Monday, December 13, 2010

PB @ Bengaluru Midnight Half-Marathon 2010

The Bangalore Midnight marathon has found its way into the Indian running calendar. The run is organized by Crossroads – an event management company with support from the local Rotract Club and some wannabe local politicians.

My last year’s experience of the run was good (report here) and didn’t want to miss this edition. Shreya had a tough time waiting sleepily in the cold last year and decided to give it a miss.

It was only a week after the Singapore marathon, but I landed up at the Registration counter by 10pm. The spot registration were badly managed and a long line greeted the runners. The organizers ran out of bibs and we had to settle with the ‘highly unreliable’ timing chips in place of bibs. With a few minutes before the start of race, the melee at the registration posed a threat of a first DNS (Did Not Start) for me. But it did provide me lots of time to show-off my new shiny Singapore marathon medal to all my running pals.

I managed to stay ahead of the crowd when the race flagged off (after some misplaced speeches) and was speeding right from the word Go! It was a boring 5loops of 2.2k and back. There were enough water stations and the traffic was blocked for this 2k stretch. I was focused to keep under an average pace of 4:30 mins/km. I clocked my best time for 5k (21m:25s) for the first 5k. I knew I was on the way for a Personal Best when I saw Athreya overtake me only on the 4th loop.

I finished 21.1k in 1h:39m.

The accumulation of the loop error of 100m, meant that half marathoners ran 1k more to the finish and a miserable 2k for the full marathoners. And one of the advantages of a fast finish is a less crowded medal / certificate counter. This is my Personal Best for a Half Marathon…

Route details here

Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2010 – Race Report

Surreal Singapore
Singapore was the perfect start to the holiday. Shreya and I reached here on the 30th Nov, with 5 full days before the marathon. We were treated to royal hospitality by Shreya’s Aunt, Shirley. Over the next 3 days, we spent lots of time on foot, ambling in and out of the Metro, the buses and malls. We visited a few of the regular landmarks – Orchard Road, Singapore Flyer, the Zoo, Sentosa island, China town & Little India. With the marathon approaching, we put our legs up a couple of days.

From Preparation to Pasta:
Although the training plan (an ambitious one spanning 22weeks, targeting a 3:30h finish), was a fine mix of interval and tempo runs, it was marred by frequent bouts of illness, a broken arm taking a month to fix. A few notable training runs included a 13k in 1hour in Pune, a 2:40h 29k in North Goa in Oct, a 1:41h half marathon, a 2:47h 30k and a 3:07h 35k in Nov in HSR, Bangalore. The complete training log is available at the Garmin connect site here.
I had to scale down my target finish for the marathon from 3:30h to 3:45h.

Pasta Party was fantastic, thanks to my dear SJCC friends – Balu and Bharath, with Balu providing the kitchen and Bharath providing culinary advice.

Race Day, 05 Dec 2010:
It was Shreya’s birthday and we had a nice little sign pinned to the back of her running t-shirt that said “Happy Birthday to me”. And as the runners passed her during her race, some wished her, some made small talk, others even sang in chorus...

Shreya and I had different start times and starting points for the HM and FM. My race was to start from Orchard Road at 5AM and the HM was starting from Sentosa Gateway at 6AM. I had booked myself into the 3:15AM (yes, you are reading it right) bus from Yishun stadium. Shirley Aunty and Robert Uncle were kind enough to drop me off to the stadium at that unearthly hour (and then go back home, pick up Shreya and drop her off to the MRT!).

The scene of the marathon was vibrant as always. Runners were pouring like roaches from all crevices between the skyscrapers in the twilight. Orchard Road was in lit up for the Christmas extravaganza. Runners were moving around like Brownian particles – around toilets, information kiosks & the starting pens. Bibs were color coded by target finish times, my sub-4 target gave me the right to stay right behind the elite athletes at the start.

I sat down on Orchard Road leaning on the barricade, listening to the MC shout out many a encouragement and instructions over the microphone, silently running over my plan for the race. The pacers with the yellow balloons reading 3:45 were the ones that I had to stay ahead of. The quintessential marathon song – Chariots of fire was played and the race started at 5AM sharp.

The route was fantastic, winding through Orchard road, Marina Bay, the F1 course, up on the bridge to the East Coast Pathway. The sights of Marina Bay sands, flier and Esplanade against the river was a spectacular. The flat course helped me keep my rhythm and I clocked perfect timings for my first 20k. The 5k split timings read – 23m:40s, 23m:48s, 23m:57s, 24m:43s, finishing the HM distance in 1h:41m. This was also about the time when the sun was coming up over the ECP and beginning to make it nice and bright.

I managed to keep good focus on speed and discipline in water (and 100plus) intake. I also generously poured water over my head to keep me cool. Cheerleading groups, an occasional band, small talk with passing fellow runners helped me keep the positive momentum going till 30k which came in 2.5hours. All I had in mind was to keep the pace for the next 5k and I would then be sure of a sub-4 finish. I did just that.

I distinctly remember running through the construction site, with the sun beating down, the casino in the distant skyline, I looked down at my watch, it was wonderful to see the 2 meters change readings – as the clock ticked to 3:00:00, the distance changed to 35k. What a sight!

I slowed down a bit and began to use the tiger balm a lot more to soothe the cramps, but kept it at bay right till the 40k. At 35k the FM course merges with the half marathoners and the 10k runners. It was a delight to see the ocean of runners take the flyover towards the finish.

I stumbled 200mts before the finish and stopped again for more massaging and that much was enough for me to miss my Personal Best. I finished strong in 3:50:08, 7 secs slower than my PB at Hyderabad in 2009.

The 5k splits for the race were - 23m:40s, 23m:48s, 23m:57s, 24m:43s, 26m:28s, 26m:48s, 30m:48s, 33m:59s.

Post race:
The finish area was well organized too. The finishers walked into the Padang park were handed out medals, finishers tees and refreshments.
I met Balu, who had finished his 10k in 70mins and we called Shreya. My heroine limped towards the Asics tent in sometime, having finished her maiden HM in 2h:45m. We got our complimentary massages and an Osim foot massage in the massage chair. That evening we were treated to some fine Indian cuisine by Shirley aunty and Mathew uncle and drove around Orchard road & Clarke Quay bidding our good-byes to this wonderful city…

Some interesting stats of my run from Runpix:
(All results based on NET finish time - 3h:50m:08s)
1. Result in the entire field – 303rd place
14564 finishers behind; about 2% of finishers ahead
2. Result in Gender (Men) – 275th place
12331 finishers behind; about 2% of finishers ahead
3. Result in Division (M 30-39) – 106th place
3442 finishers behind; about 3% of finishers ahead
4. Of the 14859 who finished, 15% were women and 85% were men
5. For the record, you were ahead of about 99% of women finishers
6. Over Final 12km: You passed 7 runners; And 111 passed you
7. Average Speed 11kmph

Shreya’s Half Marathon statistics:
(All results based on NET finish time - 2h:45m:36s)
1. Result in the entire field – 4346th place
6469 finishers behind; about 43% of finishers ahead
2. Result in Gender (Women) – 1065th place
2867 finishers behind; about 31% of finishers ahead
3. Result in Division (F 20-29) – 422nd place
1541 finishers behind; about 21% of finishers ahead
4. Of the 11274 who finished, 37% were women and 63% were men
5. For the record, you were ahead of about 51% of men finishers
6. Average Speed 7.6kmph

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Spirit of Wipro 2010

We had a fab race – Shreya came in second in the women’s category and I came in first in the 10k race in the Spirit of Wipro Run last weekend. The race was flagged off by Premji and we received our medals from Anurag Behar and Suresh Vaswani – ROI was very high for a 10K run!!!

