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Old 5th July 2019, 00:34   #1
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Default Roller coaster motorcycle ride to Kodaikanal & Munnar

Life never gives enough time to us as individuals. And why? Because when a student, we run to fulfill our parent’s dreams; when in job, we run to fulfill boss’s dreams (read – monthly/annual targets); when married, we run to fulfill our family’s dreams, when a father we run to fulfill our child’s dreams; there’s no end to this list. While all these gives us satisfaction to make our loved ones comfortable, amongst all these, when we do get some isolated time, the question always pops up in our minds – Where’s our dream? – The dream to have few moments of silence for us, the dream of picking up a hobby, the dream of picking up the guitar or the camera again that’s lying idle for months now, and finally, where’s that dream of going for our DREAM RIDE??

And then came – “Our Time”. This is going to be quite a long and encapsulating travelogue. So, read on!

Last edited by palsaumik : 7th July 2019 at 08:39. Reason: Edited few texts
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Old 6th July 2019, 12:07   #2
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Default re: Roller coaster motorcycle ride to Kodai & Munnar

The Gang
From Bengaluru: Ashim, Kiran, and truly yours (Saumik)
Joining us from Hyderabad: Soumava, Saswati (Soumava’s better half and pillion) and Avirup

We are a group of six friends who always dreamt of a time when we could break free from our mundane 9-to-9 IT jobs in pursuit of a ride that would encapsulate us in nature’s bliss, peacefulness, serenity and mesmerizing beauty – in other words, in pursuit of sheer happiness – away from the concrete & glass buildings, traffic, pollution, the usual complaints, et all.

It was all triggered by Soumava when he modestly called me up from Hyderabad one fine day asking “Dada…I was thinking if we all could go for a small bike ride from Bengaluru – maybe to Chikmagalur or to Kodai & Munnar?” I was like – “Sure, Why not? But when and who all?” While I asked him these questions and kept mumbling over the phone with more questions, my conscience started nudging me saying – “Boss, don’t you care that you have so many important targets to finish achieve in life, so many assignments to complete, so many target submission dates to be serious of?? How can you be so irresponsible?? Reluctantly, I was like – “Hmmm…okay, Soumava, I am cool with the Kodai & Munnar plan. But let me check if others are willing to come along.” (Basically, I was expecting those others to decline this plan so that I too could avoid the ride). But there came the surprise – everyone, and literally everyone, who I asked if they were interested for a 4 days’ bike ride, were more than willing to join in! All agreed in unison. At that point in time, I too felt like “Why not!! This has been on my Wishlist, right??” I confirmed back to Soumava that the plan is ON and I could imagine the glee on his face.

Point to note: If you don’t steal yourself out of you to live your own dream, life will never give you that chance again to live that dream ever!

We quickly created a WhatsApp Group and after a lot of discussions, introspections confirmations, cancellations, and final re-confirmations on the travel dates, we finally zero’ed down to a 4 day – 1,400Kms ride – starting June 1st to June 4th, 2019. Once the dates were freezed, the planning for the ride began with infinite discussions on starting time from Bengaluru, target arrival time, pit stops, riding gears & accessories, food items, medicals, and what not! Since this was our first real ride and few of us had no such long-distance riding experience in the past, we were not sure if we could actually be able to make it all the way and back. So, we all agreed to halt at every 100Kms (approx.) for quick breaks if needed and would continue thereafter. Come what may, we were all extremely focused to make this maiden trip successful.

