Saturday, December 11, 2010

World of Adventure - Bike Messengers

Profile of 2006 Markus Cook Award winner Squid, with Team Puma and NYC messengers
race on World of Adventure Sports. Velo City Series Messenger Track Racing.
September 17, 2006

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Youth Hostels Association of India - West Bengal: PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION - NHTE 2010

Youth Hostels Association of India - West Bengal: PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION - NHTE 2010: "In accordance to Centenary celebration of IYHF & 60 yrs. of YHA, 58 yrs. of YHAI, WB State Branch, we are organising photographic compe..."


In accordance to Centenary celebration of IYHF & 60 yrs. of YHA, 58 yrs. of YHAI, WB State Branch, we are organising photographic competition on under-noted themes :
a) Nature ( wild life, birds, flowers, sceneries)
b) Trekking

You may send your colour prints in the size 8” x 10”. Please mention details of location and date of photography, your name, group No. and address on the reverse of the photograph. Perhaps you may be the one to get a cash award or certificate of merit. YHAI, WB State Branch has the right to retain/ use even the entries, which are not selected for award with due acknowledgment/compensation. Last date for submitting entries is 31st December 2010.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Encounters with the masai and the king - Anjaly Thomas

Reuben, my driver and guide for the next three days on my great African safari, arrived just as I was ending a very interesting conversation with a missionary from Ghana over breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant. In Arusha on business, he was about to launch into the tale of an attempted break-in in his room the night before, when Reuben interrupted. 
‘‘Mambo. We will leave in 10 minutes’’,  he declared.
I thought it rude to interrupt a conversation but clearly Tanzanians thought nothing of it. The missionary gave me a meaningful wink. Then with a warm hug and promises to keep in touch, I left in search of Reuben, who had, in the blink of an eye vanished into his large safari car.
Safari cars are built to accommodate four, including baggage, food stuff, tents and such like. However, I was alone, having suddenly decided to go on a safari as a treat for summitting Mt Kilimanjaro.
It began to rain as we pulled out of Arusha, and Reuben, despite his initial frostiness, thawed enough to launch into a stream of guide-talk.Arusha had a lot going for it. It was at a higher altitude than Moshi, was close to Mt Meru, had pleasant weather and was the gateway to all national parks in the northern circuit. In short, it was one rummy town that demanded attention. I decided to allot some time to it upon my return.  
Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara 
Our destination was Tarangire National Park. After two road surprises (Hakuna Matata, Reuben said, for it was normal) we reached a village before turning towards the park and had our third surprise. A flat. Hakuna Matata, repeated Reuben, brandishing a jack and calling out to villagers who promptly arrived to help. I took the time to familiarise myself with my surroundings. 
I was a foreigner in their land. To them, I smelt of money. Masai women with necklace and bracelets pressed their wares on me. Children posed for pictures and demanded money for doing so. They stuck and refused to go till Reuben stepped in. The tyre had been fixed. We were off on the game drive.  “Let’s play,’’ grinned Reuben. Tarangire National Park promised much adventure. It was also here that I first saw a baobab tree.  The grass was tall which meant animal sighting would be difficult. We drove around, changing tracks, surprising hordes of gazelles and the occasional ostrich, while giraffe continued to strip trees of their green. In the distance, River Tarangire, muddy and swollen, snaked through the silent green landscape.It was exhilarating. 
Out in the middle of nowhere, life took on a different meaning. I had been told that game drives were addictive. It was true. Not a bad day after a lousy start. I spent the night at Sun Bright campsite in Mosquito River town, close to Lake Manyara.  The town lived up to its name. It was where I had my first taste of fried cassava and (acidic) fish from the lake Manyara.  The next morning the folly of sampling exotic food made itself known. Hakuna Matata, I told myself, popping another pill as we drove towards the Lake. I would soon get used to the African ways!Unlike Tarangire, Lake Manyara was dense, and we drove straight into a herd of elephants! Reuben warned me to keep the roof shut while passing under trees, fearing snakes would drop into the car! I didn’t believe him till I saw a poisonous green mamba crawling up a branch above me. A few metres away, a warthog stood on the road, refusing to move. I hesitated to bring out my camera, fearing he would run. But not until I had taken a couple of shots, did he show any signs of moving. Who would think that warthogs loved showing off! Something above me then caught my attention. A monkey with a strange blue-coloured behind! ‘‘Vervet monkey,’’ explained Reuben, knowing well the sudden encounter with the blue-scrotum primate had left me wondering. The hippo pool was particularly fascinating. It was my first real close encounter with them. By that time, Reuben had decided that it was best to leave me alone, and didn’t utter a word as I inched closer to the pool. I didn’t get past the fence as the pool was flooded. The best shots I managed were from the top of the safari car.Lake Manyara, which made up most of the national park, was beautiful. Thousands of flamingoes stood on the water’s edge while giraffe, buffalo, zebra and deer grazed peacefully nearby. Mongooses scurried about looking for food and bright coloured birds broke into a cacophony. Manyara could easily be called an ornithologist’s paradise!  
Masai Village, Ngrongoro Crater 
Enough birds, I thought. I now wanted to meet the Masai people, get up close with them. But Reuben discouraged every attempt I made, as we drove along. “They are not very friendly,” he said. “You must pay them for their pictures or they may attack you.” I was kind of getting used to pay-for-pictures scheme. But I didn’t understand the Masai attitude. I had to wait till we got to the Village. Our destination of the day was Ngrongoro Crater and a visit to the Masai Village, where I could take pictures without being attacked.  We passed through Ngrongoro Conservation Area (NCA). It was the end of tar roads. From here on it was dirt track. If we were lucky, we would find leopards sunning on the roads. 
The NCA, I was told was unique as it was the only conservation area that allowed humans to co-habit with wildlife! However, the thought of waking up with a lion was not a pleasant one.   The smell of dung directed us to a Masai Village, built in a circle. Tall, skinny men in traditional Masai shawls welcomed us. They even spoke English. Reuben warned me to leave money behind, for Masai, clever as they were with swords and sticks, also loved dollars!If it weren’t for the thrill of meeting the Masai, I would have stayed away from the village. It smelt of dung. Dark children in tattered clothing and running noses, women in colourful necklaces and earrings and smelling of the village eagerly surrounded me while the men tried to talk business. “You give sunglass, you take this,” said one, pushing a gourd decorated with plastic beads in my direction. They clearly didn’t know their math!Masai lived within the enclosure with cattle, their only source of income, that and the occasional dollar which came their way from generous tourists. (That morning there were a few.) We returned to the Crater. Time to greet the Big Five!Not so soon, for as we descended into the crater, thousands of zebra and wildebeest blocked our way! There was no hurrying them. We were in their territory, after all! I applied myself to the binoculars and was duly rewarded. At the edge of the water far away, sat a cheetah, a tiny speck, but even through the lens, he looked majestic. We drove slowly past buffaloes, zebra, gazelles, wildebeest, ostriches and the occasional elephant till we came upon the rare black rhino. He was coming straight for us! Reuben stiffened, but I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity. There were very few left. The rhino thundered his way through grass, passing few meters in front of us. It looked like he was marking his territory!The danger had passed.But I still hadn’t seen the Big Cat and was disappointed. “In the jungles, you need patience,’’ Reuben said. I suppose he was bored too, having no one but me to speak with. I could live with not seeing the tiger or the buffalo, but lions were something else. No game drive was complete without them. We drove around till we came upon other cars parked in a bunch close together. That could only mean one thing — The King had made an appearance.The Crater fell silent. I saw why.A few metres away, the royal couple was engaged in a private moment. The King, unmindful of watchers, let out satisfied roars. We must have stayed there for what seemed like an eternity, not breathing. It seemed vulgar to photograph them in their domain. 
Reuben broke into my thoughts.‘‘It’s lucky to see a mating lion; you will get married soon.”I suppose it would take another trip to Ngrongoro Crater to make his prophesy come true! Hakuna Matata.                              

