Thursday, October 05, 2006

she held on.. we made it ..

Prelude
I was getting frustrated as the VijayaDashami long weekend approached. My long weekend plans were appearing to get disrupted; with my friend Abhi not able to join me here in Bangalore due to unavoidable circumstances. I didn’t know what to do until I thought about going myself out to some where from the city. I wanted to go out but didn’t know where to until Tanuja’s blog pointed me to Chikmagalur. Chikmagalur was around 240 kms from here, and I needed some one with me atleast as a pillion.
And as I asked around about the place people told me about the places I should see, routes I should take and even about the hotels I could stay. But no one was ready to come. My last hope was my roommate Aravind, but he also had some problems in joining me. On Thursday I came across an article in bike nomads - I was researching through different sites of biking for tips, locations and driving routes - where the author Sachin Rao had emphasized the need of traveling solo on the bike. That along with the teaser of the documentary that won 60kph.com founder Gaurav Jani accolades, acted as the catalyst for me to set out solo. Then there was my hostel mate and batch mate Arun U. R who rides a Thunderbird and most of the times solo. He was the inspiration for me to biking and long rides, and of course getting the Bird. I always have long discussions with him about the bike. And on Thursday night too we had one long discussion about riding solo, things I should take care while driving, spares I should carry with me and other general stuff. He told me to go ahead and wished me good luck.
Still I was not sure, whether to go ahead or not. There were a lot of people discouraging me. Yea, they were true in the sense that I was alone and if I needed any help en-route I had nobody except the nature and the public. And then I have to convince my people back home about why I am going. That was a big task, but I had a way to tackle it.
By Friday morning I was decided, that come what may I am going ahead. I will ask around for one last time in the office, if any one was ready I will get them along, otherwise I am going alone. I went to the Royal Enfield showroom with the bike. They tuned the carburetor for me and showed me how to change the clutch cable and accelerator cable and checked the bike all in all. When I went to the office my teammates were still skeptical about my journey. But I was decided, I am going. I googled and found out the routes, took the necessary printouts for my help and talked to a colleague of mine who have been to Chikmagalur and Kudremukh. In the afternoon I went and bought the Cramster Saddle bags as I didn’t want to carry the luggage on my shoulders.
By evening I drew the final plan. It was like this - Leaving to Chikmagalur on 30th Sep early morning, reaching around noon, and settling in a lodge. After noon off to Mulyangiri and Baba Budan Hills. 1st Oct morning off to Kudremukh and spend the day there. On 2nd to Kemmangundi and return. I left a bit early than normal, went to withdraw money from ATM and filled in the tank to the full. At home I packed my stuff and slept early.
30-Sep-2006
I woke up early, had a quick bath and left by sharp 5AM. I took the outer ring road till Hebbal Flyover and then took NH 4 towards Tumkur. At 6AM I took my first break at Nelamangala, 52 kms from my house, and had a tea. From there I took the NH48 to Mangalore and boy that was one hell of a road. Perfectly tarred with lots of curves and slopes, in some areas you could easily touch 100+ kmph. But I had to keep my bird within 70Kmph as I was in running period. It was really tough from my part to control the speed. Avengers, Pulsars and even Splendors over took me, but I didn’t mind. I kept a constant 70.
After 75 kms I had my second break for a nature call and there I met my boss who also was leaving for Hassan that same day. He wished me good luck and bid adieu before asking me to drop in at his house if I am returning via Hassan. I continued my journey after some time and had my breakfast at Hassan. I was now 60 kms away from my destination. There I called a few friends to talk about my journey and Tanuja told me to visit Belur and Halebid also if possible. They were on the way to Chikmagalur and famous for temples of Hoysala Architecture.
After the breakfast I took the road to Chikmagalur from Hassan and that also was a good road. And now slowly the nature around was changing from the plains to small sloppy mountains with lots of agriculture around. I drove to a small hillock a few meters of the main road and took some pictures. I stopped wherever I could see nature at its best and took pictures. And by 11.30 I was at Chikmagalur. I checked into a small lodge and settled my stuff. I asked at the hotel about the route to Mulayangiri and Baba Budan Hills and left. My first decision was to go to Baba Budan Hills and come back to Mulayangiri. But as I approached the diversion that takes you to Mulayangiri, I stopped and thought and then in a split second I took the left to Mulayangiri. The road up to Mulayangiri was winding and curving. It was understandable as Mulayangiri is the highest peak in Karnataka and stands 1930 meters tall. As I climbed with the Bird I could feel the chillness in the air. The visor of my helmet became moist and I found it difficult adjusting to the different terrain. Sharp curves, narrow road and deep valley on one side definitely made me scary.
I felt for the first time that if something goes wrong, then I am alone. Somehow I was able to over come that thought and rode ahead smoothly relaxing. I did stop many a times to take some pictures, including at Seethalaingiri, which is a temple en-route. The peak was just 2 kms from there. The final few meters to the peak was not tarred and I was a bit hesitant to take the bike ahead. However I took her ahead and I found a lot of crowd there. I parked the bike and as I started climbing the peak, it rained. I put on my jacket hat and ignored the rain and continued climbing. But at a point it became heavy and clouds came descending. I couldn’t see my way up and so I returned back. It was very difficult finding the steps as the visibility was poor and rain was pouring hard. As I reached the parking area, I took refuge behind a Scorpio and got some respite from the rain. Then the rain subsided and I start my ride back. It was really scary; I started the bike, put on the lights, honked the horn and slowly came down in the first gear. At one point I could see nothing in front and so I stopped the bike. My left leg was shivering, partly due to cold and partly due to the fear. Some how clouds moved away and I could ride back smoothly. I stopped again at Seethalaingiri on my way back and took some pictures. Rain, Roads and ThunderBird – What else you needed :).
As I came back to the junction which takes you to Baba Bundan Hills it rained and I decided to return back to the lodge. I rode slowly, enjoying the scenery, rains and roads. At 3.30 I stopped at a small hotel on the way and had MulakaBajji and 2 cups of Coffee as my lunch. I reached my lodge and slept. Only thing I missed in the night was a drink which I used to have in long rides. I had good Chicken Biriyani for my Dinner and I enquired the route to Kudremukh with Hotel Guys where I had my dinner. They said me to go via Mudigere-Kotogehara-Kalasa. I was so tired, but sleep came late and Dharmapuranam gave me a good company till then.
01-Oct-2006
For the consecutive second day I woke very early and left for Kudremukh at 6AM. As decided I took the earlier mentioned route. There is a junction 10kms from Chikmagalur and I had to take left there. And I moved ahead the road was becoming horrible, the speedo was moving between 15 and 25 Kmph. But the road was again through ghats and coffee and tea plantations.
Even though I enjoyed the ride and scenery, my buttocks were paining and I had to take a lot of pit stops and I finally reached Kalasa at 9.30. That 90kms took three and half hours to cover. Huh!! At Kalasa, I had my breakfast and the restaurant owner there said about the route to Kudremukh and also advised me not to take the same route back. He said I should take Balehennur-Aldur route instead of the one I came. He also said the road to Kudremukh will be the best you can get and it was. It was superb in every sense. Sharp curves, wide and smoothly tarred and lesser traffic. I highly enjoyed that sector of the journey. Kudremukh is famous for its horse-faced hill ranges and for the Iron Ore Mining Company, KIOCL. Even though the company is now closed the township still exist. There is also a Dam, called Lakhya Dam which is used to store the Iron Ore Waste. I visited the township church which was at a height and took a few pictures of the range.
I also went to the Dam and the reservoir was full of the iron ore waste. I thought one could easily walk on the waste. There is a view point at almost the center point of the Dam where you could view the Horse faced ranges at its best.
I drove back to Kalasa and then took the Balehennur-Aldur route and it was much better than the route by which I came to Kalasa. I stopped at Balehennur for lunch and then on the way to Aldur at a Drive Inn Coffee Shop in Bhadra Coffee plantation Estate. By 5PM I was back to my lodge and I decided to drop Kemmangundi from my plans as it would be raining there and added Belur and Halebid as my destinations on my way back. I called up my boss to check if he is there in Hassan the next day and surprisingly found out that he is also visiting Halebid with his family. We decided to meet there.
I was immensely satisfied when I went to sleep. A major phase of my trip was over and I didn’t face any problem and above all I was very much happy with the performance of my bike and me as a driver. It was one of those dreams I always wanted to achieve.
02-Oct-2006
The final day has arrived. I just need to keep the concentration for one final day.
I left a bit late as I had to catch up my boss at around 10 at Halebid. My first destination was Belur which was 24 kms from Chikmagalur. Belur is famous for its Chennakeshava Temple which was built by the great Hoysala Empire. The temple was very magnificent and I spend a good time capturing various pictures outside and inside the temple. Since the temples at Belur and Halebid are under Archaeological Survey of India, photography is not prohibited here.
After the breakfast I left to Halebid which is 16 kms from Belur. There are three temples there. The main Hoysaleshwara Temple, then the Jain Temple and the Kedareshwara Temple which is partly destroyed. Only Hoysaleshwara temple attracts crowds. My Boss reached a little late there and by that time I had covered all the temples. I met him and after a small chat decided to leave. I took the Hassan road from Halebid so that I do not need to come back to Belur.
As I reached Hassan, I checked the tyre pressure and hit the NH. The ride was getting a bit boring because of the sudden change of the terrains and at times I was losing my concentration. And more over the traffic had increased and KSRTC buses were giving a tough time to me as they pushed me out of the road a couple of times.
I stopped at an Andhra Dhaba to have my lunch. I left again and cruised and reached Nelamangala at 4PM. I had a tea break there and left to my home. When I reached the home and parked my bike, the odometer showed 862 as the trip kilometers.
862 Kilometers is what I covered in 3 days riding solo on my Red Bird from home to Chikmangalur – Mulayangiri – Kudremukh – Belur – Halebid and then back to home. It is a just small step to start with and I now have the confidence to ride any where alone. Just me and my bird and my loneliness.
Drive Safe Buddies and Check out My Motorcycle Diaries when you have time :)

