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The CRANK with ProCycle Team Publisher and Managing Editor Vikram Limsay Editor Rahul K Thomas Technical Editor Nilesh Dhumal Rider and Tester Ajay Kamble Rider and Tester Ignatius Chen Contributions by Shalini and Deepak Rao and Sven Schirmer Registered to Procycle and Sports India Private Limited. Corporate Office: Indiranagar, 889, First Floor, 7th Main, 4th Cross, HAL II stage, Bangalore - 560008. Tel: +91 80 41161902 or +91 99450 11116 Showroom: Indiranagar, 37, 11th Cross, 1st Stage, Bangalore- 560038 Tel: +91 80 25202004Â +91 98802 16064 Website www.procycle.in. For queries regarding advertising and subscription, mail us at subscribecrank@procycle.in

Cover Photograph: Its all downhill for Nelly at Turahalli Rear cover photograph: The ProCycle car with bikes ready to hit the slopes

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THE PROCYCLE STORE

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IN THIS ISSUE

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1. Bombay-Poona: The great Indian bicycle race 2. ProCycle Bike Test: Kona Dawgma 3. Bikers’ Lair: Forum Mall 4. Profiled by ProCycle: Doctors Rao 5. Foldies go to France 6. The road less taken: Across the Americas 7. Backpack Shootout 8. Downhill Diaries: Turahalli 9. Boys and their Toys

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HEYA!

Hello readers! Its been an exciting month as we’ve had a fantastic response to the first edition of CRANK with ProCycle. Observations and suggestions, compliments and critique, we are delighted to have it all. We always knew the biking tribe was growing but it’s heartening to know how many of you are out there. This month we’ve gone to the trenches, dug through the dusty pages of Indian history and unearthed some beautiful images of a bygone era of Indian cycling. Our feature story is about the fabled Bombay-Poona race when once, not so very long ago, Indian cyclists were poised to take on the world. We can only fervently hope that we will someday scale such heights again. We’ve had tons of people wanting to share their stories with us. And what fantastic stories they are! This edition, we feature Sven Schirmer - a German who one day decided to see the world on his bicycle. He’s a regular guy with a regular job. But, he chose to chase his dream. Today, he has cycled across continents and we bring you his story in serial form. Meet the Doctors Rao - Deepak and Shalini, a dynamic duo who ensure they take time out of their hectic hospital life to cycle anywhere and everywhere. Then, when you’re done dreaming of faraway shores, you’ll reach Downhill Diaries and realise you can get out and get extreme, right in your very own backyard. So, if you aren’t already bicycle-mobile, drop in to ProCycle, pick up a bike and get out and ride! The wide blue yonder is calling to you. See you out there

Editor

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FEATURE

BOMBAY - POONA THE GREAT INDIAN BICYCLE RACE DASARATH PAWAR LEADS A PELOTON SOMEWHERE IN THE 60’S. NOTE THE SCOOTER SUPPORT

This January saw the 50th edition of India’s most fabled cycling event - the Bombay-Poona Race (that’s how its still referred to notwithstanding political correctness). Never heard of it? Well, that is the unfortunate fate most of the famed Indian sporting contests which gave birth to most of our worldclass athletes of yesteryear. The first Bombay-Poona race was held in 1945. Over the decades, there were years when it wasn’t held, hence its golden jubilee in the 68th year after its inception. Indian cycling legends were born and grew around this gruelling contest. Names like Dasarath

Pawar (four-time winner of the race the last of which was at the ripe age of 40), Nauzar Kayani, Ashok Khale, Ashok Captain and Kerman Framna (still the reigining King of the Ghats) resound through the ages. Little boys grew up listening to tales of their exploits on the ghat roads of Maharashtra. With modified kit, pacing state transport buses on narrow, potholed roads, these giants of Indian cycling took on the world, back in their day. But what did the Bombay-Poona race mean to riders? Quite simply, it is the Tour de France of India. Albeit the fact that its a classic race (one day), its

