Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Free to go wherever i choose to...
But, in the middle of the ocean
Not drowning...
But is that all there is to life?

There are great voids to cross
Can be trudged through...
But why bother?

Lost, not just the heart,
But the hope as well

Skipped beats here n there...
And now its arrhythmia

But why the love for order?

Current mood: Unproductive
Currently listening to: Heartbreak warfare - John Mayer

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Post Excitement Stress Disorder (PESD)

Wanted it to somehow be pisd, But pesd sounds almost like it...

I thought i was the only one with this! But i thought i'll call it a syndrome, once i heard Venkat also cribbing about feeling low and finding issues with everything he's been working on, on the days following the awesome BCB race

- Generally feeling low, although you have to be proud of what you just achieved
- Hating the stupid work thrown at you, all of which seems pointless (mostly rightly so :)
- Inability to concentrate on the bullshit and smalltalk others are spewing
- Inability to continue reading a book you were reading just before the excitement

Suggested medicine (experimental, awaiting FDA approval):
- Good food
- Rock or metal (some might like sad and depressing songs too)
- Mindless insane pace running/riding
- Start doing some mundane chore religiously (like clean your room/desk)
- Beer
- A tight slap
- Another one

Current mood: pesd
Currently listening to: The wicker man - Iron Maiden

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Bulldog UltraBCB experience

"Ooh, look at those carbon wheels"..... "Why am i feeling like i am gonna write an exam".... "Shit! Look at his calves!"...... "First time i ever shaved my legs".....

11 riders, ~300 km, Bangalore -> Chamundi Hills(Mysore) -> Bangalore

3 participants from my team, Cleated Warriors - Venkat, Anita and yours truly... The flagoff was flooded with the red of our jerseys, as most of the 15 member strong team had come to cheer us on

My support crew: On a motorbike, Vinay, my close friend since high school, lugging a rather heavy bag containing spares, tools for any mechanicals, food, electrolytes, energy, first aid....

First ~10 km was worthy of nothing more than a yawn.... Steep downhills, but we were doing a dull 15 kmph pace in the 'neutral zone' where no one is allowed to overtake the lead car.... When not yawning, we spent our time almost bumping into Sriram's car, or yelling out curses at Sriram....

Once the neutral zone was done with, and when Samim waved us through on the Mysore highway, the pace shot up in a snap and everyone were at each other's throats setting an insane pace.... Yours truly here, however, was still taking it slow n steady, fearing that i'll burn out too soon..... But in spite of all my efforts of keeping myself calm, i was going at a much faster pace than i had planned, thanks to all the mental battles with everyone around...

But, once i saw one of the riders burn out at ~75 km, i got back to my senses and rode a comfortable pace.... At around 130 km point, close to mysore, i took a 2 min break to eat up, stretch my back, happy with the 30.5 kmph average i was keeping, but still at 6th position... My pace soon dropped to 29.5 by the time i reached Chamundi base, full credit to the crappy state the Mysore ring road was in.....

A rather easy and dull climb, and i overtook Shreyas taking a break at Chamundi top and moved to 5th position.... and i saw that Venkat and Craig were just a few mins ahead of me..... Venkat was looking strong, and i assumed he'll take on Craig, and i took an easy pace (which dropped to 28.5 kph avg).... But seeing Venkat take a break at Mandya (200 km), it was now all up to me to catch up with Craig for the 3rd position, who was just 4 mins ahead

Cranked it up like crazy trying to take on Craig..... The insanity burst lasted all of 20 km, after which i too burnt out..... Now, i slowly turned into a zombie, getting hypnotized by the rhythm of my clean shaven legs going up n down.... I would look at how the muscles contract and relax, showing the new formed cuts in my quads..... Occasionally get inspired and pump it up for a while

The zombie ride took me uneventfully to the next time station (Chennapatna).... I was hoping that Craig was too far away, so that i could give up the chase, and ride in peace.... But alas, that was not so.... He was just 10 mins ahead!