The Plan
Day 1: Bengaluru to Kodai (460 Kms)
Day 2: Kodai to Munnar (170 Kms)
Day 3: Local side-seeing and rest in the second half (115+ Kms)
Day 4: Munnar to Bengaluru via Theni (520+ Kms)
Group Treaurer: Saswati
Lead & Sweep: Ashim and I would interchange these positions
The Route
Bengaluru to Kodaikanal: Silk Board > Krishnagiri > Dharmapuri > Omalur > Salem > Namakkal > Karur > Dindigul > Sampatty > Kodaikanal (Zostel)
Kodaikanal to Munnar: Kodaikanal (Zostel) > Periyakulam > Theni > Munthal > Pooppara > Rajakkad > Munnar (Lost Hostel)
Munnar to Bengaluru: Rajakkad > Munthal > Theni > Periyakulam > Batlagundu > Dindigul > Karur > Salem > Omalur > Krishnagiri > Silk Board
The Bikes
Ashim on his 2017 TVS Apache 200 4V – Run only 4,000-odd kms
Kiran on his 2017 KTM Duke 200 – Good number of miles crunched before the ride
Soumava & Saswati on RE Classic 500 Stealth Black (rented from Royal Brothers) – Mostly new with just 550-kms on the odo
Avirup on RE Bullet Classic 350 (rented from Royal Brothers) – 55,000Kms pre-run
I on my 2018 Honda CB Hornet 160r – Had clocked just 4,500-odd kms
Let me give you a brief background of each of us in terms of our riding experience:
Myself – My commute to office and back home are on my Hornet every single day – be it under the hot sun or the rains in Bengaluru averaging 25kms all inclusive. I am a Honda loyalist and have a Honda 4-wheeler too
Ashim - Juggles between his bike and car to office and home. On weekends, we two usually ride out together but only for short breakfast rides to eateries / food junctions which are not more than 100 Kms. Neither of us had ever ridden more than 200 kms in one day
Kiran – Quite an experienced rider and has ridden to a whole lot of places with more than 500kms + on the odo each day
Soumava (The Real Champ) – A hardcore Royal Enfield loyalist. He owns a RE Classic 350 in Hyderabed and has ridden to Spiti Valley with his wife as pillion. He was the most experienced rider in our group
Avirup – A humble guy with a lot of enthusiasm and determination. He has ridden RX100 and RE’s for short runs in the past but no prominent riding experience per se (more on this later)
Next was shopping for gears and accessories – Few of us paid a visit to Let’s Gear Up in HSR Layout, Bengaluru and were quite happy to see their collections. We brought Rynox Jackets, Rynox Trousers, SMK Helmets, bunjee chords, etc. Then a trip to Decathlon in Whitefield made us go for water-cum-dirt cover for our 50L rucksacks, raincoats, waterproof mobile covers, backpacks, gloves, and more. In addition, we also carried our previously owned stuffs - mobile mounts, screw-driver sets, VnetPhone V6 intercoms, etc.

A day prior to the ride, Soumava, Saswati and Avirup came over to my house from Hyderabad. They took a late evening flight and was at my place in Bengaluru by 10.30PM. After quick dinner, we all hit the bed by 11.30PM. But as usual – the enthusiasm was so high, that barely anybody could get a deep sleep.

Last edited by palsaumik : 6th July 2019 at 14:15.
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Old 6th July 2019, 12:09   #3
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Default re: Roller coaster motorcycle ride to Kodai & Munnar

The Ride
Day 1, (June 1st, Saturday): Bengaluru to Kodaikanal
I got up at around 2AM and woke up the others. By 3.15AM we were all ready as planned, loaded our bikes with the luggage and off we went at sharp 3.30AM. Our meeting point was set up at Silk Board Junction at sharp 3.45AM. After meeting up with Ashim and Kiran there at around the planned time, we made quick handshakes, had a quick chat, paired our intercoms, reiterated the lineups, gave Saswati Rs. 2000 each towards food / miscellaneous expenses for group spends for the next 4 days and finally, off we went towards our DREAM RIDE. Departure time 4.15AM.

Weather was extremely pleasant and post few quick pit stops and loo breaks (at Shoolagiri and Murugan Idli Shop), we kept going.

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From L to R: Saumik, Avirup, Soumava, Saswati, Kiran & Ashim

Roads were excellent and we consistently maintained speeds of around 90-100kmph. Ashim and I were continuously chit-chatting over the intercom and boy-oh-boy, it was an experience to a whole new level. It was close to 1 year since we had imported the VnetPhone V6 intercoms from AliExpress but all this time, we could not get a proper instance to test it out. For long rides, it is a must as it will keep riders active, get to know the roads ahead and avoid feeling drowsy / bored especially after breakfast and lunch.

We maintained good speed and made quick progress towards our first planned breakfast stop at Karaikudi Spl Chettinad Restaurant, on Salem-Namakkal Road – around 190kms from Silk Board. We had purposefully selected this as the first pitstop and plan was to reach this place as soon as possible because we knew that as the day progresses, we would surely slow down due to heat and/or rain and any other unplanned events.

