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Thread: My ride in the Western Ghats - February 2011

  1. #1
    Rusted rossiter's Avatar
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    Default My ride in the Western Ghats - February 2011

    Back with a ride, and back on the R1!

    It has been a very very long time since I made a contribution to the tourer threads, and also been a long time since I made the numbers move in a really quick way on the R1’s odo.

    Being born and having been brought up in Karnataka, I’ve always had an affinity to the destinations in the state. Most people identify Hampi, Jog Falls, and Mysore as popular tourist destination in the state, but there are so many little towns and hamlets which are treasure troves for people like me who don’t really belong/identify with the pace of live in the city. I can never stop telling people at the cost of boring them, about these places, and in the process, I try and think of re-visiting, and finding more destinations.

    It is for this purpose, and also a very convenient excuse of having an R1 in the garage which would’ve disowned me had I not put some serious kilometres soon, I began making plans to tour the state.

    I had visited some parts back in 2009 on my Pulsar, during the monsoons. Everything was lush green and almost every corner I turned I could see incredible vistas unfold. I had to visit these places again. Only difference would be the weather and the steed. It would be nice, cool and dry, perfect for the R1 (I find touring on the R1 in the rains to be an unpleasant experience). With this in mind, I began planning the route, fuel stops etc.

    The timing was also just right. My company was just out of a tough quarter, and with March (the year ending), coming up, February was just the right time to take a quick break and recharge before the chaos and pressure began building up.

    Day 0:

    So, with the date of departure fixed, and the general route planned out, I began going over the R1. It had been giving some funny niggles like the check engine light coming on randomly and going away, the bike dumping the coolant unceremoniously one day while parked in the garage. Other than, she was running ultra quick and would feel like the first time I swung a leg over the bike back in early 2008. There was just one major modification I’d have to do. I’d be riding through some quiet forested areas and I was running A&R aftermarket baffles for the track. If I took the R1 into the forest in that area, I would surely cause the animals to spill out past the forest limits and cause a few deaths. It is so loud, that it is not funny (louder than even Tenhut engaged in an R1 vs Blade debate). So, I pulled them out and plonked the stock end cans in. The other thing which was annoying me was the quality of the oil which was used in the last service in January. Yamalube made by Nippon isn’t as good as the one Mobil1 used to make, in terms of shift quality and general engine smoothness. So, the night before the ride, I drained the Yamalube out and left the bike overnight so that all the oil could gradually drip out.

    And yes, before I did all this, I went out and stole Santoosh’s tank bag from his place. Thanks Santoosh

    Day 1:

    I had planned for a 10 am start, in keeping with my usual lazy starting time, which meant I had to be up by 7. I had kept aside an hour to put the engine oil, look over the bike and strap the luggage onto it. By 8.30, the engine had a fresh complement of MAK 20w40 and the coolant was topped up for safety and I tuned the Power Commander to the richer side because I’d be using normal fuel in some places. All the bike work done, I put the fairings back and got ready. There was just an annoying oil circuit malfunction light, which I decided to ignore. I’d tend to that when I got back.

    By ten, I was all set to leave.

    The two 2965s bid goodbye for a week..





    My destination for the day: A cosy little homestay near Talguppa, Shimoga District.
    "Tough times never last, but tough people do." - Robert Schuller
    ---
    R.I.P Kriss; 15.06.1981 - 11.10.2009 -- You will not be forgotten.

  2. #2
    Rusted Lonely Rider's Avatar
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    Thread Approved !

    Waiting for more.. Bring on the rest
    RE Thunderbird Since Jan 09 onwards
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    Rusted rossiter's Avatar
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    The route: The long way to the cosy little homestay near Talguppa.

    Bangalore - Chitradurga - Bankapur - Mundgod - Yellapur - Sirsi - Siddapur - Matthuga Homestay

    Why this route?

    Simply because I wanted a mix of all kinds of terrain and speeds on day 1. Not being on the R1 for a long run, made me string together a loopy route to this place. Up NH4, it would be a straight blast all the way to Bankapur, and then head west towards Mundgod, and Yellapur, while visiting the little-known Doeguling Buddhist settlement. From Yellapur, I’d swing south towards Sirsi, Siddapur, and then the homestay.

