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TfN: Totally Random Rider Trivia

TfN (Tour of Nilgiris) starts off today or rather by the time you see this we would have started out and will be well on our way to Mysore. :) Watch out for todays update towards evening (if the internet gods are willing that is).

Before I go into all the trivia today I’d like to introduce you to Venky who will not only be cycling TfN but also blogging it. I first heard of Venky last year when Che would keep talking about Lord Venky during TfN 2011 and I drew this image of a pompous ass in mind. It was only after Che got back that I heard the story of ‘Lord’ Venky and I must say that, that title is well earned! And now that I’ve met him I can certainly tell you he is neither pompous nor an ass 😀

Don’t forget to follow Venky on his blog Venky’s Monkey Musings and More.. for more TfN updates.

Now here’s some totally random trivia about the riders in Tour of Nilgiris 2012.

  • A total of 85 riders will be at the starting point.
  • 9 of them are women riders.
  • Only 1 out of 9 women is from Bangalore.
  • There are more riders above than below the age of 35 – 46 vs 37.
  • The youngest rider is 21 and the oldest is 56 year old Renu Mittal.
  • The nationalities other than Indian are American, British, Flemish – Belgian, Dutch and Swiss.
  • The three top cities riders have come from are Bangalore (33), Pune(11) and Ahmedabad(11).
  • The largest blood group present is ‘O+’ (36).
  • The most popular type of bike being used is the Road bike (61), but there are also 18 Hybrids and 4 Mountain bikes.
  • The three most popular manufacturers are Trek, Cannondale and Bianchi.
  • 400km is the longest ever day ride done by the riders at TfN.
  • 3 volunteers from TfN 2011 will be cycling this year.
  • 12 riders have participated in a previous TfN.
  • Non-vegetarians(53) are the majority group this year on TfN, followed by vegetarians(22) and eggetarians(8).

The last two weeks have been a lot of theory and numbers as you’ve seen in my last few posts (sorry for that). Now it’s time to try out the theory in practice and meet the numbers – the riders and their cycles. :)

Cheers to the next 8 days being filled with sun-soaked mountains and the ever-winding road…

See you in the evening. :)

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December 16, 2012   2 Comments

TfN: What Type of Cycling is TfN?

Yesterday I talked about the different types of cycles but there is also the matter of the different types of cycling. So continuing on the topic of cycles and cycling, here are some of the different types of cycling done around the world.

Cycling is categorised based on the use of the cycle into 3 broad types.

Utility Cycling – Utility Cyclists use their cycles to commute to work daily, for a commercial activity, to transport goods, etc. Some examples other than the standard work commute are cycles used in the postal services, urban policing on cycles, and the Mumbai Dabbawalas delivery cycles.

Recreational Cycling – Includes Bicycle Touring, Organised Rides and Mountain Biking.

  • Bicycle touring, also known as cyclotourism is exploration or sightseeing for leisure done individually, in small groups or as an organised tour.
  • Organised Rides like Cyclosportives, Challenge Rides, Reliability Trials, and Hill Climbs are organised by cycling clubs for all levels bicyclists participate.
  • Mountain biking originated in the 1970’s as a downhill sport, but today most of it takes place on dirt roads, trails and in purpose-built parks.

Racing – Some of the different racing formats are road racing, tour racing, mountain bike racing, time trial racing, and cyclo-cross racing.

So what is type of cycling is Tour of Nilgiris?
After reading an analysing I think TfN can be categorised under Recreational Cycling–> Organised Rides–> Cyclosportive + Challenge Ride

  • A challenge ride is a form of cycling where the riders challenge themselves rather than each other.
  • A cyclosportive is a short to long distance, organised, mass-participation cycling event, typically held annually.

Did I get it right?
Ah, wait, it also says a cyclosportive falls between a traditional cycle road race and the more challenging non-competitive randonnée or Audax events. So my revised answer – Recreational Cycling–> Organised Rides–> Cyclosportive 😀

Now that I know the types of cycles and types of cycling, how do I choose a cycle for myself?
One way to choose a good cycle would be to first figure out what kind of activities I’m going to do with the cycle and based on that choose the type of cycle I need. Then of course I need to check out and research whats available and in my budget before I measure myself for the cycle and test ride it. Another way (my preferred method) is to make puppy eyes at husband and ask him to help 😛

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December 15, 2012   No Comments

TfN: What are the Different Types of Cycles Available?

