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Thread: A Duke through 3 states in 4 days

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    Addicted 2wice's Avatar
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    Arrow A Duke through 3 states in 4 days

    Sometimes in life there comes a point when there’s an overwhelming urge to do something. Something slightly nuts but something that you will enjoy and remember for a while. And for a final year Mechanical engineering student like me that moment comes quite often. But most of the time since you’re a student and money is a major problem you cant follow these urges. But sometimes if you try hard enough, you might just be able to make it happen.

    I’ve liked bikes ever since I started riding my brother’s ’94 Bullet 350 and that bike has been my constant companion in all my trips during college. It was a bit of a white elephant (it was with the mechanic more often than it was at home) but I loved that bike and kept roaming around Karnataka with it and learnt a lot about bikes by constantly trying to repair it. I can honestly say that the Bullet had taught me more about automobiles than my engineering. But because of its unreliability, I’ve never been confident about taking it on long trips. My longest trip on it was a rain soaked 1000km (998kms actually) trip to Tamil Nadu in which I mainly stuck to the Highways (boring yes, but help is always nearby). I was always paranoid about being stuck alone in some tiny road in some forest next to my bike which just died in the middle of a night, with lightning flashing and rain pouring, desperately trying to get it started again, all the while listening to the distant cry of some wild animal slowly getting louder as it came closer and me wondering why couldn’t I just have stayed at home and watched TV instead.

    Cue the KTM Duke 200. After much begging I finally (took me 3 whole months of sales pitches, videos (thanks PowertotheRider), good marks) managed to convince my parents and older working brother. (to whom I had to write a 1500 word essay as to why I wanted the Duke and what are its benefits etc). And when the bike finally arrived I couldn’t wait to go touring on it. I know that the Duke isn’t made for touring, but I believe that for the people who really want to tour, it won’t even matter. So I had run it in and taken a bunch of longish trips on it, but you know the thing with engineering in India is that you tend to get sick of classes very soon and slowly the frustration builds up and eventually you want to do something just to break free from everything. The answer’s always a trip. But where to? How about a tour of South India. There are a bunch of great places to go to, nice roads and should have nice weather this time of the year. I decided to start from Nitte where I stay in the college hostel about 50 kms from Mangalore where my home is. So the route was Nitte-Mudigere-Bangalore-Salem-Kodaikanal-Madurai-Rameshwaram-Kanyakumari-Trivandrum-Ernakulam-Coimbatore-Ooty-Mysore-Mangalore-Nitte.

    Here's the route that I'd planned:



    Now here comes the main problem. MONEY. I estimated that I’d need about 7-8 k for the trip and that I’d have to do it in 4 days. So as soon as I decided on the plan I started saving on whatever I could, especially food and drink. But even then I realized that I was still going to be short of cash so I borrowed about 4k from friends and added it to the 3.5k that I’d managed to save (Finally managed to pay them back at the time of this writing J). Now here was the Dilemma, I needed about 2k for food and stay over the 4 days so the remaining 5k was for Fuel. Now google maps said that the distance would be about 2500 kms so I estimated that I needed to average about 40km/litre over the trip. So that meant I couldn’t ride like a mad loony during the trip or I’d run out of cash and be stranded somewhere. But if I went too slow it would take me longer than 4 days which would mean that I would have to use the cash for an extra day of food and stay and so would also again run out of cash and be stranded somewhere. So that meant that I’d have to keep pacing myself over the trip. Another problem with just having enough cash was if there was any sort of problem with the bike or me, I’d be in big trouble because I dint have the money for repairs. Umm…anyways..

    When? College Fest time!! I’d be getting few days of holidays then so I wouldn’t have to bunk many classes. Besides it also coincided with the full moon so if I was forced to ride at night, at least there’d be some light.

    How many people? Solo. I usually do solo rides so I don’t have a problem with it. But the reasons for going solo are, firstly I know that that none of them would come for a trip like this. And another reason was that although group trips are safer and everything, what you lose is freedom and if I needed to complete the trip in the given number of days with the available money, it wouldn’t be possible with other people who have different limits and different needs. One of the main problems would be sticking together especially when passing through a unknown crowded city because there’s always a tendency of people to split apart from the group in traffic and then losing a lot of time in trying to get back together again. The last reason was because I had decided to do this trip without telling my parents, so telling other people would make them a liability from whom there is a possibility of my parents coming to know about the trip (I’m a slightly over-cautious, paranoid kind of person :P).

    So I was doing this trip without telling a soul in the world. Now I can imagine the mature riders reading this, raising an eyebrow and thinking to themselves “What an idiotic little college boy!! Doesn’t he know how dangerous it is to just go off alone on a bike to some corner of india without even telling anyone where he’s going?? What if he crashes somewhere or something happens to him? Who will help him? If he was standing in front of me,I’d give him a hard whack on his stupid head”. Well the thing is I have already thought of all the bad things that could have happened to me, and I mean ALL the bad things that can happen (I’m paranoid, remember). My parents would obviously say a loud NO if I even brought up the idea of the trip, so this is the only way I can make this trip happen. Of course during the days leading up to the trip, I was still quite worried (what would happen if I needed emergency repairs, what if I ran out of money, what if I fell sick) and for some reason I kept thinking that I would probably die on this trip (crows picking at my dead body, some farmer stealing the rear wheel off my crashed Duke to fit on his M80..) but I stuck with the idea anyway.

