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Thread: One day solo trip within TN

  1. #1
    Rookie alphamike_1612's Avatar
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    Default One day solo trip within TN

    This is my first travelogue so bear with me. I don't have many pictures since I didn't plan on writing a travelogue at all. Will try my best to capture you with my words

    I did this ride on 16th November 2019. Posting the travelogue only now.

    Pre-ride:

    On 15th of November, I began having an unquenchable thirst to tour on my motorcycle. I had no clue about where I would go to, how long I would ride, how far I would ride or anything for that matter. I just wanted to add a few hundred KMs to my odometer. Aphrodite is my steed and she's a 2017 Suzuki Gixxer SF FI ABS edition.

    I am a college student, I live with my parents and they are uber cool about everything except motorcycle rides because they're scared of the state of the highways and drivers in India (and I don't blame them). My family won't be home from the night of 15th until the evening of 18th November. But I had to open the door to the maid on the evening of 17th. I had to ride as much as I can within this short time frame of 36 hours.

    I decided to do a round trip within 24 hours. I used Google Maps to find suitable locations and Rameshwaram seemed to be a good option for the given time frame. However, this being an unplanned ride, my motorcycle wasn't serviced and I wasn't really confident of making the 1200 odd KM trip with an unserviced motorcycle. This was when a brilliant idea stuck me, I thought of following the Cauvery River from Tiruchirapalli's Kallanai all the way to where it joins the sea at Poompuhar. Google maps gave me a round trip distance of 860 odd KMs and I swore to myself I would return home at the first hint of trouble or fatigue. I have gone on several rides to the tune of 300-400 KMs prior to this and so I knew I could do the 860 KMs and that it was a step up.
    I then packed up one set of clothes if I would need them at all, some 1.5sqmm wire, insulation tape, wire strippers and a folding knife. I prefer riding in the night/ before sun rise because of the decreased vehicle density on the highways and fewer people crossing the highway. I planned on starting at 3 in the morning. I went to sleep at around 12 but the excitement didn't let me sleep. I knew each hour I slept would be instrumental in pushing fatigue away, but after an hour of forcing myself to close my eyes, I gave up and rechecked everything and got ready.

    The only gear I had during this ride was my LS2 helmet.(As I've already said in various other places, I'm a student and I buy my own gear and hence the lack of gear.)I also had 1 probiker glove(I had lost the other, I didn't take it with me, in case anyone is wondering)(I now have a pair of Cramster DASH gloves). Now I know this is not enough when doing a ride this big and long, but hey something is better than nothing.(I value safety the most, I drive very very responsibly). The only other accessories I had were a Nat Geo Windbreaker and one pair of socks, for covering my feet from the cold.(I only wore sandals) (I have no idea why I didn't use my sports shoe, it atleast covers my entire foot). Also, no saddlebags/tankbags or anything, only my backpack which despite having bungee cords to tie it down, I decided to wear it on my shoulders. (Stupid decision as I would find out later)

    To add to my dismay, I found out that one RVM (The right one, FML) was loose and I couldn't tighten it. I removed it entirely and started on the ride.

    I also knew I could be awake for more than 24 hours at a stretch because college makes you do such things. I once trekked a waterfall and rode 60 KMs up and down after an entire night awake. (I was awake the previous day)

    I also informed my mother that I was going on a ride to the Tada Waterfalls that is about 60 KMs out of Chennai with a few friends. I then called up two friends and my then Girlfriend and informed them of my ride plan.

    The ride:

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    Aphrodite before we started

    I started at 02:15 AM and drove along the GST road being able to cover around 80-90 KMs an hour, thanks to good roads and reduced traffic. Some 4 hours and 250 KMs in, I stopped for the first refuelling some 10 KMs before Perambalur. This was because I consistently drove at speeds of 103-104 KMPH and the mileage dropped to 25-30 KMPL. (as opposed to 40-45 KMPL, in regular highway use at speeds of 80-90.) This was also about the time where dawn broke.

