A bullet to the Himalayas

(Translation of Bala's write-up in Fast Track - Malayalam Car& Bike monthly Dec 2007)
Prologue:
Hi Bala, Translation was a bit difficult. I'm sure that this doesn't do 100% justice to the your write-up. But I have done my best not to lose the essence of the original article.

A bullet to the Himalayas

The Royal Enfield Bullet cruises at 80kph. There is a sharp turn to right. One side is a steep gorge thousands of feet deep and the other side, ice glaciers waiting to fall onto the road anytime. Keeping to the left hand side, footrest almost touching the road, taken a lean angle and what waits there after the curve is a water fall from the glaciers. It's a 50m wide water crossing. No time to get confused. In no time the gear is down from 5th to 2nd ; crossed the stream 2 feet deep , splashing water on either side...

This is one of the many adventurous moments from the bullet ride through the Himalayas. The ride was with a group of adventurous people.

Royal Enfield has been organizing this adventure bike ride called Himalayan Odyssey every year from 2004 and this year I too was a part of it. Trivandurm to Delhi by train… but not alone; my KL01 AM 245 bullet too. From Delhi to Khardungla via Chandigarh, Manali, Kaylong and Leh. From Khardungla the route taken was Manali- Mandi- Dharmashala and reached Wagah boarder in Amritsar; turned off the engine, flicked the side stand with left foot… the odometer has run 2300km in two weeks.

The Himalayan Odyssey (HO) starts every year on 24th of June. This year there were 55 participants gathered at the New Delhi International Youth Center. Kashmiri to Mallu, College students to DGP, 20 year olds to big boys in their 50s… people from different cultures, status and age group were present. Amount them were 6 mallus who speak pure mal and 3 half mallus from Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi.

Adjusting the short tight T-shirt quite often and exhibiting the balloon biceps, Hollywood star Sunil Shetty flagged off the ride from Delhi in the morning on Jun 24th.

The climate is extremely hot, we rode between the speeding trucks and buses to Chandigarh covering Karnal, Panipath, Kurukshetra and Ambala. The road is NH1 which is called as GT (Grand trunk)

Today, when I look back, I feel that the first day's ride was the most dangerous one. Chandigarh to Manali road is very beautiful. Leaving the wheat fields behind the road enters the footsteps of Himalayas- the Shivalik ranges… and nature has already transformed herself into a beautiful Himalayan Girl. Crossing Bhilaspur and Mandi, when we reach Kulu we are at the Himalayan ranges. Now we have a lady escort till Manali- the river Biyas.

Whether you like Manali or not depends on your personal taste. Further on from Manali is Rohtang pass- an average tourist ends his Himalayan journey there. They just get themselves satisfied with a walk through the narrow Manali streets, shopping from those looters there, bath at the hot streams of Vasishti, a journey till Rohteng pass to see the snow and have a ride on the yak or snow scooter. The journey ends there.

Rohtang is 1300 feet from sea level. Need to open the airscrew half a turn for the bike to breath well. Here on oxygen is less and climb is more.

It's not easy to ride through the Himalayas just because you need to be physically fit. One needs to be mentally prepared too. Also the bike too has to be in the very best condition. Need to carry spares like cables, tube, oil, bulbs etc. – parts most likely to go kaput. A good helmet that will never irritate you, a sunglass inside it, Jacket, gloves, boots etc. for protection from the cold and wind are some essential gadgets for a Himalayan rider. Also knee and shin protectors are needed. The rest of it- things what we normally take with us when go for a ride.

If you are someone like me in the 50s, better take a back support belt and some karpooradi tailam. Leave those youngsters who hesitantly ask 'Uncle, can I have a little of that oil please'.

Kaylong is 85km from Rohtang. Through the Lahaul valley and the banks or river Chandra- the barren land.

Chandra River at a distance, beautiful girl, seemingly still, unaffected by climatic changes, covered with a gray blanket, flows silent turning her face away from you.

8km before Keylong, You could see something that you may not be able to see anywhere in the workd- A board that says 'next filling station 356km ahead'. This is Thindi village. Here river Pamba joins Chandra and becomes river Penab.

Kaylong is a beautiful Himalayan girl who could probably be a victim to tourism; she could probably be ruined in the next five years or so. It's a small valley at the banks of river Bhaga, few houses here and there and step farming everywhere. Though a district headquarters, Kaylong is a small village.

Water crossings start in the Rohtang- Kaylong route. It's just a beginning; Lots to come on the way ahead… but, no issues with those other than icy cold water splashed from toe to chest.

By the time you reach Sarchu for the next day's halt, everyone would be suffering from AMS (Acute mountain sickness). Headache, giddiness and sleeplessness are the symptoms. Drink more water and reduce the usage of alcohol and cigarette; nothing much can be done until the body gets used to the lack of oxygen .

We need to cross Barachala (Known as killer pass) which is at 4892 meters from sea level to reach Sarchu. Staying at the pass for long is dangerous. Sarchu is like a wide passage. The road ahead stretches without end- mountains on either side stand like a gallery. You are the only riders of this road except few local shepherds and their sheep packs.

Stay at Sarchu is in tents. Though rent is high, there is no other alternative in this desert. Leh is approximately 250km from Sarchu. It's possible to cover this in one day, but better go slow. Only then will you be able to enjoy the beauty of Ladakh.

Sarchu - Leh road promises the most thrilling ride of this journey. Gattalups, Nakila and Lachungla stretches are like roads to heaven. By the time these are covered, both the bike and the rider would become dead tired. Next obstacle is the most challenging Moray plains. At some places the roads doesn't exist at all and we need to ride through sand for kilometers. Falling is fun and reaching the other side without a fall is super success.