After all the sweet things i had been having all day for food, i longed for something different.... A plain boiled potato tasted so friggin awesome at this point.... Got myself to crank it up again, but this time i fizzed out even faster.... but still maintaining the 28 kmph average, riding like a zombie.... With ~20 km remaining, and knowing that Craig was >10km ahead, i finally gave up and went into survival mode....

The final 10 kms from Kengeri to the finish point was harder than the chamundi climb, probably even steeper..... Now, totally spent, knowing there is a huge gap between the rider ahead and behind, i was managing with a slow 10-15 kmph pace, and outsourced all the direction finding to Vinay

After struggling through the inclines, was done with the ~300 km distance in 11hr 14min (riding time of 10hr 54min) in 4th place, happy with my pace....

Ultracycling has officially begun as a sport in Bangalore! Thank you Samim, Sriram and Bulldog for this event.... Lets hope it gets bigger and bigger

And once again, thanks Vinay, for the awesome support.... I couldnt have maintained that pace without ur help.... And thank you Cleated Warriors for all the moral and logistics support, and the super awesome jersey

Current mood: Phasing back into reality
Currently listening to: All those yesterdays - Pearl Jam

Monday, October 18, 2010

The 24 hr ride! (Oct 18-19 2010)

Finally got my roadbike (will be a post on that soon).... And without time to get used to the new posture (or take pretty pictures of it), i set out on my biggest ride ever.... Multiple laps of Chickballapur - Yelahanka CCD plus multiple nandi climbs was the vague ride plan

Started 5:15 pm, where a whole bunch of Cleated Warriors (Nalla, Anita and hubby Sandeep, Venkat, Anke, Reena) had come in to flag me off... They were riding with me for a while, and then i zoomed off, hoping to get as much distance covered before the sun would be switched off.... The sun was gone soon enough, and i rode on with my adequate enough headlights.... And it was drizzling, and i was now worried of all the slush that would get into my drivetrain

At the railway level crossing near devanhalli, the thin roadie tyres got into the grooves of the track and i had a topple, a 360 degree side way roll, with one leg uncleated in time to soften the fall. And for dramatic effect, all this was in a puddle of muddy water... Only scrape wounds, so carried on without much trouble, except that i was a bit unnerved.... Killed a lot of time cleaning it up and fixing the bike after i reached ccd.

Had a relaxed meal and set out again, but decided i would do airport laps instead of chikballapur cos the roads were well lit, and that particular nasty stretch of construction work near the railway crossing could be avoided.... Still was maintaining a 25 kmph riding average... But the handlebar position, saddle angle etc seemed a little uncomfortable... For quite a lot of time to come, it was all just tweaking all these settings.

Anita, reena, sandeep were there till 1 am taking care of me, and also meanwhile doing their own night centuries.... Sachin and Ramesh dropped by too, to check out how things were going

By the time i had done 150 km, and finally found the right settings of saddle and handlebar, my wrists were already hurting like crazy.... So took breaks often to stretch and relieve.... And on my way back, saw that the lights were slowly being turned off on different sections of the road.... I had my headlight, but i wouldnt be able to maintain a good speed.... And Thammiah and his friend Yashoda came in at the right time, and supported me with their car lighting up the way... Did a lap of chickballapur and headed to Nandi base(with the light provided by Nalla's car until it got bright) where other riders would sync up, and there was an RFL nandi run happening to add to the active crowd on the hill

Took a nice break, took in some salts and energy, and some rest before the first climb... Nalla was riding with me.... Gave my everything to it, hoping to beat my mtb time... Missed it by 2 secs! But, anyway, a 36:28 is still a good climb in my books.... But i exerted so feverishly on this one that i started shivering once i was done..... But, i was feeling strong and invincible.. Took a break, descended and turned back again, with Sachin and Ramesh joining in as well.... But this time i took it real slow and shifted into granny gears pretty early on.... Started cramping inspite of all the salts i had taken in..... Had to take a coupla breaks, and did the climb in 61 min (including breaks)..... Had breakfast of set dosa after descent.....

