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Old 7th November 2016, 16:36   #1
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Default Solo Bicycling: From Chennai to Kanyakumari

STRANGE IDEA
I happened to read the travelogue of a distinguished Team-BHP member ADC who cycled from Manali to Leh and beyond which was like approximately 500+ Kms in high altitude Himalayan mountain terrain. I got influenced by his extreme expedition. It haunted my mind for several days until an idea of cycling from Chennai to Kanyakumari grew on me. It was strange because the longest distance I have ever travelled on cycle in a day wouldn’t be more than 20 Kms to the max that too long ago. Why on earth one should even think of something like this? I have no idea at this point.

PREPARATION
I did my research on long distance cycling right from choosing the correct bi-cycle for the mission till training plan. Read through various articles, blogs, travelogues related to long distance cycling to get a feel of it. It was all theoretical until then. What I required was a practical training plan and finally came up with a long distance training plan for 16 weeks to get the required speed, strength, and endurance for long distance cycling. My mission demanded to spend long hours with my bicycle. So I had to give a careful thought about the bicycle itself and the three parts of my body that touches the bicycle. I narrowed down to Schwinn Hybrid bicycle which I thought was ideal for a beginner who aspired to do long distance cycling.

MY ENCOUNTERS WITH BICYCLES
November 11, 2013 was an important day in my life for I decided to buy a bicycle at 11AM. I laughed at myself at this decision, as almost one year back, I bought a Firefox Cyclone bicycle only to drive it for few kilometers. It sat in my balcony for several months just to prove my stupidity. When I couldn’t bear it anymore, I sold it at a throw away price. Now, you won’t believe, I did the same mistake 7 years back. While all my past experiences were yelling at me not to go ahead with this idea again, at 3 PM on the same day, I found myself driving to the nearest bicycle dealer who imports almost all sort of international bikes and bought Schwinn Sporterra 4 hybrid bicycle along with padded cycling shorts.

It was interesting to remember my very first cycle during school days. I believe I was studying 9th standard. I asked for BSA SLR which was famous during that time for its sleek and trendy design. Finally the day came and it was a used Hercules cycle. I faintly remember that I had cursed my father for not getting at least a new cycle to show off with my friends. Nevertheless, it became my best companion eventually until I complete my bachelor’s degree.

PRACTICE
Let me introduce myself before I talk about practice. I am a lost soul in late thirties with all sorts of disorders like insomnia, depression, hallucinations, delusions, multiple personality disorder, irrational thoughts and extreme mood swing. I usually go to bed around 1 AM and mostly trying to figure out how to sleep until 2 AM or so. There are several nights I had to wait for the nearby tea shop to open. As you can imagine my mornings are always gloomy and mostly unproductive. It must be a miracle that I am still functioning in society.

It is extremely hard to digest the idea of practicing, particularly for a man like me who doesn’t have any sort of discipline. Wise men say the journey always matters more than the destination. Journey must be right from “conceiving the idea in whichever mental, physical and social state the individual is” until reaching the destination. I guess that is the important reason why every individual get different travel experience though they travel to the same destination. Though I was in a deep dark corner in all respect, I still determined to pull myself together for my “4 days a week” training plan for next 16 weeks.

700 Kms Cycling Plan and Tracker.xlsx

TRAINING DAYS

Week One
Motivation levels were high and in two days of maiden cycling, I had covered 11 Kms. Thursday I woke up early and looked at my mobile. It was exactly 5.29AM and the alarm followed. I was surprised because such an incident happened only once in my past. I was studying 11th standard and was in love with a girl who lived one block away from my home. We planned to discreetly meet at 5 AM in the garden back to our home. I kept an alarm @ 4.30 AM but woke by 4.29AM and switched it off. Damn, I got excited only twice in my whole life?

Here comes the big Saturday which challenged me with intermediate milestones to break all the records done so far. I enjoyed the 22Kms nonstop ride. It put on a big merry smile on my face which I found it hard to peel off for several minutes together. Monday being a rest day, I took another spin on Sunday leisurely.

Week Two
Waking up early seems to be the hardest thing in life. However, I made an interesting rule. Even If you are late, you still have to stick with the plan which I happen to do it on first training day of the week itself. I was on road only by 7.15AM. After one stop 22kms, I was all soaked up in sweat. Hope I stick to the timings in coming days.

Overall self-composure was good and gave authentic enthusiasm to move further. I was also contemplating for a while to go to office by bi-cycle. After all, it was hardly 8Kms one way and I could use the rest days to some extent. I was going to do it in one of these days. With this thought, I ordered “Bi-cycle flexible cable lock” and “Bike riding clear goggles” from eBay. It would reach me by next week.

Week Three
Tuesday I was not able wake up until 8.30 AM as I didn’t sleep well prior night. I felt the shortage in energy to go for training. Part of me started fighting with the other miserable part that I don’t have the luxury to miss the training schedule. It was too late and I started to office convincing myself to compensate the training schedule the next day. That means I have to train two days in a row which won’t leave my body to recover from previous day training. Missing the schedule kept bothering me the whole day. Came back home by 7.30PM, pulled my bicycle and went with the training plan. Man, what a relief?