It's when you think that the thrilling part is over; you reach the world's second highest pass after Khardungla– Tanglangla. Weather is too cold and it's too difficult to get breath… There 350ccs struggled to catch up with their big brother 500ccs.

World's highest airport is here crowded with foreigners who start their Himalayan expedition from there. There is one more road to reach Leh; Srinagar- Sogilo – Kargil route. That is comparatively the easiest one. But due to militant issues restrictions and risk too is high.

Good old tradition is seen challenged in Leh. Military and Tourism now rule the city.

There are many traditional monuments for visitors to see and explore in Leh and surrounding areas. Shay Palace, Lamayurugompa, Stock Palace, Alpi gompa and the Buddhist monasteries at Thikse and Hemis are the important ones. The Pangongso Lake 154km away is another attraction.

Khardungla is 42km from Leh. Not just India's, but it's the worlds peak of adventure motorcycling. Though Khardungla is the world's highest motorable road on earth, some believe that Marsmikla is higher than Khardungla. But very few are able to make it to there. The road to Khardungla is a very steep climb. But compared to the roads that've already been covered, this is fine.

It was snowing continuously in Khardungla. Being there with friends is satisfaction beyond words. Reaching here riding my own bike, spending thousands and overcoming lots of difficulties and obstacles, gave life's most precious moments.

If all the wishes and dreams come true in life, how would that be? There should be some left unfulfilled which will be the fuel for the rest of our life. There was a similar situation in this ride too. Initial plan was to return to Amritsar via the Sach pass and Champa which hasn't been attempted by anyone before. But an unexpected landslide ruined that plan. For one day we stayed at Udaipur on the banks of river Chenab, and then headed to Dharmashala via Mandi and from there to Amritsar via Pathankot. In the evening I left the Wagah boarder after 'beating the retreat' of course with my heart full of satisfaction.

What we gain from journeys is knowledge- about our mother earth who gave us birth and brings up all of us- and of course about ourselves. Love for nature and us makes our lives bright.

-Balachandran V

The author who did this adventurer ride to Himalayas is an employee of Punjab National Bank.

Hogenakkal Ride

Hogenakkal

02.12.2008

Nice refreshing ride. The place is a mess though…

Hogenakkal is one dirty face of domestic tourism.
Don’t these people have any other place to wash cloths!
Others seemed like washing their sins off as in some sacred river.
Good that we didn’t spend much time over there.

The roads as usual offered good off-roading, on the foot peg for very long…
Few kilometers before Hogenakkal, the the place we chose to get down looked peaceful is a nice Kaveri shore to chill. The remaining ride to Hogenakkal proved to be just a formality except that we got some nice fish fry and meals.

Attendance: Moshaii, Kar, Conductor, Parvi and myself.

Mannavanoor

20.10.2007 – 23.10.2007
Mannavanoor (Kodaikanal)- Silver Bullets 5A


“Silver-Bullets” is 5 years old. Looks less than one year old though…
Celebration is at Mannavanoor- around 35km from Kodaikanal. It was like a private family gathering. No guests or invitees… it’s just a club meet…
Originally known as Tvm-Riders, the club is now home to many bullet enthusiasts and riders.

On 20th early morning both Tvm and Bangalore guys started their rides to meet up at Koadikanal before sundown. Total of 20 riders… TVM guys had to wait long for us. Continuous rain delayed us and we made it to Kodai like wet chickens. Rode the 35km forest rode to Mannavanoor together in the darkness. The road was wet and the small leaves made it real slippery. Each step (!) has to be careful.

Overslept Moshaii’s late start and solo ride…
reaching the place first, amazingly missing everyone on the way…
runaround at Mannavanoor to find the camp in the darkness…
the mixed emotions that run through his mind with the doubt that he is at some wrong place…
the decision to go back to Kodai through the forest alone at night…
and finally the life he got back when the line of 20 headlamps popped up one by one at the next hill side…
Priceless…

The food served at the campers club is truly appreciable. The name campers club suits the place very much. The accommodation is basic with few brick cottages with bare minimum facilities. I liked that. No one wanted anything more than that. The view from the camp… simply wow… great view of the valley and mountains… The chilling climate proved to be the icing on the cake. Bonfire seemed to offer its effect at a very less range.

The people who had to head back the next day missed out the nicest experience of this ride.
The short rides to inside the forest, to explore the old Munnar route which is useless now and is road to only mules and 4w drives only when land is dry… I could hardly walk up in slush to have a look at the condition of the road further up.

Return on Monday proved to be one of the most exciting rides.
Through the forest till Kodai town and then till Palani negotiating the awesome mountain side roads negotiating countless twists, turns and hairpins in chilling climate with clouds around…
then the ride through the valley and to Thoppur bearing the intense heat…
From there to add flavor to the party a nonstop rain till Bangalore…
Whew… Oh Boy… What a day that was... Thankfully there wasn’t any puncture or
breakdown to anyone to add fuel to the party.


Ride in Shre's Perspective

Coonoor Ride

Coonoor Ride
11, 12 Aug 2007
After almost three months, finally, last weekend I got out on my ride for a long one. I felt the free flow of fresh air all over me after a long time... The welcome to road was an awesome one with a rain. It was a wet start but thankfully we didn't get sunk. It was just a matter of few Kilometers and rain got disappeared somewhere leaving us a wet road.

We three guys and two bikes- Swami, Piston and myself rode to Ooty and Coonoor. I took the full luggage and Swami took Piston, the pillion. My bike is in the final stage of its running in and that was the only constrain for me - not to let the engine overdo.

