Just two days after I underwent one of my toughest day both mentally and physically in the hills of Nagala, I was tempted again for the next challenge, a cycling trip to Mahabalipuram and back with Chennai trekking club. I always loved cycling and ever since I heard that a group of seniors at hostel went to mahabs on cycle, I always wanted to do that.

I was pretty confident about the trip as i had enough experiences with cycling trips unlike the trek last week. The plan was to leave chennai before we got struck with the city traffic especially the annoying engineering college buses that literally go in a parade on the OMR every morning. Mayur, Bhargav and me decided to go ahead with the trip until Mayur decided to drop the idea 2 days before.

Well aware of the troubles we were to encounter during the course of the long trip, I wanted to make sure I had the perfect cycle and gear to make it through without much damage to myself. I was lucky to find a junior with the perfect bicycle for the trip. With a few trials the previous night i was all ready to leave the next morning even though my thigh muscles were still complaining of pain from the previous trekking experience.

I got up the next morning only to find that Bhargav was again lazy enough to drop at the last minute. That meant i had to be alone again. I was lucky then to find that one of my junior, Sritej, was also eager about the trip and decided to come along. So my trip had finally begun when i started from my institute @ 6 in the morning. We took the OMR (Old Mahabalipuram Road) to Mahabalipuram because we thought it would be more habitable all along just in case any one of us wanted some help along the way. I was accompanied by 3 more guys and 2 girls with one more guy following us on his bike.

Our desire to leave the city before the traffic starts was short lived when most of them prefering to break every 5 kms. We had just done 20 kms in the first 2 hours, nearly 27 kms more to go. It was near 8 and the sun threatening to come out any moment. And then after some inspirational words we decided to take the next stop only at mahabalipuram. Me and sritej started out ahead trying to set the pace.

The weather was luckily awesome for the next 2 hours with the cool breeze blowing across from the sea. The sun mostly behind the clouds but the occasional peep from the dense clouds was never a problem. We kept moving along with a good pace doing 25 kms in the next couple of hours with no one complaining of a break. At nearly 10 we were at the outskirts of mahabalipuram.
We had done nearly 47 kms in 4 hours thanks to the good tailwind that blew along. After reaching Mahabs the entire team was very happy. None of them had actually thought of making it through to Mahabs.

We then had Brunch at Dhabha express. I was very hungry after the continuous cycling for near 2 hours. The food there was really tasty especially the fish which they nearly cooked for an hour :D . After we finished eating it was nearly 12. We then had a photography session at the Panch Rathas and then at the Shore temple, not to mention all the various the various angles tried out by Nidhi :)

http://picasaweb.google.com/enidhi/MahabalipuramCycling?authkey=DRpV4LdRC7E#

We wanted to reach chennai early before it got dark and before we were at the mercy of all the lorry drivers who drive with their high beams on, making it impossible to see. We started from the Shore temple at 1pm along the ECR (East Coast Road). After cycling for an hour or so on the ECR, we reach the tiger cave where we decided to take a nap for an hour. With the cool breeze I dozed off underneath the shade of the pine trees. It felt like heaven sleeping on the smooth grass with the breeze tickling you.

I had no mood to get up and get back to chennai,but my team decided to start our way back. We started again at 3 with nearly 40 kms to go to reach chennai. The breeze started to pick-up so did the sun as we threaded along. Very soon i realised everyone other than me and sritej were finding it difficult to cycle along the heavy headwind that was strong enough to push you back every time a bus or lorry went by. I had to literally apply the breaks every time a bus went by. After an hour of continuous cycling i then realised i just had done near 6 and half kms. I also realised that my team was now finding it difficult to catch up with my pace. I slowly started to loose every one other than sritej who was also struggling with the new 8700 bucks cycle that the trip organiser had bought. It was too heavy for her, so Sritej had to do all the donkey work trying to get the cycle home.

After another half an hour into the trip me and sritej were way ahead of the team with them not in our sights anymore. We did not want to stop risking cramps if in case we did. We kept going along with our slow pace fighting the wind much more than anything. Slowly my muscles started complaining and Sritej who was now comfortable with low gears of the costly bike started to pull off. Very soon he too was out of sight. It then started to get too lonely with no one in sight and the wind now punishing me than ever before. But I kept on going with all the determination of making it. I was now sweating terribly even with all the high winds that were blowing along the ECR. I had no other way but to stop every now and then to buy water and prevent me from dehydrating.

Every now and then I could see Nidhi transporting my team on his bike one by one way ahead of me. But I used to catch up with them in a few minutes and then proceed along. After some determined 2 hours of cycling now i was near the chennai outskirts, with nearly 17 kms to go. I had finally caught up with Sritej at Mayajal. We decided now that it was not sensible to wait any more but to carry on the tempo riding that we were doing. All my muscles had literally given up by then, luckily so had the wind. As soon as we entered the City there was no more wind which enabled us to pick up our pace. The only things to trouble us were the frequent stopping due to traffic hold up near kottivakam and Tiruvanmyur.

In the next one hour i had done nearly 16kms and i was in sights of Tidel park. All of my body was starting to ache by the time i had made to the Tidel park. I then got to know that the entire team was nearly one hour down the road. I decided to call it a day without waiting for them and dragged my body all the way back to insti. After a couple of stretching exercises that were suggested to me by my friends I could get a peaceful night sleep. I was terribly afraid that i would get up to see myself in a disdainful state. Nothing of that sort had happened, thanks to all the exercises that i had been doing. All in all it was a wonderful trip with finally only three of the initally 7 making it without using Nidhi’s bike. All along the journey I kept wondering why people kept staring me every now and then. Later looking into the pics I realised what the reason was.. LOL :P

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