Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Run like a roach - Bengaluru Midnight Marathon 09

Date: 12th Dec 09

Why run like a cockroach? Apparently we runners have a new role model. Read the story here. And that’s what happened on that cold Saturday night in Bangalore. Runners came out like roaches at the stroke of midnight to take part in the marathon.

A cockroach doesn’t think much about running, it just runs!

Neither did we!! Crossover, who were organizing the marathon, did not have a good track record, the rains were not relenting in Bangalore and it was a 8loops x 5.2k run. I did no running myself between the Ultra and the midnight marathon. But naah, we didn’t think of all that, we just turned up and ran.

The run was much better organized this time around. The water stations remained stocked (with water!) till about 4-5am. The traffic was definitely much better managed, the entire 2.1k stretch (yes, even that is a lot!) was cordoned off, well lit, freshly laid and almost flat. Registration was hassle free, maybe because there were no goodies to hand over! Ambulances stayed on the course, but by 3:30am when I had begun to cramp I had to run around to get some medical aid.

Roaches are social animals:
It was fantastic to see the support from RFL and fellow runners. My wife, Shreya braved the midnight chill and patiently waited at the start point while the husband (me!) ran round in loops. It was refreshing to see the entire BHUKMP team, led by captian Rishi cruising along the course. Chandra was god-send, after his half marathon, he hung around helping the runners with sprays and massages. To do this between 3am-5am, was truly fantastic. RFL also played its part – being there for the full marathoners when most needed. At about 3am, they set up a stall near mid way on the course, well stocked with water, electral, sprays & biscuits. They ran this counter till 6am.

Roaches have sore points too:
Timing Planet: Next time I hear this, I will scurry away into a dark corner and stay there. Timing Chip allowed you to rent for Rs.250. At the counter, we were promised that there would be timings & certificates provided. The Chip reader at the U-turn point ran out of power after about 3hrs! The timings were published a week after the event. They were based on RFID (?) nos. and not on Bib/running nos. There was no way of saying which timing belonged to you. Certificates? Since when did roaches get certificates?

My run:
I managed a good run myself. Considering that I had no specific training for this one, I ran the entire distance in 4:20hrs. Since it was a 4.2k loop to be done 10times, it provided a good chance to analyze the split timings – a variation of 23mins to 32mins for the lap timings, was not too much of a variance. Well, the curve is not bell-shaped, but I am still happy that my fastest was not the first, and my slowest was not the last!

Got to run now, damn that cockroach, where’s that HIT ;)
Photo courtesy: RFL
For a better run report visit Bhasker here

Bangalore Ultra 09 - A Successful failure

Pain is temporary, quitting is forever

The true meaning of this quote is becoming apparent to me, now even after close to a month after finishing the Bangalore Ultra 09.

I have been lucky to have other things to keep myself occupied, in the meantime – a lot of Shreya, first visit to in-laws, apartment search, rejoin work, more house hunting, getting a place, moving out of home, setting up the new place, cutting vegetables, etc. But occasionally, the devil pops its head out. At the changing room, after a short workout at the office gym, I look at myself in the mirror. My thoughts go racing back to Oct, when I used the same changing room, after a 12k run & 13k cycle ride to get to work. And a smirk comes on the lips; I didn’t complete what I started out to do…
“I only did a 75k at the Ultra…”

The Training:
Run October Run – the 100km weeks, the adrenaline highs, the residual fatigue had taken over my non-working life. I was following this schedule, where I ran 12k and cycled 13k to reach office and repeated this in the evening. This gave me mileage of 24k by run & 26k by bike each day. 4 days of this and a weekend long run and I was running 130k & 135k on 2 weeks and well over 100k for the other weeks. Heady stuff, but I knew I needed this training to do the run-a-ton. I had also managed a 60k run in under 7hrs on 24th Oct, running in GKVK with the BHUKMP brothers.

The Honeymoon runs – My wedding on the 5th Nov, 10days before the Ultra didn’t hamper the tapering much. I also ended up packing my running shoes into the honeymoon luggage and ran twice in Rajasthan.

My paranoia during the week leading to the Ultra was justified, when a feverish malaise crept up. My return from Mumbai was delayed and I landed in Bangalore on midnight Friday. I didn’t have a great Saturday before the run, either. My sis was kind enough to make some yummy pasta for me for lunch. With requests for an early start, RFL had provided the 50k+ runners to start at 5am.
Although it meant that I had to wake up at 2:30am, I thought it was worth the effort. Mahesh gave me the lift to Hesarghatta. The plan was that my folks and Shreya would join me at about 3:30pm and drive me back home. Despite the slight feverishness, I was confident of sticking to my plan – 10kmph pace for as long as I can (50k?, 60k?)

The Bangalore Ultra ‘09:
Do the means justify the end? I wish the answer was yes, we would have indeed found that short-cut to success. I clocked my personal best for a 75k; I finished the Ultra in 10:40hrs. This was better than the 12:07hrs 78k in ‘07 & the 11:06hr 75k in ’08. But hard facts have soft underbellies.

The splits say the entire story:

The second loop with an average speed of 6min/km proved expensive. I cramped at the start of the third. I almost never cramp that early and the pace was nowhere close to fast! I struggled between the 30k and the 50k and had to overcome a huge urge to stop at 50k.

I stopped at every water station (esp. the 2nd and the 4th) where the medicos from Wockhardt, iced my stiff thigh muscles and loosen them up. I had to spend nearly 10-15mins at every stop before I could get back on trail. It was tough and very very disheartening.

