A Saturday In Hell: Huliyadurga-200

The splendid skies with the silver lined cotton clouds; the vast expanse of greenery on either side swaying gently in the monsoon breeze; that glee on the faces of the half naked country kids running around lost in their own worlds; that amazing silence gently nudged out by the hoofs and the creaky wheels of a bullock cart; that occasional amazing canopy offering continuous shade along with a surreal tunnel view; Oh.. It was a Saturday in Heaven. 

Err.. Wait! There was more to it! Lets start again.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Yeah, right! You’ve heard it before. So, let us get a bit original and say, ‘when the roads get rough the bones get shaking’. What happens when the roads disappear altogether? When every pedal stroke sends a million vibrations through every cell of your body? When you can see no end to what feels like a torture on two wheels? Someone(Churchill?) wisely said, “When you are going through hell, keep going”. Welcome to ‘A Saturday In Hell’.

Welcome to Huliyadurga 200, our own version of “Hell of North“!

The Start And The Treasure Hunt:
When my teammate, Shankar, mentioned about the prospect of riding the 200km brevet on Saturday 7th July, I did not even think twice, what with the home ministry out of town and all. I heard a lot about the beautiful and tough rolling route and wanted try it last year but could not. My king sized brother, Tusker, provided me with the needed lights and reflective jacket and made it possible for me to register and ride it officially. Shankar, Kiran(Tusker) and I rode together to the starting point and got our bikes checked and cards stamped. I had to make them wait so that we can start with my Hyderabadi friend, Raman, who was busy tinkering with his bike, having arrived there late.

We rolled out together from IISc around 6:15am. One of the 1000km heroes, Opendro, came to give Tusker company on the ride and joined us. So, Opendro, Tusker Kiran, Shankar Jayaraman, Raman Garimella, Shankar Shastry and I started riding together.

It quickly became a treasure hunt trying to find our way out of the city and towards Magadi road. Tusker’s interpretations of the directions on the que-sheet coupled with help from on the road google-map-representatives, we managed to make it out to Magadi road only with about 5km of extra riding. In the process, we climbed and descended what looked like walls slanted a little and laid there for roads.

By the time we found our way to Magadi road, Shankar Shastry decided it was not a day for a 200km ride for him and went home and probably stopped at a Corner House on the way. Rest of us started riding on Magadi road, towards Magadi fort, our first control point. Slowly Raman and Shankar Jayaraman pulled ahead while I rode with Tusker and Opendro. Tusker, like many others on the ride, was wisely riding his MTB and began to slow down on inclines. Opendro slowed down and struck with him while I tried keeping up with Srikanth and Nagaraj Harsha who were riding strongly and rode past me.

We made it to the first control and there were many riders there by that time and were having huge Tatte idlis for breakfast. After breakfast and the stamping, I joined Raman and Shankar and started riding around 9am. We were joined by Nagaraj quickly and four of us started riding in a paceline. Second control point was at 115km mark at Maddur. That meant we had roughly 70km to ride from the first control. Raman wanted to complete the ride as soon as possible and we agreed to not stop for the next 2 hours.

Desi Version of “A Sunday In Hell”?:
As we began riding, the first few kilometers were benign enough in terms of road conditions and were amazing in terms of scenic beauty. It was all downhill and we were making good progress. As we went on in search of Koppa however, things changed drastically. The scenic beauty increased a notch but the roads became almost non-existent.

Beauty and bad roads…

Every pedal stroke was sending a million vibrations through the body. Guys began to shake their hands once in a while to get that numb feeling out and get them working again. We got out of saddles to give respite to the bums from the constant bumps. This saga went on and on and Shankar kept asking the locals where the good roads would start. They would point ahead but all we could see for miles together is the mud track that shook the hell out of our systems.

We were crawling in terms of speed and began to wonder if this felt like hell, how hellish would the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix be! With a new found respect for the latest champion of the classic race, Tom Boonen and all the riders who endured “Sunday In Hell” over the years, we kept going. Raman showed us the way the pros do, by trying to find ridable lines on the edge of the so called roads. It was only mildly less bone-shaking. We made progress none-the-less. We decided to heed to the saying, “When you are going through hell, keep going”. We kept going in the hopes of getting through the hell quickly and get it over with.

Up And Away..:

When we finally made it out of the bad sections around 11am, we stopped for a brief moment near the IBP petrol pump where we needed to turn towards Maddur. We refilled our bottles there and moved on towards Maddur on relatively better roads. We reached Maddur around 12pm and found that the SBI atm wasn’t working. We took time slips from an AXIS bank atm and stopped for lunch at Maddur Tiffins.

We spent a good 40 mins having our lunch and began to ride towards Ramanagara. Having recharged with good lunch, heavily assisted by tailwinds and being quite elated to see proper road, we began to take 10 min turns at the front pulling at excellent speeds. Raman, Shankar and Nagaraj all rode very strong and we made excellent progress and reached Ramanagara in less than an hour. We rode towards Manchanabele after buying some water at Ramanagara. We rode at a relatively easier pace but charged up the small hills competing for our own KOM(King Of Mountain) points and sprint points. Of course, Raman won most of them.

Shankar, Raman and Nagaraj at Manchanabele Reservoir..

The Final Twist:
We rode past the beautiful Manchanabele reservoir and reached Chandrappa Circle control around 3pm where Sreepathi was waiting for us. He stamped our cards and we rode on after refilling our bottles. We were hoping to complete the rest of the 30km quickly and reach the end by around 4:15pm or so. Unfortunately in our enthusiasm to reach the end point quickly, we lost our way. We had to retrace our steps and ride around 10km extra through a hell of a traffic before we made it to Magadi road. The last 20km or so of riding through traffic added a new dimension to the hellishness of the ride. 

After another treasure hunt, we reached the end point at IISc around 5pm where our brevet cards were stamped and collected. Thanks to strong riding and pulling by Raman, Shankar and Nagaraj, we were able to finish the ride in good time with much to spare and were apparently the first group to complete the ride. Thank you guys! You guys helped a lot in enduring the hellish sections and made the task of completing this tough ride possible.

Shankar, Nagaraj and Raman.. At the end at IISc around 5pm

More Photos here: https://picasaweb.google.com/102172342564541481938/ASaturdayInHellAkaHuliyadurga200#

PS: The ride had the flavour of a one day classic. I thought the guys at IISc, Sreepathi and team, did a fantastic job with the route, the cue sheet, the control points and the general organizing of the brevet ride. However, I wished I had loaded the route gps file on my garmin. It would have been much easier to navigate. Also, I thought I was relatively better off as I was riding my steel bike(The Bulldog) on the ride. I’d imagine it would have been a far worse experience on an aluminum road bike with 700x23c tires. The guys on MTBs and Hybrids would have had a field day on the bad sections, however. The route is quite rolling with short climbs. The roads in Mahalakshmi layout as we get out and get back to IISc are quite steep and can test the legs.

2 thoughts on “A Saturday In Hell: Huliyadurga-200

  1. Venky,
    Very inspiring. I want to do the 200 too :-).
    Btw, the mahalakshmi layout climbs were my favorite as a kid … I have warm memories of biking there withmy single speed heavy as hell raleigh bicycle …
    Satya

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