Bangalore’s Best Cycling Trails

When all conversations in Bangalore and about Bangalore toot at the mention of the city’s infamous traffic, it’s only the smug cyclists who get to legitimately ring in with ideas on how to be the change.

Back in 2011 BBMP stretched out the 45 km exclusive bicycle lane in Jayanagar and Banashankari with much fanfare. Everyone promised to get on the saddle to explore their beloved thindi joints and to chomp off more culture at Ranga Shankara, and for a while that certainly was the case. Cycle lanes also stretched down the woody Chinnaswamy Stadium Road, Ulsoor and MG Road all the way to Kasturba Road. But it was the lack of continued connectivity and the constant fear of being knocked down by the city’s hurried motorists that become the major deterrent. While the cycle lane in Jayanagar remain marked but largely unused, the remainder of the lanes in Bangalore are converted into auto lanes by the traffic authorities.

For the last year the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) has put the wheels in motion to activate a 125 km track across the city in phase 1, by June this year. They also hope to have an app based system of 10,000 cycles that will be issued for rent and various keyless docks at convenient points in the city. Exciting news, indeed!

Let’s call this a chain reaction, here, we’re giving you the tracks in the city to get on right away.

Off Sarjapur Road – 18 km from MG Road
Off Sarjapur Road, this is a safe stretch to ride on, because help is always close by.

Now we’d never actively encourage you to head towards Sarjapur Road or Whitefield, but we’ve been told of little tracks and longer circuits that will help you test your MTB. It’s a safe stretch to ride on, because help is always close by and without venturing too far from the main road you can easily complete a 25 km stretch.

Level: Beginner/ Intermediate

Bonus attraction: Decathlon Sports

Pit stop: Zoey’s, Ambalipura

Turahalli Forest – 22 km from MG Road
Turahalli Forest is a great spot for cycling, all you need is wheels and a guide.
It is hard to imagine this 1,200 acres of pristine forest land lies just beyond the city

This is a dream trail for riders looking to escape the city and ride into the Turahalli Forest cover. It is hard to imagine this 1,200 acres of pristine forest land lies just beyond the city, 500 acres of which are open to the public. National Cycling Champion Kiran Kumar Raju, tells us this used to be his favourite trail because of its greenery, soft mud paths and a few climbs to help hone your riding skills. He warns us though that now the authorities don’t allow much cycling within the forest for safety reasons. Your best bet would be to find a conducted tour over a weekend.

Level: Beginner/ Intermediate

Bonus attraction: Turahalli is a great place to up your birding game too

Pit stop: SLV Refreshments in Banashankari II Stage, for the pillow soft idlis drowned in spiced coconut chutney

Bamboo Forest, Hennur – 24 km from MG Road

With gentle climbs and tumbles, this hidden forest is the ideal location to learn the tricks of mountain biking. Sprawled across 34 acres, the park is now also a favourite with runners and Sunday picnickers for its generous green cover and easy connectivity to Hennur Main Road.

Level: Beginner/ Intermediate

Pit stop: Byli in HBR Layout for pancake cakes.

Big Banyan Tree – 31 km from MG Road
A great way to revisit your roots – Dodda Aalada Mara is a giant 409-year-old banyan tree • Image credit- Shutterstock

This is perhaps the best playground for you to try out your beginner monkey tricks, alongside the many actual simians that call the Dodda Alada Maraa home. The ride to Ramohalli Village is scenic once you get off Mysore Road, and inside the park you can peddle around the four hundred year old banyan tree spread across 3 acres! A nice way to get back to our roots, we think.

Level: Beginner/ Intermediate

Bonus attraction: Ride up 9 kms towards Savanadurga to Manchanabele Dam

Pit stop: Kaapi Katte, RR Nagar

 

Hesaraghatta Lake – 34 km from MG Road

Vinod Kumar, team manager and spokes-person of ICycle tells us he’s spent the better part of the last four years behind bars, and his favourite ride is still Hesaraghatta, his first long trail from the city. Here he says the locals are friendly and encouraging, there are long untouched patches of green lands, and the 20 km route includes a view of the dam and the lake.

Level: Beginner/ Intermediate

Bonus attraction: Bylakere Peacock Reserve adjoining Hesaraghatta

Pitstop: Ride through Malleshwaram on your way for a benne masala dosa at CTR or a masala bun and evening chai at Iyengar’s Bakery, Vyalikaval

Avalahalli Forest – 36 km from MG Road

This is the picturesque route where Namu Kini, Partner & CEO at HealthyHappyMe, was gifted her new bike by her husband and fellow cyclist Vivek. Drive or cycle down this village route close to Yelahanka to off road around the 8 km circuit with loose gravel and downhill slopes.

Level: Beginner/ Intermediate

Bonus attraction: Namu recommends the 50 km round trip ride from Stone Hill School to Rajanakunte to get a feel of riding on the roads

Pit stop: Stop by at The Druid Garden in Sahakar Nagar for that well deserved cold brew with a view, after your ride

Nandi Hills – 62 km from MG Road
Sunrise at Nandi Hills

We arrive at this track at the end of the list so we don’t tire you out. Of course Nandi Hills is the Everest for Bangalore’s cyclists, with its steep incline and narrow twists. “This is the place to begin your training if you’re looking to take part in professional mountain biking circuits across the world.” Says Kiran Kumar Raju. There are also plenty of off road trails you can take that may be shorter, but just as challenging. Boy, we’re cyc’ed to try it.

Level: Advanced

Bonus attraction: Avati Hill Range

Pit stop: For a luxury treat head to Prestige Golfshire, but for some ghar ka khaana reinforcements Ravi Kumar, bike mechanic at Bums on the Saddle recommends Indian Paratha Company, with extra makkhan to power your ride back

Out of Town Rides:

Head to Devarayandurga, Tumkur – Starting at Govindapura on Tumkur Highway. This relatively flat 47 km ride will be a great way to set a new goal for your fitness.

Level: Intermediate/ Advanced

Ramadevarabetta, Ramnagar – ICycle takes you on a guided tour through tiny villages and scenic landscapes right up to the hill of the Ram Temple. It’s going to be an uphill ride, but think of the easy slide back to lunch at Greenland Dhaba.

Level: Intermediate/ Advanced

Kolar Highway – It’s not the easiest trail to ride on given the traffic, but this is perhaps the best path to increased endurance.

Level: Intermediate/ Advanced

Magadi -Bike Specialist Debjyothi from Bums On The Saddle recommends “this scenic route, which features some trying climbs.” C’mon calf muscles, don’t give up just yet.

Level: Beginner/ Intermediate

Your view as you sail through Bengaluru’s green lung – Cubbon Park

For beginners luck, get your wheels spinning at Cubbon Park, especially early in the morning and on Sundays when it is traffic free.

For more tours follow Bums On The Saddle. They ride out every weekend from one of their three stores in the city. They also conduct workshops on maintenance and basic service. If you don’t have a cycle but want to join a tour, ICycle rents a variety of good quality bikes. They have tours from two major points in the city twice a month – Sankey Tank and Bangalore University. Follow them here for updates.

This story was contributed by the team at brownpaperbag.in, a culture and lifestyle portal in Mumbai, Delhi & Bangalore.

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