I was walking most of the distance but surprising, I was beginning to feel better after about 4 loops. But in my mind, I had given up well before the 50k mark. I had good company through the run – Athreya initially and Chandrasekhar towards the end. Ramesh Palani was a great help, riding on his bike on the course and offering ice & water.

I also saw far greater no. of runners on the course than the previous two occasions. My friends from L – Venkat & Kamal pulled off good finishes for the 50k. Sunil stuck to the job with a 15hr effort for his 100k, Athreya yet again proved how strong he is – a 12:30hr for his 100k. I had timed the finish so that Shreya could join me for the last km or so. My parents were cheering as I neared the finish line. It was success in many ways, but I can never erase the dejection when I see myself in that mirror. I quit.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The First Run

... and admist the Bangalore Ultra, the Bangalore Midnight marathon, the First Hash Run, "we" have now starting to train as a couple :)

Yesterday, Shreya and I ran a modest 3km around Agara Lake, close to our new home. If you had doubts if I would be able to run post-marriage, well, do you still have those doubts!!

Three run reports coming up... come back soon!!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Run, walk and cycle weekend

"Run, walk, cycle this weekend?", if you are asking, "what's new?” scroll down, the pictures tell a decent story.

Oct 10:
Spirit of Wipro 09 - My third podium finish this year, after the 7th at Auroville marathon & 4th at Hyderabad. My 44:11min 10k earned me this shining medal.

The Spirit of Wipro saw hundreds of wiproites out in the Sarjapur road to celebrate with families. For me it felt good to finish off in the second place, coming from behind and taking the last guy with less than 200mts to the finish line. It was the perfect photo finish (ironically, without the photo).

Some press coverage here.

The Diwali Hash:
There was no time for celebration after the SoW (I still managed to do a bow-and-arrow Bolt style on the presentation dias), I had to leave immediately to join Sunil, Meher & the David couple to hare the Diwali Hash at Chandy’s farm, off Kanakapura Road. Sunil had managed this to perfection and there was not much haring left when I reached the farm. I did help with the Beer, burp!!
In the middle of the holiday season, the runners were on a holiday too and decided to walk the trail. In keeping with the Diwali spirit, the hares had devised interesting check cards, with instructions to the hashers to hop, oink, dance – all in the Diwali spirit.
(pics courtesy: Abnash. More pics here)
The spirits were kept high with Sangria at the water stop. The evening was spent with crackers, sweets, yummy food, lots of amber liquids & banter with the running buddies.

Oct 11:
Bengaluru Cyclothon 09 – Bangalore was the chosen city to host the 50k event. The BIEC was perfect to dock the cyclists. My nephew Rishabh (the 7yr old is my inspiration, has more medals than I can ever get) also participated in the 2k event. Although the amateur race was reduced to a mere 27k (from the 50k to the 36k first), it was worth the effort for a chance to ride on the otherwise busy NICE road. It was a shame that, just as I was getting into rhythm on the undulating course, I sighted the finish line.
The kids event was chaotic, with children speeding on not so safe exhibition grounds. Long wait before the start, unregulated people on the tracks, and the authorities clueless on the route, etc added to the pitiable state of affairs. We were lucky to have gotten off without major incidents.
I finished my 27k in 50mins wishing it had lasted longer.
In the pic: Aryan, me, Venkat, Rishabh
More pics here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chasing the Bull in Bengaluru's Backyard - 50k run to Nandi

Date: 26th Sep '09
The first time I rode a bike from Hebbal to Nandi hills in Sep 06, with almost no clue even about the distance from Hebbal to Nandi. Between then and now, I have biked from Hebbal to Nandi a no. of times, ran up the hills from the Base quite regularly. There was just one more tribute to pay to the “Bull in Bengaluru’s Backyard”– run from Bangalore to Nandi.

I toyed with the idea & the options available for sometime – take a bus, run downhill and then all the way back to Hebbal. The other option was to start from Hebbal and run up to the hill. There are also various other non-highway routes that could be taken. I finally settled on running from Hebbal along the NH7 towards Devanahalli keeping to the NH & the SH to the Base. It offered easy quitting options (hop on to a bus) in case something went wrong & it is littered with shops all along if we needed a drink or so.

The support team: Tima, Giri, Mahesh’s driver. Tima (Sorry Chandra, its not Tina!!) volunteered to drive his car and act as a mobile water stop for us. Mahesh’s driver also got into the act, putting his head out of the car and checking if we were fine as he drove past us.

The runners: Athreya & I ran the distance from Hebbal to Nandi (51k) in 6:49hrs. Chandra (39k), Nari (35k), Vasu (30k), Mahesh (31k), Anjana (20k), Reena & Anita (7k uphill + 4k) kept us company in various stages... (Ps: Anita promised me Beer to raise her mileage, I promptly refused!!)

Chasing the Bull: Nari, Vasu, Chandra, Athreya & I started from Columbia Asia hospital at 5:20am, after a delay in scouting for a place to park. We eventually parked inside Esteem Mall. We were immediately passed by Monica & her friends who were biking to Nandi. She was kind enough to take this pic for us.

And so, we started running… keeping steady pace of about 9-10kmph. Mahesh spotted us near the Yelahanka junction and he joined us ahead of plan near the Jakkur airforce station.

