Odometer: 21088.5 km, 1410h (443.4 km, 11h00m)
I left Sira riding along NH4 and felt that the traffic on busy NH4 was friendly and familiar. The heavily loaded trucks were cruising fast but they were giving side to a little two-wheeler in their rear-view mirror that was requesting a side. The roads had many diversions but their occurrence was much less than November. I left Chitradurga behind at 3 pm. This was some three hours before time if compared with my February 2003 ride, the first ride to Ichalkaranji where I had started from Kavery Hostel at 3.30 am and reached Chitradurga at 6 pm. Tea break in Ranibennur gave me a surprise as the roadside tea-stall cum snack shop owner offered me plateful of tasty Pohay. That was almost like home coming! The tea also was good. And all this was in mere 8 rupees. I always prefer roadside small tea-shops or eateries as I don't have to unload the bag and other material from the bike. In stead I can park bike and can have tea/snacks on a nearby table. This way the bike remains in sight. In case there is no open space, the owner of shop is invariably kind to keep a watch on bike and bag while I have snacks/meal inside. And then these eateries give good food at very low charge.
It was quite clear that I was able to reach to higher cruising speeds than usual. But I was losing time mostly at diversions and on two-lane stretches when following slow moving vehicles. But it was nothing but natural and I was enjoying that. Most of the time I was overtaking the same trucks and buses after each of my stops. I remember from my November ride that the stretch of some 100 km before Hubli was horrible. Here I have a solid reason to say, "I remember", and you have to remember what I had written in one of the earlier paragraphs to say about my memory! To my surprise the road was repaired well although four-laning was far from completion. It seems that this stretch will be the last one to be ready. I almost reached outskirts of Hubli at 8.25 pm where straight road takes you to city and a left cut takes you to the bypass of Hubli and Dharwad.
Odometer: 21367.3, 2025 pm (722.1 km, 17h15m)
It was the first time in my life I had covered 700+ km distance in one day. There were 230 km to be clocked. I still had energy to continue and started feeling that I could save a whole day if I continued riding. The proposition of saving a day looked very attractive to me and there I decided to continue the journey. I got the left auxiliary lamp tightened at a roadside workshop. But it took more than twenty minutes.
Initial 20 km were along the bypass. It was a two-lane road with good surface. The road passed over a number of hills along steep inclines surprisingly straight. When going downhill on this road, first time in this ride, I crossed 110 km/h and later often my speedometer needle flirted with this speed range whenever I could find a right situation and the situations came in plenty. The bypass takes you directly to the four-lane NH4 which is at near completion. Occasionally diversions came along the way. These sudden diversions were a matter of concern. Here my new head lamp fitted with halogen bulb proved very useful. With this new bulb, I could get a very bright beam that was penetrating at least four hundred meters. This meant I had a minimum of 14 seconds of reaction time when cruising speeds nearing 100 km/h which was reasonably good. But my bike’s braking time for 100 km/h to a complete halt was 15 to 20 seconds so I still had to be watchful. On the way I noticed that the left auxiliary lamp was not working and found it swinging near the crash guard hung with its power cable. Thanks to the road with minimum of humps that it had not fallen in the way. I stopped immediately. I had to cut its wire and keep it in the side carrier. After resuming the riding, I realized that the other auxiliary lamp was emitting a brighter light beam, being the lone load on the battery.
I crossed Belgaon and stopped to call at home and to inform them about the changing plans. Even earlier I was communicating with my parents during stops and sending messages to Rani, the sweet sister. I had not informed them about continuation of journey from Hubli. Actually I had sent message to Rani from Hubli telling I was coming directly, which she received when I was talking with them over phone in Belgaon.
Odometer: 21474.0 km, 2235h (828.9 km, 19h25m)
From Belgaon starts the longest stretch of highway completed with four lanes and it is a joy to ride along. The towns with familiar names were going past in flash. I found the traffic was significant. How different it was this time, as during my first ride I used to be caught in traffic jams at every few kilometers! I had a quick dinner at Nipani. I think I forgot to make an entry of this stop in the log sheet. At around twelve past thirty in night I must have reached Kolhapur. This new road just doesn’t give any feeling of a passing town as it bisects the town and goes over its cross-roads. After Kolhapur I aligned to the road to Ichalkaranji, last 25 kilometers. It is a narrow road with amazingly dense traffic even in those late hours. The pace was lowered naturally. When I reached home, Rani, Aai and Baba were waiting for me at the gate. They were all excited about my covering this distance in one shot. After pulling the bike in parking and changing cloths, I feasted on the Haapoos Mangoes, also known as Alfonso by some people. It was a real home coming!
Odometer: 21564.3, 0110h (949.2 km, 22h00m)
My log sheet readings returned a driving time of 18 hours and 18 minutes and 51.9 km/h average driving speed. I found myself quite comfortable after journey. That time crossing one thousand kilometers didn’t seem impossible. In fact it seemed to me that the home came too early. Machismo underwent a whirlwind endurance test. No doubt she performed exceedingly well. I wish my parents lived in Satara or in Pune!
Petrol receipts in Part 4 ...