Ride through the Bandipur forest in pitch-darkness, 36 continuous hair pins, steep climbs, a couple of stops in the middle of the forest to cool down the machines... a bit risky but exciting ride. Thanks to the guard at the check post who let us inside the forest at night.

I don't have words to thank our host at Coonoor, Biju. Opportunity to stay at his more than 100 yrs old Banglov was unexpected; Sorry for making him wait for us till midnight. Thanks for the special tea in the morning; I can't remember its name, but remember Biju saying that the leaf costs $600 per kg in the market.


If you don't plan anything, things happen unexpectedly. That is why seeing the old railway bridge, just headed to it, had a walk on it and spent almost an hour on it and around. Wow, more than 100 years old construction is perfectly intact.
Our Coonoor railway station visit too happened just like that. Good to have the majestic century old steam engines visited at the loco shed. The staff there is more than happy to let us in and explain things.

I can't forget one face we met outside the railway station. While walking back to the bikes...
"Hmm... it's nice to have all these protection gears when you are on a ride and especially when you ride a bullet"
On my right side, a foreigner... talking about bullet...
The gentleman is from Switzerland, touring India; we, bulleteers caught his attention. He looks almost 70 years old, but the energy in him is that of a teenager. Believe it, he did Leh from Delhi few weeks ago on a Bullet 500. He owns a Norton/Triumph at home in Switzerland and is an active member of one ride group there.

Seeing our enthusiasm about the old steam engine displayed outside the station, he asked us, "do you know where this engine was made". I thought it is somewhere in England. But he says it is from Switzerland and the old factory is just 20km away from his hometown. Interesting...

Unfortunately we didn,t have much time left to have more conversation with him. We wanted to finish the forest at daylight in the return ride. The ride was an experience- one of kind; saw elephants, peacocks and lots of other animals.

Reached home after midnight.
Oh... let me not miss this. An accident... but this was a very funny one. In the Mysore highway, on our way back, one plastic biker with a pillion overtakes us and forgets to take the curve to the right side. I don't know how to explain what happened after that. But if you have seen the motor cycle diaries and remember their first fall with the bike to outside the rode into water and slush... you know what we saw there. It was hard to hold our laugh till moving out of their sight.

The memories will stay evergreen. An unplanned ride and this unexpectedness was the thrill and that made this ride memorable. Thanks to Swami and Piston for the wonderful company and Biju for being a wonderful host.

Route: Bangalore - Mysore - Gundalpet - Bandiur - Mudumalai - Ooty - Coonoor
Photos:
Mine and Swami's

A cool Coorg ride.

12.05.2007
A cool Coorg ride

Weather is still hot, but it was a cool ride to Coorg.
This ride witnessed lots of events and most of them were eye openers.

Cloud valley in Coorg, Uday's guest house is an old one restored (without losing the beauty) for guests. The feel of staying in a traditional home with homely food itself was worth the ride. Old coats, chairs and even the 'divan' -short in height, almost like a dining table, is retained as it was. In the first room (say, drawing room)the wooden stairs going to the wooden roof is a rare seen nowadays.

Atlest 10 times I feel I should comment on the food we had at cloud valley. Almost all the items had a traditional Kerala touch. The pork at lunch was simply awesome. The traditional veg items added the flavor. The dinner too rocked.

Let me just recollect the ride.
Day1:
Started from Bangalore in the morning, with lots of delayed pit stops, reached Coorg in the after noon. Kicker return spring went kaput on my bike. Thankfully got a bullet mech at Coorg and decently job was done in 15 min. The time of arrival at the cloud valley- 3:00pm wasn't the ideal time for lunch. But all were hungry and so nothing got wasted.

In the evening many of us got wet in the pouring rain. I was in the middle of a solo, round the villages ride and got struck somewhere when it started raining. The boy I was talking to, introduced himself to me as the son of Uday- the owner of cloud valley guest house. He just got disappeared to his house just before the rain started when someone called him from home. His name... oops I forgot. He goes to a school 30km away from home and spends lots of time travelling in the school bus.
Anyway he reappeared again just before I could start the bike and rush to a shelter.
Uncle, Uday is calling you , don't get wet and come inside.
Aahaa... Lucky Jo is Happy Jo now.
Rain poured for almost half an hour and I spent there talking to them, sipping the tea offered by Uday, clicking snaps of them, their dog, cow, rain... what else will I do..
Uday still remebers Prashi's Jawa he came in last time and asked me if he
still has it.

When the rain stopped, I rode back to cloud valley and saw many wet souls and envy eyes on the way who were wondering how come this one still dry. I saw Moshaii who was on an evening walk with few others, who earlier asked me to get down from the bike and walk with them, now walking like a wet chicken.

RTMC rocked the night in its usual style. The guest house didn't have capacity to give sheltor to all of us. Some had to find sheltor inside sleeping bags.

Day2:
I got the plan in mind that I'm not going back to Bangalore without having a ride around there and visiting the Buddhist monastery.

Morning, after a tea, 5 of us left to take a ride around. I and Moshaii enjoyed the river crossing on bullet, Kam who joined us there and we had a ride on the other side of the river(stream). Beautiful experience, reminded me of the Kaveri Sangam (Mekadath) ride where we had the river crossing and ride in the forest.

After breakfast and the photo shoot out we left the guest house. Mr. Uday and other hosts seemed happy with our company.

I'm happy that I could visit the Buddhist Monastery for the second time (my first visit was around 3 years back). We, five of us formed a seperate group and headed to the monastery when others headed straight to Bangalore. The place is truly serene. The combination of red, golden and green color is a real feast to any photographer. Wish I had an SLR. Anyways my small digi did a decent job.

