when you think of Tirupati is the endless queues, the melee at the temple complex. The only pleasant thought is that of the laddoo you ‘earn’ after the darshan. The temple failed to touch my spiritual side on my previous two visits.

But this time, as I jogged through the hills, I saw why Tirumala invoked so much spirituality. The rocky hills all around, the dense vegetation, the lakes and streams – so divine that you connect with your inner self.
There is God in those hills, guys, so next time you plan one of those TTD darshans spare a couple of hours to explore the beauty that really is Tirumala.

I would have missed all of this if it were not for the running. After having run about 5kms I spotted a dam at a distance off the road. There was a path taking to that one, the gates to the dam were locked, but there was a gap to squeeze through. The view was simply out of the world – there were all possible hues of green, reflecting off still water of the reservoir- all packed in one picture perfect postcard.

Papavinasam – is the place where you are supposed to wash off all your sins. And like most tourist-thronged places, it was disappointing. Water flows down some pipes and devotees take bath underneath, if any, one could pick up a few sins there…
I let the water wash off my hair. The sins of the head, I washed off… the sins of the heart are only meant to scar.
I ran off-road on the way back to check out a very beautiful lake, fantastic stuff really.

I got back to Vijay wedding feeling so refreshed. The wedding itself was grand, almost to a point where it got bigger than the bride and the groom! I hit the highway immediately after lunch.

The ride down the hill was also great – the challenging curves and the view of the hills for all of the 20odd kms ride.
At 6, the weekday evening traffic chaos at KR Puram brought me straight back to the ground with a thud.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Kavery Trail Marathon

17th Nov, Saturday

20:30We wanted to do it ourselves because there must be a thick layer of Peanut Butter and Jam, others outside make it too dry.” On that cold night at Fort View, Shagun and her boys were packing a rare ingredient into the PBJ sandwiches for the run the next day – energy and enthusiasm.

21:00 Bopanna and A2 come back after marking the track with some 20kgs of chalk powder. The biting cold, a pitch dark 11km trail and lack of warm clothing had stretched the marking to 4.5hours of hard work. They have made sure that every km is not merely marked but also displayed laminated signage with quotes to pep the runners. But they barely have enough time to get their blood flowing back into their veins here.
In the meantime, in Bangalore, there are innumerable things to be taken care of – from how to handle baggage to answering parking queries to arranging for snacks and Runners world copies to coordinating the 5 buses that were to leave at 4am in the morning – A1, Atul and team have their hands full.

21:30 Bopanna reviews the emergency medical procedures with the Sanjeevini Ambulance and the paramedic - the specializations at the nearest hospitals at Mysore and Srirangapatana, the routes to be taken and preparedness on basic first aid.
Shagun team has just finished off packing those PBJ sandwiches into 3 air-tight boxes, neatly labeled indicating which aid-stations they should be used at. 30 loaves of bread and 8kgs of peanut butter and jam!!
The supplies van was stacked to capacity – everything from 600 bottles of water and 500 bananas to ice boxes to garbage bags. When you organize an outstation run, even printouts and toilet paper rolls have to be thought out in advance.

21:45 Everyone around seem to have forgotten one important thing – Dinner. My own 120km ride from Bangalore had left me starving. Even as we loaded some carbs – rice and potatoes, A2 is busy on the phone, patiently giving directions to a runner on how to get to MG Road to Cubbon Park! The guy got it somewhat, on the third attempt and then he went through it all over again. Well, not everyone is gifted…
Over dinner Bops was still double-checking all the minute details with the rest of his team. A2 and I finished off dinner with boiled sweet potato that my mom had lovingly packed for me.

22:30 As I headed out to my own room at a nearby lodge, Bopanna was giving a final thumbs-up to the lunch menu for the following day. The rest of the team was to wake up at 4am so that they could be at the run site by 5.
These guys had started running at the Kauvery Marathon long before the whistle was blown. Fabulous job RFL!

18th Nov, Sunday – Race Day!
When you don’t pay attention to the details, the Kauvery Trail Marathon can very easily turn into a disastrous Kauvery Trial Marathon, as it did for me. Read on…

06:45 I ride the 1km from my lodge to the run site. The first bus carrying the full marathoners is already at the start. The air was crisp, the sun was up and mist rose from the surface of Kauvery – it was a dream start. The second bus arrived a little later even as we joked, chatted and strategized.

It was an important race for me, my third full marathon, and the first one that I had religiously trained for. I had set out not only wanting to finish but impress, should have known better to keep vain pride zipped up at the baggage counter.

07:30 Even as I dodged past the crowd at the start, the sweet smell of sugarcane fields filled up my lungs. I was raring. I was anxious about my knee bruise. Yes, in what could have ruined my race altogether, I had skidded off my bullet at Marathalli trying to avoid a speeding cyclist just 3 days before the race. The bruise on my knee was just beginning to get the shade of pink. I was lucky to be running this one. But it felt great that morning and never once thought about it again. I would have greater problems to worry about.

08:20 I crossed the first U-turn, 10kms in 50mins!! I was way too fast than what I had planned to do. The idea was to run at 6min kilometers for as long as I could, I was doing 5min kms at that point. I would have to slow down. I threw quick answers to puzzled farmers who wanted to know what it was all about.

09:20 I reached the end of first lap in 1:49hours, my best for a half marathon. The group of half-marathoners, yet to start their own race, were all applause. I refused electral at the water station and asked for plain water to consume with a powerbar Gel that I was carrying. I was making my first mistakes, the lack of electrolyte intake would eventually become the nemeses of my race in the last 10kms.

10:00 I crossed the 26km mark in 2.5hours. I was now doing exactly 6mins per km, timing every marking that I passed. I was pleased with the effort so far and looked forward to a 4:15 hours finish. I passed the 9.5km water station (30km) in under 3hours.

10:30 There was a slight nagging cramp developing in the right calf muscle. I crossed the U-turn a second time, happy that I will not have to do it again. The front runners from the half-marathon, Hari and Pradeep passed me here and egged me on. I thought of stretching a bit to ease the cramp, as I raised the calf, I cramped so badly, I landed palm first on to the ground and screamed in pain. I had forgotten my bruised palm and it had its way of grabbing attention. From there on, it was struggle.

I passed some infectious motivation to A1, “Pain is temporary; Quitting is permanent” as we crossed. Was I telling this to myself or to A1?

12:17 The finish. The next couple of hours were the longest hours I have ever run and the worst. As I passed the ruins of the temple on the trail, the whole pack of 10km runners came into view. This was really the fun crowd - runners in bright colors, flashy caps, in ecstatic, boisterous mood. Should have been in a better shape when those pretty little things passed by ;)
In the next 4kms, my inflated ego took the beating, even as some stronger legs continued to pass by. This is the toughest part of a marathon, the mind gives up and there is a strong negative emotion. This time, the reserves came in the form of Jani and Raj, who were running the 10km. The walking and chatting helped shift the pain from the cramped calf, but it is vain pride that weighs you down heaviest in those final kilometers.

