Update for the cyclists taking part in Cycle India 2010:
During our recent trip to India, Dr Prasad and I visited the Coorg area to check out the route for Cycle India. We travelled with a group of people including Nitin, the organiser of Cycle India, and Dr Siva (one of the organisers of the 2008 event who is helping and taking part again).
There will be a number of amendments to the initial Cycle ride itinerary. I’ll ask Nitin to send me an update to add to the website, but in the meantime, the main alterations I will discuss below.
We didn’t visit Mysore which will be the place we spend our first night in India, so I can’t comment on the accommodation, but have been assured it is a decent hotel and Nitin has organised for sightseeing etc after our journey from Bangalore. We will also be introduced to our bikes, which Nitin is hoping will be ‘Firefox’ bikes, which crucially will have gears (and brakes).
For day one of the cycling, we’ll travel by coach to the starting point which will be around 1.5 hour journey. The following picture shows the starting point, which will be near a small school and on the edge of a village:
The beginning of the bike ride is pretty flat, and the road is very quiet which will help us all get used to the bikes.
I do need to stress that the overall event is a lot hillier than Cycle India 2008, and Day 1 will be the toughest day. We’ll be climbing to Madikeri which is around 3,500 ft above sea level, from a starting point of around 2000 ft above sea level. There are no steep climbs, but there are a few long gradual climbs we will need to overcome. Siva is going to revisit the Coorg in the next couple of months and cycle the first day just to make sure it is not too tough.
We’ll be staying in the Hotel Crystal Court at the end of Day 1 and day 2. The following webpage gives you an idea: http://www.nivalink.com/crystalcourt/index.html. It is quite basic, but clean and tidy and should OK for the two nights.
Madikeri is the main town in the Coorg, and is on the top of a hill, so the good news is that days 2-4 are mostly downhill, although it is undulating in parts. I must stress that everyone needs to make sure they are reasonably fit, and not just turn up without having done a bit of exercise (like I did last time ). If anybody finds any of the hills a bit tricky, then there’s always the option of pushing the bikes for a bit, or if the going is really tough then the coach will be available.
The advantage of cycling through the Coorg is the fantastic scenery:
The roads are on the whole pretty good, although there will be a few pot holes to navigate in places:
During Day 2, we’ll visit Abbey Falls which we visited this time. With the monsoon weather, the scene was very dramatic, although I understand there will still be plenty of water in January:
At the end of Day 3, we’ll be staying near to the Dubbare Elephant sanctuary. With it being Monsoon season, much of the Coorg was flooded while we were there, and the area close to where we are staying at the end of Day 3 was no exception:
There’s around six cottages at this location, so each cottage may house around 4 people each. It may be that the guys may need to be in tents on this night, or in a dormitory style if there’s a large room.
At the end of Day 4, we’ll be staying in an old Coorg house with real rustic charm courtesy of a retired army general. There are a few rooms in the main house, but most of the group will be housed in a dormitory area in the following building:
Originally, we were planning having a Day 5 of cycling, but we’ve decided to cut this out of the programme so the bike ride will be shorter than 190 miles. The main reason for cutting Day 5 is it will create time to visit the Heal Children’s Village in Guntur.
We’ll travel back to Bangalore and spend the night at the Green Valley Resort (see http://www.travelguru.com/india-hotels/bangalore-hotel-green-valley-resorts.html) instead. Then, the next day, we’ll fly to Vijayawada so that we can visit the village. During Cycle India 2008, we cycled to the village, and it was the highlight of the event for most people. We feel it is important for all the cyclists taking part to meet the kids, and see where all the fundraising is being spent.
We may also visit the location of some land Heal is trying to purchase near Vijayawada where we hope to build our biggest ever project – a new model residential school for 1000 orphaned and underprivileged children. If everything goes to plan, then we may have a ceremony at the land to formally lay the foundation stone, before building starts.
The money we raise from Cycle India will be used to help build the school, so the more we raise, the better facilities for the children. The location is very picturesque at the side of a hill and bordering a lake (although it is dried up on this picture):
After spending the afternoon with the children, we’ll take an overnight sleeper train to Hyderabad for our final day in India.
Initially, the idea was for this day to be an opportunity to hold a press conference with the local and national media (there will be a lot of interest in India for our bike ride) and the chance for a bit of shopping.
However, we are looking into the idea of spending an hour or two cycling around the Hussain Sagar Lake (visit http://happyhyderabad.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/hussainsagar.jpg) which will create a lot of publicity for Heal. If we do organise this, then it will be an opportunity for a few VIPs from Hyderabad to join us cycling.
Hopefully, I haven’t frightened anyone when I mentioned the hilly terrain. During Cycle India 2008 we cycled around 250 miles, whereas this time we’ll be cycling around 160 miles over 4 days. Also, we’ll have better bikes this time, so I’m confident we’ll all be OK.
There will be quite a bit of travelling also, so everyone needs to be prepared for a busy schedule. Once Nitin has fully amended the itinerary then I’ll update everyone.
Head of Fundraising
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