This is the story of #CEATxPlorer Sugeeth Krishna who rode around Kerala and parts of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka as well on his CEAT tyres shod motorcycle!
I started my ride form Neyyattinkara, my home town on the 8th of February 2018. On the way to Cochin, I stopped at the Kovalam Beach to take some pictures. But unfortunately there was a problem with the Go Pro’s pairing with my smartphone. I was stuck in Kovalam trying to resolve the issue and I lost 2 hours because of that. Initially, I had planned to reach Cochin by night but I started late from Kovalam. And on top of that, as soon as I reached Allepy, it started to rain. I decided to end my day’s ride at Allepy. But I made the most of it and visited the Allepy Beach and some other places to take pictures.
The next morning, I started early towards Cochin. I planned to explore the Kadamakudy Islands in Cochin. I reached Cochin by noon and visited the Spartan Progear showroom in Edappaly, Cochin. Surprisingly I was welcomed by a fellow xBhpian there, Vishnu. I left my luggage at the Spartan showroom and set out for Kadamakudy. In order to reach the island, I had to catch a ferry. Kadamakudy was worth every bit of hassle that I went through. It was an amazing experience. I got some great sunset photos and a lot of videos during the ride. After that I went back to Spartan Progear to get my luggage and spent the night in Cochin.
I started my ride from Cochin to Athirapally the next day and reached Athirapally by noon. I left my bike near a shop with the entire luggage mounted on the bike. The shopkeeper hesitated at first but on request he agreed to keep my bags and the bike in front of the shop. I left my bike there because the parking area of the forest checkpoint is home to hundreds of monkeys who may mess your things up. I had to walk down almost a kilometer to see the falls. The day was already hot and it was getting hotter. I reached the waterfall, took some pictures, got a few videos and headed back. The uphill walk and the temperature were really exhausting. I was really tired by the time I reached the place where I left my bike.
Fortunately my bike and the luggage were all in place and safe so I thanked the shopkeeper and left. On the way I had to stop at Vazhachal check-post to get the pass. They stopped me and asked whether my bike had a stock exhaust or an aftermarket one because they don’t allow bikes with loud exhausts. After they made sure that the exhaust was stock, they gave me the pass and I left for Valparai. The pass needs to be submitted at the next checkpoint which is Malalkkapara. The ride through the Athirapally-Valparai stretch was great as the sky looked particularly beautiful and the roads were amazing too. It was already dark as I reached Valaparai. I met a friend who told me to leave as soon as possible as I might encounter elephants at the Pollachi route. The thought was a bit scary so I left Valparai soon. But it was already 7 pm therefore quite dark. And the road from Valparai to Polachi has hairpin bends. I had ridden on the same stretch a couple of times but this was the first time I had to ride on that road at night. It was a bit difficult but I rode carefully and somehow reached Pollachi. Upon enquiry I came to know that Palakkad was not too far away and it may take me only an hour to reach. So I thought of leaving Pollachi towards Palakkad. The road was okay-ish so I reached Palakkad by 11. It was a long and tiring day so I got a lodge for the night. I planned to get some good rest and then start early next morning to explore Palakkad the next day.
All my plans of exploring Palakkad went in vain as I overslept due to the previous day’s tiring ride. I had to cut short the Palakkad ride as I woke up late. I aimed to reach Kabini forest range but I was confused about the route. But still, with help of Siraj & Noushad, my friends from Wayanad I got a clear idea about the route that I had to follow. So I started my ride to Kabini to reach Damankatte checkpoint of Nagerhole National Park. I had to get the tickets for the next day’s safari as well. I had to ride through the Ghats and cross the Thamarassey Ghat pass. It was going to do a non-stop ride so I took a break at Sulthanbathery. It was around 12pm and got a call from my friend Ramesh who told me that if I can reach by 3pm, I may have a chance to get the tickets for evening safari itself. I crossed the Kerala forest area and I rode through Baveli and managed to reach by 3.15pm and I got the tickets for evening safari. I boarded the safari vehicle and we entered the forest. All the tourists were expecting sights of wild animals especially Tigers and Leopards. But even after 2 hours of safari, we didn’t encounter any of those which was really disappointing. The safari was about to end but then the driver got a call informing him about the sighting of Tigers in a pond. We rushed to the pond area and the bus was going like a roller-coaster in the forest. We reached the pond but by the time we reached, the Tigers had already left. All the tourists in the bus were sad because of this and we started to head back. On the way back we were stopped by another safari jeep. They informed us that there is a Leopard that just crossed the road. We went in search for it and the driver drove slowly. And finally after an almost uneventful safari, we saw the Leopard. There was a big smile on the faces of all the tourists. I was very happy too as it was my first time seeing a big cat in the wild. I took pictures as well and got some good shots of the male leopard. Then we headed back and I returned to the checkpoint. I had to ride 10 kms from there to get a lodge. The name of the place was Handpost or something. I couldn’t understand the name of the place as the accent was Kannada which was very hard for me to grasp. But I finally managed to get a lodge at a reasonable price.
