After five months of being away, my cousin’s marriage gave me an excuse to make a trip to Hyderabad. I was excited at the prospect of meeting my friends at HBC and the possibility of riding with some of them again. I exchanged a few mails with gr and co and a plan for a trail ride in the Narsapur forest was formulated.
The Narsapur road ride was a pretty regular ride when I was in Hyderabad. It was what I called a monkey trail as the road goes through the forest and hordes of monkeys are always lined up on both sides of the road. On many such road rides some of us used to think that it would be great to find some single tracks with in the forest to ride. But we never got around to doing it. Now that guys like Gareth, gr have done all the hard work of searching for trails and marking them in gps etc., I was keen to join them up and have fun.
Thanks to Sreekath for allowing me to ride this beautiful bike, the Cotic Soul
The Bike: Cotic Soul
I did not want to carry my bike for such a short trip. My friend Krish at TBA offered to lend a bike from his fleet. So did Sreekanth. I’ve decided to ride the Cotic Soul MTB that Richard so beautifully built for Sreekanth. I loved the bike the minute I saw its photos a few months back and wanted to see if it rides as amazingly as it looked. Oh boy did it ride like a charm! I think it weighs between 11-12kilos with its Reynolds 853 frame, XTR drive train, carbon seat post and carbon handle bar etc. It is the lightest and the best MTB that I have ridden so far. The Reynolds frame just absorbed the trail buzz beautifully and felt like a full-sus more than a hard tail in comfort. It just rolled amazingly smooth on the trail.
The Moron Moment
Sreekanth wanted me to ride more and not worry about fixing flats on the trail. So, he had a set of tire liners installed just before he gave me the bike. I picked up puncture kit and a spare tube from him as well. I barrowed a helmet from TBA and promptly forgot all about the road morph pump that I intended to pickup along with it. I got on the bike at to meet up gr and Gary to hitch a ride to the starting point. Just as I reached JNTU I felt the familiar shake of the tail and I couldn’t believe that I had a flat even before getting on the trail. I was sure that I would find a big nail but found none. In the sheer helplessness of the moment, I felt like a complete moron. I guess it is precisely to avoid such moments that we carry along all the tools that we do. Having no other option, I called up Gary to come and picked me up. As it turned out, it was a pinch flat from newly laid liner in the back tire. Once fixed, there were zero flats on the trail itself.
The Thorny Delight
The trail started out as double track probably made by tractors that transport the forest out of there. As we got deeper into the forest the terrain got more interesting with winding single tracks and thorny bushes. Gr ended up loading, on his watch, a gpx file that was different from the one he sent to the rest of us. Still his mental map was reliable enough to guide us through most of the trail. At places where his mental map was fading, the chief (Gareth) chipped in with his inputs in addition to the gpx on my Garmin. Despite all the collective navigation skills put together we ended up finding some new trail. Some call it getting lost.
The more we got into the heart of the forest the thicker the thorny bushes became. As we made our way through them they kept showing their delight with lovely graffiti on our skins. The chief’s hydraulic disc brakes were working too well and offered him some trail rash as he got washed out on a slightly tricky descent. Even with out falling the rest of us were also sporting enough bloody scars to make anyone believe that we ran out of a war zone.
Gr walking the thorny and rocky portions of the trail..
“There! That side. No, I think this way…”
As we reached the halfway point, i.e., the end of the marked trail, Sam and I went out into Narsapur to fetch some water. The two navigators decided to rest at the high ground which offered a nice view of the lake. Going out on to the road and into the town was easy enough. While we were buying water a couple of local newspaper reporters started interviewing us and even took some photos. After our five minutes in limelight, when we tried getting back on the trail, we promptly lost our way.
We headed back to the road on gr’s instructions and regrouped at the tiny Ayyappa temple by the roadside. On our way back we decided not to go back the marked trail. We planned on getting lost aka finding new trail. We’re doing a great job of it too. We went through some awesome trails with tiny rock gardens and more thorny bushes until we reached a clearing on a high ground from where we saw a few buildings. The chief suggested going through what looked like a non existent path that would take us to the original trail. Gr was skeptical and was betting on jumping a fence and going through the property of what we thought was of the AchayaRangaAgriculturalUniversity. As it turned out it was a poultry farm which prohibits anyone entering the premises for the fear of decease for the birds.
After fixing a flat on gr’s bike we headed out to the road and entered the agricultural university track to try and get back to the trail. But we ended up at a village and then on the road to Jinnaram. The plan of getting lost on the trail ended up with us getting lost on the road. So, we decided to shelve the plans of finding new trail for the day and headed towards our cars.
Gr sighted a Deer fawn, and the chief showed us a few paw marks which were way too big to be those of a dog. Luckily for us we didn’t run into any wild boar or the makers of those paw marks. We rode more than 40kms of trail most of which was single track and about 55kms in all. But it was surprisingly not that tiring. I think the bike had a major part to play along with the exciting but relatively flat terrain. The awesome ride rounded off what was a memorable trip to Hyderabad. Thanks gr, Gary and Sam for the great time on the ride and gr for the ride home.