23 comments:

Alexis Leon said...

Great narration. Nice pictures and excellent bike. I am sure that you had one heck of a time. It was nice reading the post. Flet like I was travelling with you. As you have mentioned Drive Safe... Take care buddy.

Jiby said...

i really envy you. how i wish i could see all these places. And as usual, though there is no need to mention...beautiful pictures and great writing.

Ramakrishnan said...

Hey Dhanush...

862 Km of bike ride all alone..Man hats off to you...It must have been a real different feel with just you and the bike with nature for company..You have inspired me to fantasize on a lonely escape....::)))..Cool pics with lovely riting makes it a wonderful read...All the best pal...
RK

Ramakrishnan said...

Hey Dhanush...

862 Km of bike ride all alone..Man hats off to you...It must have been a real different feel with just you and the bike with nature for company..You have inspired me to fantasize on a lonely escape....::)))..Cool pics with lovely riting makes it a wonderful read...All the best pal...
RK

yetanother.softwarejunk said...

Cool ride maaan !!! Puli thanne ketta...

I guess, I am going to add one more to my wish-list ...ride solo to (somewhere).

photos looks awesome... Way to go

pophabhi said...

Just as I told you on every day of your wonderful escapade in Thunderbird, "Hats off to you,da". Its been a life-time experience and reading it through your eyes cant take me to a better place. I really missed being there with you on my Thunderbird, maybe unless that unavoidable thing happened, I would have been there with you. As they say - it was destined to be a great solo ride by a wonderful friend named Dhanush! Three cheers to you!

Dhanush said...