The return ride was eventful...
Had to witness a major accident, other issues on roads, many eye openers- co-ordination related...

A nasty fall by one of our pals and an inspiring escape without any injuries and his notes on the events- "The bird will fly again"...
Eye opener: This happened when I had little concern about protective gears other than a helmet, gloves and a jacket (some times I take that too off to beat the heat).
I have seen lots of accidents on roads. Heard lots of stories from friends about accidents of different levels- ranging from minor scratches to death. But this one, seemed a bit different- proved howuncontrollable an accident can be sometimes.
When the fellow riders on road side signalled for a stop, I didn't expect more that a usual regroup or pit stop on the way. While walking to them casually, seeing a bare back wheel rim, I smelled an incident, but never thought of anything serious. When someone asked me to have a look at the bike, only then did I see the vastness of the picture. A tube failure on the rear wheel at high speed on the Mysore road, bike hit the concrete divider and road (don't know how many times) and finally came to a stall with total damage to the bike, but minor injuries to the pillion and negligible scratches to the rider.

Learning:
1. Not having proper protective gears means taking a big chance on road.
2. Need improvements on co-ordination.

Before I wind up
Thanks to BabuMoshaii for the petrol shared from his bike when mine almost ran out and the nearest pump seemed unreachable with the reserve.
And I don't remember how many times he helped me push start the bike while riding with the broken kicker spring
Thanks to Chandra for transferring me the ride slot which was earlier booked for him.

Munnar called, I said Yes

Munnar ride from Bangalore

The thought of having a ride through the hairpin narrow roads of Munnar has always fascinated me. This week I was lucky to have a ride to Munnar from Bangalore and I enjoyed each and every corner of Munnar I rode, every curve I took lean angle, every frame I clicked, every moment I spent there.

06.05.2007, I started early morning from Bangalore hoping to reach Munnar in the evening at bright light. For the first time I travelled through Mettur at day light and had a good view of the place for the first time.
The wind mill fields on the way between Palladam and Udumalpet too will catch anybody's attention.

I got some nice snaps clicked on the way and was lucky that it started raining in Munnar only after I reached the town.

About Munnar roads when you ride...

Good: You can trust the banking of curve. It's been properly done with appropriate slope which helps you in safe lean angles on bike.
Bad: Roads are narrow. Better have a good horn and your left thumb on the horn button, honk at every curve, don't expect all the drivers coming opposite to you are disciplined and experts on such road conditions. Most of them are first time visitors struggling to negotiate the roads and doing it with little control.
And or course beware of sand or gravel on curves. A skid and fall can ruin the entire ride. Keep eyes wide open and see it from a good distance.

At Munar, I never felt like going again to the places- so called tourist destinations I have visited several times- Rajamala, Mattupetty dam, Top station, Kundala lake, Swiss project etc. I even hated to the queue formed at the Rajamala check post, seemed like gold rush. What pleasure does that give to be in a crowd pushing each other rushing, amidst the long line of vehicle on one side struggling to move their way ahead. It looked like a queue outside a movie theater or a at the entrance gate of a stadium.

My visit to Munnar had a different purpose this time. So just wanted to sneak out and have a ride around few unseen corners.
There is a fresh water lake around 15km from Munnar town where few people go. Also since the place is under TATA's control, permission may not be given for groups and of course for four wheelers. Thanks to my friend for info about this place. The place is called Davi Kulam. It is not the place Davikulam near Munnar. This is a real 'Kulam' (Lake) with the same name as that of the place. I was the only human there and my bike the only machine when we got there. I fount few 'bike marks' there and could make out few more 'animals' would have visited there before. Oh, talking about those Bike marks... I think it's the advertisement of Apache where those guys trying to impress the lady by taking spins on ground and draws a flower with the rubber burn marks. What I saw at the Davikulam were such marks but on grace, impressive effort, though not well drawn as in the advertisement, but looked like some symbols.

Around 2 km before the lake there is a settlement and a beautiful ground (not the one in the album, that is another one on the Rajamala road side). I'm not joking, I was tempted to take a roll on that ground like a kid. Some guys play football there. Later I heard from my friend that some movies were shot there and at the lake side. If you are looking for a cake walk ride to reach the place, you will be disappointed. It is an off road. Some are gravel roads, some tarred but not anytime recently, some concreted and of course a few stretches of mud roads too. There are no proper directions written anywhere to guide to the place. If you lose way you take more off(offer) roads. If you don't you will make it in less than 15km. I was in the first category. But certainly I liked ride through those few extra unnecessary rounds to touch the nose. According to some leaf plucker I clarified the route with, I was in the silent valley route and they saved the day by diverting me to the destination through some not so inviting (not for me) narrow strips (can't call them roads).

Just before reaching the lake, the mud road will check your skills if rained and wet (mostly it will be). At certain places it was pure black slush which invited me. Once i took a 90 degree spin too. A different off roading experience. Spending time at the lake side, no one to talk to and with a feel that I'm some where in the middle of nowhere is of course the feeling of all feelings. The place around is forest and you are alone, sun is down and light fading slowly giving a feel of TV award movies... Only sounds we hear are those from the wild. It was almost dark when I realised that I have to go back in a different route which I don't have much knowledge about since I took the wrong route to reach there. If I take the same route, It may take ages to reach back and this time I may reach Silent valley in the dark. Anyway I headed back to taking the correct route. I'm riding with just guts feeling. No sense of direction Chandran'sMunnarcoz no straight road on a hill and after a few turns we lose direction when no light. Anyway I reached the main road, saw no human being on the way, and thankfully no animal blocked my way. Also I feel lucky to have myself corrected coming back from a wrong turn and taking the correct one- did it just on illusion.

