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Old 6th April 2015, 08:46   #1
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Thumbs up 4 days & 1470 kms - Biking across Karnataka & Kerala

Day 1 of 4, post 1.. the riding diaries !!
Here is what a typical early morning looks like - Wake up, slam on the alarm after cursing on it more than a few, get on with the day. Let's face it, I would rather get fired my job than wake up early morning (read ..before 9am) and rush to a meeting.

Switch the situation to a 1400 km Planned ride for a few days - Difficult to get to sleep the night before - The alarm starts sounding like a melody in the morning - 'Road-trip-ip-ip-ip' - Jump out of bed, get ready in a few seconds, wrap up in biking gear, dash out the door, strap on the luggage harnesses to the bike, warm up the bike engine (and this feels like a million years to complete) . That last 60 second engine warm up countdown before your wheels hit the road, are like waiting for a painkiller to take effect when you have a splitting headache.

As you ride out the gate, there is a bunch of morning walkers ( why do they do it ???) , people stocking up their shops for the day, night shift security guys wrapping up their shift and they all give you those stares - 'what the hell is this guy so happy about ! '

Today was one such happy day, hit the road at 5:31 am. Happy as can be ! Zooming across the roads waiting to get out of the city and hit the highway. Chuckling at lesser mortals starting out their boring city day.

Once you hit the highway, all hurriedness goes out the door, no place to reach, no dress up in formals for work, no emails to check or respond to, no architecture or development planned, no bugs to fix, no team problems to address, it's just you and the bike. It's a feeling like no other !
The thoughts of work and routine life started fading away, Reached the highway, Pulled over at a highway dhaba, loaded up on a super heavy ONE dollar breakfast.
Took a few pictures, went onwards, started slowing down, now sitting at a cafe coffee day on the highway, middle of nowhere.. 130 Kms from Bangalore.

Today is going to be a 'relatively' boring 350 Kms though, all highway pretty much. Taking adequate breaks to make sure I'm fresh enough for the bad terrain and slower rides over the next few days. No idea though where I'll be stopping for the night... previous rides have taught me that you don't need to plan and book anything ahead of time, hopeful of the same this time round as well !

Will post some pictures tonight before ending the day, going back to continuing to enjoying the rest of the day, which is getting hotter by the hour ( not that I care anymore, although I'd have been melting in Bangalore by now). Need to ensure excessive hydration ( although that has its own undesirable and frequent side effects )

Will still be a few hours before I get into the proper vacation mode and the tiredness which settles in by then will probably stop mattering.
Until this evening, Going back on the road now, ciao !

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Old 6th April 2015, 08:48   #2
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Thumbs up Day 1 of 4, post 2.. the riding diaries !!

Unbelievable how the day goes by when you are riding!
All roads are Tollfree for bikes ! I love this place. Managed to get quite a lot of 'payback' of tolls that I've paid while driving in the car on highways.
Fingertips still numb after 425 Kms of riding. Backend sore already. Need air cushion or gel based seat padding !! After 300 Kms, Checked in to a local lodge at sakleshpur, wolfed down some lunch, didn't want to waste the rest of the day, so took off to pushpagiri, a very neat ride up in the mountains, thanks to google maps, cos most locals didn't know the place or maybe I was just pronouncing it incorrectly.

The Google phone battery isn't as reliable though, (neither is the extra power bank) died with all the pictures and location searches. Had to manage in the middle of nowhere using sign language and super-broken knowledge of the local dialect to find my way around. Was fun though! Got a déjà vu feeling in many places even though it was my first time on this route. Gave someone a ride for 3 Kms and he wouldn't let me go till I had a coke with him - his treat - How thoughtful !

The roads were in bad shape and a pretty steep climb, but the bullet chugged along to its destination effortlessly. It was me who needed a break every now and then! Came back to sakleshpur after the phase 2 - 125 km ride, grabbed some dinner and 'liquid carbs'; Drained now! Sharing some pictures, all in all a very tiring yet refreshing 425 Kms!

Tomorrow it's time to head to the coast line through the forests and ghats, planning for a short 200 km ride. Will do a probable route map to it and get some well earned sleep !
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 6th April 2015, 08:50   #3
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Default Day 2 of 4, Post 1, the riding diaries

Those of who have bikes as well as cars and do long drives in both will know what I am talking about here.

When the roads are good, and so is the weather, you will be super happy on your bike - better than any experience a car can give to you. change the equation a bit, and obviously you will want to be sitting in your car with the air conditioning blowing away, the car absorbing 90% of the potholes, and passing 10% impact on to you.

The difference though is that when you take your car on such roads, you can hear it screaming - 'please just get me off of this road!'. On a bike however, all you hear from the bike is - 'I double dare you - Let's continue on this road, I can handle it, you can't, I'll just pass on 90% of the impact to you !' And it does this so beautifully, that you only blame the road, not the limited shock absorption capabilities of a two wheeler.