We would have missed this year’s edition of Wipro’s Run if it were not for the Ayodhya verdict, which postponed the run by a week.
I had a good idea of the course, which was unchanged from last year, gradual gradient in the first 2km, then nearly flat to the U-turn point and a fast last couple of kms. I had used the last stretch well last year, to finish second piping competition by 1sec. Read the report of last year here.

But, the build up to the run was not the most ideal – late night meetings, low morale at work did not help energy levels. In fact, I had to work well past midnight on Friday and could barely sleep for a couple of hours when I rolled in bed. Pre-race butterflies – maybe, maybe not.
Later during the week, I read Danny Dreyer’s book where he talks about the importance of visualization. I those sleepless hours, I’d run the entire course in my head and had pushed myself to finish on the top.

It was Shreya’s first race after she had started to train for the half marathon and she now runs those 10ks comfortably. It would be good to see how she fared in a race.

Come race day, I did not need waking up from the 4hrs of light sleep. We reached the venue, registered, picked up our free tee-shirts, and met regular RFLers at the start line. The run was flagged off by none other than Azim Premji and the Jt. CEOs were in attendance.

Race Analysis:
Here’s how it compared to the last year’s race.

The field was much less competitive this year, which accounts for the slack in the last few kms. Last year round, I had to push myself hard (under 4mins for the last km) to cling the second place. This year, I didn’t have any contest – the second runner finished a good 1.5mins behind.

I took lead right at the 2k mark and held steady around 4:30min/km pace for most of the run. After the U-turn, I noted that the next runner was a good minute or so behind. I passed Naina Lal in second and Shreya trailing a few secs behind her in third place. She was looking good.

I went into cruise mode on the downhill and managed to put a lot of distance between me and the next runner. It also helped that I had a police escort (a un-uniformed policeman on a bike) to keep the walkers out of my way. With no competition around, I didn’t need to push the last few kms and ended up somewhat similar timing as last year, the official timing put me at 44:30mins for the 10k, as against 44:11mins last year!
I pushed aside the melee of reporters (yes, really ;) ) at the finish and got back on the road so I could accompany Shreya in her last km or so. I saw her in second place with 1-1.5k to go and she had about 30sec lead over Naina in third. She held pace and finished in 60:11mins, ahead of Naina by about 20secs or so. She did extremely well for someone who started distance running not so long ago.

Roberto Narain’s Drum-jam kept the crowd engaged till the start of the medal distribution. Shreya and I were, of course, the star couple on the podium, yaay!!
In the photo (from right): Suresh Vaswani, Anurag Behar and the star couple!
Some media here.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Get Wild in Wilderness Weekend

The Bangalore Hash was in Masanagudi, the Elephant territory for the Independence Day weekend… We were hosted by Mahindra resorts, a beautiful forest property in the foot of magnificent Nilgiri hills.

Day 1 - Run No. 534 – Jumbo screw-up run
Three Hash Booses full of Hashers were smuggled across the Karnataka border to get “Wild in the Wilderness”. The hares had plans to get us high and the evening run took us high up nearby hills for some spectacular views. The herds did chase the hashers on many occasions, but they were herds of cattle and not Pachyderms and the hashers survived the Jumbo screw-up.
Circle Points:
· Hares – Beep Beep, Flame thrower, Sky High & Pervert Producer iced for laying the wild trail in the Masanagudi wilderness, even as Half moon gave a demonstration of the jumbo sized latex umbrella covers
· Rigor Mortis was charged for stiffening up early in the morning and getting everyone late
· Hybrid was charged for being competitive at the Urban Stampede; he complained that “Unintended Acceleration” was the cause. However, the charge was not ‘recalled’. Vinnie the Pooh also joined Hybrid on the ice for making the legal charge
· Our dear Sponsors - Flame thrower, Sky High & Hybrid were iced for their generosity
· Loan Shark & Roopa were iced for not being able to hide their curiosity regarding Beep Beep’s perfectly shaped blobs. Beep Beep cooled himself on the ice as he explained these damsels, how he used certain ‘un-used assets’ for marking the trail
· Virgins – Roopasree, Anshu, Anup , Suresh, Roopa were iced for having turned up at the Hash
· Pox Docs – Roshan, Dinesh, Suresh & Manjunath were given the Rx-only Hash medicine – the amber syrup
· Beep Beep welcomed the Bangalore hashers on behalf of the first family of Chennai. CM Karunanidhi look-a-like ‘No H2O no Hair’, Stalin look-alike ‘wrong circle’, Azhagiri look-a-like He-Ma and Kanimozhi look-alike Kate were iced as Beep Beep walked the hashers through the history of the polygamous CM and his kin
Live Junglee beats over barbeque got us out of our cottages to dancing, beers, party and dinner in the eerie settings…

Day 2 - Run No. 535 – Jumbo Jumbo Jumbo Ass run
On this Independence day, the hashers were packed into Booses and driven up Kalhatti in search of the hares for the recovery run. Some ran, others ambled, while few others rolled down the Nilgiri hills, till they chanced upon loud trumpets and 3 elephants!!! On seeing the BH3 hashers, the Jumbos did a quick hair-pin turn and scurried into the bushes!!

Circle Points:

· Hares – Half moon, Vinnie the Pooh & Crushed Nuts were iced for surviving the Elephants and the Elephant dung while laying the wild trail
· Amit joined them for complimenting the run
· Dinesh, Roopa and yet another Roopa were invited on the ice for ‘not coming’
· There were some British who stayed back in India after Independence and 63 years on, He-Ma, Wrong circle, Vaseline, Friction Nipples were iced for not ‘Quitting India’
· Michael Muthuraj Richard was given a well deserved down down, for hosting us at Casa Deep Woods. He was christened “Squirrel Heart” by all and sundry. Raju & Suresh joined him for more down downs
· Half moon and Jingle balls were iced for using their bikes to look for the tigers in the jungle
· Flame Thrower,Sky High, Pervert Producer, Jingle balls, Vaseline & Push Mush were iced for mis-managing the Wild weekend
· Ex-GMs led the circle to sing the national anthem in chorus to celebrate the 63rd Independence day!

On On

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Scaling newer peaks at Kodaikanal - Part II Trek

I had contacted one Kodai Mani, who had lots of recommendations on the net. With no intention of spending any more time than required in the filthy room, we desperately agreed to his high rates for a day trek. He promised us it would be worth the money (2200 or so).

So we were picked up from our hotel and were surprised when Mani picked up a garland and some lemons to add to the supplies of packed food, sleeping bags, mattresses & other trekking equipment. We found out later the garland was to worship his mother nature, quite a character the guide was!
At the Berijam forest check-post, we joined another team of 7-8guys, of varying sizes from Chennai who we would accompany for the trek. While Shreya & I would head back that evening, the other team had plans to camp in the forest for the night.

