South India Exploration ride of 2010

This ride had happened just about 2 years before the log was written. But since this triplog was never completed, it could never see the light of day. I am choosing this particular ride to start off my Travel blog.

A south India ride was on our to-do list since long. The plan finally started taking shape couple of months back. Five riders viz. Amogh Navalkar, Surojit Sadhu, Ankit Khandelwal, Ashutosh Adkar and I finally undertook the 3000 Km ride across 5 states viz. Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It was not just a casual ride but we had an aim of bringing a change in the society to minimize child labour, if not change at least to acknowledge the general public the ill-effects of it on the children.
We did a ~3000 kms trip through Karnataka, Kerala, TN, Maharashtra and Goa from 18th to 26th Sept 2010, to spread awareness against CHILD LABOUR. The pre-decided route that we took was as follows :

Route
Pune –> Kolhapur — > Gaganbawda –> Panaji — > Karwar –> Gokarna –> Jog Falls –> Sagar à Agumbe — > Someshwar–> Sringeri –> Kudermukh –> Mangalore –> Bikal –> Talparamba–> Mananthavady –> OOty –>Mudumalai — > Bandipur –> Mysore –> Bengaluru — > Pune

South India Exploration ride of 2010: Day 9

South India Exploration ride of 2010: Day 9:

This day was supposed to be primarily about covering distances as fast as possible since this was the last day in our alloted schedule and we all had to get be in Pune, the following morning, no matter what. Most strategies adopted today were supposed to facilitate this.

As per tradition, everyone got late at their respective night halts and I was the first person to reach CCD Tumkur but even I could only make it there at 7.45AM (instead of 7AM as decided the previous night).

I had 4 missed calls from my co-riders which I missed since I was having the fastest speed run of his life on NECE road just to make it to Tumkur on time. This was the first time in my bike’s life that it breached 145kmph on speedo and managed to touch a maximum speed on 147kmph, fully crouched. This bit was especially surprising because I had never managed to breach 145 before this date riding without any luggage whatsoever but today I crossed it even though my bike was fully loaded with tankbag, saddlebag and tail-bag! Anyways, on reaching CCD, Tumkur, I made a few enquiries with the CCD staff and understood that I, in fact, have not been left behind (because I was late :p). On contacting others, nobody would take any calls. Anyways, at around 8:15AM, I saw his group approaching from a distance with alongwith 2 extra Green Goblins. Turns out, Bluevolt and n_Aditya, like gracious hosts, had come all the way to Tumkur to see us off 🙂 . We all decided to have our breakfast at Tumkur CCD and proceed further. But the chit-chat and goodbyes took a lot of time and when we were all set to leave, it was already 9:45AM. It was agreed upon that Rohit and Aditya would ride alongwith us for sometime, and then turn around and ride back to Bangalore.

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Bluevolt’s Ninja

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Amogh’s RTR, Ready To Rip!

The ‘Sometime’ part of the previous statement turned out to be misleading and they ended up riding with us in their 130-150 kmph range for more than an hour and a half and before we knew it, it was already 11:15 and these guys had come along for almost 230km. 🙂 At this point, all of us pulled over and exchanged the final goodbyes and handshakes and finally these guys turned around back towards Bangalore.

The rest of us, i.e., Ankit, Ashu, Amogh, Surojit and I still had a long long way to go, so it was decided that we all will ride at speeds which we are comfortable at and there was no requirement for everyone to stay together at all times. It was also decided that the person in front will pull over every 100km and wait for everyone to catch up and then we will do the vital-essential things together. For the 1st sector, the first 100km after Aditya and Rohit turned around, Mr. Ashu Ninja zoomed ahead on his Ninja so fast that the rest of us were technically incapable of catching up. Due to this adventure of his, he had to wait 40 odd minutes for everyone to catch up at the end of the predecided 100km. Bored to the core with nothing to do on the side of the road, he decided that he won’t do that again. The solitary picture he took when he was busy killing time.

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We had reached the Chitradurg – Davangere stretch by this time (Around 12.30 PM) and almost everyone was running low on fuel. Post everyone’s refueling, I went ahead and kept riding at a constant 110-120odd for around an hour. Looking to not break the momentum, I made the mistake of riding 115km instead of the predecided 100km. On realizing my error, I stopped and tried to contact the rest of the gang to inform them about my position but it wasn’t possible due to low network coverage in that area. It was 1:30PM by then. I waited for the gang for around half an hour but nobody showed up. So, at 2:00 PM I decided to ride further. I reached Haveri and got the news that the rest of the gang had crossed Davangere. Knowing that everything was going alright, I continued further and reached 17km from Hubli. I was feeling extremely drowsy at this point of time due to the extremely boring nature of the Highway so I decided to take a Power nap :p right there right then. But since there were no trees in sight on the side of that road, I had to take the nap under the blazing afternoon sun. So as to not burn myself, I decided that I had to take the nap in full riding gear without even removing the helmet (whose padding acted as a pillow). At around 2:45 PM I finally got a wake-up call from the gang that they were 60km away from Hubli and had stopped for lunch. I was told to stop for lunch at Hubli and wait for the others to catch up. I continued my ride ahead at a blistering pace so as to be able to have my lunch as soon as possible since
1. I was famished.
2. I needed a proper nap.

In this haste, I committed another mistake. Just before I entered Hubli, I saw 3 restaurants stacked together but since I was going along at quite a clip, I did not stop immediately and assumed that I will find more restaurants further and so lowered my riding speed as I kept looking for decent places to eat. As luck would have it, I didn’t find any more restaurants till the time I reached the exit for Dharwad! Instead of going 17km ahead and stop for lunch, I had swiftly done 32km instead. So, instead of being 60km ahead, I was now 75 km ahead by the time I stopped for lunch. Anyways, assuming my that buddies would also have hurried through their lunch since they were so far behind, I ordered a chicken fried rice so I can finish it as fast as possible and as soon as I finished my lunch, I decided to call up my friends to check on their progress.

In the meantime….

The others had stopped for lunch 60 km before Hubli when I was about 17 km from Hubli. The time I called them up after finishing my lunch, Ankit told me that their lunch was yet to be served. I was shocked to hear this since I was already almost 90 odd km ahead and was also done with my lunch. I panicked a bit since it was getting exceedingly difficult to wait any longer and I was looking at atleast a wait of 1.5 hours. It was 3:40PM right now and there was no hope of moving ahead any time before 5PM, I didn’t know what to do there. So I called up the guys again and explicitly expressed my displeasure about this. Thats when Ankit gave me the idea of going inside Dharwad town to get everyone the yummy Dharwad Pedas.