    I finally left, and took the ring road out to Tumkur Road. Usual gnarly traffic aside, I made good time and hit Tumkur Road, where the newly constructed expressway and widened roads beckoned. I left the annoying cars and commercial vehicles behind, while I kept a healthy and safe pace of around 150 kmph. I had annoying shiftdowns occur when random dudes and vehicles popped out and walked across the high speed 4 lane highway at a glacial pace.

    Once past Tumkur, the pace picked up just a bit, and with sparse traffic, I began covering distance rapidly. The R1 was just singing and responding almost telepathically. Before I knew it, I was past Sira, and entering Chitradurga. 10 kms before the town, the highway started becoming really bumpy and choppy. I slowed down to allow for some margin in case of a sudden direction change or surface degradation. I started missing the 160 kph blast and the sudden change in pace took a minute for me to adjust to. I had to fight less against the wind, sit up a bit more and in general, look around the road and see what was happening by the roadside. This belt is known for sunflower fields, and I was disappointed to see them all barren. I was hoping that this would not be the case everywhere along the route. I would be in Malnad the next couple of days, and Malnad is a green delight. I was thinking about how green and beautiful these areas would be, and I realised that I was smiling inside my helmet and my focus on the road and on the bike was not 100%.

    People who spend a few hours talking to me outside work, will attest to this occurrence. I’d be talking and engage someone in a conversation, and after a while, I’d go off into outer space and minutes would go by and I’d be smiling while the other person(s) would be wondering just what the hell happened in the last few minutes. It’s a habit I cultivated while I was being fashioned into a product of our rigorous education system, and one that I haven’t let go of. I caught myself, and began looking around myself and the R1 for any signs of complaint.

    It was then that I noticed the temperature had shot up all of a sudden, and without any reason. I was still going at quite a good clip, and it shouldn’t have been running that hot. In a liquid cooled engine, the reason why this would happen is not that difficult to find. Either the bike dumped the coolant (which was most likely, considering it had happened before), or the engine was running lean in the lower RPMs. Anyway, The fuel light came on, and I decided to stop and check it out when I stopped for fuel in Chitradurga.



    I stopped for fuel, and checked the coolant level, and to my surprise, the coolant levels were okay. This flummoxed me, as I was expecting the bike to have dumped the coolant and I thought I would top it up with fresh coolant. Now the problem had to be something else, because I made sure the R1 was running very rich. I contemplated junking the ride and getting back, because I was only 200 kms and 2 hours into the ride, and I had a lot of riding left. I did not want to be worrying about engine cooling issues, while in the middle of the Kudremukh reserve with no semblance of a mechanic around. I decided to press on, and I kept an eye on the temperatures for the next 20 kms. To my surprise, the temperature was back to normal, and it was hovering around 70 degs. Which was very comfortable considering the ambient temperatures was picking up, now that it was noon.

    I resumed my normal speeds, and soon blasted past Davangere. I planned to stop for lunch in Ranebennur, and tank up once again before getting off NH4. I had stopped at a BPCL Ghar Dhaba last time around, and I was looking for it when I spied a Kamat attached to a Reliance pump. I tanked up there, and had a nice and quiet lunch. I was feeling fresh and with no hint of stiffness or neck pain, which had been haunting me whenever I rode for a few hours.





    Hydrating myself, and checking the coolant level once again, I got going and was looking at the temperature every couple of kilometres. The temperature kept constant at 70, and the bike was running fine. I had no clue what was going on, but decided to stop worrying about it and just enjoy the ride.

    The route from here on was a bit patchy, and had some diversions. But it was hugely improved over a year ago, when the roads were bad and it took some time to negotiate this stretch. I soon crossed Haveri, and reached the toll plaza at Bankapur. This would be the point where I would turn towards Mundgod.

    The roads from here on all the way to my destination for the day, would be 2 laned, and would have varying widths. I was confident about the road conditions, but the main worrying point would be the presence of cattle and livestock all along the roads, this being a major agricultural belt. So I kept to a speed of about 70 and began enjoying the fields around me, being prepared for the coming season. I noticed the temperature had shot up again, ever since I turned away from the high speed NH4. I started to think that there was air in the coolant pipes, which was causing erratic cooling, or maybe there was not enough coolant pressure itself. I decided to stop for a leak of a different kind, and think about what the problem could be.