Some important milestones:Café Coffee Day 11k (1:15hrs) 3mins break
ITC Factory 16.5k (1:54hrs)
Friends Dhaba (just after airport interchange) 20.5k (2:25hrs) 7mins break
Devanahalli turn-off point 25.8k (3:10hrs) 10min tender coconut break

Nandi Hills turn-off into SH104 29.3k (3:40hrs) 10min break
Idly Point SH74 turn-off point 39.9k (5hrs) 10min break
Nandi Base 43.4k (5:54hrs) 18min break
Nandi Climb 47.4k (6:27hrs) 8min break
Nandi Top 51k (6:58hrs)

We ran the last 3.5k in 25mins at nearly 7min per km, which goes to show we did finish pretty strong, considering that the ascent was the steepest in this section of about 250mts!!
So, that is your benchmark for the “Chasing the Bull” Ultra – 51k in 6:57hrs.
Took lots of breaks for tender coconuts & water stops, it was a fun experience overall and a fantastic training for the Bangalore Ultra

Many thanks to all the runners from BHUKMP – Vasu, Nari & Giri, to Mahesh, Athreya, Reena, Anjana & Anita. Big hug and thanks (in XXXL size) to Tima for the support. I had to overcome a huge urge to hug and kiss the 1k milestone as we were running up the hill and just that was worth all the effort!!
Athreya was kind enough to present tee shirts to finishers (him n me!!) and Reena had organized beer and lunch at the Silver Oak Farm.

Addendum: Fast forward 22nd May 2016
Did a near repeat of this, ran from home (add 4-5km), minus support (self supported), replace Ath with Navin. Finished the distance in about 6h:45min, started at 4:45ish, finished by 11:30.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Hyderabad Hi-Tech Marathon Report

Reproduced verbatim from my own race report, what was supposed to make to the RFL newsletter, but didn’t. Did the weight of engagement ring add any extra to the timing?? Find out in the analysis of my own race in the section “Another Chest No. 25 – another Personal Best” at the end.

The Hyderabad Hi-Tech marathon featured in the coveted list of ‘new’ marathons along with the likes of Auroville, The Great Tibet & Coorg marathons. Some pioneering RFLers (Bhasker, Shyam, et al) had run the last year’s edition, and the feedback was very promising. (Bhasker’s best Indian marathon timing in his 12-marathons-in-12-months was at Hyd). With Rajesh Vetcha (a passionate runner & ex-RFLer) at the helm of organizing, my expectations were naturally, right up there.

My training goals for the year filtered out just 2 runs – the Hi-tech marathon and the Ultra. With so much at stake, I was delighted to see the dates for the marathon announced about a month in advance.

Right from the registration process, there were signs of meticulous planning (the site accepted ‘Mastercard’ credit cards ). In the days leading to the race day, Rajesh confirmed our stay in the dorm of the Gachibowli Stadium, the race route was published on the event website, emails with instructions on how to reach Gachibowli had reached us.

There was a loud & noisy gang that landed at Hyderabad on 29th Aug taking the Kachebowli Exp or the Gareeb Rath – BHUKMP team (Rishi, Amrita, Vasu, Nari), Deepak, ANS, Ram, Manmohan, Shumit & Rahul. We received fantastic support from Ganesh, from the organizing team who ensured (as Rishi put it) we were treated like the elite athletes.

A few of us got to test the conditions with a short 5k run in the synthetic tracks of Gachibowli stadium. Ganesh ensured that we focused on rest & carb loading – he took down names and t-shirt sizes and saved us the trouble of travelling for registrations.
Carb-loading was at Paradise in the evening over late lunch. Heaps of Hyderabadi Biryani disappeared & some more was packed for dinner.

The Race Day:
The Route: The race was a A to B run, starting at KBR Park in Jubilee hills via Hi-Tex City to ISB campus, then into the Hyderabad University & ending in Gachibowli Stadium. The entire route is undulating, with an overall gain in elevation of 850m. There was no shade cover for nearly 75% of the route and there are some uphills that last for a couple of kms. It’s definitely not the easiest course, but what made it memorable was the way it was managed.

• A High-Tech bus to take the outstation runners to the start
• An early 5:30am start
• Well stocked aid stations every 2km (water, electrolytes, bananas, oranges, biscuits, muscle relaxant sprays, sponges dipped in cold water). All of this was available right through the route, the sponges make a lot of difference of a hot day
• Good support from Hyderabad Police & Athletic Association. The Police riding motorbikes alongside runners towards the end of the race. Although there was sparse traffic, the Police made sure that they manned every intersection. There was no single incident that I faced where there was traffic hindrance
• Fantastic route – the organizers had worked on feedback from last year and had made subtle modifications to the route to avoid boring sections towards the end of the race.
• At the finish, medals were given as the runners finished and timings & names were recorded accurately to avoid mistakes
• Warm food was available at the finish is sufficient numbers (I cleaned 3 packets myself). The Pongal (Khichidi) was way better than the sandwiches that are provided at the finish of some races. I could see a Rajesh Vetcha chapa in most of this nuances.
Little wonder then, that, the BHUKMP / RFL team from Bangalore bagged 5 out of 10 positions in the amateur category (and RFLers came 11th in both full & half marathon). We had 3 out of the first 5 – a majority, whichever way you slice it. ANS had a lot of answering to do after his 3:32hr finish. Deepak & I stuck to plan – finishing in 3:43 & 3:50 respectively. Vasu came in 5th at 4:01hrs. It was a PB for all of us. Chandru was 10th at 4:23hr.
As was claimed by the organizers, it was truly “A run for the runners, by the runners”, one that should definitely be added to your running calendars.
And… time to take me out for a by-two filter coffee, Mr. Arvind Krishnan!!
“Another Chest No. 25 – another Personal Best”
Coincidentally, the last time I got a personal best was with Chest No. 25 at Auroville. I was pleased when the number was handed to me again.
On the eve of the marathon, while Deepak & I were discussing strategy on how we should pace ourselves for the run, Nari who stopped to listen in, dropped this pearl. He said “(In spite of all strategies)…finally it comes down to how badly you want it”. Take a moment to think, doesn’t it all come down to that, wow!

