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Cycling to Mandalaptti

Disclaimer: This is quite a looong Blog but am sure you will enjoy reading it.

Having a hobby of travelling and exploring, Madikeri and Mandalpatti was always in my “To-Do-List”. It is also known as ‘Mugilu-Pete’ in local language which means the Market of Cloud (Mist). It is situated at an altitude of around 4050 feet, a hilltop, around 20 kms from the town of Madikeri in Karnataka. A favorite destination for nature lovers. This blessed region is a part of Pushpagiri reserve forest. The Road from Madikeri to Mandalpatti is famous for being a four-by-four Jeep drive spot to the top.

As the mail popped up in my mailbox from Bangalore Trekking Club (BTC) on 15.11.2017 opening the Cycling Event from Madikere to Mandalpatti, my imagination started visualizing the mesmerizing views of Mandalpatti. Then, I immediately registered for the event without having any second thought and started waiting for shortlists as the events gets closed very early when it is with BTC. The wait was over on 28.11.2017 when I saw my name in the shortlist participants in the event.

The event was organized by the BTC organisers Mr. Pavan (The humorous guy) and Mr. Arun (the Funny and Diplomatic guy) in association with M/s. That Garage Café (Cycle Vendors). The other fellow cyclists were Mr. Ambrish (the Lawyer), Mr. Dinesh & Ms. Sushmitha (The (Married) Couple), Mr. Easwar “Sir” (The oldest yet youngest amongst all), Mr. Kapil (Raagi ball is the Secret of his Energy), Ms. Sneha – The Rs. 2/- Girl (the girl starts selling everything only in Rs. 2/-), Mr. Vamsi Krishna (The Arjun Reddy-Just in looks), Mr. Hrishikesh (The Camera Man), Mr. Naveen (The GoPro Guy), Mr. Ashwin (The Committed guy), Ms. Saptha (The only Veggie Girl in the group), Mr. Umesh (The Silent Guy), Mr. Prashant (The “Win-Win” Guy). After telling this much about the each person from the group, it will be unfair if I don’t tell about me. So, here is 16th person of the group i.e. Me – Taher Shariff (The Romeo) the name they gave because I waved back to the people who waved us while they were travelling by Jeeps during cycling on our way to Mandalpatti.

The Beginning:

I reached the meeting point of BTC at 10.00PM on Friday i.e. 01.12.2017 and the organizers and few co-cyclists were already there. After signing the Attendance sheet, we were started chit-chatting on casual stuff and waiting for the fellow cyclists to join. Once every one has arrived, we boarded Bus and started from Bangalore @ 11.00PM. Here comes the time of introduction and as always the Organizers of BTC came up with the creative idea i.e. we have to introduce the person sitting next to us and there will be Questions asked about the person. They gave few mins time to talk to the person and get to know each-other. Here comes the Twist, we have to inact the person’s name to start with. Everyone became busy in knowing each other and gather all the information required to answer the tricky questions. There were really funny moments while people trying to inact the names and the answer for the questions thrown on them. Few people created own stories to answer the questions which was add-on to the Fun. This section was completed around 1.00AM and its time to Sleep as we have to Start the Cycling early in the morning.

Day 1 (Saturday):

We reached Homestay in Madikeri at around 6:30AM. It was raining in Madikeri. Few of us were happy to see the climate as such climate is add on to the beautiful views at Mandalpatti. The moment I entered into the room, the first thing I saw a neat double bed with a Blanket which is calling me to sleep. I threw my bags aside and jumped on to the bed and covered the blanket and closed my eyes. Then Mr. Pavan (Organiser) has come and told us that we will be starting by 7:30 so we have 1hr to get ready. I thought I can have a nap of 45 mins so continued with sleeping and asked Mr. Prashant to wake me up 7:15AM. Then, this guy started playing games. He said OK then every 5-10 Mins coming and pulling the blanket over me and telling “Hey- You have more 40mins to wake up”. He repeated twice or thrice and later Mr. Pavan joined him and he was like shouting my name every 2mins and asking me to wake-up.  I was like Phewwww....these people won’t allow me to sleep and then, I gave up. I myself threw blanket from me and sat along with others and started discussing about the plan and everyone got ready by 7.30AM as per instructed. All are waiting for Breakfast as few of us thought that we will be having breakfast and then we will start for cycling. Then Mr. Pavan has informed that we have to start now and cycles are ready and we can go for trial rounds and check about the conditions of the cycle and Breakfast will be having on the way. There were few people who are going to ride the gears cycle for the first time and I was one amongst them. Mr. Pavan and Mr. Dhanu (our Mechanical support all the way) gave a demo of how to use gears so that we could ride comfortably. Also Mr. Pavan has told that the terrain will be quite steep up and steep down so we will have to be careful and should be in groups.

