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Bike Ride: Kanyakumari Sprint

The thought that it was almost a year since I did an overnight bike trip was weighing somewhat heavy on my mind. That plus the itch to push my limits on the Dominar, and I decided to do a quick overnight trip. One day going 600-700Km and next day coming back.

Looking at the map, either some place beyond Hyderabad or Kanyakumari seemed the two best options. With the lure of watching the sunset and sunrise, decided to head for Kanyakumari.

Left early in the morning around five. It was still dark and there was a spatter of rain on the elevated highway. Kept the speed slow. I am not really fond of riding in the dark.

Beyond Shoolagiri, the clouds started dissipating. A beautiful morning started unfolding.

After Krishnagiri toll, took a quick break to stretch my legs and then again stopped at a small pond to take some pictures.

After Salem, I started itching for a break. Found a small place, where the main attraction was a copper boiler. I do have a nostalgic attachment to tea made with this.

Tea + snacks + bottle of water and 15 min later I was on my way. So far I had averaged about 60-65Km/hr, even though the bike speed was easily 90+Km/hr.

Soon I picked up speed and made good time. Without any breaks I soon crossed Madurai. Was getting a little tired. So stopped for another break. Found an empty field and stopped under a tree. Has some water and snacks which I had picked up a the last stop.

By now I was hopeful of reaching Kanyakumari by 1500/1530.

Soon the windmills started showing up indicating I was close to Kanyakumari. Stopped again to take the pictures.

The windmills with mountains in the backdrop looked beautiful.

At 1500 & 701Km later I was in Kanyakumari. The hotel was nice with a beautiful view out in front.

The front desk person was nice to upgrade me to a sea facing room. The place was quite empty though.

Unfortunately there was no room service at that time. So after dumping my gear, I stepped out to get some food and check out the streets.

COVID surely had taken its toll. The city was quite empty. The last two times I visited Kanyakumari, the place was jam packed.

First I went down to the coast. Rode north along the shore to the fishermen colony. Then drove to the Sunset point. Sat there for a while and then went up to Our Lady of Ransom Church.

Took a few pictures from outside the church. Then looked for a place to eat lunch. Most street side places were closed. Found a place selling Chowmein.

Returned to hotel after lunch. It was almost 1630.

Rested for a while and then walked down to the Southern most tip. Decided to watch the sunset from there rather than going to the sunset point.

There were very little crowd. Felt sorry for the numerous vendors. This lack of tourism has impacted their lively hood to a large extent.

Tried my hand at a few long exposure. In general hung around there watching sunset in the west and the lit up Vivekananda Memorial & Thiruvalluvar Statue in the east.

The sunset surely did not disappoint. It was a little chilly and had a coffee. Surprisingly after a little while the person came back to collect the empty cup. Good that they are trying to keep the place clean.

As it became dark, tried my hand at monochrome street photography. I had brought the 14/2.5 pancake specifically for that.

After walking around a while, I went into a bar for drink. Couple of drinks later I stepped out to search for dinner.

I was looking for something local and non-veg. After searching for a while, I decided to use google maps for any place with a good review.

Landed at Zam Zam Restaurant. Pretty good Shawarma and icecream shake.

Walked back to the hotel. In the room, TV was not working. Called front desk and they fixed it with a lot of effort. Watched the news and then tried to go to sleep.

Didn’t sleep very well. That ended up bothering me most of the next day.

Next day work up at 0530. Sunrise was around 0625. Bathed and got ready. Also packed my bags so that I can leave immediately after sunrise. Stepped out around 0535.

At a corner found a tea seller and a few people down the street waiting to catch a boat. Over the cup of tea realized that I had left my phone in the hotel. Went back to pick the phone and then went towards the fishing area.

The sunrise was nice, though not as fiery as the sunset. Weather was quite pleasant and I sat for a while on the parapet enjoying the rising sun and the breeze.

Then I walked up and down the road bordering the shore, sometimes taking pictures of the boats and at other times of the Vivekananda Memorial & Thiruvalluvar Statue.

Returned to the room at 0640. Changed into riding gear and was on my way before 0700.

Immediately after leaving Kanyakumari, stopped once for pictures of wind mills.

After that it was just a slog home. The fact that I hadn’t slept well on the previous night was showing its effect. I was felling quite tired and stopped several times to ward off the sleep. What I should have done is taken a longer break and a short nap by road side. But I was in a hurry to reach Salem for lunch.

Stopped for light breakfast after Tirunelveli. Just coffee and vada.

Just as I was crossing Karur the right side ring for connecting the strap broke (red circle in pic below), making the bag swing on the left. This happened at the speed of 90km/hr and completely dis-balanced the bike. This probably happened due to the elastic bungees pulling the bags to the left.

Had I not been tired and sleepy I would have noticed that it was giving away and taken corrective action. I managed to slow down but still crashed on the footpath on the left. Fortunately no vehicle was coming from the left. The impact broke the leg guard and bent the gear lever.

