Post ride writeup: Emperor's On & Offroad Cycling (Jan 25 &26,2014 )

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Writeup from Dinesh :

This is how I realized, how much fun cycling can be.

We bunch of five kids (Dinesh, Pavan, Suraj, Gp and most importantly Manu) started our journey from IIT Madras at 5:30 and headed to Sholinganallur. The real fun started at Sholinganallur. A bunch of guys were waiting for us at a tea shop at Sholinganallur junction. With all hope that they were our CTC gang we parked the cycles and wondered how to start the conversation. Within no time the group leader (the organizer) approached us and said “hello boss I am siddharth, have some snacks; we shall start once everyone arrives”. Soon the silent star Vivek arrived and we started our journey. On the way we got introduced to each other, picked up some vegetables and fruits and headed towards Navallur. On the way Sid found a well and said “let’s get fresh”. Everyone without objection went there and some of us swam, on the lure of swimmers swimming the non-swimmers also wanted to join in, but there was only one tube. Well aware of the situation Sid mentioned there was a rescue swimmer, who had registered so now non swimmers could join us. After all this only Push had the courage to come in, after a while push asked “yaarupa andha rescue swimmer??”, no one answered and again asked Sid “ machi yaarra adhu, andha rescue swimmer??”, Sid replied “ Yaara da athu ?? (Silence for few seconds)therila push “. Here began our quest to search for the rescue swimmer!! Soon we finished our swim, but for us kids wells were something we studied in hydraulics and underground space technology, but we never knew the jumps from the top could be so much fun. Our first well experience was insane fun. Once we had got ready, our photographer (Aravind) came in and went on with his snaps.

All set to ride, we started again towards Mambakkam, but in no time we reached our breakfast shop. Famished and tired the combination of typical south Indian breakfast, idli,dosa,vada, poori, and not to forget the omelet and half-boils came to our rescue. Obviously the food tasted really good, but I don’t know whether it was because we were very hungry. Arvind somehow managed to calculate the bill and pay it off, ya he was our accountant too!! Sorry folks, am compelled to say about his smartness, Arvind will need three calculators, two assistants to do  the calculations, and since so many people were involved in the transaction, he would definitely get the calculations wrong, then Suraj would come in and do all the calculations for us (Pun intended). Now we seriously moved towards Mambakkam, but there was a twist. GP and Pavan, anxiously were trying to finish off the sunscreen bottle as the expiry date was approaching and thus forgot to notice where the rest of us headed. Instead of taking a U turn they moved on straight, and realizing that none of us are in front of them they speeded up to catch up, however our best cycler Manu did everything he could and caught them. Now that everything was ready we moved on, after the U turn the city landscape also took a U turn to green pleasant fields.

 All of us happily moved on and the scenery was so amazing. After cycling for an hour or so we got to our second well on plan. This was cleaner than the one before and so we could see the water clearly, someone murmured there was a snake but his repetitive warnings went in vain as the excitement to jump had overwhelmed everyone. Even the non-swimmers had braced themselves and joined us. Opposite to the entry stairs of the well there was a block, that was best suited for sitting. Somehow Push and Arvind managed to swim across to block and sat there. To get a firm grip Sid asked Push and Arvind to hold on to the holes in the block. Now everyone settled and the well was calm, and there was a splash suddenly. It wasn’t the snake but Thangavel’s jump and we well noticed that he had landed badly. After he came to the surface Arvind asked “Thambi kai valikumae” and Thangavel in this sweet voice ”Illainga unmaiya valikala”. Meanwhile Vivek, suraj and me were having a blast. Once we were up on the land we saw a snake that popped out exactly from the holes which our heroes were gripping. 

We then soon dressed up and were set to go, but were forced to wait for the couple “ Gp and Manu”.  Gp is an aspiring photographer and Manu a wannabe model, so now I guess you get the gravity of the situation. Somehow we managed to move forward. While we cycled, we could notice the landscape changing, and it was so beautiful; the photographers were on it. After an hour or so we stopped for photos and now again Manu was up for up for something!! He stoppe’ed and drifted till he gained our attraction and then..!! Nothing just got photos for his DP. We headed towards our off road track and once we were in it, the scene if shot would have surely made a block buster DHOOM 4!! Farther we moved in; the roads got tougher and hit the dead end where only Arvind and Manu could manage to cycle.

