Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Great South-Eastern Ride

Two bikes, 4 states, 1 week, 2000+ km - that makes the Great South-Eastern Ride.


I had to attend a wedding ceremony in Vijaywada and was thinking of attending the reception at Vizag too. Naren was all set to book the bus tickets in the evening. Suddenly while having my lunch in office, this idea struck me - "How bout riding to Vijaywada?" I had not ridden to that part of the country and the distance looked like do-able but I was sure no one will join me for this ride. Pondered on this for some time. What the hell, I will ride solo :). I had to take leave from mon to wed. I thought of chipping in two more leaves and extend the ride. So finally thought of riding from Bangalore - Vijaywada - Vizag - Puri - Kharagpur.

When I told this plan to Anjai Lal at the lunch table, he laughed it off. Actually it did look crazy. Some 1800-1900 km one way. Anyways I posted my intent on BN and got some idea about the roads. Only thing was that I will have to do it solo as no one will take 5 days off for this crazy ride. Little persuasion and Saswata agreed :).

T - 1 day:

Eicher road maps were opened, local.live.com was searched, printout of the maps were taken , leaves were already approved and we were set to burn some real rubber next day.

Day 1 (Bangalore - Hoskote - Chittoor - Naidupetta - Vijaywada)

Woke up at 4 AM as per plan. But I think God did not want us to leave in time.
  • 4:45 AM: Got ready and looked out of balcony - it was raining! We did not want to start riding in rains so called up Saswata to delay our departure by 30 mins. So 5:30 AM was the new rendezvous time.
  • 5:25 AM: Got call from Saswata that he has a flat tyre! Instructed him to get it fixed from the 24X7 petrol bunk at Airport Road.
  • 5:50 AM: Another call from Saswata - "That bunk has no repair shop".
  • 5:55 AM: Left home. 300 m from home, a black cat crossed the road in front of me. Not that I really believe in these superstitions, but the way things were happening since morning, I could not help noticing and registering this.
  • 6:05 AM: Met Saswata. It seemed the valve of his rear tube was gone. Went back to his home on my bike to check if that valve can be replaced(??) from his roomie's bike. Had no idea at that time that it was not possible.
  • 6:30 AM: Called Ashu, if he can give any mechanic's number. The one he gave did not pick the phone. Reached back at the petrol bunk. On enquiry found that HP bunk at MG road has a 24 hr mechanic shop. I rushed to that shop.
  • 7:05 AM: Woke up Bashir bhai, the mechanic and persuaded him to come with me for changing the tire-tube. It started raining again :(
  • 7:15 AM: Bashir bhai took his auto and we left in his auto. Bashir bhai was desperate not to get wet.
  • 7:40 AM: Auto made some wierd sounds, jerked and stopped. We tried pushing it also but in vain. (Imagine two guys one in full riding gear pushing an auto on Airport Road.)
  • 8:00 AM: Finally reached Saswata after walking the last 1 km.
  • 8:30 AM: Back at MG Road to pick my bike and we moved to Old Madras Road full 3 and a half hour behind schedule. The insane traffic till Hoskote further threw us 30 more minutes behind schedule.
Anyways, from past experience we have seen that there is generally only one breakdown per ride and we have passed that (touch wood :D). A quick breakfast after crossing Hoskote and we were on the smooth two-lane highway to Tirupati. The road was amazingly nice and for the first time I saw a three digit figure on the speed limit board and that too on a two-lane road without divider!


One chai stop in between and we stopped for lunch only after crossing Tirupati. It was scorching hot contrary to the early morning showers we saw. Had nice North-Indian style food for lunch and a break of around 1 hour and we again hit the road. Now we were waiting to reach Naidupetta where we were to merge with the 4-lane Chennai-Kolkata Highway (Part of the GQ project). We saw rain clouds hovering over Naidupetta from a distance and asked Saswata to stop and wear the raingear but he insisted on moving on. Result - Completely drenched in the rain.
My Fieldsheer Hydro Tour Jacket saved upper body from getting wet but I was drenched otherwise with that irritating sloshy sound coming out of the shoes everytime I move my feet.
Naidupetta to Vizag was a breeze with patches of hot sun and rains. We witnessed some amazing sites of sun playing between clouds which left us with an awe.



Couple of stops in between for chai and we hit Vijaywada at around 10:30 PM. Thanks to Bandi for fabulous arrangement at the Vijaywada club. Filled our bellies with some real good chicken and dozed off. Odo Reading: 664 KM.


Day 2 (Vijaywada):

No riding today. Woke up lazily. It was too hot and we roamed around in AC car only. Attended first South Indian wedding. It was a very nice experience. Some real good veg food and we were off to bed pretty early.

