The most memorable cycling excursion, was during summer of 1986.
Just after my PUC-I exams, Babu Prasad and I, did some basic planning for the trip. A little village near Mysore was our destination. Mom was against our idea while Dad was cool about it... We made sure our Hero cycles were in good condition, especially the brakes. We carried one back-pack each. Both of us had Walkmans and few cassettes.
We started our journey early morning since we had no idea how much time was required to cover 165km. The first 20-30kms was mostly uphill, with the sun going up, the day was getting warm. Sweating and panting, I started wondering if I could ride all the way to Mysore. This is where our Walkmans came handy, thoughts of giving up were blown away by the numbers blasting into our ears... we passed by Ramnagar, place full of hills where Sholay was shot.
We had breakfast at Channapatna and continued with our journey. Riding a bicycle on the highway was a totally new experience. We had to be careful, watch for traffic... turn back every now to check... especially notorious KSRTC bus drivers. We made our way to Mandya by lunch time, we had covered close to 100km, 60 more to go. Paddy and sugarcane fields flanked the roads now. We stopped by a farm and got fresh tomatoes from the farmer. On with journey... Srirangapattana and river Cauvery... the turn to Ranganathittu, the bird sanctuary... We were riding through the streets of Mysore, it was around 5pm.
We were yet to cover the last leg of our journey. The road to Babu's village was full of ups and downs. At one point of time, we both got cramps in our legs... what a coincidence! Almost fell off our bicycles by the sudden pain. We relaxed for few minutes and resumed with the journey, it was dusk and would be dark soon. As we reached the village, we looked up at the sky and saw the first few stars twinkling... we felt as though they were smiling at us, smiling at our joy.
Babu's relatives gave us a warm welcome. We freshened up, had coffee and went around the village... looking at the houses, dim light spilling out of them, people relaxing on the door steps, cattle tied to their posts, carts parked by... seeing rural life so closely for the first time in my life... Had a satisfying dinner, offered with so much of affection and care. We went out again, walking the empty village streets.
Next morning, we bid our hosts bye. Riding through a narrow dusty path, I suddenly realized that we were meters away from KRS... reservoir created by the dam Kannambadi Katte across river Cauvery. The dam is almost 2km long, we rode end to end and back... it was an unique experience. By evening we reached Mysore. We stayed at Babu's friend's place for the night.
Heading back to Bangalore...some where after Mandya, we passed by a cyclist riding a rickety old bike...in couple of minutes this guy was next to us, trying to pass us... he was racing us! The race was fun for us though it was not fair, since our bikes were much better than our competitor's bike. Our friend was increasing the pace of the race... we picked up speed and left him behind. Then, slowed down to let him catch us... ride faster to stretch the gap... slow down again...let him close the gap... (guess it was mean of us to do this) I don't remember how long our race went on...the guy gave up...probably he had reached his destination. Hoping to meet another character... we rode on, looking at every mile-stone- 80s, 70s, 60s... we counted down all the way back home.
We'd ridden 380km in three days, testing our stamina, testing our determination to complete the circle.