Category: Cycling

Ride to Singur Dam

Karthik came on the dot at 5:30 and I went down after a few minutes while we both waited for Sreekanth to fix the front wheels on his synapse, Krish and Venky passed us one after the other to the shop. They were doing a smaller trail ride to Himayat Sagar (to avoid some family tensions  later in the dayWinking smile). When Sreekanth was finished, Sunil a colleague of Karthik joined us  after a  few minutes and we started towards Miyapur junction at 5:45. After about 10 minutes we reached the Miyapur junction to join with the other riders( Richard, Phani, Sasanth, Ravi) from the city and Gautham, it seemed like they have been waiting for a considerable amount of time. We exchanged greetings and it was nearly 6 when we started towards the Singur Dam. Singur Dam is about 70 Km from my home and we heard that it was a little remote place with lot of greenery on the way. Nagaphanender (Phani) had initiated the idea for the ride, and we all tagged along. The group started splitting into pairs with each pair trying to manage their own speed. The first and the last pair had almost 2km distance for most part of the ride. I tagged along with Richard on his Trek road bike doing around 28 km/hr. and we chatted about the Velominati rules and other cycling stuff.  The roads were empty except for a few trucks passing on both the sides of the NH. The sun was trying come out of the clouds from behind while we were riding through a mild chill breeze. We took a first break to regroup after about 20 odd kilometers. Richard got busy with his cam and I tried my bit to get the sun. clip_image002 After about 3 minutes or so we started again, and Richard got excited by a bus that overtook us and he started drafting it and in no time was he off our sight, and I guess he was riding around 60 km/ hr. behind the bus easily. As we rolled some interested villagers asked questions about the bike, the ride destination etc. I didn’t stop to answer, because I knew Karthik who was a little behind me knew better Telugu than me. I continued while he answered them and caught up.  We slowed down at Kandi to wait for Gautham and Sunil as they were planning to return back from there. They came around in a few minutes and decided to do another 2 more km till Sangareddy and turn back. Meanwhile we were discussing where they could return back, Ravi and Sasanth crossed us. We started after a few moments behind Sasanth only to see him stop for a answering a call at Sangareddy and Ravi stopped as well. I was eager to catch up with Sreekanth and Phani that I continued past the Sangareddy junction and then realized that I had forgotten to wave bye to Gautham and Sunil. I didn’t see any purpose turning back to just wave bye, so I continued at a good pace trying to catch up with the roadies (Richard on this Carbon Trek, Sreekanth on his Cannondale Synapse and Phani on his Madone 5.2) ahead of me. Finally caught up with them just before Sadashivpet only because they had decided to  stop and wait for us.  We found out that Richard had a max speed of 74 km/hr while he drafted the second bus (Serious kick ass stuff from Richard).  After a few minutes Karthik came and we waited for few more minutes, but no sign of Ravi and Sasanth. So decided to go a little further and stop around the right turn on highway and wait there. We hardly rode for 10 minutes when we hit the right turn. We crossed over to the right and stopped so that we won’t miss Sasanth and Ravi. Just as we stopped Phani fell from his Madone as he couldn’t un-cleat in time to avoid the fall. While we waited and tried calling Sasanth, Richard became popular among the locals near the tea shop at the corner. The locals had all sorts of questions about us and took pictures with Richard, even tried his bike and we were still waiting. After 10 odd minutes, Sasanth and Ravi crossed us and we stopped them and redirected them toward the tea shop and then we took another 10 minutes for Sasanth and Ravi to get refreshed.  During the break Ravi was telling us on how the saddle hurt as he wasn’t used to the road saddle and sadly for him it was his first ride on the Btwin Sport1. We did do minor adjustments to his bike before we started again. Never would he have imagined about what was more to come. The road was pretty much single lane thereon with almost no vehicles. Both the side of the roads had lush green fields and we crossed some small villages as the road meandered through the fields and empty lands with cattle grazing around. We stopped at junctions to ask for directions some time and some time to take snaps.  At most the villages we were greeted with a curious look as though we were aliens thanks to the costumes and the helmets we were wearing, and most of the time kids chased us till the end of their villages for fun. clip_image003 Riding through a village, we almost  hit a dead end as we had to cross a stream, and the carbon roadies (Phani and Sreekanth) were discussing take the way back to village and taking a different road over a bridge to go to the Dam. While Richard with his great communication skills found out how deep the stream was and decided to lift his bike and walk across the stream.  Slowly Sasanth, Ravi, and Karthik followed. Looking at that, the other roadies decided to follow suite. I followed them after I finished packing my phone.

Crossing the Stream
More crossing 🙂

After crossing the stream we rode another 10 minutes to get to another village. The road around the village is the perfect example for how poor hygiene could be in the villages. A huge amount of work needs to be done by us to create awareness on hygiene & better living conditions besides education. We crossed the small village quickly and we rode for few more kilometers to reach a small junction and right across at a considerable distance we could hazily see a huge water body. a little towards the right was the dam. We took the road to the right and found that what seemed to be a road withered away into gravel after a few hundred meters. The roadies had a real tough time for some time and we decided to stop and check on Sasanth and Ravi. The gravel road had a a 2ft wide raised pavement as a kind of protection from the slope on the other side, with thorny bushes touching and crossing the pavement at some places.  After a brief wait we decided to continue and Richard decided to ride on the pavement till the dam.


Richard enjoyed it and paid a little price of a scratch on the legs from a thorny bush. Finally we reached the dam and we spent almost an hour taking pictures enjoying the unmanned dam. Sasanth and Ravi joined us after about 10 minutes.

Luckily the dam had one of the valve’s open for us to see the water gushing forcefully out and instantly getting converted into vapour due to the force. Considering the road we came through we decided to take the other route to Sangareddy and we rolled through a slope into a tunnel formed by trees for almost a kilometer. The interior roads were good with occasional potholes which we didn’t mind considering the beauty of the sights around. Slowly Hunger started stepping in we decided to stop at the next village with decent enough place for breakfast. A vague recollection says the time could have been 11ish while we continued to engage the villagers with some serious thought of why these bikes were so costly and how they were special and so on. Meanwhile Phani, Sreekanth and Karthik happily ate their plate of hot poori’s. We started again after 40 odd minutes from there after refilling the bottles with water and juices. We were riding parallel to the NH about 3o kms from the NH. I couldn’t stop wondering how silent and beautiful the place becomes without the pollution and madness if we are ready to travel a few kilometer’s into the villages.  With fields on both the sides for some time and lone villagers here and there we rode through the country roads. Very soon the clouds started showing some mercy on us by covering the sun and after crossing a few more villages it drizzled for some time too.  We rode through more small villages until we reached the main road where we took a right towards Sangareddy.  The road was wet after the rains and it was easy enough to maintain a good pace around the 30 KM/hr mark as the knobbies were slipping.  It drizzled a bit and then Richard caught up leaving the other roadies and he started having fun drafting the share auto’s and I tried my best but by the roads were dry and I couldn’t keep up. We stopped to regroup at a bridge where the water from the Singur dam after crossing the Manjeera reservoir crossed the roads to regroup.


By then Sasanth had left a message informing that Ravi and he had decided to get back to city by an auto. After a small break we rolled again and took a left after considering going straight to Sangareddy. We took the left to Ismailkhanpet and ride through some more villages to touch the highway as Richard was sure the left was shorter since he had done it the past week on the way back from the Manjeera reservoir.  After a few kilometer’s we took a right as per Richard’s directions and just after a few hundred meters we found that we were riding a trail though  for the villager’s it was their official road.  We crawled like turtles on the trail which could have easily been around 10 km. After about 45 minutes or so the much awaited NH was visible and after a sigh of relief I pedaled hard towards it.  I caught up with Karthik on the road and we could see Richard almost like an ant at the far distance. We tried to keep a good pace as the scorching sun was right above us and we knew the more we spent time stopping for breaks, the progress to home would be that much lesser. Finally we caught up with Richard (yeah he slowed down again for us) before Isnapur to bid him by and he vanished from our sight in no time. We considered waiting for Sreekanth and Phani who were behind probably by a km or two, but didn’t want to wait in the sun and I was feeling hungry as I had nothing since morning except for 2 litre’s of water and chikki’s.  So we decided to cross Isnapur and stop for a small break for biscuits and water and then push hard till home with them. We took a good 10 minutes break filling ourselves with biscuits and a juice, but no sign of Phani and Sreekanth yet. Gave up the wait and started to ride. I tried to maintain a decent pace and almost near Patancheru my legs started showing signs of cramps, I continued for a few more km a little slower and decided to stop for a some stretching. I took a lot of water and did stretch myself enough to feel comfortable to ride again. Got Back on the saddle and tried to get back to the normal pace, hardly could manage that, so I decided to stay contented with whatever speed it was and after about 30 odd minutes we reached home. By then time was around 2:30 pm. I took a shower and went out and after some 20 minutes or so Sreekanth and Phani reached my home. Here’s a

link to the online album, and here is the link for the map with the Garmin details.

My Second Love- Rock Rider 5.2 reviewed

It’s been more than a week since I had this title in mind and finally I get to post it today.  To update you folks I’ve bought a black BTWIN RockRider 5.2 from Bike Affair in Hyderabad.  I paid  around 17k for it with some accessories like a spare tube, tool kit, stand etc. Since the day i took it for a test drive, it’s been quite an experience for me, and I absolutely relish it.

During January, Gautham had decided on cycling as his hobby and I joined him and we started looking for a cycle to buy. We were very actively checking out a lot of sites and gathering info on how to go about buying and how to decide on which one to pick, what parts are good, etc. Though i have had a BSA Mach 5 during my childhood days, somehow it felt more important to do an exhaustive research before buying one, may be because of the price of these cycles. I had somehow convinced my dad for a budget of around 20k for a cycle, but making that decision and buying one wasn’t easy. My friends were arguing that I could buy a bike with some extra cash etc. I always felt that i wasn’t wasting money like everyone claimed, but at the same time i didn’t want to make a hasty decision on the choice of the cycle. I wanted to feel satisfied and proud on the choice of my cycle and its worthiness. So that put a little additional caution on the kind of choice i was making.

By Jan mid every  Saturday we (me and Gautham) use to try the bikes at Bike affair, and  finally narrowed on to either a Merida Matts 5v, or  Btwin RockRider 5.2, or the Cannondale F9.  We tried all of them, and were interested in Cannondale F9 initially and somehow its price kept eluding from us. So we removed it from the shortlist and we were left with Matts 5v and RockRider 5.2 to pick. I wasn’t that confident on the RockRider just because the test bike didn’t feel quite comfortable for me primarily because of the size and posture  besides its pinkish grey design which never could be my taste. Matts 5v felt better and I thought it was worth the try, but to my surprise they just had one piece in stock. Since Gautham had also liked it, I decided not to go for it and postpone my decision for some time. So we booked the Matts 5v for Gautham and a week passed. Now I was in a dilemma between the Cannondale and RockRider. I seriously considered increasing my budget but hardly was there a possibility. That weekend, we went again to check on other models that might fit my wallet. During the conversation with Krish, found out that the size of the RockRider test bike was small and they had a large one which was the recommended size for me and hence he asked me to try it. One more to try so what’s the big deal was my first though, but to my delight there was my black RockRider 5.2 :).


The moment I looked at it, the texture of the black, the way the grey and black colors blend, the protective wrap for the frame to prevent scratches by the chain, the way design patterns flow on the bike just impressed me in a flash. I knew this could be it and I took it for a spin. It felt awesome, as though it was just waiting for me. The gear shifts were smooth and noise less, the posture was much better than the smaller size RockRider. Moreover since I was used to riding on the Mach 5, it didn’t matter much. Just as soon as finished my test drive, I booked for it. There still was a little doubt on the posture as Krish had cautioned me due to the feedbacks on the posture from his customers. But by then I was really convinced that this would be it.  I should say I was not even aware of the specification of cycle as I wasn’t keen on the Btwin’s till then, but that didn’t matter anymore, because I  my choices have always been what I like regardless of their feedbacks, reviews price etc.

I bought the RockRider5.2 on 11th Feb 2010 and it’s been 2 months and 3 days as I write and i have roughly covered around 500 kilometers with it.  To frankly tell you I’ve fallen in love with it and the bond between me and my bike becomes stronger day after day. It won’t be an exaggeration if i compare it with the way a Navi bonds with a Banshee in the Avatar movie. Rarely do i miss anything as material as a cycle, but now i have to accept that I long to ride my bike sometimes when I am home in Hosur.

Now for those folks who have been waiting for a review of the RockRider 5.2, here you go. The RockRider comes with a lightweight Aluminium frame. The front fork is a 70 mm adjustable one from spinner.  S-Ram x4 trigger shifters for perfect shifts. The front and back derailleurs are S-Ram X5 and S-Ram x4 derailleurs respectively.  The crank set is Wheeltop TCXC2RC-EX1  while on the rear there is a S-Ram PG –830 8 speed power glide cassettes. For braking there are Tektro 855-Ac V brakes. For a better part by part spec please check here. (These specs are subject to change from time to time and differ from country to country as well). The RockRider weighs just around 13 kg negligibly heavier than the Cannondale f9 or the Matts 5V.  The Kenda 26X 1.95” MTB tires give it a good grip while off roading and consume a tad more energy while you are on the road(you can always change to a hybrid tires anytime). The brakes on the bike is good enough but could have been better considering the quality of all the other parts included.  The gear shift is smooth and silent mostly until there is any dust in the crank set or the chain.  The trigger shifters  are right next to your thumbs below the handle bar which make it easy to shift gears while giving you enough grip on the handle bar and more fingers on your brakes while the small display gives you precise info about the gear ratios.

The best about the cycle would be the value for money which you get. Almost all the parts of the cycle are near the best that you can bargain for the price. I am really convinced that the drive train, the crank set, the derailleurs are better when compared to other cycles in the same price category.  The gear shifts are smooth and noiseless. The saddle is sporty and good enough, it might feel a little odd for newbies but it’s just a matter of time before you get used to it.  The design and the paint finish makes it perfect for a little show off.

The driving posture is something that you need to consider before you pick the RockRider.  When compared to all other cycles, the RockRider series have handlebars are little lower than other ones for a little aggression, which in turn makes you lean forward adding a tad more weight on your wrists, elbows and shoulders than usual. Some people may not find the back inclination very comfortable. If you already have signs of backache then this cycle is definitely not for you.  The handlebar’s  height can be adjusted is what i have found out after  some digging on various sites and forums, but haven’t tried it yet. The posture is just fine with me now that I’ve got used it. The pedal clips are a little tricky and needs time to get used to, I have removed it because, the road driving that we do in India, the clips are really a hurdle most of the times. RockRider doesn’t come with a stand or a rear reflector which might add an extra 500 bucks to your budget.

To sum it up RockRider 5.2 is the best investment I have made so far and I am proud to have it. I  will always recommend it to anybody. If you want to go by my choice, pick the one which fits you best, gives you the satisfaction when you ride, the one that would keep you interested to ride more, regardless of their specs and features, because on the long run what matters is the satisfaction and not the parts or features.

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Update :

My Rockrider completed 10k Kms last month and is still going great.  Was totally worth the money i spent on it.