SaddleSore Success at first attempt

Posted: by Pulsurge in Labels:
28

Success is simple. Do what's right, the right way, at the right time.....Arnold H . Glasgow 

My first and biggest thanks to Dr. Arnob Gupta for all the guidance. Before the ride he said that don't let this just be an attempt- just go for it. His tips turned out to be the most crucial- specially the departure timing. Thanks to Venkat Sir for information on fuel pumps outside Bangalore despite him being out of town. Navendu and Gliff for whatever best info they could provide me.

And a bunch of thanks to my buddies Sanket, Vinod, Glen, Parimal, Revel (thanks for the cam), Arjun, Prasad (your Tee's turning out to be lucky indeed), Alkesh, Amit (both V & D) and others for their wonderful wishes before the ride. A few wishes stood in silence which I could sense and accept.

I could never imagine me doing a SaddleSore and that too on my bike until I rode to Kodaikanal last. Gave me confidence to at least attempt it if not succeed. Alkesh straight away offered his P220 keys and said "take this, you'll be able to do faster'- but I wanted to do it on my very own and reliable P150 DTSi.

As a preparation got it serviced at Reddys. Had an extra can of Motul T5100 and changed it on the way towards Lonavla- my starting point. Testing of the GPS was done a day earlier on a short ride to my friend's place in Kasara. The phone was taped in the most merciless way you could have ever think of, but anyways all my phones till date have met with the same treatment :D Sounds funny but I used a broad comb I found lying in the drawer as a base and black taped 3 layers of sponge I bought for 6 bucks from the market. Already had a small clamp fixed to the mirror bolt and the brake fluid cylinder gave good base support.

Dr.Arnob suggested Lonavla as the starting point and I was there at 10.30. Spoke to the Manager Mr. Lalsahab Yadav who was even more jubiliant than I was- same for everyone at the pump...all excited :)

Filled up the forms right away and showed him the odometer reading on the bike before I mentioned it on the form. I told him that I will be back tomorrow at the same time, hope he will be there. I could see in his eyes that even if he had a day off, he would still come for me :D Refuelling done, card swiped and the GPS was reset.

My odometer at the start.

And the starting fuel bill - that time it didnt strike me to click it alongwith the odometer.

These pics were clicked just for formality- didnt at all feel like stopping.

Found one drunk fellow sitting nearby- called him and told him to take my snap. Later he started requesting me for a lift :D

Second fuel stop at Belgaum

Trip read 38549 kms (418 kms in 5 hours 16 minutes- avg speed: 81 kph)

The charging unit conked off at Ranibennur only to find that the adaptor had gone kaput and had serious doubts if it can be fixed by any mechanic - not counting out the waste of time. Even then precious time was lost checking out charging units at one shop- just in case it worked (avg speed was around 78 and it came down to 72). There was still some charge left in the phone before it ran out of juice near Davangere. Following is the GPS trail. Larger sized image HERE

Made a silly mistake that almost ruined the entire ride- was wondering as to how the bike hasn't come on reserve yet- was almost 400 kms at full blast. Broke into cold sweat realising that I had forgotten to turn the knob to ON position and the indicator needle has rested dead left against the stopper. Asked a local about any pump nearby- he said there is none. But 10 kms ahead there are some local shops that sell petrol- never found them though. Another enquiry- this time the pump is 15 kms ahead. Its past 25 kms and couldn't get a sighter still. Frustrations building up on seeing the needle between 40-50 kph- nothing much could be done, felt like carrying on at full speed, but in case I run out of fuel- the ride was ruined, still wasn't sure how far the pump was. Some more minutes and slow ride of frustration before a heavenly sight- a tall Indian Oil Board. But guess what....no petrol. I literally begged to the attendant for at least one litre- in case he could arrange. "Saary Sir" is the answer. The embarassment carried on before another enquiry- this time the bunk was 5 kms ahead in Tumkur- but true this time and fortunately it had fuel too.

Asked him how far is Shell petrol pump...... 75 kms is the answer. It was already 10.45 pm and with Shell shutting down at 11, no chance I could have made it. Enquired if he accepted card payment he said yes. Checked the odometer and decided to turn back from there. Had tea and a mini pack of Parle G that concluded my dinner for the day.

