Friday, 26 June 2009

R.I.P Michael Jackson

Other than sketching these un-recognizable drawings on my whiteboard, I played couple of MJ songs ("Dangerous" and "They don't care about us") on the speaker during evening time.

As WSW tweeted earlier,
We have all tried to moonwalk once in our life.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Trip Report: Doddamakali Nature Camp

I and few friends of mine went to Doddamakali Nature Camp over the weekend. It's a jungle lodge on the banks of Kaveri around 130 KM from Bangalore. Other than enjoying the greenery, you can sip on Kingfisher Premium Lager Beer, jump into the waters of Kaveri, play volleyball, and do a bit of fishing.

Following are the details.

Onward Journey

The route is pretty straightforward
  1. Head towards the national park on Bannerghatta road.
  2. Take the right heading towards NICE road.
  3. Proceed around 7 KM on NICE and take the left to Kanakpura road.
  4. Enjoy the beautiful Kanakpura road (NH-209) for around 80 KM. You will pass Kanakpura ;keep on going.
  5. In between the road becomes a bit rugged, but it smoothens out soon. When you hit a "T" junction, take a left.
  6. Go around 7 KM and you will see a board saying "Doddamkali Fishing Camp" and asking you to take a left. Follow the board's directions.
  7. Head another 8 KM and you will reach near the camp.
Of course the actual camp is another 8.8 KM away. It's all loose gravel and controlling the bike becomes quite difficult. The last 2 KM are especially treacherous as it is all down hill. I managed to balance the bike successfully till the last moment, when I saw the camp; exulted; lost concentration; and the bike fell down.

Day One

The camp is set on the banks of the Kaveri river. On the other bank one can see hills and lot of greenery. The river itself has lots of rocks; lending more to the scenery.

Figure 1: Rocky Kaveri and the Hills.

There are 10 tent houses. Each of which can be occupied by 2 people, but more can fit in if needed. The tents houses also have attached bathrooms and one hammock. We booked the accomodation online.

Figure 2: Tent House.

After checking in, the first order of business was beer. The camp provides KF and Foster's at Rs 110/- for a 650 ml bottle. For non-drinkers you also get the usual soft drinks (bah!). We sipped on beer while enjoying the view.

Figure 3: Sipping on beer, whilst enjoying the view.

After the beer, we got us some life-jackets and dove into Kaveri. The water is pretty shallow on the bank, but gets suddenly deep. The life jackets are provided by the camp people and you don't need to pay anything extra for them.

Figure 4: Goofing around in Kaveri.

The swimming left us quite hungry and we proceeded for the lunch. The food was just OK. Mostly vegetarian, with one Chicken curry. The rice was good though. After the lunch we took a quick nap.

At 4:30 PM we woke up for Tea/Coffee. I liked their tea better than their coffee -- the coffee was made from instant coffee powder. We also got some Marie biscuits, which I don't like too much and didn't have any.

The next activity was the Corakel Ride. For the unintiated a corakel is a round boat made of wood. The guide took us through portions of the river, telling us where the crocodiles live(!).

Figure 5: Corakel Ride.

We followed up the Corakel ride with Joy Fishing. I'm not sure why it's called "Joy Fishing" and not just "Fishing". Basically what you do is that, you get a nylon thread at the end of which there is a hook. They give you some atta (dough) which you then put on the hook. Throw the hook into the water; hold onto the thread; and hope you catch something. Many times you will find that the atta is gone, but there is no fish caught in the hook. Apparently, it's your first time, but not the fishes'.

You don't get any fancy fishing equipment, but this is enough -- as proven by Alan (Figure 6).

NB: You will see many photos in which there are people who have caught HUGE fishes. Don't be intimidated by them.

NB: If you are lucky enough to catch a fish, you will have to throw it back into the water -- after posing for a photo, of course.

Figure 6: Alan catches one!

After the fishing expedition we headed back to our tent houses and freshened up. We were promised a bonfire and snacks in the evening. And we weren't dissappointed. The bonfire was started at around 7 PM, and we were served Bhajji, peanuts, and some chicken. Of course, there was beer as well.

Figure 7: Bonfire.

Once we were done with the snacks, we had dinner. Like the lunch, it was just OK. We had a light dinner and called it a day.

Day Two

The second day's activities were sparse, as we had to check out at 11 AM. The wake up call was at 6 AM, followed by morning tea. Just after tea, we started for a short trek (or as the forest guy called it a "truck"). The trek was towards the more rockier portion of the river. Although, we didn't take any life-jackets this time, we did go into the water and touched few rocks.

Figure 8: Morning Trek.

After the trek, we came back to the camp, and had breakfast. The breakfast, unlike the lunch and dinner, was quite good. The menu had Maggi, Bread/Omelet, and Poori Masala.

Once the breakfast was over, it was almost time to checkout and head back.

Return Journey

We packed up and started back at around 11:30 AM. The main concern was the 2 KM uphill stretch which was covered with loose gravel. Fortunately it wasn't as bad as when it was while coming down and was covered with ease.

We took the same route as we did while coming; took a couple of breaks in between; had lunch; and finally reached back at around about 5:00 PM.

A good trip.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

No More Juggling

Few days back I took up juggling. There were 3 stress balls lying nearby my office cubicle and I used to practice the 3 ball cascade, whenever I got the time. Of course, people noticed and the stress balls got a new owner -- ME. Given that I was just starting out, the juggling wasn't always smooth and I would drop the balls pretty frequently. So they had a tendency to get lost or go underneath tables, upon which I would ask the person seated to kick them out. Also, as I would keep them on my desk, people used to take them away -- sometimes because they were feeling stressed.

Now if you haven't already got it. I was the surrogate owner of three stress balls. They used to get kicked, lost, played with, and the thing they do with stress balls.

I leave it to the reader's imagination, how many awkward sentences were spoken and later corrected, as well as qualified, with the speaker referring to the juggling balls as "your balls".

No thank you, I don't want to juggle anymore.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Bicycle Commute: Second Impressions

Today I rode my bicycle to office for the second time. I wanted to do it last Friday itself but because of the trip to Hampi, things didn't go as planned.

Both the onward and the return rides were blissful. While going, I started early (6:30 AM) and reached office in half an hour. While coming back, there was a slight drizzle and although it took more time, it was a pleasant ride despite the traffic. The only casualty on the way back was my backpack, which got all muddy -- yes, I do have mudguards; maybe they are defunct.

Figure 1, Really Muddy Targus Backpack

This time around there were a bunch of things which I forgot to pack while commuting. So I have gone and made my own bicycle commute checklist to prevent future blunders.

Figure 2, Rohit's Bicycle Office Commute Checklist
(your mileage may differ)

Other Notes:
  1. Speed breakers are your friends -- it's fun to jump over them without slowing down.
  2. I feel much taller than rest of the traffic when on my cycle.
  3. There's no better feeling than when you switch gears; the chain snaps to the correct sprocket; the pedals move in sync with your feet -- neither too fast, nor with too much resistance.
  4. I feel much lighter and in more control when I'm on a cycle than when on a motorbike.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Bicycle Commute: First Impressions

Today I drove my bicycle to work and back. My office is around 10 KM from home. I started the trip towards office at 7:15 AM. There was very little traffic and overall the ride was smooth. I was a bit circumspect about shifting gears and mostly stayed on the 4th gear (2-4, if you are curious). The trip was finished in 35:15.

While coming back I started at 4:45 PM. This time around I was much braver with the gears and was happily playing around with them. The traffic was medium density. I took 46:33 to cover the distance.

Other Notes:
  1. Switching from a motorbike to a bicycle also requires a reflex switch -- I was looking inside my non-existent rear-view mirrors.
  2. There is a proper way to shift gears, which every newbie cyclist must learn.
  3. Overtaking buses at the bus-stop from either side is not a very bright idea -- they will anyway overtake you.
  4. You have a super-power(?) which makes you invisible to Bangalore auto-wallahs.
  5. Major advantage at traffic jams/signals: you can pick up the bike, become a pedestrian, and easily come to the front.
  6. Cycling on Domlur flyover is slightly scary. On both ways there is a left turn, which you should be very wary of, if you are going straight.
  7. There are many slow-moving-idiots-on-vehicles whose egos get hurt, as soon as you pass them. And when this happens they will accelerate, causing problems for you.

    They remind me of the slow-moving-runners who increase their pace, when you near them. They feel that they are in front, and you shouldn't pass them. Of course, you are not really overtaking them consciously; you are just maintaining your pace. But they feel hurt and they try to run faster. You, being wiser, and a much more awesome runner, know that they won't be able to maintain the increased pace and happily remain behind them. Within 5 minutes, they are behind you. In 10 minutes, you are a dot to them, which seems to get smaller and smaller*.

  8. I'm getting overly paranoid that someone might steal my bike. I have couple of locks, but I'm thinking of buying another (better) one.
  9. The overall experience was good. You get to see more things.
  10. This point left intentionally blank (or is it?).
* When you are on a cycle and the other guy is on a motorbike, the last part doesn't really happen.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Got myself a new ride

I had been thinking of buying a bicycle for quite some time (read 2 months). After ages of procrastination, I decided to move my ass and buy one. My budget was around Rs 7000. Of course rather than researching too much I just went by word of mouth and decided on the Hero Octane.

So yesterday, as suggested by a friend, I went to Raja Cycle Mart (opposite town hall) to make the purchase. I didn't want to scout at all, I just wanted to make the purchase and start cycling. Unfortunately that didn't happen. When I went to the shop, the young blighter attending to me was least interested in making a sale. I had to go to him, ask questions, and dig out information. He wasn't rude or anything, just plain uninterested. Also, they didn't have the Hero Octane or any cycling helmets and I was asked to come back next week.

Dissappointed I returned home, but I wasn't going to stop trying. I scouted for other shops in Bangalore. In the meantime I also found from the web that the Octane may not be a good choice for a road-bike because of its rear-suspension -- it causes the cycle to bob up and down, and few found that irritating. A better alternative was the BSA Hercules Ryders ACT 105.

I found a BSA shop right next doors -- BSA Track and Trail on Koramangala 80ft road. I went there, but they didn't have the ACT 105. They had the 106, 108, Bianchi Cannondale (fancy bikes), but not the one which I was looking for.

Not to be let down, I called up a friend who had recently purchased a bike. She recommended a BSA shop on Commercial Street, near Safina Plaze. It was called BSA Go. So I drove down there, and found the shop to be pretty decent. They had the bike which I wanted, they had helmets, locks, etc. I promised the shop owner that I will come tomorrow and take the bike away. And that's what I did.

Figure 1, BSA Hercules Ryders ACT 105


Bicycle: Rs 7600
Helmet: Rs 400
Chain lock: Rs 200
Total: Rs 8200

I took the bike home back in an auto (the auto fellow charged my Rs 20 extra, understandably). The cycle was met with a lot of approval by the kids in my galli. I test drove it to a friend's place, around 3 KM away. And because of my striking blue helmet, I was being noticed by one and all.

The main goal of this purchase is cross-training on Sundays -- running is still the first priority. But, I do plan to commute few days to office as well.

For a greener tomorrow, ONWARD!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Retrospection and Planning


After 5 weeks' worth of training for the Sunfeast 10K, I fell short of my sub-50 min target. My main mistake was to not get a timing-chip, as the timing-chip folks were let out on the track before the rest. I got very less stretches in the race where I could maintain a constant pace, as evidenced by the following chart.

Figure 1: Sunfeast 10K, Pace vs Distance

Notice how uneven the pace is across the whole distance. Other than from the 2KM mark to the 3.5 KM mark, the whole race is full of spikes. There is an exceptionally large one near the 7.5 KM mark, where I seem to have spent more than the usual time in avoiding slow folks. Even at the last 1KM stretch there is no change in the pace, forget a sprint.


Ever since I started training for my first half-marathon in August of 2008, the full marathon had always been in my mind. Of course, when I ran my first half-marathon, I realized that it wasn't that easy.

At the end of last year, when I was just recovering from 2 weeks' worth of fever, I decided that I will do the full distance in 2009. And now that the Sunfeast 10K is over, it's the ideal time to start training.

I have chosen Hal Higdon's Novice 1 plan for training. But as the marathon which I'm planning to run is sooner than the duration of the plan, I have skipped 3 weeks and started from week 4.

Training goals (other than covering the distances in the plan):
  1. Do strength training -- I have neglected this quite a bit.
  2. Reduce the amount of crap which I eat.
  3. Drop a few kilos to run better.
Race goals:
  1. As this is my first, the goal is just to finish. It's an automatic PB.
And, oh yeah, I plan to run the Kaveri Trail Marathon organized by RFL and the Bangalore Hash on September 13th. Hopefully it will be a good way to celebrate one year of running.