The end of an era and the start of another

Bull

After putting it on sale for close to a month, I finally sold my old bike today. I was barely using it as I had switched to the new one. Yes, it was only an upgrade from one to another, and they are lifeless machines. But I couldn’t help going back and looking at how so many things changed once I got the Bullet. I had never done ‘rides’ as such. Two wheelers weren’t meant to leave the city!

I discovered the joy of open roads, and more importantly I discovered the joy of hidden roads – two-laners that are away from the Highway and used mainly by those who live in those places.

I discovered the joy of solo rides. To be by myself, on some unknown road between Devalapura and Huliyurdurga. What would happen if the bike broke down, or if there was a puncture? Oddly, I never had any such issues. Punctures need specific inputs, in the form of nails. Unless someone stands to gain by it, the chances are really low.

I discovered the joy of the ‘thump’. The short bottle silencer was the chief partner in crime, with a purring sound that never really got too loud for me to worry about noise pollution. It was ideal, and more importantly legal. Too bad that people now prefer loudspeakers like the Goldie and the Indore!

I could never go fast on the Electra. It was a bike that loved being around the 70-80 kmph mark on highways. You stay on 70, but you move to 80 to overtake. That’s about it. It wasn’t fast. Not even close. You don’t ride it to race. You ride it to experience.

It surprisingly gave me a lot fewer problems than what people who own Royal Enfields crib about. There were some issues with the odometer cable conking out, some issues with the battery initially when the service guys screwed it up. But it shed them off, and kept getting better and better.

After waiting one whole hour, I gave it to a guy from Kerala. He seemed excited on the prize. I wished him luck, that my luck with the bike would continue with him! There was someone else who was supposed to visit me. His brother was supposed to come down this weekend and he had planned on getting the bike. He dropped out at the last minute as the brother’s travel plans got changed. I guess it was destiny that the guy who bought it ended up with it.

Now, onwards to the era of the Bullet 500. Why did I buy it? I asked myself this multiple times. It wasn’t the speed. But I had had my eye on it ever since it got released. The time of its release coincided with that of my getting the electra. Would I have bought the old bike otherwise? I don’t know. Guess this is destiny too.

Looking forward to more rides, and more joys to discover!

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Day Ride – Lepakshi

After much “being on the radar”, the Lepakshi ride was finally agreed on. Anand had already been there some months back and knew the way. There really isn’t much knowing the way required, though. You head straight North on the Airport Road from Bangalore, avoid getting into the Airport, and keep going North. Cross the border into Andhra, and take left where a board with an arrow left says “Lepakshi”. Go on for 16 km on that road, and you see the Nandi on the right. Go on a bit further, turn left where everyone else does, and you have the Veerabhadraswamy Temple.

Well, this is pretty much what we did. We left from my place at 7:45 AM, me on my Bullet Electra, and A on his Classic 500. I expected an arrival at Lepakshi at 10:30 AM with a half hour for breakfast. The Goraguntepalya railway overbridge is now ready, so timings should be predictable. The breakfast stop was at the fancily named “The Indian Paratha Company”, which was reached at around 8:45 AM. The place was crowded, and seating was in the morning sun. The Paratha came on time, but we spent 20 minutes waiting for tea. What was expected to be a 30 minute stop, took 1 hour. Really good food, but service needs to go a long way!

The ride along NH7 is plain boring. There is no other term for it. You get your speedometer to 80-90 Kmph, and stay there on the four lane road and keep watching the odometer ticking. There are neither trees nor curves to keep you interested. We reached the turn-off from NH7 by 10:40 and the Nandi before 11 AM.

The Nandi is carved out of a monolith and thankfully we got a few shots before the crowds streamed in. I figured it might be smaller than the one at Bull Temple road or the one at Chamundi hill. Turned out, I was wrong on all counts. This is the second largest Nandi in India, after one in Aimury, Kerala.(Not completely verified accounts I believe. Some claim it’s the largest.)

Monolithic Nandi - Second largest in India!

Nandi from the back

Apart from size, the carvings showed a garland of bells, and what looked like two ghosts on the body.

Bhoothas...

Continue reading “Day Ride – Lepakshi”

Day ride: Bhoga Nandeeshwara

Being a long weekend and all, a ride was always on the cards. I had had my eyes on Bhoga Nandeeshwara temple for a while now, thanks to ZenRainman‘s pics on Twitter. I pinged S who had only recently got his RE and was keen on doing a ride. A was a doubtful starter, and pulled out in the morning. I started out from home at 8:30 AM, and S left from his place at the same time. The plan was to meet up near Hebbal opposite the notorious Esteem Mall. I reached there at 9 as there was hardly any traffic on the way. S reached there in a few minutes too! Talk about timing!

We hit the Hyderabad highway and after passing the turnoff for the airport, we reached a Sri Krishna Garden at 9:30 AM. The breakfast was just about decent, and we back on  the road by 10 AM. The route was to avoid the Nandi hills turnout, take left on a service road somewhere further up, and then take left onto the road leading to Nandi town. As expected with such turns when on bikes, we missed it and came upon the Chikkaballapur turnoff. We doubled back and got on to the road. Very soon we came across our first sign that we were on the right track. (:P)

Glorious Promised Land

Not sure what this place is. The board said it’s a religious place. But a Google search did not reveal anything interesting about it. Either way, we rode along and reached the temple pretty soon.