So I decided to go for it… might as well try and fail, than not try and fail – Try and fail, but don’t fail to try. So Deepak & I decided to keep 11kmph pace for as long as we could, my own personal goal was also to keep running for the entire race duration.

And this is what we did, we ran at steady pace including the climbs. But we made sure we increased the strides on the down-hills throughout the undulating course. Vasu remarked after the race about how we nearly blasted away on the long down-hill after ISB (at the 28k mark or so). The Gramin charts shows the fantastic co-relation between elevation and our pace!
The Result: A personal best at 3:50:01 for me, 4th position in the amateur category, Rs. 2000 in prize money – truly, the extra weight of the engagement ring did not affect the result. Perhaps, as Rishi pointed out, it only add the weight of responsibility on the shoulder…

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Nandi Fartleks

Ever done a speed training on a hill?
Nandi hills has been a boon to Bangalore. Runners, bikers, photographers, motorcyclists, bird watchers regularly frequent the hills over the weekend. Runners use the 7.3k climb to the top for some hill training, running up and down to the base, usually twice – takes us about 3-3.5hrs for the 2 loops.
On the 23rd Aug, it was only Sunil & I who turned up for the hill training (I messed up the post on the RFL club site and got no responses).
We did the usual on the first loop in 51mins, averaging 7:15mins/km.
Sunil got this idea of trying to do speed interval training on the uphill. So we paired up – he started running and I took the wheel of his car. I drove up 400m, stopped and waited for him to catch-up. When he did, he took the wheel and I powered up the hill, 400m to the waiting car. We continued this pattern right up to the top. The second lap was run in 39mins, averaging 5:22mins/km.
Notice the pattern in the graph??

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Urban Stampede - Jungle mein Mangal

Date: Aug 22nd '09
Venue: Olde Bangalore (same as last year)

Registration fee for the Urban Stampede, incl. run support, buffet breakfast, tee shirt, goody bag & an opportunity to run with your colleagues – Rs. 5000
Fresh fruit juice, Pasta and salads for breakfast & an entire spread of South Indian tindis – Rs. 300
Driving to the venue, the Olde Bangalore some 20k from the city – Rs. 150

A chance to run with your Fiancée, with the hope of beginning a very long run with her – Priceless. There are some things money can buy, for everything else you need to be blessed…

The Good:
· For the first time, I was sponsored. The closest I have come to being sponsored before this, was a beer or two after the runs on a couple of occasions. Thanks Wipro!
· There were 147 teams that participated, that’s a whopping 600 people running the 5kms.
· The starting area was actually inside the resort (last year it was in the parking lot).
· The tees were excellent (esp. the ones that came in the delayed lot). All participants (Note: deliberately avoiding use of the word ‘finishers’) were given shining Gold Medals.
· There were stronger runners, the entire Toyota team put up an excellent show, an average of 20.5mins for the 5k each.
· Good opportunity to interact with colleagues – Neetesh, Aman & Bryant from my team & Subba, Jai, Santosh & Naresh from the second Wipro team.

The Bad:
· Food was good, but you would have to think twice to offer your non-running family member breakfast. It was a whopping Rs.300 per person for the buffet breakfast. Quite a pinch if you were thinking of a stay-cation for the weekend in the countryside with your family of 4!
· The course was unchanged from last year. It’s a 2.5k and back, I’m sure we can have more variety for such a short distance.
· The bibs were clumsy, with the company name needing to be sprawled across on a second bib pinned on top of the first one.

The Bestest:
· Being the first runner in my group, I grunted my way through the pack and passed the baton in 4th position (our team finished a respectable 27th out of 95 teams in the Open category)
· With a timing of 22:20mins for the 5k, I came in 18th overall, out of the near 600 runners – top 3 percentile!!· Accompanied my fiancée, Shreya who was running the second leg for Ujjivan. The 40mins were special. Reena & Athreya perched themselves strategically along the course to make sure we don’t get ‘lost’ in the bushes.
You know I did some goal setting at the Sunfeast 10k last year. This year it is the Mission Accomplished, bwuhahhaha...hahahaha

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chennai Pondi Relay ver 3.0

Date: Aug 14-16th 2009
Total personal effort in 3days:
~10k run in Chennai on 14th, 2pints, 10x200m sprints with the baton, 50k bike ride on OMR & ECR, 15k noon run to Pondy, 4pints, 8k Heritage run at Pondy, more pints.

