Day One: Madras to Vellore
Early in the morning at 5, Varun and I started for Vellore, the first leg of our journey. But before we hit the roads, we had a quick bite at the Krishna gate. A Pongal, mendu-vada and tea, and we were ready. But just then, Varun realized that he’d forgotten his jacket, so again we went back to his hostel. Once all the final checklists were ticked off, the journey began!
Google maps led us out of the city and placed us on the highway to Vellore. And before long, we were on the outskirts of the city and cruising along the road. It was still dark, and a bit cold as per the Chennai standards, but when you are cycling at around 30kmph, little is the concern that cold creates.
|Varun on his bike. Notice the head lamp.|
Cycling, with a backpack weighing around 6kgs, the handle bag, two bottles mounted on the diamond frame, an attached pump, a saddle bag right below the seat and with a helmet over your head is an entirely different feeling as compared to cycling freely on a city road. Brakes don’t exist when you are cycling long distance. Gear combinations below 3-5 or even 3-6 tend to rust for their lack of use. And you feel free. You scream, you laugh, you smile, you even sing when you feel the freedom you beloved cycle offers. You wave at every tide of school kids that you come across, and they wave back. Flat roads, varying gradients, the vehicles passing by all add to the pleasure. You stand up on the pedals, take your hands off the handle, and scream again, as if embracing the way, but then you realize the magnificence of the environment, and humbled, you get seated again. But well, this was the first day. What, did we know then, of saddle sores and fatigue?
Then came the patch, where we surged ahead at a pace of 36kmph! 36 might not be a figure of much bewilderment to a road-biker, but on a 26er mountain bike, it sure is a surprise. And to our surprise, we weren’t really exerting, we were just getting warmed up! By now, the sunrise had begun and there was no need of the headlights. After about 60kms, we stopped at a roadside tea stand. Tea, minute-maid, some hydration, some stretching and we were off again.
|At our first stop|
|He he. Shades not really required, but new toys, well, will always be irresistible.|
If there is a factor, that people often take for granted on such trips, is dehydration. Yes you feel fast, you feel energetic, and you are merry making on the go and you are not sweating. But what you don’t realise is that, all the sweat you are supposed to be accumulating evaporates without you realizing. And that, slowly but surely, shows later on, on the ride.
|No, we didn't stop here. What if the food was bad?|
No matter how much water you drink, your lips tend to feel dry. You don’t really feel like eating anything, and cycling even at 26kmph suddenly begins to feel a task. The sun begins to feel hotter than it really is and after a point, you just start feeling tired. Discomfort begins to set in, and you feel like pulling over and calling it quits. And that almost happened. After our first stop at 60km, we had to stop again at around 80, and then at 100 and then at 120 again.
|See, the thalaivar's dehydrated!|
The sun was getting hotter and hotter, living up to its name, and yes, hunger was catching up too. And this, is when, snickers came to the rescue. A bar of clean, delicious energy, and bam! Off we were, green again. Soon we reached the outskirts of the city.
We had contacted a lodge beforehand, and a local was kind enough to guide us for 2-3kms to the place, but we found a better accommodation before we reached there, and for 250bucks, we managed a room with two beds and the permission to keep our cycles inside.
|Our humble lodge. Surprisingly clean, and supplied.|
It was around 1 in the afternoon, and we were 140.5km from our beloved campus. A lunch at a “Punjabi daba”, a stroll around the place, a little stocking up for the next day, an evening dinner at a Saravana Bhavan and we were set. But somewhere on the last half a mile, Varun lost his bike computer. And so, now we were with just one velometer.
Link to Day two: Vellore to Bangalore
Link to Day two: Vellore to Bangalore