Kalasa is a temple town in Chikkamagaluru district that is famous for it’s Kalaseswara Temple. Today was supposed to be a short and easier loop around Kalasa. With the town located right in the middle of a series of hills, any ride would be sure to take you up and down a few of those hills. So, easy distance elsewhere can’t really be considered easy around here.
The initial route that they planned had to be changed because of the roads being inaccessible. The improvised route became longer(60k instead of 52k) and the race segment moved to 8km from the start as opposed to after 22km.
Gravel Grinder From Hell!
The new race segment was on an unpaved climb of 7.5km.
When I say unpaved, it was loosely packed gravel stones that threw the wheels off with every pedal stroke. It would be difficult to ride on that sort of surface as it is, but add double digit gradients to that and it was nearly impossible to ride.
I could feel that the tire pressure I had (40psi) was at least 10psi too much for that surface as the wheels kept being thrown from side to side with hardly any traction. A couple of times both the cleats came off as I was trying to balance the bike and I had to stop. It was so steep that it was impossible to start again. I had to walk a few meters to find a less steep section so that I could start riding again.
I consider myself to be having decent riding skills even on trails and I was a bit embarrassed to be walking to be honest. Keeping the embarrassment aside, I felt that it was actually more difficult to walk than to ride. But, I had no option but to get to a place where I could start riding again.
The last km or so was paved and was rolling terrain. It felt good for the ego to be able to ride fast again and sprinting past the finish line. Although it felt horrible at the time and I was mentally cursing the organizers(imagine a few Delhi gaalis), it felt really good to be able to get through that challenge they threw at us. It is the Great Malnad Challenge, after all!
After the race segment ended, there was beautiful freshly laid tarmac for a few km with nice downhills. It was just the kind of breather we needed as we flowed smoothly downhill!
We rode through some varying terrain and reached the next support station that was nicely placed near a waterfall.
The sound of the gushing water and the cool water was a welcome relief on a hot day out in the sun. We spent some time at the waterfall taking pictures.
It was already 12pm and with the lunch still 28km away at our hotel in Kalasa, we refilled our bottles, took some food on and started riding again.
Immediately after the waterfall a 7km climb started. Thankfully, it was a steady climb on well paved roads. Mani kept me company during climb. Once the climb was over, a nice 7km downhill followed. While it was great to be able to not pedal, the broken roads in the later half of the downhill was a challenge even with the MTB suspension. My legs ached by having to stay off the saddle for that long continuously to handle the rough downhill.
We then climbed and descended some more and made it to the hotel in Kalasa by around 1:30pm. We were famished and what was supposed to be an easy day out turned out to be one hell of a ride with maximum elevation gain that we had so far in the tour.
Tomorrow is a long and challenging stage with a 48km competitive segment and a 98km ride with almost 2000m of elevation gain. This Malnad Challenge is turning out to be a bit more challenging than what I expected it to be!