By the way, I got the accessories I have ordered. “Riding goggles” really protects our eyes from dust and small creatures like flies especially when we ride in evenings.

Smoking pattern had some notable impact. As far as smoking was concerned the damage was already done. I didn’t notice the difference until I rode hard enough today where I could not catch my breath. I couldn’t think of abrupt termination but I guessed gradual reduction was possible. This could theoretically be accomplished by gradually reducing the number of cigarettes smoked each day, or by smoking only a fraction of a cigarette on each occasion. I was trying to combine both. I had to wait and see how it goes. Old habits die hard.

Week Four
This decision of buying a bi-cycle was one of the best things happened in my life and I strongly believed it happened on its own accord. Otherwise, I was exceptionally good at taking wrong decisions every single time thinking that I know what I was doing. My conclusion about me is “As I am, I can only take wrong decisions and always move in the wrong direction”.

I could feel that I was losing the momentum when I skipped one day practice. I found it very hard to excuse myself. To kill the self-pity, I have compensated the skipped kilo meters this Thursday. I felt little better then.

Weekend long ride of 46 Kms turned out to be a disaster. On the way back, I had already covered 41 Kms and 5 kms closer to home. After descending from Tambaram Bridge on high gear in maximum speed, I stopped at Tambaram railway station signal. As soon as the signal went green, I probably moved at 10 Km/Hour speed for about 600 meters. All on a sudden, the gear unit (derailleurs) in the rear axle broken and went inside the spokes. When I came to a complete halt, I found myself standing in the middle of left lane and a car swing past me with screeching sound due to hard braking. Later I realized that out of panic and in the verge of stopping the cycle without falling down, I had somehow moved towards the right side of the road. Fortunately, the road was broad, traffic was less and I was lucky enough to live a little more.

Still not able to believe that the 26K Schwinn, the so called professional bike could let me down like that. I had to spend Rs.150 for an auto to take the cycle back home which only boost up the bad mood to its peak.

Week Five
What happened to the cycle? I took the bicycle in my car and went to the dealer from whom I had bought it. I was raging inside and wanted to vent out my frustration as the vehicle was only four weeks old. I explained the incident to the technician elaborating how it could have cost my life. He didn’t seem to care about the seriousness of the incident and started examining the condition of the vehicle.

Does anyone really care about the life of a stranger? I asked myself “Do you care?” I read/hear dreadful accidents every now and then. Not even a single cell in my body really had felt sorry for the life of strangers. If someone was sitting around I might superficially say “Oh my god, this and that” to record my false sympathy. For the first time, I felt something melt inside me for others’ lives. With that understanding, I ignored his negligence and seriously wanted to know, under what circumstances the derailleurs could break down because I had completely lost the trust to ride this vehicle again.

He finally completed his examination and said it rarely happens mostly due to the wrong usage of gear combinations. I was not convinced with his reasons as I was using gears all the time during my 4 weeks riding without any problem whatsoever. But he was so strong in his point that I started doubting my gear shifting knowledge. End result is I spent Rs.500 to replace the broken gear hook which holds the derailleurs in place (not covered under warranty). Everything else in the cycle was intact and I got my bike back all serviced in a day.

I realized my ignorance when I surfed net on everything related to bicycle gear shifting. Also, when l looked back, I can clearly see the incident happened because of mixing high and low gears extensively.

Tips to shift gears effectively
  1. Don’t shift gear when you stand still. This will unnecessarily stretch your gear cable and the bike immediately changes gear when you start off again, usually with very disturbing noises.
  2. A brisk pace on the pedals improves the gear shifting. It is better to pedal at a brisk pace using the easier to pedal gears than to muscle the harder gears more slowly.
  3. Down shift to lower gear before stopping at stop signs. Starting off from a dead stop in high gear requires unwanted extra pressure which might result into gear slipping issues to the cycle and back pain to the cycler which is even worse. It is good to relate why and when we change gears in our bike/car.
  4. Lighten the pressure on the pedals when you shift gears. It makes the gear change smoother which also lengthens the life of the derailleurs.
  5. It is highly important to avoid mixing high and low gears and keep the chain line straight to acceptable limits. What does it mean? Let me explain it in detail. Basically, when we change gears, derailleurs will de-rail the chain from sprocket to sprocket. In a typical 21 gear bicycle, we will have 3 sprockets in center axle and 7 sprockets in the rear axle. In other words, three gears on our left and seven gears on our right. Let us say, we are in third gear on our left and first gear on our right. Imagine the chain line in this gear combination or better set this gear combination in your cycle and see it for yourself. The chain line will go from extreme left to extreme right. Logically, chances are much more for the chain to slip out of your sprockets.
Well, I talked in length about the gear shifting tips before I continue with travelogue because I feel it is extremely important for people who wish to do serious cycling without any hindrance.