    Since my phone cant connect to the internet, forget GPS, I took screenshots of the route from Googlemaps, printed the maps, and wrote down the distances between different places on the map out so I’d know the names of the places I’d have to cross and also how long it would take me to reach the next place. On the day before the ride I collected everything I needed to complete the trip and also had to make a choice between a normal jacket and an old leather jacket that a friend had given me because it didn’t fit him and I wanted to travel light so I didn’t want to take both. I selected the leather jacket as I didnt expect any rain and also I wanted some protection incase of a slide. So my bike was ready (had it serviced the week before with Motul 7100 FS), the stuff I needed was ready and I was ready. All that remained now was to leave. And thus ends my long winded and over detailed introduction to the ride. To those who are still awake here goes my trip:

    DAY1: October 29 2012


    I woke up at 5AM, got dressed, left the hostel without waking anyone and headed to my bike. The closer I was getting to my bike the more apprehensive I became, but I knew that the beautiful thing about bikes is once you start riding everything just disappears, worries and fears just vanish and all that is left is the beautiful joy of riding. Once I reached my bike I proceeded to mount my backpack on the bike using bungee cords.. and then one of the cords broke! How the heck did it break?? I realised I couldn’t mount the bag on the seat now as it was sliding back and forth and I didn’t want to waste any more time either so I wore the backpack, rested the bag on the pillion seat and rode off while promising myself to buy a new cord during the trip when I could.

    It was 6AM when I left Nitte and headed towards Mudigere. I was a feeling a little overwhelmed with the distance I had to cover but then remembered the saying “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” or a single kilometre in my case. It was a beautiful morning with the sun rising, the cool breeze, the empty twisty roads, and the peace of early morning. Rode at a brisk pace till I reached the Charmadi ghats where the roads were a bit destroyed and had started filling up with buses that were just hogging the entire road. But this was made bereable by the great views you get from the hills. Managed to reach Mudigere at a decent time (don’t remember what time exactly) and was still maintaining a decent mileage. I always had an eye on the avg fuel consumption reading on the Duke and although it may not be super accurate, it provided a good guideline as to what my current mileage was. The idea was to try and keep it above 40 kmpl as much as I could. So I had to keep a balance between going fast and saving as much fuel as possible (not the best idea for the beautiful twisties) but I was planning to save my fuel for some fun on some particular roads. Once I reached Mudigere, I rode past it towards Hassan and I made my first stop at the famous petrol station by the highway which has the CCD attached (everyone travelling between Mlore and Blore knows this place because the express buses make a stop there, great coconut water available there I’m told).

    Stopping off on the Highway for a break: ( I apologise for the lack of photos and the rubbish photography skills in advance)






    Filled up the tank whenever the fuel warning light came on for 600 Rs which made the tank almost full, I followed this method for the entire trip. Started riding towards Bangalore waiting for that beautiful expressway and when the toll gate finally appeared, so did a big smile on my face. Whizzed past the tollgate (no toll for bikes, Wooooo) and then gave it the beans. For the first time that day I could give it the throttle and not worry about a bus hurtling towards me on my lane because he wanted to overtake a cycle (god bless the person who invented dividers)and so I could maintain triple digit speeds without too much effort. The bike too sounded great near the top of its rev range although if I’m honest it’s not super stable near its top speed and also the wind blast can be distracting. And this went on for a while until I glanced at the avg consumption readout and realised with a shock I was getting just 28kmpl (yea, don’t laugh I’m sure you most of you’ll will be thinking ‘So what? Its not the end of the world’ But remember was tryin to maintain above 40kmpl). I felt like slapping myself and tried calculating how much fuel I had wasted. Thereafter I slowed down to a more sedate 80-90kmph. I couldn’t slow down anymore because I dint want to get bored either. I reached Bangalore at around 11.15 and then searched for the exit towards the NICE road.. and then I missed it and ended up having to go another 10kms, then making a U-turn and coming back to the exit again. For people who saw me I would have looked like just another calm person on a bike but inside the helmet I was wildly screaming at the people who made the exit sign so small.

    Got on the NICE road, paid the toll (toll for bikes, awww) and sped up towards Hosur. Wanted to max out my bike on the road, so I did, wasn’t really that hard considering I was on a sloping road with the silly limiter kicking in at 137kmph (yea I know I was supposed to save fuel and everything but cmon, I’m a 21year old on a great big road, I have NEEDS!!). Got off the road and headed towards Salem. I had been on this road before on my Bullet so I knew the roads were great and I had a lovely time on it. I stopped off at a roadside restaurant at about 1.30 for breakfast and then got on with riding. And that’s when I noticed my leather jacket was torn at the zipper and couldn’t be closed so now I had to wear the jacket backwards and ride the bike.

