Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The West Coast Riders

First things first...I dedicate this Ride to God...For the problems I had to face just before the start of this ride were quite depressing & irritating but with God’s grace this ride was possible and started with a bang...and no problems whatsoever during the entire ride...just can’t thank God enough !!! Now no more divine talk...just pure Riding Talk...Enjoy the blog folks...

This ride was an idea of my Riding Comrade Gyananath Moshahari of IOC Fame!!! He floated an initial plan in September to fellow BOPians but that plan didn’t go through due to various reasons...but I got hooked up due to the excitement of riding through the West Coast and to Kanyakumari...another of my dream destinations...I contacted my Ladakh Ride Comrade Sunder Sankararaman of Accenture fame and he got excited the same way as me...We started planning the route, itinerary, logistics & the expenses for the ride. And then added the Rider Mania 2009 to be held in Ooty in our plan as well...October, November and December went into the intricate planning and my mid-Dec we were ready with the entire Plan !!! All thanks to Sunder as he was the one who did all the research, Hotel Bookings, RM Bookings...the fact that he was warming his Ass on the Accenture Bench helped the planning tremendously...and also UHG!!! As we took away business from them and started working in-house at Gurgaon...sad but true...the harsh realities of Business!!!

The pre-ride preparations for me included buying a pair of Cramster gloves, finalizing the Logistics for sending my Bike from Delhi to Mumbai and getting the bike ready for the almost 3000 kms ride...everything was in place by December end and then it was just playing a waiting game and going through the roadblocks I mentioned at the start of the blog...the Dreaded January Delhi Fog which could have delayed my plan and the start of the ride ; the Truckers Strike from 5 January which could have delayed my bike reaching Mumbai on time, the Petrol Employees’ strike which could have really troubled us as you can imagine but everything got solved within days and the ride was back on track without any hiccups...my bike reached Mumbai on 6 January, the Petrol strike ended on the 10 January & the day I was to leave Delhi, the weather was bright & sunny...and then I started the second Long Ride of my life after the June 2008 Mountain Tamers Ride to Ladakh...

What follows is a day-by-day account of the 17 days of the WEST COAST RIDE (WCR)...hope you enjoyed reading it the same way I did riding through some amazing roads...I would try my best making the travelogue filled with real humorous situations we went through...enjoy...Ride On...

Before I forget…Heres presenting the West Coast Riders…

Sunder Sankararaman on his Black TB



Nishant Jha on The Mighty One



Deepak Khemani…The indomitable Pillion Rider



Day 1 - 10th January 2009 (Delhi to Mumbai on the Rajdhani Express)

I spent the first half of the day finishing bill payments and other tasks before leaving home at 3 PM to board the Rajdhani from NDLS at 4:30 PM…reached on time and took my seat…I was surrounded by some Mumbai based pilgrims who were coming back from Rishikesh after paying their obeisance to their Guruji…I made friends with the only youngster from this group called Chaitanya Dalmia…a 21 yrs. old Mumbaikar...fun loving & a good guy…the best from him was reserved for the evening though…whilst his entire group was busy chanting hymns, he spent his time rightfully by watching my entire collection of MMS !!! it was an irony of sorts…he really enjoyed my collection…and then at 11 PM I called it a day and went up to my berth and slept dreaming about the 17 days ahead…

Day 2 - 11th January 2009 (Mumbai – Bhiwandi – Panvel – Khed)

I reached Mumbai an hour late at 9:30 AM and took a taxi straight to Bhiwandi…a town outside of Mumbai where my Bike had reached from Delhi…I enjoyed the Taxi Drive through the busy Mumbai roads and reminisced the days I spent in Mumbai way back in 2003 when I was there for my first job…though I never enjoyed my stay at Mumbai but still the drive reminded me of some good old memories…I reached the Mumbai – Bhiwandi border at 11:30 AM and then took an auto to reach the Warehouse…finally I was there in front of my packed beast….almost ready to unleash himself on the West Coast Roads…I filled petrol…started the bike and Voila…it started in the first kick…a Moment of Truth !!! and then I started the ride through Bhiwandi – Kalyan – Thane and finally reaching Panvel at 1:30 PM where my WCR Comrades Sunder & Deepak were waiting for me …continuously abusing me since 9 in the morning…as they were just biding away their time doing nothing and just waiting for me to come and start the Ride…we finally met…had a celebratory Beer and then a bout of Sugarcane Juice & Vada Pao before filling up our bikes and starting the much awaited WCR!!! The initial plan was to reach Chiplun before dusk and then set up our tent at a solitary place somewhere close to a Dhaba…but due to the fact that I was delayed I stopped sharp 5:30 PM at a place called Khed somewhere in Maharashtra some 30 kms. Before Chiplun…the place was perfect for a camp-site…a Dhaba close by…levelled ground…and not too close and not too far from the Highway…we took some 40 minutes to set up our tent and shift our luggage in the Tent…while Sunder & me were busy setting up, Deepak made a video of us setting it up…it was a first time experience for me & Deepak but Sunder had done it a number of time during his 5 yrs stay in the US…so you can term him as a Camping Pro… he only ordered the tent from the US and got it just before the Ride started…then we were off to the Dhaba for a Beer session…after all we had to celebrate !!! We 3 were meeting after 20th June 2008, the day we ended our Ladakh Ride…it was a great re-union of sorts…Chilled Beer served with Peanuts and Fresh Pomfret & Prawns!!! and then at 10 PM we went straight for the tent to sleep…half an hour into the sleep effort, me & Sunder decided to venture out for a Sutta and a stroll under the perfect moonlit sky…the scene was simply amazing…in the middle of nowhere 3 riders in a tent with their bikes parked nearby…a scene straight of a Rider’s Dream Guide!!! then suddenly an idea of setting up a Camp Fire came to my mind and we collected some dry grass & cut some branches to set up a small fire by the dry river bed side…it was a Herculean task not even helped by some Camphor which Sunder had brought along due to the reason that the wood was quite damp due to the dew which had started to set in…but still we enjoyed the brief camp fire and at 1 AM finally called it a day and went to sleep…Deepak anyway had slept long back and was in no mood to take part in another Bak session !!! I was so excited…the first night of the ride…camping & Biking through the smooth NH-7…I couldn’t have asked for more for the first day of the WCR…amidst this all sleep set in…and we 3 were all snuggled up in our Sleeping Bags…it was quite chilly and we had to close our Tent Windows later…all in all the perfect way to start the WCR…