 — Anjaly Thomas is a single Indian woman backpacker  -

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Our Tryst with Doodh Sagar Waterfall, Goa

The following are the pictures of our recent Trip to Dudhsaagar waterfalls... 
From Doodh-Ssagar 2010

Doodh Sagar Waterfall is one of the highest water falls in India, and among the hundred highest waterfalls in the world. It lies in the southern part of Goa at Mollem, towards the border with Karnataka state.
From Doodh-Ssagar 2010

Doodh Sagar, literally means a Sea of Milk in the local Konkanni language, and gets its name as it appears like an overflowing sea of milk. It has a total height of 306 meters and a width of 30 meters.
From Doodh-Ssagar 2010

HISTORY: Legend has it that a beautiful princess lived in the forest on the edge of the King's palace grounds. She enjoyed bathing in a lake nearby and ritually drank sweetened milk from a Golden Jug upon finishing with her bath. One day while enjoying her jug of milk she found herself being watched by a handsome prince standing amongst the trees. Red with embarrassment at her inadequate bathing attire, the Princess poured the jug of milk in front of her to form an improvised curtain to hide her body, while one of the maids rushed to cover her with a dress. The sweetened milk cascades down the mountain slope to this day as tribute to the virtue and modesty of the Princess. 
From Doodh-Ssagar 2010

LOCATION: Doodh Sagar Waterfalls, Goa
The falls lie high up in the Mandovi River's watershed and so are not particularly spectacular during the dry season. During the monsoon season however, the falls are transformed into one of the most powerful falls in India. Dudhsagar Falls is listed as India's 5th tallest waterfall, and is 227th in the world at 310 m. Trek route starts from Castlerock railway station, which used to be the customs checkpoint when the Portugese used to rule Goa. There are 11 tunnels on the way to the waterfall.
From Doodh-Ssagar 2010

Some more Trek Stories :-

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

7 Reasons Why the World is Best Explored on Foot

Ritemail: 7 Reasons Why the World is Best Explored on Foot

We travel the world for pleasure, business or to meet family and friends, and mostly, we let ourselves be transported by planes, trains, cars and whatever means are appropriate. But, if we stop for a moment and think about the origin of the word 'travel' we will realize that we often neglect the most natural means of transport - our feet.

'Travel' derives from the Old French word 'travail' which means work. This in turn apparently goes back to the Latin word 'tripalium' which was a three-legged sort of whip used by the Romans to drive slaves. Being on the move was work, walking miles and miles to get from A to B, getting dirty and sweaty in the process.

