Cycling to Savanadurga

While others made plans for movies and brunches for the weekend, my phone buzzed Friday noon when Treyambak pinged me asking if I'm up for a ride on Saturday? Considering that I knew Vikas would be working the next day, I replied back with an enthusiastic 'Yes'. Treyambak and Chandrakant, who had also cycled with me and Vikas for the Nandi hill ride would be my co-riders. This was gonna be our second 100+ ride, and all of us had not done a long-distance ride since Nandi hills. 

Trey explained the route to me - Start early, and on the way to Savanadurga we would pass by Dodd aalad mara and Manchanabele dam as well. The route was chalked out so that Trey and Chandra would just hit the 100km mark from their residences by the end of the ride. Since I lived further away, it would be about 120km for me. I didn't complain! 

Through the rest of Friday, Kavya also agreed to join us - but lady luck had other plans. Saturday morning I met the guys at Mysore road metro station at 6 am, but Kavya arrived with her cycle in an auto. She had a flat tyre, and we spent the next 2 hours trying to fix it. Although the puncture was mended, her valve pin broke and there was no quick-fix for that. Eventually we bid her goodbye, and started our ride only at 8:30 am. In retrospect, as Kavya was riding a fixed-gear cycle, the route would've not suited her machine. 

The sun was scorching, and the traffic on Mysore road was at its Saturday morning worst. Navigating through incessant honking, we eventually managed to leave the city behind in Kengeri. My eyes, ears and lungs were pleased - There was no traffic, there was plenty of greenery and the air was crisp. 

About 20-30 minutes later, we had arrived at Dodd aalad mara. This 400 year old tree and its tree-butaries, had stood the test of time and are spread across 3 acres. The prop roots reminded me of the Strangler fig and Ficus trees of Angkor wat. The main trunk of the tree had succumbed to disease, and what remained were the prop roots which looked like trees by themselves. 

The sweeper there wouldn't let us park our bikes inside, lest we paid her 20 bucks per bike. We decided that our bikes were just as safe chained to the pole outside, and went around exploring and taking pictures. Chandra struggled to fit all of the trees into one panorama shot. We went around the trees once and decided to move ahead. It was also strange that we hadn't encountered any cyclists so far, as this was one of the hot-spots for weekend rides.  

From here, Manchanabele is about 15 kms away and this was the greenest leg of our entire ride. We hardly came across any vehicles, and were delighted as it was mainly downhill. We could see Savanadurga hill, but the roads snaked around the hill and at times we even lost sight of it.  

About a kilometre before Manchanabele village, you can see the backwaters and the dam. Entry to both these places is now banned due to many unfortunate drowning incidents in the past. 

Once we reached the village, we followed a path which said that Savanadurga was 13 kms away. The next 10km stretch was the toughest on our entire ride. It was a slow and painful uphill ride, and with the sun right above our head, it only got tougher and tougher. The path looked deceptively flat, but as we kept reducing the gear which we were cycling at, we realised that it was an illusion. We took many breaks on this path to replenish our bodies. The road was not in good shape either, as it had many potholes. Our path was lined by dense forest on either sides, and if not for the passing vehicles - we would surely be scared of being attacked by some wild animal. Think twice before taking your car on this path - I most certainly wouldn't recommend it. 

In the last km, to our relief, the forest cleared to our right and we were able to see the Savanadurga hill. As we cycled up the last incline, we reached Savanadurga village. At this point, Trey was ahead of me and Chandra was trailing right behind. As we cycled through the village, many school kids greeted us with cheers and hi-fives. One little school girl was sweet enough to offer me a guava that she had. I wish I had taken a picture of her, as this gesture was the high-point of my ride. 

The best thing to drink on a long cycle ride is tender coconut. And that's exactly what we did before our last 3 kms to the hill. At this point, the coconut vendor informed us that climbing up the hill was banned as many people had died trying to do so. It was Manchanabele all over again. Although I wasn't disappointed, but the boys wanted to climb the hill and they were disheartened enough to wonder if we should really cycle the last 3 kms. But we did go on to the base of the hill and it was 12:30 when we reached. We rested for about 30-45 minutes at a temple under the cool shade of a Tamarind tree. Ate all the bananas and chikkis and took pictures of our feat. 

We were hoping to be back home by 5, and with that aim we started out. The tough 10km stretch that I had earlier mentioned was an easy downhill ride now. That's the best part of cycling uphill - you know there's a downhill that will follow to compliment your efforts! Proof of the road's condition was that a red car which started with us, reached Manchanbele village at the same time as us. It didn't matter how many wheels your ride had. Just about a few kms before the village, we were greeted by a villager grazing his cattle and he told us - 'Its all downhill from here, ride slow'. 

From Manchanabele village, it was again a gruesome uphill ride for the next 2 kms. The midday sun did not help one bit. We took 2 breaks within a matter of 15 minutes, and even walked uphill for a small stretch. About 5 kms later, we took the right fork which would lead us to a route different than the one we rode in the morning. This would meet Mysore road at Hejjala, and we only hoped that it was not uphill. For the next hour and a half, we cycled around 9 kms and the route was full of ups and downs. I kept distracting myself while cycling uphill by counting the number of pedals for the incline to pass. Most of them were 200 or 300, but one nasty incline lasted 550 pedals! About a km before Mysore road, we could see the huge giant wheel of Wonder-la. We reached Mysore road by 4pm, and took a breather before cycling again. At this point, we were quite exhausted and had a saddle sore. The traffic only slowed us down, as buses whooshed past us like giants. I split ways with the guys and made my way through Bangalore's CBD. The last 20kms were the most tiring, and I was starving by the time I reached home at 7. I pinged the guys that I'd reached, and they had reached just moments ago as well. 

So, 120kms in around 11 hours. The only difficult part in the Nandi hills ride is the 8km uphill stretch. This ride was peppered with inclines, and the 10km uphill stretch was so much more tougher than it looked. Definitely recommend this ride for anyone looking for a 100+ stretch for the weekend. Highs of the ride - Green meadows, clean air, scenic vistas and really nice people to meet on the way. 
Lows of the ride - Riding through Mysore road traffic, Entry restrictions to Manchanabele and Savanadurga (But you still get to see them - so that's still a high). 

Can't wait for my next hundred !! :D


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