Most importantly I gained the trust back to ride my Schwinn and started going with my training schedule again. By the way, let me take back my words “the so called professional cycle” about Schwinn. I always tend to point fingers at others for any mistakes without realizing my part it in.

I noticed a couple of good signs during fifth week of training. I lost 1 inch in my waist line and I slept well.

As per the training plan, that weekend was for 54Kms travel to Kovalam Beach. What is a travelogue without photographs? Here goes some taken from my mobile.

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Picture 1: Schwinn at Kovalam Beach

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Picture 2: Reflection of Schwinn at Kovalam Beach

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Picture 3: Schwinn and Surfing Board

I was mesmerized when I saw this person carrying a surfing board. I never knew people do surfing in Chennai. When I asked this guy, he said they do surfing all the time. The place was few kilometers away and I decided to visit Kovalam again to see them surfing and probably experience surfing when I get a chance. By the way, look at the work of desire. I was looking at his surfing board; he was looking at my cycle and for a moment, we both forgot what we have and desired for what we don’t have.

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Picture 4: Proud Schwinn at Kovalam Beach

Week Six
I kept asking this question “Why am I doing this?”

As far as my life is concerned, it is a boring phenomenon. Probably I lost the capacity to enjoy life or there was nothing to enjoy in life. Looking at myself I could only say that I go on in a circle repeating the same thing again and again, like a robot absolutely mechanical. It became so much so that I felt somewhere the continuity must be broken.

“Why this particular idea appealed me?”

Anyone who looks at the whole process of “long distance cycling” would undeniably categorize it as self-torture. I guess it appealed to me for a specific reason.

I did several things in the past in an effort to add new dimensions to my life. One that is worth mentioning is Painting. Somehow, I had this creative longing since childhood. I took it seriously at one point and when I do well, I even thought to become a full time artist as an escape route from my career that is almost in a deathbed according to me. Motivation level was too good for about six months then it slowly got declined. I thought I confused myself by trying to convert my passion into profession too early. I still paint on and off for fun but was not able to pull it off as I really wanted it to be.

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Picture 7: One of the painting that came out well

I survive and try to do social obligations reasonably. I never thought survival alone was life which never failed me to keep looking for something that could possibly allow me to explore the other side of life.

Having said that, I guess I took this challenge because I know it demands my unwavering physical and mental attention to the core. I really needed deep cleansing of self to start my life afresh in all dimensions.

Week Seven
It was funny that most of the time I felt relaxed when I was in bathroom. I gave a little more thought to it to understand where and with whom I spend most of my time. It was more or less like 95% with family, friends and colleagues and 5% with society on a need basis. I tried to classify the above into known and unknown people. With known people, I feel a constant tension because I have to keep on performing unconsciously in order to make them see what they want to see or what I want them to see. It is easy with unknown people because there is no need of performance and thus less or no tension.

I feel a desire for vacation is actually a desire to be alone with our own self. However, it is strange that most of us can’t really imagine a vacation without a family or friends. From my point of view, vacation goes wrong when we still have to carry our personality and a perfect vacation is a freedom from performance. Once in a while perfect vacations are necessary too. It is always better to relax under open sky rather than relaxing in a confined space like bathroom. You know what? It comes handy with bicycle riding and the advantage is the flow of positive energy in our body and mind together.

Wednesday being a Christmas holiday, I thought of taking a perfect vacation yet again. Cycling to Mahapalipuram would be great but according to the training plan it comes only on tenth week. Climate was good and the pull was so great that I headed towards Mahapalipuram @ 1.45 PM and reached by 3.45PM clocking 44 kilo meters. Being a holiday Mahapalipuram was crowded like anything and I was forced to skip shore temple visit. I was exhausted and was in search of some shade to rest. While coming out of Mahapalipuram, I found a mud trail leading to a temple like structures. This place is right on OMR connection road and I was also able to see ECR approximately about 600 meters from this point.

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Picture 8: Twin Temple

I didn’t see any one so far but was able to hear some voices behind. I went ahead to see the front side of the structure and without grabbing their attention I went ahead on the trail.

Trail was going further and I could not resist my temptation to explore it.

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Picture 9: Schwinn on deserted path

Deserted trail led me to another interesting location.

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Picture 10: Monolithic temple without idol inside

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Picture 11: Monolithic temple from another angle

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Picture 12: Monolithic temple from yet another angle

There was no soul for about 1 kilometer around except for that bunch of drunkards. Though the place was calm and soothing, it was definitely not a safe place for general tourists. I had my much needed rest and took off to Chennai again.

