16th September 2012
“Something happens at around 110 kmph – thunder-headers drown out all sound, engine vibrations travels at a heart’s rate, field of vision funnels into the immediate and suddenly you’re not on the road, you’re in it. A part of it. Traffic, scenery, cops – just cardboard cutouts blowing over as you past. Sometimes I forget the rush of that. That’s why I love these long runs. All your problems, all the noise, gone, and when you are alone in these circumstances, when you and your steed are really lonely, you feel really alive and you feel like you know who you are, what you want to do and you become one with your steed.” – copied and edited to suit the needs…
I guess the will to do a solo ride, no matter how small was always there within me, But given my previous bike I wasn’t confident enough to venture out alone. The 200 NS gave me immense amount of confidence and I knew I can do a solo ride for any number of kms on it. Wednesday 19th September, being Ganpati festival and a off-day at office,I decided to go for a ride, My First Solo ride from 16th-19th September. Others being busy with Ganpati decided to skip the ride, hence it was me and the NS, Lots of Apprehension, lots of ‘its risky, lets not do it’, lots of ‘what if’ came across but at the end we decided to do it. Some details : Bike: Pulsar 200NS Decided Route : Navi Mumbai – Hubli –Hospet –Hampi – Sirsi – Unchali falls – Yellapur – Dandeli – Navi Mumbai Route Taken: Navi Mumbai – Hubli –Hospet –Hampi- Hubli – Dharwad – Dandeli – Molem – Goa – Belgaum – Navi Mumbai
Total kms covered: 1868
Total days : 4
Total Expense : INR 7900/-
Preparations before the ride:
Luggage carried: I took a JoeRocket backpack from Ashutosh (xbhp id: Hyperion), stuffed in my luggage which included: a small first-aid kit, chain lube, camera cleaning kit, human-cleaning kit, my camera bag, a black cellotape, a few meters of thread, a double sided tape. After stuffing all these in the bag I noticed that I don’t have any space for my clothes (which included one denim, 3 t-shirts and 5 pairs of inner wears- I guess riding with wet undies is most uncomfortable, hence the extra care) and my raincoat, hence decided to strap them to the pillion seat with a bungee net.
Extra Spare Parts taken: None
All the routes and distances were chalked out using google maps, and since I had google maps on my phone, I was not worried about anything. But however I had noted down some major points where i could get confused in a piece of paper and also the distances between major towns were noted down in the same paper.
But before I start the log, let me thank MG for letting me use his lens for 4 days.
Route Taken : Navi Mumbai -> Hubli -> Hospet -> Hampi
Initial plan was to start the day at 4:00 AM and reach Hampi by 4:00 PM. But on seeing the map and speaking with a few people who have been to Hampi before, it looked very difficult. The total distance to be covered was around 750 kms.
I had set my alarm a 3:00 AM, and thanks to my late sleeping habits, I didn’t realize when the alarm rang, when I got up it was already 3:40 AM, hastened up and I was ready to leave within 50 minutes, I was carrying my luggage in a backpack and some clothing were strapped onto the pillion seat using a bungee net. The plan was to take minimum breaks.
4:30 AM: I started rolling, since I live in Kharghar, I was on the highway within 10 minutesJ. I love to ride at this hour, minimal traffic on road, which means maximum speed. I wanted to start early and cover Mumbai-Pune in dark, because I know the road very well, well I ride to Pune almost every weekend, so I knew that I can cover this part really well in the dark, and hence wanted to reach Pune by dawn. I need to mention that the 55W headlamp of the 200NS does a fantastic job.
I had strapped my raincoat in the bungee net, it started raining when I was near the JNPT phata, so I took my first stop and put on the rain coat, and within 5 minutes the rain stopped. I was irritated, but decided not to stop again till I each Pune. I was easily doing 110 kmph+ till Pune. Once the daylight broke in I decided to increase the speed so that I can reach Hampi by sunset. I crossed Pune in no time.
I was well aware of the diversions that are there on NH4 after crossing Pune, in one such diversion the road was pretty bad and I was doing around 60 Kmph, when suddenly the car on my left decided to avoid a pothole and turned right and to avoid him crashing into me I had to accelerate and once I accelerated, immediately I saw a huge pothole just at the point where the diversion road joins the main road. I was like “My ride might come to an end in the next few seconds”, having no option I decided to stand on the footpegs and just go with the flow. Luckily 200NS’s stability and handling saved me. After that I said to myself “I need to cool down, best is to take a break”.
6:40 AM: Reached McD at Khed-Shivapur, decided to take my breakfast break. I was happy that I was doing good speeds; I have covered ~ 160 kms in barely 2 hrs 10 minutes. So I knew that I had the liberty to take an elongated break. The place was still deserted with only a few others accompanying me. I knew this is going to be a long break as I had to freshen up also. Had a good breakfast with hot coffee and freshened up, and was ready to leave by 7:40 AM.
I guess we both had cooled down by now. I was calculating the distance in Kms and the time in minutes, because of the simple reason that I wanted to cover a km per minute. As soon I was on the highway I was doing 120 kmph+ speeds immediately. I guess it was still too early hence encountered very thin traffic in Khambhatki ghat, once past that I just kept ripping and tripping to the sound of the engine. In no time I crossed Satara and I was very happy with the rate at which I was covering distances.
