Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Pedal Yatra to Goa

Well the time is here until I finally have my final adventure at IISc executed (that leaves the Masters thesis defense, but that is hardly an adventure) . We will be cycling to Goa tomorrow morning (i.e. 3rd June). Those of you who wish to see us off (you wont get this opportunity very often) could come over to the Gymkhana at 3am ;-).

In a coffee shop in Kanchepuram, on our way to Chennai.
It has been quite a run up to this day. We finalized dates and then revised them and then revised them again and it would be revised yet again if I had not to get a VISA appointment fixed today morning.

All said and done, let me introduce my co-adventurer. After meeting a lot of hopefuls it has come down to just Ganesh and me. We have gone on almost all our cycle trails together. Our  cycling enthusiasm took root when Amita mentioned to Ganesh on chat that I was planning a trip to Goa on cycle... and Lo and behold Ganesh is here in IISc to discuss the prospect. After that first planning there was really no looking back. I researched and got myself a new funky bike (after convincing myself that it was worth the money given the fact that I might not have so much free time to spare anytime in the near future... time is money they say ;-)). We then planned a preliminary trip to Savantdurga where we wonderfully got lost... travelling 150kms instead of the intended 110kms and the last 40km being in the hot sun. We then cycled to Chennai over 28 hours... it was a cool trip where we cycled only in the nights. Recently we cycled to Nandi Hills where I climbed the hill in about 35mins and what a climb it was!

With Ganesh outside IMSc, Chennai. Mission completed ;-)
We had other small rides besides these. However the Goa trip is going to be mother of all the rides that we had so far. At 625kms, the distance sweeps the ground off ones feet and climbing the Western Ghats makes it even more daunting. What is there in a human if not the will to challenge and move beyond set limits... we plan to accomplish this feat solely on this philosophy.
Have we prepared ourselves well enough? Well no preparation is sufficient given that we will be at the mercy of nature during the next 6 days or so. However the Nandi climb was quite a trailer as to what we might encounter.

We have however taken necessary precautions. We will carry a first aid kit and a lot of supplies of food. Besides our cycles are equipped with lights and we will be wearing helmets. We will be wearing a reflector jerseys in the night and carry raincoats and suns creams to protect ourselves from the sun and the rain. We have been provided with a carrier and pannier bags which will transfer the load off our backs to the bicycle, by Pedals and Wheels, which is one of the most reliable cycle renting stores I have come across. Sachin, the proprietor of P&W wanted to join us but for some last minute appointments. But he did his part by helping and guiding us :-). dSo much for the preparation!

With kids at Ramakrishna Mutt... on our way to Chennai
Having said this, we hope that our enthusiasm in cycling transfers to a lot many people around. People usually tell me that "at that price you could have got a second hand motorbike" when I tell them the cost of my bicycle. This very philosophy we want to kill... The benefits of cycling are manifold. Firstly you get yourself into good shape (and with a good cycle commuting 20kms can be effortless) and then you save the world and your wallet by not spending unnecessarily on petrol.

I started planning for the Goa trip about a year and a half back. Since I had decided to apply to universities in the US for my PhD I had decided that I would leave Bangalore on cycle if I get into a PhD program. An early admit from the University of Maryland meant that I needed to stick to my promise with enough time at hand. I am not sure if I can complete it on a high but this post will remind me that I definitely left Bangalore on a high!!!
My cycle... Schwinn Sporterra Sport 2011 :-)

Pedal O Pedal on we cycle,
leaving the land of flowers,
on our bicycles.
Pedal O Pedal on we cycle,
O Pearl of the Orient,
behold our arrival!

Goa  here we come!