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Thread: Chennai - Yelagiri Solo Ride (With lots and lots of rain)

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    Addicted Zaphod's Avatar
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    Default Chennai - Yelagiri Solo Ride (With lots and lots of rain)

    Madras is not known for its weather, but the last couple of weeks have been awesome. It would have been a crime to stay indoors. Friends and I, planned a trip to Yelagiri, but all of them backed off at the frigging last moment.

    Given the douchy moron I am, I tried to do a trip from Chennai to Yelagiri all alone on my Yamaha Fz16.

    Here are a couple of teasers. Nothing breathtaking, taken with a Samsung B2100 (The phone btw is awesome for touring, long battery and waterproof).

    Have a lot of photos, most of them badly taken. I will come up with some logs/things-learnt etc. This trip was special since I had to ride about 200 KMs in heavy pricking rain on my way back..

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    Rusted Aryan's Avatar
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    Topic Approved.
    ...in search of that perfect world - My Travel Blog :)

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    Rusted k2cool_87's Avatar
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    please post more pics and a log perhaps....also how did the fz handle in the wet weather???
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]Girls are like roads, more the curves, more the dangerous they are.

    To ride or not to ride?? is a....
    very very stupid question....

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    Addicted Zaphod's Avatar
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    The plan was to start really early. Wanted to start at 5 in the morning, but I could start the engines only at around 0555 hours. I didn't want to rush and max out my bike as this was NOT a race.

    Getting Ready:
    My gear for the day comprised of the following.
    • a helmet (duh!)
    • a raincoat and a towel (looked like it would pour and boy, was I right)
    • mobile phone, charger. (I repeat, my samsung turned out to be worthy companion. It was also my camera for the day albeit a little shoddy)
    • my Openmoko Freerunner. Google around if you haven't heard about this, I wanted to use this to log my journey via GPS. Alas, forgot to charge it and hence didn't last long.
    • shades for the eyes.
    • Puncture repair kit (250 bucks from a local store selling car spares)


    The Route:
    The route was straightforward with well marked signs. So no suprises here. Just get on the NH and drive. I didn't want to join NH4 via Tambaram-Mudichur-Manimangalam as I wasn't sure about the roads. (anyone enlighten me). I took the rather long and familiar Chennai Bypass route though it meant riding a few extra miles. Being a familiar road, I could ride fast in the bypass. That said, I am going to try out the lot shorter Tambaram-Mudichur-Manimangalam-Sriperambudur route next time.

    The weather was cool and mild. Got stuck in a heavy downpour during the return trip. Had to ride from Ambur in heavy pricking rain.



    Sorry for the crappy pics that follow

    The Bike:
    Just a stock Yamaha FZ16. Nothing fancy. Its known that its a ripper on the streets, but did it fare well on the highways? Its a 'yes' and a 'no'. It was a decent ride inspite of me itching for that 'sixth' gear on the highways. That said, the bike proved itself on the hair pins where it made up for the relatively low top whack in the highways. The peppy low-mid-range torque made navigating the 14 odd hair pins bliss. Was literally grinning when I took the bends. I wonder how riding in the Western Ghats would feel like




    0610: Chennai Bypass Toll

    The road although buttery was full of flies and insects. Cursed myself for not fixing my helmet visors as it was full of scratches and visibility was a bit poor. At one stretch, it was sooo bad I could hear *splats*...

    (Taken later in the day, but see the splats? )








    0650: Sriperambudur
    Rajiv Gandhi Memorial



    0710: Short break and a few snaps




    Power ranger wannabe



    The skies were starting to cover up near Ranipet, and I was happy that I was prepared for rains if it came down.

    Taken at 0725, also a 'pee'-stop




    Leaving the sunny side behind




    Reached Ranipet:
    0805 hours




    Ratnagiri on the way:
    0820 (its actually a nice place to check out)




    0900 hours: Stopped near Pallikonda for a light breakfast. Idly-Vada - 22 bucks




    Food was good and cheap here. Recommend this place




    Also, got questions about the bike from the security, especially mileage :P




    0940 hours: Somewhere after Ambur. The crappy camera couldn't capture the colours well, but it was pretty dark for 10 O' clock.




    1000 hours: After Vaniyambadi, take left skipping the flyover.




    The road from here is prreetttttyyy bad, with inter-town buses moving dangerously. Had a close call once.

    Yelagiri in the background. As you can see, it had a nice cloud-cover on the slopes






    Rolling here for a few kilometres, there is a left turn which leads to the bends for the climb.