At the hotel, only when I saw the security staring at my shoes I realised I'm making black shoe marks over the clean marble floor, black mud brought all the way from Devikulam lake side. Ooops...

Ride back to Bangalore was at night. Started from Munnar at around 4:30 in the evening and stopped at several places for snaps and enjoy the scenary which delayed the ride further.

Route: Bangalore- Hosur- Krishnagiri- Dharmapuri- Mettur- Bhavani- Perumdurai- Vijayamangalam- Tiruppur- Palladam- Udumalpet- Marayoor- Munnar.
Distance: From Banglore to Munnar- 440km.
Mobile coverage: All the operators give coverage at Munnar.

Before I wind up

Thanks to Kam and Karthik for detailed Bangalore- Munnar route info.
and
Sorry to the bird who tried to fly through the front wheel and died on the spot.
and
Hats off to the cop at Dharmapuri high way who tried to loot me on the way to Munnar saying that there is no black spot on the headlight, I escaped diplomatically though- long ride, why don't you leave me...
(It's become standard that when ever I go for a long ride/drive cops will catch me at least once. This time while coming back also one cop tried to stop me at night calling from behind but I didn't stop, was half asleep.)

Yelagiri Ride- MadBulls 5A

Yelagiri Ride- MadBulls 5A
28.04.2007
Yelagiri in Tamil Nadu stands at 920m above sea level. It is a hill station with healthy climate prevailing throught the year. There are 14 villages in Yelagiri and the are mostly tribals.

Mad Bulls (MBMC- Madras Bulls Motorcycle Club) celebrates their 5th anniversary at Yelagiri and RTMC has been invited to participate.
Mad Bulls rode from Chennai and RTMC from Bangalore... Few club members from other places... And of course two riders from Trivandrum- those were the longest rode ones.
The pain MadBulls have taken to make arrangements for the event is truely appreciable.
Arrangement of the track for some fun events... Arrangement of the DJ's place inside the transport container near the track... etc. etc etc...

Day1
28.04.07; 8:00 am
Departed from Koramangala as a group of around 10.
Breakfast from Reliance A1
Ride was good.
Trishul, Chandra, Kam, Jaggu, Dikso... those are few whom I rode with.
We all reached yelagiri before noon. I liked the final 9km uphill ride with lots of hair pins to reach the hill top.

Checked in at the Country club resort and headed to a track arranged by Mad bulls, 7km away from the resort. I'm not sure if Nithin is happy that no one knew him as Nithin at the check in counter, even heard from them that there is no booking for Nithin.
"What about Al Pissino?"
Oh Al Pissino... Why didn't you say that before?
Way to go Pissino :)

Track was noisy. people taking rides on the track... Photographers covering the action... DJ Dosai blasts the air with music...

Now comes the event 'beer picking'. Beer cans are placed at different places on the track and riders need to pick it while riding without touching their feet on ground. The beer you pick successfully is yours. Wonderful... I could pick it after a few unsuccessful attempts. It's beer and cant miss it.

Food was served there brought in a pickup. Chappathi, Biriani, chicken... Good stuff...
Some went for short rides, but most of them got back at the resort after food.
Chit chat time, meeting new people who've met and known only in the net...

Evening, Madbulls started preparation for the night bash.Events were colorful. MadBulls 5A cake cutting followed by the party.
I don't remember when I went to sleep, surely it was after midnight.

Day2
29.04.2007
Nothing is scheduled for the day except the return ride. I wanted to have a ride around in Yelagiri. Got Kams company and we headed for some site seeing through the narrowest village roads. It's hard to believe that there is that much level(not flat) area on top of that hill. Anyway cant say that the climate is too good considering that Yelagiri is considered as one hill station with cool climate, but cant forget the fact that down under it's hell hot.

We had breakfast from an outside local hotel and the hotel guy came running with a copy of that day's newspaper with the coverage on the 5A event. The bullet group's visit became so popular there that most of the people were aware of the event happening there.

We headed back to Bangalore after others too finished their breakfast from the resort. We had a solid ride back, had an early lunch from the A1 and got back home after noon.
The pain behind all the arrangements deserve much more than mere appreciation. MadBulls did it fantastically well. I counted 75 bullets, not sure exactly how many were there for the meet.

I can't miss to comment on two guys who had the longest and most painful ride. Jay and Venu rode from Trivandrum to yelagiri. Jay had to do a complete engine reassembly to resolve issue with the floating bush on the way with an unknown mechanic, that too in 12 Hrs. Hats off to you guys... Your spirit is truly admirable.

Distance: Yelagiri is about 175 km from bangalore.
Route: Bangalore - Hosur- Krishangiri (Left turn at the second fly over) - Vaniyambadi (right turn just before the town) - Ponneri Junction (left turn) - Yelagiri

Another solo to Bangalore, it was hot!

14.03.2007
Oh my god…
This world is no more a better place to ride in summer! - atleast this part of the world...
I'm sure it was, at its younger age. Then it never used to test the endurance of men or machines much. May be both are supposed to become harder as time passes by.
Want to feel the extend of global warming?

Just have a ride in the summer. Believe me its hell hot.

I rode back to Bangalore from home- Thodupuzha. Took off at 1:00 pm hoping to reach more hot Tamilnadu roads by evening and not get roasted much. But felt how chicken gets grilled in an oven.

Basically i dont like sun, i dont like heat, i dont like the sun glare...
Oops i rode the first 250km. without a jacket too. Riding with jacket on, in humid Kerala means getting (s)wet and boiled.