Day 3 - 12th January 2009 (Khed – Chiplun – Rajapur – Savantwadi – Pernem – Calangute)

We woke up to a perfect morning…not too chilly and quite misty…lots of dew had settled down on the top of our Tent and when we opened a window, the dew started to drip down…we went out to freshen up and start the day…Deepak as a diligent friend went to the Dhaba to get water for us…we packed our tent and loaded our luggage onto our bikes before having fresh Poha which we had pre-ordered with hot Tea, moments before we were to start Deepak’s sudden metrosexual instincts woke up and he decided to shampoo his hair…I mean why on heaven earth one would want to do that but our dear Deepak is known for such penchants !!! so we didn’t mind and I even helped him in satisfying his grooming instincts…we rode for some good 60-70 kms before stopping at a restaurant for some Vada Pao and hot coffee…then we had a long ride ahead…we took a detour towards a hot water spring which was quite depressing to say the least but we took some great pics using Sunder’s ultra-small Tripod for the first time!!! Later at 4 PM we stopped for some much needed lunch at a Highway Dhaba for some great Malwani cuisine…we ordered Thalis which were extremely delicious and were finished in no time…by 6:30 PM we had finally reached our destination…the world-famous Calangute Beach and headed straight for Hotel Haciende where I had pre-booked our stay…we relaxed for some time in our spacious room…had a bath and then ventured straight for the Beach to enjoy at a sea-side Shack…my Goa favourite…St. Anthony’s…I am sure some of you would have surely been to this shack…I had also called Pandu my GIM MBA Batchmate as I had not met him for long and he was the 4th comrade during our entire Goa stay !!! had a bout of beer before leaving for my favourite Goa restaurant St. Florentines where the best Chicken Cafreal is served but sadly it being a Monday it was closed, then Pandu took us to another decent place where I had a Sea-Food feast…Prawns, Squids & Fish…after the wonderful dinner we reached Calangute and had a round of ice-cream at Baskin Robbins which became a daily routine for us for the next 2 days!!! Reached the room…discussed the day and went to sleep after the first full day of riding of the WCR…

Days 4 & 5 - 13th – 14th January 2009 (2 relaxed days in Goa)

The next day started with breakfast at my favourite Breakfast joint called Infantaria but it was a big disappointment as we reached at 10 AM and by then almost the entire stuff had finished…we got away with just some sandwiches and shakes…after that we headed straight for the beach to enjoy a dip under some really harsh sunlight and only our towels saving us from the Sun…we enjoyed the dip…and Deepak went for a Para-sailing adventure…not to mention the cheap rates…just 250 bucks for the Para-sailing…the Terror Attacks & recession has really hit the Goa Tourist Season hard…it was quite evident…empty shacks, cheap Hotel room tariffs, not too crowded Calangute-Baga road…I really hope that the next season is good for Goa as almost the entire population depends on Tourism…while Deepak was busy flying with the parachute, me & Sunder took refuge in a shack to save ourselves from the Sun and cooled ourselves with some chilled Kingfisher Beer !!! After that had our lunch and went back to our room to catch some sleep before getting ready in the evening again for a Beach side beer session!!! we explored the place and found one of the most amazing shacks…quite deserted with nobody around…extremely peaceful but for the Himesh numbers playing in the background…soon Pandu also joined us after frantically looking for the place…had another beer session & not to forget, Deepak had a foot massage as well…the metrosexual desires again being fulfilled !!! The dinner this night had to be at Florentines and it was not to be missed...while we were waiting for our dinner I went out for a smoke and met 4 British tourists who to my utter shock had seen my Ladakh Videos on YouTube and they remembered my bike!!! It was a great sense of pride & achievement for me…I chit-chatted with them for some time and then enjoyed the Chicken Cafreal coupled with squids and some chilled beer…Dinner again was followed by a Baskin Robbins session…