But my happiness was short lived. Soon after crossing Satara, I got blocked by a convoy of govt. cars; some minister was on the move. They were driving at 75-80 kmph, yes that’s good enough speed, but given that I needed to reach my destination before sunset, it became very frustrating after 5-10 minutes. I tried to overtake the last police jeep in the convoy; by the driver made his intentions clear by blocking me efficiently. My friend had once said that the police in the convoy has every right to push you off the road or even arrest you if you try to interfere (I still don’t know how true is that). But that had put fear in my mind and the way the police jeep blocked me, I considered it safe to follow them. I followed them for more than 20 minutes, when suddenly a Maruti Suzuki SX4 came and started honking and tried to overtake the convoy, surprisingly he succeeded in doing that. This inspired me and I also kind of pleaded the police jeep to let me through, and in the next 45 seconds I was past the convoy. I was all smiles inside my helmet, and this was a big relief.
Again I started maintaining 125-130 kmph speeds. The bike feels very very stable at those speeds. No issues managing it. I just loved the feel of it. I noticed a lot of policemen on the sides of the road, I guess it was the ‘bandobast’ for the convoy I left behind. The sight of policemen all around made me rethink the speeds I was doing, but since none of them displayed any interest on the small fast moving object, I decided to continue at my speed. The policemen were there till Karad.
Soon after Karad I had to pull over to fill petrol, my bike did 310 kms before hitting reserve. This also gave me the opportunity to take a small break of 15 minutes. Till now I hadn’t clicked a single pic, and being satisfied with the rate at which I was covering distance, I decided that I will take a photo-break once I cross Kolhapur.
As decided once I crossed Kolhapur, I stopped for clicking some pics. I was clicking the highway when suddenly I noticed a peacock near the farms that border the road, but unfortunately I lacked the equipment that could let me capture it, Nonetheless I made some snaps of the highway and pushed ahead. But seriously once we cross Kolhapur the NH4 is a treat, you can literally pin the throttle. The pics would make it even clearer I guess.
The Glorious boring NH4
1:00 PM: I kept on moving and soon after taking 4-5 water upload/water+minerals download break I made it to Hubli at around 1:00 PM. After asking for directions in the NH4 I came to Hubli town and decided to have lunch there. Had a good full-stomach lunch and was ready to leave by 1:40 PM. Now I had almost 155kms to cover till Hospet and the road was now a two-laned highway, so i knew it won’t be possible to reach on time, but I decided to take it easy and to compensate I will skip the Sirsi-Unchalli plan and do just Hampi and Dandeli. This way I will be able to see these places better. I had already covered ~600kms in 570 minutes. But boy-o-boy the NH67 is an absolute delight to ride, Open fields on both sides and smooth tarmac, and what else does a biker need?
I kept on increasing my speed and soon I was again in the 120-125kmph range. But the Beauty of this place made me stop again and again for clicks. I guess I stopped 3 times for taking pics. Each time I packed my camera and moved a few kms ahead, I said to myself “this is a better place to click” and hence had to stop again and again. Here are some pics to justify my breaks.
I stopped to re-fuel my bike once again. This was my third petrol break. Without wasting any time I was again back to 3 digit speeds.
Something really funny happened here. I was doing 110kmps and then I saw a 60 degree right hander ahead. Since I am still not comfortable at tackling right-handed corners at high speeds, I slowed down to the mid 70s. I was full-on in position and as soon I covered the corner I saw a board barely a few meters ahead “TAKE DIVERSION”. I thanked god for my fear of right-handers . Because if it were a left hander I would have taken it at much higher speeds and would have been difficult to control. Back to the corner, the diversion wala road didn’t help much in comforting me as it could barely be called as ‘road’. Thanks to the NS’s brakes I got away this time and then I decided to cool down a bit as it was nearly 3:15 PM and Hospet was merely 70 kms away. I knew I could make it on time even if I ride at sub 100 kmph. Enquired with a local about the road, if there are any more such patches, he gave me a green signal and said that the road is not as smooth ahead but there are no surprise-patches like this. But yes the NH67 is littered with speed-breakers, small ones, which can be tackled without touching the brakes.
Once you near Hospet, more particularly Hospet Steel ltd, the size of the speed breakers increases and you should get ready to be harassed by trucks.
4:40 PM: I reached Hospet and without wasting any time took a room in the first hotel/lodge that I saw. I also enquired about the parking options for my bike, as I didn’t want to leave the bike unprotected. The conversation that followed is mentioned below:
Receptionist : Ok, so you are on bike, where have you come from?
Receptionist (with a wide open mouth): How many days did you take?
Me: I started today morning at 4:30 AM.
Receptionist : Please tell me the truth.
Me: This is the truth.
Receptionist: Where are your friends then?
Me: I am riding alone.
Receptionist: I don’t trust you.
Me: You are most welcome to do so.
After this I smiled at him and went to my room.
Dumped my luggage, got freshened, took rest for a few minutes, unpacked my camera from my bag and then headed for Hampi.
I was truely delighted with the way the NS handled the 760 kms. Yes I have upgraded from a 12 year old CBZ Classic, so doing 760 kms in 12 hrs was not imaginable to me. I would let the pics tell the rest of the story for rest of the day.
I just could visit the Virupaksha temple, So the pics below are all of the same complex.
Admiring the Indian Stone Henge
While I was clicking some pics, a security guard came to me and we started having a small conversation and he told me that I can get a room for around 100 INR in the Virupaksha temple complex, he even told me that photographers need to spend atleast 3-4 days in Hampi to get good clicks. It kind of sealed my plan that I will spend my trip in Hampi and then start back for Mumbai from here only.
Later when I came back from Hampi in the evening, he again asked the same thing, and all i said was “You don’t believe me so there is no point in telling you anything.” And then he smiled back, and showed me the place where I was supposed to park it. After being assured of the safety of the bike, I went to my room and ordered food and went to sleep.
My room for the night for INR 400….