I had my dinner at 10:00. It was somewhere between Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri, I found a place in front of a closed shop to settle down and have the parceled food. Meanwhile one old begger lady came with her dog to see someone else claimed their place. Both gave me suspicious looks. Noone likes intrusion, even I don't. Before me thinking about retreat, it seemed like she understood that I'd just borrowed the place for few minutes and this begger is leaving in any moment :) The success lies in exchanging the thoughts silently but effectively by both the parties . A potential clash has now melted down. This is a million dollar lesson for Musharaf and Manmohan Singh. But they don't seem lo learn and I can't force them too.

Apart from the initial heat issue and the usual loneliness the ride was good without any events; Reached Bangalore at 12:00 midnight.

A Long Solo Nonstop Night ride

Bangalore to Kerala (Thodupuzha)
22.02.2007

Last Thursday was the day saw the heights of loneliness. Though I’ve been staying alone for years I’ve never felt this much lonely ever in my life. I did a solo ride to Kerala from Bangalore on my bullet. Always I ride in group, no matter it is a group of two or three or a big one of 30 to 40.

I decided to ride home this time. Though driving the entire stretch is not new to me, a ride, that too alone and 75% at night would definitely be a different experience altogether. My Bullet has never seen Kerala before. And I haven’t ridden such a distance alone too. The issues I had were the severe heat at day time and the loneliness of solo riding. Somehow I’m confident about the bike. The reason, I don’t know though… I still remember the incident when I had a flat tyre on reaching Bangalore after a long ride of around 350km. I can’t even imagine what could have been done if it happened in any of the deserted areas through which we rode. A narrow escape…

Issues with the KL ride: Heat and the sun.

Solution: Ride at night. Chandra gave me the idea, long live Chandra. And there is no solution to the loneliness issue, so just bare it.

But I always had that concern… How will I be able to ride alone… I expect someone to talk to and crack jokes when I stop... Even before starting I visualized myself standing all alone on the roadside looking at strangers and passing vehicles like a kid got lost in a crowd. I felt pity for myself… Ohhh this isn’t the time to have such thoughts… Suddenly reality stuck me and I’m back to normal.

Around 3:30 I felt the heat got settled a bit and got the idea to reach Mettur by sunset and take the first stop there. Full tanked from Reliance in Tamilnadu (saved Rs.2 /liter) after which I never felt like stopping for tea or food (if it’s a group ride we stop every now and then for coffee and chit chat). I remember reaching Mettur at 6:50 I didn't even want to stay there for a minute. The place is filled with all kinds of small flies and bugs, when I rode I could hear the sound of those senseless (or may be poor is the right word to use here) creatures smashing onto the headlamps. And the real stop happened later, forced to take a break at 9:00 by cops at Perumthurai in Tamilnadu.

That was funny experience indeed. Highway cops, 3 of them waiting near a speed breaker with a quails, stopped me with high expectations. Someone with Karnataka registration bike, Cramster bag on tank and back, two extra fog lamps… as a whole a different genus, worth stopping…

The first question when stopped… “Enthada ithu… ange ingeyellam romba light ellam fit panni… enge poneda…” (All these extra lights here and there… where are you going)

Sir, from Bangalore to Cochin…

Alright, show the documents… I started a conversation with one of the cops asking which place that was and how many km to Coimbatore from there etc. (just a diplomatic approach) while another one went on talking in tamil about different offences I’ve committed which I couldn’t understand fully. Few which I could catch with a lot of probing were…

1. No black eye sticker on the headlamp…

Sir, this rule is no more there in KA and KL.

No no, its still there in TN

2. Extra fog lamps which are not permissible…

Antha Bangaloru full romba fog sir…. Cant ride without fog lamps…

3. Over speeding…

Oh my goodness, what would I say… Don’t make me speechless…

“Appadiyellam sollath sir…” I am riding all the way from Bangalore to Cochin and if trouble comes on the way, how will I complete this with peace of mind… What I need is encouragement from you all. I'm sure I could do a good dramatization and did deliver all these in a typical tamil movie tone. That worked, I could sense smiles with respect on them… Now I don’t see a Mullaperiyar or Kaveri barricade between us. One cop himself folded and put the vehicle documents in the cover and handed over to me. They wished me a safe ride and I left the place happily exchanging lots of “Nandri”.

I remember passing Trissur at 11:50 and close to Angamali bike got reserved. Ooops, that was something I forgot to keep in mind. Reserve is only 1 ltr and failing to find an open bunk in the middle of the night is the definition for disaster. Thad didn’t happen, found one Indianoil pump before Perumbavoor.

The guy who came out to fill petrol looked at the KA registration plate and then looked at me and asked me if Im riding all the way from KA. When I said yes he stopped for a while and tried to pass on his concern… why don’t you come by bus…

Oh... that’s fine and I like to ride and I do ride a lot.

Hmm... How much petrol did u fill?

I said one tank full got over and now I’m filling from you.

He did a quick calculation and exclaimed… oh god, petrol worth almost Rs. 800. !!!

Again his instincts couldn’t stop him deliver a few words of advice… asking me to come by bus next time, riding such a distance is dangerous… that too at night…

I will remember his face for a very long time, I’m sure.

Finally…

544 km

10 hrs and 10 min

16 ltr petrol

6 bread jam sandwiches, 2 boiled eggs, one black tea and one ltr water

Almost nonstop

At 1:40 I reached home.

Route: Bangalore- Hosur- Krishnagiri- Dharmapuri- Thopur- Mettur- Bhavani- Coimbatore- Valayar- Palakkad- Trissur- Angamali- Perumbavoor- Muvatupuzha- Thodupuzha.