The place where I was waiting was exactly on the NH4 exit for Dharwad, about 8 km from Dharwad bus stand. I decided to ride down to Dharwad and got some of those Yummy pedas for everyone. This ride was uneventful and it took me hardly 20 minutes to be back to where I was, waiting on the side of the road. With nothing else to do when waiting for the guys to come, I started clicking pictures of random things ruing the fact that it will get dark very soon and then all 3 guys with 35w headlamps (Surojit, Ankit and Amogh) will struggle massively.

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At around 5:00 PM, I called up the guys again only to be told that they have to ride slowly since its raining very heavily!! But it was all bright and sunny where I was!! I could do nothing but wait for these guys to arrive so I sat down on the grass beside the road and tried to relax a bit.

Finally at around 5:15 PM, I could actually see the rain catching up with me, coming towards me from the south, pouring rain clouds were traveling in my direction and soon enough an intermittent drizzle started where I was standing. I held ground but couldn’t hold on much longer as the rain started to intensify. I went near the bike and took the raincoat out. Wore the top and looked behind to finally, thankfully, see the DRL of the Green Ninja in the distance. I was done wearing my rainpant almost as soon as the Ninja reached me. It was almost 5:20 by now.  Even before I asked anything, Ashu told me that the problems with Ankit’s FZ had resurfaced and he was barely able to ride the bike in the 90s with the bike returning less FE than even the Ninja 250R! One by one, the rest of the pack joined us and so, just to freshen them up, I handed them 2 cans of Cloud 9 so that they may be able to continue riding as soon as possible.

With the light diminishing, we moved forward but there was a lot of rain now so the progress remained slow and cautious but steady.  We all filled up soon after we reached Nippani and crossed into MH. By the time we reached Kolhapur, it was already 8 PM and we were all very cold and wet so we decided to stop for dinner right there. The rain had been along with us all this while. We stopped at a McDonald’s on NH4 in Kolhapur and had our final dinner of the ride together. When we were done with dinner, the rain had eased up slightly so we decided to make a run for it. But soon enough, the rain worsened again. Coupled with the darkness and the 35w stock headlamps, half the team was having a hard time making any sort of progress in the heavy rain. It took us around 2 hours to reach from Kolhapur to Karad with riding speeds keeping between 25-30kmph. En route it was decided that we will split the group with Surojit following the Ninja and I would be leading Ankit and Amogh.

 

Though Suro could ride at a respectable 50kmph behind Ashutosh, Ankit and Amogh were even struggling to maintain 35kmph. I was getting more and more tired by the minute with boredom and sleep deprivation was taking its toll. We stuck together for quite a while when we saw Ashu and Suro pulled over on the side of the road. Turns out due to all the water and rain, there was something wrong with Ashu’s Ninja which was suffering massive power-loss. We somehow made it to Satara by 11 PM and halted at a Dhaba for some warmth and tea. As soon as we stopped, the rain picked up even more and its intensity was similar to that of cloudburst. Within minutes, we could see that the bikes had started to drown in the collecting water. We bailed the dhaba as soon as we realized that the rain won’t be easing up and was causing more damage than help. We contemplated on staying the night at Satara and then continuing the following morning but the weather was so bad and the fact that Pune was just a further 100 odd km away, I felt that we had a better chance of surviving the storm if we just kept riding.

 

Anyways, as soon as we left the dhaba in Satara, I inadvertently picked up pace and realized that I could see better, the faster I went. Since the rain was so hard that more speed would mean more water which would mean that water on the visor would wash away faster! I stopped for the guys to catch up and told them this. In the meantime, my spare chain lube bottle in my tankbag had leaked and the right pocket was all oily. By mistake, I happened to wipe my visor with my glove with was semi-smeared in oil and voiala!! No more stagnant water droplets on the visor!! It was an accidental masterstroke. I did a trial high speed run and realized the drawback of this setup. Even though I could easily see things around myself even when going along at 120+kmph in that rain, as soon as there was oncoming traffic on the opposite lane, the light would make me totally blind. This was a bad drawback so I refrained from telling everyone what I had done and kept continuing in an effort to work around this problem. I crouched and the problem was solved to the extent of 90% aided by the plants planted between the divider by NHAI! God bless NHAI for that!!

Before I knew it, I was crossing Shirwal (turn for Mahabaleshwar road) going along at a speed of over 130 in cloudburst rain. Drowsiness had caught up with me once again and I was having a hard time doing any kind of riding. I decided that it would be now or never and kept on proceeding towards Pune. At the back of my mind, I knew that the others had each other in case they needed any help. After a few short wash-my-face stops, I saw katraj tunnel in the distance. As I came closer to the Tunnel, the rain started to ease up. About 1.5km from the tunnel, I was greeted by dry tarmac. For the first time in the last 400 km, there was no rain. I couldn’t believe my eyes and picked up the pace again rapidly progressing towards Pune. It was earlier planned that our xBHP friends who had come to see us off from Pune will welcome us on our return at Moto Cafe if we made it there by 12 midnight. But by the time I crossed Katraj tunnel, it was already almost 12:30AM. Still, I went over to The Moto Cafe, only to find it closed. I could make it there only by 12:40, so I guess nobody waited that long.

I turned around and went home, off-loaded the luggage, changed myself  into dry clothes, went to the loo (had to poo poo for like 250km) and then called up Ashutosh to be told that those guys have also *just* made it to Pune. Though I was feeling very bad about going ahead without the group, there was very little I could do to help those guys go any faster and I myself was feeling very drowsy and was worried about my own safety had the ride been extended any longer. It took me all of 18 hours to ride from my Friend’s place in Bangalore to my place in Pune and the 3100 km journey from the previous 9 days had taken a toll on my body. The risk I took worked out for me well enough but I am not sure everyone would have been willing to live with that extremely risky drawback.

Anyways, we all did meet up a few days later to celebrate our successful and majorly uneventful ride across South India, a ride which showed us facets of India we had never before seen or known about. This particular ride is extremely close to my heart since this is the very first time I was venturing anywhere south of Goa and had practically no idea what to expect ahead. Whatever I experienced in the southern states was nothing like what I remembered being taught about in Geography textbooks back in school. My experiences in the Southern states of India were incomparable with anywhere else I have been till now. Thats why, even after over 2 years after the ride, I still remember almost all the details to be able to write such an extensive log now. But the biggest thing this ride gave me  was 4 friends for a lifetime whom I can trust so much that I can practically bet my life on them.

Thank you (in alphabetical order) Amogh, Ankit, Ashutosh and Surojit for being such wonderful co-riders and friends. I hope we can do another journey like this sometime later in life, just to relive the old memories, the good old times.

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South India Exploration ride of 2010: Day 8

South India Exploration ride of 2010: Day 8

As per plan, we started early today, and surprisingly, for the very first time on the trip, without any delays, we were on the road towards Mudumalai by 5.30AM. We had decided to take the route which goes via the 36 hairpins.

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We were careful to begin with so as to not become contributors to those stats for the year 2010.

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But soon, though cautious, we all relaxed a bit and started enjoying out ride on the piece of excellent tarmac.

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After ample photo breaks en route, we finally crossed over to Mudumalai Tiger Reserve at around 7.30AM. By this time, we had decended almost 1500feet in the last 1 hour of riding.

After innumerable photo breaks to capture what we were seeing around, we eventually reached this:

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After the photo + *remove the jacket thermal liner* break, we proceeded towards Mudumalai town in the middle of the tiger reserve. The roads inside even this jungle were of above average quality and even though it was basically 1.5 lanes, the road surface was good. Soon after, we crossed a small bridge and then saw the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve canteen to our left. Being slightly hungry by now(It was already 8:00 AM). We decided to check it out. But soon we realised that the humans in that canteen were easily outnumbered by monkeys. Not really wanting to share our food with our ancestors, we decided to move on anyways.

From that point, Mysore (our next stop for the day) was straight and Gudalur was towards left. Since we were quite early here and did not have many km to cover for Mysore (90odd), we thought of exploring the wildlife in Mudumalai and so instead of heading towards Mysore, we took a left towards Gudalur. Soon after we took the left, surely enough, we saw fresh shit-prints of elephants on the side of the road showing us that they were very much around. Even though we hadn’t seen any till then, we were sure we would spot some extremely soon. But, ~3km into our exploration trip, Amogh bailed out of a Truck overtake due to a sudden oncoming Alto, Ankit, riding right behind(and too close for comfort) braked too hard, skidded and fell down. Nobody but an ego got hurt. We checked out Ankit and his bike and found everything to be alright. Just as we were to resume, Surojit, whose bike was parked on the side of the road, while trying to sit on the bike, toppled his parked bike over himself. We helped him out from under his bike and then his bike was also given a check. After the twin falls, we ditched the plan of going towards Gudalur and promplty turned around and proceeded towards Mysore as per original plan. When we reached the fork again, we found out that there was a TN Tourism Dept. managed “Hotel Tamil Nadu” 2km from that place and was a decent place for breakfast. We reached the place at 8.45AM.
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Unfortunately, here our plans would take a further hit. After a long delay:
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And a lot of events irrelevant to this narrative, we could finally have our breakfast and leave only at 10:30. At this time, It was decided that Ankit and I would move ahead towards Mysore as both their bikes needed attention and the rest will come behind clicking pictures of whatever sceneries / wildlife they can spot. Soon after we went ahead, we saw a pack of wild elephants but since we had left our cameras with the trailing party, even though we did stop for a cusory glance, we couldn’t take any pictures and so had to move on.

The rest who followed soon didn’t have such a pleasant experience with the wild elephants when they stopped to click them in all their glory. As soon as these guys stopped, and dismounted the bikes, the leader of the elephant pack somehow took a liking towards the lime green Ninja and maybe mistook it for delicious food. Soon enough, the said elephant, with a loud grunt and trunk raised gave the tourers the scare of their lives when it charged towards them full speed. The guys ran for their lives, got on the bikes and fled the scene as fast as they could!

They still mustered the courage to click the following pics further down the road :D.

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As soon as we cross into Karnataka, Mudumalai National park turn into Bandipur National park and the road quality and texture changed to the worse. After a bit of cop trouble for the Ninja at the entry gate pictured below, Ashutosh, Amogh and Surojit proceeded towards Mysore clicking more pictures of the surroundings on the way.

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In the meantime, Ankit and I reached a Bajaj Service Center Mysore by 12:30PM and then the search for Yamaha service station took another 1 hour (and was eventually found 1km away from Probiking 😀 ). It was already lunch in the Yamaha service center still they entertained us and agreed to help us out. By 2.30 PM, both the bikes got ready for action and by that time, the others had also made it to Mysore with some time to spare. While the guys waited for us to return, with nothing much to do, they made smalltalk with the kids around (since we did have a cause! Remember? )
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It was lunch time by the time the group reunited so we decided to have lunch right here in Mysore before proceeding towards Bangalore to meet our xBHP Bangalore brothers. The time they had given us was 8:00PM and we were confident we will easily make it there on time. So after having a hearty vegetarian lunch at Hotel President, Mysore in the terrace restaurant. We were again ready to leave by 3:45PM.

The Mysore-Bangalore highway was butter smooth so It was not very hard to cover the 140odd km before sundown. Though we were warned about the possibility of interceptors in the vicinity of Kengeri town by Mangalore xBHP member Meghan Naik (xBHP ID kwokfist), luckily, we didn’t encounter any such roadblocks.

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We did remain careful throughout the ride, but sometimes the slow speed and the heavy lunch got into the head of the riders and especially yours truly and I started feeling extremely drowsy. I stopped multiple times for water, tea and nicotine/caffeine in order to stay awake. We also hit a huge traffic jam 10 km from Kengeri due to a brutal accident between an Ambassador car and a Tempo but still we eventually made it to NECE Road entry at Kengeri at 6:15PM. We reconfirmed the meeting place to Hotel Empire on MG Road @ 8PM. We did get some directions from n_Aditya but I guess we were still a bit lost in the big city. After a 10 minute speed run on the NECE Road and another 1.5 hour battle with Bangalore traffic.. we eventually made it to Hotel Empire at exactly 8:00PM, but so we thought..

As it turns out, we were at the wrong venue and there was another Hotel Empire 1.5km away from where we were waiting. Anyways, Tibby was over in a (15 minute :p) flash to escort us to the correct venue where the rest of the Bangalore xBHP members were waiting eagerly for all of us to arrive.

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After having out dinner here, literally all of us parted ways for the night at around 10.30PM as we did not get a Hotel room in Bangalore and so all of us would be staying somewhere close to NECE Road / NH4 with our respective friends who stay in Bangalore. It was also decided that we would meet up the subsequent morning at Cafe Coffee Day, Tumkur at 7:00AM and continue on to Pune.

I caught up with my friends and college roommates Vinod Valecha and Sharad Naidu and went to Naidu’s place to stay for the night. But since we had met after such a long time, the chit chat session lasted endlessly till it was almost 1.30AM when we all decided to hit the sack or else all of us would be late the subsequent morning. It is another matter that all of us did get late the next morning, but more on that after the break..