At a little past noon, we started the trek from Cap’s Fly view point. (true to its name, caps thrown down the cliff fly back up because of the gusty winds that make their way through the hills). When the mist allowed us, we could see endless hills with dense forests, some exposed peaks and very deep valleys. We trekked along on the edge of these hills in the ‘mimosa’ forest. These Shola forests were rich in Bamboo, Eucalyptus & Pine.

Shreya & I stayed in the front of the pack while we crawled up a nearby peak. At the peak, we refueled over some home-made chocolates, while we waited for the heavier team-mates to join us.
As we left this hill, we entered a forest of medicinal trees. This stretch was no less dense than the forest we had left behind, but just the air you inhaled told you there was a difference. About 100acres are apparently maintained by the forest department for medicinal plants here. Mani took some time here to pray to a stone that symbolized the forest for him. This ‘idol’ was garlanded and lemons were offered.

We got some fantastic pictures, Shreya had a liking for the lavender Neela-Kurinji flowers. At about 3, we stopped for lunch (packed lunch of chapatis which we had carried) by a creek. Great photo-op once again!

It seemed like it was lunch time for the leeches too and they were busy feasting on my blood.
It was a short walk to the forest road after lunch, it was around 4-4:30 when we reached the car that was to take us back to Kodai.

And just when we thought we had enough adventure for a day, the next one began. We reached the forest check-post at 5pm. The check-post is manned by forest guards and the only way out of the forest is via the check-post. When we reached there, the barricade was locked securely, with no sign of the guards. A chai waala (the only other human around) told us that they had ‘just’ left.

Our over reliance on mobile phones gives us this wrong notion of security, we quickly dived to our devices, only to realize there was no signal! The next hour or so was spent in pacing up and down the path trying to ‘catch’ mobile signal, in panic, in weighing out the few options. There was also threat of a thunderstorm, dark clouds were fast approaching and so was darkness.
We were able to get to talk to the forest officials for 30 secs or so before we lost signal once more.

Just as Shreya and I were readying ourselves to walk the 10kms to town to get help, the forest guards came to our rescue. We were let out of the forest after paying a small ‘penalty’. Even as we were driving back, the skies opened and down came the thunderstorm. What a day!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Scaling newer peaks at Kodaikanal – Part 1 Cycling

The hills and valleys of Kodai were quite like our own mental state, as we swung from sheer disappointment to speechless awe in Kodai. And whether it was the cycle ride, the trek or the jog, whether it was the hills, the lakes, the pine forests or the gardens – we scaled newer heights of our relationship.

The highs and lows of Day 1 (9th June 2010):
Train, Taxi, Cycle
We took the overnight train, Tuticorn Express from Bangalore to Kodai Road and then found ourselves in a taxi (very outside of our frugal budget limits) to Kodai. The contrast of the beauty of the hills and the insides of our hotel was evident even without having to enter the ‘Guru Priya’ hotel where Artha Options had booked us. The hotel was pathetic, but we decided to stay on, in one of their better (less stained) rooms. The idea was to spend as little time indoors as possible.

By lunch time, we took a bus to the city center – the Kodai lake. I had a single minded focus to look for a place where we could rent decent cycles or motorbikes. Renting motorbikes in Kodai is out of question, we were told, by an old man renting BSA cycles, who seemed to have all day to dispense such information!
We finally found a bike rental, near the TTDC Boat house who had Hercules Act 110 bikes and was renting them for Rs.30 per hour. (Highly recommended if you are looking to ride around Kodai). We had a quick lunch at Woodlands and hurried to get ourselves on the bikes.

The standard biking route in Kodai is to ride the 5k around the Kodai lake. But, that is not what we had in mind. We started from Kodai Lake at 3pm, the idea was to take the ‘Valley tour’ (as the tour operators call it) and see how far we could go.

The Valley Tour: This loop covers many sightseeing points – the Coaker’s Walk, Upper Lake view, Pambar falls, Pillar rocks, Guna caves, Moier Point amongst others. This is one big loops in the hills bringing you back to the Lake.

Shreya and I had no idea how far we would be able to cycle. We were welcomed by killer uphills that tested the granny gears of the Act110 right away. We huffed and puffed our way to the first sightseeing point – Upper Lake View.
(if you have started to notice how these places are named, wait till you get to Cap’s Fly Point!!).

The ride was out of the world; the dense forests, the misty roads flooded me with memories of my ride to Ooty in 2008. We continued up and down the rolling hills, following the signage from one view point to the other, making our way through villages, Fairy falls without water, roads filled with ankle deep water at places, slush, curious locals & noisy tourists.
The valley tour took us right through the Golf course and up to Pillar rocks.

We had covered nearly 11k riding by the time we reached Pillar rocks. By this time, we had already climbed 250m or so, from 6900ft to about 7300ft. The mist completely covered the view of the rocks. Moreover, the place was packed with tourists who had thronged the place in buses. We chose to enjoy the nature’s beauty like we had done so far, we got back on our saddles to conquer the next uphill...

With some 14k left to get back to the lake, it seemed like we had a task on our hands. The distance was made easy, thanks to some breathtaking views. There were Pine forests growing right into the clouds and at many points, the mist brought down visibility to near zero, albeit for a few seconds. As Shreya rightly remarked on one of those killer up-hills, you really need to endure the up-hills to enjoy the down-hill cruising. Well, it is easy to endure those, when you have a husband who pushes the bike up for you ;)

We were soon blessed with a slight drizzle and more importantly, the milestone that said “6k to Kodaikanal”. It was all downhill from there, right down to the Kodai Lake, offering some more views of the star-shaped lake.

When we were back, we had covered 23k in 3hours, starting at 6900ft to 7550ft, climbing 550m or so! It was yet another celebration of my marriage to Shreya.
The details of the ride are here. Part II & III coming up shortly.

Scenic Sarjapur - 30k family ride

Shreya joins the Guest writers Band wagon with this narration of the 3rd July 30k ride around Sarjapur. Read on...

We not only have places for our cycles in our hall but we have enough for them in our car too. Hollywood is now a member of our family and we gave him his first ride in the city of Bangalore on the 3rd of July 2010. Well, Hollywood is the bike rack Manoj got from the US and we customized it to hold the Giant and the Schwinn.

July 3rd-4th was one of those rare weekends which had no pre-laid plans. We always wanted to go to some nice place, park the car and cycle. The Bike rack made it possible! On Saturday morning Manoj, Tima and I decided to cycle 30 kms close to Sarjapur Road. But something must go wrong in any plan and in our case it was Tima’s health. He was down with fever and his “kick start to cycling” was further delayed. So Manoj and I put our cycles in the rack, drove up to Decathlon, parked the car there, got into our cycling gears and pushed off.

It was a pleasant morning with a slight drizzle. We went across fields, rose gardens, ponds, villages, clubs and International Schools. We were discussing that there are such beautiful places so close by and all we have to do to enjoy them is just get off the bed in the morning. I was also telling Manoj that I would love to cycle in one of the Hash trails as it has its own flavor.