Thanks to Bullet, she once again proved herself reliable and trustworthy.

Now let me think about riding back to Bangalore…

The bike’s given for service today morning. Here we have someone called Mr Willi, respectable person for all the bullet owners here in the town. Though he doesn’t do the job himself anymore for health reasons, the job is still done by his disciples.

The gear box seal has taken the toll and is broken… can see grease leaking… will be ready before the return ride back to Bangalore.


Kanva- A day out with RTMC

Kanva Dam is a minor irrigation project dam spanning 776 hectares and is about 15 kms in length. Built way back in 1946 across the River Kanva (a tributary of the River Cauvery), the dam is also a fisheries center with a number of trees and wooded hills surrounding it.

I was excited to go for this announce ride. I haven’t been to that place before. Moreover this is my second announce ride with RTMC and is going to be the gateway to RTMC membership.

Chandra, Piston, Kam and Sriram are the only guys I know in the ride group. For them too this is the second announce ride with RTMC. Piston again proved himself to be Mr. Late. This guy won’t pick up the phone in the morning. I am trying to wake him up as requested by him. Amazingly he kept his hands and ears away from the phone. 7:30 am, we all are ready to start the ride and I’m getting a call from Piston… sorry dude, couldn’t get up early, but don’t want to miss the ride, his friend also is ready to come with him for the ride as pillion. The option for him now is to join the ride at the breakfast halt. Thankfully the ride route is through the place where Piston stays. Finally before we finished the breakfast Piston makes it to our table.

Piston is more enthusiastic about doing laying his hands on his bike than taking it out for rides. Finally even that lifeless object started complaining about pathetic situation. It’d been in his own ‘personal garage- his porch’ for more than a month. Whenever we wanted him to come out for rides with us the only thing which pulled him back was the fact that the bike is not in running condition. I and Swami used to make fun of this quite often. I’m sure, Piston got fed up with this or not sure if it’s because of the bikes prayers, finally he decided to take to Farooq (his mechanic). Now, a few hours with the mechanic and the bike is ready.

We headed to Kanva after breakfast. There were more than 20 bikes for the ride; I don’t remember the exact no. though. Mysore road is in excellent condition to ride, a glance at the Speedo meter will prove it. The right deviation takes you to Kanva reservoir. It is difficult to figure out that turn. The road from the high way till the dam, I would call it an off road. Better you have a nice butt to take the impact or stand up on the foot rest.

One good thing about the reservoir area is that the place is not commercialized and of course it is very beautiful. You can take your bike close to the water; No shaky muddy cover to trap you or your bikes. I have memories of Marconahalli, another dam, where we had to put in our best to bring a 4x4 off a trap.

The dam site is very picturesque and tempting for any activity on the bike. I and piston took a round the lake ride close to water, a kind of off track ride. Different sides look different. One side we found few boats with no human being around, an abandoned brick furnace etc. giving the place a ghosted look. Chandra should have joined us and his camera would have a feast.

By the time we completed the ride and joined the group the usual introduction part was almost over. Being our second ride with RTMC I checked the procedure for induction to RTMC and I found the right guy to have a chat about this- Sid. He came for the ride with his Java 350cc, white colored bike, a solid restored piece of machine. Sid rides with his wife who is very passionate about riding. When she said she is still waiting for a ride to Vayanad that her hubby has promised to take her once, I felt unbelievable. Sreeram too came with his wife, nice to meet him for the second RTMC ride.

We returned back to Bangalore by noon without going for any more activities other than a line up before leaving the place. Chandra, Kam and I took lunch on the way back while piston split up on the way and ended up in some pub in Rajarajeswari nagar.

A Successful Sunday- Sangam Ride

28th Jan 2007; Swami, Piston, Chandra, and myself planned a ride to somewhere outside the city. As usual there was no specific plan. Everyone left it to someone else to plan where to go. But in the morning somehow ‘Sangam’ idea came up. There is something behind that decision too. Mr. Piston doesn’t want to go in Mysore road… Reason… last evening he’d already been there and is a very much explored route for him. All right, who has issues… no one… when there is no plan at all there wouldn’t be issues in choosing a place.

Piston doesn’t sleep, as far as I know, He spends most of the day as well as night at his office cursing his manager ‘Sardarji’. By the way he is one of the very good admirers of sardar jokes. As usual the day before the ride he spent the night at office hoping to go back to sleep after finishing the work which didn’t happen and this sweetheart slept on his chair sometime in the night, may be some time in the morning. We, all set to go are calling him to get no answer. We took the decision. The ride will be to Sangam against Piston’s wish as a protest.

Myself, Chandra and Swami started our ride to Sangam after a good breakfast from a restaurant at Swami’s area in Bansankari at around 8:00 am. Chandra is my pillion. His bike’s been taken by one of his friends for a short time use. I picked Chandra from his home at somewhere close to the ‘Kemp Fort’. Anyway at around 8:30 we got a call from Piston with lots of apologies and willingness to join us. He had just woken up from his ‘office chair’. We waited for him at a place close to the ‘way of life’ ashram. There Swami's and Chandra’s cameras happened to have some promising shots. Swami even went up on a tree to shoot a nest found there.

Piston meets the rest of the gang… Ahh… What a meeting… At 10:00 (against the preplanned 7:30) in a roadside restaurant, gentlysipping juice, Piston came and rests (in peace). We gave him a warm welcome by kicking his ass and few nice ‘pats’ on his back. Had some snacks from there and we headed to Sangam

The route is Bangalore- kanakpura (take a left turn from the city) – sangam. Total of around 80km. We took a right deviation about 20km before reaching sangam to have a small ride to an abandoned quarry which is a hill top through steep rough gravel road. Myself and piston went up while Swami and Chandra waited down photographing some microscopic creatures and unknown plants there in upside down professional angles.


