It all started with that one phone call on that busy day in Sep 2015 from Deepak from Bangalore, What a Surprise call, Deepak asking me "Do you want to Ride Bliss in the Hills?". Looking at my schedule, i instantly said yes, even though i was grossly lacking in my training and all those pre requisites for this mega ride. Intuitively i was feeling let me do it, let me ride and since then no looking back. I applied for a weeks leave and then planned my move to Bangalore, did request Deepak to host me at his place for a couple of days. Deepak, Man with a big heart was always cheerful and positive. We share fond memories of riding yercaud together in 400 brevet in 2013. On 29 Sep I reached Bangalore and was on my way towards whitefield where my Nano car started behaving wonky, tried to manage to pull as near as i can to Deepaks place but it gave up 500m short of the destination, then had to call Deepak for help, where in he managed to push the car all the way up to his house, couldn't figure out the actual problem with the car, we decided we first grab our lunch and then sort things out.
Meeting Deepak was a great relief, the moment i met him i felt relaxed and BLISSFUL, (the Bliss begins), was super excited and we started to chart out a very wishful strategy, we were thinking in lines of finishing it in 79 hours or so, totally aggressive, didn't even know what's installed for us, but that's how we both are. After two hours of thorough analysis we were mentally prepared and felt like let the ride begin right now, etching to move. Then we got the Nano to the garage and found that the clutch plate is worn out and needs replacement and hence the car needs to be left there for a day or two, again Deepak sorted out this issue in a subtle manner. Deepak apartment friends (Nilesh and Mukul) were also super excited about our ride and were very concerned about the whole venture. We had awesome chicken and mutton biryani and ice cream and did end the day peacefully. En route we also met tusker and anantha. Happy to meet them after quite some time.
30 Sep 2015, 7 am Back in action again, again we analysed the route, discussed the fluid requirement and the shopping that we need to do and then we set the bike. By 9 am we both had our breakfast and took the bike for a spin and to shop some stuff. By 1030 am we were back and cooked our lunch. By 1230 we were all set, last minute checks, fast grab on lunch and then ready to move, felt very strange that hour, but went on with the routine. We had to pedal around 20 km to the starting point. Hot sunny and polluted was the weather but happy to meet Ashok (Blissful) him on his bike at Marathalli, he was on his way to the start line to see off the participants. After a brief chat he disappeared into the skies and could only trace him at the start line.
At the start line everything is good all happy faces, smiles one happy kingdom, great to see the organizers (Parag in particular), then comes Gana, Opendro and finally Chidhu. Chidhu the ever messy Mr Bean had a major problems with his bike was suggesting the desi tarika but did not work out. A 20 min delayed start which means all our strategy needs 20 min correction. We both( Me and Deepak) reminded each other the cut off time for Hassan and Belur. Cycling that crazy bangalore traffic is demoralizing, finally the exit from the city and then it was all blaze the next 100 km, we did this 100 km stretch in 3 hours 20 min. Felt good after which he had o take a fast grab, had icecream, and eggs and dhal rice, and in the next 5 hours we were in Hassan. An unwarranted blunder here was awaiting, we didnt pick the right right turn to belur road and went wayward for 12 km towards managalore, we realized it then had to pedal back to belur. We made it to Belur by 0130 am and were pretty satisfied.
Belur to Madikeri
A rolling terrain with depleting energy stores we were starving by 0400h and stopped for a small grab there, met Gyanendra and mohanty, we did pull on together till 0700h with three flats one each except Gyanendra. Mohanty was left behind and then we reached a crucial junction, a serious confusion as to which route to be taken, this led to serious loss of time till 0830 and then we were some how in the right path, we three had breakfast and decided to navigate by google maps from there to somwarpet and then to madikeri. The second costliest blunder, that route was a nightmare, 20 km climb on a road suited for mountain bikes only with gradients of 14 - 15%. It did drain the hell out of me and Deepak, Gyani was out of sight as he had blazed past through that section. Finally with great difficulty made it to somwarpet. We did get in contact with Opendro, Gana, Putta, Sylvestre and Mohan. At that moment i was shattered to see that i am unable to pedal even 8-10km /hr, started doubting will i be able to pedal the entire stretch, i was a broke by then, i dragged myself behind sylvestre and Mohan at a steady pace chatting about his PBP experience, what a personality sylvestre is, truly amazing always cheerful and relaxed, (BLISS AGAIN), dragged till Madikeri and had decided to give up the ride and get back to Bnagalore from the madikeri bus stand. I went all the way to next control and then i got a call from Deepak, he told me to get back to hotel for lunch, but i had already given up, again dragged myself to the hotel, met opendro and told him that i want to give up, he pepped me up and said "have your biryani, and you have made it in good time, don't give up".
