Friday, May 13, 2016

Hot summer ride from Bangalore to Mumbai and back

Mid-life Crisis

The wife told everyone - "Midlife Crisis" 

Sometimes there is no rational explanation why I do certain things - like this road trip on bike from Bangalore to Mumbai and back, in peak summer, through some of the drought stricken regions. So the wife had to term it my Mid life Crisis. 

I don't analyse too much on these. Just go ahead and enjoy the experience. 

The whole trip started with me fixing the EFI of my Thunderbird ( Comprehensive guide to owning a Royal Enfield bike ) - sunk 13k to replace an important part so the bike will start. After fixing felt bad for the bike - here is a cruiser doing small errands and going in stop and go Bangalore traffic. It never runs full throttle. Time to let it run loose. 

I found a co-conspirator - a developer in the team who owns an Avenger. And we started preparing for the big trip.

Preparation

On my earlier trip to Mumbai on bike, in 2014, I had Sangeeta escort me on a car. (If you are interested here is the story )This time we have to carry our own luggages. So invested in a good carrier which will sit in the pillion seat. From a brand called Viaterra - Rs.2900.

 

 

The current Helmet I have is actually a hand-me-down. The bike I purchased from, the previous owner gave me his as he was going to US to do an MBA. But it was one size large and it did not fit me properly. On highways the wind gets in and makes a deafening noise. Also not sure how best it will protect me when a fall happens. 

I picked up an MT Helmet which fit me perfectly, and came with a sunglass visor in it. Trust me - do not go for the cheaper version without the visor - it is worth every rupee because our highways are drenched in sun and this cuts off a good amount of light. There is a lever on the outside - to engage/release - and can be easily operated with gloved hands.

 

 

MT Helmet with a super model. I think it was around Rs.5500. 

Then I got a knee pad. The shopkeeper while convincing me was saying - if you fracture your femur it is ok, it will heal. But the knee is an important part and if you injure it is expensive to replace. Pretty brutal but practical advice. Picked one too. Actually I could have done better research.

I already had a good biking glove and jacket from Cramster - bought 2 years back when I purchased the Thunderbird. I was all set. 

 

My full armour!


We thought it will be good to do a one day trip on the bike somewhere. Mainly to see how bad the heat is and also if the bikes hold up. We zeroed in on Hogenekal. Hearing us plan, the team jumped in and they rented a Scorpio from Zoomcar and it became a team trip!  

The highway to Krishnagiri is lovely. The ride from there to Hogenekal was also good - towards the end was Ghat stretch. This is a good place to go for a day ride. If you are a veggie pack your lunch - that place is only for Fish eaters. 

 

You will not find much of biker photos - unless a car accompanies one. That's our Sales champ - at the next stop he got back into the car - he said the wind is too strong.

Days before the trip

I think I am invincible. But actually my body is quite weak. The one day trip to Hogenekal was exhausting, and whenever I exhaust myself I catch a cold. Friday evening my throat started aching. That is how my cold progresses - first throat, then body pain, then blocked ear and nose, then it starts running, solidifies, then slowly it goes away after torturing me for 2 to 3 weeks. I decide to check with a doc - breaking my 2016 record. 2015 I went once in Jan to see a doc - because of a running injury. Didn't help one bit.  

Friday night I pack all my stuff. The bag is quite adequate - 50 Liters. I pack 5 shirts and 2 trousers and other stuff. Plan is to work in our Mumbai office and stay in our Mumbai Guest House - from Tuesday thru Saturday - before heading back. Will be a good rest before we head back. Smart aren't we?!

Saturday afternoon took the bike to the mechanic who changed the engine oil, and the break pads. I forgot to get an extra spark plug and clutch cable - 2 things all the long distance riders carry. Should do it when I visit next time and keep it in my bike luggage bag. 

 
At the workshop

Trip Begins.

Morning while having coffee I read in Bangalore Mirror about a Harley Davidson biker lady - a famous personality apparently - who died in a road accident near Bhopal a couple of days before. I push the news out of my head.

We have a small send off ceremony.

 

 
Not wearing gloves, as we were to stop at the Ganesha Temple in our layout for divine support.


I decide to not take the Electronic City flyover and instead head to Bannerghatta Road to take the NICE road. It was a Sunday after all. But I forgot we are in Bangalore. There was lot of traffic - even at 7:30 AM in the morning. 

But once we paid the toll at Bannerghatta and got on the NICE road serenity was restored. The childish glee set in.

80 KMPH

We had decided not to exceed 80 KMPH. The bikes can go well beyond 110-120KMPH. But Royal Enfields start rattling at that high a speed. Also there is no ABS and while hitting sudden break the coin can fall either way. 80kmph is a safe speed on Indian Highways. We decided to stick to it. 