No modern-day traveler is required to submit himself to torture, but a little bit of 'travail' by exploring our destinations on foot, as opposed to hopping on a tour bus and letting yourself be guided to pre-selected destinations, goes a long way to increasing the pleasure of travel. We travel to satisfy our curiosity and to discover the real side of the country of our choice. If we don't put in a bit of legwork we will miss out on all of the following:
Meeting the locals

You have arrived at your destination and the first thing you do is get your bearings. More after the break...

Plan in hand and shunning a guided tour, I made my way to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. As inevitably happens, the map always looks different than the reality and I decided to ask directions of an elegant lady on the street. We fell into a conversation. "If you are looking for something really typical of Santiago," she said, "you should visit the statue of the 3 Marias, our local heroines."

She continued to explain that said Marias had been three sisters who, during the times of Franco, had suffered serious hardship. Bound on pulling themselves out of misery, they began to design and sew their own clothes and, every day at the dot of 3pm, set out on a walk around the city center, modeling their clothes and, as they had a lot of wit and a sharp tongue, flirting with the students and providing entertainment for an entire city during dreary times. After their death, a statue was erected in their honor and Galician poets even dedicated poems to them. No guidebook mentions this story, which I would not have discovered without taking to the street.

Beating the traffic
Have you ever thought how many taxis, buses and minibuses are needed to ferry tourists around and what that does to the environment? Take to your feet and you use the 'greenest' means of transport possible and, more often than not, you arrive faster than anybody on four wheels.

Our cruise ship had just docked in Charlotte Amalie, the capital of the Caribbean island of St. Thomas. I saw that the town center was approximately 2 miles away and decided to walk along the ocean front up to the 99 steps which I wanted to visit. My fellow passengers were not inclined to follow my example and headed for the buses and taxis. "Two miles," one gentleman huffed, "you can't walk  that!!" No? I thought to myself. Watch me.

Charlotte Amalie is a small town and the roads are not equipped to accommodate the sudden influx of thousands and thousands of cruise ship passengers, all arriving at once and all headed for the same direction. Result: they got stuck in a traffic jam and looked slightly miffed when I overtook them on foot, happily waving at some very long faces. Moreover, I arrived at the 99 steps and the World Amber Museum well ahead of the crowd and had the place to myself.

Exercise while seeing the sights
There is yet another benefit to exploring on foot. Just think that even one hour of walking at a leisurely pace burns 38 calories at a body weight of 150 lbs. That allows for a little extra treat without fear of putting on the dreaded holiday pounds and beats a treadmill any day.

Avoiding the tourist crowds
Tourist guides and hotel staff will recommend restaurants full of other travelers, but I prefer to go and take a look at where the locals assuage their hunger.

I was richly rewarded for this in Kusadasi, a lovely Turkish port town on the Aegean Sea. Discarding the more elegant places, I opted for a small, half-open place called "Toro" where I saw a lot of Turkish businessmen having their lunch. It had long communal tables and benches and an open hot and cold buffet where you just pointed at what you wanted. Or you could ask for fish and then sit down by the waterfront and watch fisherman pulling out what you were about to eat a few minutes later. The lamb shanks I had were so tender that I didn't need a knife and a rich fruit platter came as free desert. The total bill was a lot cheaper than anywhere else, because if not, the locals would have protested.

Discovering curiosities
The real joy of travel is to come upon sites which aren't mentioned anywhere and that's only possible if you deviate from the beaten path - on foot. Another stop of my cruise was Tortola and its tiny capital Road Town. Meandering along Main Street, I happened upon a folklore museum which was the smallest museum I have ever seen - just one room and easy to miss. I was the only visitor and the curator told me a lot of local stories, which taught me a more about the island life and mentality than any guide book could have.

Seeing nature up close and personal
Taking to your feet allows you to enjoy tropical flora and fauna at close quarters. A botanical garden is fine, but a 'jungle walk' on your own is a much better adventure.

Again in St. Thomas, I saw the Skyride, a cable car going up and down Flag Hill to Paradise Point. I admit, I took it up, but when I discovered a path leading down, I decided to follow it. My first companion was a bright red butterfly which settled on my shoulder and stayed with me all the way. I saw colorful birds and lizards scuttling out of the way and enjoyed wonderful views of the island and the ocean peeking through the trees. Best of all, I was all alone.

Feeling like you belong
In my eyes, that's the best of all. Anybody moving in a group or climbing out of a tourist bus is instantly tagged as a tourist and treated as such. Walking the streets on your own gives you a real feel for the place and - at least for a while - you belong. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cycle rally to popularize tourist spots

Chief minister B S Yeddyurappa will inaugurate a cycle jatha on October 8 at Castle Rock, said B Mallesh, Haliyal deputy conservator of forest. Addressing reporters at Haliyal on Monday, Mallesh said the two-day cycle jatha is aimed to popularize important tourist locations like waterfalls, historical spots, places of pilgrimages and beaches in Uttara Kannada district. 

The jatha, which is being carried out in connection with the Greater Canara Green Tourism, will cover 250 km from Dudhasagar Falls to Jog Falls. The jatha will begin at 8 am on October 8 and reach Jog on October 10. 

He said the jatha will showcase the green tourist spots of the district, apart from conveying a message to protect the forests and environment. It will also give job opportunities for the youths, he added. 