The third ascent was a killer.... I took a power nap of 15 min, and another 5 min break, and finished the climb in 68 min... And only two climbs before i felt invincible, now i was feeling dead! The descent was crazy, everything started looking dreamy, i somehow felt i was riding down a twisted ribbon... All i needed to do was to straighten the ribbon instead of negotiating the hairpins etc... And the curves looked a little exaggerated... Had i bonked? Or was it the sleeplessness? Or worst still, was it both? Took it ultra slow, and just concentrated on following Nalla's line..... the only other thing that registered in my mind was Athreya who was running 60 km up n down nandi.... Man, what an inspiration!

Met Suma at the base, and we rode as a bunch till Bellary road, where i took another power nap in Nalla's car..... The dead me got alive again, and felt really strong, doing a 26 kmph average on the chikballapur laps.... Suma went to CCD, fetched me sandwiches and brownies..... And by the time i was on my way back to CCD, Reena and Anita started riding with me, and venkat was on his mobike chattin and pumping me up.... Except for my hurting wrists, i felt as if i had just started riding, and was feeling i was good to go at least another 100 km

I'm sooooo super proud of my team, who did a collective ~1000 km supporting me.... I owe it all to you

Although, initial plans were to be able to do atleast a 450 km, the amount of breaks i took dint allow it

Ended up with 372.76 km in 16hr 32min of riding.... (Which means all i need to take care of is to manage my breaks better)

Current mood: the kind when you are just waking up after you fainted
Currently listening to: Reload - Rob Zombie

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


636km including the climb up Ooty, with a time cutoff of 72 hrs. I hope to do it atleast in 48 hrs, or if i'm good enuf, even lesser.... Training going well for it. The biggest of my training rides coming in this weekend..... And hope my raodbike is ready by then!

More details of the race here

Current mood: Anxious
Currently listening to: War - Poets of the Fall

Thursday, September 09, 2010


When you are inspired to do multiple things, you are pulled in all directions with great force, but you end up staying where you are.... But, ultimately, what the forces actually do is rip you apart!

Current mood: sciencey
Currently listening to: Half of my heart - John Mayer

Friday, August 27, 2010

In search of memory....

"In search of Memory" is the autobiography and a layman level summary of Eric Kandel's work, mainly on how memory is stored in the brain, some of which led him to win a Nobel prize.... Its a really nice book, as it taught me more about the stuff than the many reviews i have read before..... He also puts all of the studies in context with the state of the rest of the fields like molecular biology, cell bio, biotech, etc..... Add to this, weaving his life and conversion from a emigrant survivor jew of the WWII era, to a literature guy, to a psychoanalyst, to a neuroscientist

Ok, my intention is not to write a review of the book... but to write what i learnt about life from it.... My confusions about what to do with life seem to be too trivial if i zoom out and look at a bigger picture of where i want to be.... Kandel only had a few paragraphs to describe any of the work he did as a phd student.... And that's all this period is gonna be in my book of life too... So i should just get my work done and move on..... And it is okay to wander around and enjoy life..... One doesnt need to be a prodigy to be a good scientist...

Current mood: Trying to be as Vulcan as possible
Currently listening to: Science - System of a Down


Its been a long time since the last post.... The usual course of action is to promise that i'll be regular from now on, right?..... Well, let the times to come tell it rather than my untrustable words :)

Meanwhile, i did have quite an eventful time since my last post..... races, cycle rides, training, treks, learning experiences, bro's wedding, potential life changing decisions...... Ah, there u got it... 'potential life changing decisions' is usually what sets someone to blog again..... Let me see if i can pull myself together to write all of it....

Current mood: Nostalgic
Currently listening to: Echoes - Pink Floyd

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Langtang trek (Nepal) | Dec 25th '09 - Jan 9th '10

I'm more than a month due on the report, for reasons more than plain laziness.... Anyway, here goes

The overall breakdown:
Dec 25: Having only one day after returning from TFN, the packing was hurried.... But left to Attibele to help Vinay finish his packing.... Then took a bus to Hosur.... And from there to Tirupattur... and from there to Jolarpettai, where we waited till evening for our train to Gorakhpur....