Our breakfast break was for good 45 mins during which we charged up our phones and intercoms. After clicking a few group pics, off we went.

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By this time, we came to know of each other’s riding pattern – this being our first maiden bike ride remember! As the day progressed and owing to the nature / build of our respective bikes, we inherently split up in to two groups with Soumava and Avirup trudging along together (in their REs) while Ashim, Kiran and I moved along together. But at no point in time, were these two groups more than 30 mins apart. If they moved faster, they would stop after covering a good number of miles for fuel, water breaks, tender coconuts and sugarcane juice and if we were ahead, we would wait for them to catch up with us at the next break.

The roads were excellent all along and weather was great too. During the day it was a definitely hot, but nothing that would drain us of our energy completely. We ensured we stopped at regular intervals – for water and juice breaks, and continued enjoying every moment of the ride – each & every mile of it!

While the remaining four of us had no incidents thus far, there came Avirup who had a harrowing experience not once but twice on Day 1 itself. Once, somewhere during the ride, at a junction someone in front of Avirup braked hard and since it was Avirup’s first real experience with a RE Classic 350, he couldn’t keep the weight of the bike and fell off, but before he had the fall, he had managed to slow down the bike considerably. He escaped unhurt and after a small shake up, he continued along. Second, just before taking the right to Kodai Main Road from Chennai-Theni Highway, while the three of us (Ashim, Kiran and I) were waiting for Soumava and Avirup to catchup with us again, we got to know that Avirup again had a mighty fall – this time was because a villager suddenly shot off from the left to cross the highway and again, since Avirup didn’t anticipate this, he slammed the breaks but fell off again as he couldn’t uphold the weight of his bike. Fortunately again, he did not hit the person and had slowed down before the fall. While he fell, petrol from the bike oozed from the fuel tank but he managed to set the bike upright soon. He was shaken but still determined to make it. Kudos!

All these incidents and unplanned halts had delayed us considerably. While confirming the reservation at our accommodation for Day 1, I had specifically mentioned that we would check in at 3PM but I anticipated we might by late by an hour or two more. Since all the bookings were in my name, I decided to continue towards the property on priority while Soumava and Avirup could continue slow and catch up with us there directly. In the meantime, I called up the hotel manager at Kodai to let him know that we would check-in bit more late than 3PM and he was absolutely cool with it.

It is important to note that the ghats were quite steep and needed good skills to maneuver the bends. While the rest of us quite cruised through the ghats, Avirup had a real tough time negotiating the same but he did keep up with Soumava. He was extremely strong-minded and made it all through to our first stop of the day – Zostel Kodaikanal!

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We had booked one complete dormitory room in Zostel which included two 3-by-3 bunker beds. We checked-in at around 4PM while Soumava and Avirup joined us there at around 4.30PM. Since it was off lunch hours, we had no other option but to order Dominos Pizzas. This was more like a celebration to us as we all rode well and made it through Day 1.

After freshening up, we assembled at the hall area and spent around the next hour finishing off everything – pizzas, garlic breads, coke, etc. Post this, some were clicking away pictures, some went off to Kodai lake and I hit the bed for a quick nap at around 6PM which turned out to be a straight 3-hour slumber! I got up at around 9PM and finished off dinner by 10PM.

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End of the day, I still couldn’t believe that I could make it through the complete 460Kms on Day 1. Though I was totally determined to make it, somewhere in my mind I was skeptical as well and had silently made a backup plan to take up a room somewhere on the highway if my health didn’t permit. But I was glad this was not needed. I was almost certain that I would have immense back pain (which I usually get after a long day in office). So, I had specifically worked on my rucksack to build the back support with a thick towel at the point of contact. Throughout the ride, I ensured that my back was upright, arms bent a bit (instead of completely stretched out to reach the handle bars), thighs holding the tank lightly and had an overall sitting posture which would make me comfortable. And all these worked fabulously! At the end of the day, there was zero back pain, no pain anywhere whatsoever. Hornet turned out to be the perfect bike for me – with high comfort level, the right blend of power and form factor that I can handle effectively and especially the seat which is perfect – not too hard, not too soft – just the perfect blend of material to keep the butt feel at ease. My Hornet crunched the miles with absolute ease. Never ever did it seem that the bike was running out of breath on the highways nor running out of torque on the ghats.