I had to reach the checkpoint again for the morning safari so I woke up early and it quite cold outside. The place was about 2 km away from the checkpoint but the road was not visible due to heavy fog. It was around 5.30 am and somehow I managed to reach the place. The fog was so bad that I was not able to understand where the checkpoint was. I stood there for 30 mins and saw some cars coming. They also came for the safari and finally we were able to figure out where the checkpoint was and we all entered the checkpoint and got the tickets. It was still foggy as we started the safari and there were no sightings of any animals. It was even darker inside the bus. Even by 9 am, the fog didn’t clear and around 9:30 our safari came to an end without any sighting. I reached my hotel room and had an hour of sleep. After that I got ready and left for Kannur. I had to go back through the Kerala forest checkpoint again. I had to travel through Palchuram, a ghat pass connecting Wayanad and Thalassery. It was just 5 hairpin bends but they were quite steep and I saw many trucks stuck in the middle of the road. My aim was to reach the Muzhipilangad drive beach, which is the longest legally drivable beach in India. I reached there around 5 pm and it was really a wonderful ride experience. I took the help of some locals there to shoot the video and had a good ride on the beach. At one point during the ride, I halted and unfortunately my bike fell down as the side stand slipped. The fall broke my bike’s hand guard and I had to ride with the broken hand guard during the rest of the ride. After taking some beautiful time-lapse video of the sunset on the beach, I washed my bike as I rode through the saline water for a long time. By the time I finished it was already 7 pm. I decided to ride back to Cochin and I knew it was going to be a long ride. It took me almost 6 hours and I reached Cochin at 2 am. It was the longest continuous ride and I covered almost 600 kms which left me really exhausted.
I slept till 10:30 am the next day. I got up, got ready and I also had to fix the broken hand guard. My friends at Spartan Progear in Cochin tried to help me fix the hand guard but it didn’t work out so I removed the hand guards altogether. Then I started for Vagamon hill station. I called my friend from xBhp, Vishnu Nair in Cochin and asked him about some off-road routes to the hill station and he had quite a few suggestions as I decided to do some off-roading at Ilaveezhapoonchira on the way to Vagamon. I was able to reach there by 3 pm and took the bike to the top point. The road was really bad and some parts cannot even be called roads. Reaching the top with full luggage was very difficult and my bike was also facing some issues with the clutch. I had to stop for around more than an hour to get the engine to cool down. But I didn’t waste the time and took some pictures and time-lapse videos. Then I started to go back downhill but the bike’s issue was still unresolved. I somehow managed to reach the bottom but the bike’s clutch stopped working as it might have gotten heated up during the climb. I stopped and decided to call for assistance and to my luck; the nearest service station was around 42kms away. Fortunately, I found someone who was willing to help me. After an hour or so I got a call from a Royal Enfield technician from Thodupuzha showroom. He guided me through some adjustments in the clutch cable and finally I found some success even though it was just a workaround. Afterwards, I rode back to Vagamon and reached my hotel at around 10:30pm.
This was the last day of this ride and I woke up early to catch a glimpse of the sunrise from the Vagamon hills. After that I headed towards the Thangalpara view point and the view of the sky there was simply breathtaking. I took my bike to the view point and got some really good photos. After getting the photos, I went back to the hotel room and packed my luggage. It was time to start the ride back home. I reached home by night. This is the story of this ride during which I covered 1768 km.