I Ride With India - Southern Riders

Southern Riders invites you to ride with India on September 6th 2015, 06:30AM. 
Southern Riders is an official organizer from both Chennai (Medavakkam Jn. venue) and Coimbatore (R.S Puram venue)

Chennai Chapter's Invite:

Coimbatore Chapter's Invite:

About ‘I Ride With India’:

I Ride With India is a nationwide cycling event in which more than 100 organizers are participating to create the biggest cycling event of India. This event is a symbol of unity of cycling community of India. The aim of this event to is motivate more and more people to start cycling. All registered participants will receive an e-certificate of participation.

To register for this free event, please visit : www.cyclingindia.in/i-ride-with-india

Also, do RSVP on the main Facebook event on: https://www.facebook.com/events/1451274611845382/

I Ride With India is an initiative by Cycling India.

Annual Ride on Coromandel Coast (2015)

It is believed that fishing is one of man’s oldest professions. So, one can observe human settlements along entire coastlines. And with it, traditions and practices from centuries past. The coromandel coast along India’s south-east is one such location that has witnessed lives of simple fisher-folks to powerful Tamil kings setting forth in their conquest of the far east to the European colonial powers like the English, French and Danish setting up castles to gain foothold in India.

Today, the coromandel coast hosts the popular ‘ECR’ or ‘East Coast Road’ that runs along the coastline traversing through small fishing communities, forts built by Europeans, busy commercial ports and massive places of worship like Chidambaram Nataraja Temple, Thirukkadaiyur Abirami Temple, Veilankanni Basilica, Nagore Dargah and Rameswaram Ramanathaswamy temple. This is an ideal route for a cycle trip to enjoy the views, immerse in local culture and experience pedaling in the smooth tarmac highway whose altitude remains same throughout. 2 of us from Southern Riders experienced the joy of doing a 5 day cycle trip in the route in 2011 and wanted to share this with our fellow riders who have accompanied us during Chennai – Ooty (2012), Coimbatore – Kanyakumari (2013) via Kerala and Bangalore – Goa (2014) rides. What better way to share this than by organizing another ride of 600+ Kms between Chennai and Rameswaram during the December holidays of 2015?

We have 12 confirmed riders and have started making plans for this trip. We are considering having a support car and camping equipment, so that we can stay even closer to nature and test our endurance. We will set-off from Chennai during early hours of 26-Dec and will hope to get to Mahabalipuram for breakfast. We would then be crossing Pondicherry, Cuddalore and reaching Chidambaram. Beyond that, we will be riding through sparsely populated ancient cities of Poompuhar, Tarangambadi and into Nagore. The last stretch from Nagore to Rameswaram will cover Veilankanni Basilica, the Paamban Bridge, Chettinad Palace (Kaanaadukaathaan) by taking a small diversion from ECR and finally into the Paamban Bride! Hopefully we will be celebrating the upcoming new year at the imaginary Raamar Bridge into Sri Lanka (Danushkodi).

This time, we have experienced riders who can easily do 200 KMs per day, but we will take it easy and restrict ourselves to a maximum of 125 KMs per day to soak in the experience from the places we visit, enjoy sea-food, take pictures, write interesting blogs along the way and make this a memory to cherish for a lifetime. We will give constant updates on Facebook as well as our Southern Riders blog – so, do join and be part of this experience!

2014 Southernriders Annual ride: Pedaling from Garden City to the Party Capital of India...

What started as an exploratory long ride by our group in 2011 from Chennai to Rameshwaram has become an annual ritual for Southernriders. After conquering Tamilnadu and Kerala in our previous rides, it was time to look west in 2014. And what better way to accomplish that by cycling all the way to Party Capital of India, Goa in time to bask in the New Year revelries and ushering in 2015!!

The planning for every year’s ride starts around the months of Sep-Oct and 2014 was no different. A few discussions and mail chains later we zeroed in on Bangalore- Goa route!  It was going to be bigger and better this time since we had to cover 640 kms in 5 days! Most of us had gone back to our sedentary lifestyle and were not in a shape to cover such long distance unless we had to buckle up and start practicing hard. We somehow managed to fit in a few weekend rides of 70 – 100 kms and tried to accustom ourselves to the routine of riding 120+ kms in a day. The days rolled by and soon we were into the last week of December, ready and excited to begin the 2014 Annual ride. 

