Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Astr Sidewinder - Uday's Experience

It's been an year of riding the Merida road bike. I'm starting to think that instead of just sticking to one bike, I'd have to ride other bikes occasionally to get to know them and feel the difference. My activity included daily commuting to work, random evening solo rides, and occasional weekend rides with TBA. I was doing all of this on the same bike, and crossed the 5000 km mark this month. My increasing interest in other bike types had been bugging me to buy another bike for commute. Of-course there were other things that led me to take this decision. Commuting on the road bike made me more aggressive and fast on the roads. The ever increasing traffic made it even worse, I was always on the lookout for that pothole which might pop out of nowhere, the autos which stop suddenly to the left, the bikes and cars that come in the wrong direction with high beams that blind you, the bikers who try to overtake you through the little space.

Just one look at Astr Sidewinder bike, and I was really impressed with the simple design. I've always wanted an alternate bike for commuting to office, instead of the Merida road bike. I did my first test ride of the bike at The Bike Affair Kondapur in the Fixie mode, and I loved the responsiveness of the bike. However I had decided against riding in the Fixie mode during office commute owing to my notoriously spiky speed graphs ;)

I got to choose between yellow, white and silver frames for my height, and I chose the white frame with blue rims. I really loved the look of the bike, the simple frame, no gears and the bull horn with the blue bar-tape (We have a choice of various types of handlebars) Riding a new bike, after having ridden the road-bike for the past year, was an entirely new experience. The frame was a little heavy, the handlebar was very light, the brake position was different, and there was no more gear shifting.

Commuting on this bike felt like meditation all the way. I didn't have to bother shifting gears to maintain the cadence (This was one of the causes for the spikes in speed graph), and most importantly I was enjoying the ride rather than rushing my way to the destination. I was skeptical about choosing the gear ratios while assembling the bike, but after talking to Gokul, I decided to go for the usual 42/18 keeping the uphills in mind.

Ever since I started riding the bike in free-wheel mode, a few things that I noticed during my commute was the consistent speed, less use of overall power (no more profuse sweating in the mornings ^^ ), improvement in the overall stability of the ride. The last addition was my music system (Bluetooth speaker fixed to the handlebar) to this bike. This time I chose some light music instead of the usual heavy metal (which almost turned my road bike into a mean-machine), and it's a perfect match.

I feel like this bike has given me so much insight into how we can enjoy commuting in the city. I also feel that this is the perfect bike that I've been looking for, to start off my video channel about commuting in the city. And the best part about this bike is the style, which is a result of some really good color combinations and the simple design. I find this riding experience to be soothing my mind. I love this bike !!

Edit: I've shifted to Fixie mode for about a week. Been commuting and also did a 100km long ride in that mode. After that long ride, when I got off the bike, the walking felt really weird. May be I was so much into the bike, that my legs forgot how to walk ;) During the long ride, I've met another rider, Lipi, with the SideWinder. It felt like I've met a fellow countryman in a distant country­čśÄ. She was riding really well, and she told me that she's enjoying the bike, but still have to get used to the Fixie mode. Now I'm completely riding the bike in this mode, and wish that I get rid of those brakes soon.

As sent by Uday Bhasker.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Review - FELT FR 40

Few months back, when we were told that FELT is entering India, we had mixed opinion about the brand. On one side, it wasn't like we didn't hear about FELT. We had come across some of their popular bikes in bike magazines. On the other hand, it wasn't like one of those big brands that you keep hearing about all the time. So we wrote to them asking " How do their bikes compare with some of the bigger brands ? The answer we got is "Felt is a smaller company than the larger brands we compete against. The reason Felt is able to compete with the largest companies in the world is because every single employee is passionate about making the best products.  The best answer to this question is ride a Felt and then ride another brand of frame  at similar price. I have rode a lot of bicycles in my life and Felt truly has magical ride quality. This of course is a short answer and I can go on and on. I really do not like talking about what other companies do I enjoy talking about what Felt does "

Of course, we discarded it as "probable brand talk", but was still keen to ride some of their bikes and find out if there is something really "magical" about them. By then, we have done some googling and realized that the brand has a very rich race legacy. One of the very first bikes Jim Felt ( Founder of FELT bikes) made went on to win the Ironman world championship. Jim was also a triathlete and hence their focus on performance is very high.