Key Highlights:
Red Dress Run: 14th Aug, 5pm
* Late start, fading light, bloody long for a run without a water stop
* Run on streets, along crowded beaches was not pretty
* With the light dropping the trail was barely visible. Jugy, Zach and I ran back on our own having lost the trail
* Yours truly iced for representing BH3 filling in for the absent BH3 GM
* The party at Green Meadows was high on decibel levels & low on IQ levels, as teams tried to figure out what the team captains were strategizing

Chennai – Pondy Relay Run ver3.0: 15th Aug, 6am
* Horror start – First, Horror Zubin actually started the race at sharp 6, the hard, long baton in hand. Second, the Hyderabad runners van with Obelix and some 10 other runners ended up in the ECR toll booth and not the OMR toll booth!!
* Arun, Sunil, Jugy & I ran our guts out in short bursts; Arun ran out of turn a few times too.
* The Obelix van joined us about 5k later and we finally got some more time between turns to catch some breath.
* Our team finished our 10.4k in some 43mins or so.
* Amidst a lot of attention from team mates, Jugy & I put our bikes together, changed to spandex, changed shoes and were off on our bikes
* The bike ride was excellent. OMR has some flat stretches, it was an overcast day & the breeze was light.
* We made good progress, stopping only once during the entire 50k stretch. Except for a stray incident of a tractor trying to mow us off the road, ECR was friendly too.
* Reached Radha’s farm at Kalpakkam in about 2hours for some fab breakfast of omelet, idly, pongal, watermelon juice
* Packed the bikes back in and sprinted the second leg when our turn came. This time more organized, less frequent, but nevertheless as lung bursting as the first one.
* Then we hopped on to the car, with Vinod at the helm and headed to the last toll bridge on ECR as we entered Pondy, with an estimated 12-15k left to the finish.
* Jugy, Sunil & I started running (at 12:30, it was blazing heat) the last leg, Jugy dropped out & hopped on to Abnash’s car after 5k or so, Sunil dropped pace after about 7-8k or so. I finished the agonizing run at Nalla beach.
* Met some very snobbish hashers who were very reluctant to offer a lift in their car (to the adj St. James Court) for the fear that my sweat would stink worse than their beers. I farted in the car for good measure – phat phatia
* The baton reached to the awaiting hashers in 8:20hrs – jerking at an average of 4:11mins per km for all of the 120km!!!
* BBQ, dinner, party, football on tele, dance floor, KF pint at Nalla beach resort and back to Ginger well after midnight

Pondy Heritage Run: 16th Aug, 9:30am
* This was where the hashers were given treatment they are not used to
* Run started near the Gandhi statue. It was to be flagged off by the CM of Pondy himself!!
* The police made great efforts to clear the roads for us. The trail was very well marked with chalk, but the FRBs just couldn’t get the police van out of the way
* And yet again, Zac, Jugy & I lost the trail and ended up running the last few kms off the trail
* It sure was a hot day and a long trail for the recovery run
* The circle was at a beach resort, the cherry on the top was the Ballad by Mike(?) – the One of Each reproduced at the end of this post
* Lunch was served with the amber fluids at the Mahindra Zest Big Beach Resort. What a lovely place that was!
* The drive back from Pondy was a blinding one – first by the heavy downpour, then by the headlamps and finally as we neared Sarjapur by the lack of street lights

Reported in the press on the 18th. Linked via the MH3 site here
More pics here
Sing the Ballad Chorus before signing off… (full Ballad here)
Zac started filming – “Which way do we go?”
Leather Coater said “It’s this way.”
Red Stud answered “Where”
Arul said “That’s a long one, the longest one I know”

On On…

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bheemeshwari Ride

Little did I know that in 2 weeks of testing my bullet on the Kanankpura highway, I would attempt a similar ride on the same road on a different set of wheels.
On 2nd Aug, BBC planned a ride to Bheemeshwari with Georg at the helm of affairs. With the amount of enthu in the forum & now a good bike, there was no excuse to not do this one.
I know the report has taken a long time to get here, but I will jot down the key highlights (from somewhere deep down the folds of my not-so-great memory).
The ride was to start at 6, some 40 odd bikers had joined the list. When I landed at the Family Mart junction, there was a mere fraction of that no. It seemed to take me forever to find a decent place to park my car. I tried an apartment complex – visitors parking, the Metro (which opens only at 6!) to no avail, then chose a by-lane, parked quickly, picked up the bike and was off before suspicious questions could be asked.
I rode back to the Family Mart junction, met Georg, topped up the air on my tyres and was off by about 6:20 or so. Many bikers were already on their way & I joined Prashant also on a road bike. We were settling down into a decent pace when we hit the first of the riders from the earlier pack.
We caught up with Annjuu on her Hercules wow & we decided to keep her company till she was safely in the company of slower riders. The only pack that sped past was that of Samim, Dipanker & Georg and Prashant slid into that pack. I don’t think I missed any of the put-your-head-down-and-ride section and Annjuu was fantastic company. She was quite slow, but made up for the lack of pace with sheer determination. She had only done a 40k before this and was challenging herself to do a 100 on this ride. Tagging along with Annjuu ensured that I conserved enough for the ride back, plus Annju was excellent company and we chatted on hordes of topics from motorcycling to parenting to spirituality.
We reached Sathnur (about 60k from Metro) and by then the rest of the bikers were way ahead. Annjuu wasn’t feeling great and was trying in vain to reach the support vehicle to pick her up. The mini snack at Sathnur, my persistent cajoling did not help and we talked to a few villagers at the next village. The were very willing to take care of the bike (without a lock) while I flagged down a tractor to take her down to Bheemeshwari.
I rode down to an awaiting Jeep where bikers were making their way back after having spent close to an hour in the Cauvery waters. I was quite fresh myself and after a quick refilling of supplies, I started back with Murthy, Nelly and Prashant. We stopped for a some chai, curd rice at a tea stall outside Sathnur.
The return on Kanakapura road was great – Samim, Georg, Prashant and I rode in a single file, pace lining a long distance. Outside of Kanakpura, Samim joined Dipanker shot ahead. I fell behind somewhat, managed to reach the Venki store at Family Mart junction at 5pm for some stretches and chilled beer with the rest of the bikers.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Of Clutch Plates, Laal Ghoda & Mavathur lake

Date: 18th - 19th July 09
The 5in5 routine of the previous week had left a slight bad aftertaste. My silver bullet (all of 49000kms now) was not responding normally when I opened the throttle. There were also incidents when it would take me forever to start the bike, the kicker offering no resistance to the kick. I was determined to get it back into business on Saturday and hopefully make it to the RTMC announce ride on Sunday to Kabaldurga.