Lorries, Buses - all go a tad slower than 80kmph. Only the cars go beyond 80. The only reason one has to keep checking the rear view mirror. Also being on 80 keeps lot of reserve speed. When over taking other vehicles moving close to 80, one can raise the throttle a bit more and quickly over take without staying abreast - because those pesky cars that go at 120-140 come really fast from behind. 

 

Selfie before a Mumbai - 900 odd kms signage. This was taken in Instagram and it inverted the photos!

State of mind

One of the things I noticed this trip was the mind was alert throughout. Typically when I drive my mind will wander all over the place - the past, the future, about the books I have read or focus on the song lyrics. On a bike the mind is always on the present - looking at the sides of the road for any vehicle, pedestrian who might suddenly get into the road, any signs for the vehicle in front of me that it might hit a sudden brake - so I adjust the distance, or plan to over take, or follow on its side, look at rear view mirror constantly, listen to the bike and the wind. On a car you are cocooned - don't feel anything other than the car's perfume throughtout the trip. On a bike - you are fully immersed in the environment - so many smells strike you from the environment - on heavy traffic areas mostly the diesel fumes :(

However, there were 3 instances when I was not alert. I was riding the bike like a zombie, changing lanes, overtaking - but internally I knew this is not safe. First 2 instances I somehow broke it by shifting seats and taking deep breaths. 3rd instance couldn't shave off - I pulled over, drank some water - and zombiness went off. These were the only instances I felt I was not safe. Have to research why this happens and be prepared for the next trip. 

Heat

God,  India is a hot country. 12 pm to 4pm is the hottest. Whenever we stopped for lunch took long breaks. Outside Pune found this nice hotel with cots. We also made sure we never got into the AC section - as we will never get out. Also the drastic change in temperature would not be good. 

 

Biker Bros

There is a secret signage Bikers give to their bros. They do not do it to all bikers - only to the decked up bikers in gear. It is a V sign, they show with their left hand still on the clutch - as they pass us. 

We did not come across many tourers like us - only idiots go on bike rides in peak summer. 

We saw some beautiful machines though - when we stopped closer to Bangalore and Mumbai. Did not spot any in the middle stretch.

 

That's a Triumph, a Ducati and a Duke

 


And that's our machines to their right.

 


 
This we spotted in Lonavala where we stopped for Breakfast on the way back. This Ducati is the one where Wolverine takes a U turn by using the steel knives he has in hand - and it costs a whopping 18 Lakhs. What a beauty! 

 
On the return at Belgaum.

 
Somewhere Between Lonavala and Pune

 
They were stopping all vehicles to check for papers. Doing their job.. No hard feeling Mamas.

 

This was in a Punjai Dhaba. First time I am seeing a RE with alloy wheels. If I don't upgrade to Triump, I will ugprade the wheels at the least. 

 
Selfie time! 

 
Enjoyed the Mumbai to Pune stretch - we were fresh and it was morning and it was just starting to get hot. 

 

At Lonavala - around 3pm. This place will turn magical once rain starts. 

 
Selfie being taken by Ashirvad

 

The name of this place is "Shedung" 

 

Before Kohlapur, in a restaurant called White House, where we stopped for dinner. 

 
Entered Mumbai around 5:30 PM and reached Mumbai office at 7:30 PM wading through Mad Mumbai traffic. Guest house is close by. 

 
Finally parked at home back in Bangalore along with the Trusty Unicorn.


People ask me how was the trip. 

Well it was mixed. When I roll back the film roll I would say - mostly it was an uncomfortable trip - mainly because of my cold. My cold was in the beginning stages so my mood was a bit off. Wherever we stopped I did not feel like getting back on the saddle. However moment I twisted the throttle my mood improved tremendously and quickly got back into my happy zone. 

The return was much more enjoyable. There are some amazing stretches. The entire Karnataka highway stretch is too good. Especially near Belgaum it becomes a 3 Laner and has near perfect roads.

Maharashtra roads are very bad. They are converting 2 to 3 lanes so lot of diversions. However there are lot of ghat roads and one can really enjoy these roads - letting the bike tilt and turn. 

Will I do it again? I have to do something about the seat which got very uncomfortable. Also need a good solution to keep water from getting to boiling hot. If I can solve these 2 problems then the trip will be pleasant. India is not going to get any cooler - so we better adapt to this. 

I will wait out the heat and the monsoon. Next trip will be after September / October - perhaps to Wayanad. Planning to trek Chembra peak.