In his book, “Every Second Counts”, Lance Armstrong says “The experience of suffering is like the experience of exploring, of finding something unexpected and revelatory. When you find the outermost thresholds of pain, or fear, or uncertainty, what you experience afterward is an expansive feeling, a widening of capabilities.” True, I agree, but hey, I would rather do that “revelatory exploration” alone, it hurts real bad in the head when you are lying down, squirming in pain and yet trying to put on a placid face.

Thanks to Jani and Raj who stuck on with the cramping me till the very end… thanks so much.
And as if to complete the task of destroying my vanity, with the finish line in sight, Navin who passed me gave a congratulatory pat on my posterior and how difficult it was to take it, I had to limp to stifle the cramp. The natural Kauvery canal Jacuzzi at the finish helped massage sore joints and reinvigorated me for the rest of the afternoon.

I registered a finish in 4:47hours easily surpassing my personal best of 5:35 in last year’s Bangalore Marathon.
The winner was clearly the team at Runners For Life - over 3000 man-kms were covered in all by the 140runners, a fabulous performance in tiring conditions!!!

The Postmortem:
It took less than 2hours for the calf muscles to ease that cramp and 3-4 days for my bruised ego to recover somewhat. Suggestions and analyses flowed thick and fast over lunch at Fort view and on the mailer group for a few days after. I did my own reading too (more here) and reaffirmed that it was the lack of salt / electrolyte intake to blame for the faux pas. See, it wasn’t me!

Slowing down is probably good, it does help you to pick up some friends for the longer race of life.
(Applause Applause… come on, that’s mine… no plagiarism on that one, honest...)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Kauvery Trail Marathon - A Prelude

All those weeks of determined and persistent efforts, of chasing wild dreams of pace, distance, time-on-feet and of coffee and icecreams, are going to reach a crescendo during the coming weekend at the Kauvery Trail Marathon on 18th Nov. Watch this space!!

Madhu Avasarala, the Ultra marathoner had this to say about the wonderful trail.

"On Saturday October 13 2006 I did a 36K run in company of Juggy, Nischal,
and Satsang. The trail head starts just outside the gate of the Rangan
Thittu bird sanctuary which is near the town of Srirangapatna, just before
you hit Mysore on the Mysore Highway travelling from Bangalore.
This is one of the nicest places to run. The trail is hard packed dirt and
one is actually running on the levy of the canal.
The scene is quintessentially Indian, Indian of my childhood days of dreamy
stretches of space filled with river canals, vast stretches of bright green
cultivated fields, oxen resting in the shade of a tree, native village boys
jumping from the bridge into the canal, a lone white egret quietly sailing
into the horizon, vast trees sighing in the breeze with their branches
drooping lazily into the water, sunlit eddies swirling in myriad colors, the
flowing mellifluous waters of the Kaveri canal dreamily humming the 2nd
movement of Beethoven's pastoral symphony, the intense quiet midday heat,
the garrulous buzzing of an annoying insect, sounds of rice fields rusting
as they sway in the breeze...
When at the end of the canal you suddenly come onto the full view of the
Kaveri flowing, it's a marvelous picture. You can hear the river before you
can see it. It is a treat to cross it and dip your hot legs into the
delicious cold stream.
That evening while resting after the arduous run and even into the night I
couldn't get this rythm out of my head. The quiet gentle Kaveri keeps
flowing on... "

Can't wait to be there again!!

Monday, November 05, 2007

‘Eid’ioctic Half Moon Run

‘Eid’ioctic Half Moon Run
Oct 14th 2007
Off Mysore Road, behind Hejjala Village

The BH3 Run No. 451 was the laziest but a very enjoyable run. To start with, it was set in the beginning of the festival season, a 20-20 match between the world champions J and the Aussies, reason enuf to keep you glued to the idiot box. The attendance was low – there were 27 of us at the start and probably none who wanted to run!!
Picture this –it’s a pleasant Sunday afternoon, you are basking in the shade of a huge tree on a hillock overlooking a lake, and there’s beer and snacks. Well, for most people this is perfect setting for a picnic. But we are the Hash – the drinking club with a running problem. So, when the GM pumps the horn, we are all on our feet (albeit grudgingly!!) for the run.

And thanks to sum anjaani josh, there was an extra spring in my feet (I don’t have a reputation for being a Ghalib, excuse the hindi plz). I took every false trail that went into fields and shrubbery. The run must have been a sub 10km one and Pradeep and I finished FRBs (Front Running Bastards). And even as we finished at the lake, the sun going down, the Ed Ka Chaand came out from behind the tress on the horizon. It was a fantastic sight to savor as we downed some draught beer and samosas.

And, hey, it is official now and there’s research now that backs me – the malted bitter drink (read beer) after a workout is better than water. Conserve Water!! Read here.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Head West, Head East

1300kms, 40lts of petrol, 1 breakdown, 27 highway hours, 29Sep-02Oct’07

It’s one of those rare phases in life now - a very pendulous phase, with contrasting emotions that are hard to explain. A depressing morning lending itself into a refreshing lunch break, the dangling blue ear-ring erasing the etch of static cubicles and walls, the locked battle of the convict and the romantic. While outwardly, nothing has changed at all; I am still the IIM grad, employed in a MNC, still single and happy, internally, I have been traveling miles and miles of agonizing turmoil putting each of these superficial statuses to risk, every single day.

The idea of a matching physical torture probably brought in an iota of sadistic pleasure to my melancholic mind. And I was tricked into ‘looking forward’ to a weekend of long rides, long run and friends.

Either I could head west, travel 270kms to Madikeri, to the RTMC 6A party, or head east to Pondicherry, travel 330kms to meet the gang. The pendulum of indecision put its ugly head up again, I was unable to decide which of the two to let go. Unlike life, though, riding on a bullet provides at least some answers - the answer was simple, ride west, then east. Maybe all answers are indeed simple, my optimist-self reassures me that, there would be a su-someone who would add the rang (color) to my meandering existence. (Are you listening??)

T h a t was the mood as the weekend began to roll…

RTMC 6A at Madikeri

The Anniversary rides are the biggest and promising events of RTMC, the Bangalore Bullet Club. It seemed like yesterday when we partied all night long at Yercaud for the 5A. There were some 40 bullets that lit up the roads as we left Town Hall at 640am. The high point was the participation of Mr. Bose, the grand old man of Bullet racing, even after 50years of riding, there is a sparkle in his eyes when he talks about his Bullets. There were quite a few from the Madras Bulls (MadBulls) who had already traveled 300kms to join us. The regrouping points were at Kamat Lokaruchi and at Srirangapatana, they had to be long to accommodate all varieties of riders and Bullets. There were patchy stretches of bad roads near Periyapatana. We took the deviation to Siddapura.

Its always such a pleasure riding in Madikeri, the roads are narrow and winding, foliage thick, the routes green and the climate cool. And despite all this, my thoughts kept swinging back to the workplace mischief, bringing a boyish grin inside the visor. And somewhere on the highway before Hunsur, my Bullet passed yet another milestone - 30000kms on the odometer, yoo-hoo!!

The RTMC party was at Capitol Village about 3kms from Madikeri on the Madikeri-Siddapura road. The place has a rustic feel to it, with a small lake, tiled cottages, corgi-styled balconies and decent view of the fields. For want of space, a few of us were booked at Crystal house, a hotel at Madikeri. There were 100 bullets which made way to the party.

My Party in the wild

Long before the party was set to start late evening, the preparation had begun – liquids of all colors being concocted into the cocktail, grass being rolled to give the various degrees of high.
I had my own plans to get there – my dope of endorphins was waiting for release; all I needed was my pair of running shoes to inject the pain.

I ran down from the room to Capitol Village and looked conspicuously out-of-place at the party in my shorts and dry-fit tee. But the short 3km run had already gotten me hooked, I wanted to do more. I borrowed Shakti’s torch and even as the blaring music began to play to the head-bangers, I started to pound the roads.

As I left the party behind, at 915 in the night, the mist and eerie darkness welcomed me to my first night run. And what a run it was, the ghostly silhouette of the tress, backlit by the grey skies and mist, the firefly trail decorating the dark shrubbery, the cool air swelling up my lungs, the crickets chirping incessantly at the unusual visitor.
I had only planned to set out to my hotel to change and get back to the party. But by the time I reached Madikeri, I was deeply engrossed in my thoughts. I turned back to face the hazy and obscure road, praying and begging for some clarity, some light to pierce this mist, some answers to the questions that haunt me.

And like pure magic, in the middle of all this, the naughty smile kept coming back, briefly translocating me to my office cafeteria. A sharp loud (in that silence, even the pitter patter of my shoes could be called loud) barking of two dogs, snapped me back, sending a chill down my spine and the barking grew louder and nearer. It started to rain on the second lap, and I tempted to abort my run and head back to the resort at the end of this loop. As I neared the resort, my ears picked up faint rock music in the distance; my party was not over yet. I turned back to the road, I needed all of those endorphins, pain is what I have to get used to after all. Is that the answer, well, maybe not, but hey it always helps to experience the possible worst-case. From there, it can only get better.

And better it did get, literally. When I got back to Capitol at 1045, the beverages were flowing, the dancing souls were subdued and I attacked the food and desserts with delight. That is one run I will not forget in a hurry.

Madikeri to Pondicherry

Sunday turned out to be a full day of riding, nearly 14hours from start to finish. I started from Madikeri at 7am with Sumanth. The route from Siddapura was so good, I was tempted to try to shoot the stretch of the ride on my Nikon S10. I managed a bit, check it here, any guesses how I managed this stunt?
Breakfast happened at Maddur Tiffany’s and all was going well as hit Bangalore well before noon. I pulled over at R1 Plaza just outside Hosur at 1pm for lunch. With just under 300kms to go, 6pm at Pondi seemed very possible and I extended the lunch break to 2pm. But just as I started from there, as I was settling into a cruising mode on the fantastic highway to Krishnagiri, the speedometer started to behave erratic like the Indian cricket team and the Bullet came to stop. It was a definite problem with the electricals and I tried a bit of troubleshooting for the next 30mins. When nothing happened, I pushed the Bullet a good half a km or so to a mechanic. A loose connection in the coil in the clutch case was the culprit. It was 4pm when I rejoined the highway again. I decided to ride non-stop for the next couple of hours to make the max of the daylight. And when twilight faded, I still had to cover 95kms from Thiruvanamalai to Pondi. Braving high beams, flies and fatigue I reached Pondi at 8:30, it still took me another half hour to get to Le Club, where Raghu, Raaji, Ada, Tima and Shamji were chilling out.

Forth is deceptive. There is this one kind of it, when served chill in a mug is supposed to refresh (I personally think it is the world’s biggest hoax, let’s discuss this over a beer sometime). Ok, the other forth – bubbly and unconstrained, until it comes in splashing all over your face. Yuck, salt it is. We sat on the rocks on the beach at 12 in the night soaking ourselves, trying to stare the waves in the eye (yeah, what!!). But it’s amazing how when you are pals, any froth – salty or bitter tastes so sweet, no.

Aurovil Ashram

The place is fantastic, independent cottages built to give it a rustic feel that makes you feel at home, instantly. It’s a great place to stay if you are planning an extended holiday at Pondi. So much silence and peace of mind at that kind of price is a steal.
The real holiday started on Monday, the real holiday is when you don’t do nothing. You should read about our other real holiday here. We undid some millions of years of evolution, re-evolve or something (I think it is called revolution, I know that word from somewhere) when turned hunters and liars again (Charles Darwin would never tell you they were liars, it would have created a revolution, I think). We played bluff for as long as I can remember and then went hunting for food to the Aurovil village. It was some Seethusamudram strike in TN and Aurovil is in TN and not Pondi (not a bluff that one) and we literally had to hunt around for grub. For dinner we had to get back to basics – fruits, bread, jam and omelets minus oil. I don’t know, we started off making half boiled which became omelet and then started off making omelet which became scrambled eggs. At 230 in the morning, no one complained. It was a difficult night as we discussed issues close to my heart (wink). Words, laughter, advice, serious debate, thoughts, spirit and bluff filled all the space between us friends. Friends… what can I say, you guys are great!!

My Bullet needed a little attention in the morning, some welding and a visit to the mechanic for some peripheral work and it was back to being great.

Road Humps Ahead!!

I like this road sign the best and always look out for the humping when I pass it!! But in this case, the road hump was inside the Ashram, sans the sign. Well, the ashram is a place for solace and silence not for some cheap rallying thrills, he he. All that makes sense till you break the rule once. In the night, when Adarsh and I were getting back on the Bullet, we tried a bit of wheeling… we nearly had orgasmic pleasure (eeikes) taking the bullet off the road over a couple of steep declines in the road within the ashram. We came back to do some more in the morning, its so much fun to do it in the morning (lol).

We slept through the spectacular sunrise at the beach but woke up in time to leave the ashram by noon. We had brunch at Pondi and hit the highway by 1230 or so. Shamji took up the pillion seat for the first 50 odd kms, from then on Adarsh and I rode together, enjoying some good music, decent roads and pleasant riding conditions. I stopped a number of times en route and shot some high energy videos of some kids in the villages in an attempt to make a short congratulatory video for a friend.

The road trip has probably not done anything to make the blue earring any less elusive, but the smile that it will bring to my lips would surely have broadened by some unforgettable memories from there.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Pearl Valley

What it is: Water Falls!!
How far is it: It is some 50-55kms from Hebbal Flyover
How to get there: Ride down on Bannerghatta Road, take left at Bannerghatta towards Anekal. Take a right into Jigani Industrial Estate along the ring road. Look out for a BP petrol station on the right. Take right and follow signboards to Muthyaala Muduvu.
Roads: 4 lane road upto Bannerghatta without dividers. The stretch from there on is lined up with trees and makes a fantastic ride. Good roads throughout.

Pearl Valley can be anything between Pearl and Peril depending on your mode of transport. On Saturday, 8th Sep, as Kavita, Ananth and I set off on our bikes, it was closer to the latter.
We started from Hotel Chalukya at 0532 hours (I measured time, you can see how accurate I was!). Kavita showed great grit, she had never cycled more than 20kms at one go. She joined us till a little after Bannerghatta, trudging along the uphills, but doing very well overall, a laudable effort, indeed.