Trip read 38993 kms (863 kms in about 12 hours - avg speed: 72 kph)

Start of the return trip. The HID for some uknown reason stopped working, it wasnt easy riding on stock lights. I had set the reflector way too upwards- the high beam wasnt hitting the road and the low beam wasn't giving the distance. Bumps, speed breakers, potholes- I was bouncing all over. Tried my best to just carry on, but they turned out to be more than a match for my aching wrists and stiff shoulders. Found a stall and stopped over for a tea break. Confirmed with the stall owner of the distance till Hubli. 150 kms it was and I remember Pune was another 435 kms from Hubli. I had decided to conclude the trip at Panvel rather than Lonavla in case the distance minus the odo-error comes into play. It was dot 2 in the night and my plan was to reach Pune before 9 in the morning so that I have a cut-to-cut margin to touch Panvel, which meant that my average speed has to be over 80 kms an hour. Doubts started creeping in whether I could complete it. All the messages and calls made by friends started ringing in my ears- I thought I'd lost it. But then got up and decided whatever result may come- I'll just give whatever I have, I wanted to succeed not for me or the SS certification, but for my friends who had faith that I can do it. From thereon I was fighting against time. All I could see was the word PUNE and a watch showing 9. Some more bad luck instances- I took one wrong diversion following a truck and reached an absolute dead end. No road from thereon- a U-turn and back on the highway.

Then later again I took some wrong diversions and was riding through towns- not once but twice. I couldn't recollect if I passed these places when towards Tumkur- not sure which place was the first, but the second was Haveri. I looked far into the distance on the left and I could see row of lights travelling- no guesses that was NH4 with vehicles moving in the dark. I was getting really desperate and the accelerator was right at the end of its play and merged with the highway later. The HID started working, but used to die out after 10 minutes, and when on the horn and tacho stopped working. Press the horn switch and the HID used to go off- so for some time I was using the horn switch as a dipper for the HID and it worked to force the oncoming vehicles to switch to low beam :P  Maybe I need to check the battery water level. But things apart- my bike was just roaring its lungs out.

Stopped over at Belur for refuel. Trip read 39379 kms (1248 kms in about 17 hours - avg speed: 73 kph)

The cold was taking its toll one me. Despite having a jacket with a thermal lining and wearing those thick track pants I was still shivering. An overflowing nose, cracked lips in such a short time, hands had gone so stiff I couldnt even twist the throttle properly. I used to grip it tight with my thumb, twist it a bit, then grip it tight and this used to carry on till it reached its play end. Belgaum and Kolhapur had gone past and I was shivering like crazy. Stopped over at Karad for a tea break and then before Khambatki for a formal click.

Next refuelling break at Salora Pune. Trip read 39745 (1614 kms in 21.5 hours- avg speed: 75 kph)

Still had 3.5 hours to reach Panvel, which was quite easy by the average speed I was going at. Saw the odo and calculated the distance I would have covered if I stopped over at Lonavla- and it would easily go over 1700 kms.

Reached Lonavla a few minutes before 10 a.m. and first thing I did was called up Dr. Arnob. Told him that I still have another hour left with me- should I conclude the ride here at this much distance or do I carry ahead till Panvel. He first congratulated me and said its fine and good enough. Mr. Laalsahab- the manager and my witness was so surprised and told me "Aap toh ek ghanta jaldi aa gaye". He saw me tired and ordered tea for me. Had tea and gave my card to swipe for a receipt- will refuel when I leave I said. The concluding formalities were on- showed him the odometer and conveyed the distance I had covered, filled up the form and took his signature. Clicked the slip with the odo this time and the bike too.

Trip read 39854 (1723 kms in 23 hours- avg speed: 74 kph)

The complete stats of the ride.

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He advised me to take rest for some in his cabin. Half of his crew had gathered around asking me all sorts of questions of the ride. Got up after a few moments to start for home. They asked me to drop in next time if I pass Lonavla. I was really stiff but I couldnt help smiling and said sure I will. Refueled and it was a painful journey back- a small bump and I felt like screaming. Stopped over at my friend Revel's place in Vashi- a hot shower (might have emptied half his storage tank)- then lunch and had the second best sleep of my life for 3 hours (Revel clicked this pic while I was asleep).

