BICYCLE DIARIES - CALICUT TO BANGALORE 

A solo ride in search of a different culture, food and peace of mind.

calicut-to-bangalore

AKASH

It's been like 20 years of me on this huge planet and I'm so glad to say that I haven't felt such happiness and peacefulness ever before in my life. This solo ride brought many changes to my life. My name is Akash and I'm from Calicut. I am doing my graduation course in Journalism and I’m proud to say that I am a part of the Decathlon family and have been so for over a year.

My passion for cycling started early in life when I was younger. My first few attempts were on my cousin's BSA Cycle. It was also the same bike that witnessed my first fall. Then came my first bike, a Hercules. When I started working in Decathlon, I finally got myself a ROCKRIDER 520 with my first savings. It was the period of all "my firsts" which also included my first "out of state" solo ride from Calicut to Ooty. This ride was a game-changing event in my life and I hope that everyone has one.

What was the route of your ride?

calicut-to-bangalore

The ride was spontaneous so there was no pre-planned route. I took the help of Google Maps during the ride and I utilized both ordinary walking and car directions. Riding through the ordinary walking paths always brought me pleasure because those paths are usually through villages or remote areas, sometimes dangerous or even challenging. But I am fond of new challenges and adventures.

My route was from Calicut to Mysore to Bangalore and then back to Mysore. On my first day, my ride from Calicut to Mysore was through the hills of Wayanad and 20 km of the remote Muthanga Forest. I stayed in a Zostel in Mysore. The next day I continued travelling from  Mysore to Bangalore through the highway and took a room in Backpackers Panda, Bangalore.  Later I travelled back to Mysore via NH948.

Distance?

calicut-to-bangalore

I covered almost 650+ km within four days. 
 

What is the terrain like?

calicut-to-bangalore

The maximum portion of the route was a climb. From Wayanad to Mysore there were 9 hairpin bends/climbs and many other small elevations on the road which really helped me to push and strengthen the rider within me. I even came across a landslide in the Wayanad hills and to be honest, it gave me a challenging thrill

The village paths were difficult (mind you, I consciously choose to take these roads). But trust me, the tougher the roads, the more powerful it makes me.

Challenges felt?

calicut-to-bangalore

It was a solo ride. I began with the mindset that I should be able to face whatever comes my way. In fact, I faced a lot.

As I mentioned earlier that I was referring to the directions on google maps. I remember this one incident of a place which needed me to cross a small river but I was excited because that meant I could ride the ferry too. On reaching the spot, I was informed that the ferry was cancelled due to heavy rains and I had to travel all the way back to the highway which added an extra of 120km to my trip. 

The next challenge was when I was close to Sultan Bathery (a town in the mountainous Wayanad region of Kerala). The people on the road told me that I should go faster otherwise after 6 pm the forest officials wouldn't allow cyclists and pedestrians to cross the forest. I really had to rush through the forest with my MTB full of luggage that included my gear, jersey and other safety items.

That wasn't the end of my troubles. On entering the forest, there was a herd of Gaur standing next to the road making it difficult for me to cross with my bike. It was only when a motorbike rider noticed me trapped came back and made sounds to help me disperse the Gaur when I could finally speed up. 

What is the landscape like?

calicut-to-bangalore

I'm going to start with an unforgettable view of Gundelpet in the evening. I witnessed a majestic sunset in this area full of marigolds and sunflowers overlooking a range of green lush hills while clouds filled the sky. At this point, I realised the meaning of life.

Even though I was on the highway, the roads were fairly empty. The place is very peaceful. I thought to myself how lucky were the people living there because they are able to have this as their daily view. The forest path was also very pretty with straight roads that look endless sometimes and with trees on both sides and sometimes a peak of wild animals like monkeys, peacocks etc. Nature really does provide a fascinating sight here.
 

What is that one special thing about this route? 

calicut-to-bangalore

The most special and challenging thing about this route was the climbs and also the possibility of wild animals like Tigers, Wild Gaur and Elephants cropping up at any point. 

It was raining and I was very well aware that if any wild animal comes out I would really be dead within minutes because there was literally nobody in the forest to hear my cry. There were hardly one or two cars that would appear in gaps of 10 minutes.

