“Dude, are you awake or did you decide to chicken out?”
“Its only 5:40 yaar, we are meeting at 6:30 right? Tell me where”
“At the junction of Outer ring-road and Mysore road”
“thik hai, will be there… C ya”
This is a conversation that happened really early on the last Saturday, and I’m wondering how would it have felt, if I backed out of this ride???
Since the time that the wife had planned a one week ‘work trip’ to Ahmedabad, I’ve been itching to do a ride that was a bit longer than my usual 300kms a day day-rides. And I was clear that I don’t want to do a BIG group ride also, something sort of a cannonball run with a few bulleteers that I like to ride with. Sadly, all of them were either busy or didn’t want to join in and one of my old colleagues who I had lost touch with for over 3 years suddenly popped out of the past and said that he also wants to ride! My first reaction was, “what the hell? I don’t even ‘know’ this guy any more and he suddenly comes out of the blue suggesting that we ride together?” but, then slowly the saner me started taking over and said that boss, you didn’t ‘know’ him then also… just ride with him and see if you like the company and if he is a prospective member for one of your bike-clubs. I agreed.
Honestly, I was slightly impressed with his preparations for the ride and his enthusiasm! He actually went and got his tyre changed, his battery recharged before the D’day!!! The day for the ride was decided; we were to do a ‘iron-butt’ ride on 17th November (a Saturday) all the way to BR Hills and back… a ride of little over 500kms in a day.
We met on the Mysore road (I was late by 7-8 minutes) around 6:40am, his first reaction to see me on the bike was somewhere between a WOW and WTF… as usual, I was all prepped in my riding gear from top to bottom, the only thing missing still is a decent pair of riding boots… hopefully I’ll get them too! And he was in his denim jacket and jeans without even a pair of gloves!!!
Well, we started the ride, since it was still relatively early in the day, the traffic hadn’t picked up and we could do pretty good speeds! This is one of my favorite roads to ride on, smooth 4lane well tarred blacktop with enough visual consolations. Our first pit-stop was Kamat’s for a light breakfast and coffee… strangely, Kamat popped into the view even before I actually started the feel of the ride… we pulled over just to find a full house! The whole place was jam packed! We negotiated ourselves a table for 2 after buttering the head waiter there… breakfast was the usual Kamat junk, idlis made in the banana leaf and vada.
After the breakfast and a brief break we started again, the destination now was mysore-nanjangud… the roads were not too dense with traffic and we could manage pretty good bursts of speed well over 100 (sheer pleasure!) Mysore was in sight pretty soon… we were supposed to take the Mysore ring-road towards Nanjangud but I guess I was too focused on the speeding and forgot to take the turn… after around 2 kms inside the city Raam appeared in my RVM frantically flashing his head-light and honking like crazy, I slowed and he said that we were to take the other road for Nanjangud! Darn, took a U-turn and got onto the ring-road. This road is amazing! I straight smooth piece of road with lush greenery on both the sides… looks like a road leading to the horizon, into the unknown… the ring-road soon turned off into a 2lane highway, this was a decent road, not too bad and nothing too good… traffic had started picking up and we had to brake often to dodge crazy maniacs in their four-wheeled coffins… just before Nanjangud we saw a detour off towards BR Hills and decided to venture this road, this was our first big mistake of the day… the detour turned from a decent 2lane road into a stretch of sand, gravel and rocks… since I was solo and I was too enthused to show off, I stood up on the foot pegs of the bike and kept on ripping on the almost off-road ride, the bike took too much punishment here… after a while the road evened out to a smoother terrain and we decided to take a butt break as soon as we spot a chaiwallah. I guess god was on our side during that part of the day coz as soon as I decided to stop, I noticed a pretty decent dhaba on the road, we pulled into the dhaba and asked for some chai, I also had to update the wifey that I have been safe and in one piece till now… made the quick call and had chai, in fact the chai was soo tasty that we had one more round of it, we noticed some tame ducks and turkeys at the dhaba so played with them for a while. The dhaba owner seemed to be a pretty enthu cutlet! Maybe our dressing and the funny looking bikes aroused his curiosity; so he started talking to Raam in Kannada, I didn’t understand what they talked apart from who are you, where are you from, what are you doing here and why is the other bloke dressed in such funny costume? I tried to pitch in the conversation with my limited knowledge of the language but to no avail, my mate told me that the dhaba guy has suggested a different, much better and scenic route to the place, I was pretty impressed! But alas, this guy told me that we should stick to our predecided route and shouldn’t go any other way. Foiled, this is not the adventure of biking! This is not the motorcycling spirit! How can you keep going on and on over the overly trodden roads? Where is the fun of riding through uncharted territory? Phooey…
And it turns out that the road we took kept turning from okay to bad and from bad to worse… in most of the parts, the road was completely nonexistent, but we kept going on… finally we reached the KGudi forest check post, the first thing the security guard at the gate insisted was that I turnoff my headlamp! I told him that I know it’s on and I’m comfortable riding when its on even at noon, but he insisted! One more phooey here… I turned it off, signed our names in the register, the forest officer appeared out of nowhere while we were writing in the register and picked up a conversation, again the same, where are you from? Where are you off? Why did you ride all the way when you can get a decent state transport bus? Why is this bloke dressed in such funny clothes? This was the limit for me! I started riding into the forest while Raam was still talking to the forest guard, taking this as a cue; Raam also rolled off… this was one scenic piece of land! Almost 4kms of straight road running through the jungle into the hills up ahead!
