Day 1 - Ready Steady... N Go

Riding with fitness crazy people comes with its own fun /perils /  challenges /craziness whatever it may be, depending on your own fitness levels. 

So the first day of the ride, was supposed to be 100km easy ride. Easy because a good 60 odd Km being downhill, 20 more rolling (to be explained / experienced) later and only the last 20 being a climb. (This would be the first day that would raise doubts about Hrushi's Garmin distances). So technically it should have been just a 40 km ride, piece of cake...or so we thought.

A glimpse of what the entire road looked like early morning. It was one of the best downhills ever. Great tarmac, sparse traffic, cold mist and dense woods.

5.30 am, everyone's on the saddle, breakfast of jam n toast in the bellies, brakes checked and ready to sail. Only one slight glitch...no visibility beyond 50 mtrs. Awesome!!!  Riding down those twists and turns... full speed ahead, with car blinkers and headlights to warn us of vehicles around us and the entire pine forest shrouded in mist was a mind-boggling experience. Eerie.. but damn exciting. 

 

With Captain being very strict about being the last person, it meant that I had to do intervals in order to get pics - Race ahead of the pack, stop, click pictures and start with Captain again. Looked like a cake walk on the downhills but came back to hurt later on during the day. 

Layers n layers of hills, some shrouded in mist some bathing in sunlight, a few villages strewn on the slopes and a winding road passing through them.  A haven for cyclists!

Layers n layers of hills, some shrouded in mist some bathing in sunlight, a few villages strewn on the slopes and a winding road passing through them.  A haven for cyclists!

The last 20 km of the downhill were rolling (more ups & downs... rather more ups than downs) and by the time we reached the base, the Sun was out and it was hot and humid. We ended up cycling beside the Sutlej, with not so great views. The weather and the constant ups n downs made it all the more tiring. At Rampur, a slow town traffic made matters worse. Finally we caught up with the lead vehicle outside Rampur, by a roadside Dhaba. We gobbled up a paratha and started our climb towards Jeouri. 

Having Captain at the helm meant the schedule was tight with strict deadlines in place. Atleast for the longer rides. Today in order to attempt the climb of Sarahan, we had a cut off of noon (or was it 2 pm?) at Jeouri. Being the crazy people that we were, all of us despite enjoying the ride and stopping at every possible scenic location along the way to click photos or selfies, we pushed harder to reach before the cut off. Coz, after all the fun always was in the climbs. 11 kms before Jeouri, we had our first set of casualties.  Sid, followed by Hrushi started suffering from intense cramps due to dehydration. They literally had to stop, take ORS and before getting back on the saddle. Many of us also started getting cramps and slowed down.

Near Jeouri another obstacle appeared ... Rain. The one thing you don't want on a climb and specifically when you are tired. We pulled up at Jeouri, well within the deadline, but had to stop in order to get out of the way of persistent rain.

There were quite a bit of discussions and failed negotiations with Cap, about attempting the climb, but in the end everyone ended up in the back of the car and going up to Sarahan. (The discussions were pacified by a delicious chinese meal at Jeouri) 

The 20 km climb through apple, apricot and pear laden orchards, was a sight to behold. As always we wished that we could stay there forever. Once at the top, we checked into the hotel, (one with a beautiful view), freshened up and went to work on the bikes. That being done, the next plan was to visit the local temple (Wooden carved) and take a walk in the pheasant sanctuary nearby. 

The walk gave us some good views of the mountains, and we hoped to catch a sight of the Sun's last rays hitting the peaks. Amal made a beautiful bouquet of wild flowers that he picked on the way. 

A beautiful evening comes to an end. The temple stands tall amidst the smaller houses and the sunset sky

A beautiful evening comes to an end. The temple stands tall amidst the smaller houses and the sunset sky

Back at the hotel, we celebrated Hrushi's birthday with a cake and delicious food, followed by a very interesting discussion about the womenfolk of Iran & Himachal. 

Everyone retired early, as the next day was supposed to be another gruelling 100 km ride, and more tougher than that of today. .. 

Peeping through the clouds, the Sun casts its rays over the valley one last time.

Peeping through the clouds, the Sun casts its rays over the valley one last time.