Read the story of my 14 hours journey from Mumbai to Bangalore here.
After the lunch with Bhargav, Sujith and Puneeth I geared up to take a ride 25kms away to the other end of Bangalore to reach my club members based in Bangalore. Girirdhar Soundarajan the founder of Barrel Exhaust and a member of Wolfe Pack Bangalore chapter had texted his location which I followed thoroughly to reach his newly built factory. Giri Anna and Anantha gave me a warm welcome of a chai and sutta while we engrossed ourselves in the story of my ride so far. Giri Anna test rode my bike and arranged for his mechanic to sort out the niggle issues to be rectified before I set out from the plains to the hills of Western Ghats.
One of the best incidents of my ride would definitely be Giri anna and his generous gift. My bike is 2.5 years and 80,000 kms old and I hadn’t changed my exhaust silencer all this while. I always thought it was better to invest in fuel and cover another thousand kms instead of an exhaust. However, my views changed when I saw the bikes of couple of friends. Barrel Exhaust from Bangalore was a highly recommended establishment of my Wolfpack India team. I had informed Giri anna about my need and asked him to keep a Canon 2.0 exhaust ready. I must confess I had the excitement of a 4 yr old on his first cycle as I watched the barrel load.
After completion of the work, I hung around, chatting with Giri Anna till it was time for me to continue my ride. I opened my wallet to pay but Giri Anna surprised me. He gave a pat on my back and said, ‘It’s a gift for you.. Just ride safe 🙂
Surprise, Happy – I don’t really know what I felt more. I was zapped by the sound my bike made. Soothing yet commanding with ample of bass. It was time to woo Palakad, – this time I was riding with a Barrel on my gun. Ajith Chandran, another friend whom I had only interacted with on Social media, had come to receive me at the Barrel Exhaust factory. Bidding goodbye to team Barrel Exhaust, I left with Ajith to another end of the Bangalore to reach Ajith’s home where a bottle of Old Monk rum was waiting to soothe my throat and nerves of the entire tiredness I was having since last 24 hours which included riding from Mumbai to Bangalore. After the rum had worked his magic on every nerve, it was fun having tipsy conversation till 1 am with Ajith, Gayatri and Ranjit. Conversations, which I seriously don’t recall the next morning. You can guess why… 😀
Got up late morning around 9 and I left Ajith’s place bidding him a goodbye and taking a promise in return that he is going to join me for this ride from Kochi. Being a native of Kerala, Ajith assured he will ride to Kochi the next day and start the ride with me from thereon. I rode back to Barrel Exhaust where the mechanic was awaiting to solve some further incomplete issues on my bike while Giri Anna took me out for lunch to a local restaurant famous for serving the Bangalore delicacy of Ragi Ball and Goat meat. Finishing my lunch, As I left Barrel Exhaust, Giri Anna suggested me to chuck my usual Bangalore – Salem – Palakkad route and explore new paths which would be much more rewarding. This meant a longer route and a day’s delay in reaching home, but I was still game. So I started from Bangalore towards Kollegal. I gave the 4 lane highways & 110 kmph a miss for single lane roadways & 50kmph. The route I would be taking was famed for being the territory of notorious sandalwood & ivory smuggler Veerappan.
It was already late when I reached Kollegal. My travel tiredness begged me for a night’s rest and I complied. The next day morning however I took a completely unusual route to Kerala. It was a dream come true ride through the forests of Tamil Nadu. Having said that, the road was pretty treacherous as well and I honestly don’t want to exaggerate here; but it did go through the dense forests of Satyamangala Tiger Reserve. I genuinely marveled at the survival instincts of the man to be cooped up in this forest for almost 20 yrs of his life. I took a reroute from the forest road and headed on a path which looked deserted. I covered a short ride and then stopped. I needed a break, I needed to listen to the bounty of nature that I was in. I was overwhelmed as I stood in the middle of nowhere and absorbed in the chirp of 1000s of birds, the sound of wind & the trees swaying. Although thinking of it now, I do believe I was being stupid. It is definitely not advised to stop on route in a tiger reserve, especially when the odds are stacked in favour of being mauled by a large and genuinely beautiful specie of the cat family.
I rode ahead and found a village. Here I stopped to enquire about the route ahead. The villager warned me of not going through my chosen route. He further emphasized this point by saying nobody dares to go on that route, more so not on bike. Normally I am a sensible rider, I know the importance of safety and I know I have a family waiting but that day I was carried away by a stroke of daredevilry. I conveniently ignored his warnings and went ahead. I know it was a totally uncalled for decision. As my ride progressed, the scenario changed completely. Everything turned so silent that I could almost hear my heart beat. It was the land of elephants, the densely populated elephant corridor of the reserve. I almost found myself wishing for an encounter with the tuskers despite my better sense, but all I encountered was elephant dung at every 10 metres of the road. So much for my adventure tale.
The roads were hardly wider than 15 feet as I reached a small village down the hill. The villagers continued with their sceptical look which normally should’ve been reserved for an alien with purple hair & green skin. Guess I was on similar lines for them. A little ahead of the village I stopped at a small pond and was literally shooed away by the villagers saying, Elephants will come, go away from here. Wow, I was at the bathing spot for the elephants.
I was told that generally elephants land up at 4 in the evening every day. Desperate though I was for a glimpse of them, I didn’t really have the luxury of waiting. So I abandoned my elephant dreams & pushed ahead towards Satyamangala to Karmadai to Attapadi. At the end of check posts, I saw forest officers. My friendly wave was reciprocated likewise. Attapadi was the first town when I entered Kerala, and the first thing I did was stop and fill myself up with a plate of beef biryani. Home was another 60 kms through curves and ghats. So in the next 100 mins I reached home through Mannarkad to surprise my dad and my relatives. Having a brief conversation with my dad I rushed to my Aunt’s home who treated me with freshly plucked mangoes.
The feeling of travelling 1500 kms and reaching your own home is a feeling I would want to relish again and again.
My house in Kerala amidst rubber plantations in the foothills of westernghats where elephants, wildboars, peacocks, monkeys etc are more common than human beings.