Day 3 (Vijaywada - Rajahmundry - Vishakhapatnam):

We had to cover just 400 km and we had a full day to do that. We started off at around 9:30 AM. The roads were just amazing! 4 lane divided highway with greenery on both the sides.


There were some showers in between which were quite enjoyable. We stopped for clicking pics in between and finally parked at a dhaba near Rajahmundry for lunch.


Rajahmundry is almost half way between Vijaywada and Vizag. We had some delicious Kaju-masala with tandoori rotis. This actually was a great combination :). After some 1 hour of chilling out in the dhaba, we hit the roads again. The landscape became yet more beautiful with small hillocks replacing the green pastures on both sides.


We entered Vizag at around 6:00 PM. Usual city traffic :(. After a lot of directions from a lot of people, we reached our place to crash - Waltair Club. Again thanks to Bandi, this was one amazing place to stay! Didn't do much that day apart from a nice drive on beach road in his Skoda. Had some real good fishes and prawns for dinner and went to bed.

Day 4 (Vishakhapatnam):

Got up at leisure in the morning. First thing was to search for Bajaj Service station. The chain was quite loose after 1K+ km of riding. I must say the people at Varun Motors were very proactive in checking my bike for problems. They quickly tightened the chain and checked the oil level and viscosity. In an hour we were back to the Waltair Club. Evening was spent roaming around on beach road and a short ride to Kailashgiri.


The view of Vizag city lighting up when it gets dark looks quite fascinating. Tried some experiments with the night mode in my camera. Results were OK not very good.


Attended the reception in Waltair club and dozed off with a smile imagining about the route which was ahead.

Day 5 (Vishakhapatnam - Ichhapuram - Balugaon - Nirakarpur - Puri):

Planned to wake up early but it was well past 7 when we woke up. By 8:30, we were on the road again riding through slight drizzle. After some 10 km I suddenly realized, that my cellphone is not there with me. Rushed back to the club and got caught in heavy rains :(. Finally found the cellphone and joined Saswata again. Today we were racing with rains. There was a constant drizzle for about 100km and we could see dark rain clouds behind us.
Suddenly I noticed that I cannot see Saswata in my rear view mirror. I slowed down but no sign and then I recieved an SMS from him - "Engine gone. Not able to start. Get Mechanic". Now this was the last thing to expect. Tried calling him but could not connect. I rode back and caught up with him after some 8 km. First suspicion was engine sieze but it did not look like that. Then I remembered, I am riding with Saswata! That means he must be out of petrol. Checked the fuel cap which was on reserve. "Oh reserve mein tha? mujhe laga ki abhi ON mein hi hai" was his expression. I tied his bike to mine using a rope and I did the towing job for some 5 km till we reached the petrol bunk.

We thought of having lunch at either Rambha or Balugan where, we heard, we will get very good prawns :). Riding till Ichhapuram was quick on the 4-laner. Ichhapuram is on AP-Orissa border, the last town in AP on this route. After crossing Ichhapuram, the road suddenly disappeared! I mean there was nothing, no road not even potholed one. zilch! And to complement it, there was a small drain perpendicular to where the road should have been. On enquiry, we were told to take a left, cross the village, take a right and we will hit the NH 5 again. We followed the directions through dusty village roads where everyone was staring at us without a blink and we reached the so-called NH-5. Dodging through the potholes and trucks we managed to go few tens of km further. Didn't even notice when we entered Orissa. I was quite amused and shocked to see this state of NH-5. I always had this notion that being a part of GQ, NH-5 is all 4-laner.

"Ye 4-lane highway kab aayega?", I stopped and asked one elderly looking person. "Kam se kam 3 saal to lagega.", was his reply.
"Are yahan nahin, aage kitni door milega?"
"Achha! aage ??? balugan ke baad hoga"

And we rode on! It started getting extremely hot and humid. Sun blazing on our heads. Suddenly the landscape changed. We could see small hillocks and there we got the first glimpse of Chilka lake! It's just beautiful. Period.


We stopped at a roadside dhaba and devoured on spicy prawn curry and rice. After enquiry about the route to Puri, we were told to take a right at Nirakarpur towards a state road which will directly take us to Puri bypassing Khorda.

The state road from Nirakarpur to Puri was a mud road, cemented at some patches but the landscape was so beautiful that you would not notice the road condition. The 60 km stretch through villages, paddy fields and marshes was very refreshing.


By the time we reached Puri, it was already dark. We found a decent double room with tv at Hotel Nayak's Plaza for 200 bucks. This guy was so thrilled to know that we were riding from Bangalore, he gave us special discount (or he just said so).

Quick shower, darshan at Jagannath Puri dhaam, lazy stroll at the beach and we were back to the hotel. Dozed off - less than 24 hours to reach KGP :).