We deliberately took a 5 min break after 10 kms because we wanted to drink the tang we prepared early in the morning that day and to take some profile pictures. To my surprise, after 5 kms or so we came across the hash trail we laid a month back…yaay I said and pedaled with excitement. It was only 25kms when we reached Decathlon and so we went ahead on Sarjapur Road to make it 30. Thus we would not worry if our weekend is not planned as long as we have our cycles and Hollywood with us.
Ride details here:

Manoj Comments: Overheard while climbing an uphill - "Guess what, I am on 3-6". Giggling somewhat "Ha ha, really! I am on 1-2" comes the reply. A very high quality discussion that only cyclists can appreciate. I guess we have arrived as the cycling couple!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

3 Idiots on bikes - Sesquehanna River Trail

It was a very memorable weekend, meeting up with my childhood pals and spending a lot of time talking about highways and fairways. It's the season of guest writers on my blog. Introducing my childhood pal and dear friend, Vijay who has this report of the ride in Harrisburg...
The weekend was a hoot and will go in as a fun filled memorable one in my personal history book. It’ll remain etched in my mind for years to come. It was a series of firsts for me. If meeting my chaddi dosts Manoj and Uday, whom I have already known for more than 25 years in my 30 years of life in a foreign land was exciting enough, golfing, biking, playing cricket together in a little known city called Harrisburg in the northern hemisphere was an icing on the cake. Stitching all the events spread over the weekend made a fantastic panoramic mental picture.

It was Sunday afternoon. Manoj, Uday and I were treated with some good food (Thanks to Kalpana et al) at a friend’s baby shower party. After filling our bellies we escaped from the scene to bike the Green belt around Susquehanna.
After a siesta, we left my place in Camp Hill, PA to City Island (a small island in Susquehanna in Harrisburg downtown). We mounted my Giant Cypress hybrid onto the bike rack of my grey Honda Accord and off we went. Just the previous day Manoj had poured in lots of technical details on bikes, tire pressure, psi, cadence, how to mount a bike, how to dress for a bike ride and lots of good stuff. Driving to City Island, I felt the pressure to perform. I was determined to show the Iron man, that I am not a couch potato :)

We reached Susquehanna Outfitters, a bike rental company in City Island around 4 PM, quickly introduced my buddies Manoj and Uday to Steve who owns the rental company. Manoj, was excited and It didn’t take us too long to notice that he was in his comfort zone. It was gonna be a routine drill for him. We rented two bikes; Uday picked up a larger frame Trek and Manoj knew what he wanted. We quickly headed out of the Island to hit the Green belt trail. We biked on the iron bridge, made a steep descent to the trail around the river. It was an exciting moment. While Manoj and I have biked together many times (2 years from Sanjayanagar to Malleswaram) in the past, it was the first time the three of us were biking together. We started nice and easy, clicking some pictures, and headed towards the PennDOT. I picked up a map of the Green belt, as it can be a little confusing in certain parts.

We quickly saw ourselves pretty comfortable on the bikes and headed towards the Cameroon street, under a thick canopy of trees into the Five Senses garden (Uday, would begin to feel his rear sense here). There was one spot where Manoj instinctively was biking on the left hand side of the trail and had to remind himself that he was in the US. As we biked along the trail, we talked. Can’t really remember what we talked about, but I know we were laughing and yelling at each other and we definitely had fun.

We biked past Paxton street, waiting for quite some time for the traffic light to turn green for us pass through. When we reached the Reservoir Park, it was the first of the many uphills we would bike. I was glad that Manoj was around to help me and Uday with the technicalities of gears and we gradually but steadily conquered the first uphill of the day utilizing the granny gears to the fullest…hurrah! Delighted I sure was.

It’s the downhill that makes that salty drop of sweat running down your forehead, those aching muscles that scream at you on the uphill so much worth it. “Don’t be afraid of the uphill, there’s surely a downhill”, I am trying to apply this principle to every aspect of life. So far seems to be working.
We soon hit the State Street, crossed the street to get on to Herr Street, and hit the trail again. Now we were on some 8% -10% grade inclines. Slowly, I was getting comfortable with the bike and the gears. Manoj kept Uday company and encouraged him to push harder. We learnt that of the three of us Manoj is the most patient and I am the least. Soon, we made it Lower field, the Mecca of cricket buffs in Harrisburg. “Whackers” vs “HACC” cricket match was in action. We stopped and caught a glimpse of the match and gulped down a bottle of water.

We continued to pedal, and made our way through HACC (Harrisburg Area Community College). Uday seemed amazed at how I had discovered the biking trail. It was just talking to folks in my office that I came to know about the Green belt.
When we entered the Wildwood lake area, I could feel that Uday was pushing himself harder than ever. After a few steep uphill climbs, we saw ourselves biking on a thrilling downhill trail. Manoj went ahead of us and captured a video of us biking downhill. Finally, we came onto the Front street area, which reminded Manoj and me of Jayanagar, Jayamahal areas of Bangalore. We biked passed the Governor’s mansion (Governor Ed Rendell) and took a few pictures along the way and finally came back to City Island. It was close to 20 miles and 2 something hours of biking. Burnt loads of calories, thanks to Manoj’s fancy GPS watch.
We returned the cycles and thanked Steve and headed back to the car. The experience was priceless. Blessed we were for the wonderful day!

Some boring stats as usual:
Date: 20/06/2010
Time: 02:39:46
Distance: 32.40 km
Elevation Gain: 174 m
Calories: 1,010 C
Time: 02:39:46
Moving Time: 02:21:17
Elapsed Time: 02:39:46
Avg Speed: 12.2 km/h
Avg Moving Speed: 13.8 km/h
Max Speed: 42.7 km/h
More details from my ‘fancy GPS watch’ here

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cycling in NYC

An official visit to the East coast provided an excellent opportunity to bike in the US. The next 3 posts are about my latest exploits from the mouth of guest writers on my blog. Keep Visiting!!

Introducing Srikanth, my cousin from New Jersey, who kept me fantastic company as we cycled on the biking trails and the one-way streets of NYC. Here’s the report straight from Srikanth!!
It’s has been on my mind for quite some time but thanks to Manoj's NYC visit, my bike trip on NY streets became a reality and a pleasant one too. I had bought my Trek7.3 FX just a few days back and was wondering what would be the best way to satisfy the desire to play with a newly bought toy. Right then Manoj called me and said he was planning to visit the city over the weekend. From then on the trip just happened.

Started morning 7 o'clock from home riding on my bike to the NJ transit station. Blame it on my stiff muscles or the early morning chillness during spring, that 10kms turned out to be the toughest stretch of the day!! God I had to do that wearing my jeans, which would eventually end up half way across the globe in Shreya's washing machine in a few days :D. Taking my bike in the train was the part I was most uncomfortable with. Mainly because I had never done it before and I was very skeptical about carrying it on the narrow escalators in Penn station. Escalators that would cramp and suffocate commuters even without a bike. Thankfully I had no horror stories to share with Manoj. 90 minutes gone and I was out on 32nd street, New York, the concrete jungle where dreams are made of!!

In no time I was there at Bops place and in even less time was out of there too. On FDR drive towards Brooklyn Bridge and a ride across it. Then on to Little Italy where we stopped over for lunch.
This is where I first heard about these weird breed of homo-sapiens who first appeared in the SE Asia region and quickly migrated to different parts of the world. I believe they are referred to as hashers and their religion called hashing. I still remember Manoj's purchase of a unique dress which was designed according to hash traditions. A dress that he was hoping would get him better acceptance within that community ;-)

From there on we cycled across lower Manhattan, along Hudson bay went past USS Intrepid and all the way to George Washington Bridge. We could have gone even further but I had a train to catch back home and we had to plan for that. On our way back we went into Central Park and then on to Times Square. This is where we had to go different ways as I had train on my mind and he had Asics shoes on his.