At this point there were many things started running in my mind like - I am riding the cycle after a very long gap of 7 years and have no experience in riding Gears Cycle. Will I be able to Ride cycle? Will I be able to maintain the speed of other people as there were few regular cyclists. I was low at confidence but high at Enthusiasm and excited to face the challenge and complete this No matter what happens.

“Capability without Enthusiasm/Will power gives nothing. But if one has Enthusiasm/Will power, he will definitely become capable of achieving Goals”.
                                                                                                                                    ~~ Taher Shariff

The rain was still continuing and people started discussion on whether to cycle along with raincoats or without raincoats. Few people including me who loves getting drenched in rains have decided to cycle without raincoats. After all the trial rounds, demos and discussions we have started cycling at around 8.00AM. As we started, the initial road was downhill and enjoyed the ride till 1-2Kms later small ups and downs and we started without food. Everyone was happily riding the cycle and pushing as much as possible but with empty stomach and hungry, how long one can cycle? We cycled for around 4Kms and few of us was literally feeling hungry and started to eat whatever the snacks we were carrying. Mr. Pavan has ensured that the breakfast point is nearby will be having breakfast there. But there was a steep up hill to ride and from here few of us started losing energy and couldn’t cycle. So, started to walk and push the cycle. After 1hr of total cycling, we reached Hotel. By seeing hotel, everyone’s face got enlightened and all have rushed into the hotel. Only Dosa and Puliogare was available at the hotel and all were in soo much of hungry that ordered in random number. And when the food started coming in one plate, it was not only one’s plate – it became everyone’s plate. Here, everyone started eating in one plate before they give 2nd plate, we emptied the first plate. “Sharing is Caring”. We were literally looking like flood victims and got food after 1-2 days (Lolz). But every one of us have enjoyed the Yummy Puliogare and Dosas.

After finishing Breakfast, every one’s energy got boosted and with the bright and exciting faces everyone were ready for the cycling and we were seeing the down-hill ahead. That was adding happiness more. But no-one have expected how adventurous ride it would become. Here we started from hotel after having breakfast and the road was around 25-30 Degrees slope for about 3-4 Kms and cycles were going easily on a speed of 60KMPH. The feeling was like we were flying and road was quite dangerous as its complete off road. Full of potholes to break our speed and upon that the continuous rain. After 3-4 Kms of downhill, there comes the surprising up-hill and everyone trying their best to cycle as long as they can push their limits. Gradually, the cycling was becoming strenuous. The gap between the people was increasing. To cover the gap and be in groups, we started waiting for others to join and taking ample breaks to re-gain energy. Eating Apples, Chocolates, Biscuits, dates, and whatever the snacks carrying on the way.

The Road condition

The Drivers of Local jeeps have no courtesy to ride carefully. They were riding the jeeps so fast and in such Roads that I personally felt like “Thank God – I am not travelling by Jeep”. And we, the cyclists were getting scared whenever they are passing us. During this one sentence had become our slogan ‘’Off the Road-Guys”. Whenever we are getting a sound of Jeep or Jeep Horns, everyone were alerting fellow cyclists to leave the way for the jeeps. The people who are travelling by jeeps are wondering how we are cycling on such roads. Few of them have encouraged us by waving hands at us and cheering us. In response, we were waving hands and cheering them. The bikers who were traveling have stopped and spoke to us and cheered us for cycling. This was motivating us little more and to do better. It took 4 hours to cycle around 12 Kms as the rest 8Kms around, is the actual challenging one. The up-hill here was about 40-50 Degrees and peddling here was literally became impossible. Everyone in the group even the regular cyclists started walking and pushing the cycle. Most of the time even walking and pushing cycle has become tough but everyone in the group is supporting and motivating others to keep moving. Thanks to the Rain which kept us hydrated all way while going. It rained till 2.00PM continuously without any gap and by then we reached about 18Kms. There we took break and had some snacks. And from there, It was about 3-4Kms and the road is full of stones and ups and downs. Riding cycle when there is downhill is also difficult there if you are not a skilled cyclist. This is the road where my cycle got jumped few times and I got a feeling of riding cycle on mountains like most of us see the cycling videos online. After cycling for some distance, there were many viewpoints every one trying to capture some pix as rain has also stopped. And from there the peak point was seen, this was quite motivating for few of us as most of us got exhausted and literally pushing hard. A group of 6-8 people have already reached the peak and I was in the 2nd group of 6 people who are not giving up and struggling to reach there. Somehow, we managed to reach the place by 3.00PM by then the first group started declining and Mr. Pavan gave us limited time of 15 Mins only to explore there as we have to get back to our homestay before it gets dark. We took 20 mins and made the most of those 20mins and started back immediately.