Week Eight
Back in old days, when bi-cycle was an only way for me to commute, I used to drool on better bi-cycles for a while and then the desire moved on to motor cycles. When I was capable of buying a motor cycle, my interest was already on cars. I could clearly see my interests on objects were constantly drifting to something else as soon as I had my hands on whatsoever I desired earlier. It had been only seven months since I own Skoda Rapid and I am already eyeing on SUVs. Do you see the never ending absurdity of desires? I desire for something and remain miserable until I get it. When I finally get it, bigger desires are already in queue to keep me miserable in a bigger way.

I unnecessarily stretch my needs to feel superior among known people. I feel defeated when a known person moves ahead of me in terms of wealth, power, prestige, etc. It is surprising to notice that I compare myself only with known people. They are not even closer to 0.1% when I take whole humanity into consideration and yet their influence is greater in life. I can see that I am unnecessarily the slave of this idea and I need not be.

Saturdays 70 Kms long ride was great and it taught me a lesson. There was a bus standing at the left lane and the traffic kept passing across the bus. I thought of crossing the bus on its left side avoiding the traffic on right side. Obviously I had to move out of the road and after crossing the bus, when I tried to get back on the road; I lost my control and fell flat on the road which left me with some bruises in my elbow and soreness in the hand. Lesson I learnt was the importance of safety gears. Mental blockage about cycling helmet cleared on its own and I also bought waterproof front headlight and flash tail light.

Week Nine
How much ever I try I still could not remember any mobile numbers even at dry battery situations. I forget my ATM pin numbers very often and I always have trouble remembering my passwords. Worst of all, I always have hard timing remembering the tools, packages and technologies I worked extensively in the past. I still have to prepare myself for every interview from basics like a fresher preparing for his first interview. It is good that our body takes care of basic things like breathing otherwise I would have been a dead person long ago.

All along I thought I have poor memory but I figured out recently that my mind has been completely occupied with continuous accumulation of unnecessary desires pushing even the essentials to the farthest corner of my memory.

Sunday I thought of taking a spin to Kovalam again. As I was entering Muttukadu, I saw a sign board on my left side reading Beach Road. Yes, you are right. As usual I went inside expecting a new experience.

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Picture 13: Beach view at Muttukadu

There are lots of beach resorts in East Coast Road. People seen far away are most probably from one of beach resorts and the farthest end must be Kovalam.

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Picture 14: Metal ruins at Muttukadu Beach

I guess these are left out metal ruins of some ship wreck.

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Picture 15: Interesting splash on metal ruins

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Picture 16: Schwinn at Muttukadu Beach

Week Ten
I used to cycle in an extreme left side of the road without disturbing and getting disturbed by the ongoing traffic. Still sometimes, people make me come to a complete halt. Initially it got me mad because I have to gain my momentum again. Later I learned to thank them for giving me an opportunity to make the training a little more effective.

It is a different story when I drive a bike/car. Imagine or remember the following scenarios 1) people cut across you deliberately in a narrow gap 2) people drive in a wrong side opposite to you 3) Vehicle or person suddenly pops out from nowhere 4) city/corporate/college buses make sudden stops anywhere and change lanes without any indication 5) slow moving vehicle blocking your way even after a gentle honks. The list can go on and on.

This is more or less a common experience to everyone who drives on the road. I always criticize people for violating traffic rules but I have never come across anyone who admits it. I asked myself “How do I really behave in roads?”

I normally drive at a convenient speed and try to be responsible for the safety of the people on board and on road. Then when do I go wrong? I guess howsoever sane I think I am, ego over rides it almost always. I get hurt for no obvious reason when someone drives past me. If the vehicle is a better one than mine, I become envious. If the vehicle is similar or lesser in power than mine, I forget all about the road sense and try to overtake him at least once irrespective of the road and traffic condition. During the whole act, unconsciously, I commit the same mistakes which I always complain about other people. The ego is the source of all errors.

So what can I do? I have started doing two things to stop contributing to the madness. First one is to watch the ego under the above mentioned circumstances and cool down the rush of blood. I keep missing it most of the times but sometime I catch the ego before it takes over me completely. Believe me, it is fun to catch it red handed and throw it away. I sincerely practice to perfect this new found art. Secondly, I realized, getting mad at people doesn’t help the situation but build unnecessary tension and pressure.

Week Eleven
Cycling for ten weeks made me become cool, calm and collected. I could see my desires were getting fewer and smaller when I tried to evaluate and give importance only to the needs. According to me, my fundamental needs are water, food, love, sleep and extended needs are health, shelter, friendship, family and freedom. Needs are common to everyone, it is simple and innocent. It eliminates comparison and weakens the influence of known people over me. It gives me the freedom to live life in my own pace.

Past couple of weeks, I was contemplating on living a simple and balanced life. Light weight in all aspects of life is a rule I set to myself. I gave away house hold items and clothes that were not used for more than a year. Secondly, I focused on eliminating long term financial commitments and debts.

It was a hard decision to sell my eight months old car but I sold it anyway. It doesn’t mean I don’t need a car anymore. When a right time comes, I might get a right car for right reasons. As long as my fundamental needs are satisfied I learn not to frustrate myself and peacefully work my way through extended needs without any expectations.

