Sunday, April 8, 2007
Riding solo to God's own country
Posting this crazy idea on RTMC and got responses which warned about the high temperatures in Kerala. Friends at Trivandrum (Silver Bullets & BikeNomads groups) encouraged me to take up the ride & so I decided to face the temperatures whatever they were. In my 8 days ride through Kerala, I felt this heat only once (Kalpetta to Fort Kochi, 2nd day) and rest of the days I managed to skip that heat owing to early morning riding.
Here is a day by day log of this ride -
Day 1: The awesome ghat experience
Started from Bangalore on 30th March towards Kalpetta (Wayanad), reached Kalpetta in good time to visit Lakkidi view point, Vythri and couple of other places with great ghat roads.
Here I had a different experience when I entered a restaurant.
I was kind of shocked to see two glasses served to everyone - one containing water and other containing a whisky colored liquid. Bachhe, budhdhay aur jawan everyone was drinking that! Now that was something very new to me, asked the waiter and came to know that it was hot water mixed with some herbs known as Chukku vellam .. good for health! That was something I saw everywhere in Kerala.
Route: Bangalore -> Mandya -> Mysore -> Nanjangud -> Gundulpet -> Sultan bathery -> Kalpetta
Distance: 300 kms to Kalpetta & overall around 400 kms
Time taken: 6 hours (to reach Kalpetta)
Road condition: Excellent in most parts and manageable in others, the roads are re-laid in Bandipur stretch
Stop overs: Kadu Mane for breakfast
Day 2: Riders' test - NH17. Fort Kochi rocks!
From Kalpetta I started for Fort Kochi through NH17. What a highway! At some places its just like a street road barely enough for a truck and a bike to pass! That was the only time I felt the heat in Kerala. Fort Kochi was a nice place and have the touch of the portugese and dutch cultures. I wished I had reached there earlier so that I could visit these places. May be next time.
Route: Kalpetta - Vythri - Calicut - Ponnani - Chavakkad - Parur - Ernakulam - Fort Kochi
Distance: 280 kms
Time taken: Around 7 hours
Road condition: The ghat roads from Wayanad to Calicut are excellent, NH17 in most of the stretches is like a street lane. Finding a lonely stretch of road in kerala is almost impossible
Stop overs: Many along the way
Day 3: Hitted by a bird
I started at around 6 AM in the morning and reached trivandrum in good time for breakfast. While riding through Kollam I was hit by a bird, man thats really a good force - just felt like somebody had punched me in the arm!! Rest of the ride was uneventful. Jay came to receive me in trivandrum and from there I was with friends. It was good to meet Jay, Anil, BT, Moonie after I had met them in the BikeNomads anniversary ride to Goa. We had a small group ride to Kovalam beach with Jay leading & Moonie sweeping with me and Anil in the middle. What a beautiful beach!
An awesome time on Kovalam beach, with tasty Kerala style sea-food & beer. I just went with Jay's suggestions about the kerala specialities and I was happy with the taste. Small meet with silver bullet members BT, Jay, Subodh at CCD, Trivandrum. I had plans to go to Kanyakumari next morning.
Route: Fort Kochi - Alleppey - Kayankulam - Quilon - Attingal - Trivandrum
Distance: 220 kms approx
Time taken: 3 hours, 15 mins approx.
Road condition: Some parts of the road before Quilon are bumpy else otherwise smooth roads. I rode there in the morning time so no issues with the cops, else highway police all along this stretch with white/brown qualises catch the 80+ kmph people.
Stop overs: Two tea breaks along the highway
Day 4: The beach where choppers fly
The mosquitoes helped me in postponing my kanyakumari plans till my next visit & instead got up late and went to Varkala (Helipad) beach & had a nice time over there.
What a beach, much more exciting than Kovalam!! Evening time meeting/dining with Jay's friends. I decided to say goodbye to Trivandrum the next day.
Day 5: Ghats and the ride, boat ride
Started from Trivandrum to Thekkady after having my breakfast, till Chenganacherry I rode along the backwaters & from there it was ghat roads all the way to Thekkady. I wanted more and more ghats and my wishes were being fulfilled.
Some riding around Thekkady & Periyar. What a place, small but beautiful.
Route: Trivandrum - Quilon - Alleppey - Changanacheri - Kanjirapalli - Pirmed - Vandeperiyar - Thekkadi
Distance: 280 kms approx
Time taken: 8 hours approx
Road condition: Great roads!
Stop overs: Many along the way for tea, lunch, photos etc.
Day 6/7: Belting in Munnar
I got up early in the morning and had a nice morning boat ride in Periyar lake, after which I moved on to Munnar. I had been to Munnar in Aug, last year with my friends. It was raining then & as all the people say - kerala looks most beautiful when it rains there, it was great then.
This time I was alone & it was not raining but still I found out - Munnar is Munnar. It rocks !
Lots of riding around munnar - explored almost all the roads leading out ot munnar, went to all the desolate places and found some great views from there.
Route: Thekkadi - Poopara - Devikulum - Munnar
Distance: 120 kms
Time taken: 3 hours
Road condition: First 25 kms pathetic (under repairs), the rest of the route is awesome!
Stop overs: Many along the way, for tea
Day 8: Mama, I'm coming home
I was contemplating going to Palakkad and doing one of Neliampathy/Marmpuzha but then by that time I had lost the enthu for going to these places, better to go there in the rainy season. And so dropped the plan and Started on my way back to Bangalore on 7th April early morning. Boy, it was cold!
430 kms done in 9 hours - gud enuf for my kind of riding with ample breaks. Back to Bangalore life again
Route: Munnar - Mariyoor - Udmalpettai - Palladam - Tiruppur - Vijaymangalam - Perundarai - Bhavani - Mettur - Dharampuri byepass - Rayakottai - Hosur - Bangalore
Distance: 430 kms approx
Time taken: 9 hours
Road condition: Mostly the roads are in good condition except for a few stretches between Rayakottai and Dharampuri byepass.
Stop overs: Many along the way for tea/energy drinks/lunch.
Overall Ride stats:
Route: Bangalore - Mysore - Kalpetta - Calicut - Cochin - Alleppey - Trivandrum - Alleppey - Thekkadi - Munnar - Udmalpettai - Tiruppur - Mettur - Hosur - Bangalore
Duration: 8 days
Distance: 2131 kms
Overall 2131 kms in 8 days. Refuelled the cheapeast fuel in Kerala - 45.83 bucks a litre full to the brim! This has been my biggest ride so far! Rather than covering long distances I saw places and that is what was a real plus ;)
Riding solo was an entirely difference for me, the first of its kind. A creative mp3 player kept me good company - though expensive but proved its worth on the ride.
So far so good - have seen both the sides now - solo & group rides. I rode solo & enjoyed the experience, I went wherever my whims took me to. Followed all the good looking roads, went to places which were really very beautiful and mostly untouched.
Riding in those Kerala ghats was a real pleasure to me & both the footrests on my bull stand the 'scraping' testimony to the rocking time I had in ghats in Wayanad, Thekkady and Munnar .
The bike's response was superb and did not have any issue on the whole ride with this ride now my bull is 6 months and 12K kms old.
More pictures are available for view at: