Note: This post is slightly detailed. I wanted to keep it as a “Notes to self”; because I don’t want to forget some of the moments from this trip; especially the 3rd part of this post.
It's been a couple of months, that I had gone for a long cycling trip. 15th August on a Thursday means long weekend was coming (kind of). On Wednesday, I was thinking about the places I can go; but I and my cycling partner Nitish (we call him Parkar) had been to most Bangalore's good places in the range of around ~120 km round trip. Kolar's blue water lake (also called "Dodda" or "Chhota Ladakh") was in my mind from last few times which is roughly 52 km from Indiranagar. In the Bangalore-Sakleshpura-Chikmangaluru cycling trip (a post soon), Parkar and I had clocked our best of 135 km in a single day. I wanted to go farther than that from quite some time, but couldn't find a good destination within the range. More than that, a destination which could be safe to go; if I get tired and could crash somewhere midway.
Therefore, I decided to visit Kolar and cover some of the nearby ancient temples that I had heard of. I created a map which included the lake and 6 temples (Targetting ~220 km). Parkar couldn't join me as he was still recovering from the viral fever. In the evening, I washed the bike, did the basic checks and packed up the small decathlon bag with all the utilities (checklist here). I quickly prepared my go-to mixture of roasted grams + raisins + almonds + peanuts (~500gm overall). I knew that nutrition and hydration are going to be the deciding factor. I slept at around 1 AM since Me/Parkar/Vishwas were chilling at my home; which already delayed my plan by an hour. I got up at 6 AM.
In the morning, I had to visit Parkar's house first, to get bike's chain lube, since the bike was not serviced for a while. Then, I checked the map, plugged-in earphones, started a long playlist and set the goal to come back home by 7 PM; a total of 12.5 hours trip. I started cycling at good speed; so that while returning I could spare a few hours in case things go bad. I bought a small Indian flag 🇮🇳 on the way (NH 75) since many people were selling it on the way throughout for Independence Day celebration. At this point, I realized I had forgotten to tie Rakhi :-( It was Rakshabandhan too.
In less than 2 hours, I had reached the Chhota Ladakh area. It was really fun so far, good songs and speed! My water bottle fell and broke due to a sudden speed breaker that I didn't see on the way. On the other hand, I couldn't find the lake for next ~30 minutes; since it was not correctly marked on the map, and no signs, etc. I moved in the wrong direction for about 2-3 km as well and then had to come back. Finally, reached the place after asking the only farmer I could see in that small village. The lake and rocks around were unexpectedly huge. The place was all empty, apart from a security guard (claimed by him); the strong winds made it a pretty chilling place.
Kolar & Avani has a very rich history. Valmiki lived here, Lav & Kush were born in Avani too. There are a large number of temples in this whole region. It’s very popular for Gold fields. (wiki)
I had my breakfast bars, some dry fruits and I left for Kolar city, which was around 11 km from here. This was my fastest 11 km; which I completed in 17 mins; but again the location was marked incorrectly on Google Maps. I had to ride a few extra kms here and there to finally find it. This place is full of monkeys (actual monkeys, I mean) and it has trek starting through a bunch of staircases to many caves through the rocks. It’s a Lord Shiva’s temple, which means “The Ganges from the deep” in Kannada. It’s also known as Kashi of South. (wiki) I had two tender coconuts before I left from here.
Next two temples were within the Kolar city. Most of these temples were built by Cholas time. I covered them quickly and wanted to grab a breakfast too. Google Maps was showing that Kolar had a big lake, but when I reached the location, it was just a dried out huge lake with plastics, and trees inside it. Imagine, this state of the lake was during the monsoon.
Anyway, I realized in the search of lake and a good Dosa place, I had come out of the city on a state highway (SH 96) which took me out of the city and back to NH 75. Also, I got a call from home and got scolded for not tying the rakhi yet. I borrowed a few hours from them. While cycling, you can talk to people for long. :)
I decided to have the proper breakfast after reaching my next stop, Avani Village, which was roughly 30 km from here. Plus, I have already been snacking on the items I got with me. I had a few glasses of sugarcane juice and I started for the next stop. Although, it’s not too tough to find restaurants on highways, sometimes it can get tough in remote areas; especially on a cycle.
Around 25 km later, I took a right-turn into Avani village, leaving the highway - which goes to Tirupathi. I saw a board saying it was 151 km from there, and it got me thinking if I should rather go Tirupathi, but maybe next time :) This road was better, huge trees on both sides and not wide like highways. Plus, my speed has been really good so far. I reached the next temple within 1 hour 12 mins. These villages were really small. I didn’t see a lot of people. Weather was okay, not too humid or too hot.
These temples were a group of many temples. They were built before Chola dynasty (10th century), who had renovated these. There were barely 5-7 people around though. I roamed around, read some of the stories on the boards, and then took a nap for 15 minutes on a huge stone under a tree. I decided to leave for the next place by 1 PM. I ate most of the chikki I had, drank water and left for the next place at 1 PM.