Ananth and I then took off from there at a good speed, but somehow, the destination was always that 10-15kms away. Ananth was supposed be the distance and route guide, who quite nonchalantly approximated the 55kms to 35km. Well mate, it wouldn’t have mattered much if we were measuring distance to the moon or Britney Spears’ waist or something. (click here for some Britney jokes!!)
I guess it was showing in our faces as well. Coz at one point when we asked for directions, the guy actually added that it was downhill all the way!

We reached Muthyaala Muduvu or Pearl Valley at 0940. There are a couple of restaurants where you can park (we parked inside one of them!) and walk down some steps to the “falls”. If Pearl is to stand for ‘economy’, the name of Pearl Valley is very apt. It was quite a miracle how the falls had managed to stay that way despite the flooding all-around in nearby Bangalore. It took us some 2mins to get to the falls and like 20mins to laugh out all those water-falls-PJs we cracked.

We left there at 10 and got back on some better roads to Bannerghatta in an hour’s time. I had some nagging problem with the mid-gears, one chain getting stuck incident. We got back to IIMB by 1130 and home by 1230.
But tell me, why cycle 110kms all the way, while you can marvel at the swirling lakes at Silk Board flyover and every other road in Bangalore? Beats me!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Hills Trilogy - Last leg - Yelagiri Hills

Aug 18th - 19th
Wrapping up that one helluva week of Bulleting, biking and running was the Hash outstation run at Yelagiri.

Yelagiri is a hill station about 170kms from Bangalore. The place is a RTMC favorite for the delicious Biryani at the town in the foot of the hill, Vaniyumbadi. The Bangalore Hash once every year runs at locations outside Bangalore. With good highway from Bangalore, Yelagiri’s got those ingredients for a good weekend trip. The hill kinda rises abruptly in an otherwise flat landscape. The ride off the highway to the foot of the hill offers a daunting view of the hill, all with the zig-zagging ghat road that leads to the top.

There was one lal dabba, KSRTC van that was arranged to transport a majority of the 40 odd Hashers. I decided to ride down instead wanting to replace my earlier tragic memories of the ride to Yelagiri (Read the story). We stopped for breakfast buffet at Hotel Shivaranjini, near Titan at Hosur and from then on all the way to the top.

Chalk De, Yelagiri!!
Abnash (pervert producer), Sunil (not yet) and I were to Hare (mark the trail with chalk for the others to find/lose) this run. Ha, which also means you get some free Beer at the end of run at the circle. So, soon after reaching the Hotel Hills at Yelagiri where we were booked, we headed off towards the general direction of the lake and the hills, with bags-full of chalk. The next 3 hours went into throwing chalk around lake (the typical “couples in a pedal boat” lake), fields, village roads (no bio-terrorism threat here!) and the Nilgiri forest area. The Hash finished off its quota of Corporate Social Responsibility when the hares cleared off the undergrowth in the forest with Abnash’s gardening cutter!

The forest full of Eucalyptus tress and as silent as the Bacchan family on the all new Jr. (or maybe I should use it as a simile for fast, as in as fast as Abishek or something) Well, anyways, the point is, it was as forest as a forest can be. The trail was fantastic, going around the lake, into the fields and then into the forest area leading into a view point offering the panoramic view of the landscape and then the circle around a mini-pond.

Got back from the run to a few rounds of Table Tennis (how can I ever say no to that one), some malt beverage fermented with sugar and yeast, desserts and dance.

Steep Sunday
About 10-15 of us had made plans to run down and up Yelagiri hills in the morning. My fatigued legs managed about 20kms in all in not so good time, climbing up the last 12kms.
The recovery run was a very very short one, the partying had vanquished the Hashers’ running problem to an extent. There was little you could do, esp after the sumptuous breakfast. There was some fresh pomegranate juice that was simply out of the world.

I left there at noon, the Indian flag and the military cargo n all and was back home early evening with just the one tea stop at Hosur.
Pheww, what a week I say!!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Warming Up to fight Global Warming

Just when you begin to brag of your fitness levels, you read something like this. Well, then you don’t believe everything that get reported in the papers these days!! My gut says the Blue Boys won the World Cup, the Sensex is at 20K and well, Aish is single. This had to be one of those fill-the-page-3 items. I quickly dismissed it as someone’s figment of imagination and got back to ostentatiously flaunting my fitness. The 34kms in 3:10hrs I did with RFL last Sunday, back up there.

Then my sister called up and put me on to this guy, Samim who spoke enthusiastically about the run from Bangalore to Mumbai, 1100km in 22days and then cycle back in 6days. He talked more about the sponsors, the running-around to get it organized and the cause - creating awareness about Global Warming, full josh and all.

I know what you are thinking, those were egg-jactly my thoughts too… my sister had pulled a fast one on me. But Samim hadn’t finished yet; he said I should join him and his cycling mate, Vibhor at MG Road on their practice the next day.

So I land up that Wed morning in front of Coffee Day, MG Road with my road bike to check these supermen for myself. Superman is what Samim is, coz the guy is a former National No.3, has among many others biked Bangalore to Mysore in 3hours!! (hey, stop comparing that to my Bullet timings now, man Vs machine is no contest). Vibhor, half as old as Samim is a new injection of good cycling skills and passion to the team.

As I joined them pedaling loops up and down MG Road, Samim talked about his grandiose plans for improving the cycling scene in the city, all the way up to building a team for races like the Tour de France. Well, there are going to be whole lot of hurdles to deal with, but he believes it is far better now than it ever was. He said he was checking me out for the races too… (Don’t laugh, that was not a joke!!) The guy is blood and flesh alrite, but too dreamy to be human, I knew something was not right here.

The Run from Bangalore to Mumbai
The run is being flagged off on 8th September. Here’s wishing Samim, Vibhor and his team an injury free expedition. Hoping to see all those plans becoming a reality soon.
While you put your hands together for him, watch this space for more on this trip, with that dash of humor(?) as usual…

Samim Rizvi Begins his Run to save the environment
06 Sep UPDATE:
Samim Rizvi is starting out on the marathon run from Bangalore to Mumbai tomorrow morning at 10AM from Vidhana Soudha. Check out the link to GreenPeace on the sidebar for information on Global warming!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Hills Trilogy - Part II - Chamundi Hills

Cauvery Calling
It is a feeling that you kinda get addicted to - the good-pain in your hamstrings, calves and quads and it lasts for a couple of days. Last week I had just enough time to restore harmony with my Quads, ankles and lower back after the Nandi Hill ride.

The gear I packed on Tuesday was a rather unusual mix of leather jacket to dry fit apparel, ankle boots to new shooz, spare tube to Polar HRM. For, what I had in mind was a ride to Srirangapatana, run, ride to Mysore and run up the Chamundi Hills the next morning.

It is the season of patriotism, of ChakDe India, of a test victory over the British, of a strengthening rupee. I bought myself a Tricolor to celebrate the spirit of Independence. For the first time, I stitched the Saffron, white and green stripes to size, biting my tongue at those anxious moments when the crucial stitch had to come right while pedaling the Merit sewing machine delicately. After an hour’s battle the Flag adorned the rear view mirror of the Bullet quite smartly, my Laksh was achieved!!