    Now the thing about the roads in Tamil Nadu is that they are fantastic, they’re wide, they’re long, they’re perfect and have very little traffic on them and so they’re ideal for getting your superbike/car and having an absolutely great time ripping up and down the expressway. But for a guy on his bike who is desperately trying to regain some of the mileage he’s lost during his moments of madness, it is incredibly boring. I mean no scenery, no traffic, no speed, sun covered up by the clouds and a gentle breeze were all making me sleepy. Eventually I reached Salem in the evening. The original plan was to stay at Salem for the night, but since I was early I decided to go towards Dindigul.

    Same boring expressways later, I reached Dindigul. I thought I had enough time to reach Kodaikanal too, so I started towards it. But this was a bad idea because daylight was fading away and the route I took was under construction so roads dint really exist. Soon it was dark and there were buses with their high beams on blinding everything and clogging up the roads. I saw a under construction section of the road and thought I could take a short cut till it met the road again. Just as I reached the end the road suddenly just disappeared into a drop. “HOLY –“ I grabbed both brakes but the front wheel skid because of the mud and I fell. Fortunately I wasn’t going very fast so damage to me, however the bike had a broken side guard (the most useless side guard in the history of all bikes IMHO), broken rear break lever and pillion foot peg. I could still use my rear brake but I had to bend my foot a bit. This incident made me forget the idea of reaching Kodai that night and so I decided that I would stop at the next town, Vattalkundu I think it was. I was really tired by now and just wanted a place to sleep so I found a lodge with an enclosed parking lot and asked for a room for which they charged me 500rs for a rubbish room for which I was too tired to haggle over.

    I’d just like to take a moment to describe the room.This room was the worst room that I’ve ever stayed in (counting my hostel room :P). It lacked nearly everything a room is supposed to have. The TV was stuck on some horribly boring Tamil channel and couldn’t be changed because the batteries in the remote were drained and the buttons on the TV had disappeared a long time ago. After having a bath and getting ready to have dinner, I heard the bathroom tap dripping, as I was trying to close it tightly, the pipe which they connected, probably using fewi-quick to another pipe came out and water started gushing out drenching me and my dry clothes. When I put the pipe back in its place, water started gushing out from another pipe it was connected to (how is this even possible!?). If someone had walked into the room then he would have seen a soaking wet person standing on one foot trying to put back one end of the pipe with his hands and kicking the other end of the pipe in with his foot, all the time screaming about how deeply he would have loved to throw the pipe onto the lodge owner’s stupid head. Eventually order was restored, I had my dinner, roamed around a bit and went off to a deep sleep

    Distance Travelled:840kms. Route Taken:Nitte-Mudigere-Hassan-Bangalore-Salem-Dindigul-The worst Hotel of all time.
    Time Ridden: About 13 hrs.

    Day 2: October 30 2012

    Woke up at 5.30 and got dressed, gave the guy behind the counter the dirtiest look I could and left. I rode towards Kodaikanal. The aches and pains of riding the previous day were still there but I dint care, I was just waiting to start the climb towards Kodai. And the roads were worth it. The roads were quite narrow and the drops steep, but the view was crazy and the roads were empty and smooth. I had a great time just climbing up the mountain and keeping the revs high up in the power zone of the Duke. This was one of those roads that I didn’t mind wasting fuel.Although some parts of the roads were replaced with interlocks (Why?) the general condition was good and soon it started getting colder and colder and my clothes started feeling a bit inadequate.

    A waterfall after the tollbooth to Kodai:





    At Kodai lake:







    Stopped off near a waterfall for hot coffee and then entered Kodai. It’s a really pretty place although a bit empty so early in the morning. I went to the lake and did a lap around it (Nice place for a cycling race), stopped a bit to just walk around looked at the time, it was 7.30, and then headed back down the mountain. By now traffic had increased a bit and it was quite difficult and dangerous trying to overtake buses which were slowly going down the narrow road. So I just relaxed and let gravity do most of the work in getting my bike down the mountain (always in gear though). Once I reached down I headed towards Madurai and then the idea was to travel to Rameshwaram to reach that pointy bit which just goes out towards the sea. But then I thought of skipping it and going towards Kanyakumari directly as Rameshwaram felt very out of the way (more than 200kms extra). But then I knew that if I let go of this chance I would regret it because I’ve seen pictures of that place and I‘ve always wanted to go there.

    So when I reached Madurai I got off the highway leading to Kanyakumari and followed the sign saying Rameshwaram and ended up going into Madurai. This was a big mistake as I had no idea how to get out of the city and was completely lost. Adding to the fact that there was some sort of political party win and so there were thousands of people on and hanging out of cars and bikes with flags attached to them screaming and celebrating, and so most of the roads were blocked by the police. So the locals too had no idea which roads to take. Eventually I started asking the massive number of cops at every intersection for directions and every cop was very helpful.