On my way back in train I shared the coach with a group of Puerto Ricans. Drunk yet sober after their annual Puerto Rican day celebration (it was actually the day before). Some of them were bikers and we traveled talking about our trips. Once at Long Branch it was 14kms ride back home. Back from what would be my best visit to the city, I've visited NYC at-least 10 times before and never have I remembered my trip to such details even after a month. I also realized the best way for me to explore any city. Hopefully, more such bike trips in the US.

Some stats from the ride
Date: 12/06/2010
Time: 04:38:55
Distance: 44.25 km
Moving Time: 03:23:49
Elapsed Time: 07:32:45
Avg Speed: 9.5 km/h
Avg Moving Speed: 13.0 km/h
Max Speed: 37.4 km/h

For the maps, statistics of the ride, visit

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Times Cycle to Work - Green Championship

5th June 2010: Times Cycle to Work
We had to be really crazy to get ourselves (yes, it’s two of us now) out of bed on what was otherwise a fantastic holiday to lie under those comforters. The rains from the previous night had left behind a hangover of a light drizzle and chill. We had registered for the ‘Times Cycle to Work’ initiative, to bike the distance of 60k for men and 40k for women.

It was Shreya’s first ride for that distance and we were both excited. Leaving behind her cousin at home, we both rode 5kms to the start point, off Sarjapur road. It was not pretty getting there, the roads were in a bad shape and there were earth movers at the venue causing more confusion. To add to it, the organizers initially refused to allow participation without photocopies of ID proofs. It was perfect, I wouldn’t care much if I had a bib or otherwise. In the end, it really didn’t matter much.

It was a rolling start and the starting line was a good 3k from the venue. From the start line, we were to ride on Sarjapur road and then towards Varthur and back completing a 20k loop. 3 laps of that for the 60k and 2 for the 40k was how it was supposed to total up. Sarjapur road was not a great choice and the traffic picked up towards the end.

I kept steady pace right from the word go and although, I didn’t team up with anyone in particular, I spent nearly 30k either pulling or drafting behind Yohan & Abhi. I managed to hit the 50k in 1:40hrs and 60k in 2:01hrs. Personal best for both distances.

Shreya was very impressive on her Schwinn hybrid. I caught up with her on my third lap as she was comfortably cruising at her own pace. She herself finished the 47k (back to the venue) and then the 5k back home, to clock a 57k for the day.

She finished the 47k in 3:15hrs and sure looked like she could do more. Am I proud or what!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Cloud Valley - A trip that took my trip

The title borrowed from Haren’s ride report, borrowed because, I deserve it more than anyone else.
Life is always about squeezing a little more. No, no I don’t mean to sound like your boss, but hey, my wife is not a HR Manager for nothing. Anyway, what I was getting at is that, there was a helluva lot of traveling happening in the last 10days Bangalore-Cochin-Alleppey-Chennai-Bangalore and then I was off to Coorg again!
But the annual RTMC pilgrimage to Cloud Valley in Coorg is a guaranteed un-winder, I needed a strong dose of that one!
It would also be Shreya’s first overnighter with the bullet club and we started the Saturday, 29th May with gusto. We are both sufficiently cramster-ed now – mutually gifted riding jackets, saddle bags and waist pouch to carry everything from nail polish, comb (new additions to the luggage, or was it eye liner) and the usual – running shoes, sunscreen and spares.
The getting there:
We joined about 25 bullets at Bangalore Univ campus at 6:30 or so. Just so there is no serious problem, I had given my bullet for service last week. First puncture in 20km from the start. In about 30mins with help from Horny, Tampon, Conrod and Dicso we replaced the punctured tube with a new one from Conrod.
The rear shocks creaked like an old iron cot that creaks when you ‘sleep’ on it as you went up and down even on a slight bump.
Group rides do provide a fair amount of insurance against break downs, accidents and other variables on the highways. The entire band of bulleters waited at McD for us to catch up, a quick breakfast later, we were highway bound again towards Srirangapatana.
I totally enjoyed the good roads to Madikeri, cruising at 80-90kmph. We reached Cloud Valley at 1pm and welcomed by Uday and his family. The inevitable pandi curry meal happened over ride stories and some poor jokes.
Those of us who weren’t high yet, made our way to the Cauvery river bed at 5, bathed and rode back. Some more ride stories and papad mama jokes kept us entertained around the camp fire right through the night.
The place:
Cloud Valley itself is awesome. You should see my earlier report on this here. It is a nice report, go read!
Apparently, the best time to visit is when the flowering season when the coffee seeds come into bloom and look like snow! The Jasmine-like aroma also fills up the entire region.

The run:
So, I made quick enquiries in the evening with Uday ‘where can I go for a jog in the morning?’. I have become some kind of a fan of these runs - where you have no clue what’s in store, no idea of how long you are going to take to get back, where (if ever) you will find some water, civilization, etc. But I headed out on the path that had taken us to the river the previous evening. It was 6:30 and it was perfect for a long run. The trail took me on some serious uphills along winding coffee estates. There was not a single soul to ask for directions, you knew you were trespassing when the dogs barked louder. After about 4.5km, the path brought me back close to where I had started. Nice! I ran into the trail again, so I could finish a perfect 10!

The story of a Tired Tire:
One-a-puncture, two-a-puncture, three-a-puncture, four!
I am the rear tire of KA04-EM 1983, you have seen how I was born, right. It is here if you want a flashback. I have nearly done 15000kms on road now and my predecessor had taken care of the rear for about 40000kms. My owner is a nice guy (yes!) and he takes care to ‘fill me up’ with 30psi always. He likes to take me on good roads, bumpy roads and very very bumpy roads, but I like adventure too.
I have been very loyal and have not disappointed him on any of his long rides… so far.
So yesterday, just as I was warming up, something happened and suddenly there was air all inside me and in another moment the wheel was hurting me. That local tube inside me had a puncture. My owner should have known better not to buy a local tube from the “Aslam Bhai” mechs on the road side.
Anyways, my owner, a big fan of DIY, fitted a new tube (Original!!) inside me, and I was happy again.
My owner’s missus is a light lady and I have usually no problems with carrying both of them. But they stopped at this place where the milestone said ‘Hunsur 10’. There were people selling jackfruits. They are those big, heavy, thorny (I hate thorns) things that people like to eat.
My owner should have put this in the front and the that lazy front tire should have taken some load. I must add that front tire is a senior one (55k kms), but had not worn out at all, because he does not do any work. He only takes the load of my owner’s arms and has good suspension to pass on the shocks from bad roads. If you ask me, the jackfruit should have been showed right through his valve.
But, we hard workers are always made to ‘squeeze a little more’. That is life – as my owner says it.
So the jackfruit came into one side of the saddle bag and the rest of the stuff was rearranged.

