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Old 25th February 2013, 21:36   #1
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Post This time last year - The 'Big Motorcycle Ride' and 'Dakshin Darshan'

It has taken me all of 1 year to put pen to paper of what has been my most memorable 'travel' experience on a motorcycle. What can I say, laziness got the better of me back then! That said, the sheer scale of achievement (atleast for me :-)) and the fond memories of the experience are reason enough to remember the ride vividly. This time last year (Feb 2012) I embarked on a solo motorcycle ride down South. The first post is just a collection of Facebook updates that I did back then. I called it the 'Big Motorcycle Ride' and also coupled it with 'Dakshin Darshan'.
Day 1 - Pune to Hubli 495 kms

Day 2 - Hubli to Whitefield, Bangalore- 472 kms

Day 3 - Bangalore to Karur (via Salem) - 332 kms

Day 4 - Karur to Udagamandalam (Ooty) - 231 kms

Day 5 - Ooty to Kannur - 306 kms... in God's own country

Day 6 - Kannur to Udupi - 231 kms...motorcycle up for service today

Day 7 - Udupi to Nippani - 506 kms

Day 8 - Nippani to Pune - 321 kms...back home

The Big Motorcycle ride summary:
Total distance ~ 2920 kms
No. of days - 8
Time on road ~ 64 hrs
Fuel expense ~ INR 5000
Stay ~ INR 6000
Misc ~ INR 1800
Total expense ~ INR 12800
States visited - MH, KA, TN, KL
More details and pictures in subsequent posts.

Last edited by wanderlustindia : 2nd March 2013 at 04:59. Reason: Added travelogue contents in subsequent posts
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Old 25th February 2013, 22:02   #2
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Sounds like a great solo ride.I am glued to this thread . By the way what was the ride that accompanied you in this journey? Do make a list of the essentials you carried along with yourself.
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Old 26th February 2013, 12:10   #3
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Default re: This time last year - The 'Big Motorcycle Ride' and 'Dakshin Darshan'

Ah, this should be a good one! I'm waiting for Days 4 to 6 in particular.

From your trip distance and costs, I'm guessing this wasn't an Enfield?

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Old 1st March 2013, 07:05   #4
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Default Day 1: Pune to Hubli

Day 1 – Pune to Hubli (˜497 kms)

They say, “Young riders pick a destination and go...Old riders pick a direction and go!" I guess I'm old, which is why I wasn't certain which way to head to on the night before the 'Big Motorcycle Ride' was to commence. What I did do before-hand was a bit of planning on prospective routes, although all that pretty much came to nought on a pleasant Monday morning, dated 06/02/2012.

The night before I was pretty relaxed and slept well. Everything had been taken care of, I said to myself. I had been preparing for this ride, both mentally and physically for a little over a month or so. I knew this wasn't going to be an easy considering I hadn't ventured on a motorcycle ride in more than 2-3 years. And here I was heading on atleast 3000 kms of a ride that was largely unplanned or should I say planned lazily. That said, I have been a fairly experienced rider and driver all these years with over 1,50,000 kms of combined road experience under my belt. I was wished a lot of luck by dear wife, she really had been very supportive of this adventure of mine. Our 1-year old daughter had absolutely no clue what 'Papa' was upto!

So, time to hit the road! I kick-started the motorcycle to life, wave good-bye to family and come out of my housing society complex and onto the old NH4 (I lived in Talegaon-Dabhade back then). I paused for a brief moment and realised this was the time to decide which way to head to! If I took a left turn, I would be heading down South and if I took the right turn, I'd way on my way up North. I took left after a deliberation in my mind for about a minute or at best two. And off I went chugging away towards the magical 'South' of India.

The time was, to be precise, 9:05 am, well over two hours than what I originally intended to start at. That meant I had to cover as much distance as possible while I was fresh and before fatigue crept in. It was obvious, being the first day, fatigue would kick in much sooner than I would want it to. Hence, it was imperative to keep moving without taking many intervals in the beginning. My first run was about 75 kms after a leisurely hour and a half of riding. The idea was to let myself soak in the experience, get a feel of the road and also to let the motorcycle warm-up and be ready to take on the rigors of the day and the days ahead of us both. After a quick cup of tea and a cigarette and a fuel tank-up, it was time to munch some miles. I hoped for a 150 kms stretch before the next break that would also be ideal for a some fuel for my stomach. It didn't last 150 kms but a not-so-disappointing 120 kms. I was tiring out faster than I had expected. It wasn't anything but a reflection of my health and my lack of riding time in the last few years. It was time for lunch and I dug into a sumptuous meal at a good restaurant on the highway just outside Kolhapur city. The roads leading from Pune upto Kolhapur are largely in good shape and have been such for a while now, mainly because it is part of the GQ corridor. The only bit that bothers you is that there are a lot of establishments and villages on the highway and the traffic is very heterogeneous. This can slow you down every time you approach a populated area because there are no by-passes as such. That is not advantageous for a National Highway, less so for the GQ corridor which is one of the prime examples of a high quality highway in India. Sadly, though, this is a feature of most National highways in India save the access-controlled expressways like MPEW and NE1 and perhaps a few other National Highways in other parts of the country.