Beyond the basic design of a cycle (it has a frame, two wheels, a handlebar, pedals, a chain and gears) I don’t know much about cycles, and lately I’ve been trying to remedy that. After all in a cycling event I should at least be able to recognise the basic cycles. If not in practice, at least in theory 😀

So here’s the dope…

Cycles are classified into types based on various factors like – function, number of riders, construction or frame type, gearing, etc. and each cycle can appear on more than one list. Since this means a lot of different lists I figured I’d try to understand the types of cycles based on the function they are created for.

Cycles in the function category are broadly of two types – road and mountain bikes. There are also other types like Freight bicycles that are designed for transporting large or heavy loads, Railbikes that ride on rails, etc.

Road Cycles are built for traveling at speed on paved roads. They have a lightweight construction and narrow, high-pressure tires that are smooth to decrease rolling resistance. Some of the types of road bikes are:

  • Touring bicycles: designed for touring hence robust, comfortable, and capable of carrying heavy loads.
  • Hybrid bicycles: designed for a variety of recreational and utility purposes.
  • Utility bicycles: designed for utility cycling like commuting and running errands.

Mountain Bikes (MTB) are made for off-road cycling like traversing rocks and washouts, steep declines, dirt trails, logging roads, and other unpaved environments. To handle the stresses of this kind of off-road terrain mountain bikes usually use wide, knobby tires for good traction and shock absorption. Most bikes also come with front and rear suspension. Mountain bikes can be classified into four categories based on suspension:

  • Rigid: A frame with a rigid fork and fixed rear, no suspension.
  • Hardtail: A frame with a front suspension fork and no rear suspension.
  • Soft tail: A frame with small amount of rear suspension, activated by flex of the frame instead of pivots.
  • Dual or full suspension: A front suspension fork and rear suspension with a rear shock and linkage that allow the rear wheel to move on pivots.

They are also designed and categorised based on different styles of mountain biking like Cross country(XC) bikes, Trail Bikes, Enduro/all-mountain(AM) bikes and Freeride bikes.

What all of this tells me is that there is going to be a large variety of road and mountain cycles at TfN. And my chances of recognising a cycle are slim. With all my reading just guessing whether its a road or mountain bike correctly will be cool. 😛

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December 14, 2012   2 Comments

TfN: 27 Things I Didn’t Know About Mysore

Mysore has always been next door to Bangalore and like all things next door, I’ve always put it off thinking it was next door after-all. I did visit it often though either as a stop on the way to the Nilgiris or to visit Dad who would be working there for part of the year.

Lately as I’ve been reading to prep for Tour of Nilgiris, Mysore surprised me. There was a wealth of information on the city and I knew so little of it. So here’s some interesting info I came across. Mysore is the first stop on the tour!