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    Fuel stop near Perambalur.

    I decided to increase my mileage and reduce my speed driving at 85-90 KMPH. I reached the road to Kallanai at around 06:30. The road to Kallanai diverges off the national highway after crossing the Kollidam river and just before the Cauvery River bridge. This was also about the time when people from the villages through which the road passes were coming out and attending to nature's call. Open defecation Free India is a myth I dropped my speed considerably and was soaking in all the greenery and fresh air. The road isn't the best and you can't go faster than 60 even if you want to, it also has a lot of curves and unmentioned speedbreakers. I reached the Kallanai around 06:50.

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    Water flowing through the sluice gates.

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    Yours truly at Kallanai.(The only picture I have of me during the entire trip)

    About the Kallanai:

    The name Kallanai means dam made of stone. It is also called the Grand Anaicut. The Upper and Lower Anaicuts built across the same river by the British is said to be a replica of this dam. It is one of the oldest water diversion structures in the World and was built by Karikala Cholan somewhere between 100 B.C and 100 A.D. It's main purpose is to divert the excess water of the river Cauvery to its branch the Kollidam while boosting the irrigation in the Delta districts of Tamilnadu. I was lucky to see the sluice gates opened and water flowing through. There is a feeling of greatness that you get when you see such a structure. I am unable to express it, but I'm sure all of us must have felt it at some time.

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    Farmland along the route near Thanjavur.

    Continuing on the ride:

    From here, I decided to follow the River Cauvery to Thanjavur where I wanted to visit the Big Temple, which is another architectural marvel of the Chozha Dynasty. There exists a highway between Trichy and Thanjavur and should have been much faster, but I chose the scenic route. Keeping my phone in my backpack and finding out the route only through the locals, I drove at a leisurely place, really active, taking in all the scenery and the smells of the earth. People along the way looked at me like I was an alien, no reason why(probably because I wore a helmet :P). The roads were suprisingly top notch(Fresh tarmac, like it was laid out right for me). I made it to Thanjavur by 08:10 and visited the Big Temple.

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    The Big Temple( Thanjai Periya Kovil)

    The Brihadeeswara Temple(Thanjai Periya Kovil):

    The temple is famed for its Gopuram, which is said to be one of the tallest structures during the time of construction. There is also a huge stone on the top of the structure that would prove as a challenge to lift for even today's cranes. The temple also has a huge nandi and a huge Shiva Lingam is the main deity. The temple was built by Raja Raja Chozhan I. The temple is praised for its architectural marvel and for the detailing of the sculptures. It is also said that this is the first temple to have commisioned the brass sculpture of Nataraja (the dance avatar of Shiva). The temple makes you feel breathless, while also instilling a sense of calm in you. I'm not much of a spiritual person(except when it's time for my exams :P) but this temple made me feel part of it, this is something I will never be able to express in words. This is a unique feeling to each person. Also, coming from a city like Chennai where most temple priests are money minded, these priests were much better, explaining patiently and being dedicated while performing the Pooja(AFAIK). Without even realising, I spent an hour inside the temple. The town of Thanjavur is located on the banks of the Kaveri River and served as the capital of the Chozha dynasty.


    Ride Continues:

    I came out of the temple still feeling fresh and decided to eat breakfast and visit Gangai Konda Cholapuram, which was a city built by the later chozhas. I also had to get my mirror fixed at the local Suzuki SVC. Following this, I started towards Gangai Konda Cholapuram. The route passes through the town of Kumbakonam and also through the lower anaicut. This is where the worse part of the ride started. The supposed highway is single lane until Kumbakonam passing through the centre of several villages and towns. The roads were worse, lots of potholes and unmarked speedbreakers made them worser. Also, rash driving by bus drivers made me feel scared at one point. A local at Thanjavur suggested me a different route but me believing google maps took this one and this was the worst mistake I could have done. Adding to my woes, post Kumbakonam, the roads become double lane but the Highway authority is expanding them to 4 lanes and hence diversions all along the route. I must have reached Gangai Konda Cholapuram around 12:00. It is about 70 Km away from Thanjavur.