That night, after rounds and rounds of gossip and fun-filled moments and laughter, by 11.30PM we all got back in the dorm and we slept off – with very fond memories and experiences we’ve had during the day. All of us were truly happy that we could make this far and were more excited for the next day’s ride – which was more scenic (and more eventful!!).

Ride Summary for Day 1:
• Start time: 4.15AM
• End Time: 4PM
• Total Distance Covered: 460 Kms
• Time taken: 12 hours, 15 mins
• Incident count: 2

Last edited by palsaumik : 6th July 2019 at 14:18.
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Old 6th July 2019, 12:10   #4
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Day 2 (June 2nd, Sunday): Kodai to Munnar
The day started early for me at around 6.30AM. With a sound sleep the previous night, I was full of energy for Day 2. Saswati too awoke at almost the same time and went off for a photo session around the property. It was a very pleasant morning in Kodai and while I was sipping tea in the courtyard, one by one the other guys woke up. After rounds of tea, smoke and discussions about the trip that we were to do on Day 2, by 7.30AM, Soumava decided to teach Avirup few tricks on how to ride a Classic 350 in the ghats – with appropriate weight balancing, using the bike’s momentum to climb the bends, effectively using the clutch and brakes, etc. So, both went out of Zostel to get the knowledge transition done. By around 8.45-9.00AM when the rest of us were mostly ready in our riding gears, they got back, and we got to know that Avirup had two more incidents back-to-back.

During the training session, he again had two falls which completely shook off his confidence. Fortunately, he was unhurt. And they both decided that it would not be wise for Avirup to continue riding the bike to Munnar. Rather, it was planned that Avirup’s Classic 350 would be shipped down to Theni and keep it at someone’s house for the next two days. The people from Zostel were extremely helpful in finding out someone through their contacts who would volunteer to ride his bike with Avirup as pillion all the way down to Theni and keep the bike safely at their residence. Once the bike is secured, it was planned that Avirup would then take a local bus from Theni and reach Munnar and would meet us directly at our accommodation there.

While these incidents were quite disappointing for all of us and that Avirup would no longer ride with the group, we realized it was a good plan as it would avoid any further incident – considering the fact that the roads to Munnar were even more challenging as compared to Kodai.

After Avirup left, we checked out of Zostel at around 10.00AM and were on the roads again. The weather was excellent all along – it was cloudy but did not rain. It was humid but not too hot – more or less perfect for us. We rode continuously at around 90+ speeds and took minimal and very short breaks. Each time we stopped, we checked Avirup on his current location, if he’s ok in the bus and estimated his ETA to Munnar. The roads were excellent until the last police check-post just before the ghats started.

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The ghat section to Munnar initially was butter-like and we maintained careful speeds along the bends. As we rode up the hills, the scenery was getting better and better. I had been to Munnar earlier too with family in my car, but riding a bike on these roads was a superlative experience, no doubt! The cool winds that embrace you, the nature so green that welcome you, and a bike that is equally a high performer inspire the confidence in you – what else would you need when you are out with your best buddies!

Without any further incident(s), we reached our accommodation – The Lost Hostels – mostly around the expected time of 3PM. This place would be our home for the next two days. We had booked a dormitory here too – 6 beds of a total of 8 in one large room. Of the two others in our room, one was a college guy and the other was a young British doctor who was in India for a medical project. The doctor’s friends were spread out across two other dorms in the same property.

It was again a big achievement completing Day 2 successfully and more so for me, as I had survived Day 2 without a single glitch. I was not confident that I could do this far, but made it with no problem at all. I was surprised the way my mind and physic was supporting me, which gave me huge confidence that I too CAN DO IT – a dream that I had always dreamt of!! Remember, we are all novices and built our bike-riding dreams seeing Mumbiker Nikhil, Sriman Kotaru and the likes on YouTube. But once on the road, it’s a different game altogether. Willpower, planning, preparation, coordination, training, decision making capabilities, and more – are all extremely critical on such rides. It was on this day that I realized that I am truly living my dream as a rider, riding with the best of my friends, amongst nature’s beauty!! I couldn’t have asked anything more from life at that point in time.