Well, the road did lead into the mountains also and we rode through some of the worst twisties I’ve ever seen! Really bad road, crater sized potholes on the road and we riding here trying to negotiate the potholes and making sure that we don’t ride off the edge of the road into the forest below! After around 20kms of riding into the jungle brought us to another check-post and this time I switched off the headlamp even before we reach there, the guard again asked the same questions that I was so familiar with, Raam was patient enough to answer all of them… after riding through this second check-post, I noticed the jungle lodges board. This just brought back memories of the time I spent in February, the 3 days I spent with the wifey for our honeymoon! I thought of stopping by and saying hi to Nahar who is a good fried and the manager of the KGudi resort. I rode into the familiar yet almost forgotten trail towards the resort. And what surprise! Nahar was sitting there in the sun along with Anant who was here when we had come for the honeymoon… what a bloody pleasant surprise! We sat there chatted for a long time, Nahar was more than kind to offer us lunch which we readily agreed to (heh heh, who would say not to free food?) after the nice food and some more chatting, we started on our way back around 14:40… Nahar suggested we take the route through the jungle past BR Hills and ride towards a town called Yellandur for our way back, after Yellandur there apparently are 2 different routes for Bangalore.
We bid adieu to Nahar, His wife, to Anant, to Vikrant and to KGudi (with a silent promise in my mind to return back soon!) the start for the way back was overly shaky the forest department had started working on the roads and forgotten about it, so the whole patch of the road was dug-up but we managed to ride through it… a few kilometers later… HEAVEN! Smooth tarmac, single lane road, lush cool forest on both sides! And amazing twisties! We spotted some chital, wild dogs and a few mongooses on the way… this patch of the road got over in a flash and we were at the final check-post to signoff and bid the place goodbye…
After getting out of the forest, we took the ‘immediate right’ turn towards Yellandur, the road was again not too good and not too bad, I guess I had gotten used to the bad patches of the road by this time after over 50kms of ‘almost’ offroading. Through Yellandur we were to reach Malavalli but in the spirit of riding we missed the turn that we were supposed to take… eventually after 20-25kms we realized that we are going ‘wrong way’ turned back again and got on the proper route to reach Malavalli. Malavalli brought us two routes to Bangalore one was via Maddur, on the Mysore highway again and back to Bangalore, the other was via Kanakpura into Bangalore… dunno if both of us had lost our marbles at that moment of time… we decided to go through the Kanakpura road, BIG MISTAKE! The road was nonexistent, complete butt-breaking offroading adventure for over 20kms, stopped for chai and to loosen the taut and aching joints, checked with the chaiwallah how long will the bad road last and he happily smiling said “saar, 18 more kms” darn, I hated my life at that moment! I was so frustrated with the bone jangling ride by now that I was begging for a ‘normal’ road… after a few kilometers the road conditions finally improved a bit, instead of the dirt offroad, we had a patchy road with a generous proportion of potholes… after bouncing off so many bumps and crossing over crater sized potholes my bike’s rear end had started giving issues… the tail light and rear indicators didn’t work, the tyre started wobbling like crazy and the air-pressure was almost nil! But the ride was still on!!!
Darkness came too early! Just to remind us that the battery work that Raam had gotten on his bike didn’t work. Result? His headlamp was dimmer than a candle. So I had to cut my speed, and make sure that he is almost tailgating me and riding off my bull’s headlights… wasn’t I happy for putting those auxiliary headlamps that illuminated the way ahead? The speed that we had maintained throughout the day had drastically reduced to 50-60kmph here also the heavy vehicles wanted to showoff their brighter and much better headlamps to they blinded us almost running us over… anyhow we reached Kanakpura missing a lot of turns on the way and taking the longest route back to Bangalore. The journey was not over yet!
Slowly, painstakingly we finally managed to reach into Bangalore, I stopped at a gas-station to get my tyres inflated and some gas in the tank… Raam missed looking me turning into the gas-station and kept riding on… we got lost again! He was on some road and I was somewhere else! Coordinated where to meet in Bangalore via cell-phone (don’t I love technology?) and I started into the town alone. My brain had gone numb of the excessively long ride and most of my joints were actually screaming for some rest coz of so much offroading adventures. Thinking of going home soon, I took a wrong turn and got lost in Bangalore!!! This was the final straw for me… I couldn’t believe that I actually managed to take a wrong turn and instead of going to south Bangalore I was bouncing around the streets of east Bangalore… thankfully I managed to reach BTM after 1hour in the city! Found Raam there, had some dinner (sorry guys, I was so tired that I don’t remember what I ate) reached home, parked the bike, she looked like a wounded soldier; tired, bloody, messy and broken down.
This was the butt-breaking, ironbutt ride that I had, over 540kms in a day and over 200kms of really bad roads managed. I was tired, sleepy and aching, but I was proud that I could ride ‘alone’ when I had to. I was satisfied that I rode so much and I saw so many good sights on the way. I was glad that I did what I had been thinking since over a month finally happened.
Finally I earned myself some bragging rights of riding so long in a day and over such varied terrain… I have earned my smirk for this one ride :-)