Day 1 (Bangalore – Sira, Distance: 119 kms)

Day 1, Getting ready to flag off from Bangalore City Railway Station
Our plan was to assemble on the morning of 25th December 2014 at Bangalore City Railway station. The guys from Chennai had arrived by train well in time. However, the start was delayed since my bus from Trivandrum trundled into Bangalore only by 9:30 am. After a quick shower and bite, we checked all our cycles for the grueling ride ahead. It was unusually warm and by the time we had started, it was 11.45 am with the sun well and truly shining over our heads, not an ideal time to start your first day of the ride. Negotiating the Bangalore traffic was a tad difficult and by 1:00 pm we were out on NH4 pedaling towards Tumkur. Though the average speed of the group was good, the lack of tree cover on a 4 lane National Highway was proving to be tough with the 20 kg pannier bags. With adequate stops for hydrating ourselves we made it to Tumkur by 4 pm and had a late lunch. After an hour’s break, we had to cover the remaining 50 kms in 3 hrs before it got dark. The temperatures quickly plummeted after sunset and riding in the dark with the cold wind whistling past our ears was a different challenge in itself. By 8 pm, the group made it to Sira and checked into a hotel. Being a holiday and a small town, it was difficult finding a place to eat. Luckily, we bumped into a roadside makeshift hotel for some delicious Idly’s and Dosa and quickly retired for the day.

Day 2 (Sira – Davangere, Distance: 143 kms)
The second day’s target of Davangere was quite a stiff one and we had to pedal the next 143 kms on NH4 to Davangere. We realized the hard way that traveling in cars on a highway at triple digit speeds might be fun, but pedaling under the hot sun without any cover made us loathe these highways in spite of the smooth surface. We started pedaling by 8 am and plan was to have breakfast after covering at least 40 kms to Hiriyur. The steep bills at a roadside Dhaba did not deter us and we ate to our heart’s content. However, the restart was delayed as Ragavendra had puncture and we had to fix it and start from Hiriyur only by 11:30 am.
Day 2:  Fixing Ragavendra's Flat Tyre near Hiriyur
The hot sun and the rolling gradient between Hiriyur and Chitradurga split our group into 3 different batches. I kept pedaling and little did I realize that I had left my friends far behind. By 2 pm, I made it into Chitradurga and waited for the riders to regroup. Since I had a little bit of time, I decided to check out the famous Chitradurga castle. Chitradurga gets its name from Chitrakaldurga (or Picturesque castle), an umbrella-shaped lofty hill found here.
Day 2: Chitradurga Fort enroute to Davangere
The fort has quite a bit of history from Mahabharata days to the colonial rule. It was a good visit to the historic fort and by the time I finished checking out the fort, it was 4 pm and the other riders caught up as well. Since most of us had skipped lunch, we had a longish supper and were ready to start only by 5:30 pm. We had another 60 kms to cover for the day and the light was quickly fading. Few of us were unsure about riding in the dark and we quickly decided to split into 2 groups with one group pedaling quickly to Davangere to find accommodation and the others to catch up later. Riding in the dark on a highway with high speed traffic fighting with us for road space was a nerve wracking experience, but luckily the cool breeze made things a bit easier and the group reached Davangere safely by 9 pm. Finding a hotel was difficult as Davangere was a bigger town and the holiday season meant that hotels were full. After an hour of searching, we found a hotel, albeit a bit pricey. By the time we finished dinner it was past 11 pm, and we were recounting our experiences for the day and decided that we need to start early the next day to tackle the highways and hot sun.

Day 3 (Davangere – Hubli, Distance: 150 kms)
Day 3: Fixing Viswas Flat tyre before Hubli
The plan as usual was to start early but again we missed our target and started only by 7:30 am. (Missed our captain Palani here, who ensured that we were awake early during our previous annual rides). It was a slightly pleasant day and the country roads from Davangere to Harihar were a welcome respite to the monotonous highways. After breakfast from roadside eatery at Harihar consisting of some delicious hot paniyarams (paddu in Kannada), we again caught up with NH4 to Hubli. Things didn't go as planned as it was unusually hot during the day slowing our progress. 3 more flat tyres and one after sunset made things more difficult and finally we dragged ourselves and checked in around 9 pm at Hubli. Nevertheless even amidst these hiccups it was an enjoyable day. Viswas had to return back to Bangalore due to official commitments leaving us without a local guy in our group.