Left Vashi, came home at 10.30 pm. Mom didnt have an idea of where I went. Had dinner and told her that there is this SaddleSore Ride that I want to attempt. Its a certification ride and I've to cover this much distance in a prescribed time limit. Freaking out she said to just forget it, she's not in a favour for these kind of antics. Finally I told her that mom you know what- I just did it. It was complete silence for a few minutes. I could not hold back and asked her doesn't she feel good that I've attempted something and succeeded. She was normal in a few moments and started asking about all the details of the certification :)

Well, my mom never smiles whenever I come back from a ride as I always lie before departure and the true destination is revealed only after return. She's too worried about me riding long- but this time it was different. Her smile was a like a sweet cherry on the cake. With a stiff body- but with a satisfied mind I was dead asleep.

Thanks again to everyone for the guidance, info and wishes.

So that was it. Uploaded the larger sized pics and receipts in the album HERE

And HERE's my certificate :)

A latest and small addition to this post....Big thanks to Bunny Punia for putting this up in the March 2009 Issue of Bike India Magazine (page 41). A bigger size of the cutout HERE


Short ride to Malshej

Posted: by Pulsurge in Labels: , , ,
1

Wander....not to escape life, but that life does not escape you....

Thanks to Alkesh for this ride- or else the whole of Saturday would have gone waste fiddling with the remote control boring myself switching from one TV channel to the other. To frankly admit- am badly broke and for the first time I had to be pillion on a ride- its a different story that I ended up riding his P220 75% of the journey ;)

It was decided to ride to Malshej, breathe in some fresh air on the ghats and return back home. Was slightly apprehensive that the roads would be in a bad shape- surprisingly they were quite good.

Baring for a few bumps and potholes- riding on the ghats was a treat. The only irritation was the P220's centre-stand scrapping the tarmac when I tried to push hard into the corners.

We arrived where we had decided the ride to end. Sat down chatting, enjoying the valley view, inhaling fresh air and a couple of vada-pavs for the stomach.

Looked at the watch and we had lot of time on hand..hence decided to carry on till Shivneri Fort. Last time missed the river- this time no chance. Splashed the bike right into it as far as it was possible. Ahead there was a deep trench visible- parked the bike and clicked a few pics.

Who said the P220 runs only on petrol ;)

Carried on with the zig-zagging ride till Shivneri and this time saw a lot more at the fort than I did last time :)

Explored all the corners of the fort- left at 4 and let Alkesh ride the bike this time...shouldn't being saying this, after all it was his bike :D

Reached home by 8, and felt satisfied of having spent a day worthwhile.

HERE's the complete set of pics- not much though (pics clicked from mobilephone, might not be very clear).

Trip to Kodaikanal and back through Kerala

Posted: by Pulsurge in Labels: , , , ,
26

The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land...... G. K. Chesterton

How fast does one actually plan a ride and disappear into the horizon? Obviously am not talking about those Mumbai-Lonavla or Mumbai-Pune sprints. This one was the longest ride I'd ever done and surprisingly it only took me 24 hours to decide that I'll be riding to Kodaikanal. Ooty was always there on top of my mind and had pre-decided to ride to this place whenever I had the opportunity i.e. leaves.  With Christmas approaching and Friday being the only broken rift between the two day off to follow- I still didn't consider or even could imagine that I'd ride out for 4 days. But something struck me and struck me really weird. Just the earlier evening decided to bunk Friday and ride out to Ooty. Started info hunting on the web and a hyperlink took me to a page on Kodaikanal. Saw a few snapshots and simply fell for it. Ooty disappeared from my thoughts as it never was in my mind. A quick search and a few pages of print about this place stamped approval for the ride.
But deciding things and just hurrying out for the ride doesn't help- still had to seek mom's permission for bhatkaaving out for 4 days. But didnt tell her that I'll be riding to Kodaikanal, instead told her am going to Kolhapur. A few initial hesitations, but got through. Already late in the night and with plans of leaving next day- left packing for later.The day at office passed away with only thoughts of the ride lingering my mind. Got the old broken spot beam welded- though it was big and scatters a lot of light around- the throw of light with the HID inside is a blast. Had to collect knee guards from Sanket and meet up with the rest of the gang before I melt into the highway. Sanket was ready with the guards and surprisingly Ishtibhai, Prasad and Parimal dropped in. The short conversation unknowingly turned into a longer one without realisation- it was already past 11. Replaced the spotbeam while the conversations carried on and bid good-bye to the gang taking along their best wishes on the ride. Was past midnight by the time I reached home and after dinner- sleepiness crept in, no packing was done either. Decided to leave at 3- will sleep for some time. But then couldn't sleep, with each passing minute I could sense me crossing a km.
25.12.2008
Started getting restless with every minute, jumped up and told mom that I'd be leaving right away- that expression on her face of "My son's gone crazy" was evident. By 1.30, luggage and myself both on the bike ready to leave. Tried to recollect hard in case I missed out on anything- well nothing I said to myself, everything is in. Bid tata to mom and sis and am making my way out of my area with dogs chasing me. Hit the Mulund toll naka and it struck that I forgot the printouts at home. Didn't feel like getting back, but I couldn't recollect the names of the places on the route. Took a U turn and am back home. Mom read those pages and asked "You're going to Kolhapur, what is this Kodaikanal?" Hurriedly snatching the printout "Its near Kolhapur" I said and disappeared in a flash.
As always, despite of having done many rides in the past at short notice and planning- something was still bugging me at the back of my mind. But then I know- a few kms of roll and the world starts feeling like heaven. No sooner was I coming out of the feeling- something really bad struck on Thane-Belapur Road. I could smell fresh burnt rubber and plastic- a glance on the other side and saw a terrible accident which I believe took place a few seconds before I touched that place. A totalled Wagon R with an equally smashed Indica. The passengers just got out of the car with one lady hurling swear words at the Indica driver, and worse- the other lady trying to wake up an unconscious baby crying her heart out. Two men chasing the Indica driver who was trying to run away from the spot. This was another near-fatal example of the rash drivers of call-centres. That particular scene made me go weak in the knees and all the mood of riding- like the car had been smashed. I mutely stood there watching the lady crying louder and louder by every passing moment- almost took a U-turn to go back home, but just pushed myself ahead. By then lot of people had gathered and I left the place praying to the almighty that the baby is alright.
Touched palm beach and started gathering speed and fortunately got over the incident. The chilly atmosphere and with the recently changed oil to Motul T5100, the engine was feeling really good at high revs- something like a flush. Decided to ride as long as I can without putting my foot on the road. Why not ride non-stop to Belgaum I thought- lets do it then! What a big difference it makes when you have better lights and a road lit up in front of you like a runway. Was cruising cosy at 80-90 getting through with Palm beach and the JNPT stretch hitting NH4. The roads were good- I could see them quite far enough. In no time I touched Khopoli and then there it was..... my phobia about the ghat section hits me. I was never concerned about any mishaps until I last rode to Hampi and someone telling me about theft incidents on a particular stretch.
I was looking for vehicles whom I could keep in company till I finish it off- no sign of any ahead and not even a headlight twinkle in my RVMs. Hell with it I said- lets see whatever happens. I gathered speed and luckily I spot a slow moving truck- get behind it and riding at what.....20 kph. The driver came to know that someone is following him- courtesy the bright spread of the HID. What else....he stops. Kya bad luck- I say to myself, and overtake acting as if I knew nothing. Could spot the driver giving me a real suspicious look. Pulled up the throttle and got in and out of the corners as fast as I could. On the last hairpin and I take a deep breath, merging with the expressway and started pushing towards my target. 
Lonavla's gone and so is Pune, in the Katraj bypass tunnel with absolutely no wind drag- with that delightful feel of your bike pulling up the figures on the speedometer. Give up plans of having tea before Khambatki- the usual place where I always stop. I just keep going, but then its nature's call playing a spoilsport. A distance-board swooshes past saying Karad 70 kms- cross over a toll naka and relieve myself. Check out the watch and the distance- its 5 am...265 kms in 3 and a half hours..NICE! I murmur. Gulp down two cuttings- an sms update to Sanket and am off. Remember Ishtibhai's hukka- the last time when I had fumes coming out of my mouth was at the Karnala Dhaba meet  pulling in the pipe with all my might, this time it was all coz of the dead cold climate. 