  • The name Mysore is an anglicised version of Mahishūru, which means the abode of Mahisha in the Kannada language. Mahisha stands for Mahishasura, a mythological demon that could assume the form of both human and buffalo. According to Hindu mythology, the area was ruled by the demon Mahishasura. The demon was killed by the Goddess Chamundeshwari, whose temple is situated atop the Chamundi Hills.
  • Until 1947, Mysore served as the capital of the Kingdom of Mysore.
  • Mysore Airport is also known as Mandakalli Airport.
  • The city was the location of the first private radio station in India.
  • 1897 an outbreak of bubonic plague killed nearly half of the population of the city.
  • With the establishment of the City Improvement Trust Board (CITB) in 1903, Mysore became one of the first cities in Asia to undertake planned development of the city.
  • A fire at a television studio in 1989 claimed 62 lives.
  • The highest temperature recorded in Mysore was 38.5 °C (101 °F) on 4 May 2006, and the lowest was 7.7 °C (46 °F) on 16 January 2012.
  • Among 63 cities covered under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, Mysore City Corporation was adjudged the second best city municipal corporation and was given the “Nagara Ratna” award in 2011.
  • The city got its first piped water supply when the Belagola project was commissioned in 1896.
  • The city has had an underground drainage system since 1904.
  • Mysore was rated the second cleanest city in India in 2010 and the cleanest in Karnataka.
  • The first college to be set up for higher education was the Maharajas College, founded in 1864.
  • A high school exclusively for girls was established in 1881 and later it was converted into Maharanis Women’s College.
  • The  University of Mysore was the sixth university to be established in India and the first in Karnataka.
  • The Mysore Medical College, founded in 1924, was the first medical college to be started in Karnataka and the seventh in India.
  • The Dasara festivities, which are celebrated over a ten-day period, were first introduced by King Raja Wodeyar I in 1610.
  • The main palace of Mysore, Amba Vilas was burned down in 1897, and the present-day structure was built on the same site.
  • The Mysore Pak  traces its history to the kitchen of the Mysore palace.
  • Mysore is the location of the International Ganjifa Research Centre, which researches the ancient card game Ganjifa and the art associated with it.
  • Kannada writers Kuvempu, Gopalakrishna Adiga and U. R. Ananthamurthy were educated in Mysore and served as professors at the Mysore University.
  • R. K. Narayan, a popular English-language novelist and creator of the fictional town of Malgudi, and his cartoonist brother R. K. Laxman spent much of their life in Mysore.
  • Sudharma, the only Indian daily newspaper in Sanskrit, is published in Mysore.
  • Mysore was the location of the first private radio broadcasting station in India when Akashavani (voice from the sky) was established in the city on 10 September 1935 by M.V. Gopalaswamy, a professor of psychology, at his house in the Vontikoppal area of Mysore, using a 50-watt transmitter.
  • In 1957, Akashvani was chosen as the official name of All India Radio (AIR), the radio broadcaster of the Government of India.
  • Javagal Srinath, who represented India for several years as its frontline fast bowler, comes from Mysore.
  • India’s first youth hostel was formed in the Maharaja’s College Hostel in 1949.

All Facts Credited to Wikipedia.

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December 13, 2012   No Comments

TfN: 20 Things I Didn’t Know About Tour of Nilgiris

Less than a week to the start of TfN and I’m all excited. It’s time to start blogging TfN :)
To prep for the trip I’ve been reading up on TfN, Cycling and Places we’re passing through on the tour. So, that’s what I’m going to be blogging about over the next few days. Starting with my list of 20 things I Didn’t Know About TfN. How many of these do you know?

  1. The first TfN in 2008 was just a few friends who got together and decided to combine their passion for cycling with a mission.
  2. The Supermarket chain Nilgiris was the first – title and main Sponsor in 2008.
  3. The most number participants on a tour was in 2010 with 100 riders.
  4. 2009 had the most number of women riders – 12!
  5. Oldest Rider on TfN in the last four years was Peter Clarance Smith [aged 60 in 2009]
  6. In 2010 Rishi Nair (8 years) became the youngest rider on tour ever.
  7. The maximum kilometers ever done in a day across events is 180km in  2011 on Day 3 from Hasan to Medikeri.
  8. The furthest any rider has come to join TfN is  USA.
  9. The most competitive section in  2011 was Day 5 – The Climb on the CS was Category 1, with some heat and humidity :)
  10. Most expensive bike ever at TfN was a  Pinarello Dogma ridden by Rajesh Nair.
  11. The coolest cycles ever at TfN are Venky’s Fixie (2011), George’s  Moulton (2008), Mark Anderson’s Bike (2011)
  12. The most difficult cycle to cycle on TfN ever was a full suspension Hero Octane in 2008.