    Then someone said that if I wanted to reach Rameshwaram all I had to do was follow the vehicles with the crazy celebrating people as they were all going there (Fantastic, just what I need, a massive number of vehicles with some drunk drivers, going exactly where I was going). Eventually after asking nearly 20 cops for directions all across Madurai, I finally reached the exit to Rameshwaram where there were a few senior cops. Just as I was about to pass by them they stopped me started checking my bag, asked me to take off my helmet and started asking where I was from etc. Just as I was wondering “What’s happening?, I heard one of the cops say to someone behind me “I want to see this in tomorrow’s newspaper” and when I looked he was talking to a press photographer, and then I realised that this was just a photo-op for the cops. After the pictures were taken (tried hard not to pose) they sent me on my way and I headed to Rameshwaram.
    I was still cursing myself for losing so much time (more than an hour)and fuel in Madurai as I went on this 2 lane beautifully surfaced road. I was a little scared of speeding on these roads as there were hundreds of cops placed at regular intervals on the road. But after watching them not even giving the slightest glance to the hundreds of overfilled cars carrying the screaming flag waving people who were sitting on the windowsills, I guessed the cops wouldn’t bother me either and so began the endless overtaking of all these vehicles, I still couldn’t go fast for mileage so I restricted myself to 100kmh and after Ramanathapuram these vehicles weren’t so common anymore. Eventually I crossed Rameshwaram and headed towards Dhanushkodi where Land’s end was. The clouds were looking very stormy now and I was hoping that It wouldn’t rain. There was a small drizzle but then it stopped. Right before you reach Land’s end, there is an awesome 8.5 km straight with just a narrow patch of land alongside the road with trees and then the sea after it. It’s one of the best experiences I’ve had just riding with the wind on your face, the sea on either side and heading to a point that just fades away into the sea.

    The beach at the land's end:



    It keeps going for a while:



    Once I reached the beach at the end, I took a walk on the beach, the clouds still looked wild, the sea looked ferocious, and the wind was strong. And it just felt fantastic. As I got back on the bike, the realisation of where I was hit me. I was so far away from home, on the other side of the country, all alone with my bike in a place where I dint know anyone and that’s when I felt a twinge of fear. As I started riding back I knew I wouldn’t make Kanyakumari before sundown and then when i was overtaking a jeep, suddenly a goat which had just dodged getting run over by the jeep appeared in front of me. I didn’t even have time to react before I’d already hit it. I managed to keep my balance and glanced back at the goat which I was sure was dead. It was spinning across the road on its side from the momentum of getting hit. I was scared of stopping in case it had an owner who most possibly would have a stick in his hand. The goat hit the sidegaurd which had bent but had saved my leg (not so useless side guard after all).

    Eventually I stopped to have my Breakfast at around 4PM (I eat just twice on long trips. One late breakfast and one early dinner. Have biscuits and lots of water whenever I stop for a break). By the time the sun set I was still more than 100kms away and the high beams had started coming out. I was still waiting to get on a big expressway or highway to kanyakumari but all the signs kept sending me through small towns and villages and since I just had my printed map, I just kept following the instruction of the signboards and the locals. The traffic was crazy, the bus drivers were insane and I was more or less completely blind from the darkness and the Headlights. In all my years of riding (not a lot, I’ll admit), this was probably THE hardest 100 kms I have EVER done. I was exhausted and still had a long way to go, could barely see because of the dusty road that I was travelling on, every village that I passed through looked more haunted than the next and the signs that pointed the directions looked suspiciously like they were handwritten and were nearly destroyed. I couldn’t believe that a place like Kanyakumari had a road leading to it that looked like it was the path through someone’s house and was barely wide enough to fit a car. Eventually I came out of the villages and onto an empty road that was marginally better, but it was probably the most haunted looking patch of road ever! There were almost no vehicles there, no lights, no houses nothing.

    As I got closer to Kanyakumari there appeared a windmill, and then two, and then they were just everywhere. The full moon had finally come out of the clouds and was gently shining on the softly turning windmills that rose out of the high grass that grew on both the sides of this road. It was a very pretty sight and I kept riding until I was just about 5kms from Kanyakumari and then suddenly the road crossed across a massive expressway that just seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. When I asked the locals who were sitting nearby about the expressway, they told me that the expressway was from Tirunelveli. It was the same expressway I had exited in the morning. I had come to within 10kms of Tirunelveli when a sign showing Kanyakumari had pointed me in the other direction. That was the moment when I felt like banging my head on the expressway, “WHY THE HECK WOULD THE ROAD AUTHORITIES SEND YOU THROUGH A TINY HORRIBLE ROAD WHEN THERE IS A PERFECTLY GOOD EXPRESSWAY RIGHT THERE?!!” After I calmed down a bit I headed to the city, which actually looked quite good. It was about 9pm when I reached there so traffic was low and quiet. The first thing I did was head to the road along the sea, and just ride on it. The sea looked beautiful and I felt good again. Then I headed to the city, found a hotel for 300rs with enclosed parking, got a room, had dinner and went off to a deep sleep.

