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.

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