At the Peak of Mandalpatti

Here we got information that Lunch is waiting for us at a distance of 3-4kms ahead and we have to reach there ASAP as everyone was damn too hungry. Again on the way back, same stony terrain and all the way only one thing was running in my mind and i.e. to give up now as this terrain had hurted my wrists and shoulders badly. And, here we got a problem with Mr. Ashwin’s Cycle as the front wheel came out of the fork and few of us like got scared that how would we go and I was asking Mr. Arun to call back-up vehicle as I don’t know that its quite easy to fix that. I was thinking about the requirement of tools, wrench, Nuts-bolts and what not? But Ashwin being an experienced cyclist did that on his own with the support of Mr. Prashant. I was looking at them shockingly like was that soo easy? Still had a doubt and was praying that we atleast reach the lunch point. Finally, around 4.00PM we reached to the point where Lunch is waiting for us with full of hunger. Organizers ensured that we get preferred Food as per our preferences (i.e. Veg and Non-Veg.). Everyone peacefully sat on ground with plates filled with food and started eating. Had proper rest, chit chat while having food and cool drinks after food added energy to all.

After Lunch, it’s time to head back to homestay and Mr. Pavan (formally) asked everyone whether they can push back as we will not be taking as many breaks took while coming as it is already 4:30 and it will get dark. When the question was asked for the first time, I was like whether to raise my hands to give up and go back in back up vehicle but I didn’t raised and kept quiet. The same question was asked 2nd time, and this time I was sure that I am not gonna give up and will do it till the end. From here, the two people who were totally exhausted were sent back in back-up vehicle along with their cycles. The First 4-5 Kms after lunch was down-hill which every one of us had cleared in just 10-15mins with the feeling like flying again. Half the way we reached, it started getting dark and now we have to cycle the up-hills. Everyone started walking and pushing the cycles as no one had left with the energy to peddle the cycle. Here pushing cycles was becoming too hard as the cycles were pulling us back and we having lost all the energy every step we are taking was difficult. So, few of us started taking small breaks but I didn’t stopped as I was unable to start after taking breaks, I denied to stop and kept myself walking. After sometime, I see no one is ahead of me and no one is behind me and I was all alone and it was already dark and empty roads. Still I made my mind not to stop, so with my own pace I kept walking for almost an hour to see someone is moving few meters ahead. As it was dark, I couldn’t recognize who was he, so shouted whose there? I got a reply saying Ashwin. Then I said Keep moving Ashwin keep moving just to cover myself. He might have thought that I’m already moving man but as he has no energy, he dint respond. Then I increased my pace of walking to join Mr. Ashwin but I wasn’t able to reach. Fortunately, there was a flat road of few meters there I cycled hard to catch them. And in very few mins the people who left behind also joined us. They were quick enough to catch us and after a long walk and push we reached the Breakfast point at around 7:00PM. Here, we had buttermilk and lemon juice and they acted as energy boosters. From here, the homestay was around 5Kms and we set a target to reach before 8:00PM and started from there. It was pitch dark and we cycled as long as we can and walked fast and we reached homestay before the target time. Only Mr. Easwar “Sir” and Mr. Kapil have reached homestay at around 7:00PM. The 3rd Person who showed good energy was Mr. Ambrish and in girls its Ms. Sneha who didn’t give up till the end. I personally admire these 4 people for displaying their extreme energy level and stamina. Applauds for everyone for completing the cycling without giving up. J

That’s the end of the Cycling of 40-45Kms in 12Hrs. when we see only the distance, it seems quite easy but trust me, it’s really tough yet adventurous. Most of us thought of giving up and never to go cycling. But after completion of the day everyone were happy that they were part of such an amazing event. Everyone wished to look forward for more such adventurous events.

As the saying goes like “Smooth seas never makes skilled sailors” here I would like to modify it as “smooth and flat roads would have never made it as adventurous as it was”.

Later everyone got freshen-up and the Yummy dinner was ready, the Veg and Non-Veg Barbeque. Everyone have attacked on it and finished within few mins that few people didn’t get anything (lols :D ). Then we had Parotas with Veg and Non-Veg curries. After finishing that, everyone slept and there were the echoes of Snorings all the rooms (ha ha ha).

Day 2:

The day has started at around 6:30AM when Mr. Pavan has started waking up everyone. Just like the day before, he targeted me and wasn’t allowing me to sleep even for few extra mins despite requesting many times and lastly he pulled blanket over me and threw it into another room. What I could do here? Its a chilled morning and opened doors to welcome cool breeze. I gave up and sat with the gang and started chit chatting and disturbing others. We were told to get ready by 8:00AM as we have to go for trekking. Everyone got ready and so the breakfast was. The Idlies with chutney was our breakfast and everyone finished it fast as everyone was ready for trekking.