The ride to the hilltop was awesome. The gravel road with hair pin curves surely will test anybody’s skills. The hilltop is fully deserted with no sign of any life. There is a pool with a cubical stone laid in the middle and empty area with few rock pieces laid here and there.

Piston had a nice idea and didn’t hesitate to deliver it… Why don’t we come back with a JCB and a truck for those stones!!! Let him do it… Anyway we spent some time roaming around there and took some snaps (though not as good as Chandra’s double barrel Nikon and Swami’s ‘puttukutti’ my lil powershot too did a decent job.) Coming back negotiating the gravel road- down hill was an exciting experience.

We grouped again (Chandra was standing down in the main stream and Swami was found in the nearby chilly field) and headed to Sangam. Had a late lunch there. There, to go to Mekedatu there are two options. Cross the river and board a bus like vehicle or cross the river on bullet and headed to Mekedatu on bullet riding the off road with kavery on one side and scenic hill view on the other. We didn’t have to think twice to opt the second. Shoes and socks taken off and hung on the bike, jeans pulled up, a bare foot ride…


The most exciting event of the day was crossing the river on bullet and the ride to a settlement in the forest via Mekedatu, around 8km off roading through the forest. My bike did a good job carrying myself and Chandra as pillion with our luggage. The photo captured by Swami gives a nice memory and feel about the ride through the forest. Swami, this is one of your best photos…

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have a ride to finsh.
A river to cross before I reach.
And miles to go before I reach.

Oh, I can’t miss to narrate this incident… Piston had a slight scratch on his hand while trying some gymnastics on an eaten up stand at a view point on the way. Not good, there was rust everywhere on that iron frame. Piston wanted some alcohol to apply the scratch to avoid being septic. No alcohol available in the forest, neither the wild animals nor the 'nonwild' animals drink. Piston had a backup plan which we found very extreme- apply some petrol and burn the area to kill the ‘enemy’… wow… (We could stop his efforts to apply grease). Anyway the burning step was dropped, couldn’t stop him applying petrol though. Later he gave us a lecture on first aid in military style. We listened with eyes wide open and ears tightly closed.

In another exiting moment for Piston, he got the golden opportunity to prove himself a mechanic. He successfully solved a tuk tuk sound coming from the back wheel of his bike on breaking. Later his attempt to lay hands on clutch got prevented by us. Reason: we wanted to reach Bangalore the same day.


If you ask Swami about his take on this ride, he has a very specific answer. His childhood dream came true on 28th Jan 2007 evening on the banks of river kaveri. Swami wanted to explore the chances and his caliber in nude photography. A volunteered model, swami’s photographic skills and quick reaction to capture the event without wasting a millisecond… everything paid off. Swami is the happiest man on earth. Way to go swami… (Don't ask me who this model is. It's not me or Piston or Swami)


We had coffee at the same place where we had lunch (sitting on the steps of the restaurant). While the return ride Piston got the golden opportunity to demonstrate his mechanical skills, something which he always wanted in his entire life… A nut is loose at the rear and he tightened it. Good job Piston…. Awesome... Anyway we successfully stopped his efforts to do something on the clutch. We wanted to reach Bangalore the same day and wanted Piston too with us in one piece.

How can I miss Swami’s Yoga on the way back... I didn’t feel anything strange when swami stopped on the way and wanted to take a 5 min break. But within a flash of a second swami is in Yoga mode on the road side. Swami ‘Asamayathu Yogananda’…

We reached Bangalore at around 9 O’clock, Had dinner together and bye byed.

I call this one of my best riding experiences for some reasons. Apart from the ride experiences mentioned earlier, there was a very good advantage of having a very good company. We formed a very good group to ride together, always stick to the same common agenda, or should I say, we made sure that there wasn’t any agenda at all. Thanks to Swami, Chandra and Piston for a wonderful day. Let’s meet again…


Sangam ride albums: Jo's Swami's

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You might feel the narration a bit funny and exaggerated about characters and some incidents in a few occasions. Intention is to prevent losing the spirit of the trip. Thank you for taking it in the right sense.

Horsley Hills

10.02.2007

The hill station is situated 1265 meters above sea level. The climate is cool and pleasant throughout the year.

I rode with:
Muthu and Tiger...
I missed the pack and started alone from KR Puram, but within a few km met with Tiger and later joined Muthu who was waiting on the way- waiting for one of his friends who got issues with his bike who later had to leave the bike somewhere and ride with Muthu as pillion.
Muthu's (500cc) and Tiger's goldies rocked the way and reached HH after sunset.

HH ride was a preplanned, prearranged meet by RTMC and MadBulls. Though this wasn't any special occasion like an anniversary, I joined the ride to have a hang of the meeting and the party.

Ride to HH was smooth, the final stretch of course is a hike with several hairpins to the hill top.
Punnami AP Tourism Hill Resort is a good place to stay- Neat and nicely arranged cottages spread around in a hilly terrain with full of greenary.


I'm not happy that I missed to ride to places around where there are some caves and landscape sceneries, had a short ride to the other side of the resort to have a ride on the rocky surface and have a good view from top.

One important thing I learned this time was to keep a spare tube. Thankfully this happened when reached back at the KR Puram hanging bridge.


Route:
Bangalore (KR puram) - (NH4) Hoskote - (SH) Chintamani - Madanapalli - Horseley hills
Distance:
~170 kms