Ravi Sankar Write up:
Post Trip / Trek Write-up Mysore / Gundlupet – Bandhipur – Wayanad – Chembara Peak – Gudalur – Ooty – Mettupalayam Cycle Trip
After I did a moderate trek on January, I am waiting for another moderate trek to participate. That was mid of February and I was travelling to Rajasthan by train. CTC announced 40 treks /events for their 5th Birthday celebrations. I was applied on my mobile for 3 treks. One was Kolli Hills Trek organized by Nachiketha and the other two was organized by Prem (Nagala west and Wayanad Cycle Trip). Unfortunately J I got selected in all 3 treks. So now I have to decide which I have to go. I have never been to Kolli and I have an interest to go for Kolli Hills, so I decided and paid money for that immediately. On the other two treks was organized by Prem, so I tried to speak with Prem for the difficulties in Cycle trip. He said, “You can choose your own difficult level as Easy/Moderate/Difficult”. Then I decided to go for this trip/trek and cancelled the Nagala Trek as I’ve been there earlier. I paid money for Wayanad cycle trip and waiting for the day to come. Before a week of trek, preparatory mail received from Prem and on Thursday evening I started for the Wayanad cycle trip.
Somehow I managed in that critical situation and reached the station by 9.00 pm for the 9.30 train. First I met Chandru and later everyone (35 fellow trekkers- most of them are new to me) reached there and introduced ourselves. Prem/Organizers arranged a Veg/Non Veg Biryani for everyone for the dinner. I had my dinner at home so I didn’t eat that biryani. Everybody ate the dinner and settled their seats for rest after some small confusion in the tickets/seats. Some of our team members played cards in our next coach.
First Day: Morning by 6.00am I heard Yazar’s voice as “Mysore station will reach in few minutes, so everyone be prepare for that”. Everybody wake up from their seat and get ready, but the train was reached Mysore at 7.30am onlyL. In between one team finished few masala dosai and vadas for pre breakfast menu. We came out from the station and waiting for our vehicle to pick up to Gundlupet where our exact starting point for cycling. In meantime we had breakfast in a roadside shop hot Idli, dosa and poori.
The business today for this shop was a great start, we almost emptied that shop. After our breakfast Prem found us a truck to transport till Gundlupet, (Mysore to Gundlupet – 59km) everyone hoped on it and reached Gundlupet around 11:00am where we met up with a small group from Coimbatore. Our cycles (rent and own) were reached there before us and everyone busy in selecting their cycles. At last I found a cycle for me to ride. This was my first cycle trip and I am new to this geared cycle, somehow managed and ride that cycle up to 3-4 kms. I was feeling so tired due to hot sun and feeling some sickness due to poori which I ate in the morning. I vomited that poori and taken rest in the sweeping vehicle (Volkswagen Jetta Car). (Gundlupet to Bandhipur Road– 18km)Few hours later, the road leading to Bandhipur was awesome and wants to ride a cycle at that time. So immediately picked one cycle and ride few Kms in that forest road, we saw few deer and an Elephant while crossing the forest road.
By 3 pm we reached near Muthanga (Bandhipur National Park to Muthanga – 24km) and searching for food and found a small hotel, in the hotel only 40 parotas are available, so we shared that parotas. But our stomach was not filled with that, so we had some lemon soda, biscuits, chips etc. to fill our stomach. After some break again we started from there and reached sultan bathery by 6.00pm. There we had tea and snacks and I was bit tired and no light so I boarded on the Mini Van. But half of our team members again started their cycling to reach Vazhiyoram (Muthanga to Vazhiyoram -29km) where our stay for the night was arranged. Everyone reached our Guest house by8.00pm and had a quick bath. (Some of our team members are crossed that location as they are unknown of the place and Bharani and Venkat are chased their car to reach them). It was a Dormitory and accommodated us very well. We had a nice dinner in that hotel and fall asleep to get energy for the next day.
Second Day: Next day early morning everyone refreshed in our rooms and checking their cycles are in condition. We started the second day from Vazhiyoram (10km before Kalpettah) with our cycles and reached Kalpettah for breakfast. Everyone had a breakfast there and loaded back our cycles to the Loading Van and few of us boarded on the van and proceeded to Chembara peak base. We areached there by11.00am and waiting for the other members to come. Raghu and Hari joined at Meppadi enroute to Chembra, who couldn’t join us on day 1. (Kalpetta to Chembara Peak – 16km)
Everyone gathered there around 12.30 and started our half day trek to Chembara peak. We paid Rs.50 each for forest entry fee(?) for trekking. Some of us (including me) fell little uneasy to climb up due to steep hill and hot climate. When we reached the top we saw a wonderful love pool (heart shaped pool) on the top. We took some photos there. When we began to descent, suddenly rain started to drizzle and then it poured and we are all drenched as there is no shelter on the top. Now the climate was very cool and we feel some freshness in the air, so we are easily descended from the peak. From Chembra we headed out in open mini trucks, zig -zaging through the narrow roads and cool air.
At 5.00pm, for lunch(?) we stopped at Meppadi, and had stomach full of food. I think almost we emptied the hotel! The next destination was Cherambadi across the state border, we pedal again untill we cross Kerala checkpost Cherambadi (Meppadi to Cherambadi 22km)(I pedalled few kms and boarded on van when I am unable to pedal due to darkness), from Cherambadi we got into bus till Gudalur (36km) it was past 9 when we reached Gudalur where we were stationed for the night in a home stay dormitory (arranged by Bharani)after a light dinner. We had a good time around the campfire followed by introduction session lasted up to 1.00am. In the mean while it became clear we’d left two bags behind in Meppadi hotel! Bharani and Jagadeesh came forward to retrieve the bags in the morning that was left in the hotel.
Third Day: We all refreshed by 7:00am and got into a local bus heading towards Gudalur bustand. Today our plan was to take a bus to Pykara(28km) and cycle from Pykara Lake till Mettupalayam, but from Gudalur bustand we couldn’t find any bus to take in all of us. Vasanth found us a small truck in which all 25 of us squeezed in with our bags, the journey was enjoyable as few sang songs all the way till Pykara. (Pykara to Ooty -22km). Once we reached Pykara, everyone started cycling, but I don’t have cycle to ride. So I get in to the Volkswagen car. The cycle riders have to pass some ups and downs to reach Dodabetta, but rain forced a few to take shelter in the cycle truck along the way. At Dodabetta junction we had hot tea and snacks.
By 5.30pm Cyclists are again started pedaling to reach Mettupalayam. I was waiting eagerly to ride a cycle and asking everyone for cycle but nobody willing to give. When we reached Kothagiri by Car, chandru asked me, “you want to ride cycle”. Immediately I get down from the car and taken the cycle for riding. (Kothagiri to Metupalayam- 30Km) It was awesome to ride the cycle in the downhill with the cool breeze and I really enjoyed it. After some time I passed around 10 km I found I am alone riding the cycle as my team mates are passed me and somebody are behind me. Again rain was started and getting dark. Slowly I am riding(?) my cycle using brakesJ and doesn’t want to stop. There are so much of bend and the road was fully slope. In between I saw some of our team member fell down from the cycle, (later I came to know that it was Venkat sir) so I stopped there. Arun asked me, “I have light in my cycle, so can we move”, I said ok. After some time he was zapped fast in a hairpin bend and left me as he was an experienced cyclist. Again I was stranded and slowly going down on the road. In between a naughty guy passed me said, “Hey take care man, Elephants are crossing the road on the way”(May be it was to frighten me) But I was in a mood, not to give up in any situation, but my cycle’s brake was fully failed. There is no light, rain pouring with thunder storms, No brake and left alone, but I was really enjoying that situation. I get down from the cycle and slowly walking with my cycle on the dark and deep road about 5 kms. My hands are frozen in the chillness and my dress was fully wet. People crossed me on the road watched strangely. After some time Sundar and vinod joined with me and we all three slowly walked with our cycles. Few minutes later Prem and Alagar reached there and they are having the tool kit. They adjusted my cycle’s brakes and ensured working fine. Now Venkat sir is on his car with Bharani, they throwing light on the road for visibility to move us on track. Finally around 8 pm we reached Metupalayam and waited for our other team members to come.
When everyone reached, immediately everyone jumped in to a Kaiyenthi bavan on the road side and finished some biryani and omelets for Dinner. I ate some Bun and cool drinks for my Dinner. Venkat sir had a problem in a leg so he wants to go to a hospital immediately. I was having some other plans, so travelled with Venkat Sir and Bharani with their car to Coimbatore. (Others are travelled to Chennai by AC Bus arranged by prem). I am admiring Venkat sir’s hospitality, while he was having problem in his leg and under medication, that situation also he asked his wife to provide food for me and Bharani. Thanks Venkat sir! and thanks to Bharani for Sharing his room for a night stay.
Special Thanks to Prem for selecting me for this wonderful and memorable cycle trip and everyone who encouraged me and supported me in this trip/trek. Thanks to Shyam for Accounts Maintaining, thanks to Vasanth and Jegadeesh for Transporation. Thanks to all Photographers for making the memories last longer.
Note: Finally we came to know, Overall we(I am not included) pedalled 181 km at a maximum speed of 51km/h. courtesy: Anand 🙂
Sneha Write Up:
Trip-ing with the Emperors- 26, 27, 28 April
When I heard about the 3 day Waynad bound trekking cum cycling trip, I definitely wondered as a first timer with Chennai trekking club if pushing the limits will prove adventurous or foolishness. I asked myself, “who dare wins!”, with that I registered for the trek. It wasn’t until the week of the trek that I heard the ambitious target of 257km, I have to admit that my knees did a little wobble and my stomach knotted up.
Catching the train on 25th did bring the phrase nick of time to life. Once inside the compartment I was immediately greeted by fellow group members. As the train pulled out of the station I learnt that these guys were first timers at cycling too! (You can imagine my strain to contain my joy & relief). Now that our polite introductions were made, these guys lost no time in tracking the compartment which harbored the much discussed Akbar mess Biryani. The more devout non vegetarians set alarms for the stroke of midnight to declare their allegiance. We looked into the possibility of relocating to the more CTC populated compartments, landing me in S4; nothing could have prepared me for the turbulent flow of good humored recollection of the glorious past and remarkable foresight for possible future moments of genius (or at least that is how my Tamil-to-English translation reads ;)).
Day 1:Morning came with news from one of our senior member gloating over his successful prank: frightening a little boy, telling him “you must maintain an avg. speed of 45kmph while cycling at all times”!! An important lesson I stumbled on was: Ask no questions and you will hear no lies. What was refreshing to notice was that there was no age factor in this group, everyone was all disarmed and ready for life. We arrived at Mysore and ravaged a petty shop for breakfast, nullifying the “law of marginal utility”, as there was no drop in demand for more. After a sumptuous meal we piled into an open top truck bed & baggage, headed to Gudulpet where we shall be introduced to the cycles (rented ones). The team quickly began inspection and addressing any irregularities in the cycles, while few began giving helpful hints in gear changing & cycling. With a shout of enthusiasm for the cameras we set out to the Bandipur check post, only to make an almost immediate pit stop for a watermelon break. This being my first ride on a geared bicycle I had good fun mixing up the gears as I rode. Within the first 15km a few bicycles had to be stashed away. In the forest we saw a few deers while the all other wild life kept out of sight from the mid day heat.