For the next morning we had planned a Chapora Fort trip…for me it was almost like homecoming as I had been at this fort atleast 10-15 times when I was in Goa during my MBA from 2001-2003…when we reached atop the Fort, Sunder ventured away to explore a hill-top but me & Deepak were no adventurers like him, we rested our butts on the Fort Top while Sunder was busy huffing & puffing some distance away from us…post this memorable trip we had a great breakfast at a sleepy little joint near the Vagator Beach…a Darjeeling couple had set up this joint and they also go to Leh during the summer season…we were quite excited to hear this as we had been to both the places on our Bike Rides…amazing Tibetan Chants were playing in the background while we were busy gobbling up the food…after that I took a trip down the memory lane…visited my MBA hostel to re-live the best 2 years which I had spent at our hostel perfectly located on the River Side…I had a beer at Gene’s...which is bang opposite our Hostel…I mean which idiot would study if you have a bar right in front of a hostel !!! I had spent many an evenings enjoying with my buddies…and this time I had Sunder for company…after the nostalgia trip we visited Pandu’s office near Porvorim…then had an amazing North-Indian lunch before sleeping again for an afternoon siesta…late evening we had a beer session at a Provisional Store!!! Can you beat that? Yes you can if you are in Goa!!! After that Pandu’s brother Rahul came to pick us up as we had to visit Pandu’s home…we enjoyed the crazy & fast driving skills of Rahul…then we saw the home which Pandu has built…an amazing property…amidst scores of Coconut Trees!!! Deepak gave him some free advices about some interior-designing nuances for Pandu to decorate his home tastefully…for dinner we went to Old Goa for the best sea food place as per Rahul & Pandu…quite close to our Hostel but for some unknown reasons I haven’t been there ever…and best it was !!! once again I had a bout of Prawns, Fish & squids…enjoyed the amazing meal and went back to our hotel…finally our Goa trip was over…we were sad and happy at the same time…sad that the Goa Fiesta was getting over & happy coz our Bike Ride would continue after the relaxed 2 days…confused between these mixed feelings we slept after packing our stuff to have some extra time the next morning so that we could leave really early…

Day 6 - 15th January 2009 (Calangute – Canacona - Karwar – Om Beach (Gokarna) – Murdeshwar – Maravanthe Beach - Mangalore)

We started at 7 AM and when we stopped at 9 AM we had already covered 100 kms. Through Goa and were almost at the Goa-Karnataka Border, had amazing Udipi Style Breakfast with piping hot filter coffee and post that headed straight for the highway with all guns blazing…enroute we stopped at the Karwar Beach to click some pics and then we had to cross some really pathetic roads with big trucks lined up on the side of the road to load the stuff being unloaded from the Karwar Port…the red dust flowing didn’t help the matter much…but as fighters we went ahead without battling an eyelid till we stopped at the Om Beach at Gokarna…I had just heard about this beach and after watching this amazing beach I can safely say that this would be one of the most beautiful beaches in India and believe me I have seen quite a lot of them…nothing on the East Coast but on the West Coast Om Beach would be my personal favourite…it is known as Om Beach as the rock formation on one part of the beach resembles the word Om…we clicked pics but didn’t stop for long as the sun was beating down on our necks and we still had to cover a long distance ahead before reaching Mangalore. Our lunch stop was at the famous Shiva Temple at Murdeshwar which is as you would expect situated right next to a beach…another amazing piece of art with tonnes of pilgrims around and we 3 bikers were the odd ones out, we had a decent South Indian Meal before starting our ride again…we had planned a non-stop ride till Mangalore when we started but the moment we reached close to the Maravanthe Beach I just could not control myself stopping…what amazing 4-5 kms stretch of Road…the beach right next to us and smooth-as-silk Tarmac road…a sight which I would never be able to forget…we merrily clicked pics of our bike against the beach side and soaked in the moment…post that we went as per the plan and decided to stop at Mangalore only where Sunder had booked the Youth Hostel for our night stay…after going through some difficulty in finding the YH we reached at 8 PM finally…when we saw the Odometer we were quite amazed…we had clocked 480 kms in one day of riding…our ass could easily vouch for that…bruised & battered it wanted some foam support in the night…the rules at the YH are really strict…no Smoking & alcohol and final entry by 10:30 PM…we quickly had a bath and went straight to have dinner at Pizza Hut…some luxury dinner it was…one of the most expensive of the entire ride…810 bucks !!! Pizza never tasted better to me!!! post dinner we once again went through the Ice-Cream ritual and reached the YH sharp at 10 PM…didn’t waste some more time chit-chatting and went straight to sleep in the Bunk Beds…it was a first time experience for me to sleep in a Bunk-bed…it was too small for my height but I enjoyed it nonetheless…

Day 7 - 16th January 2009 (Mangalore – Bekal Fort – Mahe - Kannur – Calicut – Guruvayur)

We started this with another Dosa-Idli-Vada-Sambhar induced Breakfast at a decent joint in Mangalore and then rode straight to The Bekal Fort which has been made famous by the running Manisha Koirala clearly jumping off her Vital Assets in the song “Tu Hi Re” from the movie Bombay…lucky Arvind Swami!!! I guess he had enough of the jumping & pumping that’s the reason I guess he simply vanished from the Scene!!! After enjoying the Fort we left and rode through the final stages of Karnataka before entering Kerala and having our Lunch just near the State Border…another South Indian style Chicken Curry I went through…but still the hunger took over the taste buds and I quietly filled my Tummy without my routine rumbling…then we rode through Mahe which runs through Kerala but is technically a part of the Union Territory Pondicherry, to our utter shock there are only 2 kinds of shops at Mahe – Liquor & Sanitary ware !!! Amazing tastes of Mahe residents…you can keep guessing…then we rode through some really bad roads after passing through Calicut and then reached Guruvayoor at 7:30 PM…went to the first Hotel in the town and booked a decent room at just 300 bucks…freshened up and then headed straight for Dinner at the most famous Restaurant of Guruvayur where we had awesome South Indian Thali Meal…it was quite impressive…post that we once again had Ice-Cream!!! You must be thinking these 3 mad bikers really enjoy their ice-creams!!! And believe me, yes we do…post that we went straight to the Bed and had a nice sleep…