    Taken after the second-third bend (1020 hours)



    The route up doesn't have much markers, so navigating in the dark will be a bit tricky. Also watch out for buses and trucks since the road is narrow.


    Cloud cover ahead.




    There is a telescopic view point on the way which was supposed to be open Monday - Fridays (well, the sign said so), but the gate was padlocked. The fence is small, so you can cross it without a hitch. This leads to a flight of steps which eventually ends in a two-storey abandoned house. Here, I made a mistake of provoking a couple of monkeys which started to creep me out. So I got down as fast as I could, so couldn't get a good view. The tree cover had also increased by now and the temperatures had come down noticeably.

    (Sorry for the poor picture)




    I reached a small village called Aathanur where I fed my bike a litre of petrol bought from a local provision store. No bunks here on the hills and that was sooo obvious that I forgot about it. I immediately asked my way for the highest point in the hills, Sami 'Malai' to which I decided to trek. This little passage between a couple of houses marked the beginning of the path leading to the mountains. (See the pointer)

    The sign reads. 'Way to Sami Malai': 1115 hours



    Some more horrible shots













    There was a big rock here where I rested for a while. Taken from that rock.




    GPS on my Freerunner. Didn't reach the top yet, but reads 1089m above sea level (Bottom of the screen).The big '2' is the speed with which I was moving.
    1157 hours




    Further up the path.
    1217 hours



    Few minutes later it started to rain and I was stuck here all alone. I turned back but I was highly disappointed I couldn't make it to the top.



    minutes later, it started to pour...




    I will be back with more logs shortly. Hitting 'Submit' for now..

    EDIT:
    Log for the return trip and epilogue
    Added Puncture kit to list of 'My gear for the day'
    Last edited by Zaphod; 12-17-2009 at 12:50 AM.

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    Addicted Sava's Avatar
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    Awesome trip you had there. The pics may not be the best quality, but aren't poor either.

    I like these the best








    What I especially noticed is that your writing kind of reminds of my own. Specifically :
    Given the douchy moron I am, I tried to do a trip from Chennai to Yelagiri all alone
    my Openmoko Freerunner

    OT: Are you a Free Software and Heavy Metal nut too by any chance?

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    Addicted Zaphod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sava View Post
    OT: Are you a Free Software and Heavy Metal nut too by any chance?
    MY GOD!!!!!!!.. The internet is scary..

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    Addicted Zaphod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sava View Post
    Awesome trip you had there. The pics may not be the best quality, but aren't poor either.
    Yeah, its good for a phone cam though ...

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    Lucky you... made it alone... I always look for a company to ride along... need to experience the essence of solo riding atleast once...
    _________________________________________________
    Yuv


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    The Return trip:

    Needless to say, I got freaked out when it started raining. I wasn't equipped with proper footwear at all and I could feel the strain in my feet. (Smelly beach sandals)

    Not many photographs, since I didn't stop much except for Tea at Ratnagiri.




    On reaching 'level' ground:
    1254 hours




    One of the houses at the base of the trek path





    The trek, although not long made me hungry (Am not much of a physical type). Returned to Aathanur for lunch in a small restaurant called Aarthi. The meal was decent (30 bucks for the meals, 50 for hot chicken curry and 6 for omelette).

    My mid-day meal. 1315 hours



    I skipped the plan to go to Jagalamparai falls as the weather was worsening. Driving in rain is fun, but it gets ugly when you get heavy droplets that can prick you. Put on my raincoat and started my way down. Cursed myself again for not investing in a good pair of gloves. My rain coat covered my torso but my hands were exposed. Again my poor helmet visors made life a bit difficult. Little did I know things were about to get much worse..

    Seems to be raining down: 1355 Hours




    Looking back (The descent was slooww): 1424 hours




    This is where the fun starts. I don't have much experience driving in rain except for one time, where I ripped off towards Mahabalipuram in October's North East Monsoon. Even then, the heavy rain wasn't 'painful'..
    I didn't stop at all except for petrol and this snap.

    Somewhere in the road: 1540 hours




    To be honest, I can say this was testing both the rider's and the bike's ability to drive. With an unusable visor, visibility was poor.

    This is also where FZ shone. The handling was spot on! The grip was fantastic and I was able to cruise at 70 - 80 without any problems except for numbing pain in my hands. I know I have told this multiple times, but the only thing I was wishing for was gloves. Luckily I had some kerchiefs in my bag and made crude 'gloves' for some respite from the drops; although my fingers were still exposed. I made a stop at Ratnagiri for some hot tea at 4 bucks a piece since I was shivering due to damp clothes.