4 3 STEEL BIKES WITH ALLOY BOTTLE CAGES ATTACHED TO THE HANDLEBARS


DASARATH PAWAR WINS TO THE ROAR OF A FRENZIED CROWD

The race traditionally begins in the heart of Mumbai, usually from Shivaji Park in front of the Mayor’s Bungalow. The peloton parades from here up to the start point in Chembur or Sion Chunabhatti, in Sunday-ride mode. And then they let fly. Riders go flat out towards Panvel and then to the old Bombay-Pune highway. The thought of conserving energy doesn’t even occur as riders vie for the three primes - marked sections of the race which have prizes for the winners each of them. The first person to cross the finish of each section wins that particular prime. As soon as the first prime is done (from the start to Panvel - a little more than thirty kilometers), the second begins and they race towards Khopoli on rolling terrain. This is the sprinters’ paradise where they go hell-for-leather for the first two primes.

A PHOTO FINISH AT JUNGLEE MAHARAJ ROAD AFTER 150 BLISTERING KMS

history, difficulty and the fierce competition that ensues marked, it out as the race to be won in a lifetime. Back in the day, the race used to be 153 kilometres long, from Bombay to Pune on National Highway 4 which, at the time, was a single lane. There were no support vehicles from the organisers. A few riders, who could afford it, would have a friend on a scooter with loads of water, banana, glucose and spare tubes around his neck - all set to play the supporting role. The ghat road was treacherous and riders had to contend with the dreaded Rajmachi Pass - a climb so steep that many would simply get off and push the bike up the incline. Its not for no reason that while the winner of the race was feted, the winner of the ghat section earned the title King of the Ghats (Ghaatacha Raja in Marathi) and all the street cred that came with it. Today, while the race is still fiercely competitive and the distance has hardly changed, conditions are less daunting with smooth roads, better equipment, support vehicles, a wider highway and gradients which are less steep.

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The winners of the primes get cash awards and since many riders know they can’t win over the length of the full race, they target the short sprints. Even a little money goes a long way in a sport starved for funding. Thus, riders kill themselves right at the start, sometimes in the certain knowledge that such an effort will ensure that they cannot even finish the race. Three kilometres after Khopoli begins the ghat section where riders vie for the title of King of the Ghats. With gruelling inclines, the climbers make their move to catch and pass the sprinters who had outdistanced them earlier. This is the section which separates the men from the boys and those who have dug in for the long haul, attack it. Today, the top riders average twenty-three to twenty-five minutes on the climb with this year’s King of the Ghats (Dilip Mane) clocking a time of twenty-three minutes flat. Consider however the fact that the record still stands in the name of the iconic Kerman Framna who back in 1987 rode a heavy steel bike through Rajmachi Pass (no longer included in the race route today, clocking an incredible time of 21 minutes and 24 seconds - an indication of Indian cycling’s past greatness and its sorry current state.

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THE MODERN DAY RACE WITH AN ESCORT. THIS IS THE NON-COMPETITIVE NEUTRAL ZONE FROM SHIVAJI PARK TO THE START

Once done with this climb, the pace picks up and the sprinters attack the Kamshet prime through fifteen kilometres of torturous crosswinds. From here on, its comparatively plain sailing as riders dodge highway traffic as they head for the finish. Lookouts, posted outside Pune, pass on word when the first rider has been spotted and all traffic is closed down on Junglee Maharaj Road. Crowds roar as they catch the first glimpse of the ragged riders. It’s a carnival as riders cross the finish line with much fanfare. This year’s race was won by Omkar Jadhav in a time of 4 hours, 13 minutes and 22 seconds. How tough is it? Out of about a hundred riders on average who begin the race only about twenty to thirty actually cross the finish line. The rest fall by the wayside.