These were really bad roads. For a stretch of over 8-10 km, I went through those patchy and broken roads. I was slightly worried about the cycle, since it has only hybrid tyres, and it’s not a mountain bike. These roads took me to some very remote areas, small villages, jungles, and very dry lands. I was constantly checking maps since there were a lot of turns and I didn’t want to take some bad route. Finally, I reached the next destination in a village.
Unlike, all the above temples, this temple was super crowded. Suddenly, I could see a lot of humans around. This temple is not a very old temple and is also called mini-Tirupathi. It has the largest Shivling in the world and has 10 million+ small-sized Shivlings. It looked like a huge shop at first, but these Shivlings are actually donated by the devotees.
It was very crowded, and I set the time of 3 PM to start for my return trip. I had to skip the huge queue to go inside the main temple. Although they were offering free meals there, I decided to finally have my lunch outside in a local Dosa shop. Two Onion Dosas. Bought a water bottle and I left from here.
I checked on the map; it was 90 km. I thought it shouldn’t take me more than 4.5 hours to reach home considering the trip so far. I’ve been feeling pretty good; except for the bad road part and was not fully tired yet.
After around next 4-5 km, I realized that I was riding at a slower speed for some reason, plus I started getting tired. Soon, I understood that I was going against the direction of winds, which was added trouble on those roads with so many up-and-downs. I was surprised to face such high impact of winds. My next goal was to cut into NH 75 near Kolar, which was around 32 km. This stretch was the toughest. I drank a lot of water, ate some more carbs, in that jungle-ish and dry land road. It was SH-96. I couldn’t ride well. But I thought, once I get back to the highway, I will be able to get the speed. So my goal was to just reach Kolar. By the way, I had not still tied the Rakhi. I could read the notifications in my watch's screen that my family's Whatsapp group was angry at me.
It took me 2.5 hours to finish this stretch. This drained out all my energy and suddenly I started to have lower back pain, knees + legs pain, and palms were getting numb. The pain was expected even before I started the trip. In all my previous trips, I never had pain in my lower legs, but this time maybe because of higher speed, it caught me. I put the pain relief spray, which eventually helped with my lower back pain after 30 minutes. But the legs were in bad shape.
After reaching Kolar on NH 75, I had 60 km to go. Unexpectedly, within 10 km, I felt I was riding really slow. The opposing wind was still there. I was worried that I might have to ride till very late in the night on this highway, which is not safe considering there are no street lights on most part of the highways. I wanted to reach the next major stop, Hoskote. which was 40 km from Kolar. I thought I was riding at a speed of 12-13 km/hour, which was really bad. Highways are un-even, there are too many ups-and-downs, flyovers, etc; which you realize only if you’re running or cycling. I had given up at this point. So I planned to take a lift till Hoskote from some truck or lorry. In my first attempt, one lorry stopped, but he said, he is going to take the next immediate left, which he actually took in 50 meters. That was slightly disappointing. I checked the maps for the distance and I realized, I was averaging exactly 20 kmph. This was good news, suddenly my calculations were on the safer side, and I felt slightly motivated. My phone battery was now 20%, so I had to turn off the music at this point. Only Google Maps was active now.
In my head, I made a plan that I’ll take a 5 minutes break, in every 30 minutes, and after every 10 km. Which means I will reach Bangalore by 7:30 PM and home before 9 PM. I broke that remaining 50 km into 5 chunks. Hoskote was 30 km from there.
My palms were aching and slightly numb. Legs were painful. But my plan was working. I was clocking exact 20 kmph. Meanwhile, It was getting dark, I kept dropping my location as checkpoints to Parkar/Vishwas in a Whatsapp group; and actually, asked them, If I don’t call them by 9 PM, give me a call. On the highway, I could see every kilometer getting reduced to Hoskote on those sideboards.
At this point, I had only the following things going in my head: 1. Tie Rakhi when you reach home. 2. Cover next 10 km in 30 minutes. 3. Reach Hoskote. 4. Eminem’s Till I Collapse verse. I couldn’t literally think of anything else happening in my life, I couldn’t sing any songs in my head either. Usually, I love the time when I ain’t thinking about anything else. eg, during a workout, or some deep work. But this was different.
Soon, I could see more trucks and street lights, and therefore I knew Hoskote was close. I filled my pocket with all the remaining roasted grams + almonds etc mix I had and kept eating it. I had reached Bangalore’s outer area, with exactly as planned time. I was very happy at this point and my next goal was to reach home :) At this point, I couldn’t speak the whole Eminem’s verse in my head either: I could only say Till I Collapse, which sometimes I even shouted to keep myself active mentally.
But Bangalore’s traffic was as usual bad in the evening. I had to stop at many signals and a few traffic jams. Problem with stopping was that it breaks the momentum and standing on the feet was more painful that pedaling the bicycle. The last 10 km turned out to be much worse, because of traffic. I reached home at exact 8:30 PM.
I drank a few sips of water and crashed on the bed. I was feeling much weaker on the bed than on the cycle; maybe because I was home. I zoned out, and got up after 30 mins, I took shower, tied all 7 Rakhis and sent the photo to my family’s Whatsapp group. Two ORS, Eat Fit’s spinach soup and half-liter milk helped me feel much better after 2 hours.
Here’s the map of the trip: