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May 12, 2011

Seven bikes and 24 punctures.

Filed under: cycle, cycling, personal, travel — neosurya @ 18:00

On Sunday, seven colleagues from work set out on a biking trip. I had planned a mostly tarmac route going from Koramangala to Sarjapur to Chikka Tirupathi and back. But destiny had other plans for us.

5:45 AM: Vishwa calls saying that they have started for veloinvillage to pick up bikes.

6:00 AM: I get there on my trusty Kona. Ravi has already given them the bikes and are all gung-ho to start on the trip. They have some huge bags to carry: Maaza, carrots, apples, a bunch of towels. I was only carrying my puncture kit, two liters of water and a dozen granola bars. It seemed puny in comparison to the kitchen and a bit of the wardrobe that was going to load their heavy shoulders. I put one of the bags on my front rack, and the rest is carried by others. I think that there is no need for so much food/beverage/toiletries. I was to be proven wrong; food was to be extremely important on this ride.

6:15 AM: We are off. Santosh is lost. Santosh was riding a KHS 500 from Koramangala, gladly loaned to us by Mayank. A few frantic calls reveal that he is opposite the “commandants house”. We advise that he not venture further in said area, and return to Sarjapur road. He swears that he is not lost, Vishwa and Guru stay back for him and the rest ride toward Decathlon.

6:45 AM: Two of us have just crossed Decathlon, and stop for others to catch up. A guy in bike gear comes out of Decathlon, possibly on his routine ride. He stops by us, asks us – “Would you like to ride?”. A quick discussion reveals that he does off-road riding, and takes newbies on rides every Saturday and Sunday morning starting at 6:30 AM from decathlon. I am excited: “Sounds cool, let me ask my buddies.” By the time we wait for others to catch up, I find out that he is Eugene who works for Decathlon.

7:05 AM: Eugene takes us on a detour just a few KMs after Decathlon. Within minutes we hit very beautiful, tree covered kaccha/pakka roads. The next couple hours are best told in pictures:

9:00 AM: We stop for breakfast.

9:45 AM: We enter a forested area, as seen in the 5th image above. Everyone is super-excited, but Eugene has a puncture. As his bike is getting fixed, juntaa gather around for a photo-op. The fomas is bandied around, with everyone exclaiming how nicely the slick tires have held out.

9:47 AM: We find another puncture.

9:47:35 AM: Two more bikes have a flat. The count ends at 7 bikes having a flat. Only myself and Aravind (Eugene’s colleague from Decathlon) are flat-free.

10:30 AM: It is evident that the punctures are many, and the puncture fixers only two (myself and Eugene). Others quickly obtain a crash course on fixing punctures. Spirits are high; everyone is helping out fix the flats, doing photo ops and generally enjoying the experience. Maaza and bread pastry is passed around.

12:00 noon: By this time, even people are deflated. We did not carry kits to handle humans :-/. We have fixed ~24 punctures, and both myself and Eugene start  running out of tube patches. There are multiple flats on some of the wheels and there are mistakes when some people put the tube back without removing thorns. Even Eugene “Master-ji” who has so far refused food and drink is close to swearing and takes it out on a bread pastry. 🙂

Eugene and the bread pastry

12:30 PM: We conclude that most tyres are OK, but do not risk riding them through the shrub. Jokes are made about the fomas, which is the most punctured of the lot. We push our bikes through the thorny shrubs for about 2 KMs and make it to the village of  Sarjapur. By the time we reach Sarjapur, a few more flats occur. We find a cycle repair shop, and hand him over our tired tires.

1:30 PM: A vehicle is hired to carry the bikes and ppl back to BLR. Three of us ride back to BLR, and most make it home by around 2:30/3:00 PM.

By the end of it, we had ridden for about 40 Kms. Not bad for a first ride !!! The bike ride is a big discussion at workplace, and everyone wants to go again !!! Many thanks to Vishwa who helped do most of the planning, and to Eugene, whom we met at the right time :).

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