A bike ride after a long time. This time, no highways, no crowded streets, but the back roads south/east of Bangalore. As usual google earth/maps is the navigator. I spend a little time Fri evening charting out the route. A torn notebook sheet says Sarjaur -> Bagalur (left) -> Malur -> Hoskote. Route measure around 100Km. If roads are good, perfect for an early morning ride. As usual the log is on a sheet of paper (other side of the route jotting above), going by the odometer, rather than the watch.
The route map as plotted later on google maps (interactive):
The alarm rings at 0500. Morning rituals and I am off at 0530. Odo reads 18349.
0Km: The horizon is still dark. Other then the cool air, there are no signs of upcoming morning in KB. Everyone is asleep, including the guards. I drive out of the gates and the ITPL road is bustling with activity. Couple of joggers, worker hastening to catch the morning bus, vendors with their wares, call center sumos and tea shop idlers. All adding to the morning hustle bustle of Brookfields junction.
Past Varthur, morning starts showing up. There is more visibility and the lights of the rare oncoming vehicle do not offend. Driving past Gunjur I get the morning village smells. There is the omnipresent cow dung smell. Then there is something cooking. There is that smell of fire. Coal or wood I am not sure. Kids too are running around. Not something Bangalore can offer.
I hist the Sarjapur road junction and take a left heading South-East. No sun yet. Trucks appear on the road. This is the connecting road to Attibele.
21Km: I am at Sarjapur. A small town trying to go the Bangalore way. Several half complete housing projects around. I guess the receding economy left some sour dreams.
At the Sarjapur circle, the main road curves right. I thought I had to go straight. So I head on that way. Several boys are playing cricket on a dusty ground on the left. A favorite pastime of my youth and a disappearing sight from today’s cities. I have a mind to stop and click. But then I move on. Past the bus stand onto a narrow road. And then it ends. There are two very narrow unpaved roads going left and right. This can’t be the way. I turn around, go back to the circle and head down the nice paved wide road.
Instinct tells me I am heading the wrong way. Instinctively I look at the instrument cluster. The petrol needle is on the full. It had to be. I refilled last night. I tell my self. All roads lead somewhere. As long as I have petrol, I can go anywhere.
I stop to take a swig of water and take a pic of disappearing moon. The picture comes out bad.
24Km: The sun is up on my back left. I see it only after the entire circle is visible. I also notice the chirping birds. Wonder why only now.
26Km: Nice green field on the left. There is also a small tea shop nearby. No customers. My kind of shop. I stop for a cup of tea. With the cup of warm tea warming my fingers, I wander towards the field to take a few snaps. There’s a tube well next to the field. I should have taken a bath.
While paying for the tea I ask for direction. I am heading unplanned towards Attibele. After taking off my windcheater I head back.
32Km: Back at Sarjapur junction, the boys are still playing.
Again I head past the bus stand and the seemingly dead end. There I turn left. I drive down a road which resembles moon’s surface. Every bone in my body shook in that 100m. Arriving at another T junction, I ask for direction and am promptly dispatched left.
A stretch of nice road appears. Trees line the road and sunlight is filtering through. Almost no vehicles on the road. This the fun of back road driving.
36Km: The thoughts of nice road hadn’t even left my mind when I entered Tamilnadu. Almost instantly the pot holes appeared. Not small, but large ones that would even shake the trucks. I jig jagged looking for even pieces of road. I guess that is the reason for little traffic on the road. I stop for another swig from the bottle and spy some nice tomatoes growing in a field.
There is an urge to take some home. I resist the stealing temptation and head on. The road is a little better. Setting is perfect of an easy ride. I slow down and enjoy the surroundings.
43Km: I arrive at Bagalur. Stop by a shop to ask for directions and buy a couple of bananas. One good thing around here is that every other shop will sell bananas. Good for filling stomach and hygenic too. This shop was also selling puja items. So I go in the other direction to check if the mandir is one of those with colorful tops as are many other temples in the south. I couldn’t find the temple and head on my way.
The road is patchy with long stretches of unpaved mess and large potholes. What takes my mind off the bad road is the sporadic appearance of Gulmohar trees. The blooming tree is a sight to behold. I stop to take a picture and enjoy the sight.
At another point I stop to take the picture of a huge aircraft windmill wing on a truck parked along the road.
64 Km: I reach Malur. The town is much bigger than it looks on the map. The main road is wide and bustling with activity. I take the left road to Hoskote after asking for directions.
The road improves. I guess I have entered Karnataka.
72Km: The fields bordering the road give way to dry jungle with small trees and thick brush under growth.
The road is still lined with Gulmohar trees (See pic on top) which makes the drive very pleasent.
Few more Km down the road, the traffic starts building up. Construction activity along the road has increased. Driving down is no so pleasent.
89Km: I hit NH4 which is choke full of traffic.
Few more Km towards Bangalore, I take a left towards Whitefield and home.
105Km: Just before KB, I stop for coffee and chochow bath. The filter coffee is my staple on every morning outing. Few minutes later I am home. It is 0852. Around 3hrs 30min of ride.