Madikeri to Iritty and Then Periya and Finally Kalpetta
i agreed to have my biryani and moved on with Deepak, again was feeling very weak and exhausted, then decided to do a trick, let me adjust my saddle height and pop two tablets of combiflam. Oh Man that worked, in the next 60 seconds, i am back and riding strong, deepak is shocked to see me so strong and then we made it to Iritty in pretty good time met Gyani there had a quick grab and then we three decided to climb Periya together. Gyani wow what a being is he, super strong and super fun. Thoroughly enjoyed his company, we all three were riding easy till the top of Periya. At Hotel Highland we had Rice and dhal and there we met Guatam, Venky and others. Open, Gana and Putta joined us and venky and Gautam left. we then decided to ride strong. this time its all downhill and w e were picking line slike anything, we descended on those bad stretch like hell and then we find that we need to push harder . Deepak was falling behind, so i decided to put deepak in the middle between Gyani and myself and Gyani would set the pace. We pushed harder and harder and you would not believe we rode 38 km in 1h 10 min. Finally we were in Kalpetta control, felt accomplished , so nice to see organisers felt homely and never thought about whats intsalled in the future. Thanks Organisers, i felt i have finished the brevet at Kalpetta and now another new brevet starts tomorrow morning from Kalpetta. Very excited to see chidhu there and the rest trickling thereafter. Went to bed at 0200 am and set the alarm from 0400 am. Woke up by that time, then woke Deepak and Gyani. But some how the time flew past us and we started at 0540 am.
Kalpetta to Avinashi
A chatty ride with chidhu till his deraileur broke , spent around an hour fixing his bike , then came gyani, open and gana. Rode all the way to Gudalur with Open,an amazing being in that picturesque route. Deepak had issues with his knee had to take a pain killer again and then we hit Gudalur. Gana and Open had a quick grab and made a move to Ooty and then we left with chidhu. Again chidhu had issued with his bike , Deepak helped it to keep rolling and then chidhu left. Me and Deepak were climbing at a snail pace to Ooty and then we saw Venky cruising free on the mountain at an amazing cadence. We pushed each other till Ooty. I did not like the ride around ooty till doddabettta, as it was only vehicles and vehicles all around, Felt when will this horrible route finish and was pestering Deepak about the same. We did the maths after Kotagiri downhill to the next control at Avinashi, we were no where near to it almost 2 hours short, but Deepak told me that we are getting 2 hours more for the Avinashi control as decided by the Brevet manager at Kalpetta. We were banking on that life line, then there was another problem my headlights not working but decided to go along with Deepak ahead. After a few km of downhill ,i could not keep trak of Deepak and eventually lost Depak out of sight and now it was completely dark. Tried to ride behind a four wheeler but was being blinded by the head on traffic and that recovery was impossible so stopped the ride, panic started to gripping in tried stopping few vehicles none stopped and then one motorcycle guy stopped, explained him my problem and sought his help so that he rides along with me, he stayed ahead me behind him, after 5 km i met deepak on the way, was anxiously waiting for me, was very worried about my whereabouts and finally we started to again descend with Deepak always behind me.From Metupalyam onwards we rode so hard that we were reaching Avinashi before 10 pm. 15km short of Avinashi, Gautam was shouting for the Avinashi control time, we did not stop but we told him to get on the bike and ride along, which he did, after reaching the control at 1015pm we explained Gautam about the extended time or the waiver that we get for Avinashi control.