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South India Exploration ride of 2010: Day 7

South India Exploration ride of 2010: Day 7:

Everybody got up lazily the next day, the agenda for the day was just some sight seeing and a short ride to Doddabetta hill top. Since we still had our room for another night, this was also the only day in our ride when we will be riding without Saddle bags all day, everyone was looking forward to today’s ride. So, first of all, we started at 10.30, and our first stop for the day was for Brunch.

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After hogging on kebabs and biryani at *Some restaurant* in the Ooty market, we headed towards Doddabetta. Since it was raining on and off, so we kept our raincoats on. Ankit had to buy a new one from Ooty market since his raincoat tore off when he was putting it on in the morning. Anyways, after a picturesque ride through the hills, we finally made it to Doddabetta by 1.30 PM.

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After spending some time pixellating the entire premises, we left the place at around 3PM.
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All of us in a single frame. Rare photo :).

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It was very foggy on that day so we could hardly see any views from Doddabetta.

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But when the clouds did clear up slightly for a few minutes, we could see Coonoor in the distance in the above pic.

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And headed straight to Ooty lake. On the downhill journey, I realised that I was having issues with the rear bake and so continued towards Ooty mrket in search of a Bajaj service centre alongwith Ashutosh. The effort in the end was futile as the SS people could do nothing as it was not a Probiking. In the meantime, the rest of the pack was enjoying themselves at the lake pixellating everything in sight.. The beauty of the place only reminded me of  this song from the film ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’.

But instead of pixellating the beauty of the place, all the guys did when I was gone to BAL SVC was to click poser shots :p

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But finally, good sense prevailed and we got this masterpiece…

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We spent lots of time around the lake, mostly reflecting over what we had experienced over the last week. We were also looking forward to our last dinner together as a group for the ride. We bought souvenirs and some *Famous in Ooty* Chocolates and left Ooty lake at around 7.30PM. As soon as the sun set, the mercury started dropping sharply and soon it got very chilly. We wanted to celebrate the last supper for the ride thus far so after some more shopping in Ooty market, found a decent Lounge bar in Ooty market for a round of drinks 🙂 . Soon after, we left the place and went next door for some nice and warm Chinese food. The food, though only decent, tasted expecially good since it was giving us much needed warmth on an unusually chilly evening. We wound up dinner by 10.30 and started heading towards our room, topped up fuel en route and decided on an early morning start. Cleared the dues with the Room owners and slowly one by one everyone dozed off. The highlight of the day was even though we spent an entire day with a civilization, we failed to spot even one instance of child labour wherever we went in Ooty.

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South India Exploration ride of 2010: Day 6

Day 6: 3 States in a day.

The next day dawned bright and sunny, a tad too sunny to our liking. The sweaty Mangalore heat was slowly getting unbearable. We had a small photo shoot with Meghan and Rajat. Then both of them lead us through the city to the NH17 exit.

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While bidding us adieu, they warned us about the ~100km of bad roads we would encounter immediately ahead. We had been on bad roads before, so we thought, how bad can a national highway get? As it happened, it can get very very bad… but I will come to that in due course. The next 20-30 kms or so, we saw some bad roads, nothing too bad.

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We filled up fuel on the way (fuel is much cheaper in Kerala than in Karnataka). Since we had skipped breakfast in Mangalore, we stopped for an early lunch at Kasargod.

We had decided to reach Ooty today at any cost by tonight. With Ayodhya verdict on the verge of being declared, Kerala would be a sensitive area and we didn’t want to be caught in the eye of the storm. We tried to pick up our pace after lunch. Our hopes were soon struck huge blow by the road conditions that we saw after Kasargod. The road was littered with huge potholes, no, actually make that craters…. NAAH…. It was a definitely a Nuclear war. Believe me, it was bad to the point some of us wished we had never got out of our house. I must confess I was actually having second thoughts about Motorcycling as my hobby. And as the cherry on the cake, we had maniac truckers and bus drivers sharing those roads with us. I am sorry but we were not in the frame of mind of clicking any more pictures.

Ankit and his FZ was having some trouble keeping up with the rest of us because his FZ was not performing at its peak on the highway. This led to further delays trying to get the bike fixed. We could only leave Kannur at around 5:00 PM and we took the exit from NH17 to head off to Kuthuparamba and thus enter Wayanad and head towards Mananthawady. The road wasn’t bad but it wasn’t smooth either.

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The rain didn’t get past the drizzle. We made good progress. Soon we were climbing through a mountain pass winding its way through a thick forest. The forest suddenly gave away to our left and revealed a beautiful valley. Even though we were in a rush, we were compelled to pull over and pay our respects to its beauty. But since Mr.Ashutosh Adkar hasn’t bothered to upload these pics anywhere, and my camera was malfunctioning after the heavy moisture exposure in Agumbe, I am afraid we will have to wait till I get the pics for me to share them with you guys.

Mananthwady is a bustling town and much larger than we expected. Our next target was Sultan Bathery, it was now completely dark around us. We passed through many unnamed(to us) towns and villages. Only occasionally stopping to ask for directions to ensure we were on the right track.

The road soon joined a smooth road with dotted line separating the lanes. For the first time in the last 2 days, we were actually seeing pothole free road around us! We had bumped onto a highway! In no time, we were glad to see signs of civilizations. We saw great looking fuel station and pulled over to refuel. About a kilometre after the fuel stop, around 9:30PM we were entering Sultan Bathery. The city of Sultan Bathery was actually much bigger than I expected it to be.  This being by first time in Kerala, I really had no idea how big anything would be. We found lots of good places to eat. We stopped at one place which also had good parking and for a change, we decided to have a vegetarian meal.

It was all but decided that we were to spend the night in Sultan Bathery, but once we sat down for dinner, one thing led to another, it was decided that we will in fact, push further towards Ooty in the night itself. The reasoning being, on the next day, the Ayodhya verdict was due to be announced (which was deferred though eventually) and we did not want to get in any kind of trouble. The general thinking was, Ooty, being a tourist destination, will be more shielded from any outbreaks. After having a hearty meal, Ashu, Surojit and Ankit finished their meal with lemon tea, Amogh and I preferred to have Black coffee instead. Since Ooty was another 90odd km away, we wound up and resumed our ride at around 11PM. I must remind you at this time that today’s ride had begun from Mangalore which was almost 510km from our current location and you already know about the kind of roads we encountered throughout the day. Since Hyperion had been the lead for most of today’s ride and was visibly tired, I took up the lead position followed by the usual order with Hyperion tailing the group.

We were all properly exhausted from the day’s ride but what we stumbled upon in the concluding part of the ride took all exhaustion away. The road from Sultan Bathary to Ooty was filled with long sweeping corners climbing up coupled with butter smooth tarmac. This was arguably the best piece of road we had seen in the 1700km we had ridden prior to this. We were covering the ghat fast even though the going was tough due to pitch darkness and the odd stones kept in the middle of the road. We crossed into Tamil Nadu at about 11:25PM and hence made it a “Three states in 1 calendar date” ride. Also, Surojit, Ankit and Ashu were getting extremely drowsy at the back(thanks to the aforementioned Lemon Tea 😉 ). But Amogh and I were enjoying the ghat to the fullest. At the first break at the “Welcome to Tamil Nadu” checkpost, Ashutosh pulled out a can of Red Bull and said goodbye to his drowsiness but Ankit and Surojit weren’t so lucky.

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Finally after at least 5 *too sleepy to ride* breaks in 97 km, we finally made it to Ooty at exactly 1AM. Just after we reached Ooty, our convoy was intercepted by 2 guys on a scooter who asked the million dollar question. “Do you need a place to stay?”. As soon as we said yes, these guys guided us to a 2BHK Row house. By 1.30AM, we had already found our accommodation for the next 2 nights in Ooty. It was a well equipped house with cozy carpeted interiors alongwith decent parking place for all the bikes. Also, for the 2nd time in our journey, we were all staying in the same room. Extremely tired and sleepy, we decided to sleep it off for the night and start leisurely the next day.

On this particular day, we did about 600km from which about 460km were on just about horrible in condition. But still, the ride was well worth it considering the amount of fun we had while doing the last 100km. This was the very first time anyone of us ever rode in 3 states in 1 calendar date. Easier said than done if you ask me.

Day 7 Log will be out very soon. I won’t keep you waiting for too long now :).

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South India Exploration ride of 2010: Day 5

Day 5: Sagar to Mangalore

We had planned to leave early but once again, continuing our tradition of early morning delays, we promptly had another one. When we came down to ready the bikes for today’s ride, we realized that Amogh’s RTR’s tyre was flat and we had to wait to get it rectified. As it turns out, the tube had gone bad due to multiple punctures, and we had to wait for the only Tyre/Tube shop in Sagar to open before we could do anything. I used  this time to fetch some TVS chain lube from the nearby TVS SVC and we lubed the chains of all the bikes one by one. It had gotten late by then so we decided to have breakfast at the restaurant next to our lodge (upstairs from last night’s Restaurant and Bar). Here again we came across more children working. Learning from last night’s experience, this time we were more subtle about our inquiries and got the information we wanted.

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The 3 kids working here were doing so on a Tuesday morning i.e by skipping school for a measly wage of Rs.250 per month. These guys would be there in the restaurant from 9 in the morning to about 10.30 at night, which means an almost 14 hour shift. What this also means that these kids were being paid less than Re.1 per hour of their work time. Obviously, with work timings like these, these children couldn’t possibly go to school. After we got all the information out, the management realised what was going on and they came over to defend their case. Claiming that the 12yr old but was in 10th, and the 13yr old was in 1st year and these guys were in fact having vacations in the middle of the month of September. But by this time, we had informed the boys about their minimum wage rights and our job had been done, anyways partially. So, we finished our breakfast and decided to continue on with our journey.

We headed to Anandapuram and then take a detour from the highway towards Tirthahalli. A small, narrow road forked away towards Tirthahalli from the highway. We got onto the narrow road, it was bumpy but definitely rideable. It was here that we encountered the famed maverick bus drivers of South India. We made good progress to Agumbe. Every now and then we would see a bus storm a blind corner or fly past us on a straight. Honestly, these guys drive like maniacs. The road from there to Agumbe was a frustrating jigsaw of good and bad patches.

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We reached a checkpost at Agumbe where we were thouroughly checked by the Security since Agumbe happens to fall under Naxalite affected area. After shaking hands and chatting up with the guards there, we all headed for the sunset point. Though it was not Sunset time yet, the location of Sunset point offered a paroramic view of the surrounding landscape. We spent some time there for photography.

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We turned and took the road towards Shringeri. Our next planned stop was Kudremukh. About 7-8kms after we left Agumbe behind, it finally started raining. We had come to the second wettest place in India (second only to the great Cherrapunji) and were disappointed so far by not having seen the rain. But when it rained, it rained really hard. This is the last picture I could manage just before it started pouring down.

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We didnt have any time to waste so we put on our rain gear and rode through the rain. At one point the visibility was almost 5 metres ahead of us.  The rain was so treacherous that we were having trouble maintaining even 20kmph on the road. Surojit was having so much trouble seeing from behind his fogged up specs that he overshot a corner and ended up off the road. But since he realized his folly in time, he was so slow on the curb that when he eventually dropped the bike, it went down almost in slow motion with laughter all around. The rain subsided as we were just about to enter Sringeri around 3:15 PM.

We had our lunch at around 3:30 PM. Good time to have lunch actually since it was pouring cats and dogs at the time.

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Over lunch we decided that we should try to make it to Mangalore by end of today itself. We called up Meghan(xBhp id : Kwokfist) informing him that we will be in Mangalore tonight itself. He gave us directions for the fastest route to Mangalore from Sringeri. This route went through the famous Kudremukh National park.

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After an adventurous ride through potholed road inside the forest, it soon got dark and and we had to finish the final 15km of the National park road in complete darkness which led to more than one scary moment. Anyways, we followed the instructed route and met Meghan at the outskirts of Mangalore, and he guided us to our hotel from there.

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Meghan introduced us to his friend Rajath who works with www.mangalorean.com and wanted to cover our ride on the portal (Here is the article). We all had a chat with Meghan and Rajath before heading out for dinner. Since it was already 9:45PM by the time we had freshened up, we decided to go to a restaurant close to our hotel. Turns out there is a nice place that Meghan frequent at walking distance from our hotel. So after having a hearty meal and lots of chit chat, we were finally done with dinner by 11PM. Since there was no real night-life remaining in Mangalore by that time and all of us were visibly tired after our day today, we decided to call it a day and headed back to the Hotel for a good night’s sleep. Meghan accompanied us back to the Hotel while Rajath had to  bail early. Finally we crashed into our beds by 11:30 ending yet another hectic day. A day when we did ~270km but none of those km were done on good roads or even a National Highway.

Day 6 Triplog will be out soon.