Now when the owner started to ride, the mud guard started to flirt with me. It started to come so close and rub me in the wrong places. I started getting hot.
Even the original rubber was able to withstand this and our safety was compromised near Bidadi. I tried to hold on as much longer as I could (I am very conscientious tire, you see), so it a while for my owner to realize the puncture. Luckily, I went fully flat near a ‘pancher’ shop. But the pancher guy was drunk and sleepy and despite taking all care, he patched the not-original rubber tube (remember the old one that punctured yesterday) very carelessly.
I anyway didn’t like this duplicate rubber tube.

So far it was still ok. It was still about 4pm in the evening. But we had just started the motions again, some 20k and then bam, one more flat. By this time, the wheel had started to bang me from the other side and it was slightly bent I think. I was feeling wobbly also. This time was terrible. My owner left his wife on the side of the road (very unsafe place) and put all his weight on the tank, standing on the foot peg and leaning in front and road me without air for 2km to get a puncture shop.
This guy was ok, he put the puncture and in about 30mins, owner went back and picked up his wife. There were dark clouds and I am sure he wanted to get home before it rain. But, I like rain!
So we started off again, the jack fruit load was still on me and I think I was dizzy because of the bent wheel. Anyways, it was now dark and we went another 20k and came to the NICE road. It is a very nice road and I was happy because there are no thorns, potholes or nails on this road.

But just after the toll was paid, I went flat again. Promise, this was not my fault. It was the duplicate tube. I was focusing on my job and not paying attention to the mud guard also.
This time there was more problem, it was raining, there were no puncture or pancher shops open (it was a Sunday) and my owner had to do his circus stunt again for 2km. But he was getting good at it, I didn’t feel too much load at all.
I over-heard him tell his missus afterwards that he had only 260 bucks and the tube cost him 270!

Four is too much, I say. But, there was one good thing, that jackfruit went off to the front in the end. That lazy front tire also took load. Then he rode me very very slowly, the last 30kms to his home. I felt very ashamed of myself. I will not do this again. I will not do this again. I will not do this again.

Monday, May 17, 2010

200k Giant Ride

Date: 15th May 2010

Distance: 200.13kms / Avg moving speed: 23.1kmph

Garmin report on the ride:

The Garmin didn't record the first 9k. The splits with the first lap added read as below:

I know I am not going to be at my modest best when I make this post. Yes, it was 200kms, but no, it was not so much an achievement. Yes, it was tough, there were moments, but no, it was not tooouugghhh tough. Yes, it was a hot day, so? Yes, there were some uphills, so?

I always believe we kid ourselves too much and build some strong mental boundaries around us. When you put these efforts in perspective, you know what I mean – a 200k is about when you start to warm up in a race like the RAAM where you ride some 5000kms in about 10days. Our own Samim qualified for the RAAM 2010, with the 701k in 24hrs! So what we did yesterday is about 10% of that effort.

We talked about the RAAM a lot during the ride. You can read all about it here and follow Samim’s quest for a podium finish this year on his website here.
I guess, it all comes down really to a quote that I wrote about in my Hyderabad marathon review, “it all depends on how badly you want to do it”.
And the last time, Yes, we were on decent road bikes, gears, toe clips, cleats. But, the sun didn’t make any concessions, the road didn’t give us any discounts, ‘we’ did the riding :)
Venkat had done some serious hard-selling of Hessaraghatta as the most ideal place to ride in this world. He had picked this loop of 33km and we were to do it multiple times. On Saturday, I figured it was not so much of a loop, but a 17km out and back. And when I mentioned the soaring temperatures these days and quipped if there was any cover, I got an honest but discouraging “No, none at all”.

The only thing I could bargain for, was the start time and my behest we started the ride at 5:20am. The route passed the Horticulture University and out at Nandini Sperm Station which was where we refueled after every lap. There were 2 wings – the left one was relatively flat towards Madhure, there were a couple of long uphills on the section towards Rajankunte.

The roads were fantastic, with little traffic and perfect for a long road bike ride. Despite a ride-sabotaging puncture in the second loop (which cost us about 15mins), we were consistently over 25kmph. We were on target when we were done 110km by 10:15am or so. It was the much needed “Frankie” break.
Venkat’s in-laws were fantastic, his father-in-law brought us “Frankies” (aka chapattis), his brother-in-law, Anil joined us for the first 4hrs on his bike.

From there on, till we hit past the 140k mark, it was tough. We felt nearly every bit of the 37deg heat of Bangalore. I made an effort to keep myself hydrated – nearly 1-1.5 liter of water / electral / tang every loop of 33kms. And from my past experiences with cramps, I stayed off the cramps with constant massages. With cycling, unlike running, you do get the odd downhill where you can relax and give the thighs a gentle squeeze.
I put my head down, the dividing line moving in slow motion, only the shadow of the feet moving front and back, and sweat dripping off from the helmet. We stuck to the job.

The end phase was not easy either. We shifted nearer home for the last 25km after a last break of Savige and curd at Venkat’s place we took off to finish the 200km. No endurance ride is complete in Hessarghatta till you ride towards Our Native Village – the red earth of the Bangalore Ultra. We rode, up the Bangalore Ultra route, to Taj Kuteeram. The shadows were getting longer once again but Venkat’s resolve was getting shorter. We changed course once again and decided to ride in short 2km loops for the last 15k or so.

Venkat was great company and kept me entertained with all his goals for the year. It started with B2C1D (Bangalore to Chennai in 1Day) in the morning, by 10am he was chanting the RAAM mantra, by evening he had switched from cycling to running to get rid of his extra kilos! More important that those swaying goals, was the enthusiasm about everything he was saying, I am sure he would at least get to one of these soon.
There were no trophies, no cheering crowd waiting as we finished – just some serious sun tan and sore muscles (you know where) to show off…

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Copy Paste Weekend

If I were given a chance to Copy-Paste, I would copy-paste the last weekend to a lot of upcoming weekends. There were runs, rides and long drives; hills and trails, rains and sun. There was sweat, slush, shivers and spasms. There was mom’s food, chats and Beer. There were friends, family, near ones and very near ones. We were extravagant and we were thrifty.

It was complete on most measures; on the measure of time - 'was 23rd April to 25th April.
Friday evening started with the actor screaming ‘sweet leaping Jesus’. This was followed by a quick trial and buying a new Schwinn Searcher Sport – a hybrid bike for Shreya from Track and Trail. Shreya immediately felt comfortable enough to ride it back home in peak traffic!
We answered Sabine’s call to run at Nandi and woke up at 4am to drive to Nandi hills. It was a pretty bunch – Sunil, Sabine, Sindhu, Shreya and Jaggi. We ran up, in short sprint bursts to the top and jogged our way down.
The evening rains in Bangalore are making the early mornings very pleasant indeed. Shreya and I cycled about 16k inside and around the GKVK campus. We snaked around the gravel roads, the fields, the new roads around the campus – was beautiful.
The perfect finish – a hash run at Hoskote, joined by Raghu, Shreya and the rain gods came down visiting. The Beers and the drive, set a perfect stage for the IPL finals.
Ctrl+C… Ctrl+V??

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bangalore Bicycing Championship 2010

This is my second race with BBCh – the Bangalore Bicycling Championship and first this year. The call from Ventak informing me of the road race came bang in the middle of shit loads of work and grabbed it with both hands. I needed this dose of adrenaline.

Come the race day, Venkat picked me up at 6, we strapped the 2 Giants together on the race (Guess what happens when 2 Giants strap in, you get a Baby-Giant. Ha ha ha). Anyways, we got there at 7 and boy-o-boy what a spectacle it was.