Cyclists of national and international fame will participate in the jatha, along with cadets of National School of Defence, Bijapur, for whom, a cycle race of 70 km will be arranged. The first three victorious candidates will be awarded the Greater Canara Parisarashri award. 

Mallesh said it is mandatory for guards, foresters, forest officers and assistant conservator of forests to participate in the rally, while interested youths, college students can also join in, he added. 

The CM will inaugurate it at the Railway school ground at Castle Rock on October 8, along with cricketer Anil Kumble, vice-president of Karnataka Wildlife Suggestion Committee. Tourism minister Janardhana Reddy will inaugurate the adventure camp and forest minister C H Vijayashankar will participate in the rally, apart from ministers, MLAs, MP, other public representatives, environment experts and writers. 

Read more: Cycle rally to popularize tourist spots - The Times of India

Trek to Yana (Karwar District, Karnataka)

YanaThis is a featured page

Location: India>Karnataka>Karwar
Nearest Towns: Sirsi, Kumta.
From Bangalore: 400+ km From Sirsi: 40 km From Kumta: 25 km From Karwar :86 km

Image courtesy -

Route: From Bangalore you come to Sirsi though Haveri where the major distance of the drive would be on NH4 else from Shimoga route, which is the Bangalore–Honnavar highway.

Route I: Take a bus from Sirsi which goes to Mattighatta,devanalli via hegadekatta.Get down at a stop called "vaddi cross" and walk 6+kms from there.Route II: Take a bus either from Sirsi or Kumta get down at a place called Anegundi near Kathagaal. This place is after the Devimane ghats if you are coming from Sirsi. From here it is around 16kms walk. Jeep is the best mode of transportation anywhere in North Kanara. You can hire a jeep either in Sirsi or anywhere your base camp is and take convenient drives. 

Best Time To Visit: November to May
Worst Time To Visit: Monsoons - June to September

Summary: This place in thickets of the Sahyadri hills of the Western Ghats is around 45 km from Sirsi and about 25 km from Kumta. Two huge rocks are the center of attraction here. There are two temples, temple of Shiva inside a cave and a Ganesha temple nearby. The other places of interest are a small waterfall and the forest itself.
On Haveri route to Sirsi, one would arrived at the place called Vaddi cross. Earlier all the motor able roads would end here and the trek to Yana from here would be 17 km. Now we have roads, which take very close to Yana. The road ends 3 km from Yana. One can start the trek from Vaddi cross. There is well-defined path from here to the Yana used by devotees and trekkers here. After walking 3 km, two gigantic peaks towering around all the forests and mountains will appear, the Bhairaveshwara Shikhara and the Mohini Shikhara. These two shikharas are the ones, which have made Yana distinct from other regions in the Sahyadri and have captured the imagination of generations of people. These two peaks are one of the mysteries of the Mother Nature yet to unraveled as two how there are here in the midst of forest terrain. The taller one, Bhairaveshwara Shikhara stands 120 meters and the slightly smaller one, Mohini Shikhara is 90 meters from its base. They are solid composition of black, crystalline limestone. At the base of the Bhairaveshwara shikhara is a cave temple, a natural formation where resides the Lord Shiva . Water drips from the projecting rocks over the linga, and devotees call it Gangodbhava. The cave also has a bronze icon of Chandika, an incarnation of mother Goddess Durga. Trickled from the rocks form a small river, 'Chandihole' which joins the Aghanashini river at Uppinapattana. There is a grand jatra held every year during Shivaratri for 10 days and is attended by around 10,000 people. Devotees are allowed inside the cave only on these days .These peaks have a myth associated with them as to be the place where Lord Vishnu as Mohini killed the Bhasmasura, a rakshasa. One can camp at the temple. Mind you this place is very sacred and the priests have to be notified about using the premises. Infact you are not allowed to walk with the footwear on the whole the Bhairaveshwara shikhara itself is revered and looked upon as Lord Shiva abode. Out of the temple starts out the steps, which lead to the Mohini Shikhara. There is a descent of around 30 to 40 feet. At the foot of the shikhara is Goddess Parvati’s udbhava murti. Here one can find many pitch dark caves and can hear the noise of bats. The rock formations are terrific. A guide is recommended as it is very easy to get lost in this area if we miss a turn. You may take a deviation into the forests and explore. The variety of flora is amazing. You can go around the shikhara and this place is a very good spot for Rock climbing. Many caves are present amongst these rocks and are a very good place for camping. The terrain makes it very difficult to walk in the darkness even with torches as it is very dicey with all the slopes covered by trees and shrubbery. One can camp near the temple and good thing about this place is that it has all the facilities for toilet and water. Next morning, you can go to see the Bhairaveshwara Shikhara, the place that beckons the people to Yana. There is a well charted route to take a pradakskina of the peak which on its own is the pradakshina of the temple as the lord Shiva is sanctified within the peak
After climb for some distance, you come across a huge cave with a opening at the top just enough to allow the light. From the mouth of the cave, you get a panoramic view of Yana forests and is a superb view. We climbed high up the peak as far as possible wherever the effort needed was less. These peaks are swarming with bees. After the peaks, you can pack lunch and go to the Vibhuti Falls. You need to trek back the 3 km to our van and take a ride to the falls. This road is very narrow and winding as it descends down the valley and ends 2 km from the falls. A jungle trail used by people goes to the falls and we took this track and trekked to the falls. This trail is very enchanting as there are agricultural field on the right and the jungle on the left. There is a big water falls of about 20 to 25 ft and a small one of 3 ft. This site is very good for camping and offers some mesmerizing sceneries down the valleys. This river streams forms many such waterfalls on its way down the valley.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010