Week Twelve
What would I say, when someone asks me to carry 12 Kilograms of dead weight in cycle from Chennai to Kanyakumari? I would have immediately said a big no. The truth is I was moving around with ~20Kgs of excess body fat for years without any complaint. I lost about 8kg after the training so far.

It is interesting to note that I am a member of my office Gym for the past 2 years though I had been there only 3 days in this whole tenure. Every time I notice 300 bucks deducted dearly from my salary, I use to think “Well, next week on wards”.

I am going to office by bicycle these days with no regrets whatsoever and also started utilizing my office gym. This is what I wanted to do for a long time and I am so happy that I am doing it now.

Nevertheless, my primary focus is on long distance training. I try to keep up with training schedule no matter what. I can feel that every kilo meter on my bicycle makes me stronger and better for sure.

Week Thirteen
Thirteenth week is the most important week as it challenges me with 120 kms ride in a day which is the maximum according to my training plan. I was all excited the whole week waiting for Saturday.

For the past few weeks, I was riding mostly in the evenings. I reached home by 11.30PM during my previous 104Kms longest ride. This time I decided against evening ride because during my Kanyakumari big feat, I have to ride from early morning till evening under the sun. I want to make use of this week ride in similar conditions. Finally Saturday came and to my surprise, all my excitement got vanished away. It could be the fear of distance I am supposed to ride under the sun. This is what I consider as multiple personality disorder. First, I decide on doing something and then, I myself go against it. Later, I regret for not doing it.

If I hesitate to do 120Kms, how can I even think of riding 700Kms? With that argument, I pulled myself together and started towards Kalpakkam.

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Picture 17: Sign board near Kalpakkam

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Picture 18: Schwinn at Kalpakkam beach

I rested in Kalpakkam beach for a while. When starting back, an old fort opposite to the beach caught my attention. Later I came to know, it was a Fortress established by Dutch during seventeenth century. This historical monument is being maintained by ASI (Archaeological Survey of India). I spent some time there relishing the remains of rich heritage.

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Picture 19: Schwinn at Kalpakkam Dutch Fort Entrance

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Picture 20: Kalpakkam Dutch Fort

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Picture 21: Kalpakkam Dutch Fort

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Picture 22: Beach view from Dutch Fort

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Picture 23: Kalpakkam Dutch Fort

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Picture 24: Kalpakkam Dutch Fort

Week Fourteen
I thought of dedicating this week to share some tips from my experience.
  • Setting the right seat height is as important as picking your cycle with right frame size for your height. Both have something to do with your inseam length. It is good to do some research and try out different methods to set an ideal seat height. Idea is to find your comfortable seating position which should also be effective.
  • Safety Gears like Helmet, head and tail lights are essential. Don’t hesitate to invest on padded cycling shorts. Frequently adjust your position in the saddle to increase the riding comfort.
  • Be very careful when you happen to move out of the road or ride in a sandy road. It is better to stop and avoid such situations. I ignored it once only to fall down and get some bruises in my hand.
  • When you happen to ride on uneven surfaces, rest your maximum body weight on pedals. While doing so, have less pressure on saddle and handle bars, as much as needed for support and handling. This will reduce the chances of legs to slip from the pedal.
  • Never lock your elbow or knee bone. We need to always keep those in a slightly bent position to help reduce the vibration passed on to our body.
  • When you start to feel a dry mouth or thick saliva, drink water as soon as possible. Invest on a water sipper as it allows us to drink water safely while we drive. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated.
  • Plan and ride to variety of destinations in all possible directions to make the training interesting. It will also be effective as we will train in a variety of terrains under all possible head and cross winds situations.
  • Keep yourself motivated through all possible means. Some of the methods I find it effective are
    1. Record your training experiences and related thoughts in parallel
    2. Identify where you spend most of your time in your home. Idea is to keep the cycle in a place where you can see it very often.
    3. In few weeks of training, you might have identified your favorite route and destination. Whenever you feel a surge of positive or negative energy, don’t miss a chance, take a ride on your favorite route.
    4. Read long distance cycling travelogues and articles often
Finally, there may be days where we might feel extremely low and won’t feel like cycling. It is absolutely normal and don’t beat yourself for it.

Week Fifteen
I noticed a faint clatter coming from left pedal for few days now. Soon it started annoying me with a big tak tak sound. I understand Schwinn is asking for full service before leaving for Kanyakumari next week.

I dropped it for full service and started thinking about things I should carry to have a peaceful journey. Some of the items I thought about are puncture tool kit, compact air pump and spare tubes in case something goes wrong in remote area. I am also thinking of buying a good sun screen lotion and skin tight full sleeves to avoid my dark skin complexion turn into darkest skin complexion.