    Distance travelled: 760Kms Route taken:Vattalkundu-Kodaikanal-Madurai-Rameshwaram-Kanyakumari
    Time Ridden: 15 Hrs.

    Day 3: October 31st 2012

    Funny how easy it is to wake up at 5.30 in the morning for something you love doing, but struggling to wake up at 8.30 to attend class at 9. The first thing I did after leaving the hotel was to ride again on the road along the sea and head to the Virgin Mary statue which was supposed to be the southernmost point of Kanyakumari. Standing on it and looking at the sea, everything seemed so peaceful.

    The view from the statue:








    All the difficulties of the previous day had disappeared and excitement had taken its place. Watching the sky gently brighten with the glow of the rising sun, I felt good and couldn’t wait to start riding again. My back and shoulders were hurting from carrying the bag on my back for the previous days. I left Kanyakumari and headed to Trivandrum. As I entered Kerala the traffic started increasing, and by the time I reached Trivandrum it was rush hour (8.30-9 AM). I hoped that I’d find a road that would bypass the city but I didn’t and soon was surrounded by vehicles everywhere. It was probably the worst time to pass through the city, but I was still fresh, so by asking the locals and vehicles next to me at traffic lights I managed to leave the city without getting stuck.

    All this time during the trip I was just waiting to reach Kerala as I couldn’t wait to see the beauty of God’s own country. I didn’t count on the traffic. Since I left Trivandrum and was heading to Kollam, I kept expecting the traffic to decrease because I was now out on the open roads. It never happened. This was probably the most frustrating day of the entire trip. It just turned into an endless cycle of overtake, getting behind the next vehicle, overtake, next vehicle, overtake…. Repeat ‘n’ times. The Duke’s speciality is overtaking and getting through gaps, but even then this was getting really tiring. And the drivers there were crazy, probably because of their own frustration of getting stuck behind traffic. They’d overtake on the oncoming lane in such a wild manner, that you’d have to get off the lane to stay alive and this kept happening with increasing frequency. Eventually I stopped at Kollam at around 11 for some breakfast and then headed to Ernakulam. After sometime the road finally cleared. I was overjoyed and finally sped up, I had managed miserable 38kmhr since Kanyakumari and I was trying to make up some time and so when the traffic eased a bit, I sped up. And as luck would have it, there were a group of cops on the road who promptly stopped me. One of them held something that I thought was a radar gun.

    Cop: “It looks you’re speeding. Where are you from?”
    Me: “Uhh.. Mangalore. Look I..”
    Another Cop: “Where are you coming from?”
    Me: “Kanyakumari” (desperately trying to think of some excuse to escape a fine, NO MONEY!). “I’m really sorry but I wasn’t going more than the 80 speed limit” (desperately hoping I was actually going less than 80).
    Cop: Speed limit for two wheelers is 70.
    Me: (Ouch!!) er...i..erm..

    Eventually they just let me go, I still don’t know why. But before that one of the cops discovered a nail protruding out of my rear tire and pulled it out. I got a shock when I saw the nail but it had gone in sideways and so hadn’t penetrated the tyre. I checked my tyre pressures anyway and went on. The weird thing about the weather was ever since I started the trip, the sun was almost always hidden behind the clouds and this created cold weather during my trip and caused a little drizzling. I was particularly grateful for it on that day in the traffic as it helped keep me keep cool. Eventually near Ernakulum the road finally split into a 4 lane road that had the name “*something* Model Road”. I couldn’t wait to start riding fast again when I noticed that nearly everyone was obeying the speed limit. I had never seen anything like this in India!! , then I noticed that there were cameras attached to the poles on the divider. And so I dint dare cross the speed limit either because the last thing I wanted to do was pay a fine. The one place where the road opens up and you cant go beyond 50!!. Someone somewhere was laughing at me. My leather jacket was falling apart by now. Both the sleeves somehow were torn; the collar had begun separating itself from the rest of the jacket. I was getting a little suspicious about my friend’s claims about it being real leather :P.

    Finally got on the Ghats near Thrissur towards Palakkad. This would have been fun hadn’t it been for the heavy traffic even on the ghats and the roads being in a bad condition and oh, it also started raining. It was extremely difficult because there was a long line of trucks and express buses who just kept trying to overtake the trucks. Everytime I had a chance for an overtake, this bus in front of me would suddenly pull out trying to overtake trying to overtake the truck in front of it thus blocking me from doing anything. It doesn’t matter that there is an oncoming vehicle because of which it had absolutely no chance of making the overtake. It would still always punctually pull out onto whenever there was the slightest gap and then after my small chance of overtaking was completely destroyed would go back to its original position in the convoy. I never knew that my vocabulary of curses were so large until that day. It was as if he thought that if he tried hard enough, maybe god would notice it and suck up the oncoming vehicle into the sky. When I finally got through this I was still quite far from where I was supposed to be by that time. There was no chance of making Ooty and I knew that I’d be lucky to even make it to Coimbatore that day.