Day 6 (Puri - Konark - Bhuvaneshwar - Cuttack - Kharagpur):

We planned to wake up early to see sunrise at Konark temple but as usual we were late :). We checked out at 8:30 AM. Konark is about 40 km from Puri. This route should be must on every Biker's list. The road goes through a wildlife reserve and then along the sea. No traffic at all at this time of year. On visiting the Sun Temple, I was amazed - if this is just Konark, how intricate and intimate would Khajuraho be?


We had our breakfast and moved towards Bhuvaneshwar. Crossing Bhuwaneshwar through heavy traffic in full sun was a pain. Again prawns for lunch and a small nap at a roadside dhaba and we were good to go again. The feeling on seeing the first board showing distance to KGP cannot be described here. I was like yes! we did it :) Now I can stretch my arms and reach KGP :).


The roads were all good again. 4-lane highways and I did a speed test of my Avenger also. I could cruise at 115 kmph for quite some time.

Last fillup at a petrol bunk, one person came to me and asked, "Koi picture ka shooting ho raha hai? Aap log hero ho?", appreciating the riding gear :)

We entered KGP at twilight. We miscalculated the distance of last leg as somewhere near 350 km. It was infact around 450 km.

KGP at last! A round of surprises to known faces there and I settled in my wing in RK Hall. No early to bed now :) . Eggies time :)

Day 7 (Kharagpur):

Amazing good old kharagpur :)

Day 8 (Board Howrah - Yeswantpur Express from Kharagpur):

A big task for the day was to book the bikes in train. The procedure is pretty easy. Will write about that in some other post (maybe). It seems the parcel charges are increased and now they charge as per Rajdhani charges. We had to pay 1550/- per bike from KGP to Bangalore. Boarded our train post dinner. Lying on the berth, recaping last week with a content smile, we left Kharagpur.


Summary:
-------------

Date:
25th Aug 2007 to 1st Sep 2007

Riders:
1. Ashish - Bajaj Avenger
2. Saswata - Honda Unicorn

Route:

Bangalore
- Hoskote - Chittoor - Naidupetta - Nellore - Vijaywada - RajahMundry - Vishakhapatnam - Srikakulam - Ichhapuram - Balugan - Nirakarpur - Puri - Konark - Bhuwaneswar - Cuttack - Kharagpur

Total Distance covered: 2005 KM

Night Stay:

Vijaywada : Vijaywada Club. Courtsey Nitish Bandi
Vishakhapatnam: Waltair Club. Courtsey Nitish Bandi
Puri: Hotel Nayak Plaza. Rs 200/- for double room with TV. No AC.
Kharagpur: RK Hall of Residence, IIT KGP :D


More pics can be seen here


20 comments:

Xau said...

yaaaaaaaawsommmmmee .. crazy dude ..

Ashish said...

hehehe .. :D

Anjai said...

Masto !!!!

Nattu said...

dude this is mind blowing.. too much chams.. hats offf to u :)

MODIfied said...

Gawd level, chamoli rocks...

vagabond said...

awesome bro..awesome narration
nothing i could imagine of a travelogue comes closer to this..i almost rode with you through the narration...

god permits some day will ride with you..where when don't know

salute to the spirit of the wanderer

Ashish said...

Thanku everyone :).

@dobi: aa jaao is baar dehradun mein ride maarte hain kahin :)

Puranjoy said...

whoa! some ride man.

Saswata Banerjee said...

really feel honored to have shared this xperience wid u chamoli, the only ride which the unicorn faced with two glares... now its pretty much back to stock
lets gear up for the Leh Marathon!!

Emera said...

Good for people to know.

Siva Kishan said...

Is this Nitish Bandi who arranged for accomodation the same guy who got Ambani Scholarship at Stanford?

Ashish said...

@Siva : Yes the same person.

Siva Kishan said...

Ashish,

I am Siva from Hyderabad. A biker and a Stanford aspirant.

I had my share of crazy rides. Hyderabad to Delhi in 2 days.

For now, can you give me your contact and that of Nitin?

Ashish said...

@siva,

hi siva. sorry for the late response. please mail me ashish.chamoli AT gmail.com and I will send u the details.

Lost said...

cool travelogue dude :)

Ajay Reddy said...

That was some-thing-else bro!
Awesome or what!! And you've written it so well too...

bharti said...

bakwaas hai
onlu pics are nice

baaki sab pakaoooo hai

Diwakar said...

Awesome ride :D

Samaresh Biswal said...

nice trip log

Sriram J said...

Good writing accompanied by nice photos. You are making my envy you for the kind of rides you are and had enjoyed..Keep Vrooooming...al the best man.