Bikes have always been a deep passion for me. May be because I was forbidden by super-cautious parents to even touch a bike - forget riding - till I was formally deemed fit at 18 by the Govt. of India to ride one. May be because I did not have one at my home - not even my father had one - to be used as the rabbit for amateur tests and I had to learn to ride secretly from friends and sometimes shamelessly from friends of friends too :-) To sum up , this passion can be attributed as a function of two factors.
1. They say the longer you wait for your love on a breezy evening, the more beautiful she looks to you ....
2. They also say that stolen mangoes sweeter than the normal ones....
So my long wait for my own bike and the secret stints with borrowed bikes hidden from my home explain the correlation.
The weekend of April 10 & 11, 2010, became special with my first long ride. Of course the bike was borrowed but the stint was not secret. As I am now legally above-age, my parents have reduced the level from super-cautious to cautious and only advised me to stay cautious on the ride.
Thus it started. At 4 AM from Bangalore. Destination : Kannur, Kerala. Distance: 350 km. Estimated time to reach: 1 PM. Route: via Mysore (Karnataka), Mananthavady (Kerala). What was planned to be a story of two states (my own - not Chetan Bhagat's :-) ) eventually turned out to be a story of three states , leaving us in a near dead state when we reached Kannur at 5 30 PM , hanging onto the last drops of energy in the body.
I have read once that the best philosophers were long travellers and lost travellers! We travelled long and on the way to Sultanbathery we were lost too (!!). Time is to tell about the quality of our philosophies but sure the ride and the wander opened our eyes to a new experience. Luckily for us, the lost stretch of 90 km was through Bandipur National Park (Karnataka) through Mudumalai wildlife reserves(TamilNadu) to SultanBathery (Kerala) - - did I mention about the story of three states :-)
Instead of being fuelled by petrol, our ride was fuelled by adrenaline. Ambitiously, we skipped lunch and rode on from SultanBathery to Mananthavady and on to Kannur. This was a stretch of typical Mallu roads - narrow two lanes with a deep turn every fifty feet apart. On an empty stomach, these curvy roads could have given a lot of headspins but we had enough adrenaline to keep us going!
And then came Kannur - after a ride through three states, four hills and thirteen hours. Yes you guessed it right ... we hit the beds in the lodge with the same vigour with which we hit the roads earlier. Stay in Kannur in the late evening was uneventful but as our plan was by now a trip to Bandipur, Mudumalai etc. we were not surprised. Kannur's beaches can wait for another morning :-)
Except for a 20 km stretch for which the road was real bad, the route from Mananthavady to Mysore was heaven-like, considering what we went through earlier. 5 30 PM this day, we were at Mysore. Bangalore was only a three hour cruise from here in an amazing highway. This window of time and the grandeur of the Mysore Maharaja's erstwhile residence tempted us to accommodate a visit to the palace too. Thus the trip added another wonderful first-time for me at the Mysore palace. Stunning would be a milder description to describe the magnificience of the fully lit-up palace against the evening's darkness. Stunned was I .... :-)
Cheers to my fellow riders - Saurabh Trivedi, Tituts Raju and Ajay Amarnath (the owner of my borrowed bike who shared the wheels with me).