At Jolarpettai railway station

Dec 26: Lot of dumb charades, pictionary, cards etc on the train... nothing particularly interesting through the windows, as we were goin through the drier regions of Andhra

Dec 27: There was fog all through the day, even at noon, as the train chugged through it.... Reached Gorakhpur at ~8pm and took the last bus to Sinauli (Indo-Nepal border).... The bus conductor entertained us with poetry and songs, as the driver rode through zero visibility fog at terrifying speeds.... Halted at a guest house at Sinauli for the night.... Faced a low of ~12 C

The foggy northern plains

Dec 28: After a cycle rickshaw ride to the border proper, we walked into Nepal.... Took a Mini (a van kinda thing that seats ~12) to Kathmandu.... The road was almost entirely on the banks of the Trishuli river..... After checking into a hotel, we went shopping in Thamel, particularly for gloves.... At Kathmandu, the temperature was manageable at ~12 deg.

Trishuli river

Dec 29: We missed the morning bus to Syabrubesi cos of some confusion.... So took a bus to Kalikasthan..... This was a useless step, cos the next day, we would catch the same bus that starts from Kathmandu.... The final bit of the bus ride, meself and Vinay decided to sit on top of the bus like many other passengers..... This was one helluva experience...... With the bus rattling along the edges of the road with just a few cms off cliff edges..... And we holding tight and somehow just managing to stay on it..... And the guy sitting next to us finds it the right moment to tell us "People keep falling off the bus often... And sometimes buses fall off the cliffs too"..... Scared to shit, we gripped with hands and legs, while this chap happily lights a cigarette holding onto nothin.... Finally reached Kalikasthan well before sunset..... And this tiny village in the middle of nowhere, and far from touristy activities.... had a snooker table!

View from Kalikasthan

Dec 30: This time, we dint have an option of getting seats inside the bus..... So, all of us were on top..... And learning from yesterday's lessons, found a comfortable spot, cushioned by bags on all sides, and put my center of gravity in a potential well, to ensure stability.... So, i was stable enough to venture taking photos from the top, although still a pretty unnerving thing...... And whenever a town or village came.... we had to duck under the cables running across the street..... We took the trekking permit at Dhunche, where the bus waited for us to finish the business...... And finally reached Syabrubesi after a scary descent from Dhunche...... Some of us ventured to take a dip in the friggin cold stream.... Vinay actually got swept by the strong currents, and was saved by a quick reflex rescue by Santosh

The road to Syabrubesi

Dec 31: The actual trek begins! In all our excitement, we actually missed a junction, and went the wrong way.... We climbed all the way to Thulosyafru, and then realised that we had to descend all the way down in a different direction, and we might actually make it to Pyro (aka... Landslide lodges).... We also went and bathed in the hot water spring (Tatopani) there.... But we ended up being stinkier, cos of the hydrogen sulphide(the rotten egg smell u should remember from chemistry lab) dissolved in it!..... The nights were getting colder..... But, the dining hall was warm, thanks to a wood stove.... The folks at the lodge we stayed (Namaste guest house) were really hospitable... and together we chit-chatted, sang, listened to music, exchanged knowledge about each other's culture etc.... It was a lovely new year's eve.... the only thing lacking was the booze!

View of Langtang from close to Thulosyafru

Jan 1: We started as quickly as the sun let us, cos we had to cover for lost time...... By lunchtime, we reached Rimche..... And around tea time, the group split, as my vision is terrible in low light... so, me and vinay headed off, minimizing breaks.... while the others came at a leisurely pace...... We encountered our first few patches of snow..... We made it to Ghoda Tabela before it got unbearably dark.... And the others were there soon enough..... And this night, we got drunk on the local brew Nepali Rakshi, and splurged on food, celebrating new year!