Another thing I've noticed before, and it was very prominent this time on mountainous roads --
If you are on a bullet and your brakes are on the right side - (they have switched this and the gear left location more than a few times in the past 20 years);

When you bank while turning towards the right side, your brake pedal hits the road, which means you cannot be pushing down on the rear brakes while turning, which also means your approach speed to the curve should be calculated precisely and within milliseconds or you end up going off road - not a good thing on the mountainside! This calculation needs to be done on every second turn, and winding roads in the mountains mean your mind is very busy at all times.
Somewhere along the way I checked my engine oil since the bike was running warmer than usual and I found out I was again out of engine oil. Faced this On my last trip so I was wise enough to carry a spare liter with me. Topped up and continued on my way.
Today's plan was to reach kasargod ( thanks Santosh vaidyanathan for the route ) and I insisted and put another destination in between. There is a story behind that as well. Some of you who read my last years post would probably remember the spooky jungle.

After that I had taken another trip and not written about it, where I covered another area (5 times spookier) called talacauvery sanctuary and this was in October 2014 - There was road visibility of 15 inches at the worst point, and one meter at the best point. I was literally walking the bike in the dark, the headlight seemed like a tiny little flashlight, had to stop every dew minutes, to wipe off the fog from my helmet visor as well as from glasses and my eyes, and I did this for 20 kms - seemed like a hundred. Took me a little more than three hours that day.
So this time I wanted to do that same route again, late evening.

So as of now, parked outside that forest, waiting for it to get a little dark, and do that stretch again. It's almost like a dare for me. Want to revisit the road that sent me scurrying off last time with my tail tucked between my legs. Much more prepared this time - 2 flashlights, 1 blinker, 2 phones with 70% charge ( not that the will be a signal anyway, but hell, I can use them as a flashlight, iPad and a fully charged power bank.

Let's just hope 'mera popat nahin ho jaye' and I don't just find a regular 20 km road without adventure this time. For those of you who couldn't decipher the previous sentence, sorry I couldn't put it in a better way or in another language - it loses its meaning that way.
Will update with pictures late night tonight after I reach kasargod. Almost time to start the dare trip !

Will post again only after I finally reach kasargod though, so keep your fingers crossed until then !

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Old 6th April 2015, 08:51   #4
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Default Day 2 of 4, Post 2, the riding diaries

Ok so, A major 'popat' happened at that wildlife sanctuary, went in, covered half the route of 20 Kms, and all was hunky dory, so turned back, nothing, went back in deeper, still nothing, spent almost 2 hours in there, but no fog, no nothing !!

Did find a small signboard leading to a temple 1 km deep into the woods. A super steep mountain terrain covered in slush and dry leaves. So I thought, maybe here is my adventure, started the ascent in my bike, went 100 meters, got scared (of the terrain) and turned back to the main road. Then again thought, what the heck, might as well; Went back on that track, covered 500 meters this time, but it was way way too much for even a 4 x 4. So turned back with great difficulty and started the downhill roll, was very difficult handling the bike during this time ! Tougher than the climb.

Anyway, reached the main road, happy about something at least on that stretch. You will see this terrain in the picture. Shows covered with leaves but it's what under the leaves that's terrifying - Slush and big rolly boulders, leading to zero traction on the bike.
Entered Kerala state, reached kasargod, with no major trouble, except I slipped (while standing next to the bike) and no, I was not drunk smile emoticon hit my foot on the bike stand , and bruised a little. This is after I came out of the wildlife sanctuary. I guess gods way of saying - You wanted excitement ? Here it is!

Anywhooo, No rooms available anywhere being a long weekend and all (why can't people just stay at home on long weekends ??)
When I was about to give up and had come to terms with the fact that I might have to ride all night, found a decent hotel, and checked in, It's twice the cost of the previous one, but they additionally have shampoo and conditioner in the bathroom (must be a really really expensive shampoo)
260 Kms today - Me like !
Freshened up, wiped the helmet visor of all the butterflies 'splattered' on it, had dinner, and now going to crash - Check out the pictures
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Old 6th April 2015, 08:53   #5
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Thumbs up Day 3, the riding diaries

Very happening day today. Did 200+ kms I think. Super hot day, but the bull didn't really seem to mind.

Left kasargod at 11am, headed for Agumbe, took a detour to get into kudremukh national park, so turned from mangalore towards Sringeri.
The national park has a 1 hour upper limit for 2 wheelers to cross the 35 km stretch, else you pay a fine ! The beauty of this is that there is a 30 kph speed limit. You don't need to be a mathematician to figure out that 2 wheelers, on paper, are not allowed to cross the forest, yet they let us in, time stamp a ticket and give it to us, instructing to go at 30kph and cross 35 kms within an hour, Lol !