Next important thing is food which can breakdown quickly and efficiently into usable glucose. Carbohydrates are absolutely essential for a long-distance cyclist. Failing to take in the carbs can lead to pronounced losses of energy and strength. A common cycling mantra is “Eat before you’re hungry and drink before you’re thirsty”. Good on-the-bike carb rich foods include dried fruit like raisins or dates and low fat bite-sized cookies. High density carb supplements like energy bars are a terrific source of carbs provided we should drink plenty of water to quick transfer of carbs into blood glucose we need.

This weekend is dedicated for getting ready with above mentioned stuffs.

Week Sixteen the last week of training
Following is an achievable plan I worked out for the trip.

Plan: Average 175 Kms for 4 days
Chennai to Villupuram – 144 Kms
Villupuram to Viralimalai – 192 Kms
Viramalai to Kovilpatti – 206 Kms
Kovilpatti to Kanyakumari – 146 Kms

With approximately 2000 Kms of training, I hope I can complete the journey at ease.

Last edited by GTO : 15th November 2016 at 08:47. Reason: Spacing :). Thanks for sharing
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Old 10th November 2016, 20:13   #2
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Default re: Solo Bicycling: From Chennai to Kanyakumari

EPIC JOURNEY FROM CHENNAI TO KANYAKUMARI

Day One
I was all set to start my journey @ 6AM from home. Morning breeze was encouraging and I started pedaling steadily towards GST road. Training in GST road multiple times did help me and I reached Chengalpattu without any fuss.

On a move, I kept eating handful of raisins, dates and a banana for every 60 minutes. Also, drank plenty of water throughout. It was a wise decision that I bought a backpack with bladder that can hold two liters of water. Sipper comes handy when I need glucose mixed water. Somewhere around 3’o clock I reached Villupuram which was my first day’s destination as per the plan. 3’o clock was too early to settle down for a day and I decided to move further until 6’o clock.

Moving past Villupuram I saw this tanker lorry and that is when I remember my camera and took couple of pictures.

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Picture 1: Sign Board near Villupuram

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Picture 2: Tanker Lorry

Reached Ulundurpet around 5.30PM and pushed myself further. Around 7’o Clock I was in Veppur and checked in a hotel marking 200Kms in first day.

Day Two
I checked out the hotel @ 7AM and headed towards Viralimalai. First few hours of journey were good and I was thinking to reach Melur or Madurai by night fall. It was too sunny and I was exhausted by afternoon. I took lot of breaks en-route and my mental strength become too low that I started thinking about settling down in Trichy itself.

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Picture 3: Trichy Road

As I was approaching Trichy, it became extremely hard to push the pedal. Ironically, Trichy was never coming. I was only crossing bridge after bridge and at some point, I even thought of terminating the journey. At last, I was in Trichy around 5pm and it was a big relief which asked me to push until Viralimalai as per the plan.

When I reached Viralimalai, It was 7PM and I was totally exhausted. As I entered into Viralimalai main road from bypass, one of the police man from night patrol team enquired me with usual questions such as purpose of the journey, price of the bicycle like any other onlooker. When I asked about accommodation options, he said, Viralimalai is not a big town to have lodges or hotels with accommodation. I had no stamina to pedal further and told him I will try my luck in the town else I will be going to Trichy by bus for night stay keeping my Schwinn in police station.

I went inside the town and checked with various people but no luck. One of the gentlemen who happen to be an owner of a steel shop was very supportive in nature. After listening to my story, he made some phone calls and arranged a room in a mansion for my night stay. I could not thank him enough when he took me to the mansion personally. Luckily, someone has vacated the room couple of days back and new occupant will be coming in few days. These mansion rooms are meant for working bachelors usually stay here for longer tenure. Room was clean with an attached bathroom. There was nothing in a room except for a steel cot. Not even a pillow or bed sheet. I was so tired that I didn’t even bother about all those comforts.

I experienced moderate pain in my left knee especially when I walked down the steps of mansion for dinner. There was no pain when I walked on plain surface. I had my dinner in a nearest hotel. While climbing the steps back, again the pain sneaked in. Absolutely, not a good sign. Applied pain killer cream immediately and went to sleep.

Day Three
Day three started a bit late around 8AM. I was seeing lot of school and college students in bus stops. Most of them were admiring the cycle and passing comments especially on helmet. It was very funny for them to see someone wearing helmet on cycle and it was not a surprise because India is a country where lots of people don’t bother to wear helmet even while driving bikes. I guess it was a prime reason why I was hesitant for a long time to buy helmet. On a brighter note, it also gives a professional cyclist image. Nevertheless, safety gears are always important. It doesn’t matter which vehicle we drive.

After 20 Kms or so, I started experiencing pain in my right knee and with every pedal rotation it was increasing. There was no swelling or any difference I could spot between my two knees but the pain didn’t subdue. Pain balm and some rest were helping me to pedal around 10 Kms every time. All the while, I was giving maximum pressure only on my left foot. At one point, it becomes too painful that I could not even rotate or stand on my right leg.