We had out chance when FELT send us few of their demo bikes, one of them being the FELT FR 40.  We unpacked and assembled the bike soon. A ordinary looking bike, white and black , nothing flashy about the bike by itself. We weighed it in the store. The 54 cm demo bike weighed 9.35 kg , without pedals). That's not bad, I thought. The challenge in building a road bike especially with an Aluminum Alloy frame is to have the right balance of stiffness, compliance and weight. The weight part is good, we will soon be finding more about the other two.

The Felt FR40

Frame & Geometry
6069 Aluminium frame

The frames that come to India is made of 6069 aluminum alloy. We also learned Felt have been using size specific tubes and butting. This is very important because traditionally frame designing and prototyping is done on a mid size ( usually 56 cm) frame. Later on the other sizes are scaled up and down after finalizing design.  However the issue here is that the smaller a triangle the stiffer it is and hence the bikes can start behaving differently across sizes. To compensate for this size specific tubing and butting come to play so that all sizes behave the same way

The frame geometry was on the aggressive side, but there is scope for adjusting the handle bar drop based on the variable adjustable stem (as described later).  Cabling is Internal.

When Jake Duehring (former Felt sponsored US Track Champion who works for Felt now) was in Hyderabad we had a discussion around the races in which the FR is used. Interestingly, Felt does not have a different bike to race for the classics and uses the FR itself, but with wider tires. Also another interesting thing he mentioned is that the Felt sponsored pros use exactly the same bikes as what is available to the customer ( no custom frames for pros, which means your bike could be same as the pro who wins stage on his FELT roadie) .

The fork is made up of Carbon Fibre blades with a carbon dropout. It has a tapered headtube and the headset bearing dimension also varies across the different sizes.

The wheels feel very light and strong. The wheels weighed only 2.1 kg (1.2 rear and 0.9 front), which is among the lightest in this price range. The wheels come with 28H (front) and 32H (rear) rims. I was surprised to find this as even with 32 spokes, the rear wheel was very light. The front hubs are ball bearings and rear are sealed cartridge bearings. These are fantastic for training / regular riding.

The rims are tubeless ready and the rear hub is 10 & 11 speed compatible. So the wheels can also be easily upgraded.

Shimano Tiagra Groupset
The FR 40 comes with the Shimano Tiagra 2 * 10 speed gears which felt sufficient and worked without any problem. The crankset is Shimano Tiagra as well, and the bike is paired with a shimano tiagra brakeset. The crank is 50/34 and rear cassette is 12/28, providing a gear ratio suited for training and climbing.

Shimano Tiagra brakeset

Ride Quality

A quick spin, and I was impressed. 
Soon enough, I took it for a longer weekend ride. I remember reading somewhere that George Hincapie (former pro rider) had this habit of riding upto the front and asking his teammates to check if the chain was still on as pedaling was so easy. This thought kept coming back to me throughout the ride as that is exactly how the FR feels. Effortless! Shift to a gear where you can maintain a high cadence and the bike feels so light and easy to pedal. That was the first impression.

Initially on climbs I found myself shifting to a higher gear than what I generally do and grinding at a very high gear towards the end of the climbs. This could be due to the high level of responsiveness at the lower gears. But once I got used to the gearing it was more easy on the climbs. The bike corners and descends very well. I was very comfortable on the bike during and after the ride as well.

Interestingly the FR 40 also absorbs the road vibrations very well. The bike felt very comfortable on village roads and gravel as well. The FR40 is built with the BB386 for additional stiffness and tyre clearance.


