Monday 6 July 2015

Cycling Trip to Kovalam

Last weekend, June 28th Sunday to be precise, I went on a cycling trip to Kovalam, along with few friends. All were either interns or employees at my workplace and many of us had connections to IITM which made the logistics of trip bit easier.

We rented cycles from a shop at Saidapet the previous night itself. On the day of the trip we assembled at Velachery bus stand little before 0500 hours and took off. The map with trip details from RunKeeper is on the right. It was mostly straight ECR trip. In total we covered >70kms that day.

Some observations here:
  • Early morning trip was really nice. No sun, little traffic and city actually looked beautiful.
  • We could see other riding cycles in groups, in both directions.
  • I had music playing on one ear and kept the other open for hearing ambient sound. Cycling to western classical is good. :)
  • Chennai could do better with roads. There is basically zero consideration for pedestrians or cyclists even within city limits.
  • I used both RunKeeper and Strava to keep track using the later during return trip. I found each lacking certain features I liked, with RunKeeper doing better, especially for cycling. Paid version of Strava will be equivalent to RunKeeper I guess, but considering it is not one time payment but a monthly subscription I don't think that's worth it.
  • I would be willing to pay RunKeeper for one time if they implemented a better interface and made it easy to embed or share the activity in other places. Basically I think these apps should decouple payment for app features & UX development, and subscription for continued support like fitness coaching or more detailed stats storage etc that they offer. I understand the latter can't be provided with one time fee.
  • Strava linked two way with my Fitbit account but RunKeeper has only one way link. That's a minus. I have a Fitbit Charge HR device if you are curious.
  • The beach could really use some attention from the tourism board.
    • It was filthy everywhere.
    • There were hardly any dust bins.
    • So many people visiting but no decent restaurants.
    • I had to search the entire town(village?) to find a water bottle that is trust worthy. 'Aquapinana' brand was more common. :)
  • We spent there until noon playing around in the beach with cycles close by since they did not have locks.
  • Return journey was split with first leg to Muttukadu in the hopes of boating.
  • The rates were so exorbitant, we decided not to. I went to Kerala few months back and similar setup costed a fourth or fifth of this. TN tourism board let down again.
  • Then we reached Lydie's and ate a good vegetarian food. Usually non veg options are limited by veg members of the office group but this time we had a vegan as well! Double whammy. :p The ambience was good, the food tasty with big enough portions. Give it a try if you happen to be nearby.
  • From there it was straight to IITM and Gurunath for rest and celebration of trip completion. We expected some leg pain but that never happened(next day was fine too ). What did happen was literal pain in the ass. Those seats need to be more comfortable!
  • Then from there to Saidapet again. Felt how unfriendly Chennai was to cyclists again.
  • The last time I drank so much liquid in my life was when I participated in 25km race walking representing my college. In went bottles after bottles of water which all just evaporated.

At the end of the day, it was a nice trip, an exhilarating and fun experience. As I spied a 'Welcome to Chennai' board on ECR on return trip, Kingsroad from A Game of Thrones started playing, followed by The King's Arrival; it couldn't get any better. :-) Should try Mahabalipuram next.

PS: Photos here are copyright Rakend (our official photographer. :p).

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