Sunday, December 30, 2007

Le Tour de Coorg - [ Day Two ]

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Madikeri is a hilly city. duh!! to get out of Madikeri, one has to climd steep climbs and immediately descend (equally steep) on the other side. Finding our way was easy. There was a continuous stream of Oil Tankers coming into the city from Mangalore. We should go towards mangalore until we find a fork. Once we had climbed up the steep gradients, we had the beautiful view of the valley below. Bhagamandala is at much lower altitude than Madikeri. But that clearly does not meant that the route was all downhill. We found that out very soon. We kept climbing up and down the coffee estates - every time hoping this would be the last climb before Bhagamandala.

The road was in a very good condition and there were kilometer markings all though out. The next day would be the annual Coorg Marathon. Locals believe that this is how a marathon should be. Not running on boring flat lands like the one in Bangalore previous week. We kept passing through one small village after another. At each bus-stop we could see school and college students lined up - curious eyes shifting from helmet, to gears, the outfit and then eye-contact, that is when boys look away and girls start giggling. We replenished ourselves from time to time with the groundnut laddus until we reached Chettimane where we had nice bananas. That would see us through till Bhagamandala. My camera was nicely tucked inside my luggage and hence not many photos taken on Day Two. Our plan for the day was to reach Cheyyandane by evening. This plan was based on the assumption that Madikeri to Bhagamandala was all down hill and can be covered in 2 hours. As we had just learnt, altitude readings can be deceptive. All the stoppings and the climbs, and H's niggle at the knee made us take four and half hours to reach the KSTDC hotel at Bhagamandala. The facilities at KSTDC encouraged us to change our plan to halt there for the night. This gave us the freedom to climb 7Kms of Talacauvery at our own pace. We had a late breakfast of Idli and Vada . We took only essentials to Talacauvery. The caretakers of KSTDC hotel were generous enough to let us park our luggage there. We took the cameras, chocolates and electral/water only.

The climb to Talacauvery is not as dreadful as it seems. Yes, it is a 440 mt climb in 7Kms. But the first three kilometers only has mild gradient. The road condition is excellent. Hence it does not drain you. But as I climbed, I started planning my ascent. There were people standing at vantage points taking photographs. Perhaps being among the hills for the whole day had made us immune to these sceneries ;-) There was a dude trying to do a rock-climbing stunt without any safety equipment... I could only smile at his foolishness and moved on. Some people were more friendly. They were encouraging and offering water. I politely refused. With about 3Kms to go, I was still feeling strong and going a steady pace of 5 minutes every kilometer. That is when the thoughts of climbing peak non-stop crept into my mind. Some where around this point, there is a 50 meter stretch of down hill. Yes, you read it right - down hill. I quickly gulped two sips of electral and noticed that I was still in F3R2. At two Kms to go I shifted to F2. Riding became slightly easier. The final kilometer is when the gradient steps up viciously. There are no trees there to add to the misery. Halfway through the last thousand meters, I shifted to easiest gear F1. That was the maximum the bike could help me. As I approached the summit, I had to get off my saddle. With tourist vehicles parked on either side and people walking on the roads... I had to whistle (the cycle had no bell) to get them clear the road. When I reached the top, I was ecstatic. Non-stop in 36 minutes was possible. There is a police outpost on top of Talacauvery. I struck conversation with the ASI and requested permission to rest inside. He gladly obliged. I hurriedly finished all the electral that I had got. As I waited for my friends, ASI Krishna told me that he was expecting ADG Mahapatra that day. As we both waited anxiously sun was beating down mercilessly on us. There was absolutely no shade in sight. I suddenly realized that I had all the eatables. H and M had only water. Even M's purse was in this bag. Oops what had I done? For 10 minutes, I even considered going down to meet them. Then I realized that H had money with him and both H and M are very resourceful. Had they needed me, they would have sent a word.

ADG had come and gone by the time my friends arrived. We quickly visited all the deities and climbed Brahmagiri. From the top of Brahmagiri, you can see all the way to Kerala. It pains to see the windmills stopped spinning because of lack of maintenance. People are a nuisance every where. The clear pristine air was being polluted with cigarette smoke by knuckle heads.

The downhill ride was fast and cautious. Unlike, other downhills, there would be a high probability of vehicles coming up hill who had to be given preference on road. But we were right up there with the other motorists with respect to speed. 7 Kms - <15 style="font-weight: bold; color: rgb(255, 0, 0);">

Harsha's Photos on flickr:

For the Cyclists:
Route: Madikeri - Talattmane - Cherambane - Chettimane - Bhagamandala - Talacauvery - Bhagamandala
Distance: 55 Kms
Max Speed: 44.7 Kmph
Start Time: 06:30 AM
End Time: 03:30 PM (approx)

Acco: The KSTDC hotel is the last hotel on route to Talacauveri. It is right next to Police Station. Can't miss it. They take bookings from any KSTDC branch viz Mysore or Bengaluru. Check-in times are noon to noon. There are 3-4 huge dorms - each with >50 beds. So theoretically you can find acco any time of the year. Restaurant is attached. Toilets are clean. Running hot water as long as there is power. At Rs 100/- per person - the dorm accommodation is a steal. The downside is that the dorm lacks a locker room.

There are other lodges in the town. But none of them looked sophisticated.

Food: A late breakfast: KSTDC, Bhagamandala restaurant had a simple menu. Only Idli Vada for breakfast. Perhaps, even if there were other dishes, we would have taken these only. The sambar was excellent. Waiters were generous and courteous in refills. Coffee is not as good as in other parts of Coorg. Price is reasonable.

On top of Talacauvery, we had butter milk. Extremely refreshing. The fact that is served in plastic cups is disappointing. Plastic indeed has deep penetration. We replenished our energy levels with dates and chocolates. Hot Hot ambodE made us more hungry.

Lunch at KSTDC was simple. Chapati, couple of sabjis (nondescript in nature), sambar, rasam and curd. The best part of food is that it is available way after lunch hours (even at 3:00 PM). We bought some puri for afternoon snacks to be eaten on banks of the river. We bought some more murukku and groundnut laddus for the next day.

Dinner was again kept simple - because, anything complex was not available. As the caretaker admitted himself, all curries have the same base. For Channa masala, you put channa. For Green Peas, you put peas. One can only imagine how Gobi masala would be if we had ordered. Hence we ate chapatis with Green Peas and mixed veg masala. Cooled off the spices with generous servings of curdrice. Curd rise was served with large amount of onions - strange. No ice cream or desserts.

1 comment:

Shubha said...

non-stop in 36 mins and then you climbed brahmagiri!! you guys are crazy!!!