Day 4 (Hubli – Ramnagar, Distance: 84.4 kms)
Day 4: A Jaggery preparation site near Ramnagar, Karnataka
Started from Hubli at 10 am due to fatigue from doing 145+ kms on the previous 2 days. Plan was to reach Kanapur but after discussion with some locals we changed it to Ramnagar about 85 kms from Hubli. The initial 24 kms stretch to Dharwad in the hot sun was quite sapping, little did we know that things would change and the ghat section from Dharwad to Ramnagar was a welcome break. The sun playing hide and seek from tree canopies, the dense forests and the villages of rural Karnataka were a stark contrast to the highways. Few of us were lucky enough to see jaggery preparation from sugar and had a litre of sugarcane juice for Rs. 20. Overall a good day and the push to cross the forest section before dark enabled us to complete the ride by 6.30 pm

Day 5 (Ramnagar – Majorda (Goa), Distance: 129 kms)
Day 5: Finally entered the State of Goa after 4 days of pedaling!
After cycling 600+ kms we finally reached Goa. The last stretch of 100+ kms today wasn't as easy as we had expected. The 20 km stretch from Ramnagar to Anmod was a potholed stretch which was bone shattering. Thereafter the altitude reduced drastically from 2000ft to 400 ft. in a stretch of 10 kms where we attained speeds of 50+ kmph. All in all it was an eventful day and we reached our resort in Majorda, South Goa by 4.30. A satisfying feeling nevertheless!  

Each year the ride keeps getting better. Interacting with people from all walks of life (farmers, day workers, school students, businessmen etc.) helps us get a different perspective of life. Most of them of are curious to know as to why we do this; few get inspired as well to take up cycling. Anyways, for us it was a welcome break and something to reflect upon and bring some variety to the routine life we all undergo. This year’s ride was no different as well and the icing on the cake was celebrating the New Year at Goa! Hope you enjoyed reading our cycling escapade and keep watching this space for more ride updates

Few more clicks from our ride...

Day 4. Southernriders ready to start from Hubli
Day 3. On a Bridge near harihar
Day 4. Our star rider, Siva Sir posing near Ramnagar
Day 5. The famous Zuari River in Goa

Day 5. Some unusual sights on the eve of Christmas

Day 5. Sunset at Majorda Beach, Goa

Team relaxing with a boat ride at Palolem Beach

Check it out our gallery for more photos!!!

Welcome to 2014 Annual ride!!!

Cycling to Kanyakumari!

I wrapped up year 2013 with a bicycle trip to Kanyakumari from Coimbatore along with few colleagues from Cognizant and friends from Southern Riders – eleven riders in total.  
It was a great trip. Besides ending up with a very relaxed mind, a sense of achievement and knee pain that lasted for a couple of days after the trip, I re-learnt three life lessons. 
  • Any motor-assisted ride is luxury. The daily practice of 20 kms looked fine, but, 130 a day for 4 days in a row was a real test. Riding a motor bike is definitely a luxury.  My father who was a teacher used to cycle to the school every day. It was a perk to get my father’s cycle on weekends and try my hands (or legs) learning. Those days,  almost all cycles are of the same height and kids have to wait to grow tall enough before they lay their hands/legs on them. The learning process typically starts with kurangu pedal (monkey pedaling) and goes on till you grow to be able to sit on the saddle.  An interesting subject by itself.
  • Big guys don’t necessarily care for small guys. Lorries/Trucks or Buses do not care for cars and cars do not care for motorbikes and motorbikes do not care for bicycles. Look out for yourself.
  • There are always bigger things people do. When we reached Kanyakumari, we learnt that two of the college students have cycled from Kashmir to Kanyakumari in 28 days, dwarfing our effort.
One other thing I observed was that no one listens to Mohanlal in Kerala’s cities. About 85% of our cycling distance was in Kerala. We had to cross many small towns, big towns, cities en route and were treated to many billboards.  Majority of them fall under the below categories:
  • Pretty women urging you to buy jewellery or sarees - so pretty that it distracted the ride and contributed to the reduction of the average speed - at least for me :-)
  • Actor Mammotty urging you to bank at Federal bank.
  • Actor Mohanlal urging you to watch Tatasky.
After seeing most of the city roads full of people - in the day time, in the hot sun - I could only guess that they are out to bank and buy jewellery or sarees. We had to get off the saddle and walk down. Kerala friends should listen to Mohanlal and stay indoor during the day time :-)

It was a fantastic experience for me: kids shouting “Jeyichchuttu varoo” as if we were in a race, adults on motorbikes slowing down and asking where we were coming and why we were doing and the subsequent disbelief, astonishment on their faces, cycling enthusiasts from Thrissur who cycled along with us for a distance, Sanjay of The Gear Junction - Krishna Cycle store in Kochi who helped fix many of the teething issues we had with our cycles , Praveen Nair, George from Trivandrum who spent almost 2 hours with us on Sunday (it is surprising to note that they come over on a Sunday to talk to us and help us with some logistics), the sight of blinkers in each of our cycles in the early morning rides and of course the food - breakfast at ICH, meen charam, sweet biriyani, nongu sherbet. 