RIDERS FOLLOWED BY ARDENT SUPPORTERS

Today, there is probably more prize money than ever up for grabs. But, unfortunately, standards have fallen. Once upon a time, it was probably an averagely organised race by international standards but, as the world has moved on it stayed the same. State sports associations do strive to keep things alive but professionalising sports where instant monetary returns can’t be guaranteed is a tough job. We aren’t sure what it will take for the modern Indian cyclist to live up to his and her predecessors, but for our part, we can at least ensure that we don’t lose a precious chapter of Indian sporting history to the dusty recesses of our attics. Vintage images courtesy of Santosh and Vishal Pawar and the modern image comes courtesy of Pratap Jadhav, Secretary of the Maharashtra Cycling Association

GHAATACHA RAJA BY KAMALAKAR ZHENDE Written in Marathi in 1990, this is the autobiography of Kamalakar Zhende hatrick winner of the Bombay-Poona race (1980, 81 and 82), the only one in its history. It covers the period from 1975 to the late 80‘s and while it delves into his life and training, the focal point is the Bombay-Poona race, as that was the epicentre of any Indian cyclists’ life. Delivering wonderful insight into the spirit and soul of the Bombay-Poona, it makes for a great read, if you can understand Marathi. We haven’t yet located a translation, but will be sure to let you know if we lay our hands on one.

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Kerman Framna King of the Ghats Back in 1987, Kerman Framna won the title of Ghaatacha Raja on a heavy, steel bike. He also went on to win the race that year and the next. Today, twenty-five years later, his record still stands. Kerman is now a senior statesman in the world of Indian cycling and is an inspiration to many young cyclists. He was happy to pen his memories of that ride and thoughts on the state of the Bombay-Poona race today, for us. Q: What prompted you to get into both cycling and the Bombay Pune race? A: I come from a family of cyclists. My cousin, the late Nauzar Kayani, was a professional cyclist. Watching him race and win races really inspired me to get into cycling. Once into cycling I just had one goal in mind - to win the great BombayPoona Cycle Race, which was then the most prestigious cycle race in our country. In those days every cyclist had just one goal and that was to win this race and they would train for this race all year round. Q: What was the Bombay-Pune race like back then?

KERMAN RIDING TO VICTORY AHEAD OF CHEERING FANS. IMAGE COURTESY KERMAN FRAMNA

A: Back in those days, all newspapers, one week in advance, would publish all details of the race and the favorites. People would start talking about it and plan Raceday Sunday. Most people would drive or ride till the ghats to see who would be the King of the Ghats. Some would even follow the complete race on the bike. Cyclists from all over the country would compete in the gruelling race which would start from the Mayor’s Bungalow in Bombay and end at the Junglee Maharaj Road in Poona. Getting equipment then was very very difficult and very costly but, somehow or the other, everyone did manage to get it.

Q: What inspired you to go after and claim the crown of 'King of the Ghats' and what does it mean to you to still hold that record? A: I was a good climber and, until then, 23:12 mins was the record, set by another good rider - the late Homi Bhathena. I had ridden it quite a few times abut couldn’t break it and it was getting more difficult to break it as the ghat roads were getting worse with the years. I would go and live in Lonavala for days to train on the ghats. Life was not so easy then, staying out and eating out for days meant a lot of money. Raceday 1987: To begin with, I was not the favourite for the race. All was fine and the race was going good when disaster struck. I and my good friend Porous Jassawalla were just chatting in the bunch when a motorcyclist pilot fell in front of Porous. He went down, followed by me and then Pramod Waghmare.10 to 12 of the top riders capitalised on this with a breakaway. We (Porous, Waghmare and I) just got up, picked up our cycles and started. Luckily nothing serious had happened to me or the cycle and I managed to catch the bunch just before the ghats and started climbing. I just kept going as if it was the last race of my life and, by the time i reached the top, I knew i had broken the record. I was timed at 21:24 mins - a record which stands till date. I also happened to win that race. Q: How has the Bombay-Pune race changed over the years? A: Over the years the race has sadly lost its charm. People are no more interested in watching and following the race. Riders are not serious and, lastly, the ghats that once were steep are no more the same - organisers have cut out the difficult climbs of the ghat section and have made it a bit easy. Equipment has changed - cycles have become lighter, you have different supplements which were never heard of then. Everything has advanced. But the time I set still remains to be broken.

