On Friday, 19th, I got up early so that I could be ready with my bag, first aid kit, some snacks, packed fruit juice and driving gear. I was happy to see Santosh coming to help me in preparation. We loaded the bag on bike, arranged all the material, some in side carrier and some in various pockets of bag. I kicked off the ride at 3.10 am from Kaveri Hostel in presence of Santosh and a security guard. I even remember Santosh taking my photo by his camera phone. But hopefully it is still in his phone.
Odometer: 20645.1 km, 0310h (0 km, 00h00m)
From Guindy (in Chennai) I joined NH4 and noticed that the four-laning work was still unfinished. One good thing was that every where at least one side of the road was ready but the lane-strips were not painted. Absence of lanes poses some inconvenience to the motorists however good the road surface may be. The road was ready for cruising at 70 – 75 km/h with a little extra care. It was almost dawn when I passed by Kanchipuram. NH4 bifurcates at Walajapet, some 100 km from Chennai. The road via Krishnagiri - NH46 - has four lanes and is a part of golden quadrilateral. The road via Chittoor goes to Bangalore and continues to be NH4. I joined the road to Chittoor. By this time the day almost broke and the traffic on road started increasing. This road passes through a national park and warning signs of elephants crossing can spotted at some places. Till half past six there was no stopping. When nearing Palamner I started feeling hungry and I stopped near a roadside dwelling of shops. The tea shop, run by a wife-husband pair, was just opened. They welcomed me with warmth and prepared tea quickly. They offered me biscuits also to have with tea. After three cups of tea and six-seven biscuits, and after paying bill of mere 12 rupees, I set off for further travel. My log sheet indicated that I had covered 180 km non-stop in 210 minutes. Till the date this was my longest distance covered in single strech and also 210 minutes was the longest time spent riding at a stretch. During this stretch I never exceeded 85 km/h.
Within half an hour, I started feeling drowsy and I decided to take a few minutes rest. I slowed down and started looking for a suitable place. I spotted a bench made of stones at some 50 feet away on the right side of road. I reached the bench, parked bike, removed helmet and lay back on the bench. I got a sound sleep of fifteen minutes. After getting up I felt completely refreshed and very energetic. Looking around I realized the beauty of the place. The bench was situated in line with an array of tall coconut trees along clay road emerging from a river bank at distance of 200 feet and then joining the highway. The surroundings were full of green farms and sun was just showing-up himself behind a small cloud. I made entry in log-sheet and started riding.
Odometer: 20864.0 km, 0800h (218.9 km, 4h50m)
I entered Kolar which is a couple of kilometers away from the highway. I wanted to confirm the road to Vijaypura and so asked an auto-driver the same. He gave me a nice smile and showed me a small crossroad on the right and asked me to follow it all along. I thanked him, entered the road and soon realized that I was in the middle of white buildings apparently bearing a look of some administrative office complex. And that’s it, it was the end of the road! I appreciated the sense of humor the auto-driver had exhibited and returned to the main road and followed the road that was in my memory. Before starting to cruise, I verified it with a gentleman. This incident confirmed two things; one, my memory can be sometimes trustworthy; and second, you find this type of auto-drivers every where, even in Kolar! After riding a fifteen – twenty kilometers I realized that the roads were in extremely bad condition. It had hampered my speed significantly to the extent I started feeling that the decision of taking this route in order to avoid busy traffic of Bengaluru was not a wise idea. But then rides have to have such elements to surprise you in order to add to the excitement!
I had brief lunch after reaching Gauribidnur that is just 15 km before Tumkur. When I resumed journey at 12 pm I was already two hours and a quarter behind schedule. But it was all right. Only thing that was troubling me was that the signboards for directions and the distances were written in Kannada and I had to rely upon the native people and sign language for knowing directions. And then a goof-up took place. At a cross-road I could not find directions mentioned in Hindi or English. I turned to right. I drove some 20 km and enquired about road to Tumkur. I was told that Tumkur was 40 km away almost in the opposit direction. This meant I had missed the road in big way and was on the way to Sira which is on NH4 towards Mumbai. This was the moment when I decided to drop plan to reach Honnavar that evening. In stead of that I decided to continue my journey to reach Ichalkaranji directly. In some way I wanted to enjoy biking so I was not particular upon following only one plan. Here two things went wrong for Honnavar plan, one was decision of bypassing Bengaluru. Though it gave me a wonderful experience of riding through countryside, it pushed me behind schedule by more than three hours. The second thing was deviating from the desired route. I accepted this divine instruction to reach home directly to meet parents waiting for me in stead of roaming hither and thither!
I joined NH4 at Sira at around 2 pm. A glassful of tender coconut water energized me. Hubli was around 280 km away and I had four and half hours available before sunset. So Hubli became destination for the night’s halt. I had so far covered 443.4 km in eleven hours.
Odometer: 21088.5 km, 1410h (443.4 km, 11h00m)
Continued in part 3 ...