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South India Exploration ride of 2010: Day 4

Day 4:

It was around 3:30 A.M and surprisingly, everybody was slowly waking up. We had to leave early to reach Gokarna on time. We cleaned up, loaded up and settled our bills and left for Gokarna. But as luck would have it, Surojit forgot is cellphone back in his tent and only remembered about it when we had gone ~25km ahead. We quickly decided that Surojit and I will turn around and fetch the phone while the others will wait at a suitable breakfast location up ahead. We went back to the hotel and luckily got the phone back. But what this also meant was that this was day 4/4 of delayed starts. In the meantime, the rest (Ashutosh, Ankit, Amogh) decided to have some tea at a small shack nearby at one of the junctions while they waited for us to return. They also used the delay as an opportunity to charge their almost dead cellphones. While returning from the resort, Surojit and I saw something amazing. Just as we were going back to join our buddies, the Sun started filling the sky with its light just before dawn. This is what it revealed to us..

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After making the futile effort of trying to capture this scene in all its goodness, we moved on and joined the others at the tea stall. While we were having our tea, we came across out first instance of child labour exploitation.

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There were two kids, may be 12-13 years old, delivering news papers on big bicycle, which they struggled to ride. We stopped them and asked them their whereabouts and their work. We were awestruck by the answers what they gave. the most shocking one was when we asked them how much were they paid . One guy said that he was paid Rs 150 /- p.m while the other said that he was paid Rs 500/-. We couldn’t understand the reason for such a dig disparity in wages, because the workload seemed to be same, as was evident from the stack of newspapers piled up on their cycles. When we asked them about their leaves, they said they hardly get any because they are supposed to deliver newspapers every day. When asked whether do the study or not, they said that they do their newspaper delivery job and then go to school and study. We were at least happy to hear that and advised them to continue studying and also told them the rightful wages they are supposed to get.

We crossed Karwar once again and continued on towards Ankola where all of us tanked up the bikes and took a breakfast halt at the Vitthal Kamath restaurant next door from the petrol pump. It was almost 9AM by the time we finished off breakfast.
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Post breakfast, the road improved a little and the traffic started to florish. This was a nice little road with lots of mountain passes. We somehow missed the turn to Gokarna of NH17. We realized this after traveling another 21 kms, after checking on GPS. We turned around and carefully started back. I decided to take matters into my own hands and went to the head of the group to look for the correct turn. I found the sign showing the turn towards Gokarna and also the reason why we missed it earlier. Unfortunately, the sign was placed such that only North bound travellers would see it. Since we were travelling south, there was no way we could have seen it.

Anyways, we first headed to Om beach. We spent a little time there but not too much because we all had spent enough time on Goa beaches in the past few days.

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Then we decided to come back towards to Gokarna town. That was the time we decided to take a photo break to capture the beautiful sights the narrow road was throwing at us!

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An hour later, we finally made it to the Gokarna Mahabaleshwar temple to offer our prayers and seek blessings for the journey. For readers who do not know this already, Gokarna is quite a mythologically significant place of pilgrimage for Hindus and all of us (minus Amogh) didn’t know about it before we landed up there. Its legend goes beyond the days of the Ramayana with Ravana, Ganesha, Vishnu and Shiva being one of the major characters in the legend.

Gear-donned riders and luggage-laden bikes provided a wondrous sight to devotees that thronged the temple. We took time to palaver and reach a consensus on what should be our next destination. What we also did was take this opportunity to use the services of an internet cafe to clean up the camera memory cards into a portable hard drive.

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We decided to head to Jog Falls through Sirsi. This destination was not part of our original itinerary. Breakfast happened early today, and it was nearing 2PM (i.e. lunch time) by the time we were about to leave Gokarna. Somewhere en route, the guys wanted to stop for photos. But I decided that we needed food before our onwards journey so I went ahead with Ankit to look for a place we can have lunch. As soon as I moved ahead, I saw Ankit disappear from my mirror. Assuming that he is taking it slow, I kept on moving ahead and found a small restaurant about 40 meters from the main road about 8km from the place we split up. I was waiting for Ankit to show up so that I can go inside to order food but he never did!!

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As it turns out, Ankit stayed behind with the rest of the gang for some poser shots. But by the time this occurred to me, I saw the rest of the gang fly past from in front of me. They couldn’t hear me because I was a good 40 meters away from the main road AND there was no network coverage on my phone! It took me some time to gear up again and catch those buggers but the delay meant I was falling further and further behind. Without cellphone coverage and without knowing the local language and not even properly remembering the new route (which was not on the original plan) there was very little I could do to contact them. So I hurried myself on to the highway and in the direction of Jog Falls. It was almost 40 minutes before I saw the guys again. Thankfully, they had the good sense of calling me when they reached the fork off NH17 that went towards Sirsi. Reunited with the group, I could finally relax, even though I was starting to feel quite hungry.

The road progressively got worse. There were huge potholes and lots of mountain pass sections. The hungry bellies added to the frustration. The signs were mostly in Kannada. We tried to remember the Glyphs when we came across a English-Kannada signboard. This helped us find our way. About 20 kms from Sirsi, the potholed road metamorphosed into a smooth freshly laid tarmac, much to our relief.

We reached Sirsi about 2 hours after I had found the previous restaurant to have lunch. This is a very small town. But since we were almost famished by now, we decided that we will have to have lunch here. The only open restaurant at 3.45PM had just enough space for 8 individuals to sit, no more. Thankfully, that was enough for all of us to fit in. Finally we found something to eat after ~7 hours on the road(after breakfast).
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It was already 4:15 PM by the time we left Sirsi. The 60km road from Sirsi to JogFalls was just beautiful. It was a pleasure to ride on. Ankit took the lead as we passed towns and farmlands in the mellow light of a setting sun.

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At around 6:00 P.M we reached JogFalls. The light was fading when we entered there but the sight was still majestic. We spent a bit of time there just taking in the whole scene and making futile attempts to catch all their glory on our cameras. We also considered spending the night there, but finally decided to head to Sagar (which was another 25-30 kms) instead.

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We crossed a few towns before entering Sagar. The town was teeming with people out for some shopping in the market district. Almost everyone in the town we asked accomodation options for directed us to the exact same place. We soon found our way to this large and spacious looking lodge called “Varadashree”.

It was nice place with a large parking, much better than we expected. We got a room with 6 beds for only Rs.700 for the night. This was the first time all of us would stay together in 1 room.

We had our dinner at the adjoining restaurant. This is where we came across our second incident of child labour exploitation.