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PROCYCLE BIKE TEST

KONA DAWGMA JACK OF ALL TRADES

On review this month, we decided to feature a do-it-all bike that is just outright fun to ride - the 2009 Kona Dawgma.

We’ve ridden the bike over a period of nearly a year so this is a proper long-term test.

The Kona Dawgma is a short-travel, full-suspension bike with 130mm of travel up front and 152 mm (6inch) at the rear, putting it smack between ‘Trail’ and ‘All-Mountain’ categories. It is designed to take on hard crosscountry trails and some technical trails.

Here’s the skinny. Kona crafted this bike out of race-lite 7005 grade aluminium which makes for very strong and stiff frame tubing. This gives the bike an agile and

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AGILE AND LIVELY, THE DAWGMA LETS YOU CHANGE DIRECTIONS IN A HEARTBEAT

active ride, ready to turn without the slightest hesitation. The downtube is hexagonal in shape and ‘phat’ - perfectly complementing the slim top tube. Kona’s suspension design has been tried and tested for many years and is very responsive on trails. The incorporation of sealed bearings into the linkages results in a minimum-maintenance, hassle-free bike. Now, our particular ride has been custom built i.e. pimped-out. This might come as a surprise to you when describing a bicycle, but it is standard practice for experienced riders to pick up only a frame and fork and build up the rest of the bike with components of their choice. This is mainly for two reasons - custom parts complement a specific riding style and you can buy components based on your budget. Your choice of parts can result in huge savings. Of course, if you can afford go all-out on everything, this doesn’t apply to you (though you might consider chucking some dosh in the direction of us starving bike testers). The stock rims are pretty soft with the hubs being low-end OEM Shimano, resulting in a wheel set which is both heavy and weak something we definitely did not want considering our bikes take a proper trail beating. The stock stem is also little too long for our taste. So, we picked up the frame, fork, shock and crankset and added wheels, derailleurs, shifters, brakes, stem and handlebar. We ran a pair of wheels that we keep in storage for just such occasions. With DT Swiss 5.1D rims laced with DT Comp spokes and Specalized hubs, these babies will laugh their way through a brick

GORGEOUS TUBING WITH A DESIGN INSPIRED BY A TOPOGRAPHICAL MAP

BOMBPROOF DT SWISS WHEELS WITH SCHWALBE BLACKJACK TYRES

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ROCKSHOX MONARCH 3.1 THE BRAIN OF THE DAWGMA. THE KNOB ON TOP OF IT IS THE ‘GATE’ WHICH ALLOWS YOU TO ADJUST THE SHOCK

THE BRILLIANT ROCKSHOX TORA

BLING! WHEN THE REAR SUSPENSION IS RAMPED UP, IT’S A CAPABLE CLIMBER TOO

wall. We added a nice, wide RaceFace Respond bar with a Gravity short stem and our tried, tested and loved Avid Elixir R hydraulic brakes. Drivetrain duties are taken care of by Shimano’s top-of-themiddle-end package of SLX rear derailleur and Deore front derailleur, with Deore shifters. On pretty much our first hard ride on the bike, we whacked a pedal on a rock and the stock FSA crank did a good imitation of putty and bent out of shape. Out the window it went and we blinged out our ride with top-ofthe-line Raceface Turbine cranks geared to thrive under maximum abuse. How does she ride? The ride and handling of the Dawgma are completely dependable. The dialled-in geometry ensures it’ll take anything and everything in its lazy stride. The bike is relatively lightweight and this makes it oodles of fun to ride on all sorts of terrain. Its what we call a ‘park bike’ rather than a race machine. The superb-value-for-money Rockshox Tora 318 fork uses an airdamping cartridge which makes it phenomenally light and responsive. With rebound control and preload adjust, it offers everything you will need at this level. Our resident trailbunny continually goes through all 130mm of travel and it just sits up and begs for more. We haven’t detected leakage of any sort so far.

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POINT ITS NOSE DOWN AND HAVE A BOATLOAD OF FUN!

