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|3rd June 2016, 23:04||#1|
Join Date: Jan 2009
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Bangalore to Chikmagalur - 3 Yamahas race to the Young Girl's Town
This travelogue is a bit of a trip down memory lane. Back in December of 2013, three friends decided to set out on their Yamahas towards the beautiful misty hills of Chikmagalur. It’s incredible to see how much things change during a short span of less than three years – back then we didn’t rely upon Google maps extensively and neither did we have Go Pros attached to our helmets to record every single moment.
In fact I made a short music video of our road trip and all the clips you will find in it were taken either with my cellphone strapped with a bandana to the doom of my bike or simply with the phone being held in one hand.
Planning of the Bangalore-Chikmagalur Yamaha Dash
Considering both my friends are good Kannadiga boys who hardly revel in doing anything in the ‘spur of the moment’, the planning for this trip involved a fair bit of coaxing and cajoling to get everyone to agree on a date. Once that was decided, I promptly called up ‘The Planters Court’ hotel and made reservations with a lady called Rekha. She’s quite helpful and if you approach her directly rather than going through sites like Makemytrip or Yaatra, you might actually get a better discount.
The hotel itself is nothing fancy and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to a young couple looking for a romantic getaway. But if you are a group of guys looking for a conveniently located, nice, clean and economic hotel, you wouldn’t have to look much further than The Planters Court. Breakfast is provided complimentary and they have a restaurant as well in house. In addition, there is a CCD located just down the road from the hotel.
Bangalore to Chikamagalur is about 270 kms and I for one was quite excited to be riding my bike after a really long time. I decided to meet up at JP Nagar with Sudhi and Deepak (lovingly called Uncle, due to his penchant for being extremely conservative and cautious about everything).
The three of us ended up with Yamahas and we never planned for it to be that way. On this particular day in December 2013, I would be riding my Yamaha FZ, Sudhi would be on his Yamaha R15 and Deepak would round us off at the back with his Yamaha Fazer. We settled on the following route as we took off to - Bangalore - Neelamangala - Hassan - Chikmagalur.
The roads were great and we were enjoying the ride when about 80 kms into our journey, we lost Uncle. Riding at an overtly conservative pace he had managed to somehow get left behind. With cellphone reception being particularly bad along that stretch it was quite a task to find him eventually.
No sooner had we started rolling again, Sudhi’s rear tire blew up right in the middle of the highway. It was just our good fortune that we were able to find a “PUNCHAR SHOP” only a few meters away – grammatically incorrect divine intervention as some might call it.
However, they didn’t have all the equipment needed and just as we were scratching our heads trying to figure out what needs to be done, Deepak heroically stepped in with the rescue. In the most ‘Uncle’ like manner possible, he had been extremely responsible and carried with him a mini puncture kit and a spare tube. And just like that – Problem solved. Oh how we love your Uncle ways Deepak!
In a matter of minutes, we were back on the highway guzzling up miles and swallowing the white lines painted in the middle of the road. It was about 10:30 in the morning by now and it was bright and sunny outside without being particularly warm. I hit the accelerator and zipped ahead of Sudhi and Deepak, coursing through the open highway into my own private blur where everything seemed to be at peace. As I turned the accelerator and broke triple figures, things happened so quickly that they ceased to matter and my reaction to them was of meditative bliss. It’s not often you get to ride in this ‘blur’ and you’ll know what I’m talking about only if you have felt it too – that moment when you feel the bike is carrying you on its own and you are simply a part of it. Handles and hands, wheels and legs – all in perfect harmony.
And then ever so often, there’s a speed breaker or a passing tempo that will bring you back into consciousness and you’ll begin to hear again, see, feel, react and be disappointed about the realities around you. As I kept thumping forward and coming and in and out of that meditative bliss, I unintentionally left my friends far behind.
Hence, it became imperative for me to ride about 50-60 kms on my own and then wait on the side for Sudhi and Uncle to catch up. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. To me riding a bike is a very personal experience and if that means I have to take a pit stop and wait for my friends who are enjoying the experience in their own way – I’ll do it with a smile on my face.
On one such occasion, while I was parked on the side of the road and Sudhi
had caught up with me we were placing friendly wagers on how long it would take Uncle to show up. I don’t know who won but eventually when Uncle showed up, he rode straight into the wrong side of the highway with an aggressively honking bus following him like a wild animal about to pounce on its prey. You can actually see this in the video at about the 2:00 mark.
