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!!!



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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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