At the rear we have a Rockshox Monarch 3.1 shock. While this is a little old in terms of technology, there is a lot to be said for reliability. It can be tuned to offer a plush ride on the trails or it can be ramped up (pressure increased in the cartridge) to a point where it almost feels like a hardtail - a versatile shock indeed, and the foundation on which the Dawgma’s jack-of-all-trades reputation is built. Just like most other full-suspension bikes, the Dawgma is a victim of ‘suspension-bob’ - that bouncing effect which robs you of your effort when you get up and stomp on the pedals. Luckily, Monarch has a little knob referred to as the ‘gate’. Turn it a few clicks and it and the rear suspension stiffens up, allowing you to steadily wind your way uphill. Its when you hit the top and point its nose down however, that the fun really starts. Open up the gate, give the suspension full reign and just drop into that trail. The Dawgma begs to be let loose and delivers thrills by the bucketful. The bike goes exactly where you want it to and you can trust it to plough through pretty much anything in your path. If you’re an advanced rider, you won’t be challenging yourself since it is limited by its short-travel fork, but its one heckuva blast. Ripping over medium sized rocks and jumps even, the Kona is one little bundle of fun and you’ll have a wide grin plastered all over your face by the time you hit the bottom. Full suspension bikes don’t come cheap. But, if you’re in the market for a bike that’ll do pretty much anything decently and give you a whole day full of fun, without breaking the bank, this is the one for you.

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BIKERS’ LAIR

FORUM MALL, BANGALORE Mall rats of the world, rejoice! No longer will you be scornfully turned away by parking attendants or sent to a space resembling a junkyard in the rear. Forum Mall in Koramangala, Bangalore has not only demarcated a parking space for cyclists, it is smack dab in the centre of the basement lot and right in the line of sight of the guards’ booth. What’s more, they issue you a ticket but levy no charge when you leave. It appears some good things in life do come free.

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PROFILED BY PROCYCLE

THE DOCTORS RAO Dr. Shalini Rao always wished she had learnt how to ride a bicycle. While Deepak (also a doctor) rode a bike as a kid, it had been ages since he had got on a saddle. When they decided it was high time that Malini (Rao Junior) learnt how to cycle, they went hunting for the right bike for her and ended up with three instead - one for each of them. That was four years ago. In the months that followed Deepak spent many hours chasing the two ladies in his life, up and down the street. In the process, he rediscovered his love for pedalling. For Shalini, falls, scratches, bumps and even a full-on tryst with a wall (coming downhill) ensued. But, nothing could keep her off her bike. Barely two months later, she bought her first roadbike and never looked back. People cite all sorts of reasons for riding a bike getting fit, saving the environment, beating traffic, etc. But, for the Doctors Rao, its a much more fundamental impulse - fun, pure and simple. The joy of riding that simple machine keeps them glued to it. The rest is gravy. Shalini refuses to clock her miles, preferring instead to count the hours she cycles (eleven hours a week on average). She loves the solitude and space that time in the saddle gives her. Deepak is a dyed-in-the-wool roadie who is now coming up on the landmark milestone of 40,000 kms (you read that right - forty-thousand). Slim and fit, he counts every gram of food he eats but, balances out his painfully-won average weekly calorific savings by indulging in his favourite ice cream - Death By Chocolate. Today, bicycling has turned into an all-consuming passion for this family. They’ve done biking holidays to England, Italy, France, Wales and the U.S and have just booked their next trip in August (destination secret). Turn the page to get a little taste of what one of their bike holidays is all about.