View from Rimche

Jan 2: From Ghoda Tabela, we went to Langtang Village.... And there again, we split due to light reasons..... Me and Vinay again managed to get to Kyangjin Gompa just before it got dark, while the others came in when the temperatures were negative Celsius, and the light low..... We managed to get the last two rooms available

View of the Langtang range from a little before reaching Kyanjin Gompa

Jan 3: From now on, it was all descent.... So we could be much faster...... But thanks to my stereo vision problems, i usually descend slowly...... So it again meant the group had to split...... We had lunch at Ghoda Tabela and reached Rimche by evening

Sayin goodbye to the snow

Jan 4: Late lunch at Pyro and Syabrubesi by evening.... More Rakshi and laughter

Fragile bridge on a gushing river

Jan 5: Syabrubesi -> Kathmandu, this time, inside the bus!..... Shopped at Thamel for souvenirs and gifts.... And ate amazing Buff momos at a small eatery

Jan 6: Took a bus from Kathmandu to Bhairav (Nepal side of Indo-Nepal border)..... The bus was totally crowded. And although i was sitting, i couldnt move my legs even by a cm..... To top it, there was a Maoist strike blocking the highway.... if it stayed, we would definitely have to miss our train next morn...... One peculiar thing we saw: As soon as the vehicle stopped due to the big long queue of vehicles waiting for the strike to get over, folks got down from the bus, spread a towel on the street, and started playing cards..... They'd pack it all up in a jiffy when the vehicle moves forward a little..... Then onto the street again when it halts, to start the card games..... After sitting the longest duration in a day, for 13 hrs, and with the butt threatening to commit suicide, we finally reached Bhairav.... we got to the border by Cycle rickshaw and crossed the border by foot. After a brief interrogation by the immigration office, took a cab to Gorakhpur

The first vehicle from the other side..... sign of the end of the strike

Jan 7: Train to Jolarpettai from Gorakhpur
Jan 8: Recollecting trek..... Dumb charades, pictionary, cards
Jan 9: Got down at Jolarpettai. Jolarpettai -> Tirupattur -> Bangalore

- The whole trip costed ~7k, batteries included, Bangalore to Bangalore.....
- The train to Gorakhpur is always four hours late at destination!
- Nepali women look absolutely gorgeous! And Nepali men think Indian women look gorgeous (specially the tanned kind)
- The price of accomodation was a uniform 200NPR (~120INR) per room throughout the trek route, irrespective of whether the room could hold 2 people or 6
- On the trek route, the price of food increased with the distance from Syabrubesi.... At Kyanjin Gompa, a plate of Dal Bhaat(Rice + cereal curry, their staple food) costed 300NPR (~200 INR), where a room costed only 200 NPR..... The price hike is cos the porters need to lug it on their backs, for multiple days, for it to reach there.... The food prices are standardised by a committee.... So, there wouldnt be a point to go hunt for cheaper food
- Their local drink, Nepali Rakshi, tasted awesome.... Tasted a bit like port wine, and only mildly stronger if at all
- The porters lug upto 60 kgs on their backs and climb all the treacherous slopes for such long distances.... And, the earnings from a 15 day trek, can suffice to run the porter's family for 6 months!
- Transliteration into english is not specific.... i.e. Syafru, Syabru, Syapru are all the same (However, Thamel and Jhamel are not!)
- The Nepali script is the same as Hindi script... So an Indian can often read Nepali signboards... But u still cant read an essay and make much sense.... However, lots of the locals know at least broken hindi
- The Nepalese listen to a lot of flop Bollywood songs from around a decade ago..... Refreshed my memories of nauseating songs that were around when i was a kid

Current mood: Nostalgic
Currently listening to: Why go home - Pearl Jam

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tour of Nilgiris 2009 | Summary

From the rainy starts of the initial days, to the sunny-as-heck ride on the last day, ~70 riders made cycling ~800 km look like piece of cake.... There were artists, photographers, techies, scientists, doctors, entrepreneurs, students, unemployed folks..... all bonded by one common passion: cycling..... And they rode their heart (and lungs) out during the 8 day party.....