    I was broken, I was exhausted, wet, cold, my tail bone felt like it had broken, my knee was hurting, my back felt destroyed, my shoulder blades felt like there were wings going to burst out of them. I realised now how nice it would have been to have been in a group on this trip. To be able to share the pains and to support each other, to depend on each other and to know that you’re never alone in this, because even though the physical pain was a lot, the mental stress is a lot more. At moments like these there you often feel completely overwhelmed, and sometimes you just feel like stopping leaving the bike there and taking a bus or a train back home. It was sundown when I reached Coimbatore, during rush hour, people everywhere, vehicles everywhere, still raining and that’s when I noticed a boy holding his mother’s hand staring at the bike with envy in his eyes. It looked like he wished he was riding the bike, while I was wishing I was in his place, Close to home, dry, safe and without a worry. I had given my best and ridden my hardest but it barely felt like I covered anything..

    Over these days of riding I’ve noticed something. According to me a a single day of hard riding is divided into 4 parts:

    1. Energy and Enthusiasm: This is the beginning stage during which you are fresh, energetic and ready for anything.

    2. Lack of energy, tiredness: This is the second stage during which that initial excitement has grown dim and you start feeling tired and exhausted. Interest begins to decrease. If you’re riding in a group you can keep each other’s spirits up. Even if you’re going solo by having a relaxed ride, stopping frequently and generally having frequent conversations with people you can still keep your energy levels high.

    3. Worry/ Despair Stage: This is the worst stage. You are tired by now, exhausted, uncomfortable and constantly worrying about everything- “Am I getting a fever, will I be able to make it in time?, there feels like something’s wrong with my bike”. Everything seems to be against you. And then eventually “Man, I’m in way over my head, I never should have started this, I should have just stayed at home”. The thing is the tiredness and being exhausted makes things feel worse than they actually are.

    4. The Inner Biker: Sorry didn’t have a better name for this stage. At this stage you adopt a ‘Screw it, Lets Ride’ kind of attitude. The aches, pains and difficulties are still there, but they don’t feel so bad anymore. In fact you stop noticing them, it almost feels like there is something inside you that keeps pushing you, and keeps you going. You no longer care about the fact that you’re scared or exhausted, you just focus on the fact that you’re going to make it no matter what. It almost feels like someone else is riding for you. It’s kind of hard to explain but you feel like you’re in another zone. A place where you’re mind isn’t constantly thinking about how to take the curve or how to overtake that vehicle, you just do it. There are almost no thoughts running through your mind. And now that I think of it I’ve ridden my best when I was in this stage. Not fast, just really well. No mistakes, completely relaxed. Perfect. An example for this stage would be the previous day ride to Kanyakumari when it turned dark. Once I got into this stage, I just rode. I knew that no matter what happened or what came my way, I would make it to Kanyakumari. No fear. No care. Nothing.
    Just pure riding.

    And now that bit of philosophical babble is out of the way, let me get on with the trip. So I was in Coimbatore and I knew I wanted to get as close to Ooty as possible before turning in for the night. And when I was in the middle of Coimbatore trying to get out, I got into this stage. Completely sure of what I had to do. And after much trying to get through the traffic and the rain still coming down, I finally made it out and made it to the town of Mettuplayam at around 8PM which was just at the base of the Ooty hills. I found a nice lodge with a friendly manager and a guarded parking lot, for dinner I gorged on the tastiest roti and curry ever. It felt great to have made it here considering what I faced and I felt even better knowing that tomorrow I’d be back home. Turned in for the night and fell into a deep sleep.

    Distance travelled: 538kms Route Travelled: Kanyakumari- Trivandrum-Ernakulam-Pallakad-Coimbatore-Mettupalayam.
    Time Ridden: 13 Hrs

    Day 4: 1st November 2012


    Woke up feeling great on the last day at 5.30 sharp. This day was going to be easy and a lot of fun. All the fuel that I had saved up because I was forced to go slow on the traffic was about to be used on this quick blast up the Ooty Ghats. Got dressed and left Mettuplayam. I was a little concerned about my jacket which by now had disintegrated quite a bit and was letting in quite a bit of cold air, but once I started climbing I forgot all about. The Ooty ghats are fantastic and quite wide unlike the Kodai climb. The view was awesome with the sunlight streaming through the low hanging clouds among the hills. The more I climbed, the better it became. I was going high, literally. The joy of keeping that fast revving KTM motor on the boil can only be bettered by taking that corner in a smooth sweep and then finding out that there’s still more. Eventually I made it to Ooty where It had become really misty and cold. And then the thing that I had dreaded began. It started to rain (WHHAAYYYY???). But this wasn’t like the previous rains. The previous rains were mostly about being uncomfortable and being forced to ride a little slower. This rain felt actually dangerous. The temperature dropped as quickly as the rain drops falling. It was so cold. So unbelievably cold. Firstly I was on top of an already cold place, it was early in the morning, it was raining, my jacket was in tatters so there wasn’t much protection from the cold either because all I had underneath was a t-shirt, I was soaking wet and I was riding.

    Now I don’t know how to calculate wind chill factor and stuff but I knew that I was extremely cold. I knew I had to get off the mountain as soon as possible, so I dint want to stop, although by now I was shivering so hard I could barely hold the handlebars straight. So I reduced my speed to a crawl but still kept going. And then I rounded a corner and turned onto the other side of the hill, the side of the hill where the wind was blowing. And once the wind started blowing onto my rain soaked body, I felt colder than I had ever been in my ENTIRE LIFE. It’s the sort of cold that seems to take the breath right out of you. And in the middle of all this, I had a suspicion that I had a puncture in my rear tyre. So I stopped at a petrol bunk for air and waved at the attendant that I wanted air. But this little cowardly attendant with his nice warm jacket said that he wouldn’t come out to fill air. Cursing the attendant under my breath I then proceeded to fill air in my tyres; I had to hold the filler pipe with both hands to keep it steady because my hands were shaking so much. My Pro-Biker gloves were already soaked through and the place where my glove touched the clutch lever was completely worn through so that my fingers were exposed (Don’t judge me. I’m a student and the Pro-Biker gloves are affordable although they lack safety, and comfort, and toughness, and reliability, and….). I tried to warm my hands by bringing my hands close to the engine of the Duke but ,alas even my bike betrayed me because that normally scalding hot engine had now gone cold. Fortunately there was no puncture and I went on with the business of getting down the hill.

    Now there are times when you are so cold that you just have to shout at the top your lungs just to try and feel warm. So if there was anybody in Ooty who remembers seeing a shaking biker on a Duke who was screaming a vaguely familiar song about how he wondered about a twinkling little star, that person might have been me. Eventually I reached a fork where a local told me that one route was the more common but longer route, while the other was shorter but narrower. I immediately chose the shorter one and came upon a route that descended rapidly over 36 hair pin bends. I just had to keep the bike in 2 or 3rd gear and descend down the hill and the lower I went the warmer and better I felt. I was almost at the base when I remember thinking how much power you’d need to ascend this route on a bike when I came upon a bunch of foreigners who were climbing it on bicycles. I gave them all a thumbs-up and they smiled and waved back although I kept thinking “These people are friggin crazy!!”. Imagine the stamina you’d need to climb that route.

    A kid who kept running round the bike when i stopped at the base. when i asked if he wanted a picture with the bike, he responded with a "YUSSS!!":



    A view of the rainy hill that i had just descended from:






    Anyway once I reached the plains I started feeling a lot better, the rain had slowed down and I stopped at a local coffee shop and ordered a coffee just so that I could hold something warm in my hands. Got more information about the route from the shopkeeper and then I moved on through the National Park (remember my imagination about being stuck with my bullet somewhere? This was the road I had in my head). In the early morning rain the forest looked hauntingly beautiful. Eventually I came upon an arch which said ‘Welcome to Karnataka’. Woooo Home ground!!. After that I kept travelling out of the park towards Mysore and the weather was sunny again (Oh Joy!). I stopped at a petrol station and changed all my wet clothes into dry ones and was finally able to take off my stupid jacket (can this day get any better?:P).

    I rode to Mysore and somehow managed to get lost in that city too (I have the worst sense of direction ever!). Eventually managed to make it out and just started leaving Mysore when it started raining again. I stopped at a local restaurant hoping to wait the rain out where I started talking to two people about the best route to Mangalore. When I told them about my solo trip, one of them looked at me in a very concerned way and asked “Don’t you have any friends?” I burst out laughing and said that I wanted to do it solo. He said I was lucky nothing unfortunate had happened and I nodded my head in agreement. I really was very lucky that not a single thing had gone wrong. My Duke had taken everything thrown at it and still dint show a single problem. I hadn’t been turned into food for the crows and no I was just 250kms away from home.

    The rain had reduced by the time I left and it eventually stopped as I kept going. It was going to be smooth sailing from here on out and I was especially waiting for the Coorg roads till Sullya which were beautifully built. I’m pretty sure the person who was in charge of making it has been fired for doing such a great job on it, because they don’t need to build it again the next year. Whoever you are, I salute you for doing such an outstanding job, we need more people like you and I’m sure you’re a biker at heart. But unfortunately life’s a B***h because just as I was reaching this beautiful ribbon of grey winding its way through the green hills and gorgeous coffee estates of Coorg, it started raining. And this time it rained cats and dogs. And as it was already cold there the rain turned the pleasant cold to that usual shivering cold that I was slowly getting used to. My torn jacket collar was now skilfully collecting all the rain water and sending it down my shirt. My dreams of blasting my way across the hills now flowed away with the rain. Traction was at a minimum and now there was so much water on the roads that I was forced to obey the ridiculous speed limits posted (30..seriously?? On those roads going at 30kmph during normal conditions should be a crime). I eventually made it to Madikeri for my last fuel stop. It was still raining and the wind was blowing and I was finally sick and tired of being cold and wet all the time.

    Me: Why?? Why is it raining so much? It is already November!! The rainy season was over a long time ago.
    Pump attendant: It’s because of Hurricane effect.
    Me: (Stunned) Hurricane? What Hurricane?!
    PA: (with a funny look) Hurricane Neelam.
    Me: Eh? When? Where ?
    PA: It hit Tamil Nadu coast yesterday.
    Me: Woah! I was just there the previous day!