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THE FOLDIES GO TO FRANCE PART 1: OVER THE ALPS Words and images by Deepak and Shalini Rao

OUR HOME AWAY FROM HOME

After a few cycling trips in Europe and the US, we decided that we would dedicate one trip exclusively to climbs. We would stay in one place and head out to various mountains within striking distance. Destination - France, with a week in the Alps and a week in the Jura mountains. Research done well in advance, Shalini got us great fares for the flights (as in free - curtesy credit card miles). We rented a cottage away from the city with kitchen, laundry, oven, dishwasher, wifi (essential for planning rides and scouting local eateries) and, last but not the least, plenty of place to assemble our Bike Fridays - our

folding bikes which we carry with us on trips. We flew from Bangalore via Frankfurt to Geneva from where we can enter France through an exit right at the airport. We are big foodies and French baguettes and desserts are to die for. We stock up on a variety of meats, veggies, milk, coee, soft drinks, yoghurt and of course plenty of the fabulous French wines, before heading to the cottage. Shalini has learnt French over the course of the last few trips and this constantly comes in useful. Get to the cottage, unpack and assemble the bikes and then, pop the wine. The holiday has oďŹƒcially begun!

BAGUETTES AND BREADS TO DIE FOR

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ANOTHER CLIMB CONQUERED

We wake up by about 6 a.m everyday and walk to the local boulangerie to pick up breakfast. After a huge breakfast, we drive to our destination, park at the base and ride to the top, either eating at a café on the summit or having a packed picnic lunch along the way. Great food tastes even better after a gruelling climb. The Alpine mountain passes (called ‘Cols’ in French) we ride are the Col de Pierre Carree, Col de la Columbier, Col des Aravis, Col de la Croix Fry, Col de la Ramaz and Col du petit San Bernard (from the Italian side, after driving through the Mont Blanc tunnel).

MILES TO GO BEFORE WE SLEEP

The weather is mixed. We see some rain but also gorgeous days of bright sunshine. Of course, the scenery just doesn’t get better than this. The roads are fantastic for cycling all through and we enjoy every single kilometer of it. No wonder the Tour de France passes through the region.

A PICTURESQUE LAKESIDE TOWN

We manage about five days of riding, out of the six that we have in the Alps, one day being rained out. On the seventh day, we pack up and head out to the Jura mountains. Watch out for the second part of ‘The Foldies go to France’ in our next edition

BIKES IN THE BACK

BREAKFAST ON THE MOVE

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A few years ago, Sven Schirmer decided he wanted to see the world and absorb cultures. Cliched you say? Well there’s nothing cliched about cycling across continents. We bring you Part 1 of the story of his last trip which was from Vancouver in Canada, all the way down through North and central America, to Argentina and then Peru. Stay subscribed for more tales from the road less taken. ACROSS THE AMERICAS (PART 1) by Sven Schirmer Vancouver Airport, 8 AM, early September. The air is crisp, the sun is shining – perfect cycling conditions. In the distance I can see snow-caped mountains under blue skies. Within a few hours I’m at the border to the United States and eventually get my three-month permit after some questioning. Now I’m in the country of Thoreau, Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac, I can taste the freedom on endless small roads heading south. All the way down to San Diego, and then further into Mexico, that’s the plan. The West coast trip has been recommended to me by

many Americans I’ve met, and autumn is the season to do it. Excited and jetlagged I pedal almost 120 kilometers until sundown, and eventually find a campground with a group of American cyclists that invite me to camp on their space and share some dinner. The next few days I manage to cycle around the Olympic peninsula with its mossy primary forests and great shores. Splendid scenery, little traffic and just a few towns – that is cycling at its best. Vagabond life with tent and a little stove, with sparkling cool rivers as bath tubs. After a brief visit to my friends in Seattle I climb a pass between the snow capped Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens. It should become a day of severe cranking, 5500 elevation feet and 70 miles with full load and little food and water. No towns, no traffic out here. This is wilderness. Splendid views of the peaks compensate for the effort. Traces of the mighty eruption that blew the entire top of Mount St. Helens in 1980 are still visible. GIANT REDWOOD TREES TOWER OVERHEAD IN CALIFORNIA

THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE LOOMS OUT OF THE FOG IN SAN FRANCISCO