After the hectic day of riding from Ansi to Sagar, almost 300km on not so good roads and covering 3 tourist destinations, we sat down for dinner at the ‘Restaurant and Bar’ adjoining VardaShree Lodge and placed an order for our food and drinks. Looking around the dimly lit restaurant we realised that there were more than a couple of children employed there as waiters for serving food and drinks and clearing tables. This was our second real incidence of child labour so We called 2 of them over to our table under the pretext of having a casual chat. On understanding that these 11 and 12 yr old kids who were in fact the ones serving liquor on to the customers, we realized what kind of an effect such a job can have on the young untrained minds. Looking at the bleakness of the situation and the fact that these kids were still at work at around midnight, Ankit got a bit animated and raised his voice against the management policies. This raised voice raised an alarm amongst the staff and they promptly instructed the kids to make themselves scarce from the restaurant floor. Realizing the blunder we just made.. we got back to our dinner thinking about what we had just seen.

After dinner, all of us went off to bed. It was sometime before we actually slept, because we were all chatting quite late into the night. It was a great experience and helped our ka-tet grow stronger. We also decided on further strategies to avoid the aforementioned blunders in the future. One by one, all of us passed into deep slumber.

Tomorrow, we would head further south to Agumbe and Kudremukh. These were some of most anticipated places in our itinerary.

I hope you have enjoyed the story thus far because Day 5 log comes out in a bit.

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South India Exploration Ride of 2010: Day 3

Day 3: Palolem to Ansi

The next morning, we decided to have breakfast before we checked out from the hotel. What this invariably means that, as per tradition, we had a late start to day 3 too!  Also, last nights partying had left a lasting impression on our minds, we couldn’t possibly leave the place without going to the beach one last time. But this time we decided to capture a different kind of extremely abundant natural beauty.

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We could only get on the road by 11:20AM. NH 17 was a pleasure to ride on once again. We passed through many small Goa villages before we finally came to the Goa-Karnataka border.  Surojit stopped to take a picture of:

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Seeing riding-gear-clad bikers the police came and asked about our ride. We told them in detail about the cause. They were very happy to realize that ‘bikers do ride for social causes’. Soon after our first awareness session we reached Karwar. To our right we saw the vast blue expanse of the Arabian sea. It was a beautiful and serene sight. We stopped to click a few pictures.

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In no time, we were on our way to Anshi. The road to Anshi was a beautiful little road. It was much smoother than the national highway. There was barely any traffic to speak of. We soon hit a ghat section with lots of narrow twists and turns.
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On the way, we came across little bridge arching across a small waterfall.

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All of us took the opportunity to grab a bite.

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The Ghat section continued on till a point when the road abruptly ended and was replaced by muddy path full of potholes. This carried on for a couple of kilometers.
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Soon we reached the national park. It seemed we were the only visitors there. The park has a compound of tents and dormitories that tourists can stay in for a price.  We traveled back to last village that we had crossed en route just before entering the National Park and had some absolutely delicious and homely food at one of the homesteads in the village. This was an extremely welcome change from the Goa routine till then. There was no cell phone coverage (only BSNL, this would be the trend even later on) and no electricity so we used local coin boxes to notify family and friends of our progress. Here are a few pics of our accommodation for the night.

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These are tents which are built over a concrete slab so as to keep the wildlife out. There was no electricity supply in the forest resort so the only lights we would have was an battery powered LED lamp charged using solar power. Insides of the tents were quite liveable though since we had access to chairs, table, a king-size double bed and an attached bathroom! Thankfully these people had installed solar water heaters so we wouldn’t have trouble taking a bath the next morning had we decided to start early (highly unlikely looking at the track record).

After lunch we took off for a small hike in the forest.
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When it was about to get dark, we turned around to head back to our compound and tried our hand the skillful art of night photography.

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Since there was no electricity there and nothing around to visit at night, we all had an early dinner at around 8:30PM and all of us retired to our tents. Since it was the middle of the jungle, the night was especially chilly so we had no trouble going to sleep so early.

The last 2 days have been slightly low on distances covered but the next few days will be involve much higher distances. Day 4 log to be uploaded pretty soon :).

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South India Exploration Ride of 2010: Day 2

 Day 2:

The day started with some of the others going to the beach while I caught up on some extra sleep.
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After a nice breakfast, we packed some Red Bull for the road and headed South towards Karwar. On getting back on the NH17, I picked up water and chocolates for everyone when we stopped for fuel.

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Amogh was still having tank-slapping issues with his RTR due to all the abuse it had taken since yesterday, and so we had to stop to get it checked by a mechanic.  Surojit, Ankit and Ashutosh moved ahead to meet up with Ankit’s friend who had helped us with the bookings in Goa. I stayed behind with my bike turned into a goods carrier.

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Ashutosh utilized this time to do some of his noob photography

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It was almost 3 PM when we regrouped again, but still Amogh’s bike’s problem wasn’t sorted out.  We halted for lunch somewhere close by and over lunch it was decided that since we had already lost of a major part of the day we decided that we will stay over somewhere in South Goa for the Night and headed towards Palolem.

En route, when we were crossing Vasco, Amogh decided to get his bike checked again for rectification of the tank-slapper. As usual, I decided to stay behind with him as the others proceeded towards Palolem to find suitable accommodation. Anyways, as it turns out, this particular mechanic knew about this issue with RTRs and fixed it within 120 seconds! Without further delays, we also proceeded towards our destination for tonight.

We had used up a whole day and covered less than 60 kms. Thankfully, in our plans, we had included a few buffer days just for contingencies like these. Anyways, we went over to Palolem beach and took in whatever natural beauty the beach had to offer us.

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After the customary pics, all of us strolled about the beach for some time discussing about our plan for the next day and the ride till then. After another sumptuous meal, we all retired to our rooms for the night.

Or did we?

Wait..

We did go to our rooms for the night!! But everyone was back on the beach within just a few minutes. As it turns out, at the stroke of midnight, this:
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So at midnight, we all entered this beach shack and had a blast! Goa Style!! After partying and enjoying to the core till late in the night (or early morning, whatever you might call it :D), we decided to go back to our rooms to catch on whatever sleep we can.  So finally, at around 3:30AM we went back to the hotel again and this time went to sleep for real :).

As per tradition, we had been late starters on the previous 2 days and looking at our current condition, it was unlikely that this tradition would break tomorrow morning. Day 3 triplog to follow real soon :).

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South India Exploration Ride of 2010: Day 1

Note: The timestamps on the pics with “© Ankit Khandelwal aka Roadzilla” is off by 2 hours.