For me, Day1 (Bangalore->Mysore) had nothing much on offer in terms of scenery..... I took it as a race..... a race against myself to get my fastest 150km+ ride...... The remaining days, it was more time behind the camera than on the bike for me...... And the time spent on the bike too, was at a relaxed pace, soaking the surroundings in, conversing with curious onlookers..... Pumping down a descent hoping to scale up the next rolling uphill with ease...... but only to stop midway, for a nice photo opportunity (and then cursing myself for it as i battled the uphill later).....

Pics from the ride:

All the pics of riders are in a separate album and shared only privately..... (unless they are arbit subjects aiding in telling the story in a picture)

A few moments that would best refresh my TFN09 experience:
kids jumping around looking at us.......... The speed battles with Bharani (which he always won)..... Dumb charades..... Rum Charades...... The collective roar of a bunch of clicking freewheels*........ The Neil Armstrong** roads...... The sunset ride at Hassan w Manjula et al..... The friendly sound of someone shifting gears when you thought you were alone on that nasty long uphill stretch...... The ooty tea breaks...... the once in a few minutes butt breaks, on the way up ooty...... Following Srikar's wheel when he got into his maniacal dont-wanna-get-swept mode..... The dryfruits of the carb pack...... The 36 hairpins..... The lonely peaceful roads of Wayanad and Bandipur

*Freewheels are those things that go click-ick-ick-ick-ick-ick when you are not pedaling and going downhill......
** Quoted from fellow rider Anand Mulky's statement, "On that stretch, I was like Neil Armstrong going around craters. But after Wayanad, I was like Lance Armstrong ripping the road"

Do look at previous posts to look at the day-wise breakdown

Current mood: missing the good times
Currently listening to: All we ever do is say goodbye - John Mayer

TFN09 Day8 | Ooty -> Bandipur + getting home

Distance: 72km
Saddle time: 4hr 8min

A bunch of us decided to get down-to-earth and ride in jeans instead of the spandex sporting bunch we usually are..... (Actually, i did not have space for the jeans in my bag, making way for a kilo of ooty-homemade-chocolates).... And birthday boy descended down the 36 hairpins of Kalhatti with a few breaks to cool the brakes, and also to take pics...... I was faster on the descent than last time, so am happy..... The descent was followed by a nice peaceful ride in the jungles of Mudumalai and Bandipur..... Went slowly and almost dint pedal, as i wanted to enjoy the lonely roads and the forest sounds around..... Immediately after Bandipur, we had our last lunch together...... Got our bikes loaded in a truck and left to Bangalore....... And the tour ended..... How we wished it lasted longer... a thousand more kilometres even?

Current mood: lost in thinking about the previous days
Currently listening to: Better together - Jack Johnson

TFN09 Day7 | SultanBatheri -> Ooty

Distance: 101km
Saddle time: 7hr 3min

~2200 metres of climbing...... Awesome views of tea estates...... And going brrrrrr at the top as we sipped chai amidst the estates....... Took a zillion breaks for pics, chai and well.... butt relief.... Srikar gave me good company as a photographer and pacer..... The final steep climb to the hotel was the icing on the cake (well.... for a masochist).... Followed by celebrations of the conquest, by the heat of a campfire, and of whisky and Vodka

Current mood: Powerful
Currently listening to: Six feet from the edge - Creed

TFN09 Day6 | Irpu -> SultanBatheri

Distance: 94 km
Saddle time: 5hr 38min

The roads in Coorg were bad, and again, i was glad i was on an MTB..... As we entered Wayanad, the roads were awesome.... And we got to look around and enjoy the lush tropical evergreen, instead of concentrating on which crater to avoid..... Took it nice n slow to enjoy the fresh air, with the entire road having shade cover... The day's ride being a short one, i went around scouting for some trails after reaching SultanBatheri........ But all of them were pretty steep, and decided to save my legs for the next day's Hors Categorie climb

Current mood: well prepared
Currently listening to: Chekele - Avial