This made the route very special.

What are the temperatures, weather, which season is the best to go riding?

calicut-to-bangalore

According to me, the rainy season is always the best because even when you're riding/pedalling for long hours through the rain, you don't feel tired and somehow you don't feel too alone. It also keeps you from getting dehydrated.  The best part is that you don't sweat. 

I experienced this a lot while climbing the hairpins of Wayanad plus I got a wonderful view on reaching the top. That was the reward for my hard work. What else does a rider really need?

Riding in the rain is a real adventure and real riders will definitely fall in love with the feeling. But it's better to travel alone to enjoy every bit of the journey. 
 

Culture and food?

calicut-to-bangalore

I came across different types of culture and ate different types of food during my trip. One of the main reasons for following the walking directions on Google Maps was for me to be able to travel through villages and mingle, have a chat with the local people. I could clearly feel the change in culture. In Wayanad and Mysore, a lot of people stopped me on the way to make conversation but when I was closer to Bangalore, the chats reduced thanks to the busy-fast paced lifestyle but it had a pleasant environment. 

I stopped at almost every small food stalls next to the road and never even tried getting into big restaurants because I was sure it would lack the taste of local recipes. I sure did eat a lot of food with a variety of tastes, colours and even names.
 

What about safety? Something to look out for?

calicut-to-bangalore

Safety is the first point to be aware of especially on solo rides. Never compromise on safety. 

 

These few items are very important if you're travelling long distances.

 

- First Aid kit 

- Puncture kits

- Medicines (for headache, fever, cold, stomach ache etc.)

- Glucose powder, ORS and energy bars

- Lights (front and back)

- Locks

- An electric horn 

- Power Bank

- Two mobile phones with different networks.

Describe your personal experience on this route.

calicut-to-bangalore

This was one of the best routes that I've ridden and I've learnt a lot of life-lessons. I experienced different types of climates, terrain and cultures. While going through literal uphills and downhills, forests, cities and villages  I was really able to enjoy the entire thing in one single trip.
 

Tell us about the bicycle and gear that you used.

calicut-to-bangalore

This was one of the best routes that I've ridden and I've learnt a lot of life-lessons. I experienced different types of climates, terrain and cultures. While going through literal uphills and downhills, forests, cities and villages  I was really able to enjoy the entire thing in one single trip.

Tell us about the bicycle and gear that you used.

My bike was the BTWIN ROCKRIDER 520. It was an MTB bike which I bought from the Decathlon Calicut Store. Even though it was a Mountain Bike, I had no difficulty riding on the roads. The bike was very stable even in bad road conditions and during declines or on sudden turns.

This was the basic gear that I carried and I think is necessary on long rides. 

- Helmet
- Gloves
- Arm sleeves
- Shoes
- Saddlebags 
- Jersey
- Bib Shorts 
- Waterproof  mobile case 

You should also take your bike for a full service a week before your journey and don't forget to check that all parts are totally fine especially the brakes and the gears. Try to add ‘comfort-enhancing accessories’ or modifications to your bike.

Why did you travel solo? What to do and what not to do?

calicut-to-bangalore

Travelling solo will be a different experience compared to journeys in groups. 

Riding alone helps to get to know yourself better. Who you are as a person, what you are, what you're capable of doing and what are your limitations. You do everything by yourself without any help from anyone and you're able to come up with solutions, great ideas and take strong decisions. 

A solo ride should never be attempted with the intention of showing off or to prove that you're better than others. Only if you feel a genuine call within you, take the ride. But prepare mentally and physically beforehand. 

Another tip is to never smoke or consume alcohol when you're riding solo or even when you're with others because that can really spoil the vibe of your trip.

Also, don't delay in eating food, taking glucose or ORS. Don't try to push your limits because you're alone and nobody will be there to help you if anything happens. 

What is your chief takeback, learnings from this ride?

calicut-to-bangalore

I learned a lot about myself and had a chance to know how to handle bad situations in life. This ride also improved my ability to make choices and take decisions.

If you ever take a ride, feel proud of yourself like I do. I feel like I can conquer the world. 
 

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