Archive for the ‘Rides_n_Travel’ Category

Day 10 & 11: Rest at Leh

Posted: July 8, 2007 in Rides_n_Travel

Day 10 – Rest day at Leh

We were tired and badly wanted to take some rest. Our bikes were also not performing well. Especially my bike with problem in crank was not able to take much load. We got to know that Chang La which is en-route Pangong Tso is steeper than Khardung La. Taking into account our condition and bike’s performance we decided with heavy heart to drop Pangong Tso and to rest in Leh for next 2 days. We dropped Pangong, Marisimek and Zanskar with a promise to cover them exclusively on our next trip.

So, day 10 was a complete rest day and we just moved out to Leh market to get some memorabilia and chilled out at German Bakery.

Day 11 – Rest day – Leh local site seeing

Got our bike checked first thing in the morning. There are two famous mechs in Leh – Mohan and Juma. We got it checked at Mohan’s. He did a decent job, but we realized that Tahir of Srinagar was far better and more efficient.

After getting our bikes tuned we moved to visit local Leh Palace and then Shanti Stupa before returning to the guest house.

With heavy hearts we bid good bye to Leh with a promise to come back again. We started early in the morning around 6 AM. Road from Leh to Upshi was in good condition and we did good speeds at this stretch. Took a halt in Upshi for breakfast and started towards Tanglang La. Tanglang La is at 17,582 ft and is the third highest pass. Road to Tanglang La was in decent condition or may be looked decent to us after doing Khardung La. As expected we got some spectacular views at Tanglang La. We clicked some pics and moved ahead. From Tanglang La the landscape started changing and we were able to spot some rocky mountains along with barren, arid mounts.

After descending from Tanglang La we found ourselves riding on a long plane stretch. We were riding on famous More Planes. There is a 40 kms long plane road on this long plateau and it is hard to believe that you are riding on a relatively straight road at an altitude of 15,400 ft. Road was mostly in good condition but was bumpy. Few stretches were filled with sand and riding there needed a lot of maneuvering. At the end of More Planes we were bit surprised to see a steep descend towards Pang. That is when we realized that we were riding on some real high altitude. We reached Pang around 12.30 and stopped there for lunch.

One surprising observation was that on this Leh – Manali stretch there were no pakka houses / stalls from Upshi to Jispa. You can just find few tents other than army transit camps in all other places enroute.

Pang was no exception. We had a quick lunch at one of the tents in Pang and started forward towards Lachu Lung La (16616 ft). By the time we crossed Lachlung La all of us started to feel a mild headache, which we ignored and kept moving.. It was hard to believe that it to be the symptom of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) as after doing Leh and excursions we thought that we were fairly acclimatized. Later we realized that it was due to riding continuously at high altitude of 14000+ ft for more than 6 hours. And we were certainly not acclimatized to that.

We kept on moving in hope of touching low altitude asap. We crossed Nakee La (15547 ft) to ride on the famous Gata Loops which is a stretch of 21 hair pin bends. Gata loop finally took us down to some comfortable altitude. By this time Jatin was suffering from a severe headache. Myself and Prasoon were in relatively better condition. We did our final stretch of the day to reach Sarchu by 4.30 PM and were happy to reach atleast one destination quite in time. We called it the day and took a halt in cold and windy Sarchu. Jatin was not well and was having severe headache and nausea. We checked with Army Doctor and he recommended him to sleep early. He assured that the next day morning everything would be all right and it happens usually in that area because of low oxygen levels.

Total distance covered: 264 kms

We got up around 6 to find that everyone of us was perfectly fit and ready to move ahead. So, we started around 7 AM after having a light breakfast. Road from Sarchu to Baralach La Top (16500 ft) was not in good condition. Infact this day we experienced the worst roads of our complete trip. The only relief was a stretch of fresh tar road of 8 kms starting from BaralachLa towards Jispa. After which roads were mostly bumpy and broken till Tandi barring few occasional stretches. We also encountered few water passes on this stretch. As soon as we crossed Jispa we started getting the feel of Himachal as we were now surrounded with green mountains. We reached Rohtang Pass around 5 in the evening and as notoriously famous for bad weather, it lived upto its expectation. We had a quick cup of coffee there and moved ahead. We finally reached Manali around 6.30.. booked a room and headed straight to see a mechanic as it was evident that my bike’s brake shoe was gone and it was yelling at different pitches whenever I was applying brakes. I got my brake shoe done, and Prasoon and Jatin got their broken carrier fixed. Then we headed straight to take a hot dip in Vashisth hot water spring. Finally we celebrated that evening with a grand meal.