We began rotations on riding cycles as the heat began to sap out our energy. Pretty soon, around 5:30pm we stopped at another enjoyable food stall for lunch. By now everyone was famished and only few even knew what it was they were eating, but the plates, however, were wiped clean. After restoring the electrolyte balance with salt and lime we headed out to that night’s destination: Kalpetta. With nightfall approaching fast I tried to keep pace with the rest of the group; although the sweep might have different story to tell. Once darkness came, we switched on our lights but the thrilling factor was the lightening that presented us snapshots of the road ahead. With one quick lime soda break and ‘special’ bun we were back on the road. While the team cycling managed to overshoot our night halt, we who were tailing were hailed to a stop by a yellow stripped figure frantically jumping in the middle of the road (my most sincere thanks to you). After a hot bath and a slightly civilized dinner a few called it a day and turned in for the night, while some with outstanding stamina decided to drop a few cards while the night was still young.
Morning came with its aches and woes but unimpeded our folks began to set about examining and tweaking the bicycles for the day’s run. We stared out cycling toward the Chembra stopping for breakfast of appam, barota, puttu & pooris; although, waiters did experience some unfavourable conditions in making it to the outer table with any food. A focused cyclist overshot this stop by 10km, such display of focus is to be applauded. Armed with an apple and orange, what started as a walk through a tea estate turned quickly into a steep ascent. Lured with the attraction of a heart shaped pool at the top we kept moving. While some huffed and puffed their way up, some others found resting chairs(in what the otherwise would have passed as hard rocks) in strategic nooks of the trail. A vigilant tour guide prevented us from scaling the peak citing unfavourable weather conditions as excuse. But this didn’t dampen the trekking spirit, for around the bend flowed a fresh water spring- water so clear, it was magical. After admiring the view and resting by the pool, we began to climb down. It started to drizzle and then it poured, this made the descent less exhausting in exchange for sure footing and visibility. The rain wash and the limited sunlight gave a fresh look to the trail, enough to create sufficient doubt; a 5star break and a quick poll later we were safely at the start point. From Chembra we headed out in open mini trucks, zig -zaging through the narrow roads and cool air. For lunch we stopped at Meppadi, many of the non vegetarians were itching to get their hands on the famed Kerala beef fry, it was so much of a delight that we emptied their stock! The next destination was Cherambadi across the state border, we were cautioned by the locals to look out for elephants along the way. We managed to catch the last bus to Gudalur, where we were stationed for the night in a dorm after a light dinner (more like midnight snack). We had a good time around the bonfire followed by introduction session. In the mean while it became clear we’d left two bags behind in Meppadi! A team came forward to get back and retrieve the bags that left in the morning.
We greeted the morning with a refreshing drink and then cleared out to find our way to Pykara, where our cycles were waiting for us. A fun packed truck ride, unveiled some intriguing facts, Arun and Hari are lyrical store houses, Yoganand can turn any song into a rap song, Priya brought melody to the ears, and Yasar… might need to check for tone deafness ( I kid of course). Once at Pykara, the cycles riders set out to meet the ups and downs all the way to Dodabetta, but rains forced a few to take shelter in the cycle truck along the way. At Dodabetta we stopped for a snack and some piping hot tea. Cyclists took off in troops toward Kothagiri town. The shear thought of the approaching downhill ride to Mettupalayam provided energy to overcome any slope that might stand in the way. Darkness slowly began to catch up with us, slowing us down on the descent that was riddled with hair pins. Soon we were drenched by rain that reduced visibility even further for those without lights, forcing a few to surrender their cycles and take seats in the pickup truck. We could hear the others on their bikes, shouting out to each other riding down in single file. Inside the truck we made the terrible mistake of discussing mouth watering dishes only to forfeit dinner to make up for lost time. Collecting our bags and belongings we transferred them to the Volvo bus that brought us home safe and sound.
All said and done this has been a thrilling trip, going far places, climbing new heights, meeting new people, trying new cuisines; more than I’d ever imagined was possible in 3 days. These adventurous 3 days will be relished, a loud shout for the Emperors team that planned, organized and made this trip a treasured experience. In the end after 183 Km, avg. speed of 18kmph and top speed of 52kmph, the exhilarating rush has left me clamouring for more.