Dawn finds me 106Km from home enjoying a sky illuminating over the coconut trees.
The bike is parked on the shoulder of NH46. Watching the brightening horizon gives me a sense of satisfaction. Its been long since I was on a ride.
“… The lights of the city become blurry lines as I enter the encroaching dark of the highway …” repeats in my mind. It probably stuck in my mind from BikeNomads site a few days back.
The cold wind making its way though the visor openings opens up my sinus. The salty mucus mixes with the chewing gum in my mouth adding a flavor of its own. I am glad of the multiple layers I am wearing. It is going to be a cold few hours.
The traffic though sparse is more than I expected at 0400 in the morning. On coming high beams are irritating. It does not take me long to cross Varthur and I have left the city lights behind for the time being.
I love heading out to the South or East of Bangalore as it takes minutes to get out of the city from my home. To head West or North means crossing the city both while going and coming. Wading through that traffic is certainly not fun.
As usual I keep the pace slow and steady. It is not long before lights of Sarjapur, Electronic City and Hosur are a blur in the rear view mirror.
1st break at Krishnagiri tool booth. While swapping the gum I find that the sheet of paper I had taken for en-route notes is gone. Possibly dropped out of the jacket pocket. The pen is still there. There is a lot of trash strewn around. My search for a usable piece of paper is futile as the trash is mostly plastic or user paper plates. Looking into my wallet for old receipts, I find two visiting card. The back side will serve the purpose.
Problem solved, I head on.
Crossing the 1st fly over, I take the next left to Chennai. A few stars twinkle over head. I hope for a clear day.
Moon appears next to a bright star high above on my right. So does the signs of approaching dawn.
I stop to take some picture. A church tower makes for a nice silhouette. The church windows are of stained glass. It reminded me of the windows of our school chapel and how we always went there before the exams.
The horizon starts brightening up. Another stop to take pictures.
The hills on the horizon stand out in the dawn pink. I believe they were the Yelagiri hills. Not too far to go.
After another tool booth, I look out for the Yelagiri turn. Apparently you have to take a left off the highway and then go under it towards the right.
There are ample road signs indicating the turnoff to Yelagiri. Another sign says Yelagiri – 22Km.
I get off the highway and stop for tea. Tea is freshly made, in a glass tumbler and full. All this for 3 bucks. Contrast this with the Bangalore city tea: Stale and served from a thermos flask, flimsy plastic cup and only enough for 3 sips.
After a phone home, I head on.
The road ahead looks interesting. Undivided and looks full of character. A small town seems up ahead. Buses with people hanging out whiz past.
It seems a busy town. A large engineering college passes on the right. School kids are the most active lot. All of them rushing to get to class in time. Reminds me of today being a working day. Ah the pleasure of taking a day off for a bike ride.
The morning smells; fire, smoke, food and dust, are omnipresent.
The sun warms me up. It feels good and I hesitate to take off my thin jacket. Another sign makes me turn left. The hills seem much closer. The road is also narrower. The horizon on the right rises up gradually and then seems to flatten out covered by a layer of clouds. It looks like a table top with sloping legs.
The road curves right and I am on my way up the hills.
Like many other hill roads in the South, this one too climb up as a series of hair pin bends. Yelagiri is at the end of the 14th bend. The first one approaches as soon as the ascent starts. As I drive into the clouds, it again starts to get cold.
As I approach the 3rd hair pin bend, ODO shows 29999.9. Good way to celebrate reaching 30K Km on the bike. My faithful and reliable companion over the last 4.5 yrs.
It is fun to ride this bike. The posture is comfortable for long drives. There is enough grunt to carry me and some more; never leaving me wanting for more. Other than couple of punctures over this period it has been a trouble free service.
I have ascended enough through the clouds that there is little visibility over the plains below. At one of the bends, seeing the possibility of the expanse opening up, I wait.
Sitting on the parapet I listen to birds chirping. A cow moos somewhere behind me. Better company than smoke spewing trucks. There is almost no traffic. I haven’t seen any vehicle since I started climbing up. Eventually I would see 3 vehicles before entering Yelagiri’s small market.
My wait is awarded with partial clearing of the hill below exposing a wide green landscape.
After sitting around for a while, I head on ahead.
Fortunately there is absolutely minimal traffic otherwise I’d have to concentrate more on the road and less on the surroundings. I park the bike and enjoy a short roadside walk. The water droplets cling to my clothes and hair. It is fun, much like the monsoons in Nainital.
After a while the landscape seem to change. The steep road is replaced by a gradual climb and the short gnarled trees give way to a different kind ones which looked like planted few years back. Reforestation efforts having impact.
Soon the tree peter out and hotel sign boards announce the imminent arrival of Yelagiri. The gradual climb ends in the small market drenched in filtered sunlight. It is still early morning and shops are not open. Few people stands around while school kids hurry up to attend classes.
Finding nothing interesting in the market, I take the straight road ahead. Small houses, both old and new, line up the road.
Road signs lead to the small Yelagiri lake. Lots of construction is going on around the lake. Probably beautification for the upcoming winter crowd.
After leaving the lake I roam around the place. It is a small rural hill station. Hotels are mushrooming in all corners. Nothing spectacular except that the summer temperatures are less than the plains below.
Soon I head back for the market. Stomach is rumbling and I need to look for a breakfast place.
The most crowded eating joint in town is a small place call Hotel Prathap. Not much of a place but hot puris coming out of the kadai are enough to tempt me in. I hop skip and jump over the large pool of stagnating water at the entrance.
Breakfast is of several hot pooris, two masala vada and two idli. I like the concept of having a hot balti of sambhar on the table. Pour as much as you want. Unfortunately the place did not served tea or coffee.
After a hearty breakfast, I head back. The slopes are still covered with fog and cold prevails. I do not stop except to take a few pictures.
Riding through the town I cross a crowds of students heading for the engineering college. Most have books or notes in their hands. Preparing for an exam or test. A different life.
Back near the NH46 junction, I stop at the same place for tea. The guy recognizes me and gives me a smile.
NH46 is an easy ride. Soon I am at the toll plaza.
Stopping under the shade of a tree, I test out my phone’s GPS. It works fine here under open sky. My location (12.58639107,78.14844126 http://m.google.com/u/m/BbjoGA)
Crossing Hosur, I take the right towards Sarjapur at Atibele. Later I stop at the Sarjapur Road – Varthur Road junction for filter coffee at a Darshini. I would take sweet filter coffee over other drinks any day.
It is 1158hrs as I roll in to the basement. Pretty good for a 300+ KM ride.