Here are some of the pictures from the trip. 

Flagging off from Parsn, Coimbatore

On the way - Day 1

On the way - Day 2

At Krishna Cycles - Kochi

After Breakfast at ICH - Trivandrum

At Kanyakumari

Celebration moment - Nagercoil

Watching the eleven of us riding for the four days, if any one of our the friends or any on lookers  have taken to cycling or any of the kids pester their parents to get them a cycle, we would be very happy about it. Reading about our experience, if any of our colleagues take to cycling, we would be much happier. Happy cycling!  

Hour by hour account of our trip was updated in facebook by the-always-connected Palani, Raghav, Sriram and will soon be posted in southernriders website too. So, I have restricted the write up only to my thoughts and experiences in this blog.

Posted by  in his blog.

Chennai to Ooty – Post experience!

Riding a distance of 650 KMs and scaling a height of 2000 meters from MSL to reach Ooty by bicycle was always going to be a challenge – especially considering we are ‘part time’ cyclists carrying 20 KG baggage on our bicycles! So, we were quite prepared to accept defeat and the 3 of us set forth in the early hours of 22-Dec-2012 seeking to find how far we could progress. We made plans considering that we would encounter ghat roads and steep climbs only during the final stretch at Ooty and prepared for smooth sailing for first 4 days – hoping to have lots of fun. The first stretch was smooth indeed and we passed territories in Kancheepuram, Katpadi and Vellore - eating, snacking and sleeping along the way. After a well-deserved rest for riding 170 KMs on day-1, we set off towards Kolar Gold Fields in Karnataka in the early hours of day-2. The plan was to cross a small territory in Andhra Pradesh and the language of people we encountered was a perfect blend of Tamil, Telugu and Kannada! By the time we had break-fast, we had already been pedaling uphill for 3 hours and were faced with the reality of scaling the Venkatagiri Kota hill. None of us was ready to continue pedaling uphill at that point and so, we changed our route to head towards Dharmapuri – with plans of crossing over to Karnataka at Hogenekkal. We had no clue at this point that an even steeper hill by name ‘Madhesan Malai’ lay on our route beyond Hogenekkal! Anyway, we reached Dharmapuri to rest for the night and enjoyed a joy-ride towards Hogenekkal next morning. It was an absolute slope towards the Hogenekkal falls and we skidded our way at high speeds.. thoroughly enjoying the fall in altitude after 2 days of riding towards elevations.

Once at Hogenekkal, we crossed over the river by parisal (small boat), took a bath in the mountain streams and enquired about the way ahead. We were told categorically that there was no way we would be able to scale Madhesanwaran Malai on bicycles – considering 20 hair-pin bends, terrible worn-out roads and elephant infested ‘Veerappan’ forests on the way. We instantly gave up our plans of riding and sourced a Jeep to carry us ahead. The Jeep journey had it’s own shares of fun to offer – including interactions with people who claimed to be relatives and friends of sandal wood smuggler Veerapan and their version of Veerappan’s encounter with the police. After 45 KMs of travelling on the luggage area of the jeep along with the bicycles, we stretched our legs and got ready for downhill ride from Madhesanwaran Malai – but were faced with another hill and steep bends on the road after lunch! We had no option now.. if we looked around for another jeep, we would be killing the spirit of this bicycle ride and started pedaling in the lowest gears. After a few minutes, we gave up pedaling started walking by pushing our bikes along. Even this mode was tough to sustain and we took regular rests hoping we would scale this hill soon. We asked people about the distance to be covered and they responded in Kannada – which we did not understand. At one point, we saw some local woodcutters walking along a path that looked like a short-cut to reach the top.. we decided to follow them pushing our cycles with hopes of scaling the hill quickly. Midway through the climb, the difficulty of pushing cycles in this walking track and climbing up hill made one of us remark ‘is this a leisure trip or a NCC camp??’.

