Thursday, September 10, 2009

Part 7-The return ride

Day 4 of this journey

As is the usual case of ride day, we overtook the alarms set in our mobiles. By 6am we were ready in our riding gear. Anil and crankie sticked to there plan for a late start owing to their ill health. So the first batch was finalized as Balan, Raghu, twinspark brothers and myself. It was 6:30 am when we finished loading our luggage on to our bulls.
One more snap of the parking lot. These bulls are going to different places of India, after sharing this space for 4 days.

We were already delayed by a good 30minutes or so from our planned start time. By this time breakfast was ready, Hence we decided to have breakfast before our start so that we can save our time for breakfast later on.

Went inside the conference room of the resort where breakfast was being served.
One snap of the scenic surroundings from this room. Slowly and steadily the natural light's intensity was increasing.

The breakfast was nice and the arrangements were neat and clean as is evident from this last snap taken at Ooty.

Overall the staying experience in Sterling resorts - Fernhill was nice. No hardships whatsoever, but the time we spent in this resort was very less, coz most of the time we were either roaming around Ooty or were at the main venue and came back late at night only to get a good sleep.
It was almost 7.15am, when we got into our bulls and started thumping out of Ooty, the ghat section was not so steep towards gudalloor, the roads were superbly maintained, with sufficient width, taking twisties in a bull amidst these scenic and beautiful roads is something of an experience, soon I found that Raghu and myself were ahead of the rest of the gang. Waited for them after some time.

Balan sir wanted to have a real leisurely ride and so did the twinspark brothers and so we decided to split once again, Raghu and myself will ride ahead with minimal stops so that we can meet our commitments later in the evening. The factor which drastically slows down our ride is the number of stops and the amount of time we take to start again. The bigger the group, the more time it will take to start after a stop unless the group is very disciplined. Cruising at high speeds is not at all a must for reaching destination early. Slow and steady progress is what is needed.

So now it was only two of us, Raghu and myself. The crusing speed through these twisties depends on riders ability to bend their rides along with their body and if one is not able to keep the ride towards the left end of the road while taking a curve, then it means that he is riding at a pace which he is not able to control and he has to slow down more while taking curves. All the time one has to ensure that the vehicle is going in the intended path. Especially since the amount of turn in some blind curves are not known, the moment we feels that we are moving towards the middle of the road, we should reduce speed.

We stopped at a view point 12 kms before Gudallur, the first of the stops in this section.

Started from this point by 8:15am,

8:30 am reached Gudalloor, turned left towards Nilambur.

The initial stretch near the Checkpost was not so good roads, but enough for a bullet to march along smoothly. What is attractive is the way these roads are covered by thick dense forests. We sure felt like we are loners wandering through another world pretty much away from the horrible traffic and we were having a feel of the real unpolluted air and enjoying the sound and color of the natural flora and fauna.

A windshield view of this stretch.

Did not get down from the bull even for taking this photo, since we decided to not have any more stops for photo shoots alone.

Soon the bad stretch of road gave way to smooth roads and the twisties got even better. This one route is a real riders paradise, the terrain is perfectly flat, the roads are well maintained, there are practically no blind curves, but there are twisties, perfect to have some fun of swinging and swaying and for the experts to scrap their footpegs. Was so much absorbed with the ride and we did not stop anywhwere in this stretch.

From here on, it was a ride based on time schedule.

10:00am Reached Nilambur. Was looking out for a place to have a refreshing cup of tea and to get updates from our other rider pals.

10:10am Stopped near teak mueseum at Nilambur where there was a tea stall.

Got updated that Balan & Twinspark brothers have passed Gudalloor, but a good 40 kms behind us. Anil, Doc and crankie has started from Ooty 1 hour back and is another 50kms behind Balan.

We enquired about the routes and the tea stall guy was of the opinion that it is better to go through pattamby, rather than going via Valancherry - kuttipuram route.

10:20am Start after the tea break. Rode through the picturesque Nilambur famous for its teak plantations. The roads are pretty good in this section with the big trees on the sides giving ample cover from the shining sun.

Turned left towards pattambi. The roads in this part were not good. Ride till pattambi was through normal bumby roads with not much scenary around.

11:15am: Reached Pattambi. Stopped for a drinks break. Had some cool drinks to cool of our body after the ride through the scorching sun with our riding gear on. After a 15 mins break, started our ride towards Thrissur via the vadakkancherry route. Had thought about taking the Guruvayoor - Paravoor route. But having gone through that route some 3 months back I had experienced the heavy traffic, badly driven private buses and narrow roads in that route. We decided to take the NH 47.

12:00pm Reached Vadakkancherry. No stopping here. The ride through these areas was not that much enjoyable owing to the heat and the traffic around. Still we continued on and on at moderate speeds in the range of 60s.

12.45pm: Reached Thrissur, Had to pass through the dense city traffic and somehow managed to reach the NH47 joining from Palghat. Stopped to fill up the bulls, meanwhile got update from Balan that he decided to wait at Pattambi for the 3rd gang to join. We updated him about our position. We decided to have another hour of riding before having lunch.
Soon the two bulls were speeding away through the NH 47, Passed chalakkudy, Angamaly, Aluva and after 1hr 15 mins came the gateway to Ernakulam

2.00pm Reached Edappally, Took the Ernakulam bypass and again postponed lunch till the bypass ends. The drinks which we had at pattambi was still giving us ample energy. Surprisingly traffic was very less, might be due to the time of the day, and being a holiday people will be taking a good afternoon nap, we thumped our way to Aroor. Once at Aroor decided to have lunch at the next good hotel. Based on our calculation we were on time and we estimated that we will reach trivandrum by atleast 6.30pm after taking a lunch break. But as is the usual case, seldom does estimates meet actuals.

2.30pm Reached Thuravur. Found a good restaurant on the left side of the highway and decided to stop over here. Parked our bulls in the shades of trees in front of the hotel where there was a kids park and pretty good space in front. But time was not good to have lunch as is the case of most of the hotels in Kerala, where the lunch menu will be exhausted by about 2pm and we had to be content with chappathis. Meanwhile got update from the other batch that they have started to ride together and has already started from Pattambi towards Guruvayoor to take the Paravoor route.

3.30pm Started from this restaurant exactly 1hr after we entered and our calculations resulted in a 6.30pm schedule for reaching our destination. This ride was one of the type where we kept our stops to minimal and practically no photo shoots at all. Most of the time we were riding our bulls and maintaining a steady speed. Stability of the bulls and the comfort which it offers to the riders results in we having no fatigue at all even after riding under the scroching sun with no tree cover in the highways.

Just outside the restaurant, I found that Raghu's bull was wobbling and my eyes straight away went to his back tyre to find that it has gone flat. By this time he had realised this and halted his bull. Pushed it out of the road and parked it. Yes another puncture, enough for our estimates to go haywire. But it is an eventuality and we need to tackle it as fast as possible. Raghu offloaded his luggage, while I quickly went back to the next junction to find a tyre shop and picked the guy back to where Raghu was waiting.
Tyre removal was quick with Raghu also helping to remove it, using the tools which he was having.
Back to the tyre shop, removed the tyre and tube, filled air into the tube, dipped it in water to see bubbles coming out of a single spot. It was a small puncture, Meanwhile I checked for the villain who caused this by scanning under the tyre. Found a good nail pierced into the tyre.
This nail was the culprit this time.

First photo after a gap of 6 hours.

While the repair was going on, one local guy came to me asked, which regiment I was working in. He mistook me as a soldier, might be due to my costume and ride hardened look. Even though I try to convince that I am not a soldier, and told him that I am coming back from a trip to Ooty, he somehow was not convinced at all and was heard saying that why should some people simply go to Ooty in a motorbike without any reason and added that our mission might be a secret and hence we may not be disclosing it. He was a retired soldier and also claimed that a soldier could easily recongnise another soldier. Anyway I did not try to convince him any further as his mind was already set and I was not going to gain anything in particular by convincing him.

The puncture was fixed, tube and tyre went back to the rim, filled up air, off goes the tyrewallah and myself back to where Raghu was waiting.

Quickly the tyre went back to where it was supposed to be. Paid the tyrewallah ,dropped him back to his shop, came back, loaded my luggage and had a look at the watch, we spent 1 hr for this repair, so the lunch break was a good 2hrs.

4.30pm. We started our journey after deciding that next stop will be somewhere after Kollam for a cup of tea. The sun was slowly getting ready to set after the hectic work for the day, Hence the ride became more comfortable.

4.45pm: Reached cherthala and that signals the end of the four lane stretch.
Soon we could feel the sea breeze and this signalled the arrival of Alappuzha.

5.20pm: Alappuzha was bidding good bye, the lack of bypass in the busy town eats up the time of long distance tourers through NH 47.

Passed Harippad and NTPC, the Harippad - Kayakulam stretch of road is always bumpy even after relaying, for reasons I am not familiar with. This bumpiness is felt more when we travel in car.

5.50pm Reached Kayamkulam. No stopping here, continued thumping and we were now proceeding as per our revised estimate of reaching destination by 7.30pm.

6.30 pm: Kollam was sighted and so was the heavy traffic. We escaped from kollam town by 6.45pm only because we were on two wheels, had we been on four wheels it may take atleast 30 to 40 minutes to escape from kollam town, lack of bypass is the reason behind this delay.

6.50pm: Stopped near Kottiyam to have a cup of tea from a road side tea stall, popularly known as "Thattukada".

7.00pm: started our final leg of journey, with next planned stop being our destination.
As we thumped along chathannoor, Paripally and attingal, the whole trip was being flashed through our minds like a dream, both of us were keeping a steady pace with one following the other.

7.45pm: Reached our respectivie homes which is hardly 1km apart much to the relief of those at home who are all always anxious whenever we go on touring in two wheels.

Got update from the other batch that they are reaching Ernakulam and are going to have dinner there. They were having a pretty relaxed ride with many photo stops and the traffic in the Guruvayoor - Ernakulam stretch was too hot to handle. Crankie decided to stay at his uncle's home in Ernakulam. Twinspark brothers and Akhil also stopped at Ernakulam since they were residents of Ekm. From there it was Anil, Balan and Doc, Who thumped their way through the NH 47 and reached Trivandrum at 12.30pm when I got a message from Anil "Look ma I am still doing good" which said it all. Went to sleep only after I got this message from Anil, confirming that all my rider pals are back home safe.

It was a pretty eventfull journey, we had experienced a lot of things during this tour,
the helping hand offered by the rider pals when in need,
the joy of thumping together where the pace of the slowest rider is the pace of the group,
Learning good riding manners from experts, by watching them in action,
Riding fast does not mean taking risks and/or rash driving,
A true doctor's responsibility to a fellow human whom he had never ever met in life and a selfless service,
meeting like minded bulletteers from all over India,
the tech mods and the amount of time spent and involvment of people in supercharging their bulls,
the cult culture of some of the hardcore bulletteers,
the busy and hectic Ooty which is fast losing its charm,
the joy of riding through one of the most beautiful and scenic roads of India - the Nilambur - gudalloor stretch.

Each journey gives a lot of memories to cherish, helps to get new friends, refresh and recharge mind for the challanges ahead in life.

It was a pretty long write up, but still I feel as if I had left out lot of things, which I might have added, if I wrote this within 1 month of this trip, which would normally never happen due to other engagements.

Now itz time to plan for the next trip...the next thumper tour...

Rider Mania 2009 - The ride story
Topic Index

Part 1 - The onward journey (Day 1)

Part 2 - Thrissur - Palghat ride (Day 1)

Part 3- Palghat - Coimbatore (Day 2)

Part 4- A Humane Gesture (Day 2)

Part 5- Coimbatore - Ooty & Day 1 @ RiderMania (Day 2)

Part 6 - Day 2 @ Rider Mania (Day 3)

Part 7- The Return Ride (Day 4)

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