We just need an excuse to ride. And when fabulous hosts like Ed and Matt send out an invitation to have fun to celebrate the independence of their home land, what more of an excuse do we need? None. So, we rode and had fun. Loads and loads of it!! FUN! FUN!! FUN!!! It was simply one the best rides I ever had in my short cycling life so far.
The plan was to do a 50km ride that ends on top of a hill with a view where we would have barbeque dinner party and some fireworks to end the day in style. The ride was broken up into two parts. One ride of 50km and another shorter version of about 17km. We would start at 3pm at Gachibowli stadium and do about 33km to return to the same place by 5pm where the rest of the folks who signed up for the shorter ride would join us. Then all of us can ride for about another 17km to end on top of the hill to party. Then ride back home when we decided to call it a day.
We met up at Gachibowli stadium at 3pm. Ten of us (Sunil, Satish, Sandy, Ankit, Maddy, Sudanshu, Kiran, Krishna, Shay and myself) started out on the ride which was lead by Shay. When we were denied entrance into HCU through which the initial trail was to pass, Shay led us towards Lingampally on another trail. He always seems to have more than one alternative route up his sleeve and seem to know more places around Hyderabad than any of us including locals.
There was a nice cloud cover as we rode into an off-road trail. The trail was not easy for a road bike but my trustworthy companion, Hero Hawk, was managing alright. The trail was beautiful with a railway track on one side and a vast expanse of land on the other. As we rode on we reached a portion of outer ring road where we were supposed to find a railway crossing. We stopped there while Shay called up Ed for directions. There were steps and bit of ramp like structure there where Shay and others did some stunts with their MTBs. I was content with taking pictures as they had fun going up and down the steps. No way was I going to put my hawk through such pain. 🙂
With the guys satisfied with the stunts, we moved ahead to find the rail crossing and reach the other side of the ring road. At this point, Ed and Matt joined us. I am not sure how old they are but they must be on the wrong side of the forties or the right side of the fifties. It is hard to believe that when you look at the childlike enthusiasm they exude and the passion they have for cycling. They are about the fittest guys around too. I learnt that Matt competes in Iron man contests which involves 90km of cycling, 40km of running and 5km of swimming all at one go. Phew!! Iron Man!! No wonder he looked like one.
We rode up to a completed portion of road where Shay taught us some technical stuff on how to do a circular motion drafting(?). The rest of the guys formed a couple of lines and tried the drafting thing while I stayed at the end of a line acting like trying and was taking pictures. I didn’t get a thing including the name 🙂
The completed portion of the road ended abruptly and we rode a bit of downhill to reach a small country road that goes through a village. At this point, one of the riders, Kiran gave up as he was tiring having taken up cycling again after a long time. I guess he returned home from there.
The ride through the country side was beautiful with the water filled fields being ploughed to get them ready for the next crop. The winding roads surrounded by greenery had some pothole portions that were strictly for MTBs. I had to put my photography aside for a while and ride carefully if I were to go through it unscathed. I did just that and we reached better roads which awakened the racing instincts of the guys as they rode past each other like men possessed.
We reached the Gachibowli stadium around 5:15pm where Deena and his nine year old Daughter Avani were waiting along with Atanu and Sakhi. These were the entrants for the shorter version of the ride. Avani the nine year old daughter of Deena is getting back to cycling after almost a gap of one year. I gathered that she used to cycle on a 10 mile (25km approx) organized circuit in Atlanta, Georgia where they were earlier put up. This angel looking little girl is one gritty kid as I came know by the way she handled the ride. Sakhi is a first time rider who came to know about Hyderabad Cycling Club from one of her college mates and fellow HBC member Satish. She decided to give it a try and joined us on the ride today. Atanu was also returning to cycling after a long time as well and is joined by his kid Rudy and wife who reached the destination on their car.
This time we started off around 5:35pm and rode through HCU (we went through a smaller gate where unlike at the main entrance, they let us through with a smile). Once into HCU, some of us stopped by the HCU canteen to refill our water bottles. Replenished, we rode ahead through the serene roads of the university. Ankit decided to have a bit of fun challenging Shay for a race to the back gate of the university. With in no time they zoomed past us as Sandy, Sunil and myself watched amused. For the first 400m or so Shay trailed Ankit and pushed past him with ease to beat him hands down. We found them cooling their heels at the out gate of the university by the time we reached there.
We forged ahead past Deena and others and reached Khanapur where we decided to wait for them. The curious kids at the junction began to interview Ed while Atanu provided the translation services free of cost. We waited for around 5mins for Deena and Avani to arrive along with Matt who gave them company.