    And then it suddenly all made sense, the rain, the cold weather, the fact that I had barely seen the sun for the past 4 days, the furious sea at Rameshwaram and then I realised that I had actually heard people mentioning the word ‘Neelam’ for the past few days but I wasn’t really concentrating so I dint pay any attention to them. I realised how lucky I was that I had just missed the Hurricane by a day or I probably would have been stranded somewhere without any money. Suddenly the rains didn’t seem so bad anymore, maybe I missed the chance to have fun on this road but I would be grateful just reaching safely. I was just 130kms from Mangalore and I dint want my prophecy about dying during the trip to come through. I saw about 3 accidents that had occurred on the Ghats because of the rains and that helped keep me going safe.

    Eventually after making it through the forever-under construction roads from Sullya onwards which were the screwed up part of the roads and finally making that sweet left turn onto the Mlore-Blore highway, I was on my home territory. The rain had more or less stopped, I dint really care as I had gotten used to being soaked by now. I opened up the bike on the highway and headed towards Mangalore. Once I reached, I headed directly to the hostel, I passed within less than 1km of my house and was tempted to stop at home since I still had about 50kms left to reach the hostel. But common sense prevailed and I kept going onto the hostel. I usually ride the route from my house to college quite fast but I realised that I’d feel like an absolute idiot if I crashed so close to the end. The closer I came the more relaxed I felt. But I still had that nagging feeling like I was about to die somewhere by something absolutely random like a tree falling on my head or something. But eventually I made it back to the starting point at around 4pm and parked the bike from where I had taken it 4 days ago. It seemed like such a long time ago. I patted the Duke sort of like saying “That’ll do Duke, that’ll do”. I got off the bike like a MAN…and nearly fell backwards. The stupid bag and clothes in it had absorbed all the rainwater falling on it and now the miserable thing weighed a Ton.

    Walked back to my room just waiting to have a nice hot bath (was too lazy to fill hot water, had a cold shower instead), burn my torn useless leather jacket in the pits of hell where it deserved to die, wear the jacket that I had abandoned in the first place, cover myself with blankets and swear to myself that I would never complain about how hot the weather was. (Promptly broke that promise 2 days later).

    Distance travelled: 499 Kms Route taken: Mettuplayam-Ooty-Mysore-Madikeri-Mangalore-Nitte
    Time travelled: 10hrs

    Total distance travelled: 2600 something Kms

    Money remaining: 600 Rs. Fortunately I had no major repairs or problems so I guess I was really lucky because I guess it was God’s will that I complete the trip.

    The next day as I sat in class, my body still hurting from the trip, I could still feel the sensations of riding on the bike and going on the road and that’s when I suddenly realised that I still wanted to get back on the bike and ride. And I think that’s the true joy of bikes. No matter how much you have to endure, or skid, or fall down you just want to get up, brush the dust off your clothes and ride again, always looking to get safer and better at the art of riding.

    Ps: Did manage to go back to Madikeri with a bunch of friends recently and enjoy those sweet DRY roads on the Duke. Sweet Justice!

  2. #2
    Moderator antz.bin's Avatar
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    Thread Approved

    Sorry for being a bit selfish for delaying the thread approval just so that I could enjoy the entire log all by myself.

    Excellent log. Could relate a lot because back in August even I did my solo Leh ride so I get all the emotions and feelings you have mentioned here.

    Anyways good ride. And even better triplog.
    Advice is a form of nostalgia.
    Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

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    thanks a lot..
    I guess solo riding, though it may be harder, really helps you connect with yourself and your bike.
    madhav766 likes this.

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    nicely written log. really loved reading it

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    Ban-Kai! madhav766's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Duke through 3 states in 4 days

    Quote Originally Posted by 2wice View Post
    thanks a lot..
    I guess solo riding, though it may be harder, really helps you connect with yourself and your bike.
    That's one beautiful beautiful log. Most of the logs I "read", I look at the pictures, skipping through most of the talk. Yours - I Simply didn't need pictures. Excellent log.

    Sent from my WT19i
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    Default Re: A Duke through 3 states in 4 days

    Fantastic Log, Loved it! :thumbup:

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    Thanks all.. Means a lot..
    I've never written anything so long in my life. But since it was about something that i really liked, it dint feel like work at all.
    Hoping to do more trips once i start earning. Right now its a fight between Fuel and Food..

    Fuel's winning

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    nice trip brother....

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    Default Re: A Duke through 3 states in 4 days

    Beautiful.
    I did not miss pictures because reading this was like...like watching a movie. Your thoughts felt like mine, I'm a bit paranoid too

    After reading i feel its my experience, its me who done this trip, feels really great.

    Btw you never bought that bungee cord huh?
    Sent from my WT19i
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    Default A Duke through 3 states in 4 days

    Ever had a thought that "why I am doing it for no reason with all these struggle" apart from the initial excitement

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