Forest department - this is a fundamental and shameful mistake that needs to be corrected. Cars get 1.5 hours to cross the stretch.
Anywhoo I wanted to stop somewhere and take pictures, so I was obviously way above the allowed speed limit, to cover time for breaks, and still make the stretch in an hour.

Found a track going inside the forest and decided to go in about a km - dense vegetation, but there were muddy road tracks nevertheless.. Took some pictures, and somehow felt that I'm not allowed to be here - there was a yellow board at the entrance, but was in the local language. Forest department - again please take note- if you don't tell me in English or Hindi not to go somewhere, I will not know ! Anyway, I turned back and headed to the main road, and found another very tempting path going inside, asked someone there and he said you need the forest rangers permission to get inside any of these tracks.

So off I went to the forest rangers office - protected all around with barbed wire and a guy sitting outside surrounded by sacks with a gun in his hand - to ask for permission to go into one of the inroads, take some pictures, and obviously get an extension on my 'time stamp'.
Once I went in, I was told 'this is a naxalite area, please hurry up and leave the forest, forget about any such permission' . So I had to rush out cos there was still 10 kms of forests left and only 14 minutes to go, made it at the last minute, and the moron didn't even check my time stamp, just took my ticket and let me go.

Once I exited the forest, there was a little suspended bridge over a river, separating the main road from a villlage in the forest, and yes, I was allowed to go there, so off I went, taking pictures everywhere.

Headed back towards my destination, Agumbe. Found a small town just outside the someshwara wildlife sanctuary. Found a beautiful homestay called 'Dodda Mane' - a 125 year old huge house, occupied by a family of 4 generations, with room to spare for guests. Asked them for permission to stay, and was welcomed.

This place has a well inside the house with ground water, next to the shower area, has 2 floors, a huge centre open air verandah where people have dinner. On asking them how much they charge, I was told 'you can pay whatever you wish' - fancy that ! Anyway, was asked to freshen up, got a home made herbed juice or something, and asked to go visit a sunset point 2 kms away - lovely place showing s beautiful view of the forest below and the sun setting ahead.

Also, No cellphone signal here at all ! So this post will be posted after I leave from here tomorrow morning.
The place is surrounded by forests on all 4 sides, and they get visitors from all over the place, who come, see the house (free admission) and leave. Some decide to stay and get to decide how much to pay as well. They have maintained the house fairly well for its age, and in the evening the whole crowd sits outside. Family as well as house guests, chit chatting with each other. As of now everybody is wondering what to pay them tomorrow, since nobody has been here before. Almost 15 house guests.

Thanks to Santosh for mentioning this place ! Love it ! It's a pure vegetarian family, but that doesn't bother me much, the food was great - traditional, served on a banana leaf.

Decided to take the bike out for a night ride. Did a few kms and came back- nothing worthwhile at night.
Crashing now, headed for sunrise point 17 kms from here at 530 am. Sleeping at 10pm, That's a new feeling !

Will post this and the pictures tomorrow after I reach a place which has cellphone reception.
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Old 6th April 2015, 08:54   #6
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Default Day 4, Post 1, the riding diaries.

Ok so, woke up at 6am (and proud of it), zoomed to the sunrise point, took some amazing pictures of the valley below. Came back to doddamane, had a lovely breakfast, and will head out again now.

Dreading the thought of going back to work tomorrow, will try and cover as much green area as possible today, given that the next such trip won't be for the next few months ! Don't feel like getting back into work mode now.

Plan for today is to cover someshwara wildlife sanctuary, Shimoga forest (Because of one bad detour yesterday, it's almost one or the other - I'm in the middle of these 2) and then back via charmadi ghat or so.

As of now the hand is naturally tan-tattooed - the shape of a tribal mark on the back of the Hand as well as on the knuckles - cost of using stencil gloves and riding in the scorching heat yesterday! There is also a funny tan mark on the face - from the center of the nose to the ears on both sides - basically the gap between the lower part of my sunglasses and the top hem of my face cover - I like ! Nobody is getting any funny pictures of me though.

Something a lot of people don't know about bullets - yes, they are known to be long-haul bikes obviously, but the 500 atleast can also put to shame a lot of other bikes when it comes to top speeds and pick up (the 'thou-that-shall-not-be-named' variety ). Managed to touch 120 this morning for a brief moment before I had to slow down cos of road conditions - with still more juice to go - that's difficult on most other bikes except I guess the 390 ktms - not sure though.

Some other efficient measures taken since yesterday - one phone for photos only, one for location and data and tethering to share data with other devices on WiFi as opposed to each one powering up its own data, and power bank charged up. You should always carry a multiplug adapter so you can plug in all 3-4 chargers together since most rental rooms have only one or two power sockets available.