Day 8 - 17th January 2009 (Guruvayur – Cochin - Kumarakom)

In the morning we woke up amidst hundreds of blood filled Mosquitoes who had sucked our blood through the night, me & Deepak kept sleeping through this demi-Blood Donation Drive but Sunder just could not sleep, what made matters worse for him was that he normally sleeps on the floor as we booked Double Rooms and he used to utilize my Sleeping Mat which was used as a mattress by him…I got into the action mode straight away and within minutes was successful in massacring close to round 40 blood suckers…my hands were all read and one wall as well on which I rubbed the Dead Bodies !!! That was my Revenge Wall!!! All this while Deepak was counting the cold-blooded (well, quite literally it was really cold that morning) murders and the last count was 43!!! and then a post-incident investigation was conducted by Sunder and it was found out that Mr. Deepak had opened one of the windows when we just came to our room post-dinner but simply forgot to shut it before sleeping, and the hungry/thirsty (you decide...) mosquitoes were waiting for their opportunity to feast on some bikers’ blood…he was accordingly reprimanded & punished (I won’t mention the gory details of the punishment here, some of you might just start crying).

Post the trials & tribulations, we had planned this day’s riding to be a short & sweet affair for a change…we were moving along as per the Plan…all thanks to Sunder as he had planned each day riding to be just about near perfect…we reached Kumarakom by 2 PM…it was quite hot when we reached our resort…the owner’s son out-of-the-blue offered us an upgrade from the Non-AC room which we had initially booked to an AC Room on hearing that we were coming from Mumbai on our bikes!!! this was an offer which was simply too good to resist and we readily agreed and straight away moved to our spanking new AC Room…sadly there was no water as some maintenance work was being carried out so we could not take a bath…we moved to the Lake Side Eating area to enjoy a relaxed lunch right beside the famous Kumarakom Lake…I had fresh Fish and Chicken with Rice & Papad…we finished our lunch and had a nice sleep till 5:30 PM and then we went for the Sunset Viewing Boat Ride…a 2 hours Boat Ride just for 350 bucks…quite cheap for the amazingly brilliant Sunset View we were just about to witness…and the proof of the beauty was that by the time we came back from the Boat Ride we had clicked almost 200 odd pics and shot some 10-15 Videos and still were asking for more…and then it was decided that we would come again the next day as well !!! after that the nest POA was Beer with some great Sea Food fresh from the lake…though just for me…as Sunder is a Vegetarian and Deepak never eats Sea Food…I had Prawns Masala & Grilled Lobster for my Dinner with some chilled KF Beer…quite a satisfying meal it was and obviously the normal Bakchodi Session to keep us amused!!! We went to the room…had some more Sutta & Bakchodi before calling it a day and sleeping and without any tensions of waking up early the next day as we were to stay at Kumarakom only…

Day 9 - 18th January 2009 (A relaxed day at Kumarakom)

The next day we woke up really late after an air-conditioned night!!! Had a breakfast of Appam & Egg Curry and post that we were off to one of the most famous Kerala’s exports…The Kerala Ayurvedic Massage but for me it was one of the biggest disappointments of my life till date…this asshole masseur kept rubbing some concoction of oil over my body for some 40 odd minutes without utilizing any of my pressure points and after that told me that its over!!! I abused him with the choicest of my abuses and he straight ran towards Sunder as he could gather that I was abusing him but was not understanding a single word which was getting spewed from my mouth(except the B & M word, obviously !!!) Sunder came rushing and then tried his best to soothe my nerves, we quickly paid him and then walked away without getting into any extended mess!!! I have figured out that no more Kerala Massages for me ever again…pure waste of time and money…by the time we came out we had wasted 1500 bucks & almost 5 hours on the shitty massage…we had to have a really late Lunch, fortunately Lunch was great and we ate a stomach full of Kerala delicacies…we reached the Hotel and straightaway left for the Boat Ride, another frantic Photo session followed and then we were back at our Hotel for another Beer session which this time was at our Room Balcony which was quite exquisitely decorated with extensive wood-work…and when the power went off the scene became even better…we could see hundreds of Migratory Birds resting and their white hues easily visible…it was quite an amazing scene, we even switched off the Emergency Light to continue the darkness around us…after the heavy beer session we had a light dinner and slept early that night…

Day 10 - 19th January 2009 (Kumarakom – Alleppey – Kollam – Thiruvananthapuram –Kovalam - Kanyakumari)