The DPW – Transportation Division provides staff support to the members of the Brookline Advisory Committee which was created by the Transportation Board to advise the Board on issues related to bicycling in Brookline. Members are appointed by the Board to serve three year terms. Meetings are usually held on the first Monday of the month in the library of the Edward Devotion School, 345 Harvard Street, Brookline. We welcome members of the public. For more information on the activities of the Bicycle Advisory Committee go
In order to improve bicycle safety and promote greater bicycle use, the Brookline Bicycle Advisory Committee developed a master plan for a network of safe bicycle routes. This plan should be complemented with other Town efforts to improve conditions for cycling, including provisions for bicycle parking, safety education, and ensuring that every street project undertaken by the Department of Public Works includes reasonable accommodation of bicycles and pedestrians. Click here to view the Safe Routes Plan

Think Safety First When Using the Public Way

As the Town continues to focus on building a strong multi-modal transportation network that encourages cycling and public transportation as reasonable alternatives to personal vehicle use, we strongly encourage all bicyclists and motorists to check out the new initiative "Same Roads. Same Rules.": a guide to safer bicycling and driving within Massachusetts launched by MassBike and Massachusetts Departments of Transportation, Public Safety & Security, and Conservation & Recreation.

Bicycling Safety

Bicycling is an important means of transportation used by many for traveling to work or school. To provide a safe travel environment, drivers must take special care to watch out for bicycle riders, and bicyclists must obey all traffic laws by riding in a responsible manner. Bicyclists are legally entitled to use the roads in Brookline, even though their slower speeds can pose problems for motorists. It’s easy to share the road when we all drive safely and are considerate of others. Here are some basic driving rules that motorists and bicyclists are encouraged to follow.

Always be aware of bicyclists that may be on the road. As motorists, we must all respect the rights of other road users, including bicyclists. Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles.
Reduce your speed when passing bicyclists, especially if the road is narrow.
Don’t blast your horn when approaching a bicyclist – you could startle them and cause an accident.
When a road is too narrow for cars and bikes to ride safely side by side, bicycles will move into the center of the travel lane.
Recognize obstacles that may be hazardous to bicyclist – such as potholes, debris, and drain grates – and give them adequate room to maneuver around them.
Do not pass bicyclists if oncoming traffic is near. Wait as you would with any slow-moving vehicle. Your patience could help prevent an accident.
In bad weather, give bicyclists extra trailing and passing room. Also use extra caution during the morning and evening hours when bicyclists are traveling and traffic is heaviest.
Give at least 3 feet of passing room space between the right side of your vehicle and a bicyclist, just as you would with a slow-moving car.
After passing a bicyclist on your right, check over your shoulder to make sure you have allowed enough room before moving over. Experienced riders often travel 25-30 mph and may be closer than you think.
Do not pass bicyclists if you will be making a right turn immediately afterwards. Always assume a bicyclist is traveling through unless they signal.
When turning left at an intersection always yield to oncoming bicyclists, just as your would to an oncoming motorist.
Before opening your car door, always look for bicyclists that may be approaching.
Children on bicyclists are unpredictable – expect the unexpected and proceed very cautiously.

Maintain and regularly inspect your bike and always wear a helmet to prevent head injury.
Be visible and predictable when riding your bike. Wear bright colors, ride straight in a predicable manner, and signal before changing direction
Ride with traffic. Always ride on the right side and do not pass motorists on the right. If you approach an intersection with a right turn lane and want to continue straight, ride with through traffic. When a road is too narrow to ride side by side, take the travel lane.
Watch for potential hazards such as drains, potholes, train tracks, or debris. Allow time to maneuver safely around these obstacles while negotiating traffic. Avoid riding into open car doors by giving yourself 3-4 feet separation distance.
Signal all turns. Look back before your make a lane change or turn, and signal well in advance of your turning movement.
Make a left turn by either moving into the left travel lane (or turning lane) and turning with the traffic, or by stopping, dismounting, and walking across a crosswalk like a pedestrian.
Obey all traffic laws including stops signs, traffic lights, and other traffic controls. Bicyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles.
Ride in single file in traffic, except when passing others.
Bicyclists must yield to pedestrians. Be courteous when approaching others by a warning sound or signal.
Many sidewalks in Brookline are too narrow to accommodate 2-way pedestrian travel and bicycle travel. Please respect the safety of pedestrians by traveling on the street. State Law forbids riding a bicycle on the sidewalk in commercial districts where pedestrian travel is heaviest.

On Biking: some bike slang for beginners - Brookline - Your Town -

On Biking: some bike slang for beginners - Brookline - Your Town -

Worried you won’t be able to follow the water cooler chatter as your co-workers talk about the Tour de France, which starts Saturday? Here’s a short list of bicycle slang for beginners :

Animal is a strong rider.

Bail is to quit a race or a ride.

Bonk is to lose all your energy, usually from overexertion and a lack of food or fluid, it happens to the best of us, even Lance.