8 Things You Should Know About TfN 2012

  1. You get to ride on the NICE expressway. Cyclists are not allowed on NICE road during rest of the year. 😀
  2. Three states are covered on the route –  Karnataka,  Kerala, Tamil Nadu
  3. The tour also goes through three National Parks  – Bandipur National Park, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and Nagarhole National Park.
  4. An average day’s ride at TFN ranges between 100 and 180kms.
  5. 70% of the tour is non competitive. There are separate categories for Men and Women.
  6. The most competitive section this year will be on Day 6 – The day involves a lot of climbs,  and the CS is at the end with some 30 more km to climb to reach home.
  7. The results of each competitive section are announced at EOD and the accumulated time for the 6 days is summarized at the end of the tour.
  8. The leader for each day of the tour gets a Blue jersey that can be worn by the cyclist the next day.

How many of these did you know?

I’m looking forward to TfN and I’m all butterflies. It’s going to be a fun ten days in the mountains. :)

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December 12, 2012   6 Comments

Book Review: Roll of Honour by Amandeep Sandhu


Title: Roll of Honour
Author: Amandeep Sandhu
Paperback: 252 pages
Publisher: Rupa Publications (October 16, 2012)
Genre: Historic Novel
Read: Paperback
Stars: ****/5
Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart
Summary: (Amazon)
An honest and moving story about life in a military school, in the days of the Khalistan movement.
1984. Operation Blue Star has just ended and the Indian Army is arresting and killing innocent Sikhs. Appu is back at military school in Jassabad, Punjab, for his final year. He looks forward to three things: being class in-charge, passing out, and securing a place in the National Defence Academy.
Then ex-student Balraj, now a Khalistani militant on the run, takes refuge on campus and the violence outside comes to school. Some of the seniors decide to help Balraj, the decision splits the school along sectarian lines, and students are forced to take sides. There is rampant bullying sodomy being the preferred tool of domination and long-time friends find themselves on opposing sides. As the situation spirals out of control, Appu, who wants nothing more than to live his dreams, is forced to make the impossible choice between community and nation.

My Review:


Note: Thanks to Amandeep Sandhu for offering me his book to review :)

Cover: Eye-Treat! I loved the cover. The colours are a treat to the eyes just like the texture is to the fingers.

Paper and font: Smell-Worthy! I don’t like most Indian prints these days. But this book had good paper quality and font size.

Readability, language: Easy on the eye and mind. Has strong language but fits the story.

My parents say as a toddler I called Indira Gandhi my mother. I ran around the house shouting ‘mummy is on TV’. As I grew up I got to know more about her; I admired the woman who stood out in a man’s world. She took on men and won. Then I got to know about Operation Blue Star and how it killed her. I read about it but reading can only tell you so much.

Then a few years ago I travelled to Amritsar and went to the Golden Temple. The marks of the destruction caused by Blue Star in 1984 are still there. I spoke to people who had lived through Operation Blue Star and its aftermath. I don’t say that I stopped admiring Indira Gandhi but I did start to think this was a mistake and a big one.

A couple of weeks ago when A. Sandhu got on touch with me about his book, I saw an opportunity to understand 1984 better and the book was just that. An insight into what the youth went through after 1984.

This is a story about life in the residential military schools of Punjab. Appu tells the story of how life changed after Blue Star. The clear sudden divide between Sikhs and Hindus. The animosity,  patriotism and religious zeal driving the people and friends apart.

Appu is a boy in the 12th standard aspiring to join the NDA. He is a teenager questioning authority, his sexuality, religion, relationships, patriotism, the army, humanity and everything else in his life. Then in 1984 new questions arise and answers change as Appu finds his way through school and life in the shadow of Operation Blue Star.

The story is narrated by Appu as he goes down memory lane and writes his story. In between the past we get glimpses of Appu’s current life as he writes the book. The to and fro isn’t tedious and fits together well to portray the whole picture. There is quite a lot of strong language and sexual material in the book but it adds to the story though I’m not sure if this book is a good read for young age groups. :-)

Reading Roll of Honour gave me an insight into the lives of Sikhs after 1984. After partition this was the next big religious event that I was too young and too far geographically to remember, this book helped me understand the people of Punjab better. I’d definitely recommend this book if these kind of stories are your thing. :-)

Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart

November 27, 2012   3 Comments

Blatant Plagarism on Facebook and What To Do About It

I had intended to write a review yesterday but I was really upset. My day started with seeing a message from a friend about Chenthil’s photos being plagiarised.

