Of thatte idlis and rural bike rides

It was something that had been on the radar for a while. Different things kept putting it off, but one fine winter morning I donned the jacket and the helmet over the head scarf and stood on the road by my bike waiting for my dad to return from his walk so that I could leave. The stray pups near the house came by for a chat and to see if I would play. I fooled around for a few minutes with the bolder one while the shier one stood by at a distance refusing to say hello.

Soon I was on my way, driving through newly laid empty roads to Ullal and making a small halt for Anand to join. We started at 8:30 AM, the morning chill not yet thawed, the mist/fog still hanging low. We rode along the outer ring road towards Kengeri, playing cat & mouse with the buses and lorries. A right at Kengeri and we were on Mysore road, racing by cars and mini-trucks with the buses asserting their dominance by stopping in the middle of the road.

The traffic was usual Mysore road style, free-flowing until you hit populated areas where the occasional auto-driver or two-wheeler would try to steal a quick one across the road bringing traffic to a halt for close to a 100 meters. Kengeri, Anchepalya all went by as we made our way towards Bidadi, and just out of nowhere a traffic jam sprung up! Worming our ways between buses and lorries, taking deft off-roaders, we made our ways to the front only to realize that it was caused by a bunch of humps laid together bringing the whole traffic to a crawl for a whole half a Km!

The traffic snarl notwithstanding we were at Bidadi for our breakfast by 9 AM. Breakfast in Bidadi is always Thatte Idli. Legend goes that there was one shop which used to make awesome Thatte idlis which soon got famous. Now the entire stretch of Mysore Road along Bidadi is dotted with tiny outlets proclaiming to make ‘Bidadi’ Thatte Idlis! The one shop, close to the bus stop was crowded as expected and unlike the haughtier places in Basavanagudi or Malleswaram, neither does the fare burn a hole in your pocket nor do you have to endure snooty waiters. Anand waded into the crowd while I found a strategic location close to the very red chutney. He waded out balancing two plates of idlis and a Vada each with a tiny dollop of butter melting over the surface of the idlis. The delicious idlis and the vada made it into our stomachs generously aided by the at-hand chutney. Once done, we figured we couldn’t get coffee there as the place was too crowded. This is one of the disadvantages of the place. Unlike the more famous outlets in Bangalore the coffee cannot hold water to the main fare here! After doing some adjust-maadi with the coffee from a nearby shop we headed out again.

Now the plan was to go North to hit Magadi road instead of returning via Mysore Road. From a previous ride, I had promised Anand of a ride through villages dotted by verdant green fields and pristine blue lakes. The road was initially dodgy and I promised good roads right after a bridge was passed around a KM inside. The bridge came and the roads became magical snaking through vegetation, smelling of early morning dew and drying hay. Within a few minutes we were near “Nelligudde Kere”. There is a bike path that goes right by the river where I had seen a biking team being put through its paces on a previous ride. This time it was empty. The fog had still not lifted as we rode by the lake getting as close as possible.

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Nelligudde Kere(iPhone pic, might be low quality)

We hit the road back and rode along cruising at around 60, never going too fast. Given the proximity to the lakes and the Arkavathy river, the fields around were well irrigated and the farmers prosperous. Houses and people looked well taken care-of and well-nourished with cars and bikes parked outside. Villages appeared every 3-4 Kms each with their own schools which boasted of blackboards all along the walls with drawings and announcements taking up every available inch.

Soon we reached the crossroads where the road to the left announced Manchanabele dam in 2 Kms. We took the detour and rode through similar roads and over hay spread on the road to dry. An incline took us up and we turned right and dropped straight into a huge valley with the Manchanabele lake lying at the heart of it. It was a breathtaking ride to go down the valley by the lake and we tried to get close to it, but were beaten back by the quality of the roads leading into it.

We continued along the same direction, but after a short distance decided to turn back as the road seemed to be getting bad. We came back to the same crossroads and I missed taking a pic of the valley from the drop-down point. We continued north and reached Magadi Road, the road getting progressively wider. We joined Magadi road around 7 KMs beyond Tavarekere and raced along at an easy 80 KpH on the pristine highway. A shortcut after the NICE road meant that we were at our respective homes by 11 AM, after promising to do another ride sometime.

Route map:

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