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The best cycling day trips from Bengaluru

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By Pankaj Mangal

Loops are a cyclist’s favorite weekend haunt. The beauty is that they tend to have simple navigation and are easy to plan, hence, take on your own. You need a good bike & helmet, car and bicycle rack, basic tools, and bicycle maintenance experience especially in the domain of bicycle puncture repair, tube replacement, removal, and setting up your bicycle wheel and off you go. Though it does have a learning curve but relatively a short one.

If you’re aspiring to gain some bicycle touring experience under your belt then these day cycling loops around Bengaluru are your perfect bet. Our recommendation of routes is based upon safety, road surface, distance from the center of the city, fauna, and flora, scenic landscapes, and a good lunch/beer place at the end of the ride. All of them take you through some spectacular countryside near Bengaluru and offer unusual but refreshing and exciting active day outs.

The routes suit all types of riders and can always be further adapted to your riding style. The route levels are defined by taking into account riding distance, terrain, riding surface, and maneuvering. The levels are subjective and are intended as a guide only as the difficulty will vary by season, weather, bike, and how much do you take care of nutrition while cycling. The routes are ordered in terms of their levels.

The exploration is done on our lovable Surly bikes.

1) Hessarghatta Loop

Place: Hessarghatta

Level: easy

Cycling Distance: 36km

Start/End Location: Indian Institute of Horticultural Research

Very famous among the local cycling community, this route is perfect for beginners as the terrain largely remains as flat as a pancake. It weaves its way through the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Hessarghatta Lake, Madhure Kere Lake, Chikka Madhure Temple, Nrityagram, and numerous farmlands, grasslands, and bucolic villages. If you like birding then do spend sometime around the lake for sightings. A quick look-up through ebird gives us a list of about 258 bird species. Isn’t it phenomenal?

If you want to know more about the area and how possibly it might be much destroyed in near future then do read a recent article ‘Bengaluru’s yes to Hesaraghatta film-city means a no to the Lesser Florican‘ by Arathi Menon, Citizen Matters.

2) Nandi Loop

Place: Nandi Hills

Level: easy-moderate

Cycling Distance: 43km

Start/End Location: Grover Zampa Vineyards

Many of you must have been to Nandi but we’re sure that only a few of you ventured to go around Nandi Hills. Well, this is one of our favorite loops as it just glides through vineyards after vineyards with an enthralling view of Nandi Hills for the most part.

Note: At the time of writing, we encountered lorries ferrying through a brief stretch of 5km.

3) Big Banyan Loop

Place: Ramanagara

Level: moderate

Cycling Distance: 50km

Start/End Location: Ranch by Big Banyan

The most undulating loop around Bengaluru that we have ridden through. If you enjoy biking on mostly rolling terrain then you’ll find this one bliss. The landscape consists of signature Ramanagaram boulders and offers a gorgeous view of Manchanbele dam and Savandurga, the largest monolithic rock.

4) Aiyur Loop

Place: Aiyur forest and Bethamangala

Level: challenging

Cycling Distance: 60km

Start/End Location: Rocky Ridge Cafe

Our most favorite so far. The scenery is simply stunning. Challenge yourself through an array of deep forest and valley, and mountainous terrain. It has that perfect combination of rolling hills and challenging climbs that a fit cyclist relish. One can see plenty of fauna and flora – rosewood and teak trees, several species of bamboo, elephants, sloth bear, bison, fox, wolf, sambar, and a variety of birds. A quick look-up through ebird gives us a list of about 91 bird species.

Bamboo trees dominate the area as you ride through the lower slopes of hills, but as you climb higher the vegetation gets denser. We touch a peak of about 1200m in this cycling route. The descend is equally exhilarating and winds through villages, cascading farmlands, and mesmerizing Panchapalli dam.

If you prefer to do guided bicycle tours then do have a look at our day bicycle tours around Bengaluru.

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