Few guys nearby helped pick the bike and I dusted myself up. None the worse from the fall. Asking around, there was a mechanic few Km back. Fortunately the gear was stuck in 3rd gear. Took a U turn and started looking for the mechanic. Found a KTM showroom and service center. They were nice to fix the gear lever at no cost and removed the leg guard.

Next was to figure out how to tie the bag. Brought some coir rope at a shop and tied it around the bag and then to the right foot peg.

After little more than an hour of delay, I was then ready to go. One good thing was that my sleep as all gone. Given the delay, first thought was to skip the lunch.

Decided against it and stopped at Selvi mess at Salem for lunch. Had an awesome meal of rice, mutton and keema. That lifted my spirits which were somewhat melancholy after the incident.

After that it was just a straight run home. 705Km and I was home by 1830.

Ride Month: Dec 2020
Distance: ~1420Km

Bike Ride: Good Bye Avenger

Last backroads ride with the trusty old Avenger. After 9 years of service, it was time to get a younger sibling. But this one is about the Avenger and the last beautiful ride.

Lock down had everyone cooped up in their homes. Not only it was boring it was stressful, especially for people like me who like their open spaces.

So the first opportunity, I went on the a small ride. The fact that Gulmohar’s are blooming late this year was a blessing.

I wanted to go towards Venkatagirikota and Koundinya Wildlife century, but the Avy had other plans.

At Hoskote I turned towards Malur. The Hoskote-Malur road was once a narrow lane lined with Gulmohar trees. One of my early rides on Avy was on this road. Below is a picture from that ride.

Much has changed since then. The road is no longer the rural back road it once was. The trees on the side of road are gone. The road itself is transformed into a divided highway, bringing with it a promise of prosperity.

A brick kiln or perhaps a poultry farm on the way. Soon these would be gone.

Some of the Gulmohar’s are still standing. These are mostly ones next to existing building giving joy to the people living nearby.

At Malur, I turned towards Tekal. Plan was to hear to Bangarpet and then towards VGirikota.

Few Km before Bangarpet, the plans changed. A nasty nail gave me a rear tire flat. Didn’t have much choice but to drag the to Bangarpet. 6Km of huffing and puffing with the heavy jacket and warm sun. Fortunately it was still early in the morning. So the hot summer sun was still not beating down mercilessly.

On the outskirts of Bangarpet, found a puncture shop. While the tube looked fixable to me, the person insisted that he needs to change the tube. Off he went to buy a tube and came back with one several size thinner. Didn’t have much choice and asked him to go ahead.

Post the tube replacement, I was not very confident of safety the new tube provided. Decided to change my plans and turn back towards the Kolar highway and then slowly limp back home.

So at Bangarpet, I turned towards Kolar. Stopped at the railway crossing just after Bangarpet and walked on the track taking a few pictures.

The Gulmohar’s were in full bloom and I started rethinking the plan of returning home via the highway. By the time I reached NH75, I had changed my plans once again and decided to head towards Srinivaspur and then return via Chintamani.

Tomatoes thrown on the way due to lock down.

Kolar to Srinivaspur route was a surprising find. The entire stretch is lined with Gulmohar’s blooming at the time of the year.

Enjoy the pictures below.

At Srinivspur, turned towards Chintamani. Took the bypass and reached Hoskote and home via NH75.

All in all a good last ride on the Avy – 9 years and 60,000Km of companionship.

Ride Month: May 2020
Distance: ~190Km

Bike Ride: Dominar 250 1st Solo

Having recently acquired a Dominar 250, and in a hurry to get the 1st service done, did a short 200Km ride on the backroads.

As usual, the route map. Headed North, then turned East and then South, then West to reach home. One good part of staying in the outskirts is the ease of getting out of the city.

Let somewhat late at 0530, yet it was still dark when I crossed the Hoskote toll.

By the time I left Hoskote behind for Sidlaghatta, the morning had turned grey with the sun obscured by clouds.

The road was surrounded by fields with a temple here and a graveyard there.

Stopped to take a few pictures next to an old shiv temple.

And then stopped next to a few graves. Also spent some time to figure out how to tie the tail bag so that it does not slip forward and push against the rider.

Another angle for looks.

After driving an Avenger for 9 years, getting used to the sitting posture of Dominar will take some getting used to.

I wanted to sit down and take a break, but could not find any place other than on the grave. Decided not to disrespect the dead.

How age changes ones perspective. Decades ago, when we were young, we used to play cricket in an open area of a graveyard in Nainital. At that time, I doubt any of us thought about how that would bother the dead.

At Sidlaghatta, I turned towards Chintamani. Till now I had not decided to turn toward Chikkaballapur or towards Chintamani. Decided at the spur of the moment and turned right.

Couple of Km before Chintamani, spotted this hill shrouded in clouds. Turned inwards to find this field with flowers. Time for some quick pictures.

At Chintamani, stopped for a coffee. Next to the coffee place was an idli place. How can one resists Chintamani Idlis. Few piping hot ones under the belt and I was off towards Kolar.

The road to Kolar was nice and green. Gone are the red Gulmohars which I enjoyed only a few months back.

Stopped next to a temple complex for a break and stretch my legs. Ate a guava which I had packed with me.

I was about to reach Kolar and was in two minds on whether to take the highway back home or extend in some other direction.

Finally, I decided to cross over towards Bangarpet.

The road from Kolar to Bangarpet, goes parallel to a railway line. I was hoping to get close to the tracks and get a picture with tracks receding in the background.

Didn’t have much luck with that. All crossing were either barred or an underpass built.

At Bangarpet, turned towards Tekal and then Malur – Hoskote – home.

In between, before Tekal, stopped for some picture near a stretch of yellow flowering trees. This was the stretch where I had a flat tire on the last ride.

The road from Malur to Hoskote has been upgraded to a mostly divided highway. There was time when this was a narrow road lined with Gulmohar trees. I came down this road when I had just brought the Avenger in 2011. The pace of modernization has now taken over. Below is picture from that ride.

I was home by 1130 and after 200Km ready for 1st service.

Ride Month: Aug 2020
Distance: ~190Km

Bike Ride: Mettur Circuit

The route map – 565Km of meditating on two wheels.

My usual Spring ride called the “Ides of march Ride”, though sometimes it happens in April. For some reason spring isn’t really here. Pretty much no flower laden trees. That was one of three disappointments I had on this ride.

I started a little late and decided to take the Nice Road to Kanakpura Road. Took me longer than expected, though I was able to avoid the construction on the Kanakpura Road. The sun was just rising over one of the lakes. Beautiful orange hues.

Stopped for the customary bike silhouette. The road was a little higher than the surroundings. That helped with the low angle picture.

Crossed Kanakpura. Was temped to stop at Vasu’s. However decided to skip since I was running late. They have a nice big board now. Good for outsiders who hear the name and come by to eat the yummy food.

The lake on the outskirts of Kanakpura has been developed well for locals to take walks and enjoy the outdoors. A big chariot is seen across the lake on the other end.

A little after Kanakpura, near where the Kavery pipeline accompanies the road, took a small diversion for taking some pictures. The road gently slopes up and then down, providing an excellent spot to take pictures. The early morning light makes the pictures glow. The rocks are great for sitting and taking a break.

At Malavalli, stopped for a tea break and turned towards Kollegal.

This stretch of road from Malavalli to the Satthegala Bridge is my favorite stretch in the Bangalore backroads. And that was the second disappointment of the day.

The road has been widened, cutting trees and removing various artifacts that gave it character. I have fond memories of this stretch. One of my first few rides out of Bangalore was here. That lamenting will wait for some other time.

One of the casualties of road widening is an old temple by the road side. This was once an invisible, hidden behind the bushes, temple where no one went. With the bushes being cleared someone is taking over. The old structure is being torn down.

The old hand pump is gone too. It’ll no longer fill my bottles.

A red brick house amidst coconut trees

After crossing the Satthegala Bridge, took a dirt track down to the river. There wasn’t much water in the river. I was in two minds on whether to go to Hogenakkal or take the Germalam route to Dhimbam ghats.

At Kollegal I took a break to buy some water, biscuits and chips. Couple of kids came to see the bike. One of them (one above with a mask) looked at the number plate and then looking at me said “Corona virus se bhag kar aaye ho?” (Are you running away from Corona virus?). Smiling I nodded.

Deciding to head towards Hogenakkal, I turned towards MMHills. The road conditions have improved since my last ride on this road. The terrain is always lovely. Distance hills mostly covered by haze and the fields in front lush green. A bush was flowering purple.

A nice tree with fresh red leaves was glowing in the sunlight.

Crossing Hanur, the climb to MMHills was somewhat monotonous. The day was hot and road wasn’t in great condition. That climb wasn’t much fun. At MMHills, they have build a huge weird dome next to the temple spoiling the beauty of the place.

Crossing the temple I started the descent towards Hogenakkal. Ever since they rebuilt this road, it has been in great condition. The hillside was turning yellow which was a pleasant sight.

At the bottom of the hill, I turned towards Hogenakkal. This is a fun narrow road that flanks the Kaveri river and the paved road ends at the Karnataka side of Hogenakkal falls.

The falls were the third disappointment of the day. The place was isolated, river bed was dry and I walked across the bed to the falls.

The elevated pathway to the falls was in ruins. I guess effects of previous year’s floor.

Walking on the rocks on the river bed was a surreal experience. Never imagined that I would walk on this riverbed which was always full or torrents of water.

After spending sometime at the riverbed, I drove back to the parking area. Had a packet of chips and bottle of water. Checked if there was an option of crossing the river with the bike. No option was available there.

Tracking my way back to the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border, I turned towards Mettur dam.

Two views of the Mettur dam.
After the dam it was a long stretch home. The sun was hot and there weren’t any photo opportunities.
I stopped at Mecheri for some coffee and a break. After joining NH44 at Thoppur, it was a break-less ride till Hosur.

At Hosur turned towards Bagalur. Took another break for tea. Then a short cut though fields to Chikka Tirupati and then home with a sore bum.

Ride Month: Mar 2020
Distance: ~570Km