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 ;)