Just like Day 1, I was anticipating that I would be even more dead tired post the second day’s ride, but surprisingly I was very fresh after reaching Lost Hostel at Munnar, probably because I was very well rested the previous night and that my body got tuned to the long rides. Of course, the number of miles we covered this day was far lesser compared to Day 1 but it was no easy ride. In many sections along the ghats, there was construction going on for road widening and hence, lot of construction debris, dust, muck, pebbles, etc. were strewn all over the roads. We negotiated all of them very carefully and since we were connected via intercoms, we ensured the safety of everyone by giving heads-up on the road ahead. It was a wonderful coordination all through.

The Lost Hostels is a very nice property in Munnar. However, the approach road that one should take to reach the property was scary to me. It needed us to ride up a small hill-like road which was almost 30-35 degrees upwardly inclined. I was scared as a cat! I hadn’t had any experience riding up such an incline and was sure I would fall off, with all the baggage tied to my pillion seat. I am a bit scared of heights and outwardly announced that I can’t make it. We talked about the situation for a minute and all of them reassured me that it would be fine and not to worry. Soumava offered to ride up with his Stealth 500 first. Seeing him go with full confidence, I followed suite (after a minute’s wait) and made it all the way up riding in 1st gear. The rest followed suite. Boy, this was no easy path. Of the entire day’s ride, this was the only part which scared the hell out of me. Fortunately, we all made it and we parked our bikes safely along one line of the parking lot.

We checked in and were given a quick briefing on the hostel’s rules and regulations. We were all fine with it. We unloaded our luggage and grabbed a bunker each. After freshening up, we split in two teams – one team (Soumava and Kiran) to get beverages from a far-flung Govt-approved outlet somewhere in Munnar while the other team (Ashim and I) went to grab some snacks, a crate of eggs, etc. By the time we were returning to the hostel, Avirup joined us. We were all extremely happy to have him back in our group. Once all of us were back in the hostel, we had an hour-long discussion of the plan for the next day (Day 3). While Ashim and I were conservative and wanted to ride not more than 50Kms, others were so high on excitement to explore Munnar that both of us finally gave in.

That night, we had dinner at the hostel and grabbed a few beverage bottles to chill out and relax for the night. It was a celebration night for us. While some continued through the night to mingle up with the British hostellers staying at the hostel, few of us hit the bed by 10.30PM. I was extremely happy to see Avirup enjoying with our fellow hostellers and it was reassuring that all is well (I was wrong – read about incidents on Day 4).

Ride Summary for Day 2:
• Start time: 10.00AM
• End Time: 3.00PM
• Total Distance Covered: 168 Kms
• Time taken: 5 hours
• Incident count: 2

Last edited by palsaumik : 6th July 2019 at 13:15.
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Old 6th July 2019, 12:12   #5
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Day 3 (June 3rd, Monday): Short Run to Mattupetty, Eco Point & Top Station and Rest During the Later Half
We all woke up very relaxed on this day. We had lazy breakfast and were roaming around the property for quite some time. Saswati, Kiran and a few others tried hot-air balloon ride at a site which was 15 mins away from our property but due to gusty winds and light drizzles, the ride was postponed to the next day. By then, it was almost 10AM and none of us were quite ready for the Munnar sight-seeing. We finally got ready one by one and by 11AM set out on our bikes towards Vattavada. This time, Avirup was pillion to Ashim. We came across light drizzles on the way and quickly put on our rain gears. After some time, the drizzles stopped but it continued to be cloudy for rest of the day. During our ride, we came across the picturesque and legendary tea gardens of Munnar. It was a sight to behold. It was like carpets and carpets of tea gardens all the way till our vision met the horizon. We were surrounded by nature’s beauty, the aroma of the air which is sooo fresh and the weather which was cool. It was like another dream come true.

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Though it was a long ride to Vattavada, we kept going and loved each and every bit of scenery nature had for us. We crossed the encapsulating forest area and climbed all the way to Vattavada.