The stem angle is adjustable , thanks to some innovative design by Felt
Variable Adjust stem allows the stem angle to be adjusted anywhere between 8 to 16 degrees

The sleeve inside the stem. It can be turned around to tweak the stem angle

The handle bar is a variable shaped. The handle bar diameter is wider towards the center (where it clamps on to the stem) and thins out where we hold at the top or drop and hence very comfortable to hold even for people with smaller palms. The bar tape also nicely complements it by being comfortable but not too thick.

Its also nice to see the stock bike being paired with quality tires. This is one of the areas most brands cut cost.  The FELT website mentions some of the FR series road frame being able to take 28 inch tires, but the stock bike comes with 700x25c tires.

The 700x25c Schwalbe Durano tyres are fast and grippy, and comes with a level of puncture protection
The saddle has few spots of gloss finish which makes it a little slippery at times. It does have a small depression in the middle of the saddle to ease out pressure on the nerves.

The bike comes with a carbon seatpost. It also has a very useful scale near the place where the saddle rails clamp the seatpost to indicate the saddle tilt.


What we like :
  • One thing that stands out is the "ride quality". Size specific tubing ensures the same ride quality is maintained across all frame sizes (  a rarity in Aluminium road bikes across brand)
  • Soaks up road vibrations on gravels/dirt roads
  • Strong  yet light weight wheels ( 32 spoke rear, 28 spoke front)
  • Tubeless ready rims
  • We also like that FELT has not overlooked some of the "usually ignored areas". Examples being high quality bar tapes and good tires . The stem adjust-ability is very thoughtful and is a great feature for beginners.
Scope for improvement :
  • Nothing much we can think of. One small area could be the saddle. Would be nice to get rid of those glossy surface


It is a tough race between the performance road bikes with some of the top brands available in India. I would rate the Felt FR bikes to be the best of the lot that I have ridden. It is the best option for a rhythm rider looking for an all round bike. With light and fast wheels, the complete package is very fast and comfortable. Like their technology page describes, it allows you to save on watts on the early stages of a race so that you have more energy left in the tank for the finale. Highly recommended for training, racing and even some endurance riding. The FR 40 is  priced at Rs 101050 (and there is a limited period 10% launch discount)  and is available in 51 and 54 cm.

Reviewed  by Gokul Krishna, Photographs by Krishnendu Basu
Gokul has owned and (or) ridden Cannondale CAAD 8, Orbea Aqua,  Merida Ride 100, Bergamont Prime 6.4 , Velocite Geos, Fuji Touring, Specialized Allez Sport, Merida Reacto 5000, Merida Scultura 400, Merida Ride 300, Specialized Diverge and a few unnamed Astr Prototypes at different points of time. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

We are Hiring

If you are crazy about anything cycling, we have got news for you. We are looking to expand our team and in the lookout for dynamic and energetic folks.

Of course it is not like regular office job. The hours could be long, the work could be challenging. Gut being a part of a small team means we are at it together trying to accomplish something as a collective that an individual may not. That said, here are the perks :
  • Opportunity to lead a healthy and active lifestyle (riding a bike is core to all the openings we got:-))
  • Inspiring someone to lead a healthy life.
  • Chance to work on some of the most advanced bicycles in the planet
  • Opportunity to get exposed to different facets of running an organization
  • Able to have a direct say in decision making
Sounds exciting? Below are the list of positions open :

Sales Executive - http://tinyurl.com/jzhlnhg
Shop Technician - http://tinyurl.com/zt749o8

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Bike Review - Specialized Allez Sport 2015

The very first Specialized bike I rode was a Allez Sport 2014 . This was before we started dealing with Specialized bikes at TBA. Till that time I used to believe  Aluminium is harsh. That ride changed my opinion. During the short  spin I had to recheck a couple of times that the frame material is not carbon! Two things stood out tall - the compliance with respect to road vibration and the acceleration ! That was the bike which got me excited about the brand. 

The specialized Allez Sport 2015

About 3 months later, we got our 2015 Allez Sport Demo bike. I got a chance to test it for a few training rides (a 3 hr zone 2 ride, hill repeats at whisper valley).The review was done on a 52cm demo bike of The Bike Affair. My ideal size on this would have been 54cm, but wasn't too bad for testing.


