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Riding Holiday Part 1: Bombay to Bangalore (via Gokarna and Jog!)


Sometimes when it’s call of your Soul, you ride Solo!

When I started, due to heavy rain couldn't
take a pic of the group....
So, finally when even the last guy cancelled the ‘just’ a week old plan to ride to Goa and then Bangalore; I decided to do it solo! After all, I planned it, and after not being able to ride to Ladakh for the reasons which themselves failed later, I was to ride on any cost!
This ride had been a memorable ride for a lot of reasons, especially with a lot cases of ‘just happened’ things. A lot of things just happened and I had to change the course or rethink about it at least. To start with, I proposed and we planned this ride just a week before the actual ride day. Samzy, Sandy, Monty, Rudra and Deepak said yes to it and later due to some personal commitments kept declining. Last being Deepak who said no, just the day before the ride.

Ride plan was to start early morning in Mumbai, reach Goa as early as possible, have fun, ride next day to Bangalore via Jog, spent a day there and ride back via Humpy. When I decided to do it solo, Vinny called me and suggested to ditch Goa and visit Gokarna. Cool! He even got me a room booked at Hubli through our Hubli Bulleteer friends.

On Saturday morning, 4 AM, ‘just’ when I started tying my stuff wrapped in plastic bags on Achtung, it started raining hard. Wait for a few minutes and did the complete job in rain, clicked the miles on dash and kick-started the ride. Samzy was to meet me on PalmBeach road and Rudra later near Panvel NH 4 (now NH48) naka. Due to rains, Samzy started quite late from Powai, some 20-25 kms from our rendezvous. I waited, waited, waited and finally thinking about the risks of riding solo in such a harsh rain I decided to call off the ride if he couldn’t reach by 5AM. It was already 4:30 and each minute was like pushing me into NO to ride! ‘Just’ about 10minutes before 5, Samzy reached and we hugged! He wanted to smoke but I stopped to ride ahead and fag with Rudra who was already waiting at Naka. Riding slowly through hard hitting rain we reached the place. I asked them, would it be sane to ride solo in such a rain? They didn’t answer, for they didn’t want to discourage me. Few minutes there and we started again. As soon as we left Mumbai and neared Lonavala, rain slowed down and we could see Sun’s presence. I asked the same question, and they said seeing the weather they are confident I can do it. Teas and another fag round, we left Lonavala to have breakfast at BigWheelz. It wasn’t open and we had to search for a dhaba to have breakfast. Rounds of teas, omelette, parathas and of course smoking, we parted. I took the turn towards Katraj and they turned back towards Lonavala-Mumbai.

My plan was simple, No plans!

Somewhere between Dharwar-Hubli
Hotel at Hubli was already booked, and all I was needed to ride cool and reach Hubli before night. NH4 is synonymous with heaven for adventure-riders for it is mostly straight, well metalled and concrete through lengths. Weather was awesome; sometimes it was raining, and mostly clouded with no scorching heat. Riding was a pleasure, but pleasure is what scares me a lot. Monotony of good road and ghats’ serpent turns worked as hallucinating lullaby and many a time I found me crossing the lanes when forcibly opened my sleepy eyes. My first and only fall of the ride happened when I fell asleep behind a car, on a diversion, and had to apply breaks all of a sudden. No injuries, and I was awake thereafter ;)

'SwarnaSauda'-
Somewhere between Dharwar-Hubli
Just when I entered Karnataka, it started raining. I got my bullet parked on side, geared and got back on read. Just over half a kilometer and there was no rain! Mann, I was all wet while getting geared up only, and only at few 100s of meters it wasn’t raining! Gross!