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A short video of our ride through the forest before Vattavada:

On the way back, we stopped at Top Station and Echo Point. Roads were okay for most parts of the ride while it continued to drizzle in patches on the way. While at Top Station, it was raining incessantly, during which we had to take shelter inside a tea stall. We refreshed ourselves with tea and piping hot Maggie. It was the best combination one can ever wish for during such weather conditions. After the rains slowed down a bit, we made our way back.

On reaching echo point, Ashim and I decided to head back to Lost Hostels as we wanted to catch up with some extra rest for the next day’s ride. Avirup hopped on to Kiran’s KTM and completed rest of the sight-seeing with Soumava and Saswati.

Back at the hostel, Ashim and I sipped on to our beverages and started planning for the next day. The critical juncture of our ride on Day 4 would be to wait for Avirup at Theni while he picked up his Classic 350 and joined us back. So, we discussed our start time, local bus timings that Avirup could take to reach Theni, our common meetup point with exact Google Map location at Theni, and the modalities back to Bengaluru.

The only time when we quite did not like Lost Hostel’s administration was when they told us at around 8PM that dinner would not be available. We were planning to have an early dinner and call it a day to catch up with extra hours of sleep before the final leg of the trip next day. The worst part was that they told us about food not being available only when we enquired with them about the options available for dinner. This pissed us off to a great extent. As a workaround, Ashim, Kiran and I decided to walk down all the way to a restaurant and decided to get back food packed for the rest of the three. We found a decent looking restaurant after a good 15 mins walk and replenished ourselves with rice, rotis and chicken and got panner items and rotis for rest of our folks. Food was yummy but got to know of its real quality the next morning .

Once we got back, we handed over the packed food to Saswati and hit the bed after some quick conversations. It was a day well enjoyed and accomplished for all of us. We were happy how we progressed through those three days, sans the incidents with Avirup. But we realized that it was more of a human problem (and not mechanical) which cannot be readily fixed.

Ride Summary for Day 3:
• Start time: 11AM
• End Time: 5.00PM
• Total Distance Covered: 110Kms
• Time taken: 6 hours
• Incident count: 0

Last edited by palsaumik : 6th July 2019 at 14:33.
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Old 6th July 2019, 12:14   #6
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Day 4 (June 4th, Tuesday): Munnar to Bengaluru – The real test of will and patience!
This day again started early with me waking up around 7AM and woke up rest of the folks to get ready for the last leg of our journey back to Bengaluru. Saswati and Kiran made another attempt to ride the hot-air balloon but it was cancelled that day too due to extremely strong winds.

With sad faces, they got back to the hostel and started packing bags for one last time.

Most importantly, we apprised Avirup of the meeting point at Theni and timings we should all maintain on the road to ensure we are back at Silk Board no later than 9PM. Accordingly, Avirup got ready, got freshened up, packed his bags and left the hostel at around 8.30AM to board a local bus to Theni. The rest of us got ready and checked out at around 10AM. At this point in time, we all were both sad and happy. Sad, because our wonderful trip was coming to an end and happy that we were finally getting home and would be back with our families after a long time.

With heavy hearts, we checked out and started towards Theni. As usual, the roads downhill from Munnar was full of potholes and covered with extremely bad patches of dirt and muck but we kept navigating and maintained good speed.

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We reached the meeting point at Theni at around 12PM and waited almost 45 mins for Avirup to catch up with us. Once done, we started our final run to Bengaluru. As mentioned earlier, the roads were excellent all through and we maintained very good but safe speeds. We again split up into two groups kept making excellent progress. Since Ashim, Kiran and I were together and were riding ahead, we stopped for lunch break at around 2.45PM somewhere on the highway and after 15-20 mins, were joined by Soumava, Saswati and Avirup. We finished lunch (South Indian meals / thali) in the next 30-45 mins, freshened up and left.

During the next couple of hours, we were greeted with light showers but nothing that would make us stop. We kept going and kept chit-chatting via intercoms.