Early on Saturday I called Gurunandan to get it fixed. With Nandan nursing a collar bone injury and Tiger, his Man-Friday off on his monthly drinking binge, I had to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty (literally) and provide the much needed TLC for the clutches.
Nandan immediately pointed out that it was a case of smoothened clutch plates and that it was straight forward repair job. I got some gyan over the phone and waited till the brats (my nephews - Rishabh and Aryan) were at home to begin to remove the nuts and bolts.

· The first sign of clutch-slip is, not being able to reach the top-speed you earlier could. Frankly, I didn’t see this coming
· Kicker does not offer any resistance to the kick and goes through easily. I even tightened the kicker nut thinking that had come loose
· When you are in say, the third gear, upon turning the accelerator, the bike revs, the rpm shoots up, but there is no corresponding increase in speed, speed may sometimes kick-in after a lag

Likely problem area:
· Clear indication of the primary drive not transferring the power, suspect the clutch plates
· Clutch slip will be due to one of two causes - insufficient spring pressure or insufficientfriction between plates due to excessive slipperiness
· Worn out fiber-faced clutch plates (can be found by applying pressure on the fiber plates using fingernails, if it feels like a tile and not like rubber , it’s time for replacement)
· In my case, all the bolts holding the springs had come very loose

· Roughen the steel clutch plates with sandpaper (emery paper) or a file
· Increase the spring pressure a bit by inserting washers under all three of them or by using stronger springs. In my case, one of the bolts had a shake despite tightening it (possibly because of wearing of the threads), I used Teflon tape before screwing it back
· The oil that needs to be filled is light weight oil to increase friction, the cheapest one available is Laal Ghoda

“Most motorcycle problems are caused by the nut that connects the handlebars to the saddle”

I put back the primary case & the footrest and all that remained to be done was to pour back the oil into the case through the nut. But try as I may, the nut would not budge. With the edges of the nut already well rounded, there was little hope even with my new acquired adjustable spanner. So this nut (read me!) in a sudden flash of brilliance, figured that the engine oil flows into the primary case and poured the oil from the clutch case to the engine!!

It took some undoing after a call to the bullet doctor, Nandan. I went out and bought the Laal Ghoda, took the bike to a mechanic (yes, I had to succumb) to loosen the nut and filled in the Laal Ghoda.

By evening, I had more oil & grease in my finger nails than between those clutch plates.

Ride to Mavathur lake:
The Laal Ghoda did it’s job, washing away the guilt of neglecting the bullet and on Sunday morning at 5:30AM, I was saddled up to join the newbies on the announce ride to Kabaladurga.
When I landed at Khoday’s at 6:30AM, I suddenly felt like an outsider. There were small groups where riders were socializing, but there were only new faces. This was not the RTMC that I had known at all. But what had not changed was the time keeping – Goop joined in sometime, the ride captain, Biscuit, came in at 7am.

We had an early breakfast stop just outside of town within 30mins of start and one pit stop later we were near Kanakpura. We were looking for Mavathur on the map which showed a pretty lake off the highway. With the confidence on my bullet growing, I took over as the point from here on. As we turned off the highway into Mavathur, into the narrow village roads, it was yet another of those freeze-frame-RTMC moments – in the rear view mirror, the entire roads seems on aglow with headlights of Bullets - the village roads, the fields adding to the view.
We reached the far end of the lake and after making a few enquiries found our way to the bund on the other side. The lake bund was build in the 80s and there is hill at one end of the bund. A few of us climbed up the hill to get a better view of the surrounding (quite spectacular) landscape.
After a round of introductions, we rode back via Kanakapura & Ramanagara to get on Mysore road. I continued to be the point till we hit Mysore road and broke away from the main group to get back home for lunch with a visiting cousin from UK.
Total distance covered: 180km
Pics courtesy: Ajai Kamath… more here, here and here
For more gyan on clutch plate maintenance visit here

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Office commute – 5 days, 5 ways

How many times have we felt, “damn, the traffic is so slow, I could easily be faster on foot”, but never dared to try. On one such Friday evening when it took me 1:45mins to cover the 26k home, I decided to try all modes of options to commute to work – Car, Bullet, Bus, Cycle and Run.

Although, I had the phone lines open for 165774hours for the entire country to vote in their favorites, all of 41people voted (blame the economy, H1N1 or both). And like any reality show, the results are being announced after a choti si break.

Summary of the results:
• The least one-way time to commute was recorded while I rode the cycle; 54mins for 26km
• The least average time (both ways) was recorded by the bullet - 61.5mins, the cycle was a close second at 62.5mins
• The time taken by the next three modes were Car (1:12hrs), Bus (assisted: 1:45hrs) and run (2:35hrs)

Terminologies used:
• Work-ability: The ability to work after one commutes to office. Yes, some morons like me work after getting to office.
• Health Equity: Health = health, Equity is used to use up the residual remnants from my Fin MBA
• Relaxation Index: The measure of relaxation during the commute

• Although, I tried to keep the start the commute at the same time each day, there were deviations. Even a 10-15min change can cause quite a difference in results in peak hour traffic. This variable could have been controlled further
• Same as above for the time to leave office too
• There was a significant loss of speed in transmission because of slipping clutch plates in the bullet. But then, we are not getting into muscle fatigue during the cycling phase either
• The experiment is not sensitized to the day of week as well. I also have only the luxury of sample size = 1. With multiple data points, with different modes being taken on different days, one could also account for the Monday morning, Friday evening traffic variations
• All parameters where I have arrived at objective results (viz., cost, time, carbon footprint) have been converted to a 5-point scale for measurement. All parameters where results are subjective (viz., work-ability, safety, health equity, relaxation index) have also been subject to my subjectivity
• The ‘Overall ratings’ is arrived at using weighted-average. The weights are provided by me (Health equity 25%, Work-ability 20%, Cost & Safety 15%, Time & relaxation 10%, Carbon footprint 5%). Of course, this could vary from person to person and the ‘Overall ratings’ are quite sensitive to the weights considered
• We are comparing superman legs with them machines

13th to 17th July 2009

Route taken: Boopsandra>Hebbal>Windsor Manor>Chalukya circle>Cubbon Park>Richmond circle>Divyasree Chambers>Hosur Road>Forum Mall>Krishna Cafe>Wipro Park K2>Agara jn>Iblur Jn>Wipro Corporate Office
Total Distance: 26km
Make: Superman
Start time: 6:00AM onward, 6:40PM return
Total time taken: 2:32hrs onward, 2:39hrs return
Cost to commute: Nil

Notes: I wear high viz clothing, cap & reflective wristbands for safety. I run on the right side of the road (opp. to the direction of traffic). At the earliest opportunity, I jump onto the footpaths. Despite utmost care, I nearly zonked out when I rammed against a signpost (twice) & also got shown the finger by one impatient jackass on the ring road. I use my car (parked conveniently in the basement car park at work) as a makeshift cupboard for my change of clothes and laptop & shower and change at work.

Make: Giant OCR Road bike
Start time: 7:30AM onward, 6:50PM return
Total time taken: 54mins onward, 71mins return
Cost to commute: Nil
Notes: I wear high viz clothing, helmet & gloves for safety. I alight from the bike if I need to take footpaths, maintain high alert if I need to jump signals and do not listen to music or answer the mobile while on the bike. The morning ride is a very pleasant experience indeed. The car, shower & change get me work ready in about 45mins or so.

Make: Hyundai Elantra
Start time: 7:45AM onward, 7:20PM return
Total time taken: 64mins onward, 1:20hrs return
Cost to commute: Approx. Rs. 110
Make: BMTC Ring road bus
Start time: 8:30AM onward, 7:00PM return
Total time taken: 1:45hrs onward, 1:40hrs return
Cost to commute: Day pass Rs. 30
Notes: Last mile connectivity issues at both ends; had to hitch a lift from work to the ring road. A lot to be desired on the frequency and timelines of the Volvo buses. Heavily crowded bus on the return.

Make: Royal Enfield Bullet
Start time: 8:45AM onward, 7:00PM return
Total time taken: 59mins onward, 1:04hrs return
Cost to commute: Approx. Rs. 75
Notes: Due to clutch pads smoothening out, the power was not transmitting from the primary drive. Therefore, even at high revs, the speed remained low. Also, I left a little later than usual to work on the bullet adding to the total time taken.

• Saturday was spent in roughening the clutch plates
• More importantly, after another week of trying to keep with this schedule, I gave up mostly because the running was difficult to sustain
• I now run partly (12km) and cycle partly (13km) to work, parking the cycle at Madhu’s (my sis) place overnight and picking it up the next morning. I find this a perfect mix of commute, training, cross training & work-ability
• Thanks for participating in the survey, most of you got it right. Since this survey did not involve sending an SMS, you saved Rs.6!! Cheers!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bangalore Bicycling Championship 2 –Race to Nandi

…and within a few hours of landing in Bangalore, I was busy spreading word about the new Giant in town, when I was casually drawn into RSVPing an ‘yes’ to the second leg of the Bangalore Bicycling Championship (BBCh).
And that is how, one day before I was to be engaged to Shreya,
“Main Uske Upar Tha,
Woh Mere Neeche Thi,
Haathon Mein Haath The,
Pairon Mein Pair the,
Please bura maniye,
woh sirf meri cycle thi
Wah wah!! And Wah wah!!
The plan was also to pass on my Firefox Roadpro to Bharath (who was recently won the duathlon & has a PB of 18:33mins for a 5k) & Samim picked me from Hebbal at 6AM.

The race was to start from the Coffee Day near Jakkur at 7am and I had never ridden with BBC before. Although I knew there were 60 registrations, it was another thing to actually see them on the service lane opp. to Coffee Day. Everyone was kicked about the event – there were last minute topping up of air, bikes being fitted together, pleasantries being exchanged, photos being taken and some even doing initial warm up laps. While all this was happening, instructions were given over a loudspeaker as we all piled up at the start line.

We started at 7am, I had no drafting or pacelining whatsoever, simply wanted to try the climb on my new baby and ride back home. There were race marshals (members volunteer to be out of the race to help organize the chaos) at the highway turn off point (17km) and at the base of Nandi hills (31km). I did fairly well on the flat stretches. I averaged 33kmph before the turn-off and 25kmph after the turn-off to the base.

But it’s really the climbs that separate the wheat from the sheaf. While I struggled after about 5k into the climb taking nearly 43mins to ride up, Dipanker who came in first, climbed in 25.5mins!! Nevertheless, it was the maximum I have been on saddle on the Nandi climb and I have happy to have had minimal running/walking stretches.