Well, NH4 is completely 4lanes, except between Dharwar and Hubli. At 3:30PM I reached Hubli, so had a complete evening to spend doing nothing there. Googled the distance between Hubli and Gokarna. A call went unanswered to Vinny, so I (re)planned to ride some 150 km more and stay at Gokarna.
Om Beach, Gokarna
Road to Gokarna has its own flavour, almost through the jungles of Kali River and Anshi National Park (almost, because road is at the southern edge of the park). Traffic on this single lane road, NH67, was quite low. For kilometres I was riding alone on stretch with intermittent rain. Following milestones and asking directions I reached Gokarn at around 6 PM. Sun was still planning to dive into Arabian Sea. As suggested by Vinny, I rode to Om Beach but couldn’t find the hotel he told me about. Some miscommunication and I re-planned to ride back to main town of Gokarna. (I would be sharing Gokarna experience in next post) Just when I started riding back, after visiting Om Beach and Hanuman’s birth place, it started raining. Some off-roading on gravel road, some sharp turns and I reached another hotel. Manager was such an a****le that even after an hour I couldn’t get a room booked. So, I moved ahead to search another hotel and finally settled at Gokarna International (seriously nothing was International about it). Next morning, I woke up early and visited the Gokarna Beach, saddled up by 9 AM and left the town for Jog.

Riding back on NH17 (now NH66), whosoever I met and asked about the direction to Jog, I was answered ‘Go straight, One Hour, Take Left”, I was like ‘how do they know it’s one hour ride, may be they are so frequent to Jog that know it takes an hour’s ride before taking left. At about 50kms from Gokarna, and almost after an hour of riding on serpent roads (straight!), I reached a place called Honnavar and then came to know they told me about taking turn at Honnavar not after One Hour ;)
Jog Falls in background, a pose-only picture :P
I took left towards NH69 and moved ahead to Jog Falls which is situated at the North-Western end of Saravati Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. Roads were similar to NH67 but at time narrower and denser with trees on either side. It was a real experience to ride through such beautiful valleys alone. Riding slow and enjoying the awesomeness of Nature I reached Jog by noon. Waters were not much in the falls, but the height was really appealing. About 1200 stairs take people down to the base of falls. I thought to give it a try, and started almost running downstairs. Few guys that I met en route were all wet in sweat, and when asked how much time it took, all replied in sign language ‘one hour to go down, double upstairs. And, they were true, packed within the riding jacket and pants only I know how soothing was the rain that started just when I started back to roof.
Somewhere inside  Saravati Valley Wildlife Sanctuary
(available at InstaCanvas)
Back on NH69, I once thought to at least meet some wild animal, the endangered Long Tailed Macau of Nilgiris was much to ask, at least a snake! Minutes later, I saw a long snake in the mid of the road crushed by some vehicle. Few kilometers ahead, another crushed snake, though smaller. A third made me really sad when I saw him a little later, as my bullet neared, he elevated his head; believe me – I was some meters far on mean machine but felt really goose fleshed!

Just a few pit-stops, reaching Tumkur I had to solve almost a puzzle on how to get on to NH 4 (now NH48) from NH69. From there Bangalore was almost 70 km. No pit stops, except for natural calls, in a little over an hour I entered the Mega City, fully geared with GoogleMaps’ knowledge and lost. I was supposed to ride coolly on New Ring Road from Yeshwantpur to Koramangla, but I somehow left the Ring Road and entered the mulit0single lane maze called Bangalore. Problem with accent, raaito/a (right) leftaa  (left), dedendo (dead end) and no prior acquaintance with the city was enough to make the struggle harder. But, guys were really cool and did help me even when I wasn’t actually able to get what they were directing, and finally came an angle-uncle who actually took me across the city, some 20-25 kilometers, up to Koramangla.

I did some 750km on first day, and 550 kms next day; so almost a ride of 1250 kilometres solo! Till date, the longest I have ever been solo (first was to Mehsana, ~1300 kms both way) ! Would soon be writing on Gokarna, Jog, Hoggenakal and on ride back to Bangalore...

Takeaways from the Log:
1.       When solo, you are your only Help and Hope on road. Be prepared in all ways, always!
2.      Ride solo sometimes, it’s the Best way to be with yourself.
3.      Plan, but not to every detail, planning-replanning has got its own adventure....
4.      NH4, or NH48, is rider’s paradise, ride high, you can touch the Sky!





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