Alexis Thanks Man. Yea I had a one great and some times scary too ;). But she was superb :)
Jiby There is an easy way for that. Come Back and Roam Around :). May be after May!!!
RK Hey RK Man. Come here sometimes, we can still go.
Joju Good that I could inspire you and add one more thing to your wish list. Neeyum Puli Thanne.. Adyathe ridil thanne 750 adichille .. even if it was not solo. Njan athrakku angu puliyaayirunnilla. Wait for my visit to Chennai - You know I need a company there to ...
Abhi It felt nice talking to you at every juncture, you know. One thing was the thrill to share the experiences I had. I am sure it would have been great if one more person (u or pp) wud have been there. But then there is always a next time you know :) [PS: Ente Brand ninakkariyaaloo XXX alla, pinne enthinaa Three Cheers .. Muuahahahahaha (This Post Script is strictly for the two greatest cheelans in the world. Others forbidden ;) )]

Arun said...

Dhanu,

As usual good narration. Its nice to know that you had a good experience on your first solo ride. Helps to build confidence. Wish you more wonderful and safe rides on you Red.

cheers,
with a clang of glasses,
Arun

Ajay said...

Quite an adventure.
Quite an adventure u had. A good ride and some quality time

കല്യാണി said...

Your post reminded me of my friend Abhi's trips. If interested, please visit his site here

Dhanush said...

Arun Da, If you were not there to encourage me, I would have never done this. So proud to have you around here, for any advice on the Bird. You should meet Abhi too, another Bird Owner :)
Ajay Yea man, it was quite an adventure
Kalyani Welcome her. Thats site is one of the site I visit for bikes :)

Kuzhimadiyan said...

Hey Dhanush, Great man, I wish I am there when you were searching for a companion! I miss that trip dood. Btw try to make one to Blore-Masinagudi(spell correct?) Solo will be fine.

Shanu said...

SABASH!!!
Aaa birdine nattilekku konduva njangalum onnu kanatte avale.......

mathew said...

great travelogue...i cant imagine myself doin a sole bike hike!!

Suji said...

Ahhh so you were on your honeymoon with your soulmate. ;)I was wondering where you had dissapeared all these days. You seem to have had a great time and I can see that you were not solo, there is somebody special in every pic you took...lol.

Dhanush said...

Kuzhimadiyaa You are welcome next time. Will send out a post requesting pillions ;) How far is Masinagudi and let me know the route.
Shanu Ambada Veera.. nee ividem ethiyo. Vaaram Da.. Vadakara Manninne Pulakam Kollikkan Njan unda Varum.
Mathew Thanks Man. Hows things in Hamburg?
Suji Wah.. U said it !!

silverine said...

Man I am so envious....this was a great read!!!

Dhanush said...

silverine Thanks Yaar. There is nothing to be envious, just take your bike or car out and enjoy :)

venus said...

you have narrated it really greatly, with minuscule details, I felt like I went for the 862 KM bike ride :)

It really takes courage to go on a solo trip. I have once gone on a solo trip on one of the long weekends, not bike, but in my car :)
when you tell people that you are going or you went on a solo trip, they look at you with respect, some jealously, and an amusement! for ordinary people, it's difficult to imagine how one can enjoy one's own company :)

Dhanush said...

Venus Welcome to this world. The respect is one big thing you get althrough the trip and after it. People around are always helpful and let us know the best way to take. I became an instant star in my comp;)

Car is much different than a bike. When you are in the bike, you are along with the journey knowing every bit of it, kissing the nature. In Car you may not just experience that. But a Solo is a Solo. Hats off to you :) Do visit more often, and that Free Fall was adventureous. I am not that brave :)

peter said...

i think u are really turning into a great bike riding specialist and with ur narration u are trying to be in league with zen and the art of motor cycle riding.. well i would say dhani and the art of motor cycle riding..well its an experience which only very could take and very few could understand the thrill u drive when travelling alone.. well next time i land up in blore u will surely miss that thrill because behind u would a bearded monk.....

Srinivas said...

Excellent note

shaik said...

FANTASTIC & FASCINATING JOURNEY TO WHICH I ALSO LIKE TO DO.

UR TRAVEL MADE ME READY TO FOLLOW UR ROUTE FROM HYDERABAD


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