Avinashi to Yercaud
Now we had Chidhu, Venky , Gautam, Deepak and Myself riding to Salem. Me and Deepak zoomed off in the first hour with great pace lining and then comes chidhu. Again it turned out to be a chatty ride, all three kept ourselves awake by singing songs and chidhu was singing advertisements and all three were in euphoric mood. After sometime chidhu was left behind and then venky came along with us. We three decided to work hard and work together, what a ride that was, we vroomed to salem early in the morning at 0600 we were all set to start the climb. Again we three worked well as a team to pull each other, hats off to venky, even with extreme neck pain he climbed like a warrior and we followed him, we made it in 1 hr 20 min and we three were on top of the world then, what an awesome sense of accomplishment, we lived the moment to the max and hugged each other and a great sense of camaraderie, (BLISS AGAIN),Later followed chidhu, open and gana and the last minute bollywood style entry by Gautam, ONE HAPPY BUNCH AT YERCAUD,
Yercaud to Yellagiri
Descended as a whole bunch, then open and gana pushed off, venky had serious issues with neck, gave him some massage and a pain killer and then we four thats deepak, venky, Gautam and Myself strectched our way to koppanur descent and extreme ascents and treated ourselves with bettle leaves and then made our way down. Had awesome buttermilk home made, slept for 40 min till 1pm and then started our journey to yelagiri. Hot weather bad roads were making life difficult, again we four worked together and made it to tirupattur, from there onwards we were not sure about how far is the yelagiri base, speculating different distances to yelagiri base and finally on the right path to yelagiri. At Yelagiri base saw Gyani already finished the climb and we were ripping the climb. We four worked really hard, each one pulling one another and not allowing anyone to fall out of the group, reached well within time and treated ourselves with Chicken fry. Then came Chidhu who had a quick grab and started descending together.
Yellagiri to Bangalore
At the base Gyani was waiting for all of us, but venky was all sleepy and chidhu decided to stay with him, hats off to chidhu, even though he wasnt sleepy he gave company to him and the rest slept at vaniyambadi highway. It was 1am and the last leg had already begun and we had less than 8 hours to do it. All focused on the task started the journey, me and gyani stayed toghether and deepak and Gautam were behind us. We all ripped the initial 50 km and then we rode at a gentle pace. Me and gyani were singing, chatting, sharing jokes, kept ourselves entertained and then Deepak and Gauatam joined us and finally chidhu and Venky at Krishnagiri at 0330 am. By 4 am we were back on track towards bangalore, we were feeling we are almost there but that stretch from krsihnagiri was a decider felt like being in T20 match wher you need 36 runs out of 18 balls, every minute was precious but me , gyani and chidhu again in that song mode pulled each other till shoolagiri. I just stopped to check my air pressure some where in between 50 km short of bangalore , gyani and chidhu were out of sight. Now i was riding all alone was riding at a slow pace hoping to catch up with Deepak and Gautam that did not happen, just kept on pedaling and as the Sun was back on a Sunday i stopped thinking, let me just ride and stop thinking was the mode. Reaching bangalore was so difficult and painful, those rolling terrain stretches from Krishnagiri to Electronic city fly over kills you, was frustrated every time i see a uphill before a downhill and to make life miserable were with the head winds. All said and done some day the misery should end and then comes the E city fly over, relieved but was worried about Deepak, Gautam and Venky. I was feeling very guilty, many a times thought of waiting at the Flyover but convinced myself telling that they are three of them they would definitely pull along each other. Reached the finish point, mixed feelings and not so happy because my buddy Deepak not in picture, controlled my emotions to a great extent, at one stage i was eager to get back on the bike to get Deepak along. Each one of them i met asks about Deepak it was deeply hurting me. Fingers crossed then i see venky at the finish line followed by Gautam, was very relieved and was very sure that Deepak would make it. Then comes my boy Deepak, i was relieved he was very emotional tried my best to keep his nerves under control. Very much relieved thereafter.
Guys this was one hard fought battle, worked hard with such amazing bonding with Deepak, Venky, Gautam , Gyani and Chidhu and of course the rest. I feel accomplished not by the 1200km milestone but by that camaraderie, working as a group and really being there for one another at extremes of everything. With this group wouldn't mind going another loop.
Happy for all you strong men and woman there, you people have nerves of steel and big hearts,
I FEEL BLESSED THROUGH BLISS IN THE HILLS.
Thanks each one of you out there who were involved in this amazing Journey.