Broom wagon is a van that follows the race and picks up riders who are injured or unable to finish.

Cadence is how fast you pedal.

Cleat is the plastic on the bottom of your cycling shoe that clips into your pedals.

Crump is another word for bonk.

Cobblestones are roads paved with stones that jut out and look like cracked teeth, they are technically challenging to ride and usually result in a nasty crash.

Dialed in means your bike fits you perfectly.

DNF is did not finish, meaning you bonked, crashed or bailed.

Echelon is a line of cyclists that snakes across the road so that each rider blocks a crosswind for the biker behind him.

Domestique is a biker with no hope of winning, he’s only riding to assist the team leader.

Endo occurs when you crash and vault end over end across your handlebars, often you land on your head

Epic is a long ride that animals love.

Gap is the distance between you and the rider up ahead.

Grand Classification, or GC, is the overall winner, the rider with the lowest cumulative time; he’s the one he gets to wear the maillot jaune, or yellow jersey.

Green jersey is awarded to the rider who wins the most points for sprinting.

Grind is to use a hard gear and really push, it’s bad for your knees and you have to be built like a fullback to effectively ride this way.

Hammerfest is a ride where everyone grinds.

King of the mountains is the best climber of the Tour, he wears the polka dot jersey.

Lantern rouge is the last person to finish the Tour de France, like the red lamp on a caboose.

Peloton is a group of bikers riding together to block the wind for each other and make the pedaling easier.

Stage is a single day of a multi-day bike race.

Prologue is a short time trial that starts off a stage race.

Tacoed is when your wheel collapses and looks like a taco shell.

Toasted is when you are spent but you have not bonked.

Wheel sucker is someone who hangs onto your back wheel and uses your draft to get a free ride without sharing the load.

White jersey is given to the best young rider of the Tour.

Jonathan Simmons is a Brookline psychologist and avid cyclist. Read his column about the Tour de France here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Travel like a Journalist
by E.L. | LONDON

(Women readers will probably find this post rather annoying as convention dictates that they have to look smarter than men.)

I was recently talking to Charlemagne and we noticed that we were dressed identically—heavy cords, tweed jacket, brown shoes etc. That’s the ideal journalistic clothing: warm, presentable and clean, and easily made informal by discarding the tie.

The tie is a useful signalling device. Some people plan this carefully (eg, wearing blue-black-white when going to Estonia). I find it better to wear my university (LSE) tie. It often starts conversations at airports or on trains. LSE alumni are just the sort of people you want to meet.

Here are a few other tips from 25 years of life as a perpetual traveller.
You can manage for a week out of a laptop bag, so long as you fold your shirts neatly. It is good to have one with three compartments as it is embarrassing if you have to rummage for a pen and notebook at a meeting and find your dirty laundry emerging from the bag. The bag itself should ideally cost nothing—the kind given out at conferences are ideal, especially the World Economic Forum ones.

The sponge bag should be tiny and light. Key contents: an almost exhausted tube of toothpaste which weighs nothing and doesn’t show up at baggage control; a sliver of soap; a battery-powered razor, using the kind of AA batteries that you can recharge from a USB port on the computer. Then you can use them for your dictaphone as well. Also, a tiny sewing kit, a couple of pills (two sleeping pills, two pain-killers, two Imodium; a couple of sticking plasters (band-aids in American); spare cufflinks; an almost exhausted roll of sticky tape, a blob of Blu-Tack, a few yellow Post-it notes, spare fountain-pen cartridges. In backward places a film canister full of green tea leaves is handy. In travels round the ex-Soviet Union I used to carry another canister full of Marmite (a strange British food product that you spread on bread or dissolve in water). But it looks disconcertingly like raw opium and in these security-conscious days can attract unwelcome attention. However, a few sticks of biltong weigh nothing, keep for ever, and ward off hunger if you are stuck on the Moldovan-Transdniestrian border in an immobile queue for a couple of hours. I also keep pay-as-you-go SIM cards for the main countries that I cover and use them in a lightweight $20 mobile phone that I bought in Dubai: much cheaper than roaming charges, both for you and people wanting to call you. And it confuses the chekists.

Travel comfort: an inflatable neck cushion, a blindfold and earplugs are a lot cheaper than flying business class. Take off your shoes as soon as you get in the plane.

Electronics used to take up too much space but that’s getting better now that you can recharge things with a USB cable. That means no Blackberry or iPod chargers. If you know you are staying in a hotel with a kettle in the room you can even leave your laptop cable behind and use the one attached to the kettle. The little Sony ICF-100 radio is still useful sometimes, but increasingly I listen to radio on my laptop. (That way you get Ekho Moskvy as well as the BBC.) But it is well worth the extra weight to get an extended battery for your laptop.

In Soviet days I never travelled without several thousand dollars in cash, just in case I needed suddenly to rent a satellite phone or buy an air ticket from a cash-only travel agent. However, it’s still useful to take postage stamps—I carry them for all the countries that I cover. Plus lots of passport photos—you never know when you will need some pointless accreditation or visa. Also handy: lots and lots of business cards, in wallet, jacket pockets and the bag. At a good conference you can get through hundreds. It’s annoying in this electronic age that these are still necessary, though if someone gives me theirs first I just get out my Blackberry and e-mail them my contacts, explaining that this is the modern thing to do. Also useful in the wallet is a tiny credit-card shaped torch.