From there, we took the road towards Osmansagar and took a diversion to climb the hill where Hyderabad Metro Water Works was setup. The climb up the hill was not easy. The gritty kid that Avani is, she was attacking the climb under her father’s direction quite admirably pedaling in lower gears. We were nearly half way through when we saw Shay coming down hill for a second round of uphill ride. He was followed by Sunil, Maddy and Ankit. “These are a bunch of seriously crazy people” I told myself.
But once I reached the top, I found myself asking Sandy if he is game for another round of uphill. He was game for it and we went downhill. The distance must be around 1500 meters or so. The downhill ride was exhilarating to say the least. It was a heady adrenaline rush as we zoomed down hill rocketing down the curving road. That feeling alone was worth taking the pain of the climb a couple more times. And Sunil, Maddy and Ankit actually did that too. They climbed it three times while Sandy and myself settled for a couple of times. By that time Avani has reached the top having conquered the hill. What more inspiration do we need than a nine year old riding like that.
Barbeque grill was getting readied for the hotdogs and chips along with drinks were set out for all of us to indulge in. A Bose portable was entertaining us with quality music while DJ Ed played some numbers we never heard quizzing us who the singer was with every changing number. To his great disappointment, he never found a soul who could answer him right. I poured myself some coke and some of the guys poured it to the Old Monk and downed him. :) Cold Bacardi breezers of various flavors were on the offer and the guys enjoyed them along with the cold evening breeze on the hill. We enjoyed the hotdogs and baked beans that were fixed by Matt as the budding chef Ankit helped him like a diligent apprentice. After all the fun we had with a song and dance, we posed for a group photograph and Ed lit up the fireworks. It was one hell of a party with each and every soul there having a time of his life. Wow!! What an excuse for a ride it turned out to be. Thanks to the fabulous hosts and organizers Ed and Matt.
That was not the end of the fun yet!! Only half of it!! Now for the return journey. Some including Avani took the ride back home in Atanu’s and Matt’s car while the rest of us rode our bicycles back. It was around 8:45pm and dark. A few of us thankfully carried head lamps and tail lamps. We decided to take a shorter route from the other side of the hill which meant that we will go down hill on an unpaved rocky terrain.
When we got there, I was scared as if hell was right before my eyes although I can not see it properly in dark. 🙂 It was the first time I ever went down a rocky hill like that and that too with my road bike. The angle felt like its almost 45 degrees downwards and with all the bumps, I was mentally preparing to fall and slide downhill with the bike resting on me. Thankfully I could avoid that scenario more than a couple of times by planting my feet down just in time. That was not the end of the plight though! There was more to come in terms of sandy path to be tackled with the thin tires with the visibility close to zero. I made sure that I was in the middle of the group and blinked like a million times to clear my eyes to see properly in whatever light the bikes in front of me are giving out.
After a couple of short false turns that ended in dead ends, Shay tuned his mental compass to work in the dark and lead us on the right path. We ended up at the start(or dead end if you look from a city perspective) of a four lane road that lead us towards the IT buildings of Gachibowli. Was my Hawk pleased to find solid ground under its feet again or what!! Poor thing went through so much pain today.
As we counted heads to make sure everyone made it safely out of the wilderness and began riding on the well paved road, it began to drizzle lightly, as if to cool us down. It felt like heaven with the cool breeze and the lightest of the drizzles kissing our faces as we moved easily on the smooth road.
At this point, Shay and Ed bid adieu and moved towards their home while rest of us forged ahead. The drizzle now became a steady rain and I packed up my cell in the plastic cover that I carried as a precaution to handle rain. This meant that we could enjoy cycling in rain for the last leg of the ride. For me its the last 15 km of the ride. At the main road of Gachibowli, Deena and I bid adieu to Sandy, Maddy, Ankit, Sunil, Krishna and rode toward the Stadium. We took the Chirec road to his place from where I can took the Miyapur road. I felt a bit of salty taste with the water from the face flowing down by the lips. I enjoyed riding in the rain thoroughly. It felt like a heavenly shower opened to cool us after a fun filled but hard ride.
I wonder who wrote the script for this ride!! Its a blockbuster in Bollywood style in every sense. It had everything including songs and dances (in the barbeque party)!! Awesome is the word.. We had everything in the ride.. Racing down the winding roads.. Beautiful Countryside ride.. Off-road trail.. Some technical drafting stuff.. Climbing hills.. Nice Barbeque party on a hill.. Off-road downhill.. Night riding in the dark.. and to top it up.. excellent ride in the rain.. What the hell more can you ask for??
A ride that I would cherish for a long time. What a group of people!!What an excuse for a ride!! And what a RIDE!!! Awesome FUN!!
Stats for me: 81km
Fun: A million TONNES!!
Here is the link to the photos!!