We left Kumarakom on a sad note as we really loved the time spent here complete with Sunset Views, a great room to stay and some delicious food to gorge on…we reached Alleppey Beach at 9 AM and clicked some of the most amazing pics of the entire ride, posing with our bikes against the beautiful beach…we had a pathetic breakfast at a KTDC Restaurant, and after that we rode on till we reached the famous Kovalam Beach about which we had heard a lot, it was surprisingly not choc-a-bloc with tourists but we did chat to a British Couple who talked to us with excitement in their eyes about our Long Ride and also the Royal Enfield cult image…we had a Beer session & lunch at a Kovalam Restaurant and left after our thirst & hunger both satisfied !!! post that we planned a fast ride towards Kanyakumari but our plans got undone when I hit a huge bump on the road and my Chain Cover got stuck and my tyre was not moving at all & to make matters worse for us, for the first time we got separated on some confusing Kerala roads and I had to wait for some half an hour before Sunder & Deepak reached the place where I was stuck, we tried solving the problem ourselves but then Sunder went to fetch a Mechanic to get things done, within 10 minutes I was back on the road riding non-stop to Kanyakumari. We reached at 8 PM and booked a room in an odd named Hotel…Kanya Residency!!! it was a steal…a 4-bedded room at just 300 bucks and just 10 minutes away from the Vivekananda Rock Jetty Point which is the main attraction of the enigma called Kanyakumari, it was my dream right since my childhood days to visit The Vivekananda Rock and after some 25 years since that dream started, I was in Kanyakumari, the southern-most city of India, its simply unbelievable to stand at the beachside just imagining that India just finishes beyond that point…finally the North-South Journey was complete, from Khardungla Pass in Ladakh in June 2008 to Kanyakumari in January 2009…within 7 months I had conquered both the places on my Bike !!! while we were lost in the scene, we met some Royal Beasts ( a Delhi based Bullet Club) Bike Riders who had also reached some time back, we had a chat session with them and then advised them to book a room at our hotel only, they did the same and we again met them at Dinner Time. Let me tell you that talking to fellow bikers during a Bike Ride is an amazing experience, discussing roads, Bike Performance and future plans gives you so much opportunities to explore a fellow Biker’s mind and we utilized this opportunity to the T…once we reached our Hotel we chatted to Rodriques, a Beaster from Delhi and also about his ride from Delhi to Kanyakumari via Goa. I also met Manas, a fellow biker to whom I was chatting since quite some time but never got the chance to meet him. We slept at 11 PM as the next day we had to wake up at 5:30 AM to watch the most famous Sunrise of India at the Kanyakumari Beach; we had only some idea about the spectacle we were going to witness the next day…

Day 11 - 20th January 2009 (A relaxed day at Kanyakumari)

We left our Hotel at 6:15 AM as the Sunrise that day was at 6:40 AM, on the way we had Tea-Coffee and some sweet bun and then we were at the beachside waiting anxiously for the Sun to rise behind the Rock Memorial…huge crowds of almost 2000 odd people had gathered to watch this amazing scene…the sunrise was greeted to some loud cheers and some frantic camera shots all around us!!! Sunder also made a video of the entire sunrise using a tripod…we also met Tajinder Singh, a Rider from Chandigarh who was also on his way to Ooty through Kanyakumari, another biking session started, he was leaving for Rameshwaram the same day, we wished him luck and then went straight to the Jetty Point to catch a Jetty to The Vivekananda Rock Memorial…it was a bumpy ride with the entire Junta wearing Life Jackets and the ship jumping up & down like crazy & children shouting all around!!! Inspite of the mayhem we reached safely and then watched the place in pure awe & amazement…a memorial built in the middle of the Sea with the mad waves hitting the boundary walls quite violently and winds blowing vigorously!!! The wind was so powerful that even my short cropped hair was moving around!!! We went inside the memorial and donated some money to the Trust and became the Life Members of the Vivekananda Society and felt really good in doing that, also clicked loads of pics and bought some Swami Vivekananda Books…I haven’t completed the books till now and whatever I have read is thought provoking for sure. We had our Breakfast and then me & Sunder were off to Nagercoil to look for the Chain Cover which had to be removed due to the mishap a day before, finally we found one and I got it installed…post lunch we had a quick nap before going out again, this time to watch the Kanyakumari Sunset…we were not quite amazed the same way as in the morning as the Kumarakom Sunset was far more beautiful but inspite that it was a good experience, we did some shopping after that for folks back home and friends & colleagues…then we searched for a Bar and found a small & dingy place where we had a nice-little Beer session followed by a sumptuous dinner…

Day 12 – 21st January 2009 (Kanyakumari – Madurai – Dindigul - Kodaikanal)

We started the day fresh & all geared up to ride through the day to reach Pollachi and camp for the night somewhere…but our plans were soon going to drastically change for the good !!! we had a fresh South-Indian breakfast at a roadside joint and rode along the Wind Mill Fields…I had never seen so many wind mills in my life !!! It was quite astonishing…all over us wherever our sight could go they were all there…we sped all the way to Madurai and the great roads helped our cause tremendously…we had clocked some 225 kms in just 4 hours…amazing speeds we reached…we stopped for Lunch at around 2 PM and then Sunder did some quick map reading and then we modified our plan as we had already crossed Dindigul and were just 40 kms away from Pollachi…he threw the idea of spending the night at Kodaikanal which was just 80 kms away which we duly accepted and we were off !!! To another Hill Station…and quite a famous one…it was a nice twist to our plans…we reached Kodaikanal and booked a decent hotel…all for 400 bucks…the weather was perfect was a late evening ride and we went to watch the view point called Pillar Rock but by the time we reached it was closed for public and it was painfully chilly…I was in my shorts with no helmet & gloves and that was one of the biggest mistakes of my life…the Temperature was just 4 degrees and the chilly breeze made matters worse for us…we took refuge near a fire which the guards had set up but that also didn’t last for long as we had to leave and reach our hotel braving the cold…we stopped on the way at a Pastry Shop to have some hot coffee and then looked for some alcohol to help us fight the chill but sadly the motherfucker Alcohol Employees Union were on strike and no booze was available…with heavy hearts we went back to our Hotel, got stuffed and snuggled into our beds !!! Feeling cold & dry!!!