The starting point was vibrant with multitudes of hues of bright jerseys, spandex (all black!), bikes, helmets, bike racks (all black again), trees, tender coconuts, blue skies and green grass (yes, it was vibrant with multitudes of hues!!!)

(*photo credit - someone in BBC, forget the link from when I pulled this off)

What a Quantum leap the biking scene has taken since the last time I raced at BBCh. The field has completely changed now – there are teams of riders training for speed and endurance, there’s an wide assortment of bikes –Giants, Cannodales, Ordeas, Bianchis, Btwins and the Treks. Whatever happened to the Firefox that used to rule to roost a couple of years back!

Everyone’s talking about ‘components’, the slicks, shifters, oz (added so that I can quickly put an etcetera), etc, etc – and a whole lot of tech jargon. And you can draw up an NxN grid with hybrid, road, MTB on one of the axes; Price of the bikes starting from 10K to 2lakhs on one; Sex on the other; age, height, weight, nationality, hair color, eye color on the other and while you confuse the hell out of everyone, you will still have one guy/gurl on each cell of the NxN matrix. (you get the drift, right)

Okie fine, now let’s start riding, its 7:30AM. And we started by turning around. It was a rolling start (I hadn’t trained just for this bit and it cost me the race, can you believe that!!!) we went back to the highway and rode together as a pack till the starting line and then the pack took off.
We rode from the Nandi turn-off point on the NH7 to the Base of the hill and then continued around the hill. Nandi turn-off point to the Idly point is 8k and the loop around the hill was 17km. So we did 2 loops around the hill and back to the starting point making a 51k in all.

The route was excellent and ideal for the road race. It included a climb that lasted nearly 3km (from 960m to 1055m altitude) and getting to about 12% gradient (50m climb in 420m) before it fell rapidly. I managed to go from 9kmph to 57kmph in a matter of 90sec on the downhill… The granny gears were tested and tested again during the second loop as well.

I finished in a modest 1:59hours, about 6mins behind Venkat. And since then I have simply been raving about the transformation of the Bangalore Biking Scene… what a lovely scene, I say...

Been there, Run that

In case you were wondering where I have been for so long, let me assure you I have been running around.
Two runs to cover the small East European town of Timisoara, a run around Car street to Kunjara Giri in Udupi and a couple of runs in the humid Chennai summed up the past one month for me.
Date & Place: Timisoara, Romania. 25-Mar-2010.
Notes: Covered one half of the city center on a 5k run, armed with a 3D map and my favorite running shoes, stray dog chases & ghosty children's parks notwithstanding.

Date & Place: Timisoara, Romania. 26-Mar-2010. The other half

Place & Date: Udupi, 11-Apr-2010. My birth town was the perfect place to run, even as I passed a major milestone in life, which took 30yrs to get cross!! I ran from the Krishna temple, Car street along the highway to Kunjaragiri, to Shreya's tulabara pooja at the Kujnaragiri temple. Lost buckets-full of sweat.

Place & Date: Kodambakkam, Chennai. 13-Apr-2010 - The first time Shreya ran around her own neighbourhood (have you??). We made some nice circles and squares!

Place & Date: Marina Beach. 12-Apr-2010. The unusually high sea levels were traced to sweat glands of one insane running trying a interval training along the beach!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Auro Mara 2010

Picture Post of the Auroville Marathon 2010
14 Feb 2010
Finish Time - 4:08:31

Will return to this post to fill in details.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Giants Ride

Sample this summary sheet:
Activity Type: Cycling
Time: 10:14:34hours
Distance: 181.12km
Elevation Gain: 1311m
Calories: 6089C
The splits tell a nice story too:

Let me take it split-wise:

Split 1:
Distance travelled from home to Hebbal, 20k, averaging 22kmph, starting from home at 6:15am.

Split 2:
Joined Venkat, also on his Giant road bike and headed straight out at 23kmph to the Nandi Base in 1:53hrs, including a 4-5min break at the Nandi Base - a distance of 43k.

Split 3:
The Nandi climb, start to finish in 43mins, taking exactly the same time as I did in the BBCh2 last year, refresher here. Elevation gain on that section alone was 426mts over 7.2kms!

Split 4:
This may look like the slowest stretch, but it did include a couple of breaks – tender coconuts and Idly breakfast, also one while Venkat rode back up to the top to retrieve his forgotten helmet.

Split 5:
The real story was, we were cruising on most stretches at 25-30kmph, that after having done 80-100k. The average was brought down by the lunch break. After Venkat branched off near Mekhri circle, I pressed on, stopped at my dear sister’s place for a mini lunch.

Split 7:
This was the best part. How often do you get to ride at speeds over 20kmph after having done 150k! The last stretch was a beauty – 4 breaks in 20k, one to refill water, one more for some water melons and the last 2 to stretch out some cramps that were beginning to appear. I cycled towards Sarjapur and then took the deviation towards Whitefield to complete the 20k before turning back towards home.
This was the second time I rode over 150k in a day. The 10 hour ordeal including the Nandi climb was worth every minute.

If you have read this far, you deserve to read the learnings (disclaimer: used for the lack of a better word)

No matter how strong you are, how fast you go or what distances you cover, every ride (and run) has an innate ability to leave you humbled.

On this ride, the moment came in the form of a Vinod P. While in the middle of those numbers & miles, somewhere after we had posted 90k and passed the Airport Interchange, we passed a guy on a cycle (the Hercules Atlas types) complete with a basket in front with 2 bottles of water. I completely ignored him and Venkat’s comment on his pace at first.

But I was surprised when the boy in torn clothes came up from behind and said in immaculate English, “It’s good to see other cyclist on the road”. Then we got talking, Vinod works at the Airport and rides 30k to work and back each day, 6 days a week, week after week for nearly 4yrs now! Little wonder the champ kept pace with us for about 20kms. He seemed to know more about Giant bikes than I did and was thrilled when I offered him a ride on my bike for a short distance. He ends up changing his tyres every 3 months, but saves every little he can to buy a road bike that “rides like a motorcycle”.
…and then when you look at yourself, it makes you challenge a whole bunch of benchmarks – of speeds, distances and of happiness.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Rehashing Nash Hash at Araku - as it unfolds

Day 1 - 23rd Jan, '10: Sun n Sands at Vizag

Savoring in, the view from the hotel room, overlooking the beach, the pier, the speed boats from the luxury of a perched up, A/c room at Rishikonda Beach Resort at Vizag.

Run1: In true mismanagement style, the rego happened an hour late and it did take a while before the 150+ (no one knows the actual numbers) got into yellow tees. The run was laid by the Hyderabad hashers. It was a bloody run, right over some hills we could see from our resort. The trail was thorny, rocky, slippery and marked somewhat. Shreya and I stuck to the runners trail. After we had survived the first 7k or so, the trail ended at the shore. We ran towards the distant lights of the resort, in fading twilight, along the shore. Check this trail hugging the shore-line. It was awesome!

Well, if you thought the run was mismanaged, you should have seen the circle!! Can the hashers be civilized to queue-up? Yes, they do anything for Beer. So there was, this never-ending line in front of this one Beer keg! The circle was a quick one - the Malaysians were iced (they were a bunch), the hares were given down downs over the announcement of the 5am (yes, 5am) start the next morning. The theme for the pardee was 'the 60s'. People didn't party much back then, I suppose. There wasn't much of a party.