Total distance covered: 234 kms

As we started from Manali around 7 in the morning, it started raining. We waterproofed our luggage and started at a decent speed. After last 2 days bumpy ride, Manali – Chandigarh double lane highway was a treat! We were not able resist and ripped the curves even at 80 sometimes. It was the smoothest ride of our trip despite of the notorious traffic. Finally we reached Chandigarh around 6 PM.

Total distance covered: 330 kms

Alas! Last day of our trip. We started from Chandigarh around 10 AM and were planning to reach Delhi by 3. Ride was going on smooth and the 4 lane highway was inviting. It was on this stretch when we got a ticket for over speeding at 70 kph. Speed limit for two-wheelers on this highway is 50 kph. What a joke! Myself and Jatin paid on the spot fine of Rs. 400 each. Prasoon was the blessed one as we warned him in time. (He still owes a party to us) As we moved farther ahead, my bike got first flat tyre of its life. Some 21,000 odd kms and no flat tyre!! So, it was well due. Got it fixed and then finally reached Delhi, safe and sound, after clocking little over 3000 kms. We greeted and then parted our ways, each of us carrying some immortal memories with us.

Total distance covered: 300 kms

Hi!
Much awaited moment has come and I’d be riding to Leh this June. Every biker’s pilgrimage! Would be riding to the World’s highest motorable pass near Leh (Khardung La – official, Marsimek La – actual)
The ride plan is as under – (click to enlarge)

For well formatted copy and details contact me.

Cheers, ‘n let the ball roll

Silent Saint

My Solo Ride to Munnar / Kerala

Posted: October 30, 2006 in Rides_n_Travel

My Solo Ride to Munnar / Kerala – A brief

And I was left alone in Chennai… with most of my friends leaving the town for some better opportunities elsewhere. As I am also moving to Mumbai in December, I had a trip to Kerala in my mind for a long time, but somehow it was getting delayed every time. This was on 24th Oct ‘06 when I was sitting in my office and it was a holiday on 25th Oct, Wednesday. It was this time when I decided instantly of doing my so long awaited Kerala trip. I thought of taking leave of two days i.e. 26th, Thursday and 27th, Friday and clubbing it with weekend. So, I was effectively having 5 days to explore Kerala. And there Iwas, all set for solo ride to Kerala. After all, all you need to have is a good camera, willpower and your Beast (ThunderBird 2005 model). And with all the trust in my Beast I started next day.

Day 1 – 25th Oct ’06, Wednesday – I started around 5AM from Chennai to reach Trichy by 10 AM. (320 kms). There I met Simrit(A fellow member of my motorcycling club – Madras Bulls Motorcycling Club) and had a great lunch at his place. Thanks mate! Started again around 2PM and finally reached Munnar by 7.30 PM. It was the simplest day of my four day trip.

Final Trip Meter reading – Day 1 – 620 kms.

Day 2 – 26th Oct ’06, Thrusday– I decided to look around some places near Munnar, so started for Top Station (35kms from Munnar). It was when I was riding back from Top Station when I had a small fall at one of the curves, mainly because of the overconfidence that might have crept in after doing around 100kms of ghats. I was doing 60-70 on curves when this happened and I swear, after that my speed reduced to max of 40 throughout on hills. I was not wearing gloves at that time so left palm got brushed and bruised. Finally I reached back Munnar around 4PM, and thought of taking rest. So, I relaxed in my room and planned the next day’s move. I slept after finalizing Munnar –170kms – Komarokam – 120 kms – Thekkady for Day 3.