    After Ratnagiri, there was this poor 10-12 year old school kid who was stuck in the rain. Gave him a lift and some chewing gum. I got a huge smile in return, hi fived him and I resumed my journey with high spirits.

    The rain started to ease out a little bit and from my calculations I was an hour or hour and a half from Sriperambudur. I used this opportunity to stretch myself a bit as my joints were stiff due to the dampness. Also, my legs hadn't moved much since my petrol stop near Ambur.


    Since I had a lot of kerchiefs, I tied one to the mirror to wipe it clean when driving :P, 1751 hours




    My other kerchief-cum-balaclava became my gloves now.




    The horizon: Grim, Dark and Wet.




    I was in Sriperambudur around 1900 hours. I knew there is a right turn here which leads to Tambaram and was very half-hearted to take this detour since I was not sure about the quality of the roads. If anyone has taken this right turn en route please enlighten us.

    I landed up in a lot of trouble as I was nearing the Chennai Bypass. Heavy traffic with lots of trucks and stupid cab drivers made riding hard. Add hydroplaning effect ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydroplaning_(tires) ) to the mix, and I was getting tested here. The other bikes around me were having the same problem as well. I noticed that the rear tyres everywhere was losing traction, but it wasn't as bad as the splendors and others about me. Thanks to the beefy rear tyres that defines FZ, I was in control. (EDIT: I WAS WRONG. #FAIL) I had half a mind to adjust the rear pressure, but didn't want to stop because of mad honking all around me. (Also don't fix something that ain't broken)

    Once I reached the toll booth at Pennalur, I hit upon a bad, mad idea. Why not do a burnout to increase the rear tyre's temperature and thereby the traction as well. I don't know if this was wise, but I didn't feel any sideways movement as I did earlier. As always, it would be great if some experienced biker can enlighten me. (For all you know, it could have been a placebo).

    Once I reached the Chennai Bypass, I could zip at 70-80 because of all the reflectors on the road and tarmac didn't have sheets of water as the roads near Pennalur. A word of warning, there are odd potholes near the Poonamallee end and I was bitten twice with a *thud*. Took the left towards Tambaram once I reached the Irumbaliyur flyover, and rains had almost stopped to a tame drizzle.

    At exactly 2000 hours (I kid you not, the timing was perfect), I was home.

    End of trip, tripmeter read 484.5 kilometers. 2004 hours



    Epilogue:
    I know this is an insignificant ride considering the other road trips by truly awesome bikers/tourers (bows to everyone), but still, this was a great learning experience for a novice rider in me. Things I learnt

    • Be prepared for the weather. I am still surprised at my common sense (coming from me is a surprise ) of taking a raincoat. But this was nullified for the lack of gloves.
    • Try to remain dry. Damp clothes + wind = a bad bad experience if you are riding fast. I can only imagine the horror if it were the North.
    • Slippers were annoying when I did the trek, I also had a light scratch in my left foot when I almost creamed the mountain side to make way for an oncoming Ford.
    • Improvise. I patted myself for the Kerchief -> gloves improvisation. Even if it was rather crude.
    • I also realised I didn't have a basic first-aid kit. To my credit, I did have a swiss army knife (which I forgot to mention in the last post).
    • Carry a good sturdy cell-phone that can withstand the abuse of the outdoors. I see no point in carrying an iPhone. To be honest, I kissed my mobile phone on the way. Doubled as my camera, tweet machine, and of course as a phone .
    • Humans are more capable physically than they seem to be. You never know what you are capable of unless you try. Moreover, I am not a physically fit dude (Have some flab if you get the gist) and was highly satisfied with this solo road trip.
    • Riding in groups is fun, but solo trips has its own perks.
    • Never trust friends who are half-hearted about road trips. Always have a plan-B, and lastly
    • Invest on a good sturdy camera.
    • DON'T FOOL AROUND MONKEYS!

    Cheers, hoping to do a much longer trip. This was my first logged trip. Waiting for comments.
    Last edited by Zaphod; 12-17-2009 at 01:55 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by yuv_biKING View Post
    Lucky you... made it alone... I always look for a company to ride along... need to experience the essence of solo riding atleast once...
    The intial plan was to drive in two bikes with one pillion. The other couldn't make it. But hey, I am not complaning :P

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