There’s this guy Ajit Degaonkar who has stolen photos from Chenthil’s Photography page and posted it on his page claiming they are his. He hasn’t limited himself to Chenthil’s photos but copied from other photographers like Audi Photography too. So, I did the obvious thing – reported his page, profile and even the photos. Then since Facebook is so slow on response, I enlisted help. I made a post on my profile about what had happened and asked my friends to report him too. I was hoping that the large number of reports would cause Facebook to take action.  However  Facebook did nothing. Here’s their response (my friends got similar responses) –

Since Facebook is Facebook and nothing is simple with them I did some reading on what I can do about this blatant plagiarism. I didn’t find anything online about what I can do. No one seems to have written on this topic so I went to look at what Facebook would allow me to do.

Facebook allows the creator of the content to report the plagiarised content to them as their intellectual property. This means that if you see someone’s work being misused you can’t do anything much about it, only the creator can. This sucks but it is so. Since this was Chenthil’s work and I have access to his account here is how I reported it.

1. Click on the little X at the right top corner of the post. Then click on the Report/Mark as Spam option.

2. You will now see the below message. Now click on the Report link.

3. This will cause the below pop-up. Click on the link at the bottom that reads “Is this your intellectual property?”.

4. You will be taken to this page.

5. You can read about Intellectual Property here. You can also read more about Copyright and access the reporting form here.

6. If the photo is of you or of a minor below 13 you can report the privacy violation here. Read more about Image Privacy Rights.

I have reported the photos on the copyright form for now. Lets see what Facebook does about it. Will keep you posted.

***[Update: It took almost 24 hours but the page and his profile have been pulled down by Facebook. My report saw no action from Facebook as you will see above, so I’m assuming they didn’t take action on all my friends reports either. However it seems that a copyright infringement report and privacy violation report along with over a score of complaints from different people did the trick. Thanks to everyone who helped Che and me make this happen :) ]

Finally here are screenshots of the copy cat.

On the left is the photo Chenthil took of my fractured finger in March this year. On the right is the copied photo with a photoshop job done on the date and place details.

Below is Chenthil’s album on the fire-cracker workers in Sivakasi.

This is the copied album.

Is there anything else I can do about this? Any other actions I can take against this guy? Please let me know in comments.

November 9, 2012   4 Comments

Book Review: Asura by Anand Neelakantan


Title: Asura – Tale of the Vanquished
Author: Anand Neelakantan
Paperback: 504 pages
Publisher: Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd (May 14, 2012)
Genre: Mythology
Read: Paperback
Stars: ****/5
Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart
Summary: (Amazon)
The epic tale of victory and defeat… The story of the Ramayana had been told innumerable times. The enthralling story of Rama, the incarnation of God, who slew Ravana, the evil demon of darkness, is known to every Indian. And in the pages of history, as always, it is the version told by the victors, that lives on. The voice of the vanquished remains lost in silence. But what if Ravana and his people had a different story to tell? The story of the Ravanayana had never been told. Asura is the epic tale of the vanquished Asura people, a story that has been cherished by the oppressed outcastes of India for 3000 years. Until now, no Asura has dared to tell the tale. But perhaps the time has come for the dead and the defeated to speak.

My Review:


I was born a Muslim, that meant that my Grandmothers bedtime stories weren’t the traditional stories of Indian Kings and Queens. Hence my first taste of the Ramayana was Ramanand Sagar’s version on TV every Sunday morning. In our house Sunday was a big day. I have always loved stories and the Ramayana was beautiful especially after Mr. Sagar got his say in it. It was a rule at home that the TV was switched on only after bath and breakfast. So Sunday was the one day we woke up early without being constantly told to wake up, we got ready in record time and literally gulped our breakfast down.

I enjoyed the epic and didn’t miss it but even at that young age it left me feeling indignant about how women of all classes were treated. Even Sita the Queen didn’t escape the male dominated chauvinistic society. I had questions, so many questions that no one had answers to. Ravana and Lanka were depicted as evil yet Lanka was the city of gold, prosperous and the people were happy. How then was Ravana a bad King and evil?