Final Trip Meter reading – Day 2 – 696 kms.

Day 3 – 27th Oct ’06, Friday – I started around 9AM towards Komarokam (170 kms). I underestimated Kerala’s uncertain weather (rather certain rains) and did not provide cushion for Kerala kind of roads (all curves). Well, driving there was all together a different kind of experience but at the same time I was not able to stick to my naïve schedule. I was unable to come out of last day’s trauma and was not able to do 70-80 on curves. I took a break for lunch some 70 kms before Komarokam in Kothamangalam around 2.00 PM and it started raining heavily. I was trapped there helpless.. waiting for rain to stop but all in vain. Looking at the heavy rain I decided to skip Komarokam and move on directly to Thekkady. I enquired about the way and distance and understood that Thekkady is around 80 kms from there via Pala. I waited some time for rains to stop, but it did not. So, I thought of continue riding sharing same trust with my Beast which I always had. I started again from Kothamangalam around 3.30 PM. I kept driving in the suggested direction, crossed Pala and around 5.0 PM I stopped by a road side bakery as it started raining cats and dogs. Here again I enquired the distance to Thekkady and they told me 82 more kms. Damn! I’d been driving for last 1.30 hrs and still 82 kms. I started immediately without wasting time any further and then the tough time began. It was raining heavily and I was able to match 30-40.. By 6 PM it was complete dark and I was drenched to the soul. Shivering in cold but still driving. Some time later I entered into the ‘zero-visibility zone’. Thick fog, drizzling, complete dark, freezing cold, shivering and speedometer showing 15kph. I was not moving.. I was indeed crawling. But, I decided not to stop and I kept moving.. but somewhere around 15kms before Thekkady and 8 in evening I gave up. Even my bones were freezed at that time and as soon as I saw ‘Hotel, Restaurant & Bar’ neon signboard I moved in. First question – Is there any room available?.. Second – Do they have geyser/hot water?.. All affirmative and I checked in. I don’t even remember the name of the place.

Final Trip Meter reading – Day 3 – 922 kms.

Day 4 – 28th Oct ’06, Saturday – I started from whatever that place was to Thekkady around 8AM. Thought of covering Periyar and touching plains before 2PM as somebody told me that every day it rains heavily after noon and riding in rain was last thing that I could have considered after tasting enough of it the last day. I reached Thekkady/Periyar around 8.30 AM. Next boat ride on Periyar lake was scheduled at 9.30 AM and after that 11.30. I checked and came to know that 9.30 boat was full. Frustration that started to build up last day, now was becoming dominant and prominent. I sat there on a rock for few minutes, with my head down and trying to compose myself. Then I gave it some serious thinking. 11.30 boat ride will get over by 1.30 PM, implying no way of touching home the same day, that in turn leads to one extra day of frustration. Damn it! Then I remember seeing a milestone reading out load Theni – 70 kms. So, may be there is a way to touch Theni, and once I reach Theni I was sure that I could reach Chennai the same day.I took just two snaps of Periyar lake and decided to explore it some other time. Anyway, even if I would have stayed I would not have enjoyed it much with that feeling of frustration and emptiness which by that time crept deep inside me. So, I decided to move on with only one target in mind – to reach home.I started from Periyar around 9.30 AM and was in Theni around 11 AM. Had my brunch there and again started at 11.30AM. Now the road looked familiar and I ripped (Though, my ripping is touching 90.. lol) Touched Trichy around 2.30 when I saw clouds building up. So, decided not to stopover at Trichy and so I kept moving. And 50 kms after Trichy it started again – Rain (no! not again). I did not stop, thinking that atleast after 10-20 kms it will not be raining. It was 3.15 PM at that time. I kept moving and moving and moving trying to cover as much as possible during day time itself. I did not stop anywhere for lunch. I was not able to catch speed, but I kept moving. 5.45 PM and it was dark when I reached Villipuram. I stopped there to treat my rain soaked and empty stomach. Again started at 6.15 and now it was even more difficult. It was raining heavily, with no street lights, road with unexpected potholes and above all I was unable to use visor of my helmet. It was a real tough ride throughout but atleast after Tindivanam toll road helped a bit and I was able to maintain 60. Stopped only once for tea and was at home around 10 PM.