Reading material: a photocopy of a good poem, preferably in Russian or some other foreign language that you have to think hard about, folded in the wallet just in case you are stuck with no electronic or other diversion.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

GIRLS, all geared up

On heavy-duty bikes, driving big powerful sedans, or even trucks, on India’s highways and pot-holed village roads, negotiating unwarranted male attention and questions like why aren’t you at home taking care of your family, a new tribe of young and not-so-young Indian women are taking road trips. Their stories are interesting, often funny and sometimes a little scary. One tip for would-be women roadies: old male truckers are usually helpful
Negotiating potholed roads in India is easy; convincing parents, friends, lovers and the rest of middle-class India that women are in the driver’s seat is the hard part. Having said that, wanderlust is taking a handful of women onto Indian highways and this emerging tribe of roadies has traveller’s tales that are both hair-raising and exhilarating. Driving through cattle can be easier than arguing with irate male road hogs. Thumbing a ride with the average Indian male is a strict no-no.

“We picked south India since we continue to find the south safer for women,” says entrepreneur Rajvi Mariwala (29) who hooked up with best friend Shruti Chakravarty (29), a social worker. The trip ran down the peninsula: Mumbai-Goa-Shimoga-Bangalore-Ooty-Cochin-Kanyakumari-Kodaikanal-Pondicherry-Chennai-Vijayawada-Hyderabad-Pune-Mumbai. Mariwala convinced her father to swap her Maruti Swift with his heavier Honda Accord, a suitable car for their 5,000 km-in-three-weeks quest. “Given that we had already done road trips in Europe and Greece, it was a challenge to see if we could pull it off in India,” says Chakravarty.

In 2007, Moksha Jetley, a 47-year-old businesswoman, got to live the dream she had since the age of 17. Tearing across the country in a heavy-duty bike was stuff straight out of Hollywood films. “In the ’80s, middle-class Indian society refused to encourage girls to venture into so-called male terrain. But my father sensed my interest in two-wheelers and taught me how to ride a scooter,” says Jetley. She graduated from riding her Vespa to a Royale Enfield 350cc mo-bike when she rode from Manali to Leh-Ladakh. Jetley is a single parent who runs Back and Beyond, a travel company that organises biking trips across India. “After my daughter started working, I was free of responsibilities and obligations. I decided to realise my teenage dream,” she says.

Women often have to upgrade vehicles since they usually drive lighter cars, unsuitable for road trips. Chandigarh-based fashion designer Jas Lakhmana (34) is trading in her Skoda Octavia for a four-wheel drive to suit her upcoming trip to Leh-Ladakh.
Whether travelling with the boys or the girls, travel writer Puneet Inder Sidhu has been voted the best driver. She is always behind the wheel, on a gut-busting trip to Bhutan or a joyride in the German countryside in a sporty Mazda Cabriolet. Sidhu believes that the gender you travel with is not so important, though “taking instructions from a male navigator is admittedly hard”.

The travellers stress the importance of choosing the right vehicle and planning the trip well ahead. “My travel agent of five years books me safe hotels. I always research online before taking off,” says Lakhmana.
Of course, life throws those curved balls at you. Mariwala and Chakravarty found themselves lost in Karanataka, with language not on their side. “None of us speak Kannada and we were trying to find our way to Mandagade where our host for the night was putting us up. We saw a signboard that announced Mandagate, a village. We should have guessed it was the wrong one,” says Chakravarty. They were stuck on a narrow road, looking for a hospital, the landmark that their host had told them about. “With a bullock cart in front of us, all we could do was join the laughter of the occupants of the cart,” says Mariwala.

The locals proved helpful. An old man drew a map in the dust with his stick, the village pujari was called and he spoke a few lines in English. Finally, they found Mandagade a 100 km ahead. “In Sholapur, we had a stimulating conversation on marriage with an orange seller. He wondered why the two of us weren’t married or at home, taking care of our kids. But he was open to our ideas, especially when we told him our parents supported our decision to travel,” says Chakravarty. In Pondicherry, a Muslim family invited them home for a meal and in Kodaikanal, their home-stay host treated them as fellow travellers with whisky and tall tales.

“We only had one nasty incident with an urban, English-speaking man and his wife in Bangalore. We accidentally grazed their car’s bumper while parking and they kicked up a ruckus, demanding a ridiculous sum of money. They even questioned our character,” says Chakravarty.
Sidhu, who was behind the wheel in an old and trusted Maruti Esteem on a Patiala to Delhi trip with a woman friend, faced many stares from fellow travellers on the way. “Some of them made U-turns to race or unnerve us. We actually welcomed the dark, so no one could see who was driving,” she says.

At 43, Divya Tate, believes in the eco-friendly bicycle, and has travelled across France and Thailand alone. But she felt vulnerable on a solo trip from Pune to Goa. “A big group of half-naked drunk males in cars with their stereos blasting really bothered me,” she says. Once, a flasher stalked her along the highway to Goa, but she found a village and he was soon discouraged. “I found that ignoring his open fly was the biggest insult I could have thrown his way,” says Tate. Despite these scary moments, she found that rural people in India were very hospitable. A divorcee, she believes women travelling alone should be careful not to land themselves in vulnerable positions. “I try to keep it simple and flexible. I keep the door open for the unexpected,” she says.

