500kms, 10 hours, awesome roads, monsoon weather, intermittent rains, lush green forests, you and your bike…!
Yes, recently in August I completed my first solo ride to Ganeshgudi (Dandeli) about 500 kms away from home, not planned but spontaneous.Independence day weekend, on a boring Thrusday evening, as I sat in boredom, needing a break, my bike needing a long ride, I just got up and rode to the bunk, filled up the tank, came home and announced I’m riding to Dandeli tomorrow!
Mom asked – how many, I replied alone and she made a quick nod and walked away, I could hear a frown from my dad sitting on the sofa, expected reactions and a witty smile on my face!
5am – I was running around loading bags and tying them on to the rear seat, filling up the bottles, and those last minute rushes! Mom walked out and said ride safe, ride slow, I nod again with a grin :) Of late, my parents are supportive enough as they know my adamant nature and my quest to do things differently. August is peak monsoon month and I was expecting rains to be my companion, I badly needed to soak in the rains as Bangalore was literally dry and hot with no signs of rains at all, a total monsoon failure this year!
Still the early morning truck and cab traffic on Tumkur road, NH4 took me more than an hour to clear and face the open winding highways. Riding on the highway, it feels like home on a bullet. The bird is a real cruiser, you don’t struggle and the bird never goes out of steam however long the ride may be. The little bumps and humps, bad patches and those curves don’t deter the bird and rationally the speed never comes down, frequent use of the clutch not required unless the roads are horrible. The needle on the speedo kept on nearing the 3 digit mark and I had to often control the urge and reduce the speed, yet I maintained a consistent speed of 70+ all through the ride. Incidentally, I took an alternate route to Ganeshgudi through the country side that consumed more time as the roads were pretty bad but was compensated with stunning views providing relief to my sore eyes. Dressed up in camouflaged dress and with the long boots of Woodlands to protect my ankle and riding gloves completing the gear, I was the object of attention for every curious villager and the kids waving at me :) I was so obsessed with riding the bird that I often relented to stop and take out the camera that I now regret (wish I could have captured those stunning country side vistas with my bird in the frame…!). Anyway, there is always a next time ;)
Black clouds were hovering all along but somehow the rains were reluctant to shower on me and they only came down after me covering 450 out of the 500 odd kms on the bird. Once you bypass Dandeli, the vista’s have a dramatic changeover with the teak plantations taking over and forests all along the way replacing the barren lands along the highway. The road to Ganeshgudi after Dandeli is laden with beautiful curves and you ride through the reserve forest all along. I stayed at my regular jaunt, the Old Magazine House campsite run by the Jungle Lodges (www.junglelodges.com) and the staffs were no less happy in welcoming me back again there. I was completely drenched riding the last stretch in rains as I had no intent of stopping too; in fact I was hoping to ride in the rains :) It rained pretty much the entire time I was there and I was happy to just loiter around, eat, sleep and relax without any care in the world.
On the ride back, I started off late due to the rains and yet again I loved the ride in the rains, but the ride was slow as I was busy feasting on the beauty of nature when it rains. Three hours of riding in the rains and next seven without it ensured that I was completely dry by the time I was back home, not an inclination that I had rode in the rains. Stops were few more on the return journey for that hot cup of ‘chai’ to fuel me along and to check the baggage as not to let them fall (the spring chords had lost a little of their elasticity that made the weight of the bags shift to one end). Again, I was so engrossed in the ride that I forgot lunch and only stopped for a late heavy snack at dusk time. The last couple of hours ride was all about riding in the dark and the only thing I felt unsatisfactory on the bird is the weak headlamp, highly insufficient on the highways, barely manageable.
Back home, much to my and parents’ surprise, I was active and showed no signs of fatigue as I always do when back from a trip however comfortable it may be. Signs of comfortness and more biking rides on its way :)
‘bird’ in the article refers to my bike – Royal Enfield Thunderbird, 350cc
Route – Bangalore-Tumkur-Chitradurga-Davanagere-Haveri-Ranebennur-Bankapur (turn left off the highway)-Mundgod-Kalghatgi-Haliyal-Barchi(bypassing Dandeli)-Ganeshgudi
Note: No tolls to be paid for any bikes; the leftmost bay is for the bikes to ride away.
A good riding jacket and a sturdy helmet
Ankle covering boots
Riding Gloves (and knee protectors)
Lots of Water
Sturdy bags / backpacks that sits on the rear seat
Ropes (preferably elastic with hooks) or the typical Saddle bags
Rainwear (if riding in rains/monsoon)
Tool kit (I need to build one now)
All documents and Id cards
Read this post by Sankara to know more here - http://www.beontheroad.com/2012/10/packing-tips-for-your-motorcycle-trip.html
Ride safe! Ride slow! Enjoy your ride!