Day1, 7:00 am
5 kms from Vivanta by Taj, Yeshwantpur
With Priya on the pillion seat , I was cruising at about 70 kmph. It was a misty morning and the Bangalore-Tumkur highway laid out it’s 4 lanes ahead of me. A few lorries gave us company. As we crossed the 2nd toll booth, I decided to take the lead. Soon, the city traffic reduced and I switched on my mp3 player. Almost immediately, Alphons Joseph sang into my ears, the rock ballad, Aaromale. With that as the perfect background score, I climbed the flyover onto the foggy tumkur road. I smiled to myself, my stairway to heaven.
The fog was thick and visibility was bad. I tried to catch a glimpse of the rising sun in my rear view mirror as I rode. We were nearly 40 kms from Bangalore when Priya asked me to stop. Shenaz had asked to. Thinking it would be wise to wait for the fog to clear as it would affect visibility, I parked the bike off the highway. I wanted to use this break for taking pictures. As i removed the camera from the case, Shenaz called again.
“Sangeet, bad news. My RX has given up on me man.”
“You’re kidding right?” I asked. “We told everyone back at work that we could cover 500 kms in a single day. But we’ve hardly covered one-tenth of the total distance man!”
“No. I’m pretty sure. There’s this weird noise. Moreover, I cant cross 40 kmph man. There’s no way I can reach Gokarna on this. This sucks man. You and Priya should probably carry on.”
“Nope that’s gonna be boring. What’s plan B? Head back to b’lore and off to an early start at work?” I asked glancing at Priya. She was already fuming under her hoodie, thinking of an early start at the office.
“The only other option is to return with another bike. But you guys would have to wait for about an hour or two, till Kiran and I return with my friend’s pulsar.”
“Alright, see you at the next Kamat in a couple of hours then.” I hung up, turned towards Priya and said “The RX has given up. Shenaz will be back with his friend’s pulsar. Till then, we have to kill time.”
Kill time, we did. Not two, but four hours of it. After spending 2 hours having 2 idlis, 3 vadas and 3 cups of coffee, the hotel management politely asked us to wait in the parking lot. The four of us rendezvous around 11am and resumed our ride. The plan was to stick onto NH4 till Haveri, followed by a detour towards Sirsi. The NH4 roads were absolutely fantastic. We were covering almost 80-90 kilometres in an hour. Having said that, it is by far one of the most boring routes ever. Walls on either side of the highway with hardly any patches of green beyond them made me feel as a rider whose sole purpose was to reach the destination and not enjoy the ride.
Around 2 pm I heard a sound. I first thought Priya had burped. Then it happened again. But this time I knew for sure. It was my stomach growling with hunger. We were approaching Davangere and decided to catch up on lunch and relax for a while. Lunch wasn’t a grand affair. Two of us in fact ordered only curd rice. It was almost 4 pm by the time we were done with lunch. We had covered only 250 kms. 250 more remained. We figured, if we kept racing along the butter smooth NH, we would reach Gokarna around 8pm. So with a full stomach and an almost full fuel tank (I refuelled at Chitradurga, a few kilometers before Davangere) we started towards Haveri. 60 minutes later, we stopped beside a sign board indicating a detour to Sirsi.
“Haveri is still a few kilometers ahead, and I think we should stick to the plan.” clearly expressing my reluctance to deviate from the plan. But we were racing against time. A decision had to be made. The responsibility of calculating the best path was entrusted on Priya who was the undisputed expert in kannada, amongst us.
Priya was a pro at asking directions. With the right attitude and the confident look of a biker with a purpose, she went about asking unassuming villagers for the shortest route to Sirsi. The reply was the same for all variants of the question “Ee road madam. Road thumba chenaagithey” (This road only madam. The roads are very good). We thanked the villagers gratefully and hopped onto our machines.
“Next stop; Sirsi. In 1 hour ” I shouted out to Kiran, who was busy checking the oil level in his Royal Enfield 535.
Forty minutes later, the only words out of my mouth were “Chenaaigthey my ass!”.
The detour turned out to be a narrow and broken road through a few sleepy little villages. Thanks to the bad roads, I couldn’t enjoy the beauty of the route. I had already taken a break for poor Priya who wasn’t having a lovely time on the narrow pillion seat of the Avenger. And that’s not where it end. At one point, overcome by impatience and frustration, I overtook Shenaz. Just then, a son of a crow, probably because of a bad lunch, took the liberty to take a generous dump on me.
As i slowed the bike to a halt, to clean the mess, Shenaz rode over to me, with the silliest of grin on his face and said “170 kms to Sirsi dude. You still might have to overtake me like this”.
Just not my day, i thought to myself as i wiped my jacket and helmet. The road ahead worsened and it soon got dark and chilly.
But despite the chilly night breeze, bad roads and sick crows, we kept riding. Because that’s what real bikers do. Live free, Ride hard.
(Also, because there were no hotels or restaurants till Sirsi.)
Day 1, 9:15 pm
Sirsi, outside Hotel Shivani
(90 kms from Gokarna)
“Sangeet, we should reach gokarna tonight. So that we can chill out, trek and explore Gokarna tomorrow. We should skip the hotel for now and instead head over to Gokarna right now.”
“Are you insane Priya? It’s so cold and 90 kms from hereon, is pure ghats. I think your idea is absolutely impractical. I think you need some food to think straight.”
“Go man. You can’t be like this. I want to finish travelling today. I want to trek and explore Gokarna tomorrow whole day. I want to go to the temple, I want to shop, I want to enjoy at the beach. How will we get time for all that If we break our journey now?” exclaimed a clearly frustrated Priya .
I gave Priya a long hard stare. I knew she was right. But there was no way I was riding this late. Night riding was strictly against my principles. And I had never rode on Ghats before either. I replied “You know what, I’m not gonna ride on the ghats now, no matter who, no matter what.”
After 10 minutes of silence I saw Shenaz walking out of Hotel Shivani, towards us.
“The dude at the reception says all rooms in Sirsi are booked except for the one with the AC. He thinks we are stupid. Ha!”
Day2, 00:00 am
“Sangeet sir. As per your odometer, only 20 kms left to gokarna. Buck up, ride fast”
I wasn’t paying attention to Shenaz. I was still thanking the almighty for saving me from the truck with the blinking indicator. Undoubtedly, the truck was being driven by someone better than me. I was right about the rest of the bikers though. They were waiting for me on the other side of the hairpin bend.
We finally checked in at hotel Savitri, Gokarna, around 00:20am tired, but happy that we covered the entire distance, in almost a day.
Looking back now, I’m happy no rooms were available in Sirsi. It was probably the best thing to happen to us. Else neither would we have covered the entire distance at one stretch, nor would we have got enough time to do all the wild stuff in Gokarna.
What was so wild about Gokarna? Well, that’s another story, for another time and for another post.
P.S: The link of the RX is one that’s available online. It has been used for representational purpose only. Neither does the author, nor any of the characters mentioned in the story have any relation with the bike in the link.