Final Trip Meter reading – Day 4 – 1545 kms.


Overall it was a tough and hence a GREAT ride! I was not able to take many photographs due to rains, as my camera was double packed.

Looking back I think the best part of this ride was the trust that I shared with my Beast and it surely lived upto that. It gave me confidence to move on and on… 4 days of rough terrain and bad climatic conditions & 1545 kms without any break down or hold up. Hats off!! Even after the fall, when I got bruised the person who helped me with first aid (a gentleman cab driver) asked me whether I will be able to ride? I said yes, then he asked is your bike okay? I said ‘it must be okay’. He asked me to check it… and single kick… Vrooooom!!! There I was… on the road again…

Overall Trip – 4 days/ 1545 kms.

Experience – Regression testing / Spine chilling

Photographs http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=zyux3qd.2buuribp&x=0&y=2fw41r

 

These are the snapshots of my Solo Yelagiri Ride…
One day all by myself..
Write up will follow soon 🙂
Cheers, Posted by Picasa

Riding is an Ecstasy…

Posted: March 10, 2006 in Rides_n_Travel

Some said.. ‘you are stupid’.. Some called me crazy. Chennai to Bangalore and back.. and that too alone. Yep, everybody around me (except for my fellow Club riders – Madras Bulls) told me the same.. But I over heard them and all their considerate advices. I forwarded this idea to my club.. MadBulls, and the veterans out there shared with me their experiences and told me all Do’s and Dont’s of riding alone.

I got hold of a road map, prepared a check list, got my bike checked, got some necessary spare parts – clutch wire, spark plug, etc.. and with all preparations done I was finally set to leave for Bangalore. I started at 0500 hrs. Initially I maintained a decent 60-70 kmph, but once the day broke and the visibility improved I couldn’t hold my temptation and then.. 70 – 80 – 90 and finally 100 kmph. One of my close friend gave me clear instruction before leaving that please keep in mind the speed limit of 80 kmph, and yes, I maintained the lower speed limit of 80kmph :D. I was elated to realize afterwards that on my way to Bangalore only two vehicles overtook me – one Santro and one Esteem (must have been real nerds otherwise who drives so fast 😉 Well, after a long and lovely ride I safely reached Bangalore at 1130 hrs.. Voila!! I made it and was feeling great.. a sense of accomplishment.

I stayed back in Bangalore for 2 days. Had a great time on my Bull. Completed my work out there.. and was all set to come back. I planned to start early morning the following day, but, again I fell victim of my own craziness and decided to leave at night itself. And there I was.. I kick started my bike.. Gave some throttle.. and vroooom.. And somewhere in distant background I heard some clock banging 12 times. Yes, it was 12 at night. Driving at night is totally different kind of experience. I should admit, It is really hard to drive at night. You need your full concentration to keep yourself on the road. Specially, when there are no road lamps, no vehicles, no light and when it is complete dark. I was focussing completely on the divider line and was trying hard to maintain same line, and then, there were patches, where, there was no divider line. At such stretchs, your speed drops down and your eyes follow the low beam of your head light.. and nothing else is visible. I was back at home around 0800 in the morning.. Driving at night was a totally different kind of experience, though a bit tough. Well, I enjoyed every bit of it.

Riding is a different kind of experience, altogether. It is not just a test of endurance.. not even just a test of your craziness.. It is an ecstasy. It brings you to a different level. It gives you a sense of accomplishment, a sense of achievement. However small or insignificant this achievement might be for others.. or for that matter even for you, but, I believe that such small achivements add a lot to you.. and a lot more to your personality. It induces more confidence in you.. I chose to do this trip not just because I wanted to ride, but I also wanted to check my risk taking capability.. and yeah, that was the reason why I decided to come back at night, after trying the day riding. I wanted to test myself. Believe me such small events counts a lot.