Day2 - On On to Araku...but first the 'rail check'

Rail Check - Sunday, 4am!

Wake-up call, so we could get packed to leave by 5:20, to catch the train to Araku at 6:50. Ok, so on on we went in 'booses' to the station.

We march into the railway platform like kids on a school excursion - in a single line, in pairs, in uniform, with no luggage/money, packed lunch in hand and in total nonchalance. But hey, make no mistake, we weren't kids (atleast kids have some brains) we are Hashers who don't.

Well, the plan was for the AP tourism guys to save two unreserved compartments for us. That didn’t happen and the hashers settled down (albeit noisily) in the reserved compartments. The problem was it was not reserved for us. So, when the guys with the reservations came in, there was high drama – some were elbowed, others were reasoned with, most were ‘adjusted’. All was well, till there was a railway announcement for all people without tickets to move out of that Kirandul passenger. Ha ha ha, and we stormed out of the train, making a lot of noise. The song and dance continued outside the station too, till we waited for the booses to take us to Borra caves.

Borra Caves & Run 2:
We strolled into through the Borra caves – stuffy with all the limestone, stalactites, stalagmites and the bleaching powder (to keep away the bats). After spending an hour or so in the caves, we were ready for the run, which started at 11.
The trail took us up and down the hills of Araku. The runners looped some extra, while the walkers ambled along. We climbed hills, some steep ones, crossed little streams, walked on field bunds, through a 300mt railway tunnel, along across a railway bridge, a water stop, before we climbed and climbed a never-ending uphill trail taking us to the Ananthagiri hill resort for lunch and the sacred juice.
It was a tough one for Shreya I would think – the walkers also stuck to most of the runners’ trail. She did have a lot of Tamil MH3 hashers for company. It must have been an 8k for the walkers, I took 2hrs for the 12.5k!!

The circle was very entertaining – first Hyderabad hashers Venki Charade, Obelix & Chicken shit took turns with the horn. But the honors should go to the Malaysian hasher with his ‘Engineer song’ that went “Ah-hum titty-bum titty-bum titty-bum”. Shreya was iced & given a down down with the “She’s alright” song.

A 30km drive took us all weary hashers to our Haritha hotels at Araku for some much-needed rest. We were ready to rock at dinner time – the Mr. & Miss. Nash Hash titles, the Hash skits and the party.

Day 3 – The Ball breaker
The ball breaker is a very long run in tough hash trails usually in the range of about 20kms. Jugy & Navin wanted to do a 35k as a part of the training for the Auroville marathon next month, and I decided to join them. So we ran a 15k in the valley on the road towards Orrisa border and then did the Ball breaker. The BB was about 15k or so, taking a good 2.5hrs up and down steep hills. We completed another 3.5k and back to finish our quota of 37k for the day. It sure was good time-on-feet training, nearly 5.5hrs (1:45+2:30+0:57) at the end of which I had begun to cramp.
Pick a spot in a map, land there, pick a direction and run. While we ran the first 15, I saw this hill with a patch of bare earth and wondered how it would be to run up that. In less than a couple of hours, we were actually doing just that on the ball breaker. At the end of the ordeal, I had 2 bruises, one wet and muddy right shoe to show off as trophies!!

And while I was busy with all the mileage, Mrs. Phatphatia was baptized “loan shark” at the circle (her 5th hash run). It was a Hyderabadi cusine with biryani, dahi vada, puliyogare, gongura chutney, etc, etc.

The tribal dance show replaced the Dance hash and the party, we hit the sack early after a continental dinner. We missed the recovery runs to catch the early flight out of Vizag. On On

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Countryside Overdose

Saturday Northern Loop

9th Jan 2010: This was 'my' virgin route. I was always wanting to ride up this loop from Hebbal > Devanahalli > right on to the Devanahalli Hospet road > Gummanahalli > Bagalur > Hebbal.
This loop is about 80kms and we took 4:05hours to do it. 'We' on this ride were me, Venkat and Dinesh; the bikes were 2 Giants and a Rockrider 8.2.

The route is fantastic, ideally one should cover the distance to Devanahalli on the Airport road in the wee hours to avoid traffic. Once in Devanahalli and off the highway into NH207, towards Singahalli, you get into some neat countryside - fields, villages, good rolling roads and limited traffic and with it the fresh air, the visuals, the sun.

The route offers multiple possibilities for loops of different distances. Roads have been freshly laid right upto Bagalur, the rest is a fast highway anyway.
We stopped on the way back, at Yelahanka for breakfast and I rode right back home for a shower and well deserved lunch.

Sunday South-East Loop

Some lovely countryside trails off Sarjapur road at the Run No. 518 of the Bangalore Hash, hared by the Sarjapur Sultan (Ravi a.k.a private soreass), Navin and BFG.
Run report copied straight out of the Hash trash and pasted below:

The first run of the year namely ‘the prickly aunty run’ started with a remarkable 55 hashers along the country side near Sarjapur road. Pleasant weather as compared to the snow in various less fortunate places around the world; we enjoyed a very bright and a beautiful afternoon.

As usual we commenced with a false trail which nearly resulted in the entire pack heading out of the in-trail. Awesome. But BFG somehow guided us correctly back and in no time we were off into open landscape with lots of bushes and tree cover to confound the hounds.

Some excellent false trails - but by now of course, most people had twigged that it would be a right-hander, so only the extreme dimwitted (of which there were many) hounds went chasing off in the wrong directions at the checks.

Nice water stop on the edge of a field after which those with more energy than sense went off on a long loop and the smart ones amongst us headed directly back to the beer - only to find it missing somewhere in the bundu. Luckily it reappeared before a full riot got underway and all was well.

A well laid trail by BFG and gang, and pasta and cake by Mamma Mia to celebrate the New Year. Well we really had a very good time indeed.

The circle led by the GM went on as follows:
-Hares BFG, Private Soreass, Vinie the Pooh and Crushed Nuts were cooled off on the ice first for laying a really horny… oops thorny run
-Finger-In was very pro-active to flash her new shoes and very keen to drink beer from them and so she got a down down as well along with Cheap Dyke for not wearing his cheap old shirt to the hash
-A few harriots namely Sticky Sex, Pyramids and Take Your Pick demonstrated that they were hottie harriettes by wearing really warm jumpers in the sun so were officially chilled and brought down to the normal temperature by the beer.
-Virgins Smita, Chandan, Dinesh, Manish, Romilla and Ayub were given a taste of ice as well
Sushila (who was implausibly, in view of her full head of hair) accused of being Halfmoons big sister enjoyed a beer along with Halfmoon for trying to mislead us
-Arvind was given a down down for being in his best girly attire and arriving at the hash on a girly bike too
-Few returners Useless Prick, Red Hot Chilly Peppers and Discount were reminded that they cannot get off so easily without getting iced
-Mamma Mia was iced for serving up such excellent Hash Food along with along with Take Your Pick who was celebrating her 25th birthday (again)
-And last but not the least Private Soreass was promoted to Sergeant Soreass for participating in a really long (don’t remember the miles but really long) biking event but for not completing it. Also for quitting his job for another really long biking event.