Solo Bicycling: From Chennai to Kanyakumari-img_20161110_180003.jpg
Picture 4: Stranger Brother

This stranger brother was so compassionate to massage my knee to reduce the pain. After one hour rest, there was no pain in the knee and I was able to walk and rotate my legs. I know it is only temporary and I have to anyway go at least until Melur for much needed medication. I decided to take it very slowly with lot of breaks as and when required. Before I start, I adjusted the saddle height 2 inch lower, hoping that the change in rotation angle of my knee would have some positive impact.

Solo Bicycling: From Chennai to Kanyakumari-img_20161110_180004.jpg
Picture 5: Signboard to Devakottai

This signboard is near Melur. If I take a diversion, it is only 80Kms to Karaikudi my home town. I resist the temptation and move forward to Madurai. All along pain was there on and off but was bearable. Not sure if it was due to saddle height adjustment or something else. However, it gave me enough confidence to push until Madurai for proper medication.

I somehow managed to reach Madurai around 6PM. My first priority was medication. I did find an orthopedic clinic but doctor would only come by 7.30PM and there was already several patients waiting. Figures crossed, I was also waiting as my whole journey depends on what he has to say. Finally I was in doctor’s room and explained the whole story short. He examined both my knees and did some testing in the joints with wooden hammer. According to him, root cause for the knee pain is due to overuse, repetitive movement and excessive pressure that irritate the “bursa” a fluid that cushions and protects our joints. It is also called as “Athlete knee” or “Sportsman Knee”. Verdict was to take rest at least for one day and prescribed few pills. He also suggested wearing knee braces and encouraged me to complete my journey successfully.

It was a big relief that I don’t need to quit my journey. I checked in a hotel, had my food, pills and went to sleep in no time.

Day Four
I had a sound sleep and woke up only by 11AM. Refreshment, breakfast, television, lunch, television and quick nap later, I realized, it hard to stay in a hotel room without any action. I thought of cycling till Virudhunagar which is only 50Kms from Madurai. So, around 5PM I checked out and headed towards Virudhunagar.

Solo Bicycling: From Chennai to Kanyakumari-img_20161110_180005.jpg
Picture 6: Clouds

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Picture 7: Elephant Mountain in Madurai

Solo Bicycling: From Chennai to Kanyakumari-img_20161110_180007.jpg
Picture 8: Madurai Airport

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Picture 9: Schwinn

Solo Bicycling: From Chennai to Kanyakumari-img_20161110_180009.jpg
Picture 10: Signboard at Tirumangalam

I took it slowly and reached Virudhunagar by 8PM. As usual, checked in a hotel, had dinner and went to sleep.

Day Five
Started by 8AM in the morning. Target was to reach Tirunelveli approximately 110Kms. Near Sattur, Schwinn experienced her first puncture in four months. Incidentally, there was a puncture shop just across the service road so there was no work for my puncture kit, miniature pump or spare tube.

Solo Bicycling: From Chennai to Kanyakumari-img_20161110_180010.jpg
Picture 11: Puncture Shop

Solo Bicycling: From Chennai to Kanyakumari-img_20161110_180011.jpg
Picture 12: Near Sattur

Somewhere in between Sattur and Kovilpatti, I stopped for rest at a deserted bus stop. While starting back, I noticed a flat rear wheel.

Solo Bicycling: From Chennai to Kanyakumari-img_20161110_180012.jpg
Picture 13: Punctured Cycle

This time I was forced to check my ability in using puncture kit. Opening the tyre is a task in itself especially when your hand and fingers are almost numb due to extensive cycling. I pat myself for buying a spare tube otherwise I had to employ some kind of weird ideas to find the puncture spot without a bucket of water.

Wise men say, “When the shoe fits, foot is forgotten”. I completely forgot all about my knee pain and started pushing hard unknowingly. Until after noon everything was fine and the pain started again. I had to take frequent rest and ride.

Solo Bicycling: From Chennai to Kanyakumari-img_20161110_180013.jpg
Picture 14: Cooled off a bit here

Solo Bicycling: From Chennai to Kanyakumari-img_20161110_200817.jpg
Picture 15: Signboard to Tirunelveli

I know I have to take enough rest before I go hard on my legs again. The thought of only 80+ Kms more to complete my journey was encouraging and I can’t believe that I did 600+ already.

Finally reached Tirunelveli around 6PM. Needless to say, checked in a hotel, had dinner and went to sleep.

Day Six
Last day of the journey was interesting. I was all set to go and found my front tyre was flat. I took that opportunity to fix the spare tube also. As I was nearing Nanguneri, my heart was asking me to pay a visit to my mom’s home town, a small village named Alangulam. I had to take a diversion and travel 7 Kms off NH7. It has been long since I had been there.

I guess showing off win over me and I took a diversion. My mom use to dump me and my brother in this small village every summer holidays. I still remember how my grandmother scolds my mother for all our mischiefs when she comes back to pick us. Common expressions are “Don’t ever leave your children (monsters) here” and so on. She is no more but such a lovable lady she was. Every year as we enter the village, she use to come running and holding us like small babies and when we leave, we can see her eyes pouring like anything from the bus. She took utmost care for us every single time.