The Allez Sport 2015 - the bike I test rode.

The Allez is Specialized's Aluminium series in the race geometry. A 52 cm bike has stack/reach ratio of 1.36 indicating a low and aggressive geometry for racing.It is surprising to have a race geometry frame with such a comfortable ride. The shape of the hydroformed tubes in the front triangle could be one of the factors contributing to the ride quality.
Wheels - The wheels are made up of 32 H double walled rims, which is excellent for training rides. They roll quite well and are solid. I hit a pothole pretty hard and the wheel was perfectly true. However when you are looking for an upgrade or go for a race, swapping to race wheels would be the biggest gains at a budget.

Groupset - The Allez Sport comes with Sora groupset. We felt that the same groupsets on the Allez shifted better and smoother than those on a few other brands of bicycles. The quality of cables, cable routing and usage of more complete groupsets probably contribute to this. The gear ratios with 50/34 chain ring and 12-27 cassette should be fine for an all round ride with decent hills.
Shifting is fast and crisp
Nice to see Shimano Sora crank instead of some no name crank that have
only 'Shimano' on it, which is  what we  mostly see paired up with Shimano Sora shifters.

Brakeset - Even on the steep downhill section  of the whisper valley ( In case you are not from Hyderabad, Whisper valley is a km long  hill  - the steepest in this part of the city ), I was always in control. The brake set did inspire confidence. Notice the clearance even with a 700x25c tire . Extra clearance will ensure your wheel won't get accidentally jammed when you ride through dirt and muck.

The Axis caliper brake inspired confidence, and we were quite happy about it.

The Ride 

Like the 2014 Allez, the bike handled bad surfaces exceptionally well. It felt super responsive and my legs immediately felt connected to the bike.  It had excellent acceleration and responded immediately to any attacks that may be needed in a race. The bike felt well balanced and was confidence inspiring when getting out of the saddle.

However, my legs seemed to be  little bit more loaded throughout. In contrast to bikes like the Bergamont Prime 6.4 which encourage more of a tempo ride, the Allez is very springy. But frequently I couldn’t continue the rhythm on a long climb or on a tempo ride.

This behaviour was confounding me. I was wondering whether it was just some crazy feeling, wrong size or is there a logical explanation to it? While I was reading more about the geometry, frame stiffness etc, I stumbled upon an article which mirrored my views. The simple explanation is that when the frames flex with our pedal forces, the flexing and rebounding of the frames could help smoothen out the dead spots and have an easier, faster ride (referred as planing). I still don't know the reason. Maybe the Allez frame is a little too stiff for me ;-). Hurts the ego a bit, but shows that there is scope for improvement for me.

By the way, it is interesting how different frame sizes alter the fundamental behaviours of bikes. I will be digressing if I step into that now, but be assured I will cover that soon in a separate blog.

Expensive Buy ?

At close to Rs 90,000 with a sora groupset, the bike might seem a bit costly if you were to compare bikes with similar group sets. However, look beyond the surface, and the picture is quite different. Specialized tends to invest  more time and energy into the frameset rather than just picking up a run of the mill frameset and installing  high end shifter and derailleurs ( which unfortunately is the trend). Unlike many other brands, specialized balances out the whole experience by providing decent brake sets, wheel sets and cranksets. 

The 700x25c Allez sport tire doesn't compromise on speed while providing puncture protection.

Have you ever lost a bar end plug on a ride? Not with the Allez.
Their commitment to the product also includes every small aspect - be it the saddles (Specialized Body Geometry Toupe Sport) , tyres(Specialized Espoir Sport 700*25c with double black belt puncture protection) , the bar end plugs or the small padded insert underneath the bar tape. The saddles/tyres are the most neglected and quality is outright ridiculous in many other brands.

So if you were to look at the complete bike( the frame set, wheels, tires, saddles, cranks  etc)  and the quality of all the components, it is excellent value for money.

Highly recommended!


What I liked
  • Excellent ride quality
  • Best in class vibration damping. Handles broken surface exceptionally well.
  • Attention to details like saddle, tires, bar end plugs.
  • 32 spoke bomb proof wheel. Comes with the peace of mind that it is really tough to get the wheel out of true.

What I wished for
  • Really nothing I can think of

The Verdict

Generally in India we get only endurance geometry bikes at the lower end. It is pleasing to see a good race geometry road bike being offered at the starting range (the Specialized Allez C2 2014 starts at Rs.62,680, Sport 2015 is Rs.89,900). Just as if to answer your next question ( which probably is "Are we ready for race bikes in Indian road conditions?") The frame smoothens out vibrations and you will experience much lesser road buzz. Combined with excellent pair of wheels, tyres and saddle, there is hardly anything that needs to be changed for your training rides that include bad sections. Thus it is an excellent choice for someone interested in racing, but still wants a comfortable bike over long distances.

Reviewed  by Gokul Krishna, Photographs by Dipanjan Chakravarti
Gokul has owned and ridden Cannondale CAAD 8, Orbea Aqua,  Merida Ride 100, Bergamont Prime 6.4 , Velocite Geos and Fuji Touring at different point of time.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Magical Konkan - A Ride Report, Part 1

I made a hurried entry into the ST bus and grabbed my window seat. Next to me was a grumpy faced old lady with a big sack next to her. Her pretty faced teenage daughter was sitting across the aisle. The bus was filled with villagers and with cleated shoes, baggy shorts and a backpack on my back, I was easily the odd one out.
Ameya helping me load the bike on the top of the ST bus
Just a min back I had successfully managed to fasten the bicycle on the roof top along with help from my brother in law. I was on way to Guhaghar to join the rest of the gang on our maiden 8 days Konkan Ride – Mumbai to Goa. Unlike the regular bus route, we were going to take the old SH4, disconnected at multiple places by creeks and river crossings, but rewarded by views no less than Magical. I was supposed to start with the other 4 riders from Alibaugh, but had to alter my itinerary due to some personal emergency. As per the new plan, I would be joining them at Guhaghar by the end of the 3rd Day. It helped immensely that  my friend Mihir had arranged a Bergamont Vitox 6.3  for me from Pune which I was supposed to courier back once in Goa. So there I was sittting in the Swargate – Guhaghar ST bus, appreciating the countryside.

By around 5 pm , I was at Guhaghar. Guhaghar is a sleepy little town , with just a small hamlet of houses and shops, with the beach being 5 min walk. We saw lot of shops selling confectioneries made of local products like alphanso, kokum etc.

The home stay booked was just a km from the bus stand and an old gentleman , who turned out to be owner of the homestay, welcomed me with a big curious smile. He was keen to know more about the ride and was excited about the fact we are going to unpack and assemble the bike from the box. Krish, Varun, Sumit and Rajiv arrived a little later in the evening. This was the 3rd consequite day of riding for them, over some really hilly terrain. It was good to see them.

That night, over some fried surmai, fish curry rice and solkadi, I caught up with  Krish A, Sumit and others on stories and happenings in the last 3 days. Most of the talk was around the scenic beauty of the route, and the amount of climbing they have done. There was also a lot of talk on the road conditions and some great time they had riding on one of the beaches. I was really itching to start my trip.

Day 1 ( Guhaghar to Ganapatiphule , ~80 km)

My Ride Begins
 After a nice and long breakfast, we kicked off the day's ride at around 9.30 am. I had the freshest of legs, but I could instantly make out why the terrain has been the centre of the talk last night. Immediately after we crossed the town, the climbs started . The terrain remained heavily rolling for most of the day as we kept riding through the western ghats. We crossed forest stretches and lots of mango farms. 

The road leading to the Tavsal jetty
My First Ferry Crossing 

The ride so far was good, but to be frank, it was event-less. Also, the ' magic' I was expecting was missing, and I just hoped it would get better. Little after noon, we reached Tavsal, from where we had to catch the Ferry to Jaigarh.

Getting into the ferry, and on our way to Jaigarh
It was my first ferry ride after long, so I was looking forward to it. Not the same with the others though. They had boarded 4 ferries in the last 3 days, with one of them being a very adventurous one that could only take 2 bikes and 2 passengers at a time. They had to cross that one in 2 shifts. Anyways, I got to ride my first ferry of the trip soon, and we were at Jaigarh. 

The lunch at Jaigarh

It was around 1.30 pm, and we decided to stop at Jaigarh for lunch. Now, one of the reason I do bike tours is to taste the local cuisine. The idea is to stop at non fancy little places where locals eats. After a bit of searching , we located a small local eatery where  some truckers had stopped as well. 
The lunch at Jaigad. The mackarel fry was delicous.
The place served some great bangda( mackarel) thali. Here again, Krish, Sumit and others had started getting bored with the konkani cuisine. Sumit complained about lack of variations and said he can't take any more of that konkani fish curry. But, it was my first lunch of the trip and there was no way I was going to give up. I gorged on the fish and topped my glass of solkadi thrice.

The gateway to the beach ride. Waiting for Varun and Sumit.
I finally get to my share of Magic

I was still looking out for the 'spectacular' part of the ride and even starting to get a little impatient. A lot has been talked about the amazing views the route offers, but they had eluded me. Post lunch, the terrain seemed to have eased a little and the climbs were more gentle. It continued for another 10 km like that and after a sharp downhill, we found our self on a road right next to the beach. My first real view of the sea and the sand. Someone said 'lets get on to the sand', and we rode right on the beach. 

Yeh, our private beach.

Miles of miles of hard sand , not a soul in sight.
Riding on the sand, with the waves kissing our tires, I finally had my share of Magic
It was one one of the hardest sand beaches i have come across and the ride along the sea made the day. The evening sun shinning on sea, the cool breeze on our face, the hard sand beneath the tires with not a soul in sight. I finally had my share of the Magic I was so looking forward to. For 5 long kms, we had just the sea waves giving us company and then we got onto the tarmac again. One more hill and an hour later, we were at Ganaptiphule.
Around 5 km from Ganapatiphule

Unlike Guhaghar, this was a much bigger town. After a shower and visit to the famous Ganaptiphule temple, we walked down to one of the eateries that the locals recommended. Everyone was super hungry and we gorged on the food. Food was great, and that place seemed to be a hot among visiotors.The surmai fry was the best I had in a long time . On the walk back, we stopped by an ice cream parlour and chit chatted on the great time we had over multiple cup of amul ice creams.

Day 2 ( Ganapatiphule - Ratnagiri-Pawas-Adivare ~85 km)

We were all ready to start by 7 am, when one of us noticed that Varun had a flat. Apparently, Varun had missed inspecting his tire before the trip and has been having frequent flats since the last 4 days. On inspection, we realized there was actually no rubber in multiple places. Every change of tube in no time resulted in the next flat. It took some ingenious effort for the team and we eventually managed to start the ride at 8.30 am. Now we were not sure if his time is going to last  even for the next 5 km. The plan for Varun was to somehow reach Ratnagiri and then try looking for some tires. And just hope for the best:-)

After a nice long climb, we were at the outskirts of ganapatiphule, entering bhandarphule. Memories flashed back and I remembered my trip 15 years back when me and 2 of my roomates had taken a bus down here from pune and stayed at one of the cliff view resorts at Bhandarphule. From bhandarpule we had taken many walks down to Ganapatipule. 'The town has changed', I told myself .The familiarity made me feel good though. 

The Magic was Back!
The road runs along the sea
The terrain kept heavily rolling. The road cut through the western ghats like the day before, but this time we were right next to arabian sea offering us terrific cliff views. The Magic was back. It kept on like that for a pretty long time, and we kept shuffling between riding and taking pictures. It was the best part of the trip for me !
A coconut break
Cycle touring can be taxing on the body, and  mind. Many times, when the going gets tough,  I tend to ask myself  why I am doing this? Is it worth the suffering ? Part of the answer lies in roads like those that makes you forget all the pain.
The Magic was back. We stopped to appreciate the views
Riding by the sea, I could  answer myself why I had gone through all the sufferings

Some more answers to questions thrown by life!

The Tire Hunt for Varun

After many breaks, we reached Ratnagiri. On priority was to find a replacement tire for Varun's Bergamont. It was not going to be easy because the rim sizes used on these bikes are slightly different than the local rims. I mean different sizes. And guess what ? We actually found a shop who has tire for the rim! We were elated and celebrated the occasional with a lavish spread of breakfast on one of the local udupi restaurant.
Yeh, we got the tire! Jyoti Cyle store comes to our rescue.

Varun getting his tire replaced.

The View from top, Kishore Kumar and the Escape from Sun

Gentle rolling climbs, great surface

Post Ratnagiri we were greeted with some relatively flatter roads. The terrain was barren with open fields on both sides. We pushed on hard to cover some lost time, but the afternoon sun with and the occasional long climbs made it harder and harder. Finally we stopped at a lone shack on top of one climb.
Break Time!

I came to know Krish A had reached here almost an hour back and has waiting for the rest of us.  As soon as I hopped off the bike, Krish A informed us with a big smile that the shack makes some of the best masala chai, and he had savoured many cups till then. However, after sweating out in the sun for the last 2 hours, tea was last thing in my mind. I just crashed onto one of the benches the shop had and wished the ride just ended there for the day !
The Rejuvinating Lunch break
After 30 min or so, I woke up to the radio playing some lovely old kishore kumar songs and amidst some vada pav and misal pav related discussions. Aparently those were the 2 options available to eat. All of us feasted on both, and followed up many glasses of Kokum Sarbat.
The long rest has recharged us. It also helped that it was nearing 3.30 pm and the sun was not at its notorious best. It was time to move on.

The Adivare Sun temple and the flock of Hornbills

Vijaydurg was still around 50 km away, and we wanted to reach as close to it possible while the daylight lasted. Krish was as usual ahead of us when we saw the sign for the Kanakaditya sun temple, a  800 odd year old temple located in the forest. I realised Krish has missed the turn and Kedar, a friend of us , had told us repeatedly not to miss ' The Adivare temple'. We tried calling Krish, but there were no phone signal. The rest of us continued to the Kanakaditya Sun Temple. 

Through the forest, to the Sun temple
The route goes through forests and some steep hills, and it was a good little adventure ride. We temple has lovely architecture, the place was serene. We sat there for a long time , soaking in the serenity and chatting with the pujaris.

The Kanakaditya Sun Temple
The Sun Temple from a different angle

Just when we were about to start our ride back, I noticed a huge bird fly by, making a whosh-whosh sound by its wing. 'Hornbill' , I whispered in  Varun's ear. Never seen one before in real life, and I was thrilled. Soon we discovered the area has loads of Hornbills residing around in multiple trees. They seemed to be in harmony with the local people, and nobody seemed to care!

The hornbills! They were very shy, and every time we would try to take a pic they will shy away
The steepest climb of the whole trip. At least 50% steeper than any climb I have done till date!!

Krish A, the Flying Mascot!

The Adivare town was 3 km away, it was getting dark. Our headlights were on by the time we reached the town. 'Your friend was waiting for you  for the last 1.5 hours here!' one guy screamed.  'He went looking for you', another sighed. 'Where were you all?' , one more curious local wanted to figure out. We explained we could not co ordinate as phone signals were not working. and assured them not to worry. We told 'Krish would be back soon'. And so was Krish, in 20 minutes. We checked into Adivare temple guest house that night – the only accommodation in the town and used a local tailors phone to call our home .
Temple Guest House

To be Continued......