Day 13 – 22nd January 2009 (Kodaikanal – Salem – Erode - Coimbatore)

We woke up really late this day as the distance to Coimbatore was pretty short…we had a late breakfast and started our ride at 12 towards Coimbatore…our final destination before reaching Ooty…we rode through some boring highways and reached Coimbatore at 4 PM and stopped for our Lunch and then a looooong break ahead…as Deepak had to go and meet his Sister’s family and Sunder to burn a DVD of all the pics he had clicked till now…I spent my team at a Fried Chicken Restaurant aptly named CFC !!! I talked to a boy named Murthy who was seriously interested to know more about my biking adventures and I was more than happy to share them!!! It gave me a great opportunity to spend time and also to brag!!! Then at 7:30 PM we left Coimbatore after meeting Deepak’s Brother-in-Law and then started looking for a decent place to camp through the night on the Coimbatore-Ooty Highway…on the way we packed some items for dinner & most importantly Beer!!! The perfect drink for a camp-site…within some 15 minutes of riding we found a perfect camp-site after Sunder had done the due diligence with the help of 2 torches we were covering, the site was not too far & not too close to the highway where trucks were zipping through and also the base was smooth & clean at the same time. We started our bikes and used the headlights to help us in setting up our tent; it just took us 25-30 minutes and Bingo!!! We were ready to rock & roll…the beer bottles were opened to celebrate and the luggage transferred into the tent, after finishing one round of beer, Sunder went o get some more food, obviously some Dosa for the extended dinner…it was an amazing time we spent there, Deepak was the first one to sleep as always but me & Sunder went out and discussed about Sunder’s US Adventures. Then at 1 AM we finally slept after a great discussion & Sutta…

Day 14 – 23rd January 2009 (Coimbatore – Coonoor - Ooty)

We woke up at 7 AM with the outer covering our tent again getting wet due to the dew…and came out to encounter some strange looks from people who were surrounding our tent and were there to relieve themselves, I am sure they must have been thinking why these 3 decent-looking guys are camping at a place on the Highway instead of staying at a Hotel like normal travellers but they didn’t know that we are adventurers and would go to any level to test our spirits & limits!!! We started our ride to Ooty at 9 AM after packing our tent & other stuff onto our bikes, post that we stopped enroute for Breakfast and then we starting the ascent towards Ooty through the winding roads with some breathtaking views around us and riding through innumerable hair-pin bends…we reached Ooty at 2 PM and went straight to the Youth Hostel where Sunder had pre-booked a room for us. We took bath and then went towards the Ooty Market to find a decent place to have our Lunch. When we got back lots of other riders had reached the YH from Bangalore, Mumbai & Hyderabad…and there was a long session of knowledge sharing and bike-ogling…after that some 1 hour was spent to decide the plan for the evening!!! Finally we decided to go to the Charing Cross complex in Ooty at the Zyr Lounge Bar…we had a great time there…Drinking, Dancing & having fun…I danced till 11:30 PM in the night once the place closed…we reached the YH we had a long Bakchodi session with Guru, a Rider Buddy from Bangalore…we finally called it a day with excitement in our minds & hearts as the next day we were to reach The Rider Mania, the Annual Royal Enfield Riders’ event, it was our first RM and we were feeling damn excited to be a part of this legendary event…

Day 15 & Day 16 – 24th & 25th January 2009 – 2 Exhilarating days at Rider Mania 2009, Ooty