    I fired her up and just watched as the fans kicked in, and the rate at which the temperature dropped/rose. It seemed alright and I pushed on. The temperature gradually dropped, and I was distracted by the surroundings and the little hamlets I was riding through.

    The scenery in this area is nothing short of stunning.. with rolling meadows and farms spread across huge tracts of land. This borders a protected forest and once I was inside the forest, I was greeted with a set of twisties coupled with some great surfaces. The only thing that made me hold back from attacking these corners was the sunlight filtering through the tree canopy. It was playing tricks on my eyes with funky shapes and designs played out on the road. So I was puttering along at a moderate speed and taking it easy. Gradually, the road surface deteriorated, and within a few kilometres, it became very bumpy because potholes had been hurriedly covered up by mounds of tar.

    Soon, I came across the Doeguling Buddhist settlement located near Mundgod. This place has always been a source of calm and respite for me. The last time I came here was during a troubling period for me a few years ago, and just a couple of hours spent at this settlement helped me a lot in terms of settling my mind down.

    I parked up and looked around for the gentleman who guided me to the prayer hall last time. I couldn’t find him, so I walked into the prayer hall, which was nice and cool. The stillness of the surroundings, and the serenity of the hall, brought about just the right kind of reaction that I was looking for. It was as if time gave me a reprieve in that one hour that I was there. I am not a religious person, and my thoughts to rationalise religion and a Supreme Being have only lead to conflicts with myself, which is why I relate to Buddhist teachings. Before I make this writeup sound any thing like a sermon and/or a blog post on spirituality, I encourage people passing through this area to visit the settlement and experience this first-hand. It is simply stunning.










    After some time, I realised I had to get going and walked out of the hall, past the immaculately maintained premises. I got back on the R1, which seemed to have taken a little break of its own. She was behaving perfectly, and was eager to please on the sparsely used state highway towards Yellapur. I decided to let go and have some fun, while being watchful for the odd cow or livestock jumping out onto the road to take a dump.

    I then came across a dead end, smack bang in the middle of the road. There was a river cutting across, and the bridge over this river had been washed away a few years ago, and a new one has been under construction ever since then. So, until this is completed, cars cannot use this road, and the only way two wheelers can get across is by a narrow footbridge. Even the last time I was here two years ago, the bridge was in the exact same condition! I could not help but curse the apathy of the people executing this project. Anyway, I got down and took a few pics.





    I crossed the bridge, and stopped for some more pics, but just then a bus full of people unloaded in front of me and I scrambled to get away. From then on, it was pretty quick blacktop, and I hit Yellapur in no time, and I turned left towards Sirsi. This road again, is a very enjoyable route, complete with twisties and perfectly maintained tarmac. The PWD in these parts are obviously a very responsible lot with well marked roads and almost zero potholes/patches.

    This route also passes by the famous Sonda mutt, a religious/spiritual attraction, and it attracts many people as a result of which there are frequent buses and taxis plying up and down this road from Yellapur/Hubli. Even so, this is a very enjoyable road, more so in the rains with lush greenery surrounding you at all sides. I rode through this route in 2009 with heavy rains on the P180, and it was a stark contrast this time, both in terms of weather and the machine. I blitzed through this section and took the turn off towards Sahasra Linga.

    Sahasra Linga, just a few kms before Sirsi when approaching it from Yellapur, is a collection of 1008 Shiva-Lingams cut out on rocks on the river bed. This river is a small one, called Shalmala and it usually has a low volume of water throughout the year. So, one can wade through the length and width of the river if a closer look at the lingams is required. The magnitude of Sahasra Linga did not occur to me the first time I went there, and this time I took my boots off, and waded into the water. The water was nice and cool and it woke my feet and legs up after a few hours of riding. I walked in the knee deep water for about a kilometre. It was then that I realised just how enormous a task of carving 1000+ lingams into these rocks. I looked ahead and back, and there was a lingam on every rock, as far as I could see ahead and behind me. Truly stunning.

















    I turned back, and found a viewing point which the authorities had constructed and rested there for some time. The bench was constructed out of concrete and was very warm being the middle of the day. It felt superb against my back and I was there for about half an hour just watching the river go by.