By the time I finished lunch and was ready to push ahead, it was about 2 pm already! The late start would come back to haunt me, I said to myself. But then I could always curtail Day 1 and cover more distance of Day 2. The sun those days was still setting at around 6:00-6:15 which meant I had 4 or so more hours or riding time left. I tend to believe it too much of a risk, more so on our highways to ride beyond sunset and I'm pretty certain most of this community thinks of similar lines! Beyond Kolhapur and Nippani, the traffic was less dense and many by-passes to inhabited areas and villages. This allowed me to go faster. Occasionally I would let go and hit 110-120 kph, although I would quickly settle back into a more comfortable 80-90 kph zone. My experience with Royal Enfield over the years says that the sweet spot is 80 kph. With the Classic 500, it is a notch above at 90 kph. The 100+ jaunt is fine for a while but sustained wringing of the right wrist will mean that the motorcycle vibrates every living bone in your body. On top of that you cannot see a thing in the RVMs at those speeds. That said the vibrations are not as pronounced as the older Bullets (I can tell this with confidence having ridden a 1999 Lightning 500 and a 2004 Bullet Electra 350 in the past). The exhaust note sounded just right with the retro-fit Goldstar exhaust, not too loud and not too muted as is the case with the stock one. It was pure music, it really was! You can buy one here (http://www.sansclassicparts.in/products_exhaust.html) and it comes highly recommended by yours truly.

Very soon I was crossing the Maharashtra border and entering into Karnataka. The license plates changed, the landscape changed a bit, the language on signages and spoken by the people changed. What did not change an awful lot was road manners. By and large I faced fairly disciplined traffic, though, barring the odd nut-case here and there who would wade-in through the wrong side on the highway. On the road, traffic was thin and I was starting to have a lot of fun now. On some stretches the horizon was visible a long way further. The tarmac was arrow-straight, beautiful and inviting, stuff what motorcyclists dream of! These are moments when you start to believe every word of the 'Four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul' adage.

Fatigue had also started to kick-in at around 4-4:30 pm. After an hour or so later, sunset was fast approaching and I was not far off from Hubli so I decided it would be my overnight halt. I exited the National Highway and onto the road leading to Hubli town. Like most towns, the rule of the thumb is that you will find decent stay options within a km of the bus depot or the railway station. 4-5 kms later I found a hotel to stay. It was a very basic hotel but was adequately hygienic with good-sized rooms and attached bathroom. When I checked into the hotel it was 6:15 pm. I was on the road for a little over 9 hours and the speedometer showed that I had covered a distance of approximately 495 kms. In the last 4 hours of riding I covered well over 275 kms which is an average of about 70 km/hr.

There was little opportunity to explore the town, although I have to admit that was never my agenda in the first place. That said, Hubli felt like the quintessential small Indian town with decent roads and facilities. I think I also spotted the Hubli airport on my way to the hotel earlier that evening. I reckon it is close to the National Highway No. 4 exit. All in all, it was a very satisfying day of riding and an excellent start to 'Dakshin Darshan'. More later!
Attached Thumbnails
This time last year - The 'Big Motorcycle Ride' and 'Dakshin Darshan'-100_4146.jpg  

This time last year - The 'Big Motorcycle Ride' and 'Dakshin Darshan'-100_4147.jpg  

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This time last year - The 'Big Motorcycle Ride' and 'Dakshin Darshan'-100_4150.jpg  

This time last year - The 'Big Motorcycle Ride' and 'Dakshin Darshan'-100_4152.jpg  

Last edited by wanderlustindia : 1st March 2013 at 07:35.
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Old 2nd March 2013, 04:03   #5
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Default Day 2: Hubli to Bengaluru

Day 2 started early. I was on the motorcycle at 6 am. Within minutes I was back on the National Highway No. 4. I had been on this stretch of the highway way back in 2006 in my first long car drive. It quite an arduous journey back then due to various diversions because the highway was still taking shape. This time around, though, I did not expect any of that and I was not disappointed. When the NHAI says that they have completed a highway, they really mean it! There was a slight nip in the air, the sun was around on the horizon and the road ahead looked delicious enough to be munched all day. Pretty soon I was hungry because I just had 2-3 biscuits when I started the day. After about 80 kms, I found a road-side joint where I had a quick breakfast. The tea was lovely and it rejuvenated me for the ride ahead.