We reached the RM Venue, The Sterling Resort in Ooty at 10 AM to start the Registration Process and move to our room…The regn. didn’t take much time but the Room process was long as the organizing Club (Rolling Thunder Motorcycling Club, Bangalore) had not anticipated that some 600 odd people would register themselves for the RM so they had booked 2 properties of Sterling named Fern Hill & Elk Hill to accommodate the entire crowd, we were booked at the Elk Hill Resort which was some 5.5 kms. away from the main RM venue and to make it easy for us there were buses arranged for us. While I was signing the forms, I saw the name of my Club, Bulls on Parade in the Club List and felt really proud as finally our Club was part of the elite list with me representing it!!! It was an extremely proud moment for our club which started in November 2007 and is just 24 members strong but is seriously into riding adventures, we have completed 9 rides till now and plan for many more rides in 2009…The scene at the venue was amazing, people running helter-skelter, some 250 odd Bullets parked around us, people standing in the queues either to board the buses or fill the regn. forms but we were loving it…as we love chaos as it is!!! we got into the bus with our luggage which was by far the heaviest around considering we were on the road since the last 14 days…got into our room which was simply the best room of the ride so far…2 double rooms, one huge lobby all of this just for the 3 of us !!! we got fresh and then moved to the Main Venue to get soaked in the RM Atmosphere, quite literally as the first thing we did after reaching there was to get chilled beer !!! We started to frantically click pics of some amazing bikes parked there and then I took part on a Castrol sponsored contest, I lost unfortunately but it was great fun to be a part of an amazing event…and then after this ogling around the Grand RM Party was waiting for us…where 650 mad bikers would be all enclosed at one place…one can imagine the crazy revelry we were just about to experience!!! And there was much more beyond that!!! United Breweries (another thanks to the Alcohol Baron Vijay Mallya) launched their new Super Strong Beer at the RM and had aptly named it BULLET!!! Can there be better symmetry??? NO is the answer!!! And when the music started there was energy all over…people dancing as if there’s no tomorrow…including me…I danced from 8:30 PM to1 AM in the night non-stop…on Malayalam, Tamil, Punjabi, Marathi, Hindi, English, Telugu songs…Language was no boundary for anybody at the party…Mallus dancing on a Jazzy B chaste Punjabi Song, Punjabis dancing on a Tamil song…the combinations were endless!!! The music finally stopped at 1 after repeated warnings and reminders, I was just on beer and simply forgot to eat, when I remembered that I had to have dinner as well and I went to the Dinner Area it was all over!!! It was a big mistake I committed as all through the night I woke up due to hunger!!! But nonetheless the fun I had compensated for the hunger pangs I had to experience through the night…

Next day we woke up and went to take part in the Group Ride wherein all 480 odd bikes were to take part in one common ride…that was one of the most exhilarating experiences of our lives…480 Bullets thumping together…you can seriously imagine the Heartbeat speed !!!We shot some really amazing videos of the bike formations entering the RM Venue together…all riders were vrooming their bikes and shouting at the top of their voices…there was so much noise!!! But nobody was complaining…you can watch the videos through the link I have mentioned at the end of the Blog. The best Entry was planned by the Chennai Group – Mad Bulls who were ready with Dhols & crackers when the MB Riders entered the Parking Space…and then a mad-mad dance show followed…really frantic it was…and then the excitement ended with a whimper…all the bikes were parked and people got back to their rooms…Sunder & Deepak also went back after the Lunch but I stayed on just to soak in the RM Atmosphere and general chit-chatting with fellow riders, I also witnessed the judging session for “The Best Looking Bike” & “The Best Technical Modification Bike” competitions where riders had parked their bikes, for the Best Looking Bike a popular Voting route taken, with the riders allowed to vote once and then the winner was to be decided, the Beasters from Delhi did some shouting to scout for votes for one of their bikes but I knew that the Prize was already destined for one of the Inddie Thumpers’ Bike which was THE BEST which was owned by Saby...there was also the Male & Female Arm Wrestling contest which was also some great Masti…I was also waiting for the Competitions to start at 2:30 PM but none of them started till 7:00 PM…some really pathetic planning by the RTMC Organizing Committee…all of us were waiting with bated-breath with continuous announcements going on but nothing concrete starting…and finally when it started it was great fun…but only the Clubs with large numbers were allowed to participate so I was just a mute spectator which was fun nonetheless…these were new to me, it being my first RM but so many riders were RM Pros so they knew what mayhem was about to be presented!!! Post this, there were club presentations & Prize Distributions which were to take place, Mad Bulls, RTMC, Eastern Bulls & RKMC presentations were made which were really impressive, after that there were claps which were heard for the next 40-45 minutes after the winners came to the stage to collect their prizes. But the best prize was reserved for the end of the ceremony…the memorable moment came when my name & our club’s(Bulls on Parade) name was announced and I went to collect the memento on the club’s behalf !!! As I was the only rider representing our club…I felt as if I was getting the Nobel Prize!!! sadly Sunder & Deepak had gone out for their dinner so no snap was clicked but that moment would stay with me till the end of my life…that’s for sure…post this blissful moment I had my dinner and then we left for our Hotel…finally the enigmatic 2 days of RM-09 were over where we had an amazing time and promised ourselves to surely attend another RM…

Day 17 – 26th January 2009 (Ooty – Bandipur – Gudalur - Mysore – Bangalore)

This was the first Republic Day in the last 8-9 years when I was to miss the Parade on TV…I never missed it even during my 2 yrs. MBA at Goa...but a Bike Ride is the best possible reason to miss anything else which is dear to my heart !!! We woke up and for the final time in our ride got our stuff packed on to our bikes and at 9 AM were ready to leave Ooty and start towards our final destination – Bangalore… there are 2 exit roads from Ooty and me & Sunder took the different routes, I took the route through the Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary & Sunder took the more beautiful Mountain Roads before we finally met at a highway CafĂ© Coffee Day near Gudalur where we had our Breakfast and also got some respite from the heat outside, we had our rest and then started our Ride, enroute we found many RM Bikers on the road zipping past us while we stopped at a Highway Theka for some chilled beer…it was like water in the desert for the 3 of us !!! After that we stopped at a riverside restaurant called Amblee Resort in Srirangapatna…amazing place, great views and chilled beer!!! What else we tired riders could ask for after 16 days of riding!!! There was also a mini-zoo with Turkeys, Parakeets and some other birds…then we rode non-stop till Bangalore, stopping only once for some Tea and Bun…we reached Bangalore & Sunder’s home at 7 PM, his mother was so excited to see us after the ride, all fit n fine!!! We unpacked the luggage, took a bath and then went to meet Dinesh, Our Ladakh Buddy with whom we did the Ladakh Ride together…we went to a Pub to have another round of beer and then got back to Sunder’s home to finally sleep in a home-like environment since 9 January !!! I was dead tired and sleep caught me within 2-3 minutes of me lying down on the bed…