Whole village people are our relatives in some way or other. I was so excited to witness their expressions about my cycle journey.

Solo Bicycling: From Chennai to Kanyakumari-img_20161110_180014.jpg
Picture 16: Thamiraparani River - Tirunelveli

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Picture 17: Signboard

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Picture 18: Sri Ganapathi Bus

Back then; this was the only bus that goes through our village.

Solo Bicycling: From Chennai to Kanyakumari-img_20161110_180019.jpg
Picture 19: Last curve before the village

Last curve before the village

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Picture 20: Village Temple

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Picture 21: Our village home

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Picture 22: Either side of village

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Picture 22: Either side of village

Contradicting to my imagination there were no one in the street either side. Most of the people have gone out to work in fields. Few gathered around didn’t believe I came all the way from Chennai by Cycle.

My grand father and relatives asked whether I lost my job. He even tried to offer some money. It was hilarious and I had hard time explaining them that cycling was the whole point. After lunch I took off to Kanyakumari.

Solo Bicycling: From Chennai to Kanyakumari-img_20161110_180024.jpg
Pictures 23: Near Kanyakumari

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Pictures 24: Reached Kanyakumari

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Pictures 25: First view of sea

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Pictures 26: Gandhi Mandapam

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Pictures 27: Sunset in Kanyakumari

Solo Bicycling: From Chennai to Kanyakumari-img_20161110_180030.jpg
Pictures 28: Schwinn @ Kanyakumari

The END

Last edited by vjstanka : 14th November 2016 at 14:58. Reason: Corrections
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Old 15th November 2016, 07:43   #3
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 15th November 2016, 09:53   #4
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Brilliant stuff sir

You write very well, the points on excess baggage in life and competition on the road are something that I relate to very well. Looking forward to reading on more journey's from you. Next time, how about a climb up Ooty.
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Old 15th November 2016, 10:23   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by batterylow View Post
Brilliant stuff sir

You write very well, the points on excess baggage in life and competition on the road are something that I relate to very well. Looking forward to reading on more journey's from you. Next time, how about a climb up Ooty.
And how about me being the support vehicle?
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Old 15th November 2016, 10:47   #6
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kudos my friend!! excellent write-up.
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Old 15th November 2016, 11:01   #7
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Awesome trip and congratulations on completing it
Did you ride on the return as well?

Lot of points I could relate with yours and I know how difficult it is in such situations, convincing yourself to do something and completing it.

Your granddad offering you money since he saw you on a cycle was
Talk about innocence.

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Old 15th November 2016, 11:05   #8
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wah what a ride! That has excellent. I have been a dreamer for long to go on a cycle ride till Kanyakumari. You are inspiring now!

How is your leg doing now? Very well written!
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Old 15th November 2016, 12:04   #9
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Total respect.
Hope you have overcome your demons. Any physical activity not only tests the body but also the mind. To be able to push forward against all odds and succeed is in itself a remarkable achievement. To narrate it the way you did is simply mind blowing.
Proud to be a fellow bhpian to a multi talented and multi faceted person like you. I wish you all the best in whichever challenges life takes you as I know and you know that you have the physical and mental stamina to triumph in the end.
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Old 15th November 2016, 12:05   #10
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Beautifully written. Congratulations on completing the trip! You have done something that deep within, all of us want to do at some point in our lives (even if we don't admit it )

Hope your knee is doing better!
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Old 15th November 2016, 12:11   #11
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Awesome stuff man.
The kind of a journey that changes everything for the rider. Thanks a lot for sharing and inspiring so many of us.
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Old 15th November 2016, 12:30   #12
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Absolutely brilliant - the writing and the ride. Almost a Zen and the art of cycling type trip!
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Old 15th November 2016, 13:40   #13
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Clap, Clap, Clap! Brilliantly planned, executed and documented mate, this is truly inspiring! I started riding about 8 months ago, 57kms is my daily best, lost 14 kgs so far and have slayed a few demons of my own along the way:-). My big goal is to ride from Bangalore to Mangalore and your write-up is valuable inspiration. Thank you and safe travels.
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Old 15th November 2016, 13:55   #14
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Impressive !!! You earned yourself some serious stuff to boast(read narrate) about to your grandchildren
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Old 15th November 2016, 14:53   #15
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Everyday when I leave or enter my house, my Schwinn Sporterra 4 gives me those looks of guilt. I haven't taken her out for a spin in months, and everytime I promise myself that the day is tomorrow. Which unfortunately, never comes.

Although, the maximum I have ridden so far is 44 kms, I have had those exact same knee pains on two separate occasions. Some knee strengthening exercises have helped get over these.

Anyways, thank you giving us the joy of reading this travelogue. It was super inspiring. By December, I have resolved to at least drive till Mahabs and back. Thanks!

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