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Eager to get further south quickly. Eager to escape the chilly autumn breeze. I get back to the coast and find the famous Pacific Coast Bicycle Route. Oregon is called Emerald country for its greenish coastline. The bike route leads partly on the highway, partly on smaller roads along the hilly shore, through neat surfer towns with colorfully painted wooden houses. Along the specific route, campgrounds are often set up with so-called ‘Hiker Biker’ sites, where bicyclists camp for 5 dollars and meet fellow bicycle travelers to share stories and an occasional wine. Some of them are actually on the great trip from Alaska to Ushuaia in Patagonia. The days of cycling linger on, and eventually I am in California. The coastline to San Francisco passes through the towering Redwood forests. With trees up to 400 feet, these are the tallest on earth. Cycling and hiking through the Redwoods is an experience unlike any other. The scale of these trees is just overwhelming, even though it keeps raining and raining. Early settlers quickly discovered the value SVEN SOMEWHERE ALONG THE COAST of the hard and resistant wood and within a century diminished the Redwood Leaving San Francisco late in the morning, pushing too much for mileage population by 90 percent, but that’s a different story. and ignoring the bicycle trail signs I suddenly find myself on a high pace Interstate highway, into which another three-lane highway merges from the One exciting month on the saddle - I arrive in San Francisco and enjoy the right. Cold sweat, loud horns, flashing blue lights – I’m lucky to get a comfort of a warm bed under a real roof for a change. It is a great city for police escort to the next exit. relaxed bicycling. If you don’t mind the steep hills, you can get anywhere in the city on small roads with little traffic. One evening on a campground there are two girls calling,“You want some wine?” They are Kathrin and her friend from Switzerland, and they are both cycling too. Later that night I hear some funny noises near my tent. Raccoons on the campground! These cute rascals smell food anywhere, and don’t mind ripping panniers or tents to get their dinner. Better to hang your stuff up high or store it in a proper food locker, and make sure there are no holes in it. The food locker the girls had chosen actually had a plank missing, and an entire bunch of raccoons is happily feasting on pasta and cereals and fruits. The further South I get, the dryer the country gets. Less rain, more sun - yet the Pacific is still very cold, almost to cold for a swim. Strawberry fields are being harvested by Mexican workers. A few more miles, a week off the saddle by volunteering on an organic farm, and suddenly I am in San Diego. Kathrin is here too, and we decide to cycle together into Mexico. 2800 miles already done, and the journey goes on! You can follow Sven at www.mastersong.de

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BACKPACK SHOOTOUT

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Ever opened up your backpack on a trail, cursed at the mess inside and realised a regular backpack just doesn’t cut it? We have! So, here’s a shootout between the three packs that we think you should consider as a daypack - the Camelbak M.U.L.E (hereafter referred to as the ‘Mule’), the Dakine Nomad and the Hydrapak Morro. We do realise these are intended for slightly different uses but, we think its useful to compare them since we can’t all have multiple packs for different occasions.

Size matters The Morro and the Mule are roughly the same size at 11 and 13 litres of gear storage respectively, with a 3L bladder. The Nomad however, is much bigger in capacity with 18L of gear storage plus a 3L bladder. Having said this, it doesn’t look all that much bigger and its so well designed that it sits perfectly in the centre of your back. Difference in weight is barely noticeable. Not one for the weight weenies but definitely one for the trail rats. Storage Both the Dakine Nomad and Camelbak Mule have been designed to accomodate helmets. The Nomad in addition has straps below to carry body armour or a camping mat. With the Hydrapak Morro, one has to improvise. As you can see, in terms of pockets, the Mule has the least, the Morro has more and and both have one large space in which to dump stuff. The Nomad has neat, netted pockets specifically designed for everything from spare tubes to a pump (allowing you to see whats inside rather than having to scrabble around blindly), with a larger zippered space behind it. Of course, it