The Forrest of RFL, Dr. Rajat came up with this idea of running up the Chamundi Hills on 15th Aug. Sunil and Jugy added the Hash angle to it, by planning a run near Srirangapatana on 14th, stay over at Mysore and then scale up the hill in the morning. And the plan came with the hash promise of serene landscape along the Cauvery river.

Just before the Rangantittu bird sanctuary there is a kachha road that runs along a Cauvery canal. As Sunil & I took this route to chalk the trail, the landscape opened up to some wonderful imagery of paddy and sugarcane fields along the canal. About 5-6kms on this route and then we took a road to an Ashram and a village. Beyond the village, was the river flowing close to its brink, thanks to the good monsoons this year.

By 4 in the evening the critical mass had gathered for the run – Sunil2, Dave, Mike, Leona, Uttam, Sindoor had joined us. Later Abnash and family and Nischal caught up with us. The run was fantastic, about 7.5kms of bliss. We chilled out at the river for sometime, soaking the sore feet in the cold waters and headed back before sundown. Dave shot some excellent pictures of my bullet on his Canon SLR, see if I can get my hands on those. I wish I could put up some of the pristine country air for you to sample or better still save some for myself.

I was booked at Dasaprakash at Mysore for the night. We treated ourselves to a finger-licking buffet and Beer at The Metropole.
The RFL team from Bangalore joined us during the night – Doc, Bhasker, Satsang, et al. At 6am we were about 18 of us running up the Chamundi Hills.

Chamundi Hills

The Chamundi hills 3490ft high aberration in the center of the city of Mysore, boasts of rich historical significance and the famous Chamundi temple.

The uphill climb is 6km around the winding road to the top. Most of us managed a good timing of 39-42mins on the first lap (yes, we ran it up twice!!) and 22mins on the downhill. It was the second lap that was the push. I did an additional 3kms when I accompanied Nischal on her second lap. I still have the can’t-say-no-to-beautiful-girls disorder. Bhasker kept us company as well on the way down sharing his marathon experiences.

Breakfast served after a 27km run will generally taste good anyways, only Sandesh Prince made sure they didn’t screw up. They have a breakfast buffet which is value for money really… I am not sure, thou, that they continue to offer that after the RFL Raid on Independence Day!!
I was spared the traffic on the ride back to Bangalore and made it non-stop in 2hours 15mins.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Hills Trilogy - Part I - Nandi Hills

Nandi Hills

As a boy I always fancied looking down, perched on the petrol tank of my dad’s Jawa and watch the road blur under me. I am growing up to be that boy again!
For a brief moment, it took me away from the sore lower back, the headwind and the afternoon sun; I was translocated. Every shiny dot on the tarmac stretched to form a line, joining the hundreds moving under me. As I bend down to dwell upon my shadow, the knees incessantly move in tandem, the white lines on tarmac paused and went… the hot, dry air made way into and out of the bellows. I craned my neck briefly to sample the uphill left to climb and the childhood fantasy was snapped.

Last Saturday, 11th Aug, Ananth and I cycled up to Nandi Hills and back.

5:20AM Hebbal Flyover - the start
7:00AM First Break just off the Highway, after about 35kms
7:38AM Stop at the ruins just as we begin the ascent
8:15AM Stop at the 4km mark
8:27AM 5.5km mark, disembark from the saddle.
9:00AM Reached the top, park and scout for tea!!
(45kms+8kms uphill in 3hours 40mins)

The onward ride was not as difficult; we rode up 5.5 kms uphill as well, before we got off the saddle. The temperature dropped quite a bit as we approached the top, 4850ft high. At 8:30AM, we were literally walking on the clouds. The roads were wet and the sun was waging a condensation battle with the fog and the cloud. One of my favorites is that moment as the sun clears up the hazy obscurity.

Nandi hills is ‘the’ favorite among the coo chi-cooing couples and dare devil bikers. The 90acre area attracts more than a 1000 motorists on any given weekend and could turn into a disaster if you think you were leaving the crowds behind in Bangalore. It is highly recommended to leave Bangalore early to catch the sunrise and then head back.

We stayed on top for about 30mins or so, searching for a tea kadai and filling up our water reserves. My chocolate bars and biscuits came to the rescue of the empty stomachs. What muscles are worked while you ride downhill?? The Forearm! I had to work hard with the brakes to keep myself from falling off, new brake shoes really help.

I love it when you can exchange ta-tas from kids on my bullet rides. When you are on a cycle, you can also hear them scream and they can see you grin. At one stretch near Devanahalli we were welcomed by drum beats by a school band practicing for the upcoming 60th Independence Day celebration. The Blow of the trumpet grew louder as we passed. I was wondering what independence we were celebrating if kids had to rehearse for the march on Service roads in blazing sun.

And then there were children near the hills who were collecting Ganesha Festival Funds!! Their WMD was a length of rope tied around two trees on either side of the road. After our break near Chikkajala junction around 1130, a motorcycle slowed down to my pace and the pillion shook hands with me. The guy was himself a long distance biker and was happy to see like-minded insanity on the highway.

Ananth is a fellow Hasher and rides a Firefox. His pace was perfect for me, chatting when I was bored and egging me on when I needed it. The fact that we took only 3stops on the onward journey was largely because of his girt. Thanks mate!

The last stop was after Jakkur for tender coconuts, it was 1230 and I had one last uphill to climb before the flat home stretch. I reached home at 1pm in time for a warm bath and delicious Pulav… thanks mom!!

I was happy to finish the 110kms in good shape in stark contrast to the previous Nandi Hills ride. It did get Ananth and I accustomed to the crosswinds to expect on the longer Pondi ride…

Checklist for long rides:
Check for appropriate tire pressure, pedals in order, good brake shoes.
Carry plenty of water, glucose, biscuits, chocolate bars.
Carry a tool kit, puncture kit, spare pedals.
Stow these on a carrier, securely fastened with bungee cords, keeping the shoulders free.
Rub Vaseline on crotch, underarm to help reduce friction.
Use sun block, sun glasses, cap/helmet to keep the sun out.

The fotos are here.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Wear that Rubber

(‘Wear’ as in) intransitive and transitive verb damage by using or rubbing: to damage or alter something by using or rubbing it, or be damaged or altered in this way
(NOT as in) transitive verb use to cover or adorn body: to have something on all or part of the body as clothing, protection(!), or for another purpose, for example, to aid sight or hearing, either temporarily or habitually

If you are biker, you are already thinking about that rear tire now. The lesser mortals may choose from the host of other libidinous interpretations.
What is common, of course, is that you realize you forgot the rubber only when you had that slip.

With the water levels rising faster than the vegetable prices in Bangalore, it was time for some reprioritization. In my case, it really took a slip (skid?) to wake me up to the seriousness of the issue, especially with the cultivated habit of leaning into the every turn testing that fine angle out.

At this point allow me to digress slightly to introduce my gory bruise. A perfunctory right turn, no tire thread to hold, the skid… the right knee opens out to brace the fall. It occupies the right knee, (the good knee!!) about three weeks old now and the pigments are growing to give it that “polka brown over flesh-pink background”. It’s fascinating to watch a part of you grow back in quite that spectacular fashion. (Save those expletives for the comments section please, thank you)

It turned out to be a strangely symbiotic when I cycled home with the MRF for the Bullet and later rode home with the cycle tire on the Bullet.
The buying decision was not difficult for both tires. MRF apparently is the only one that makes good grip 19x3.5 tires for the Bullet. There is a slightly wider gripping Meteor, which has lesser availability, costlier and not a perfect match. Ahuja Continental is the OEM for Hero Cycles and the non-local tire available for the Hero Hawk’s 27x1.25 tire.

For all the technicals that go into tires, click here.
The MRF NyloGrip (rs. 800), Continental tire (rs. 80), cycle tube (rs. 40), brake shoe rubbers (rs. 20) completed my very rubbery shopping list for the weekend.

And jokes apart, Go on Wear that Rubber ;)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Savandurga, The fort of Death

Wikipedia says Robert Home in his Select views from Mysore referred this hill as Savinadurga, or the Fort of Death. On Saturday, 23rd July, some 15 Runners for Life conquered this Fort of Death. (I knew I have the talent for theatre)

Savandurga is the largest monolith hill around Bangalore (one of the largest in the world!!), standing some 400mts tall, offering a fantastic view of Arkavathi river flowing into Manchinbele reservoir (more here).

From Bangalore you could either take Magadi road, and turn left at the Savandurga Billboard, some 5kms before Magadi or take Mysore road to Ramanagara and turn right to get on Magadi road to the Billboard. Magadi road is getting its fresh layer of asphalt and about 80% done, the curvaceous route is a pleasurable 60km ride to Savandurga. The Mysore road is about 20kms longer, and much more of the get-away-from-the-city traffic on weekends.

Ride and Run:
It was a simply irresistible combination that Madhu Avasarala (check this) stirred up - a 60km ride on a monsoon morning and a power walk up and down the monolith.
I took the Magadi road and reached the base at 7, we started the climb at 7:45. The way uphill is well marked, an in some steep inclines, with foot holds. It is a good 4km climb up from behind the hill. The steepest part of the climb is the first half reaching up first to some fort walls, and then to a small rain water pool. As I huffed and puffed up to this spot, I caught up with Nitin and his friend, Navendu who is a regular on this hill!! Biscuits and water went around at the top even as we took in most of the panoramic view.

Down and Up again:
The second lap was the real push and I had to make an effort to be slow to save my knees on the downhill. It was such a delight to see Madhu’s son, Sanjay make it up to the peak, twice and Noel’s 7yr old daughter do her bit of rock climbing with daddy.
We came down to some delicious Daliya upma, made of half wheat and lots of vegetables. I did about 5 rounds of that beating all the others, phew, exhausting, I say.

Leona did great work with the camera as well. For all the fotos follow here… courtesy Leona.

At Rs. 150 for fuel, Rs. 4.50 for Parle G biscuits and Rs. 2 for Bananas, it sure felt like one of those treks from my engineering days.

And Coming up in August…
Biking trip to Pondicherry and Hash out at Yelagiri…

Friday, June 29, 2007

New Shooz

Shoe buying exercise was once upon a time a no-brainer.
Walk into an Adidas/Reebok/Nike factory outlet when a sale is on.
Scan the shoes displayed from a 5ft distance, looking for the best looking.
Pick it up and check the price tag.
Do the math, tag price – tag price * .xx (where xx is the discount offered)
If discounted price < Budgeted price, add to consideration set.
Repeat across shoes/stores.
Buy highest(appeal), lowest(price)

This time around I was more informed, partly because of this shoe selection section in Doc’s websiteThe biggest Adidas store in Asia is apparently in Bangalore next to Safina Plaza. . Apart from the usual assortment of shoes and skimpy women wear (they do have a whole floor full of that btw), the store has a Footscan pad. The footscan uses UV rays to measure the impact, transfer of pressure,etc as one runs over it; very useful to measure for any foot pronation (see foto above). This scan is not for everyone; ask for it if you are in there.

After running around the store in different shoes, with the security watching me closely (wonder how they figured I run long distances), I settled for the adiSTAR Cushion 5.

I got a good 40p.c off on the price tag of 6600 rupees (nothing costs much in dollars these days, don’t even bother converting).

Just incase you didn’t follow the hyperlink, here’s all the gibberish that has gone into the shoe (well yes, into both of them).

adiSTAR. These products are designed, developed, and tested with race day performance in mind. They always proudly bear the 3-Stripe logo.

CUSHION More protection from repeated impact
Whether you run 20 minutes or 20 kilometers per day, you have certain biomechanical needs for each single step. If you have a stable footplant your need is simply protection from shock. The shoes in the Cushion segment are designed for this.
Key Benefits
> Shock absorption reduces peak impact
> Enhanced comfort for every stride
> Smooth heel-to-toe transition

GeoFiT An internal footwear technology that enhances fit and comfort by placing padding in anatomically correct areas.

Torsion System Lightweight arch support that allows the forefoot and rearfoot to move independently for better surface adaptation and stability.

adiPRENE® is a highly shock absorbent material that cushions and protects your heel at impact.

adiPRENE® (+) Resilient cushioning used to protect the forefoot and provide a responsive, dynamic toe-off.

quickstrike Outsole cleats have been injected onto a thin base for flexibility, weight reduction and durability.

adiWEAR An extremely durable, non-marking rubber used for shoe outsoles and in other high-abrasion areas.
seamfree By molding, rather than stitching the upper together, seams are eliminated, which makes for a lighter, more comfortable shoe. An absence of seams gives shoes a more natural feeling fit while also eliminating the chances of getting blisters and irritations.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The where-do-we-run Hash Run No. 443

Date: 24 Jun 07

Read all of Shreyas account of his first Hash run here, he really has upped the standards for my posts now!!

Wonderful run and an equally good narrative, must have been one of his best moods, dont miss it!!


Friday, June 15, 2007

Bangalore HASH Run No. 442 – The Trespassers Run

Sunday, 10th June.
My last run with the Bangalore HASH was the run 412, I missed 30runs!!
With the shoe clinic by Doc (Dr. Rajat Chauhan) in the morning and the clash of the titans at Roland Garros inviting me to the idiot box, it was quite an effort to get my bum on the saddle.
Our Native Village: The run was at this place called ‘Our Native Village’, arguably India’s only eco friendly resort. Set in the middle of fields near Hessarghatta, there is evidence that it probably is. I was told that the electricity was generated by solar panels, Gobhar gas and a chotu windmill and a natural swimming pool which uses aquatic plants for water purification. The place is run by a very enthusiastic CB (Sibi) who is himself a passionate runner.
There are two routes to the place. You have to take a right turn at the Hessarghatta cross on Tumkur road and drive up to Hessarghatta. The other one passes through Jalahalli Air Force Station and lot of villages on a very winding route to Hessarghatta. You need to take a right turn at Hessarghatta on the route to Taj Kuteeram. About half a km before the final right turn to Kuteeram, take right into a dirt road. Continue on this “Road to the Sky” for 1.5kms, take right at the T-junction and follow the road to the windmill and the ONV resort.
Road to the Sky: While the entire ride was good, I can’t forget the last leg. As you get into the dirt road, the shrubs have given way to the grasslands. The grass was lush green with remnants of a downpour in some places. A gradual incline to the road created an illusion that the road actually went nowhere. The green of the grass only met the blue of the clear sky all along the panoramic horizon, except where the road went. As I rode into the sky, savoring every bit, the view panned out revealing a single row of trees, drawing a boundary to the splendid view. The road ended at those trees.
The run itself was fantastic, with over 40 hashers including some very beautiful ladies. There were loads of false trails, a few long ones, I took at least 6 of them. Like always, there were lots of unbelievable imagery of the Hessarghatta countryside. The only sore point was the heat, far hotter than usual. A couple of forerunners confirmed a distance of about 16kms. The virgins (3 batches of them) got iced, a adieu to French fingers, the Abnash’s new shoes ceremony and three generation hashers on ice, were the highlights at the circle.
This one, coming a week after the KFD, Hennur road run has really put my running back on track.
The photographs are courtesy Abnash. For the entire lot check his photoset here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Bangalore Midnight Marathon