Sometimes, confrontation works better. “Given my age, most eve-teasers have lost interest. Even then, a biker followed me. I ignored him but he persisted, so I called up the nearest police station and alerted them. Then I went up to him and confronted him,” says Jetley.

Sometimes there is safety in numbers. Nine women found no hurdles while hiring Honda Activas to make their way around Goa, a watered-down version of Hell’s Angels. “We were very diligent while driving down in our two cars from Mumbai—only music and no alcohol,” says Akshata Ravi (27), a BPO group trainer who has done frequent trips to Goa. Once there, the women ditched their cars and hit the beach. “On my 27th birthday, we were all so high, it took an hour to find our bikes. Then we tried to ride them. It was shakiest drive of my life,” says Ravi. “After bumping into a couple of trees, we decided to make it back to the cottage on foot!” she says.
The important thing about being with a group of girls is that there is no ‘head of the pack.’ “There is no man ‘in charge’ and that can be very liberating. The onus of taking care, fixing the vehicle or getting food and drinks was on all of us,” says Timsey Zaveri, (33), a techie who was also part of the Goa group.
She believes that women need to get over their technophobia. “I’ve never done road trips with guys but prefer the company of woman travellers. A lot of women are just scared to drive, my mum has learnt, but not my sister-in-law,” she says.

Sidhu, whose travelogue Adrift: A junket junkie in Europe (Frog Books, India) hits the stands this month, admits that despite being a seasoned traveller, she would never chance a ride with a stranger in India. “Safety comes before heroics,” she says. That’s advice from someone who has been driving since 18. “I’ve car-pooled my way across Europe with complete strangers without facing any kind of ugliness but it’s not worth risking the Indian male,” says Sidhu.

Another challenge women face on the road: “Unlike men who can stop wherever they want and pee, women have it tough,” says Lakhmana. On a recent trip to Ranthambore with a girlfriend, the two women were desperately looking for bushes. “Unfortunately, on this stretch, all we saw was parched land. We had a good laugh over it later,” says Lakhmana. Chakravarty has a solution: “The trick is to pee between car doors. Pull up to the side, open the front and back passenger doors and squat in between. The visibility from other moving vehicles is nil,” she says. Another valuable tip for women travellers: Do not get out of the car if someone is arguing with you.

Pioneers like Giti Thadani (48) set out with women friends across Western India in the late 1980s, when many of today’s women roadies were still in diapers. Thadani’s battered Honda truck was baptised Kali after a near-death experience with a boorish truck driver. Although she has traded it for a Maruti Gypsy, she swears by her truck. “When the truck driver saw three women in the Honda, he overtook us and then braked. Luckily, I managed to swerve and avoid a collision. On the same stretch, I met this incredibly helpful mechanic who fixed my vehicle, plying me with refreshments for free,” says Thadani, who encountered many good Samaritans while researching the Satki temples of India. “My journey along the dusty roads of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, UP and Rajasthan was a discovery of my roots,” says the historian, author and visual artist.

Her book Moebiustrip: Digressions from India’s Highways, published by Penguin in 2003, catalogues her travels. “While visiting a site in Old Mandu near Dhar Mahal, I met an ASI officer who converted his office table into a bed for me. I rested among priceless statues and artefacts,” says Thadani.

Sidhu loves taking off for Himachal Pradesh, which she says is extremely safe for women travellers. “I’m a bit worried about breakdowns. While I am adept at changing a wheel, I would need a more mechanical companion for the serious stuff,” she says. No points for guessing which gender usually fits that bill.
But if you are looking to seek help, here’s some tried-and-tested advice. “Look for old male truckers, they are more helpful and chances of it turning into a bad scene are remote,” says Lakhmana. She should know. She’s been sneaking out her dad’s car when she was all of 13. Today, Lakhmana is a safe, cautious driver who has travelled 55 cities spread out in 17 countries.

The rite of passage that has been essentially male requires bruising. “Many of my friends cannot leave their creature comforts behind and they cannot stand the long hours of driving. But the day they make roads safer you will find more women behind the wheel,” says Mariwala. Her accessories on the road are Kaya face wipes, lip balm and moisturiser. After all, who said bad skin had to accompany road trips?

Friday, January 15, 2010

YHAI conducts adventure training camp

YHAI conducts adventure training camp

Countrys premier youth travel and adventure organisation Youth Hostels Association of India (YHAI) is conducting adventure sports training to students of Madhya Pradesh.

Gwalior, Jan 4 : Country's premier youth travel and adventure organisation Youth Hostels Association of India (YHAI) is conducting adventure sports training to students of Madhya Pradesh.

According to YHAI, the training is aimed at overall development of the youth and also to reduce internal fear. The students are trained in rock climbing, archery, shooting, wall climbing, night tracking and etc. The training not only enhances physical fitness but also the concentration level. The participants were excited to attend the training camp, as it would help them in pursuing their career.

"I want to join the armed forces for that I will have to undergo hard training. If I continue to undertake such exercise I would not face much problems in future," said Nishant Singh, a student.

According to organiser of the camp Shahnaz Khan training helps students to gain physical fitness and reduce their internal fear which is indeed required for coming generations. "We want that children should not sit at home. They should come forward and participate in these events," Khan said.

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