Finally The West Coast Ride was over…3180 kms completed, 17 days on the road, 2 nights of camping-out, tonnes of Sambhar-Idli-Vada-Dosa, litres of Beer and unlimited masti !!! We promised each other that we would be doing a long ride together in January 2010 and would be together again to conquer some more uncharted territories…

I have now completed the K2K Route on my bike…Khardungla to Kanyakumari!!! And next on the plans are a North-East Ride & Rajasthan+Gujarat Ride to complete the North-East-South-West Biking Corridor!!!

Che would be back on the road again…

Till then Ride Safe & have Safe Sex…

Hasta la Victoria Siempre…


Videos Link : http://www.4shared.com/dir/12849194/68f57f66/West_Coast_Ride_Videos.html

Pics Link : http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=98404&id=704561290&l=57667 & http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=98411&id=704561290&l=f6d0c

14 comments:

  1. that's really amazing, specially that Goa part...however the whole blog have all the possible details and information about ride and other things.....ek dum amazing hai......it's like a virtual bike ride for me.....

    long live "THE MIGHTY ONE"

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  2. I stopped all my work and got down to read this.
    Che, you have firmly established the name of Bulls on Parade. The club stands proud. We'll create history.
    I would like to have Pandu's number in case i go to Goa.
    I noticed that during the Southern run, your description of meals turns from "awesome" to "mediocre" to "pathetic". And then finally, at one instance, u skip dinner.

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  3. O yeah......and I wonder about that poor masseur....what else could he have done hearing that G***** **du phrase every 2 seconds and not knowing what it meant. He surely needed to run for help. After this one, I'm sure there would be someone to click your pic from BoP when you go to pick up the momento at next RM...
    As always....very well written

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  4. BTW I couldn't find the pics/videos links....

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  5. Hey dude!!! This is rocking. Must have been an awesome experience. I wish I'd known u were doing this ride. I would've recommended to ride up to Jog Falls too. It's an awesome road 'n a beautiful place. Anyway, we must ride together sometime, someday, somewhere... Regards, Sheriyar. :-)

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  6. Finally after a well read amasingly...ahh wot to say...ryd!

    Amasing it just makes you realise that someday you could also do the same n also provokes that if you do the same do write about it because there might be somebody like you who might read it and say "yaar its worth the pain in ur ass to do this...to stand out n say I AM A BIKER!!"

    With every blog that i read my determination to do something of d sort is pumped...surely it would go down as one of my dreams to first make it big and then write about it because that is what will complete a bike ride.

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  7. WOW..i read this in one go...i'm really really jealous :)..

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  8. Videos Link : http://www.4shared.com/dir/12849194/68f57f66/West_Coast_Ride_Videos.html

    Pics Link : http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=98404&id=704561290&l=57667
    & http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=98411&id=704561290&l=f6d0c

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  9. Brilliant post sirjeee! Maza aa gaya padhke! Pollachi....it's a damn popular place...Billu Barber ki shooting wahin hui thi! Ur experience of kanyakumari, goa and ooty was a treat to read!

    Keep rocking and riding!! :)

    FENIL

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  10. Bro

    This was good. A day by day account. The best part that striked me was you saw amazing sunset before an amazing sunrise.

    Th worst part was you getting massaged by a MAN. Offcourse it would be shitty. ;-). But really happy on your award achievement.

    The most emotional part was when you said that you were standing at the end point of India. No body really believes that.

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  11. The real estate is one sector that features as one of the most badly hit sectors following the global economic meltdown. Especially in developing countries like India, where real estate was going great guns, so to say, faced a steep downfall following the recession and inflation. Especially in the metros and the developing cities like Bangalore, real estate suffered dearly as the demand for the residential units, though increasing became a pent up demand. The badly hit economy particularly the IT sector that has a strong foothold in Bangalore, and the high rates of interest in home loans made the demand for residential units go down or at best become a pent up demand. It is believed that once the situation stabilizes the demands would start surfacing. Another very problematic issue that the real estate dealers are facing is that patrons of the currently booked flats are not willing to pay the original price that they had agreed on but the current price that is less than the original amount owing to the current economic condition. Not only the residential units but the commercial properties like the hotels in Bangalore have also naturally seen a drop in their occupancy. The ITC hotels in Bangalore that registered the highest occupancy, as high as 83%, have been forced to cut down on their tariffs by almost 20% as the occupancy has also gone down by 20%. On the contrary, the business hotels in Bangalore are surviving the tough times as the number of business travelers has not been affected as hard as the umber of leisure hotels. The budget hotels in Bangalore have seen a hike owing to the obvious reasons.

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  12. Your blog is very nice... i like your blog ....
    Madurai Hotels

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  13. super ride hai boss! I could easily connect with Day 7 and 17, having ridden on these roads ....will try out the restaurants you mentioned when I go again....by the way, East Coast Ride karne ka koi plan hai kya?

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  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

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