We soon got over the frustration and found ourselves at the top of hill with a wonderful slope downhill ahead. After a quick photo session, we set forth with hopes of reaching some village/town before it got too dark.. The ride was absolutely wonderful and the slope seemed to be continuing for ever and ever. Finally, we rested at a shop at the foothill and made inquiries about where we could find a place to sleep for the night. We were told the nearest such town was about 3 hours ride (45 KMs) away and the sun was beginning to disappear behind the mountains. The forest around the road looked dense and the air was heavy with silence..
so, we quickly hurried on to our bikes to cover the 45 KMs. The start was ‘eventful’ as we hit the first puncture of our trip. As we settled around the bike to replace the tube with light from bicycle head-lights, a motorbike speeded by with it’s rider shouting ‘do not stop here.. this area is full of elephants’. We had not stopped by choice(!).. we hurried with our repair and resumed riding. The road was full of elevations and slopes. We were forced to dismount and push the bikes on elevations.. with the fear of attack from elephants or other wild animals looming. The only subject of discussion for the next 3 hours was around how we should react if we encountered an elephant! By around 9 PM, we reached the town of Kollegal (Karnataka) and found a hotel to sleep for the night. The next morning, we headed towards Gundulpet which is the foothill of Ooty in the Karnataka side. We celebrated the achievement by checking into a luxury resort and enjoying good dinner. By this time, our companion by Car – Sriram – arrived with his Ford Figo carrying our heavy winter clothing and other stuff for use at Ooty.
As we sat in our room planning the ride for the next day, one of us expressed doubts about being able to pedal up-hill even with all luggage offloaded into the car. So, we made some enquiries for options to carry one bike uphill – and were told categorically that there is no way we would get permission to ride from Gundulpet to Ooty on bicycles – with the number of wild elephants and Leapords spotted on the way. We had to beat retreat and quickly organized for a jeep to carry us uphill – along with our bikes. We arrived at Ooty with the muted satisfaction of having reached the peak afterall – but with help from Jeeps along the tough stretches. Ragav and Siva packed their bikes by TVS parcel service to Chennai, while I contemplated riding solo downhill from Ooty and into Coimbatore city.
It was going to be a 100 KM ride and I braced myself for the challenge. I was warned about riding alone with potential problems thrown up in the conversation. My only thought was, ‘if I encountered problems, I would also encounter solutions..’. It was another wonderful chilling ride till Mettupalayam crossing Wellington and Coonoor – right in the middle of lush green mountain scenery. Beyond Mettupalayam, I choose quiet country routes across agriculture fields and dead quiet villages – riding tight into the city of Coimbatore – feasting on free pongal distributed in a temple on the way and some tender coconut water. As I parked and locked the bicycle at my uncle’s house in Coimbatore, a sense of satisfaction struck.. finally, after 5 days of endurance, thrill and fun along the way, the trip was formally closed. Check it out our galleries for more photos!!!

So, how did southernriders.in start?

Roughly 3 years back, Ragavendra asked me out of the blue ‘Shall we buy bicycles? It will be a good work-out to go on weekend rides.. we can even do out-of station multi-day rides!’. I have considered many kinds of outdoor activities like trekking, pilgrimage walks, catamaran rides with fisher-men, motorbike rides etc.. but cycling never occurred to me. I asked ‘what??’ and he was all excited about buying good new bikes and getting started. Budget stated was around 10 K – which seemed a ridiculously high amount for a bicycle at that point. We drove down to Suresh’s Track&Trail store at Kodambakkam and got our Schwinn Sporterras. 

We were soon riding 40-50 KMs during weekends within about 6 months, did one memorable ride Chennai-Thiruvannamalai-Chennai over 3 days! It was an absolutely enjoyable experience.. riding in unfamiliar territory thru the night, across paddy fields, little towns, villages and meeting school kids cycling their way to schools, people idlying away their time in village bus-stops and several other people curious to understand what we were doing in a bicycle in their parts of the world..  

By this time, we were hooked into cycling and planned a massive Chennai-Rameswaram ride along the ECR over a 5-day period. It was during this ride that we discussed about spreading this cycling activity, forming a club, encouraging friends to take this up – and keep this an informal group at all times. This is how Southernriders.in was born and cycles have become an integral part of our arsenal now. Rides to Mahabalipuram or Thiruporur are common-place during week-ends and we have an active core group of 6 riders now. We have done another long ride Chennai-Hogenakkal-Masinagudi-Ooty and are in the process of expanding this group into Coimbatore as well.

So, what is your experience with Cycling and how did you start? If U are yet to start, are you considering this as an activity for the future??


Are you ready to join our upcoming cycle rides and trekking?
Or are you still contemplating buying a bicycle and wondering what model is most suitable for you?
Interested in reading about our recent rides, trekking experiences and galleries?
Then dont wait! Explore and join the fun...

Drop a mail to SouthernRiders.in@gmail.com or join us in facebook!

Contact Details

Ragavendra Senthil Kumar, Kannaiyan krsk4u@gmail.com

Palaniselvan, Sababathy palaniselvan@gmail.com

Sriram, Vasudevan sriram.2003@gmail.com

Sankarasivan, Natarajan sankarasivan@gmail.com

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