This is how it started- Two weeks back I decided to cycle to Bangalore from Chennai. Also, I needed some distraction from routine life in general and do something for myself, so I made up my mind to attempt it.
Bangalore is about 340kms from Chennai.I checked online to rent a good cycle. I booked this cycle called Cannondale CAAD 8 for 3 days. It is a proper road cycle made of lightweight carbon materials. I decided to start early Saturday morning(23 Dec).
Now I’m no seasoned cyclist or anywhere close to being fit.I have done some cycling stretches before( Maximum of 80 km in one stretch).The last proper physical activity before this was my trek to Kodachadri a few months back. One of my friend who told me she had never done trekking before, actually did the trek much faster than me. So, that’s my fitness level if you want a measure of it.But, somehow, I had a feel and belief in my experience that cycling comes much easier to me than trekking and running.
The day finally came. I went to the store on Friday to get my cycle. I took the cycle with rear lights and puncture kit and drove around 15kms that night to a friends place in Chrompet.My first drive was weird. The handlebar, the gear changing pattern and the seat position was all kind of new to me. But I got assimilated to it in this short stretch.
I started from Chrompet at 3 45 am next day. I had a bag with 2 sets of clothes, a lot of glucose, and 2 bottles of water. The plan was to drive continuously with minimum breaks.I reached Sriperumbudur by 5 45 am or so covering around 35 km. The road to Sriperumbudur was pitch dark and I really couldn’t drive much fast.
In Sriperumbudur, I got onto the highway to Bangalore, which was a relief. But the lorry guys were driving crazy, driving like I didn’t exist. And usual narratives of lorries running over two-wheelers added to my fear. So, I shifted to the service lane and continued my drive. I met my colleague Sarngapani on the way who himself was driving to Hosur in his car with his cousins. I reached Kanchipuram by 8 30 am. The sun had come out and the skies were clear, but the air was quite cool and pleasant.I happened to notice a Saravana Bhavan on the way. So, I went inside and had one awesome breakfast of Idli and Masala Dosa. From Kanchipuram, Ranipet is about 32 km. I managed to reach Ranipet by 10 30. The roads were much better now and with a lot of flyovers. Also, the surroundings looked quite scenic and open, though not in any way grandeur.
* Somewhere near Vellore
* Near Vellore again
I crossed Vellore by 11 45 am. I had actually planned to reach Vellore by 9. Missed my target by 2.5 hours!
* Entering Vellore corporation limits
By this time, the sun was blazing hot, though I wasn’t sweating much, I started feeling really tired. My legs were refusing to cycle any further. I managed to reach a CCD outlet which was like 16kms from Vellore. It took me close to an hour to do this stretch. Well, that was my condition right then.I went inside and had my lunch and some juice, and then slept off till 2 pm. The CCD break literally saved me, without this break I wouldn’t have continued further.
By this time, I had covered close to 145kms and I had taken more time to do it than I planned.
I started my journey to Ambur at 2 pm. Ambur is like 37 km from the CCD outlet I stopped.I managed to reach Ambur by 3 45 pm. The sun was still there but the weather was better. The striking features you notice about Ambur is the huge amount of Biriyani shops, leather factories and mosques.Also, Ambur is equidistant from Bangalore and Chennai, meaning I was half done with my trip.
* One of the 100 biryiani shops in Ambur .
I took a break again in Ambur till 4 30 pm, then started cycling again towards my next and final target for the day – ‘Krishnagiri’. Krishnagiri is around 74kms from Ambur and 94 km from Bangalore. I knew had to cycle at least a minimum 3-4 hours to reach the place. The road to Krishnagiri was really good. It had these small flyovers with a small uphill and comparatively longer downhill. I didn’t even pedal to move forward at some intervals. Also, the weather vastly improved. The sun was gone and the air became quite chill for my standards( Being from Chennai, even 20 degrees is too cold for me :D). I loved it. This was probably the fastest stretch I ever did and with minimum breaks. I reached Krishnagiri by 8 pm.
In Krishnagiri, I tried to get some cheap hotels on the internet. But most of them were charging exorbitant rates(min 1500 rs) for the night. I was done. I called Sarangapani and asked him if he had reached Hosur. He told me yes, and that he would be awake till 1 am at least if I decided to come. I checked my map and Hosur was like 56 km from Krishnagiri. I decided to do it. I first had dinner and started cycling at 8 30 pm. I thought if I could do it a little fast, I could reach by 10 30 or so. That was my plan. By now the temperature dropped to around 18 degrees and I started feeling cold because I was in my shorts and T-shirt. I was lucky the road was illuminated till Hosur. But then, the road to Hosur was difficult. It was probably the steepest stretch in Chennai- Bangalore highway. As a fact, Krishnagiri is around 400m above sea level and Hosur close to 900m. A huge rise in a span of 50 km. I could feel the effort on my legs both because I was tired and the road itself was steep. The only saving grace was the weather. I managed to reach Hosur by 11 45 pm and called Sarangapanis brother who guided me to his home in Hosur. I was too tired. Reached his place, put my phone in charge, messaged my friend Rahul that I reached Hosur safe and dozed off.
I woke up the next day at 10 am. Had breakfast with Sarang and his cousins and slept off again. Woke up around 1 pm and then started cycling to Bangalore which is like 37 km from Hosur. Hosur is a sleepy town with random lakes here and there but with an amazing weather. It’s quite cosmopolitan for a town, you would find people juggling between 3 languages quite easily ( Tamil, Telugu and Kannada ).
* Hosur overview from Sarangs house
* A random lake in Hosur
I reached Attibele check-post in 25min. For the uninitiated, Attibele is the border point of TN and Bangalore ( Karnataka ).
Again the road to Bangalore was quite helpful.The roads were wide, with a lot of small up hills and longer downhills. I was cruising mostly without much effort. I managed to reach Silkboard by 3 45pm. With this, I had covered a distance of close to 340 km in 18 hours cycling time. Of course, my overall journey was well over 32 hours. Felt good. Immediately after this, I went to a bus booking office for my return journey to Chennai for the night along with my cycle of course.
* On the way to Bangalore from Hosur
* Finally at the famous, actually notorious landmark – Silkboard
Now, I’m off to my favourite place in Bangalore – Cubbon Park!
That’s all folks.!