The Bangalore Midnight Marathon
19th May 2007

I finished the half marathon at 3am, clocking a not-so-impressive 2:22 hours, creating history in what was arguably the first ever midnight marathon.
The marathon was to be the acid test for the success of my
knee surgery in Oct last year. My initial target was to just finish in one piece, I started getting ambitious during my training with RFL. After a 90min, 16km practice run during training, I set a sub-2 hour target for the D-Day.
There were 4 runs organized, the IT run (5.5km), half and full marathon and a corporate relay run. The IT run, started at 630 in the evening and had a large enthusiastic participation. This was the first time I have witnessed the start of a shorter run and I was amazed by the energy on the course. There were people of all age groups, running, walking, sprinting, even breaking into a dance step when they passed the Dollu kunita drummers. My colleague, Srini, who had signed up with more enthu than practice, finished in an impressive 40mins.
The atmosphere was festive at iGate grounds. Food courts, flea market and live performances from a lot of local bands. The Dollu Kunita, fire eaters and stick men added to the festivity.
I slipped into office for a couple of hours of sleep before getting back to the venue for the half marathon.
I now train with ‘Runners for life’ for the marathons and we were nearly 50 of us running the half marathon. RFL had thrown a pasta party at Brigade Bistro the previous night and the excitement was in the air. The pasta, desserts, plenty of aloo and rice ensured that I was carbo loaded. Had to make a lot of adjustments for the midnight version, finishing dinner by 4, and getting a good amount of sleep through the day were crucial.
Conditions during a midnight marathon are very different. The circadian rhythm, which brings you up during the day and down during the night, is working against you. Moreover, running in loops accentuates the mental fatigue caused by the lack of sleep.
The full marathon started at midnight and was flagged off by the Kannada actress, Ramya who ran real fast to the starting point. The half marathon started at 0030 and the iGate CEO, Paneesh Murthy did the flagging off honors. Since the starting point was not the same as the finish line, there was a pseudo start and a crowding up at the start.
My first lap of 5.5km took me 35mins, throwing me off target at the very beginning. I pulled one back, 30mins on the second lap. At 1:40 on 3 laps with one last lap to go, I knew this I was not going to improve my timing on this one.
The weather was oppressive, humidity was more than I had expected.
A CNN-IBN interview: (To be read with a Forrest Gump tone)
As I passed iGate a second time, I found a long red object also being stuck up my nose. And a soft feminine voice was asking me, “Why do you run?” A question as fundamental and profound as that, and I had like 1sec to come up with an answer. By the time the next question came up, “Any reason for running the midnight marathon?” I had my wits back! I said, “at least you don’t have the sun for once”. They liked the reply so much, that it came up on TV, a lot of times (I presume) on CNN-IBN. So if you saw some creature with a brain band, jumping up and down in front of camera on Sunday, that was me.
The video is available on this link
here, watch it while it lasts.
I was contemplating for the next 10mins about what all I could have said in those 4secs that could have changed my life. Either I didn’t think hard enough, or nothing can change my life, for I kinda drew a blank.
Anyways, as I was running with all these thoughts, passing a cursory glance at the onlookers and suddenly recognized Freya, Abhi and Vodka from RTMC in the crowd near a U-turn. The next time I passed them, Abhi was loaded with a camera and Esha had joined them. There were quite a few cheer groups and I should thank these people who came out to cheer some weirdoes run in the middle of the night.
I began to feel a slight ankle pain on the last lap and forced me to walk the incline. In the end, I managed only a 2:20min but with, for the first time, no knee pain when I finished. The ACL surgery has indeed been a success.
Minute maid was available for free for everyone at the finish line. Well, that is just a new drink from pulpy orange. Medals were given to HM and FM finishers.
Fellow RFLers had done better, but the no. of guys improving on their personal best were few. RFLers bagged the second and third position in the women’s category. Manan from RTMC, who was running his first HM finished in 2:45 hours.
The next 25kms I did in 45mins riding back on my thunderbird, reaching home by 5am. Thanks to the training this time around, post-run recovery was a no problemo. It was a great experience in the end and a night to remember.

Four months to go for the Bangalore Full Marathon on Sep 16th.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sunken Spirits at Cloud Valley

I am drifting about wildly in a swirl called the ‘quarter life crisis’, trying to find some direction to my life. The mood has definitely been depressing during the last few days; I am simply not able to get rid of the lump in my throat. The group ride to cloud valley at Coorg, set in this gloomy backdrop, was an attempt to clear up some of the obscuration.

The ride started the usual RTMC way, bullets pouring in at town hall till 630, and more guys joining in all along till Bidadi. The initial plan was to ride to Madikeri along Virajpet with the breakfast point at Bidadi. Anil’s 500 which was ridden by bladyphul packed up even before the ride had begun and then a few of us, including the new mod, Centhil, overshot the breakfast point at Bidadi. We finally stopped for poori, dosas and pongal at the coffee day outlet.
To reach Madikeri, take a right off Mysore road, a little after Srirangapatana. Another right turn after about 5-6kms will take you to Hunsur. From Hunsur you can either take the route via Kushalnagar to Madikeri. Or you can ride about 30kms longer route via Nagarhole forest, Titimati, Gonigoppal, Virajpet to Madikeri.
Going against our earlier plan, we took the Kushalnagar route on the (ill)advice of a local. There were bad stretches of potholed roads adding to the traffic on the ghat section; the ride was anything but footrest scrapping. When we regrouped at Madikeri, we had our first casualty. Arun aka naayi roast and prasy had a minor fall on the ghat section, no broken bones, just some dented fuel tank. He managed to dent it in the area where the two thighs meet each other, the tank and the seat ;-)
To reach cloud valley from Medikere, you need to ride along the lush green ghat route to Cherambane and take a left turn off Mithra wines. Cloud valley is an estate about 2kms from there.
At 230pm, the starving riders were treated to sumptuous meal. The non-veggies freaked out on pandi and koli curry, I settled for the pulav and daal and some very refreshing RC beer.
Meander to Misadventure
When the evening came, Prashee suggested we ride down to the river bed. 6 bullets took off, mindless of the dark clouds brewing up. The off-roading experience was awesome. We had to ride down a muddy lane leading right into the river bed, and ride across in silencer deep water. When all the bullets were over on the other side, the skies opened up. In coorg, when it rains it pours. Within minutes we were drenched completely. A lot of the slope we had used on our way down started to slide into the river and we decided to ride up whatever was left of it, before it became too slippery. Imagine this, a bullet is stuck half way up in slush, the rear wheel is high on rpm and spraying a thin sheet of slush around… and the rider needs help to push through. I got a first hand experience of what it feels like to have mud in your balls, rain in your eyes and ride like a maniac.
When we reached base, we were a sight to see!
Madikeri, like any other town, shuts down early. Pimpley and Prashee kept us transfixed with anecdotes of their rides even as the electricity flickered on and off. I had an early dinner and slipped into a slumber even as the story telling, the partying, singing and dancing continued well into the night.
I can’t curse myself enough for sleeping till late and missing a wonderful opportunity to ride at the crack of dawn with vijayraghavan and sam, in the mist to Talakaveri. I woke up at 8, not discerning if the thumping was in my head or in the frontyard.
Uday and Hem, our hosts at Cloud Valley, were at the top of hospitality ensuring that we were comfortable. Breakfast of Puttu and chutney, went in easily, round after round.
With naayi roast, having to fix a puncture, the start was delayed slightly, and we left the estate at 11.
A series of disaster events followed. First, the group was split, we got lost, and as we were back tracking, Tiger’s earthing wire burnt out, leading to one hour delay before we could get back on the right road. If that was not bad enough, naayi roast, who already had more than his share of bad luck, had another major fall. The rear tyre of his thunderbird, burst while he was doing good speed, sending him and prasy crashing on the highway. Although he riding gear protected him, prasy and the TB could not escape the impact, fractures, bruises on both of them.
The Highway is no more mine
I had left the larger group by this time and after a samosa break at Hunsur, had made it almost non-stop to Mandya. Mysore road had heavy traffic of cars and bikes all the way to Kengeri and to add to this were the sand laden trucks, spraying sand as you pass by. Maybe it’s a good idea to throw some paint pellets on their windscreens when you overtake them. Back home, my apartment’s interiors are being done and I had to get back early to be able to meet up with the carpenter. I rushed back without a break and was home by 530.
Although, there were some memorable moments on and off road on this ride, the mood as I hit the sack that evening, was no less depressing than what it was when I started.
Hot baths are good cures for depression. I should have just tried that in the first place. Sometimes it takes a tankful of fuel before you can think straight.

photos courtesy Centhil (aka Bakery)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Heading West to ShravanaBelagola

Date: 05 May 2007
Distance: 150kms from Blore
Route: Bangalore > Nelamangala > Kunigal > Yediyur > ShravanaBelagola

To bring in a refreshing change in style, I shamelessely indulge in plagarism, straight from Shreyas Blog My batchmate at L and bitten by the travel bug off late, holds no bars in showering those praises on my bullet. Check out the post here.


"I may soon author a research paper titled ‘Why do planned trips never work and unplanned ones rock?’. Yet another weekend trek plan to Kodachadri hit rough waters and it seemed I was destined for two days of wholesome sleeping and growing fatter. But, I chose to fight destiny (aha!).
A 11:00 am call to Manoj, a 11:10 am confirmation from him and the destination decided and a 11:30 am exit from my house. This was going to be my first trip with Manoj, the eternal tripper and also a constant inspiration for my own jaunts and fitness-enhancing activities. I reached his place by 11:45 only to find his Thunderbird idling, all set for a 150-km ride to Sravanabelagola."

"‘Not very imposing’ was my first thought. For some reason, I had always pictured the statue to be much, much taller, thanks to the TV coverage. I was slightly disappointed but nonetheless it is a magnificient structure, sculpted out of a single piece of rock. Few more rounds and snaps later, we started the walk down. Much faster this time, we (ok, I) regained our strengths through couple of Cornettos and by 4, we were heading off for the ride back home."

For more of these fotos, simply click here.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

One night on SkandaGiri

All week long I tread the customary life… I crib, I swear, I binge, I ogle, I flare and during this weekend, I FORGOT.
At 2:30am, as my feet firmly perched the loose mud and rock, even as the backpack slipped down to the ground, I forgot my mediocre life, some 800ft below me. My limbs forgot the strain of the 3 hour trek to the top. I forgot my orientation as my eyes closed, leaving my bare chest to brave the gust of wind, threatening to blow me off the cliff. I forgot time, I forgot pain, I forgot myself and I, was at peace.

Back to Basics is the informal group of ‘Mafoi’tes, ex-Mafoites and friends who attempt to get back to basics over weekends. As a friend of a ex-Mafoite (read Raghu), I got invited (I have this feeling thou, that it was my bullet that got invited, Raghu needed the ride more than the rider).
At ground zero, confusion was rampant. The meeting time changes from 6pm to 6:30, the meeting point changes from opp Columbia Asia hospital to Sanjay Dhaba, the no. of trekkers go up to 22. And with a group as large as 22, even a dinner stop at Sangeeta dhaba meant crisscross of calls among the 2 bullets, 3 bikes and 3 cars, stoppages and more stoppages. Roti, daal, egg burgi and fried rice were served in buckets at Sangeeta dhaba.
To reach Skandagiri, proceed on NH7 towards Devanahalli and Chikballapur, take a left turn (at the Vishveshwaraih statue) towards the Town Police station. About 1-1.5 km take a right turn at the municipal hall, another 5-6kms will take you to Om Kara Jyothi Ashram, in all about 60 odd kms from Bangalore.
We reached the ashram at 11pm. Bhaskar struck a deal with a localite Govinda to guide us to the top. The group was an unusual mix of fit and not-so-fit guys and gals. We were trekking in the night with torches and moonlight. A small sub-team of Bhasker and others lost their way and could only join us because of the mobile network.
The trek itself involved climbing up mud and loose rock and some serious steep rock climbing too.
I was kinda irritated with the behavior of the larger group, chattering loudly and polluting the soothing silence the hills have to offer. In stark contrast to my previous trek to KP, where we made it a point not so much as to even speak, the campfire was not considered at all.
I took off ahead with the ol’ guide for a brief stretch and fell back sometimes all in an effort to find the silence back. As the night grew on, an ancient fort came into view. We trekked around the fort to the top, to a temple, the breeze welcomed us. I stood for what seemed like a infinite length of time taking in as much as I could. My shirt was off by now, with my arms outstretched, I only needed a pair of wings (or better still, a Kate to complete the scene a la The Titanic).
Leaving the others to fight out a campfire, Raghu and I settled into our sleeping bags to make most of the couple of hours left for sun up. (I like the sound of ‘sun up’).
I woke up at 530 hoping for a cloudy sunrise. With my chotu tripod and the Nikon S10, I captured some good pics of the sunrise. Cameras snapped to frame the spectacular landscape; we started the descent at 7am.
We descended following a steeper, shorter route. Raghu, Divya, Ssomething (right, I forgot her name too) and I were together for most of the climb down. We managed to find our way down, amidst shrubs, thorns, dead ends, strained calf muscles and broken toe nails.
Raghu and I had a quick breakfast of bread dipped in jam and took off quickly to cover the 70kms home. My butt settling on the leather of the bullet’s saddle was the most pleasurable feeling in all morning.

Fotos are available at: