Moonlit Cycling near Bangalore

This is an account from last year when I was still in Bangalore, and those were the days. Our vibrant theatre group, which was always up for doing “cool” things, decided we should go cycling in the moonlight! Cycling trips for groups are arranged to Savandurga near Bangalore. But if you do not want to go as part of a pre-arranged group, you can do it all by yourself, only that you will have to arrange and carry cycles all the way (motorbikes is a no-no, i mean how does moonlit thunderbiking sound anyway).
So we decided to go in a group arranged by a contact person (from Atlas cycles I think). The schedule of the night-long trip is that a group of around 20-35 people meets in the city center at around 9.30pm, from where a couple of vans carry you to Savandurga around 35-40 km out of the city off the Mysore road. Before starting, all of us were handed our own picnic hamper which contained goodies like candies, sandwiches and muffins. It was fun as everyone was already in the mood, playing antakshari all the way in the van.
The van went quite some way off the highway passing a few villages, till we reached a clearing where our bikes were already waiting for us. We were given sometime to pick and choose the bike we liked, and ride it a little in the clearing itself to get accustomed to the idea of riding a bicycle again, especially as many of us had not touched a bicycle for years! There were a few people who decided that they were frightened by the idea of riding a bicycle again, and ended up hitching on with their friends/partners but I am sure that wouldn’t have been a lot of fun. So essentially I would suggest people who want to stay away from a cycle should stay away from the trip, or agree to get carried by the van to the cyclists’ destination to enjoy the latter half of the trip.


So, after clumsily managing to get a grip back on the basics of riding and checking our brakes and lights were functioning alright, we set out on a dark broken road, not really moonlit as there were trees all around. The first feeling that I got was quite child-like excitement of being able to cycle with friends all over again, as we chatted and shouted and pedalled and puffed our way, being guided by our cycling guides both in front and at the back. Soon people got settled into the rythm of cycling in their group or by themselves, and one could hear humming, whistling, and laughter from those racing ahead in front and those lagging behind as well. The road on which we cycled was quite broken, and not particularly easy for cycling, but since we were not in a hurry it didnt matter much, and we could manoeuvre around the bumps or ride straight into and through them.
The moonlight indeed made it possible to see even without our lamps, and one could see that we were riding through farms, and up onto a gentle slope in the beginnning. After about a third of the journey, we had had a good warmup, and as we reached a bigger looking village, we decided to take a water break. There were buses standing there and the drivers and locals were gathered at the bus stop, and as we stopped our bicycles for a breather, they suddenly broke into a group folk dance replete with typical folk-dance moves and props resembling dandiya sticks. All it needed was a suggestion from someone and soon 5-6 of us were joining the formation alongwith with these people and they happily handed over their sticks to us, so we could have some moments of cool tip-tapping fun with them! We danced merrily (at least tried to match their steps) for a while, and then set-off for the rest of the journey with the group.
Soon the slope started to get completely downhill and there was no effort required but to sit back and enjoy the breeze and the hills in front as we cruised. I remember, at one of the turns, I gasped out aloud. As we turned towards the other side of the hill, a lake came into the view down in the valley. With the background of dark hills behind it, and its water shimmering in the moonlight, it was a spectacular sight and one that I would remember most vividly from my trip. I learnt that the lake shore was actually our intended destination and excitedly pedalled down the rest of my way.
Soon we reached a campsite besides the lake after an hour and half or so of cycling, and parked ourselves around a bonfire lit specially for us. Those who hadn’t already devoured their food brought it from the van that had made its way behind us. There was a singer present with his guitar, and we sipped warm tea and coffee as we listened to him sing all our favorite songs and present a few favourites of his own. Of course we joined in the singing too. So the next couple of hours or more were spent snuggled around the bonfire, although some adventurous few like me managed to find time to hike our way up on the hill next to us again for a better view of the lake (hoping to catch a few snakes on the way but alas there was nothing).
Soon it was 4 am and time to head back. The idea of cycling back was quite unappealing to everyone, and all of us happily climbed into our vans, and slept our way into the city to reach our homes in the morning and sleep some more on the Sunday.

Overall the trip was quite nice (nice enough that I did it for a second time with another group of friends), but a few things I think could have made the experience even better was a better site for the bonfire (if only someone removed the shrubs so we could look at the lake while sitting, and also we had to sit on uneven jagged rocks which for two and half hours in the middle of night is a bit of a pain) and yes, more food for the eternally underfed people like myself! Other than that, definitely recommended as a good combination of adventure and romance. I do not have the pictures of the lake, so you will just have the imagine it in the moonlight as of now!


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