Monday, February 2, 2015

5 Reasons why cycling will get more mainstream in India

For a developing country like India, cycles are still commonly used in villages and small towns. While it is a means of commute there, our cities and urban areas have started adapting to cycles in a different way. We are starting to embrace the bicycle more as a lifestyle than just means of commute. And we trust that this change is here to stay and cycling will only become more mainstream in the coming years.

1. More and more Indians have taken up competitive cycling especially at a later stage

Image Courtesy: Hyderabad Racing League
Several Indians are now serious about competitive cycling. Some of these are active trekkers and mountaineers, while some are corporate employees who train in the comforts of weekends. In fact several competitive cyclists are those that have embraced the sport at a later stage in life.

In fact, currently several professional cycling teams such as The Specialized KYNKYNY Cycling Team have started being formed. Another huge inspiration is Anu Vaidyanathan, India's first woman to have completed an Ironman. She is also the only Asian (male or female) to compete and finish an Ultraman. 

In our very own Hyderabad, we have seen several competitive cyclists including Raman Garimella, an engineer who quit his IT job to take up professional cycling. He finished in the top 10 in the National Road Racing Championships in 2013 before moving to Germany to pursue his interests along with pursuing a masters degree in sports.

Dr. Vignan quit practising medicine in order to train to become an elite Ironman triathlete. He is representing Telangana in the ongoing National Games in Kerala. As of 2015, he has won Hyderabad, Thonnur and Pune Triathlon. He aspires to compete as an elite in Ironman 70.3 starting this year. 

2. The number of triathlons and brevets are on the rise

Image Courtesy: Hyderabad Brevets
The last few years have seen a steep rise in the number city-based races, brevets and triathlons. In 2010, brevets were organized only in 2 cities in India and by 2013, the same grew to a whopping 8 cities (which also includes Hyderabad). India is also ranked 14th worldwide in official brevet mileage. Randonneuring is here to stay and across the country, there have been some really inspiring randonneurs.

There is also a visible increase in the number of triathlons and bicycle races. Hyderabad itself has a Hyderabad Triathlon and the Hyderabad Racing League, which have been active in recent times.

3. Celebrities have embraced bicycles

Image Courtesy: www.bollywoodmantra.com
Recently, in an interview well known South Indian actor Sarath Kumar spoke about his love for cycling for close to 3 whole minutes. He is an avid cyclist and enjoys the sport not just for fitness, but has also ventured into competitive cycling.

Famous actor Vikram, also admits to have embraced cycling especially to lose weight as part of his preparation for the role in his recent movie, I.

In Bollywood’s scheme of fitness, actor Siddharth Malhotra (of Student of the Year fame) has also been spotted cycling on busy streets of Mumbai. And Bollywood’s poster boy for a muscular physique, Salman Khan has constantly supported cycling and has also been spotted several times commuting on his bicycle!

4. Our roads have bike lanes!

Image Courtesy: bangalore.citizenmatters.in
Officially, the municipal corporations have started recognizing the need for dedicated cycling lanes. In a country where most cities have clogged roads, more bicycles will in fact ensure lesser traffic!

This started with Bangalore introducing a bicycle lane in Jayanagar. Though it was not exactly a complete success, the Directorate of Urban Land Transport has planned 3 more dedicated cycling corridors. There is a plan to include a 22km cycle lane in Gurgaon as well.

Hyderabad also has dedicated bicycling lanes in Gachibowli along with the option of renting bicycles. This trend is bound to increase the number of people opting to commute by bicycles more regularly.

5. Because, cycling is the new golf

Image Courtesy: www.caleidoscope.in
There have been recent reports that cycling is replacing golf as the networking sport in America. For a country like India, where golf never caught on, cycling definitely is a sought after sport for networking. In fact this sport can be easily embraced by corporations to better build teams and need not necessarily be competitive as golf thereby helping build better working relationships. In golf you are necessarily competing against each other, whereas in cycling, a group enhances the energy levels. 

In the current culture and lifestyle where exercise is external to everyday work, this is a fun chance to merge the two.