Day 1:

It was decided that MotoCafe would be the starting point and the time was to be 3 AM. Since it was a very early morning start, people started assembling at Moto Café just around closing time of midnight and decided to have a pre-ride get-together then and there itself.

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But since some people (like me) thought it to be better to catch up on some sleep before my longest ride till date, I could make it there only at 3:20.

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And since some of us (including me) had not filled up (fuel / air) beforehand, it meant a further delay before we could start. Anyways, we eventually started only around 4 AM. Many people came to see us off for our journey. Here is a customary pic just before we moved off.

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The highway was quiet in the wee hours of the morning, with only the occasional flurry of trucks. Ashutosh was leading, followed by Surojit, Ankit with Amogh and me bringing up the rear. We followed this riding formation for the majority of the 3000km in the ride. We pulled over after Satara for a red bull break. Had a chat, exchanged notes and moved on. Because Amogh was having trouble seeing through his tinted visor, it was decided that we will slow the pace down somewhat until sunrise.               We reached Kolhapur around 8:00AM after taking ample breaks in between, everyone tanked up at Kolhapur and we took the turnoff which would take us towards Gaganbawda.

Around 9:00AM, tired from all the riding, we decided to take a breakfast break somewhere en route.

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This is Surojit mounting the GoPro camera on his bike during the breakfast stop.

Around 10:30AM, We reached Gaganbawda, a place which receives some of the highest rainfall in Maharashtra, riding through a bumpy but scenic road. Amogh was starting to have slight trouble with the handling of his RTR due to the bumpy roads.
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It was a typical road that would be familiar to any tourer who has ridden in Konkan. A narrow tarmac twisting and turning its way through flowing meadows of grass and semi forested areas dotted with small farming communities. As we left Gaganbawda, the fog descended upon us. Riding through the fog we started descending the Karul ghat . Its a very scenic place. We were compelled to stop for some pictures.

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Lots of videos were also shot when we were riding in these areas using the aforementioned GoPro camera.

After Karul Ghat, we hit NH17 after crossing Vaibhavwadi. The road was in a pretty bad state. Due to the bad state of the road and comparatively higher traffic, the group split up with everyone riding at the pace they were comfortable with. We regrouped at Sawantwadi and moved on. As soon as we entered Goa, the road turned into a smooth carpet of tarmac and it started pouring like crazy. Looking at the awesomeness of the road, I pushed off to the head of the group hoping that the rain would subside ahead. But soon enough, I found myself going further and further ahead of the group whilst I was enjoying myself on the heavenly curves. I finally stopped 20km before the turn-off for Calangute when the rain stopped only to realize that my group is nowhere in sight. I checked my phone and saw 13 missed calls!! I called the guys back only to be told that we have lost our GoPro camera which has fallen off Surojit’s bike! 😦 This was the first electronic casualty of the ride. We were more disappointed about losing the videos that we shot en route than the camera itself. The guys behind made adequate attempts to look for the lost camera but to no avail. After this incident delayed everyone  by almost 1 hour, the guys finally caught up with me and then we moved on towards our Hotel in Calangute with rain accompanying us all the way there. Since it was already almost 4:45 PM by the time we checked in the hotel and it was still raining outside, we decided to order some room service lunch and wait till the rain subsides.
Luckily, soon after we were done with our late  lunch, the rain also stopped so we could finally move out and start enjoying the sights and sounds of Goa!

*Barefoot Bigfoot* pictured above.

But we couldn’t have this pleasure for too long as the rain kept on playing hide and seek with us back and we had to get back to our rooms soon after sunset. After resting a bit, we went out again for some overpriced Goan dinner and retired back to our rooms for the night. Looking back, it was a day that we played hide and seek with rain the entire day, though we enjoyed our ride thoroughly, we couldn’t do much around Calangute due to this rain. It doesn’t matter much though, since Calangute was only supposed to be a night halt with the real ride yet to start.

Day 2 blog to be uploaded soon.

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South India Exploration ride against Child Labour

Note: This ride had happened just about 2 years back. But since this triplog was never completed, it could never see the light of day. I am choosing this particular ride to start off my Travel blog.

A south India ride was on our to-do list since long. The plan finally started taking shape couple of months back. Five riders viz. Amogh Navalkar, Surojit Sadhu, Ankit Khandelwal, Ashutosh Adkar and I finally undertook the 3000 Km ride across 5 states viz. Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It was not just a casual ride but we had an aim of bringing a change in the society to minimize child labour, if not change at least to acknowledge the general public the ill-effects of it on the children.
We did a ~3000 kms trip through Karnataka, Kerala, TN, Maharashtra and Goa from 18th to 26th Sept 2010, to spread awareness against CHILD LABOUR. The pre-decided route that we took was as follows :

Route
Pune –> Kolhapur — > Gaganbawda –> Panaji — > Karwar –> Gokarna –> Jog Falls –> Sagar à Agumbe — > Someshwar–> Sringeri –> Kudermukh –> Mangalore –> Bikal –> Talparamba–> Mananthavady –> OOty –>Mudumalai — > Bandipur –> Mysore –> Bengaluru — > Pune

The tentative route map is as follows.

Why this Cause?

Now why CHILD LABOUR?

We decided to create awareness against child labour through this ride because we were doing it continuously on a small individual scale. This is one of the biggest *forgotten* issues we have plaguing our country and as always, we always need reminders to freshen up our memories. This reminder came in the form of Shankar (age: 12 years), a little boy who came to Surojit’s office to serve chai. He once asked him about his education, and he said that he doesn’t need that. As Suro continued to converse with him, I came to know how he was being exploited by this Seth. He is just paid a paltry sum of Rs 70/- for a 12 hour shift. Moreover, he also gets treated like a slave by his seth. (We have a video of him saying all this). Then he was slowly convinced to go to night school. Now he goes to a Kannada school. I felt so touched by this effort by Surojit that I wanted to do something too. This little effort on the part of Surojit had the power of becoming a life changing event in the life of this little boy! As we discussed this matter, we realized that he is just one of the thousands of kids. We have such cases all around us but its just that we fail to notice them since they do not concern us. For a change, we wanted to do something, no matter how small it may be.

The idea behind the ride originally was that Motorcyclists clad in full riding gear tend to attract more attention than people in cars. Bikers being more in touch with their surroundings than cagers. As expected, wherever, we stopped, people came up to us and enquired about our ride and where we came from. It was during these interactions with the locals that we conveyed to them our message about putting a stop to exploitation through child labour. Mock us if you may, but at least we had a cause we wished to dedicate our ride to.

Day 1 triplog to follow soon.

Categories: South India Exploration ride of 2010 | 4 Comments

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