Ok, this is my first travelogue, so please bear with me . I very much welcome all your suggestions so that I can learn and improve. Also it has very few pics since I didn’t have a camera & most of pics taken from my mobile, didn’t come out well.
It all started on Tuesday (24 Jan 2012) when i came to know that all of my roommates had plans for the long weekend (From 26th to 29th Jan ,that is if you bunk on Friday). So i was thinking that I should have booked bus tickets for my hometown Udupi from Bangalore, and at those last moments you get high priced tickets for crappy buses. So I thought why not go with my RTR180 as I have already done that once.
First thing I did in morning was discuss this plan with my bro (a long time biker) and once i got his approval, I started planning things. I applied leave in office for Friday, though I was still skeptical about the plan and was having second thoughts about booking a bus ticket in last moment, be it whichever one. Made a list of all the things required (In my mind that is ). Filled the tank and checked tyre pressure at Shell (which is the only bunk i trust!) and cleaned the bike even though I knew it would become totally dirty the next day. Instead of carrying the bag as backpack, I tried to tie the bag to the pillion seat, and it worked out well. Amidst all this, I wanted this to be a surprise to my parents so I casually asked them about their plans and came to know they were going somewhere the next day after lunch. That started my heart racing. It takes almost 8-9hrs to reach there (around 440 kms one way) and I had to reach there by 12 noon or atleast by 1pm. Otherwise I would have to spoil the surprise by calling them up and telling them to wait. So I went to sleep that night with all the excitement about tomorrow’s ride and also afraid that I wouldn’t wake up on time. One good thing was that I recently heard about the patch work going on in the ghats but was not sure of the extent to which it was done. Otherwise it takes more than 90mins to go through 30kms of pothole filled ghats. (That's how long it took last time). So the final plan was to leave by 4am & reach by 1 pm.
The route was Bangalore – Nelamangala – Hassan –Sakleshpura – Shiradi Ghats – Nelyadi - Uppinangadi - Mangalore – Udupi – Brahmavar.
The route map.
With all those thoughts in my head I woke up at 2:15am. Tried to sleep but those thoughts wouldn’t let me. So I finally woke up at 2:30am. After freshening up & doing one final check on bag and riding gear, I was all set by 3:27am, set the trip meter to zero and embarked on the longest lone journey till time. I had a head start of almost an hour, as my earlier plan was to leave by 4-4:30am. So I was a bit relaxed and thought of enjoying the ride rather than making it a race against time . It is winter in Bangalore and I was prepared for the wind chills (Or so i thought ).
Started off from Indiranagar and reached Nelamangala in 40mins. Took the deviation to NH48 and god, how deserted it was. Not a single soul around, pitch black road. Just occasional headlights coming in opposite direction and some extremely slow moving trucks without any rear lights on my side! Well there must be a silver lining! And I knew what it was! NH48 is a four lane highway with reflectors to separate lanes as well as on both sides of the road. So riding with my stock headlight was a piece of cake.
The feeling of being on the deserted super smooth highway, the absolute solitude and calmness of it just made it priceless! But it can’t be that perfect can it? Well, it was the temperature. The change in temp was so sudden as I entered NH48 that my riding gear couldn’t take it. The blast of cold waves was too much. My simple ProBiker gloves never had a chance against it. You definitely need winter gloves to counter those. I started looking at trip meter reading and was thinking if i should go back and happily curl up under warm blankets! It was 72kms. No, I couldn’t do that. Not after all this planning, applying leave in office!! Ok that got me back on track, started constantly doing 90kmph amidst those wind chills.
There were also the occasional speeding SUVs on my side and there was one not-so speeding Innova who overtook me and was constantly going at 80-90kmph. So i was just tailing him. You never know what you may encounter in that darkness and with those stock headlights, its even riskier. So this went on for almost 60kms. I am sure the Innova guy realized I too was making use of his headlights and that’s the reason he was not speeding.
By 5:27am, I clocked exactly 140kms. The good four lane highway was only up to 120kms, after that it’s just two lane highway with four lane upgrade work going on in many places. So the speeds came down to 50-70kmph. I reached Channarayapatana by then. It was the only well lit town in the last pitch black 100kms. I saw people wandering around with multiple blankets and chatting around campfires. How I wished to just get off my bike and heat up my palms in those fires! But I had made up my mind that my next stop would be for breakfast. So I just kept going & going with my frozen palms & feet. Till now I had taken only two breaks for water & I learnt a great lesson, never take a break in such cold weather! You just don’t want to continue once you stop. Oh how difficult it was to get back on the bike! Even though i heated my palms a little from the engine heat I had a severe urge to stop and lie down and wait till daybreak. But somehow I managed to continue .
By 6:27am, I reached Hassan and was desperately looking for a place for breakfast and guess what, not a single hotel or dhaba was open and even kamat was closed! Found one Cafe Coffee Day but didn’t stop as i wanted a proper breakfast. Trip meter reading was 200kms. I decided to have breakfast at Sakleshpur as it was just 30km away. But after 10 kms, more surprise awaits! The good old fog . I had totally forgotten about this (Not that I could do anything about it anyways). There was such dense fog that most vehicles were parked roadside with Hazard warning lights. The oncoming traffic headlights were looking like small chimney lamps. Here again I was gladly tailing a SUV . I tied a handkerchief to my nose as I couldn’t use visor in fog or catching a cold was the only other alternative. He took me safely for around 15kms and then I couldn’t withstand the wind chill along with fog. I was totally wet. It seems the temp was around 15C and with 60kmph speed, i am sure the windchills were less than 10C! I had to stop for tea break at a small stall. The freshly made hot tea was like elixir at that time. The SUV guy also stopped at the same place for tea and we had a small chat about the route ahead in this weather. He left quickly and I stood for some more time heating up my palms from engine. This was the first time ever that I shivered uncontrollably!
Sakleshpur town was just a few kms away and my tummy was already complaining. Now the time was 6:50am, I crossed the town still unable to find a good place to eat. I was slowly entering ghat roads and still no sign of a good hotel. Finally i parked my bike and shot a few snaps of amazing fog covered landscape and in one of the trees I saw a sign Hotel Kubera, 4.5kms away! I simply jumped back on my bike & sped on. I was expecting a big & clean restaurant but it was quite a small one but anything was fine at that time. I first ordered a hot tea while waiting for idli & vada. I am sure i have never gulped down food like that before . The hotel owner was curious about my trip and suggested me to wait sometime for the fog to clear out. But by the time I finished sipping hot tea, the fog had almost cleared and I was back riding. Trip reading was 240+ kms and I entered one of the most beautiful ghats with surprisingly amazing roads (I knew about the patchwork but didn’t expect it to be so good!). Those early morning rays peeping through tall green trees, that fresh morning air, the smell of coffee plantations were all simply overwhelming. Riding through corners were a piece of cake. I was leaning more than I ever did, thanks to Keith Code for making one of the best cornering tutorial “Twist of the wrist 2”. There were many failed attempts at knee down, so my newly bought axo knee guards were scratch less . Rest of the journey was quite uneventful for some time. Other than the occasional stops for photo shoots, I was constantly cruising at 80kmph.
The amazing fog covered landscapes.
Some more of them.
By 9:19am I reached Uppinangadi. I had to clock the next 120kms in 3 hours, so I had quite some time at my hand. But I continued cruising at 80kmph as there was very less traffic & road conditions were decent. I took a few breaks for water in between and a stop at a bunk to fill the tank. So finally, by 11:35 I reached my home in Brahmavar, a town in Udupi district. The trip reading was 435.6kms. And what a shock I gave to my parents! How surprised they were! My mom didn’t believe it was me!
In the end, if you ask me, all the great effort of waking up so early, riding in complete darkness, riding through dense fog, those severe chills, riding for 8 hours, is it worth it?? Well when I think of the dream like landscape, the feeling of complete solitude, the chirps of early morning birds, the absolute beauty of nature and the happiness on my parents face, it’s totally worth it!!!
The bag securely tied onto pillion seat.
The roads are extremely wide and hence a delight to lean and corner
A little bit more lean and I would have made full use of the tyre
All in all it was one hell of an adventure...