I averaged 23kmph over the entire distance. I came in 18th out of 70 finishers, with 3 bikers passing me in the last bend. With 11 points from this, I have made a grand entry into the points table of the Bangalore Bicycling Championships.

After relaxing for awhile, we rode down to the Idly point for some breakfast. Sudhir, Murthy and other cronies decided to pace line on the way back. It was soon apparent that drafting behind another takes a lot more than just knowing what needs to be done. It works well for bikes/bikers of similar capabilities. While the rest of the gang broke off at Coffee Day, Sudhir and I continued all the way back home.

Mahesh did a wonderful job (and a brave one, esp while perched on the jeep with his SLR) with the lens and gave us all those wonderful pics. I have splashed them all over this blog/facebook/orkut. More pics from this shutterbug at http://www.flickr.com/photos/purpwaltz/sets/72157620529487549/

Despite my “Haathon Mein Haath, Pairon Mein Pair” incident, the engagement went on peacefully and I am now engaged! Pics you can see at http://www.flickr.com/photos/manojbhat/sets/72157621333296046/

Stats, route elevation courtesy BBC members, Photos courtesy Mahesh.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The American Independence Outsourced Run

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
And thus on the 5th day of July I jumped on my cycle to place claim to my ‘certain unalienable right’ to attend the Uncle Singh’s Not American Independence run in Bangalore’s countryside. Well, since the 4th July run was outsourced to Bangalore, someone had to goof up on delivery and it was one day late!
I have hared runs in the past in this territory and knew the approach from Devanahalli. But I dug the map out and figured that there was a much shorter way via Bagalur and decided to try it on my new set of wheels.

The roads are laid recently and there is very little traffic to worry about. So, if you want to do a 70k loop from Hebbal, you should try this. Head North from Hebbal towards BIAL. Take the right at Bagalur cross > Bagalur > You will hit a T-junction, take the road that goes towards Gummanahalli (2km) & Yediuru (5km) (not towards Kannur) and then take a left on the Hospet-Devanahalli road to Singanahalli. From here Devanahalli is about 10k.
The run site was near Singanahalli.

Reproducing the run report by Vikram (Illiterate) Ram for two reasons – one, such well written hash trash, two – me lazy.
...but we all, like, got these really cool t-shirts with this kinda neat pattern thing (ugh; can't believe I just said that; score).
Anyway, the Scribe is back from holiday but was distracted from the setting and specialities of this Run, first by a certain charming lady who is back from her holiday (with tigers), and then a certain other charming lady who fretted over what to pack (or not) for her impending travels, with FRB-spouse, to the Leh Marathon.
Still, it was observed that a record turn out – some 60 Hashers large and twee – made it to a trail muddled by many checks, checkbacks, falsies and fishhooks which kept the pack together across several acres of farmland and those ubiquitous eucalyptii. There was a vodka/melon stop.
Followed by Part 2 of what was, in fact, An Astonishingly Long Run...at the end of which, and courtesy a miscalculation of rations, many people perished of starvation.
Circle charges:
  • Hares Pervert Producer, Crushed Nuts and Crude Sick for what they accomplished by way of terrain and chalk.
  • The United Colours of Horrors, comprising of Idiot, Meghana, Eric, Simran, Rohan, Yohann, Siraj, Chilly Filly and Pygmy.
  • Queenfisher for voicing concern that she hadn't been iced in ages. As that situation was remedied, Raw Sex held forth on the 9th August Run and the dinner-do after, the Pondicherry relay run, and the so-on and so-forth. What Queenfisher did not melt down was given over to
  • Virgins on Ice For The very First Time: Satish, Fareed, Nikhil, John, Roopa, Durgaprasad, Lekha and Amit. Welcome!!!
  • Crude Slick was re-assigned to ice for introducing a self-confessed “marathon runner”. Disgraceful!
  • Idiot, Karin and Krish, and some others whose names elude us, were honoured for being Born in the USA...or something of the sort.
  • Mama Mia, Kumkum and Idiot were feted for the dubious distinction of being Three Generations of Hashers In The Same Family. Say...has anyone noticed just how much beer Idiot gets to guzzle?
  • Phatphatiya (me, me!!) and Lekha were congratulated for getting Engaged (not to one another)
  • Pervert Producer was acknowledged for Sponsoring Those Super Cool T-Shirts.

GM and RA led the hymn. Just as we thought thought it was over, Perv Prod set off a surprise display of fireworks. Must have been all that sulphur: the skies opened and everyone drove home in a massive downpour.

I did manage to hitch a ride back in the beer van and escaped almost all of the massive downpour. On On…

Run No. 878

Run No. 878 starting from Obelix’s home in South Shields was like a tour around the suburban Cleadon. The trail took us to the Cleadon Mill – ruins of a haunted (?) windmill from the 1800s. And when we were tired looking for the flour in knee high grass, we were shepherded down the hill and back up again near the water tower. It was quite a bright sunny evening and the group was split with a few of us FRBs breaking away in front. But soon speedbump and I were lost and got back on trail after a few anxious minutes.
With all the historical sections done with, in the beginning, we jumped at the chance to short-cut when lubricunt offered the shorter route back to the circle.
Back at the circle, we were treated to some mushrooms and bell peppers BBQs. And while we were soaking in the amber liquid and barbeques, we were treated to some spectacle in the Obelix’s backyard – a near complete rainbow.
More pictures and colors at: http://picasaweb.google.co.in/manoj.bhat/ObelixNHHH

Ps: It happened on Jul 17th, which means I am in namma Bengaluru. So you can pick up the phone and call ;)