Short Stories, Treks and more :)

Cadence90 Sunday morning ride to BU - 22 June 2014

More than 2 months since my last ride with awesome bunch of cyclists turning up for Cadence90 morning rides on weekends, I was joining again. After the ride, I was in two minds to write yet another morning ride piece on my blog. But after midnight robbery (somewhere between 2:30 AM to 6 AM on 26 June morning, if my landlady is to be believed), I feel like recording my last ride - the loss is hurting even though I knew the risk before buying the bike from Decathlon on March 8.

I stay on 3rd floor of an independent house and the one occasion of hauling a friend's cycle up and down the cramped staircase had almost proved fatal. The only convenient option was to lock the bike in the small passage to left of steps - easily visible to street goers and no challenge in intruding other than someone happening to pass by or extreme misfortune of making loud enough noise to awaken those sleeping in ground floor. The chain lock was left wound to iron railings of staircase - my best guess is that the thief simply unwound the 1 or 2 loops from metal bar below seat. Earlier this month, my brother had lost (or stolen) the smartphone I had gifted him. My camera was ripped from baggage during bus travel to Rajasthan in February 2010. Clearly, some conspiracy here? :D (Update: a car stolen from next street last night - anyone got a solution to track vehicles after it is stolen?)

So, unless I move to a new place where I can keep a bike inside my room, I won't be buying another :( My fitness options are now going to be limited to trekking and running, but the greater pain is losing a commute option from Indiranagar to say Jayanagar/JP Nagar/Basavanagudi and obviously the weekend morning rides.

Coming back to topic, I had kept two alarms to avoid earlier lapse, but woke with first one itself. As with my first Cadence90 morning ride, I actually ended up reaching first - few minutes before alloted 6 AM. We started from Jayanagar around 6:20 AM (myself, Parameshwar, Narayan, Satish and Manjunath) - the waiting time talk centered around Dipankar's 54 hr 10 minute 1000km brevet. Not long after, it was left to Manjunath to guide me as the other three went well ahead, being accomplished riders and later joined by Phaneesh.

As we joined Outer ring road (with many ups and downs) near Banashankari 3rd stage, I got to see complicated route bus 201 going past stops like Kathriguppe on the way to Srinagar (someday I hope I will get to ride end-to-end :P)

Crazy bus route 201 :P
While downhills were thrilling (crossed 40 kmph), the many climbs (often gentle up slope for considerable distance) was challenging. That I could keep pace with Manjunath proved mutually beneficial. Now and then he would pass me tidbits of info of places we were crossing, previous rides, etc.

We turned left from Outer ring road to Gnana Bharathi Main road, greeted by the sprawling campus of Bangalore University. Flanked on both sides by trees, a polluted tributary of Cauvery (Nagarbhavi Thorai), long stretches of ups and downs, the overwhelming feeling was that of passing through a hill. Lots of early morning walkers, runners, cyclists were around and play grounds never empty.

The four of them were waiting for us at the end of road joining Bangalore University Road. After few minutes of rest and chit chat, we started the apparently famous round trip of BU road. Many other cyclists were doing their rounds and some of them branching to side road as we went past. The down slope was quite mesmerizing, enhanced by grey sky and chilling wind. That meant the return steep climb was daunting.

After one round, we all had tender coconut, except for Satish who went ahead for his second round! By the time we had our fill and cycling discussions, Satish had finished round two. And then about to start back, decision was changed to include yet another round trip :D Though I wasn't as exhausted as some of my earlier long rides, I played safe and didn't venture to sleep downhill. I didn't also want to keep others waiting.

Our next stop was for breakfast. Phaneesh left us to go directly to his place. Narayan was telling about some 100+ rides in coming monsoon months. The uphill to join outer ring road wasn't as tough I thought it would be. But generally, the pace was lot slower way back on outer ring road compared to morning. Climbs kept coming and descents seemed few and far apart. One particular steep climb in Banashankari 3rd stage was overwhelming.

Around 8:30 AM, we reached Kavali off Vidyapeeta Main road. The hotel is quite small, with barely enough walking space between eating tables. As is my norm during rides or trekking, I preferred idli+vada without even checking the menu. But was swayed to taste the unusual varities of dosa - I went with Manjunath's choice : Sprout dosa. Turned out a excellent choice, can't remember the last time I enjoyed dosas so much - I even gobbled few green chilly. Followed by half pineapple dosa - the sweetness not so gelling well with green chillies and chutney, but still good in its own way. I noted baby-corn dosa to be tried next time. Next we had Coffee (small size tumbler, but still quite good for just Rs 6). Oh, I so wish Kavali comes to Indiranagar soon. Much of discussion centered around Railways - fare hike, politics, unions, etc etc.

Going back towards Jayanagar, Satish and Manjunath were hatching a plan to Nandi. As I left them near metro, they bid goodbyes and to meet again in future rides. I told I was leaving to Rajasthan for two weeks and hopefully join in July. Little did I know that my cycle itself was vanish within four days.

And so, I am going to remember this 50+ kilometer ride more than it warrants compared to earlier cherished rides. I hadn't even required to pump air for 100 odd days I had the bike covering 600+ km. Even though there were minor issues, the loss has heightened the feeling that I had come to like it. Hope whoever uses it next would enjoy too.

Make Day by Brainstars

After attending Make Day organized by Brainstars (Gandhi Bazaar Circle, Basavanagudi), I so wish I had concentrated on tinkering with stuffs than rote learning. I know it is not too late for that even now, but being the lazy bum that I am, I doubt it'll happen.

Took about 45 minutes to reach on my cycle and another 15 minutes for breakfast nearby. To ensure one doesn't miss any exhibits, we had to earn 'OK' stamp from all volunteers to finally receive a certificate (plus a kite).

The first one was 3D Doodler. This is handheld version of 3D Printer. Some sort of specialized plastic is inserted and two speed buttons to control drawing. My attempt to draw a circle turned into a broken quadrilateral. As you can see from above pictures, kids got creative.
Some exhibits were still coming up, so I took time to look around the place. I could spot little things given the creative touch.
Next was hands-on tinkering with a programming tool called 'Scratch'. To put it simply, one can create animations - be it for stories or games. A platform for learning to code with loads of fun. The kid in blue-white t-shirt was quick to understand the basics and had never ending questions to be answered.
Makey Makey taught concept of circuit in a very simple and effective manner. We played games and made music by touching each other or tapping fruits.
Make spirit was soaring for puppet show. Kids and adults alike took to drawing and cutting shapes. I especially liked Aditya's three gears working model of his Innovation 101 logo.


Finally, I got to see a 3D printer. I am still not convinced about its usability given high cost of investment and materials. But perhaps like other technologies, it'll improve and become household product. Apparently, there are houses built in China using 3D printers!

Vinod from New Horizon College came across as a very passionate guy about working aircraft models as well as tinkering with principles to create his own versions. He is even conducting workshops and handing out certificates that help students in strengthening their career prospects.
I missed the last exhibit in order to attend another workshop (Aditya's Innovation 101). Overall, the ability of kids to be open minded, curious, patient, no preconceived inhibitions as well as their parents' willingness to look beyond stereotype education was heart warming. 3 idiots movie crossed my mind more than once and I wish I had been forced to tinker with stuff than encouraged to aspire for top marks.

Photo credits: Jasmeet Singh
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