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also has more than 5L of gear space over the other two but that is either a good or bad thing depending on what you’re looking for. Depending on whether you are a dump-itall-in kind of person, or a neat freak, you might prefer the Mule and Morro or the Nomad. We like the latter. Hydration Camelbak has the world’s most well-known and loved hydration bladder with a massive opening on top allowing you to dump ice cubes and fluid into it at a quick rate. The bite valve also has the best flow-rate in the business. The Dakine actually uses the same bladder as the Morro (sourced from Hydrapak). Its like a ziplock bag with a sliding plastic clip at the top to keep it closed. It is much easier to clean than the Camelbak bladder, has a smart system for unclipping the tube and so far shows no signs of flimsiness. While flow rate on the bite valve isn’t as fast as the Camelbak, its not bad at all. The Morro has a little magnet on the tube which ensures that it always sticks to the shoulder strap and doesn’t flap around. With the others, you have to remember to clip the tube in place. The bottom line So which one would we pick? Our hearts unanimously lie with the Dakine Nomad. Its a true-blue freeride pack coming from the land of maniac riders weaned on the outdoors (Canada). The Mule is the more well-known, posher cousin but the Nomad is the badass on the block, laughing in the face of tons of abuse. The Hydrapak is more well suited to gentle trail rides and may not make for a bad commute bag, but it isn’t in the same league as the other two. We do however appreciate the fact that they’ve created a great bladder to go with the Nomad.

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DOWNHILL DIARIES

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Downhill mountain biking is the most extreme version of the sport of cycling. As the term implies, riders ride down a hill. But, this doesn’t even begin to describe the limits being pushed. If a hill can be ridden up, then its simply not steep enough. The right track would require you to carry your bike to the top. Then point its nose down and let gravity do the rest. Rocks, trees, roots, jumps, drops, berms - the goal is to go over (or through) just about anything, and reach the base of the hill in as short a time as possible. Busted bones and mangled metal are part and parcel of the sport. Mental? Indeed! Why do this? Ask any downhill rider and they’ll tell you that a few headlong minutes on a slope give them more of an adrenaline rush than most people experience in a lifetime. In India, downhilling is a sport in its infancy. But, the tribe is steadily growing and Team CRANK with ProCycle has more than its fair share of these gravity junkies. In the editions to come, we will cover various tracks across the country which play host to this new sport. In case any of you want to try your hand at it, you can meet us out on the slopes. Featured Trail: Turahalli Somewhere on the outskirts of Bangalore, on the road to Kanakpura, sits a little hill amidst a reserve forest. Once the exclusive playground of rock climbers, it has become the focal point of the downhilling movement in India, with the first (and only) downhill championships being held here. The trail is a short 600m with three jumps, but more routes are being developed around the central track, by the local cycling community. The main race route is a slow to medium course with a decent level of technicality. Head out here on a Sunday and check it out. If you hear a shout, do get off the trail. We wouldn’t want you to get run over.

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BOYS’ TOYS

GEAR THAT TURNS MEN INTO BABBLING BOYS

ZEFAL AIR PROFIL MICRO IT DOESN’T GET MORE CLASSIC THAN THIS MINI PUMP - PURE BRUSHED METAL IN A PACKAGE SO COMPACT THAT IT’S BARELY LARGER THAN A PERMANENT MARKER. WEIGHING IN AT AN ASTOUNDING 88 GRAMS (YOU READ THAT RIGHT!), EVERY ROADIE NEEDS ONE OF THESE. FOR MORE DETAILS DROP US A LINE AT CRANK@PROCYCLE.IN

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LEATHERMAN FREESTYLE THE BADDEST, MEANEST, COOLEST SURVIVAL TOOL IN THE BIZ. THE FREESTYLE IS LEATHERMAN’S MINIMALIST OFFERING. WITH PLIERS, WIRE CUTTERS AND A KNIFE SO SHARP YOU MIGHT CUT YOURSELF LOOKING AT IT, THIS IS THE TOOL YOU WANT TO GET LOST IN THE WOODS WITH.

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COPYRIGHT PROCYCLE AND SPORTS INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED

IMAGES BY RAHUL K THOMAS

GET OUT AND RIDE!

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CRANK with ProCycle - February 2013  

Its out! Our second edition of CRANK with ProCycle kicks off in a bygone era of Indian cycling, takes you to the gorgeous forests of Canad...

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