Riding for another 30-40 kms or so, this time in complete harmony with each other maintaining a uniform pace, we chanced upon a farm with an artistically painted bullock cart. It seemed as if all that was missing from that picture was a Bollywood couple from the 90s running around singing a Nadeem-Shravan song. The photo hog in me couldn’t resist stopping there, making friends with the local farm help and taking a few pictures. I also promptly climbed on top of the cart and jumped off it several times while the guard dog barked at me aggressively for making a playground out of his home.
In between all of this an old man with a stick and a bagful of withered memories wandered into us looking for an audience. With very little prodding he began telling us stories of his time in Bangalore and how he commanded a presence in the city many years ago. Maybe he did or maybe it was all in his imagination. For now though he was roaming the highways being a cruel reminder of what cities can do to people.
A few hours later and without any further incidents, we reached Chikmagalur. Having settled into our fairly modest rooms, we were already making plans for the next day. I had shortlisted a café up in the hills that was approximately a 40 km ride from where we were staying. Called “The Coffee Barn Café”, this place seemed to be a well-kept secret with great coffee and an amazing view – most of the reviews were positive and I convinced the boys to get on our bikes and head out.
The ride to the place is a treat in itself as you get this feeling of truly being in a hill station. As you scale up the winding roads you eventually chance upon this little cottage hidden away from the hustle and bustle of tourists. The coffee certainly lived up to expectations and so did the picturesque view, however their food options are fairly limited. But that's just a minor nit to pick in an otherwise fantastic cafe.
The next stop was Mullayanagiri, which is the highest peak in Karnataka. By the time we got there it was drizzling and as we climbed up the peak it turned into full blow rain. It definitely made for some very good pictures and some 'not so great' video clips. The road got narrower as we scaled up and I was amazed by how many people were still trying to drive up such roads instead of making good use of their feet. I for one decided to do it the old fashioned way with Uncle for company by my side. As Sudhi had been here before, he decided to cool his heels at a nice comfortable spot he found.
By the time we got to the peak, it was so misty and windy we could barely see anything at all. But we were overjoyed with this feeling of achievement, especially in that moment where outstretched arms meet bellowing winds and neither gives an inch. For a brief moment, it felt like we were on top of the immediate world we inhabited and had we climbed a little more we might have just caught a glimpse of the pearly gates of heaven.
We returned to our rooms completely exhausted and ready to crash. However we gathered barely enough energy to drag ourselves to the restaurant at The Planter’s Court and down something that barely looked like dinner. I don’t think either of us would be able to objectively rate that meal but we were just happy that it went down our throats and stayed there for the night.
The next morning, we packed up our duffle bags, had a surprisingly refreshing breakfast and got on our bikes to leave. I tipped the sweeper of the hotel who always seemed to have a smile on her face and trained my camera on her for a quick video. She instantly dropped her broom and tried to straighten herself up for her brief cameo. The Planters Court also has a vintage BSA bike parked right below a staircase and a beautiful jeep to go along with it.
We rode back to Bangalore, a little tired but also finding comfort in the long silences along the road and settling into a rhythm until we reached Hassan. There we stopped for lunch at Kadambam and enjoyed a sumptuous North Indian spread with a distinctly south-indian style. It hit the spot with me and as I rode further ahead again, I even managed to catch my forty winks while waiting for Sudhi and Deepak to reach me.
From there, we pretty much rode without a break to Bangalore, stopping only for a mini celebration when I hit the 20,000 kms mark on my bike. By the time I reached Bangalore, it was almost dark and I was aching for the simple comforts my home had to offer – a familiar bed, a hot meal and the lack of Uncle’s snoring.
Karl Lagerfield once said, “What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce”. Filing through my photos and videos and writing this travelogue made me relive this little road trip to Chikmagalur from almost 3 years ago.
Thanks for reading!
|6th June 2016, 11:30||#2|
Join Date: Apr 2016
Thanked: 3,649 Times
Kannadigas on Yamahas!
I think you'd agree that you never get tired of watching the speedometer get to life as you turn the key on the FZ(Same goes for the Fazer as well). I guess I like it more than the FZ 2.0.
Your bike does sound a little louder, but being an FZ fan, you'd always welcome more sound from that bike.
Totally enjoyed reading the whole experience, thanks for sharing details regarding Chikmangalur.
|6th June 2016, 22:14||#3|
Join Date: Jan 2009
Thanked: 8 Times
Re: Bangalore to Chikmagalur - 3 Yamahas race to the Young Girl's Town
Hi Omkar - I'm glad you enjoyed it man. And it's great to see how you picked up that line about 'riding in a blur'. While I was writing it, I thought this is something that only a biker will pick up on. Seems like we have a winner
And I'm happy that you liked the video too. I've lately been playing around with some old video clips and mashing them together with some music and it is a lot of fun. A nifty little hobby for sure and it only motivates me to do another bike ride pretty soon.
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