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    Breakfast at Thanjavur

    Gangai Konda Cholapuram:

    Gangai Konda Cholapuram,(loosely translates to the town of the Chozha who conquered the River Ganga) was the capital of the Chozha empire for 200 years. It is located along the banks of the Kollidam River. The grandeur of the city exists only in history books as the city was razed to the ground by later dynasties. The only thing left today is the Shivan Temple that is an exact replica of the Big temple of Thanjavur with only the Gopuram smaller than the Big Temple. The sculptures in this temple is said to have surpassed those of the Big Temple. It was built by Rajendra Chozhan, who is the son of Raja Raja Chozhan. The city and the temple was built because the Chozhas had conquered lands until the Rives Ganges. I have already visited this temple and hence didn't spend much time here.

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    The replica of the Thanjai Periya Kovil at Gangai Konda Chozhapuram

    Ride:

    I was nearing the end of the river Cauvery, with Poompuhar only another 60 KMs away. The road from Gangai Konda Cholapuram to Poompuhar is single lane and is bad if not worse. At this point, saddle sore is getting to me from having been in the saddle for so long and my butt start burning. My speed dropped considerably with frequent rest stops and covering the 60 odd KMs in 2 hours. There was also mild to moderate traffic on the route.

    Poompuhar:

    The confluence of River Cauvery with the Bay of Bengal. Not much to talk about here.

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    The Bay of Bengal From Poompuhar.

    The ride back:

    Now begins the tough part, I had to cover 300 odd Kms with my burning butt to reach home. I decided to take it one step at a time and made it my goal to reach Chidambaram which is around 40 KMs from there. I was able to cover the first 20 KMs without stopping, but then I had to stop and rest every 5 minutes.(was literally able to make only 2 KMs before I had to stop again). My backpack also started eating into my shoulders. Reaching Chidambaram at 3:00, no hotels were offering lunch. There was one hotel in some corner that was offering only meals. I didn't realise the sleeping effect it would have on me, in addition to my fatigue (I have been awake for more than 24 hours now). After eating meals filling my stomach fully, like I was in a marriage (what was I thinking, I swear I don't know), I started the ride to Cuddalore.

    Now this is where some serious shit started happening to me, I started sleeping while riding, my eyes were drooping and I was closing them involuntarily and then pushing myself to be awake again. Thank god, I didn't have a fall and made it safely to Cuddalore, where I had my second fuel stop.(The fuel I had filled in the morning had lasted me a whole 400-450 KMs). After refuelling, I stopped the bike, stretched my limbs and tried being more awake.

    From Cuddalore to reach Chennai, I had 2 options:

    1. Follow the ECR and reach Chennai
    2. Follow the ECR until Pondicherry, divert to NH45 to Villupuram and reach Chennai.

    I chose the latter because of 2 reasons:

    1. It was a Saturday, the ECR is famous for accidents due to drunk driving. The last thing I wanted to happen to me was getting hit by a drunk driver while I lost my attention.
    2. The ECR is 2 lane and has no divider in between. This means every damn idiot who comes on the opposite side with high beam is going to blind me.

    This is also where I goofed up again. This time, since Google Maps gave up on me when going from Thanjavur to Gangai Konda Cholapuram, I decided to follow the directions on the way boards. The time now was around 4:30 PM and the sun would set in another 2 hours maximum. Now, since my goal was to reach NH45, I chose the wayboard that said "Villupuram,Turn Right: instead of the one that said "Pondicherry Go straight". I still didn't know that I had chosen a long route that took me near Panruti and then linked me to Villupuram(by the time I knew this, I was halfway through), the roads of which were the absolute worst, (even the locals hated it, it seems). I am still extremely fatigued and at one point decided, I shall drop the motorcycle at my friend's house in Villupuram and take a bus and reach home and come later and get it. Along this route, I searched for places serving coffee, but none of them were open, which was and is really strange to me.

    Now, I start noticing some squeaking sound emanating from the motorcycle. I checked the brakes, but the sound wasn't coming from there. By chance, I looked at my front forks and there it is, the oil seal on my right fork is broken and oil is seeping out. Time is ticking, the nearest SVC is at Villupuram, which I can't reach by the time it closes. I was too scared to give it to local mechanics, because that was an unknown area. An adrenaline rush happened and whatever sleep I had, was gone. No amount of caffeine could have done this. A quick Google search told me, it wasn't the worst thing to happen and the bike can still be ridden (carefully at that). I decided to make it to Chennai and then give it at my regular SVC. Now with sleep conquered, the only thing left was the saddle sore.

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    The broken seal and oil leaking from the suspension.

    Frequently taking breaks (the worse quality of the roads didn't help), I made it to the Vikravandi Toll Plaza. The last 30 KMs was one of those rare times when I have felt really scared (the other time was when my University exam results were published). Seeing the highway and the toll plaza brought a sense of relief in me. I stopped by one of the shops near the highway, sat down a good 30 minutes, drank coffee, called my Girlfriend, told her how scared I felt and where I was and when I will be coming back. I also asked her to call me every hour and check where I was.

    Starting from the Toll plaza at around 06:30-06:45 PM, I drove every 20 minutes and then stopped and rested my butt. I forced myself to ride, promising myself I could stop at a friend's place along the way(there are several friends, along the route)if I couldn't manage. I tried doing everything from standing up on the footpegs to sitting in the rear seat but nothing worked. I must have reached Tambaram at around 08:15 PM. From there city traffic started killing me, at every signal I used to stand up from the seat to weird looks from other road users, my mind voice being: Unaku enga da en kashtam puriya poguthu?(How will you understand my problem da?). At one point, I was unable to even stand again, whenever I tried to stand my muscles refused to hold my weight, dropping me back on the saddle, my calf muscles all twitching and quivering. I finally reached home at 09:15 PM and slept like a log. The following day, I woke up with body aches and sores in places I never imagined possible.

    All scares, safety concerns apart, this was a trip I would never forget and would love to do some other time with some planning. It also showed me how strong I was mentally and physically. This trip also brought the confidence in me to attempt the SaddleSore1600K (will be attempting sometime in April, if I am confident enough, will be attempting a mock ride along the route before that).

    Post- ride analysis:

    I learnt a lot of things from this ride, some of which I've listed below:
    1. Wrong choice of food. Sodas and Chocolates would have given me instant carbohydrates, instead of the full meals I ate.
    2. I didn't inform my family of the exact plan. Had something happened somewhere, I was a goner.
    3. Lack of riding gear. (I am slowly expanding my collection now)
    4. Carrying a backpack on my shoulders, instead of tying it down.
    5. Taking out an unserviced motorcycle on such a trip.
    6. Choosing 2 lane/single lane roads for nearly 350 KMs which increased both my ride time and my saddle sore.

    Post note:

    I did inform my family once I completed the ride. My parents took it quite calmly and also gave me permission to do further rides after informing them. So good news after all. (I DO NOT RECOMMEND ANYONE DOING THIS TO GET PERMISSION, YOUR BIKE MAY WELL BE SEIZED AND SOLD OFF. DO NOT DO THIS. GIVEN A CHOICE TO GO BACK IN TIME AND TAKE THIS CHOICE AGAIN, I WOULDN'T. IT IS TOO RISKY.)
    Last edited by alphamike_1612; 4 Weeks Ago at 05:28 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: One day solo trip within TN

    Thread approved.

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    Rusted krishna77's Avatar
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    Default Re: One day solo trip within TN

    Nice one!
    Wish to see many more from you in the future!

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    Default Re: One day solo trip within TN

    quite an experience



    A Biker who .. race the rain, ride the wind & chases the sunset ...

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