Pledging not to stop anywhere before Belgaum- I zip past Satara, Karad, Kolhapur- glance up and grin at the shed where Glen, Revel and me had a short nap while going towards Amba Ghat. A light blue spread of light hints the sun progressing up the horizon. A few moments later, the sun's out and rising, and so is the pressure again inside my body. A relieving stop again and as a formality click the rising sun- the shot didnt come out that great though.

Zoom past the state border sign and into Karnataka, over the rumbler strips of Sankeshwar toll plaza with the wide roads running as far as you can see and into eternity, I touch Belgaum. A look at the odo and the watch- 8.25 am and 510 kms- am delighted again at the distance covered. This time I take a longer break- do away with all the riding gear and soak in some fresh morning sun.

A couple of stops before Hubli for clicks.

Hunger got better of me and stopped over at Bankapur. Had Parotha and some weird tasting curry- for that time it it was neither breakfast nor lunch.

The bad patches of road between Hubli and Chitradurga.

Lost half an hour at Davangere hunting for a refuel, and another hour at Chitradurga for ATMs. First guided to a State Bank Branch- but with no ATM. Circling round for Syndicate Bank- again no ATM. Again some State Bank- cash is exhausted, the next- after standing 20 minutes in the line under the hot sun with my riding gear on and people giving me an alien-ish look, the ATM doesn't accept my card, neither does the next, another one- error message "please insert your card properly"- tried all the positions, didnt work. Well next- its out of order. Am out of patience now- felt like banging my head with the helmet. But finally hope does work- and some odd-named bank dispenses cash. Now I didnt know in which part of the town I was and which direction I have to take. Asked a couple of people and they added more to confusion- first I couldnt understand the language and three of them giving me three different directions. One tells me take this route and go to Coimbatore, next tells me to go to Madurai, the third says go to Mysore! What the..... Luckily I have Navendu's contact which he'd given me during an online interaction on Kodaikanal. I call him up and he tells me to hit straight to Bangalore. So I turn to these three chaps and ask "Bangalore where?" Bingo! This time all their fingers point in one direction. "Thank you" I say with a diplomatic smile on my face. Am off!
A short stopover for nariyal paani on the highway. This chap doesn't have change and I have to sip down 3 of them.

Into Bangalore City.

Stop over for refueling looking at my watch and the distance. 5.10 pm and 1043 kms. Navendu's sms arrives guiding me to the remaining journey. I freshen up and relax for a few minutes. An SMS update to Vinod and I proceed towards my next landmark Hosur.
What a pain it was to reach Hosur- terrible traffic, all dug up roads, N number of diversions. If I remember correctly it was not more than 60 kms and it took me 2 hours to cover. Its 7.15 p.m and am sitting blank at Hosur thinking what next. Salem was another 120+ and Dindigul more 150+, then Kodaikanal another 100+. There was no way I could make it to Kodai. The traffic had its fatigue effect and I eased myself for half an hour with passerby staring at my registration number. I decide that Salem it will be for an overnight halt, wrap myself and on my bike rolling again.
NH7 got rid of all the fatigue and frustrations- wide 4 laner with proper reflective mountings and the best part, it was simply descending- just a small twist of the throttle and the bike used to gather speed due to gravity. I was having a blast over 100kph with the different colours of the reflectors providing a visual treat. Stopped over in between for tea before finally hitting Salem. Not to mention took a wrong diversion in between- maybe which would have landed me at Chennai or Kanyakumari.
I was desperately hungry, but finding a good halt was on the list first. Spend another 1 hour looking out for a cheaper option. No way I could shell out more than a grand for just a few hours of sleep. Hunger got to the extreme and I crashed into a restaurant and had good fried rice variety. The owner suggested me a cheap lodge just a few shops away from his restaurant. "That ABT one- its a hospital right?" I asked. He grinned and said its a lodge and its cheap. With the good news, I hurry through with the dinner and head straight into the lodge.
200 bucks for the night halt, plus he gave my bike a nice secured place to park. Luggage dumped in one corner, I freshen up and on the bed. Switched on the TV and with the remote and buttons on the TV missing, I had no option but to watch some freaky southie numbers for recreation. A few mosquitos singing near my ears- but with the blanket over my head- it was the end of their music concert. Was past midnight and with memories of the days running around, eyes start getting heavy and in a few moments, am cut off from this world.
26.12.2008
A 05.30 set alarm rings and as requested a bucket of hot water arrives. Fresh with a hot bath, luggage all packed up again- am out of the hotel at 6.30. 
Hit NH7 again- the sun was rising and it was start of a fresh morning love affair with the roads. Now here comes the villain in the form of an overcrowded bus moving like a road train. I get right behind it and as soon as I am about to overtake it- a big BOOM..... harsh noise of metal scrapping fills the air. For a initial few seconds even I couldnt realise as to what went wrong and the bus now tilted to the right was still carrying on with the same speed. In my senses and realised that was a high speed tyre burst- both the tyres on the right had gone opened up and slid to the inside and the bus was running only on rims.Took a few hits of the chipped rubber pieces, but thanks to my riding gear didnt feel an inch of it. Stopped over for a few moments and scampered off.

Took a halt at Paramabathivellu having the best breakfast of my life. 4 Parothas with the tastiest veg kurma in this world alongwith fresh coconut and tomato chutney- all on a banana leaf. Hot refreshing masala tea to finish things off, and all this at 16 bucks...WOW!
Passing through lovely scenery comprising of fields and hordes of coconut trees on both sides of the road. Taking stops- sometimes for clicks and sometimes for the awesome nariyal paani.
Touch the foothills of Kodaikanal and its a start of the 46 kms climb.

Made numerous stops to dissolve into the calm surroundings and for a few clicks of the scenery along the way.
Reach Kodai and found a nice cosy hotel i.e. Hotel Muruggan Inn- but on a more expensive side for 700 bucks, which initially the manager was not at all willing to give coz I was single. I asked him "Does Kodaikanal welcome only honeymoon couples?" Showed him my driving licence and even pointed my finger toward the registration number plate and said that I've come so far just to see this place. He laughed and agreed. Later he became a very good friend- just carried on talking to him for long. About the room, everything was big about it- the room itself, so was the bed, windows, even the bathroom was big as the room itself and a biiiiiiig bath-tub. Didnt venture into it or else I would have been a frozen chicken- the water was freezing cold.

The climate was cold, really cold.... my stupid antics- thought to experience the chilly surroundings and went out with any warm clothing- just cargos and a tee. The more I started moving away from the central area, the more I started shivering. Clicked a few pics of the lake and the surrounding valleys.
Didnt click much as the cam couldnt get a clear shot as my eye could. The temperatures started falling and it was getting difficult for me to ride, the grips were hurting my palms and I was warming them up touching the engine case every now and then.
That was enough of site seeing, came back to the hotel shivering, jumped onto the bed- damn even that was so cold. Rolled myself in the blanket and lay dead till 9.30 pm.
Got up, got out to find the whole town absconding. Dark roads with only stray dogs in large numbers- had thought to take a nice walk and have dinner at a good restaurant- but with the entire place in a blackout, returned half way and had food at a small restaurant nearby. Am back at the hotel and that concluded my stay at Kodai. Set up the alarm for next morning to bid adieu to this wonderful place.
27.12.2008
Plans to leave at 5 didnt work out though I was up early. It was very dark and temperatures so cold (i.e. 6 to 7 degrees) I couldn't dare venture out. Waited for light to scatter- and at 6.30 again am out on the road. 
Gliding on the twisty roads carved on the edges of the wonderful hills- all alone with just a couple of vehicles passing at length of time. 

Going around hair pins- 14 of them, grasping up some of the most soothing sceneries I've ever seen.

Stop over at Palani for a usual southie type breakfast.

Finally enter into Gods own country- the sight of the calm backwaters was the only saving grace of riding through the State- as for the rest it was a nightmare- narrow broken roads, traffic jams, horrendous bus drivers pushing me off the road twice while overtaking.

Stopped over at Calicut and found a restaurant with great difficulty- but it was worth the effort.

A light house to pep up the spirit and a clean vacant beach to make me feel like a king for a few moments.

All plans of reaching Karwar that day ended in vain- couldnt cover much distance so decided to ride through the night again.
Reached Mangalore at 9.30 p.m.- updated Glen of having reached his native place. Got through with dinner and carried on with the journey stopping over at tea stalls and dhabas to kill the sleep getting into my eyes. Ride on with great regret of having missed Uduppi, Murudeshwar and the Kundapur ocean stretch. Soon I was passing bridges every now and then- with even more regret in mind that I'm missing some beautiful scenery and decided to stop on one of them just to look around with my HID support. I dont remember what this place was- it was more than half an hour when a vehicle had last crossed me. It was pitch dark and with the moon missing, couldnt see anything except where your headlight beam goes. I stopped and by instinct switched off the engine- and the sight I saw was something I would remember for the rest of my life. I could feel something moving over my head and as I looked up a few hundred metres away- I could see a two lines of lights rotating. Didnt take time to realise that it was a lighthouse on its duty. A completely dark sky- studded with millions of stars visible so clearly and this light beaming across in all directions. I cannot describe the sight and experience in words- it was so dramatic. I stood there for half an hour just looking at it. I tried to capture that in still and video both, but bloody the camera couldnt catch the light. The following pic isnt the one- its basically my Pulsar's pilot lamps, just to show how dark it was :)

Thereon I was stopping every now and then, whenever I felt like. Being all alone by myself at night in middle of nowhere with only pitch darkness for company- sometimes listening to music and sometimes just staring at the stars- talking to myself- it was kind of a self-realisation.
28.12.2008
Was getting close to morning and I realised I didnt have enough concentration in me to move any further-, stopped over at a Dhaba near Gokarna, had 2 cutting chai with Parle-G, charged my mobile on the bike's adaptor and went to sleep for an hour or maybe just half. Got up and rode to Gokarna beach which was just 10 kms away.
Home was almost 800 kms away- but I was so relaxed as if I was somewhere near Pune. Enquired with a truckie about the road conditions and he advised me to take a diversion from Ankola to Hubli for Mumbai- roads were in bad shape ahead. I already had a fair share of a jerky ride through half of Kerala and Karnataka- wanted to reach home quick now. Reached Ankola and the right from the start the roads were in top condition.
Had breakfast in between halt after Ankola.
Touched Hubli at 11.50 am, updated Sanket, refueled and topped up the engine oil. Pune reads 436 kms on the distance board and though it seemed difficult, planned to touch Pune in 5 hours. Covered 94 kms between Hubli and Belgaum in just over an hour. This was fast becoming a race against time- by 2.30 pm, I was past Kolhapur and made it to Pune with just over 15 minutes of the decided time and a halt for water. The sun started setting and and so did my eyes- but that desperation of reaching home kept pushing me.
My back had gone pretty stiff and felt like stopping- but I didnt, just carried on and reached home at 9.15 p.m. SMSed the rest of the gang of having reached- had home-made food after 4 days- though I dont remember what I ate, was dog tired. Lay flat and eyes finally shut off - it was the end of a memorable trip.
Look back at the trip and cherished of having rolled some good numbers on the odo in pretty good time, the amazing feeling of being free and lonely for 4 days, at some places felt like am the only creature alive on this planet doing whatever I wished to at any given point of place and time with no compulsions whatsoever, the fearless company of the darkness and the majestic lighthouse I saw on the way. It was the best trip of my life.
Thanks to all my friends- specially Sanket (love that word "Godspeed" from him), Vinod, Glen, Parimal, Revel, Prasad (thanks for the tee- wore if for full 3 days), Ishtibhai, Alkesh, Vaibhav, Salil and others for all the good wishes and concern. And a bigger share of thanks to Navendu who guided me out of the maze at Chitradurga and directed me on a proper route to my destination. And last but not the least, my trusty steed, my 5 year old reliable Pulsar- which didnt show any signs of fatique or wear despite me pushing it to the limit. It has given me the confidence of doing something which I always wanted to- might well do it soon....a SS1600 :)
Following are the figures from the ride. 

Mumbai-Pune-Satara-Kolhapur-Belgaum-Hubli-Davangere-Tumkur-Bangalore-Hossur-Krishnanagari-Dharmapuri-Salem-Karur-Dindigul-Kodaikanal: 1583 kms
Kodaikanal-Palani-Udumalaipetta-Pollachi-Pallakad-Mallapuram-Calicut-Mahe-Kannur-Payyannur-Hosdurg-Kasaragod-Mangalore-Udupi-Kundapur-Bhatkal-Honavar-Gokarna-Ankola-Yellapur-Hubli-Belgaum-Kolhapur-Satara-Pune-Mumbai: 1654 kms
Total distance: 3237 kms.
Anyways enjoy the larger sized memories HERE