As I grew up I learned about the different versions of the Ramayan. Versions where Rama was not the hero, he wasn’t a god but a man – that made sense considering the mistakes he made. Then while visiting a friend in Pune I came across Asura which was Ravana’s side of the story and I picked it up.

Asura was a good read, at some places I did wish it would move faster but I still enjoyed reading it. I finally had answers to some of my questions. The story is told by Ravana and Badra who is a common man playing various roles in Ravana life – he is a part of the army, Ravana’s servant and a lower class commoner.

The Ramayana from Ravana’s view point is refreshing. No man is good or evil, it is the situation that makes him so. This becomes clear through the book. Ravana considers himself a man, he doesn’t want to be god. That means that he has plus points to his character but he has the minuses too. He makes mistakes just like any man.

Neelakntan’s Asura finally answers and fills in the gaps in the Ramayana. This is a book to read to get a different perspective to the grand epic we all grew up with.

Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart

November 7, 2012   1 Comment

Book Review: Tendrils of Life by Owen Choi

Title: Tendrils of Life
Author: Owen Choi
Paperback: 426 pages
Publisher: Princeton Falcon Press (July 26, 2012)
Genre: Historic Novel
Read: eBook
Stars: ****/5
Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart
Summary: (Amazon)
Acute food shortages and lawlessness plague communist occupied Seoul at the start of the Korean War in 1950, and Jimin, a 16-year-old boy, seeks a way to return to a remote island in the South Sea of Korea which he had left five years earlier. But only his father, who is absent from home, knows the way.
Meanwhile, tragedy strikes, brought on by his adversary Sinman, who belongs to a powerful clan hostile toward Jimin’s family. On his way south with his little sister to find his father, Jimin meets Sora and their relationship blooms. But Jimin is compelled to continue his journey, and the two separate.
The war sweeps across the country many times, first with a North Korean invasion, then with a counterattack by UN forces, then with Chinese interference. Through the turmoil, Jimin and Sora venture into war-ravaged and guerrilla-infested areas.
It is a story of love and hope, greed and revenge, strife between families, and the quest for survival in the turmoil of war. A depiction of resilience of the human spirit.
Tendrils of Life is a rich and intriguing novel, interwoven with personal narratives that are real and alive against the backdrop of the Korean War.

My Review:



Note: Thanks to Owen Choi for offering me his book to review :)

This is the story Jimin, a boy who is trying to survive the war in Korea. Jimin’s family used to live on a little island where they were content but his father brings them back to the mainland before going away to join the war. After he leaves, Jimin and his sister Misern lose their mother. As she is dying she tells them she will meet them again on the island and there starts their search for their father who is the only one who knows the way back to the island.

Tendrils of Life is about all those lives that touch ours and change it. Every person whether just passing or staying for a while in our lives makes an impact and it’s repercussions are felt forever.

The book has a lot of characters, each adding to the Jimin’s journey. His sister Misern who Jimin loves but sometimes finds a burden. Sora the girl he has loved for a long time from a distance. Sinman his half-brother and rival. His father with whom he has a love-hate relationship. And many others who become a part of his life as he travels across Korea growing up from a boy to a man. Their lives intertwine with his as he tries to make his way to Iodo, the utopian island.

I have always liked history after all I love stories and history is just that. But textbooks and the news are not great sources of stories so I don’t know much of recent history. I knew there was a war in Korea but nothing beyond that. This was was an insight into the war and what common people went though during it.

I enjoyed the book but considering the pain and trauma the war brings to Jimin and Misern I not sure if ‘enjoyed’ is the right word. I cheered the siblings along their journey, felt anxiety in their separation, pain when they got hurt, anger at those who brought so much trauma to a country of peaceful people. I felt for Korea, I felt for all those people who get stuck in wars they didn’t start or ever wanted.

This book is a must read if you want to experience the war in Korea and understand it’s people – how they think and feel, what they have experienced and been through. Choi explores ideas, questions beliefs, and brings out the strength of the human spirit in Tendrils of Life.

Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart

November 5, 2012   1 Comment