 We tried to figure out how far this stretch was and noticed it was indefinite and shifted to route B.  Route B didn’t deceive us; and it was a brilliant ride along the paddy fields. On the way we noticed a well that was really big (10m in radius), and we got down for lunch. We decided to wash the vegetables/fruits and cook, but on seeing the well the plans changed completely. The well was a paradise, water can never get better and with the fishes around it was the best snorkeling exercise. Soon non swimmers washed the goods and set it for cooking; meanwhile rest of us swam in the paradise to the full of our hearts with a couple of snakes and turtles. Once we were tired we moved up for our lunch.

Fruit salad was ready and Gongura aval was in its making. Push had made it well under Sid’s guidance and delivered it to all of us. Next milk maid aval was prepared by me and once it was prepared, it vanished into our stomachs. We finished the fruit salads and left for our next stop. This was the fun part, we were hoping for a well paved road but we got into a road that was just terrible, but it was the perfect off road experience. We were heading to a village near Thiruporur, and on the way there was a brilliant hillock with a temple at the top. Now it’s obvious we would go there right?? Yes, we drove up the hill; it would be approximately 300 meters above the ground level. We chilled in the hill for a while and left. Not to surprise our couples were up in the hill still taking photos even when we reached the foothills!! Finally by eve we neared the campsite and split into two groups one went to prepare the camp site and other to purchase the ingredients for dinner. Somewhere near Thiruporur we got all materials we needed and drove back with the help of torch lights.

Me and Sasi, after struggling for an hour prepared much awaited the biryani and curd rice; courtesy to all others for the prep help. The feast began!! Kara sev and potato chips had made the meal even better!! After all this we managed to sleep. Next morning Sid woke us up at 5:30 and said get up if you want to swim!! Some of us managed to get up and go to the well. This well was just made for diving, stone diving boards were installed!! We dived and dived and dived, because we believed this was the last well for the trip. Thangavel the most charming character, all you need to ask him is “boss gudhikalama??”  And reply would be “am always ready” irrespective of what your question would be!! After we returned we made cold ragivita and had biryani with it. By 8:30 all set to leave the camp site we moved to Kayar. From now on it was serious cycling we moved fast, till we spotted a black buck, and then we came across a lake en-route and crossed with our cycles. After the tiresome journey we had our ice cream mama to rescue, it was mango and grape flavored ice creams that we enjoyed. After this we hit ECR and cycled downwards. I must mention this, Sasi’s cycle pedal was broken last eve but this guy never gave up, he was always with us!! Bravo Sasi!! He cycled the longest of all 140km in total. 
Now back to the story, we were passing the 2nd well but decided, there could always be another well in the plan!! And as excited as we could get we jumped into the well!! This time we were even more concerned about the snake! I was diving on and on so much that Sid got scared, but still I had Thangavel for company. All I needed to ask him was “Boss gudhikalama” and the reply would be “am always ready” after getting cramps I had to stop. Soon we got ready and headed back to Chennai. On the way were beautiful paddy fields. The stocks (birds) were all over the fields once a passing car zips across, they would fly away. It was beautiful. We passed through sipcot and entered ECR again. After the lime juice there we went straight into kerala mess. Sat, ate and relaxed!! Arvind was getting the final financials correct!! Am sure you can guess what happened now, however I shall have my pleasure of stating it. 3 calculators + 2 assistants and yet accounts went off track, this time it was Sid to rescue (pun intended). After this we left to Sholinganallur, Sasi was still on, the epitome of a true warrior!! We gathered at sholinganallur and left to our respective places. On the way back, all that was in my mind was “when will I get this chance again….”


P.S: Guys you were brilliant, one of my best weekends ever!! I never knew cycling could be this fun!! The way you guys were there for all of us during the trip was brilliant. I love you guys. Arvind really nice nature photographs, you have a bright future!! We shall meet again whenever possible. Sid and Push thanks a lot for the trip, you guys were the soul of our journey.

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