You should also carry a real camera so you can take real pictures as well as save on phone battery. The HDR in the phone was fairly decent for low light pictures, but did not do any justice to the scenery I saw that a standalone camera would do - Not even close. Moreover the name sake led flashes do nothing for landscaping nature pictures. My loss, Maybe next time, But hey - you can only carry so much on a bike !
Packed, strapped the luggage, and headed out after saying the bye byes to the family there.

The last ride for this trip has started, damn !

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Old 6th April 2015, 08:58   #7
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Default Day 4, the final post, the riding diaries

Started this morning from doddamane, went down to someshwara wildlife sanctuary, and onwards to Manipal, the university town. Had come here more than ten years ago, was a sleepy little town then. This time the who's who of all brands were there and the whole place looks super different, picked up a couple of things here. Went onwards to Udupi, the place I've always wanted to go since my childhood, the place which was most mentioned in tinkle comics as the idli central of the South!
Didn't find a single idli dedicated shop there. Too bad.

Went onwards to Shimoga shettihalli forest - which meant I had to go back again via Agumbe - a 60 km retrace, did it anyway ! Was getting hotter by the minute and my tan mark behind the glove is more like a burn mark now. The ride started getting more and more tiring and beaks started getting longer and more frequent. About 200 kms from Bangalore, my air intake pipe cracked and popped out. Not sure when this happened, but the bike was running ok. Once I noticed it, tried to hunt around for a mechanic or a auto spares shop, didn't find either. Cut the end of the pipe, stretched it, clamped it on again, moved on.

Reached a cafe coffee day, grabbed a much needed red bull, and went onwards. Nothing major other than the fact that I am super tired today after 570 odd kms of biking, not too many pictures either, except for the sunrise ones.

Things I need to replace -
My helmet (linings out, and I'd rather just buy a new one than replace that)
My gloves - worn out after 9000 kms of riding
My jacket - don't even ask ! It's barely holding together now.

Things I need to buy -
1. Gel seat layer 1
2. Air cushion seat layer 2 for putting on top of the gel seat
3. Gel seat layer 3 on top of the air cushion seat..
- you can probably understand my pain here!

The only things I didn't have to use over this journey
- my spare gloves.
- my tarpaulin sheet for waterproofing luggage.
- my waterproof jacket and pants.
- my flashlight.

Health casualties - none except that bruise on day 2, sore bum and tan marks.
Bike casualties - engine oil drain and air pipe - nothing major

All in all a very happy and exciting 1470 kms in 4 days, and I would do it again. maybe in a few months from now, different route though. Have to work tomorrow argh !
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Old 6th April 2015, 15:52   #8
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Default re: 4 days & 1470 kms - Biking across Karnataka & Kerala

Mod note: Thread moved from Assembly Line to Travelogue Section. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 7th April 2015, 11:24   #9
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Default Re: 4 days & 1470 kms - Biking across Karnataka & Kerala

Great stuff Amit, looking forward to more!

Quote:
Here is what a typical early morning looks like - Wake up, slam on the alarm after cursing on it more than a few, get on with the day. Let's face it, I would rather get fired my job than wake up early morning (read ..before 9am) and rush to a meeting.

Switch the situation to a 1400 km Planned ride for a few days - Difficult to get to sleep the night before - The alarm starts sounding like a melody in the morning - 'Road-trip-ip-ip-ip' - Jump out of bed, get ready in a few seconds, wrap up in biking gear, dash out the door, strap on the luggage harnesses to the bike, warm up the bike engine (and this feels like a million years to complete) . That last 60 second engine warm up countdown before your wheels hit the road, are like waiting for a painkiller to take effect when you have a splitting headache.
Amen to that brother! Doesn't matter how early the ride is, sleeping before a ride is just impossible. The very thought of the open highway makes me sub-consciously grin like an idiot

Quote:
The difference though is that when you take your car on such roads, you can hear it screaming - 'please just get me off of this road!'. On a bike however, all you hear from the bike is - 'I double dare you - Let's continue on this road, I can handle it, you can't, I'll just pass on 90% of the impact to you !' And it does this so beautifully, that you only blame the road, not the limited shock absorption capabilities of a two wheeler.
Very true. One time I was on NH17 when the road looked like the Hulk used it as a trampoline. A 2 hour ride and a 20 year life-span reduction later, my tail-light assembly broke off (Image below). As much as a car would have helped, I wouldn't have the guts to cross 30 km/h on that road on 4 wheels.

4 days & 1470 kms - Biking across Karnataka & Kerala-11139719_10153223916548044_1655476611_n.jpg

Thanks a ton for the share and loved the real time travelogue vibe along with the wit.
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