This time last year, I was on my course to climb the mighty mountains on the Western Ghats, the Agumbe and Kundadri, where the average gradient line goes from a mere 2-3% to as high as ~23%, and considered one of the fieriest climbs in our entire region!!
I had relocated from Mumbai / Udupi to Mangalore and had just started riding with Mangalore Cycling Club (MACC) team. For a person riding happily for about 10~12km of beach ride in Udupi, the 20+km morning roller coaster rides in Mangalore itself were daunting!! Then came the Agumbe and Kundadri hybrid ride, lead by Godfrey and Laksh!!
My first tryst with 10km Agumbe climb was accomplished under 2hrs, with Godfrey all the way by my side talking and motivating me until the top. The subsequent 3km climb to Kundadri was a complete no-go. By the time I reached the gate (starting section of Kundadri Climb), I was hapless, my legs wavering, my hands not ready to hold the handle bar, my heart beat maxing out, sweat ticking from my face. When I stopped at the gate I realized that it was my tears notwithstanding the suffering!! I fell on the grass hoping that someone will carry me to the top. From then on, I couldn’t muster my energy to ride the bike instead, I used my bike as support to drag my body to the top!! Well, this 3km stretch took me more than 2hrs as, I walked 99% of the climb, barring few flat stretches near the Kundadri welcome arch!! Shhhhh . . . none of the photo sessions on top of Kundadri, had revealed this ordeal…
That was my limit then.
These 2 boys, Godfrey and Laksh had left an everlasting impression in my minds, simply because the way they motivate riders, energize the atmosphere and provide valuable inputs, while climbing up and down several times along with each rider and you won’t believe, they had clocked Kundadri under 30min!!
As Albert Einstein said, “once we accept our limits, try to go beyond them.. learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning”. Knowing my limits, the challenges I faced and the terrain I witnessed, my goal was to climb Kundadri nonstop, atleast once!! Thus began my drill to build the base by improving my fitness, learn the techniques, correct use of the equipment, knowing about Heart Rate, suffer zones, the hydration & nutrition facts!! With daily rides with team MACC, information shared on MACC WhatsApp group and few long touring with experienced riders, it was a transformation for me on Kundadri climb this time, from no-go to go-through!! I could accomplish Kundadri non-stop, well within 30min and yes, with my cleat shoes on!!
Altogether, it was a ~300km cycling tour, covering the mesmerizing routes from the coast to the western ghats, with some exclusive night ride on Agumbe, early morning ride to Kundadri and the ever loving Kudremukh downhill. I was accompanied by Shyamprasad Nayak, Anil Shet, the new sensation of MACC Smith Javiya, a 15 year old kid and the ever loving pro rider Laksh!
The WhatsApp message from Dr. Ramraj, my morning ride partner read “the demon of Kundadri has been tamed by you”. I would rather say, the demon in us is defeated after we accomplish Kundadri :-)