    Got back on the saddle, and entered the town of Sirsi. I refuelled the R1 there (found premium fuel - surprising!), and continued on towards my destination for the day - Matthuga.

    From Sirsi to this place, I had to travel through this little sleepy town called Siddapura. The road is again superb, twisty and fast. Many locals are prone to speeding around corners in their new Figos and Ritz cars, which gave me a scare around some bits. I got into Siddapura, and stopped to take a break and also say hello to a few acquaintances of mine.



    Most of all, I had to stop and say hello to a mechanic on the highway, who brought himself out in torrential rainfall when I was passing by in 2009. The P180 had an electrical gremlin in the ignition circuit which would not allow the engine to fire up, and the poor mechanic was drenched by the time he came to his garage from his home. And by the time he got there, I had managed to fire the bike up, and even then he was just relieved that a traveler was not stranded on the road.

    His eyes lit up when he recognised me, and more so when he saw the R1. I spent a few minutes talking to him about the bike, and he just remarked that while he still thought it was foolish touring on bikes, he was happy that at least this time I was on a machine that could cover distances quickly enough.

    From Siddapura to the homestay was just about 20 odd kilometres, and I was relaxing on doodling around on the bike at around 60 kmph. Some of the bad patches which had not been tarred for years had been newly surfaced, adding to my delight. I soon hit NH206 and turned right towards Jog Falls.

    Just past this turnoff, around 3-4 kms on the highway, is Matthuga. I pulled into the premises, and found a couple of cars parked up, which sort of disappointed me. I thought I’d have the place to myself! The caretaker of the place, Vignesh, walked out and didn’t recognise me in my helmet, but when I got my helmet and the gear off, the recognition was instantaneous and I could see he was glad to have me back. His wife joined us and fussed over me, giving me a steaming hot cup of coffee while Vignesh struggled with the bungee cords and the tank bag.

    Hearing the commotion, the other guests came out to see what was up, and one of them introduced himself to me and we got talking for a while. He was on his way to Goa along with his family from Bangalore, and had decided to take this route while visiting Jog Falls on the way. He enquired about the route I took to get there, and when I told him the route and time it took me, he could not believe it

    Anyway, I got settled in my room, and took a nice shower to wash off any fatigue and tiredness. I kicked back with some more coffee and hung out in the balcony. I don’t know when I fell asleep in the chair, but when I woke up, it was dark and time for dinner! I went to the common dining hall, and found all the guests there. There was a Frenchman who was full of questions about beaches along this coast and I answered him to the best of my knowledge over dinner, which was a traditional Uttara Kannada spread.



    I finally got into bed, thinking about the perfect riding day I’d had and dozed off while reading a Jack Ryan book.

    End of Day 1!
    Last edited by rossiter; 05-24-2011 at 04:40 PM. Reason: Fixed some errors
    "Tough times never last, but tough people do." - Robert Schuller
    ---
    R.I.P Kriss; 15.06.1981 - 11.10.2009 -- You will not be forgotten.

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    Rusted mav1234's Avatar
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    and I thought it will be posted somewhere in 20?? ...

    BTW very nice log and super-duper pictures...
    Lets hope someday we both can go for a nice tour.. What say..?

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    Amazing akhilji... This is what I call narrative motorhead at his best. Please pour more.

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    Nice Write up and Clicks

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    Super route you have taken sir..
    ShoGun -- Offerings to the GOD of SPEED

    My Life on 2 Wheels :)

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    Akhil, nice to see you and the 'One' back from a long hibernation....

    Nice trip & interesting log. I am tuned in.



    Growing old is compulsory - growing up is optional
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    RIDE for PASSION

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    Quote Originally Posted by rossiter View Post
    Id go off into outer space and minutes would go by and Id be smiling while the other person(s) would be wondering just what the hell happened in the last few minutes. Its a habit I cultivated while I was being fashioned into a product of our rigorous education system, and one that I havent let go of.
    Haha I can imagine you staring off into space and grinning about throwing them over the LoC / LaC.

    Nice log man. Avail more please.
    Racing is for men ........ because baseball, basketball, football, bowling and tennis only take one ball

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    good trip...
    nice write up....professional ek dum...

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