Roller coaster motorcycle ride to Kodaikanal & Munnar-38.jpg

Roller coaster motorcycle ride to Kodaikanal & Munnar-39.jpg

It was around 6PM when we took the mandatory left turn to Bengaluru just before entering Salem and stopped for a tea-cum-transition break. After around 15 mins, Soumava and Saswati joined us and that is when we came to know that Avirup went in to Salem city instead of taking the left turn. His real-time GPS location showed him to be at least 10 Kms inside the city. Over phone, we guided him to take a de-tour which would bring him back to the highway. But as luck would have it, Avirup, while inside Salem and checking Google Maps, dropped him mobile phone and the screen cracked up. Among all the confusion, we were losing crucial daylight but nothing was more important that our fellow rider’s safety. Avirup, after much deliberation and asking around, gradually got back to the highway and confirmed us that he is back on the right track to Bengaluru. We got back to our bikes and continued the ride.

The final 150 kms to Bengaluru city felt never-ending. Ashim and I continuously kept discussing (via intercoms) how the kilometers just don’t seem to end. We were like going and going and still far away from home-sweet-home. Then we reminded each other – WILL POWER is all it takes to reach the final destination. There will be ups and downs, but with focus, determination and will power, nothing is impossible! Finally, we touched Silk Board at 9.30PM – thirty minutes later than planned but it was still good time for us – considering the huge amount of daylight we had lost earlier.

At Silk Board, after confirming with Soumava, Saswati and Avirup (who were around 25 Kms behind us), Ashim, Kiran and I parted ways – they went right and I went left.

I took another 30 mins to navigate through the BTM traffic to reach home and it was almost 10PM when I reached my building’s basement parking. It was a time of rejoice for me as we all almost made it back to Bengaluru without a scratch. I couldn’t believe that I made it! I thought to myself - Incidents do happen but finding a solution and continuing to reach the destination is more important. Kudos again to Avirup for making it through the thick and thin of incidents that happened with and all around him. But wait - Did I speak too soon?? One more incident was planned for Avirup. Read on!

The moment I parked my bike in the basement, I got a call from Avirup. He was just before the Electronic City toll gate and had a flat rear tyre. Now, in such a situation, I could have immediately gone back 20Kms to fix his tyre because I know all procedures to fix flat tyres. I was well equipped with all the tools & stuffs needed, had 20 bits of puncture strips and was carrying a tyre inflator as well. But all these are good for tubeless tyres. But his is a RE Classic 350 with tubed tyres and my puncture kit would be useless in this case. So, it wouldn’t be much fruitful even if I went all the way back. And on top of it, it was Eid (June 4th) and all tyre repair shops were closed. Even phone calls to my trusted mechanics in Bengaluru to help us in this situation were not responded.

By now, it was close to 10.30PM. I was extremely tired and literally hit my wit’s end. The final option I thought of was to call the point of contact at Royal Brothers (the bike rental company) and take advice. I conferenced Avirup with the guy at RB and he told us not to worry but asked Avirup to park the bike at a safe parking location (near a guarded ATM, or hospital / hotel parking, etc.) by paying a small token amount to the security guard there. In the absence of all other options, this sounded like a feasible plan. Avirup left the bike in a basement parking at some establishment, took a cab and reached my home. Soumava and Saswati too had reached my home by then. It was 11.30PM by the time we called it a day.

At my home, we had a delicious dinner prepared by my wife. Post that, we had a good round of gossip for an hour and then we hit the bed – slightly tired but completely satisfied that we all finally MADE IT!! Yeah!!

Ride Summary for Day 4:
• Start time: 10AM
• End Time: 10PM for one team, 11.30PM for rest of the folks
• Total Distance Covered: 550Kms
• Time taken: 12 hours / 14.5 hours
• Incident count: 2

Last edited by palsaumik : 6th July 2019 at 14:39.
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Old 6th July 2019, 12:15   #7
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Default re: Roller coaster motorcycle ride to Kodai & Munnar

Next morning, Avirup had to hire a pick-up van to ferry his bike from Electronic City to Royal Brothers JP Nagar. After paying a late fee and fine for few scratches, the accounts were all settled and we came back home. After a good lunch, we had rounds and rounds of gossip, laughter from the incidents that we recalled and the memories we got back home from the ride. While all these happened, I transferred all the photos and videos from Soumava and Saswati to my computer.

It was truly a dream that we lived during those four days and it was truly OUR TIME. No office laptop, no emails, no office calls, nothing!! Just the roads, the bikes, the nature and us!! I was sure that it would be totally worn out after this ride but I was actually full of energy after I got back. I have no clue how or why! My wife remarked that I had a wonderful glow of accomplishment on my face and that was evident from the fact that I had just completed ~1400 Kms ride which I always thought could never be done!

Soumava, Saswati and Avirup left for Hyderabad by the evening bus.

Conclusion and takeaways from the ride:
• Planning, preparation, coordination, patience and will power are key to achieving any target. Like they say – Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
• We were prepared for all sorts of mechanical problems, but were less prepared for human problems. Avirup was confident that even being a novice, he would be able to make it through the plains and the hills but think again! Nature always has different plans for us so be prepared with alternatives
• Our estimate of collecting Rs. 2,000 from each of us was just perfect. When we started for the ride, we had Rs. 12,000 in our corpus and were left with Rs. 450-odd at the end of Day 4. This included all the on-road expenses (food, snacks, water bottles, juices, any additional expenses at Zostel and Lost Hostel like breakfast, lunch and dinner, etc.) but not for accommodation booking. Fuel was on each of us and not accounted in this corpus
• The emphasis of riding gear – This was the first time I was in proper riding gear from top to bottom. Previously, during our short breakfast rides (upto max 100Kms), I always sported a T-shirt with high-neck jacket and denim trousers, but Ashim and Soumava highlighted the importance of the gear. I agreed and invested close to 20K prior to the ride to get all the appropriate gears (helmets, riding jackets, riding trousers, boots and high quality gloves to name a few). Also, break-even of all the gears is equally important. So, a month prior to the ride, I started using the helmet, gloves and jacket on my office rides. As expected, I was uncomfortable especially with the helmet being tight to the cheeks, but over a month it all got sorted out
• The finest of machines may give trouble and the heaviest of machinery may work wonders. 70-80 Kms before Silk Board, the TVS Apache that Ashim rode, was having issues with power delivery. Throttle response did not deliver the expected power and the engine was slightly knocking. It was an oil-cooled 200cc engine and we thought it could be because of air filter, spark plug, issues in the fuel lines. We took a break for 15 mins in a roadside restaurant and after the engine cooled off, we started again and there were no issues whatsoever. Till date we do not know what caused a drop in power delivery. On the other hand, the REs, the KTM and my Honda worked perfectly all through without a single glitch
• Day 3 (sight-seeing in and around Munnar) took a toll on us as we didn’t stay hydrated much. Two of us had headaches though not major but this was a reminder that we should stay hydrated on Day 4. We can’t afford to mess up on the last day
• There’s always time for everything in life. We must find time – for the sake of those dreams that we have always dreamt of!
• Thanks to all our family members who encouraged and motivated us to live our dream for those four days
• Key stimulus to our ride is the very popular “Mumbiker Nikhil”. We had been following him on YouTube for more than a year and was the key source of inspiration for us to plan our ride
Thanks for sticking through this extremely long travelogue. Signing off with a short 6 mins video summary of our trip:

A big note of thanks to all the moderators who helped in posting my t-logue.

Last edited by palsaumik : 6th July 2019 at 13:56. Reason: Edits with text
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Old 8th July 2019, 07:03   #8
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Default re: Roller coaster motorcycle ride to Kodai & Munnar

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 8th July 2019, 16:41   #9
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Default Re: Roller coaster motorcycle ride to Kodai & Munnar

It was truly a dream that we lived during those four days and it was truly OUR TIME. No office laptop, no emails, no office calls, nothing!! Just the roads, the bikes, the nature and us!! I was sure that it would be totally worn out after this ride but I was actually full of energy after I got back. I have no clue how or why! My wife remarked that I had a wonderful glow of accomplishment on my face and that was evident from the fact that I had just completed ~1400 Kms ride which I always thought could never be done!

Congratulations on successfully completing your dream ride. These are the memories you will cherish for years to come. Keep riding...
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Old 8th July 2019, 21:36   #10
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Default Re: Roller coaster motorcycle ride to Kodaikanal & Munnar

Very nice RR! Good to see that you guys were able to do a wonderful ride and reach back safely. Yes, you guys took a good call about not letting your friend ride when he wasn't confident. I was starting to get worried reading about those falls he had - probably just panic braking and not defensive riding. Hopefully he will be able to ride again and enjoy it the next time. Appreciate you guys standing behind him and supporting him.
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