As the ride proceeded further into the noon, I noticed the landscape changing from the plains to slightly hilly. A few windmills were in sight already. It had to be 'Chitradurga', the land of windmills. There are plenty of them and they adorn the town's hilly terrain all along. It is almost as if they define the town, a reflection of what the town is all about. Pretty sure there is more to Chitradurga than just the windmills but they really are unmistakeable symbols of the small town. I stopped by at 'dhaba' just at the outskirts. It was noon and I think I had another 230 odd kms to cover in the remainder of the 6 hours. That was a lot of time on hand so I had a leisurely lunch and even took a small nap. I woke up at 1:30 pm and started getting ready for the ride ahead. There were a couple of kids who were very interested in the motorcycle. I was happy to have them model for the motorcycle and they really enjoyed all the adulation (pictures are attached to this post). The second leg of the day's ride started at 2 pm. The sun was out in full glory and it was hotter than usual outside. I reckon it must have been around 32-33 degree celcius which I thought was above normal for that time of the year. I rode at a leisurely pace for the next 30-40 kms so much so that it took me almost an hour to cover that distance. 50 odd kms ahead, I hit a massive traffic jam near an inhabited area. It turned out that there had been an accident just a while back. An old lady was hit by a lorry while trying to cross the highway. She lost her life on the spot. Luckily there was a police to control the traffic situation which was looking like getting out of hand! After about 15-20 mins, I managed to get ahead of the rest of the traffic stuck because of the accident. Having lost some time, I decided to let rip for a few kms and make up a little bit of lost time. There was a clear road ahead and I took advantage of that. For a few kms I had no one to overtake. At around 4:30ish I had reached Tumkur toll post. Bengaluru was in touching distance so I decided to take a tea break and catch up with some rest and also shake off the thought of the erstwhile accident I witnessed. All this while from the start of the trip, I had been taking some notes in a little notebook. When I started again after this pit-stop, I thought I had taken the notebook and put it back in my bag only to realise later in the evening that I had misplaced it!

I pushed ahead and soon was entering the city limits. The traffic was getting thicker with each passing km. My final destination for the day was Whitefield IT Park where I had to meet a friend. I was to stay at his place overnight. Having learnt so much about Bengaluru traffic from my previous visits and also from other sources, I was staring at a post sunset end to the ride for the day! However, it wasn't that bad to be honest. There were a few bottlenecks on the way, a flyover under-construction, stopping to talk to my friend and find my way around the city. No matter how many times I visit, I do not seem to remember the roads, only faint memories! That said, it is obvious that one would have adequate knowledge of city roads only after a sustained period of stay. After a fair bit of struggle wading through the traffic, one-ways and a cantonment area, I had arrived. In the 'Silicon Valley' of India, in the city which values talent, which has become a hub for innovation in Information Technology and consistently ranks as one of the key drivers of economic growth of our country.

The day's ride was less arduous than the first day. Perhaps I was starting to get a hang of the ride, the body and the mind were responding better to the rigors of motorcycle riding. Up until the second day, it was familiar territory. Tomorrow, I would be heading into unknown territory. I'd be heading towards TN for the very first time in my motorcycling career, the 'Mecca' of the Indian automotive industry and also home of the brilliant 'Royal Enfield'.
Attached Thumbnails
This time last year - The 'Big Motorcycle Ride' and 'Dakshin Darshan'-100_4153.jpg  

This time last year - The 'Big Motorcycle Ride' and 'Dakshin Darshan'-100_4155.jpg  

This time last year - The 'Big Motorcycle Ride' and 'Dakshin Darshan'-100_4157.jpg  

This time last year - The 'Big Motorcycle Ride' and 'Dakshin Darshan'-100_4159.jpg  

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Old 2nd March 2013, 12:20   #6
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Default Re: This time last year - The 'Big Motorcycle Ride' and 'Dakshin Darshan'

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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