Overall, this trip to Bangalore and back was Great. After this trip, I feel more confident, and now I trust my Beast (ThunderBird) even more. I am looking forward for more of such trips in future… and I promise that this rider will never stop…

Wherever I may Roam

Posted: December 6, 2005 in Rides_n_Travel

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take; but by the moments that take our breath away” So truly quoted in movie “Hitch”.

I realised true sense of it on Sunday, 4th Dec. 2005. After 3 days of continuous and heavy rains when I finally saw sun shining down on Chennai, I could no longer refrain my inner urge of going for a long ride on my new ThunderBird. I called up few of my friends but everyone was hooked up with something or other. The urge was so strong that I decided to go alone. Anyways, it doesn’t matter much as long as I am with my ThunderBird. So, I started all by myself (humming the song from Godsmack – I stand alone) from RA Puram around 1:00 PM and within no time I was on ECR.

I would like to share one more fact about myself before I take you forward with my experience. I had never been a bike enthusiast. I always preferred to drive a four-wheeler over motorbike. I never owned any bike before, and this is the first time I have got my own bike. Only after riding my ThunderBird, I realised that it is not just about necessity.. riding is an experience of its own kind.. and riding Enfield.. is a Statement.

Well.. back to the Sunday’s Trip. I was enjoying my ride on ECR.. I didn’t know where I was heading to.. I was just on for a nice ride.. with no destination.. no aim.. no where in particular to go.. riding just like that.. remembering a song from Metallica’s Black Album – ‘Wherever I may Roam
”the less I have the more I gain
off the beaten path I reign..
rover, wanderer, nomad, vagabond ..
call me what you will….’

It was only when I crossed the toll gate on ECR and saw one milestone stating Mahabalipuram as just 30 kms away that I thought of making it to Mahabalipuram.I was really enjoying my first ride out of Chennai.. with a long stretched road ahead.. sight of sea on my left.. a pleasant weather and feeling a cool breeze on my face..

I rode for another 20 odd kms. when ‘The Thing’ happened.. I spotted a group of around 10-12 Enfield riders.. who were standing just off the road and enjoying the site..Immediately it struck me.. that they might be from Madras Bulls. I was aware of this club and had applied for the membership as well, but was not formally inducted to the group.I turned my bike and headed towards the Group. I was greeted by Vinod and Abhijay and yup! They told me that they are from Madras Bulls. I introduced myself to the group and they extended me an offer to join them. And there I was.. no more alone.. And after that it was like living a dream..With 10 Enfields thumping and ruling the road, we rushed towards Mahabalipuram.. It was an amazing experience for me and awesome site for others..

It didn’t take us long to reach our destination. All of us parked our bikes together and headed for a restaurant. There we had a grand gala time.. We talked about our experiences.. about upcoming events.. upcoming rides.. and what not.. Each and every person in the group was so friendly that they didn’t let me feel as a newbie.. I felt like being a part of the Club from a long time..

After a couple of drinks and a lot of masti.. we finally rolled back towards Chennai around 5 PM. Again with 10 bikes roaring and thumping together.. ‘Everyone gives way for Enfield’ and I witnessed how true it is, while coming back to Chennai.. I was doing 60-70 when I saw Vinod far ahead on his Machismo at 100+. I too was tempted and that was the first time I touched 100. It was an awesome experience.. There was one more group riding some other machines.. they moved their bike towards one side of the road to make way for us.. and when one person of that group waved his hand in appreciation.. and I felt like being on top of the World.

Finally after a long and interesting ride we were back in Chennai. The only sad part of the whole trip was that I didn’t get the chance to say Thanks to such a lovely group. We were supposed to meet at some food joint in Adyar, but while coming towards Adyar somewhere near Tiruvanmiyur I lost track of the group.. I tried for some time to find the group but could not find them. I had to see off one of my friend who was about to leave for Hyderabad, so I gave up the search and went straight to my friend’s place. I am posting this story not only to share my experience but also to thank the group, which made yesterday one of the memorable days of my life. I know I will meet them again and will extend my thanks personally but I don’t want to wait till then. Looking forward for more and more rides like this one..

Hail Madras Bulls!!!