To Start with, we planned to go to Raja’s Seat (a Valley in the town) which is about 4-5Kms away from our Homestay. We started our trek with excitement and high energy level and initially there was a steep up hill to climb and the distance to reach the peak was hardly 1/2Km and after climbing the energy has come down and I was tired already. As everyone was moving, even I joined them and kept myself moving with the group. After few more meters, we reached the road. All the way we were talking and pulling others legs, having fun. About an hour of continuous walking, we reached Raja’s Seat. Mr. Pavan had gone to buy entry tickets and we noticed that there is a toy train. Most of us were shouting to go in Toy train but 2-3 people said “NO we will take rest you can go”. Here, someone from the group shouted that the travel time in toy train is about 25mins. And everyone wondered and thought that 25mins? Then it would be amazing journey to travel and enjoy the toy train ride. The other 3 people also joined thinking that it would be fun ride. Mr. Pavan bought Tickets for the Train and the Train was ready for us. Everyone got their seats and taking snaps and giving poses. The couple gave the famous DDLJ pose which was quite romantic though. The train started and everyone started shouting and cheering. To excite us, there was even a tunnel on the way and immediately after tunnel, there were great views of the valley. Everyone’s excitement started increasing to see more views and enjoy the journey of 25mins in toy train. But, suddenly we notice that we are about to reach the starting point of the train. That means it was a bluff that it was only a 5mins travel time. By noticing that, everyone were laughing out loud and couldn’t control the laugh because to our own stupidity (ROFL). Everyone was feeling like excitement got punctured like a tire of a bike gets puncture…Phusssssssssssss…. :D :D. However, we all went near the view point of Raja’s Seat and happy to see the beautiful view of valley and spent some time there by clicking photos and relaxing.

The next plan was to go to Abbi falls, as everyone was tired because of the cycling a day before, organisers called our bus to the starting point of Raja’s Seat. Everyone boarded the bus and started towards Abbi Falls which was around 30mins of drive away. As we were going, it was the same way we cycled the day before and everyone started discussing about the cycling experience on the road as now we are in bus. Now, we reached the parking place of Abbi falls, parked our bus and from here its about 2Kms have to walk to see the water falls. The road was very steep downwards and we were walking. The muscles of our legs were like crying because of cycling. Though it was down, it was becoming difficult to walk. Finally after a walk of around 30mins, we reached the Abbi Falls. It was a great view though the water flow was not that as we see in google images but still it was an amazing view to see. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to go under the falls. There was a small photography session and captured some pix. We started to return back as we have to reach Bangalore the same day. While coming back everyone started taking little breaks as it became really difficult to walk. But everyone pushed their limits and reached till bus.

Boarded bus at aroung 12:00PM and headed back to Bangalore. As everyone was tired, few started slept and few started chit chatting. I was sitting with Mr. Vamsi so we started discussing about our trekking experiences, Job details, hobbies etc etc. The time passed and we reached restaurant for lunch. Everyone was very much hungry as the idlies got digested very soon. And the food was not ready in restaurant as we were in large number and we ordered yummy yummy food to kill the hunger. They requested us to wait for few mins for which we agreed. And finally, starters have started coming and everyone started sharing and eating we were not waiting for food to come to our place we were going to the food and completing. It was actually great feeling. Everyone was equal. Having food in same plates. Though most of us were meeting for the first time in the event, we were like we were childhood buddies. Similarly finished the main-course and completed lunch with lemon juice.

After food, everyone boarded bus back to Bangalore. There was a feedback session in the bus and everyone were happy and enjoyed the Cycling which was quite challenging yet adventurous. Later, to avoid the Bangalore traffic, it was decided to get down at Nayandahalli Metro station as most of us were connected to Bangalore Metro and bidded adieu to the co-cyclists. Me, along with 3 more came till Banashankari.  That’s how we said good bye to an amazing Cycling event of BTC with lots of memories to cherish for lifetime. Miss You all and Hope to meet you guys in future Treks.

Kudos to the BTC Organisers Mr. Pavan and Mr. Arun for successfully completion of the event. It was really a great time. Will be looking forward for more adventurous events. A Big Thanks and Applauds for you guys. :)

After this amazing event, I just hope that I had burnt some calories and reduced atleast 100gms of my weight. ;p ;)

Here I conclude my Very looooooonnnnngggg Blog. Just tried my best to make you visualize the amazing experience I had all the event. Hope you liked it.

Written By     : Taher Shariff
Organized By : Arun & Pavan
Date of event : Dec 2nd & 3rd, 2017
Place              : Madikeri
Pictures          : BTC FB Page
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