The very first structure is the main temple complex itself. The rest of the structures are on its left (on your right as you enter). We were greeted by a pillared hall with pillars that looked like they had been plucked out from Hampi. The temple itself is very old, built around 800 AD. Various dynasties and Kings have added their own structures, and you can see a temple evolving across different architectures from different periods.

Pillars

If this reminds you of Hampi, not too surprising. Those pillars inside with 3 sculptures are also similar.

Pillars

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Day ride: Nuggehalli. Once more.

I realised all of a sudden that it’s been a long time since my last ride. Considering that we are into the last quarter of 2016 I hadn’t done even a single one in 2016! The last one was late December 2015, and to Nuggehalli. This time I decided to do the same route again. I like the temple with its carvings and the road is just awesome to ride on. There will be a time to explore other regions, but a comeback ride after 8 months is probably not the time for that.

The plan was to do it last week, but the weather looked dodgy with a good chance of rain. Just as it was clearing, a bandh happened and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find stuff to eat. I postponed it to the day after Ganesha. Except that this became a Mandya Bandh, and considering that I was planning to pass through large parts of the district, if not the city itself, I decided to play it safe and shifted it to the next day, September 7th. The weather promised a partially cloudy day with no chance of rain. Just the thing to expect on a September day. It was expected to be cool, though not as cold as winter. In short, perfect conditions for riding.

I set off at 7:45 AM. Fuel was done along the way, and so was air for the tyres. The weather was absolutely splendid. Clear blue skies with puffy clouds left over from the Monsoons, mild temperature, not biting cold, the kind of weather expected and the kind that makes you love riding.

On the way...clear blue skies

Continue reading “Day ride: Nuggehalli. Once more.”

Cars and bikes…

I have been driving in Bangalore for the past 5 years now. When I moved back from the US I took a 6 month break from all driving, to rinse out any nice ways of driving, took off on two-wheelers all that while and then bought a used car to drive. The plan was to use it for 5 years and then look for a new car.

5 years have come, and I don’t intend to sell my car. The usage is so minimal that I don’t really need to change it. There is a temptation to go for an electric one, but again it’s costlier than a petrol car given the cost of battery and my usage. The more you use it the better it works out. In the current market, a petrol car works best if you don’t drive to work everyday.

But my plan is to hopefully sell my car and not own a car after that. Every time I drive, I come back home nerves frayed, after enduring what can only be called traumatic experiences. People constantly cutting in, slow moving vehicles suddenly speeding up without indication just because you might be thinking that since they’re slow you might take a right some 60ft in front of them. How can anyone allow that!

Two-wheelers doing blind turns, or blind lane switches, or just plain scared in some cases and taking over a whole 10 ft side of the road by plonking themselves in the middle and not responding to anything.

And then the signals. Each one at least 2-3 minutes and not guaranteeing a move ahead on green even if you’re 2 rows behind the front. Possible that one car couldn’t get started, usually private and you have to wait it out. And after all this, you fervently hope you don’t have to deal with a traffic jam.

I have tried everything – being stoic, being Zen, playing music and closing windows and trying not to care. Except that the experience of constantly jerking slow for near misses does get to your nerves. It’s like having your reflexes on every moment for an hour or two. We are just not designed for this kind of stress. The only thing that works is to give enough time to get to your destination, but it is mostly the constant reflexive nature of driving that gets to you.

The sad part is it feels so much better to be on the Bullet. I don’t cut people off like other idiots, follow lane discipline, and try to ride the way I want others to when am driving. And it is so much more stress free. Am not sure if it is just the bike experience or the thump of the Bull that helps here, but it is overall a much better experience than driving. Of course, the kind of experiences you usually hate are life threatening when on the bike. A goods vehicle that decides it has had enough waiting and suddenly hurries across the road, or BMTC buses deciding to jump signals, those are always there. Defensive riding helps, and if you’re the one at front your side of the road, you can expect to be cut off by crossing vehicles. The main reflex intensive nature of driving is not there. On the highways though, you have to deal with farmers on Hero Splendours spitting around them, or bikes with rowdies throwing out cigarette butts (not even stubbed), but on bigger highways safe distances can be kept. A lot of temper management is called for here.

I really wish one day I can sell my car off and just manage with the bike. When it rains there are always taxis or autos. Probably manageable. I don’t know. Worth trying some time, but given my usage am already doing it more often!

Can’t say where we are headed this way, every time things get worse we get used to it and move on to the next level of worse. Seems to be our fate.

Oh well, a pointless post, I know. But hey, didn’t want my blog to open with the last one for too long. 🙂

 

Day ride: Nuggehalli and Shravanabelagola

Having a longish time off meant that a ride was always on the cards. The area around Shravanabelagola has always been a favourite, and will continue to be for sometime. I realised that since my first ride there in September 2014, I had done approx 6 visits to that area covering different places.

This time, I had zeroed in on Nuggehalli, a village on the Northern side of the Hassan highway, but couple-able with Shravanabelagola. I set out as usual at 7:15 AM. The bike had been fuelled up 2 evenings back and would last the whole journey.

The morning was cold and I had to make multiple stops, once to check why air was coming into the helmet, and next to fasten the jacket at the wrists to prevent cold air entering through that vent. The former could not be figured out as the helmet “ventilator” was already closed, and the latter really helped. My finger tips went numb despite the gloves though.

I took my usual pit stop right after Kunigal. This is a bridge overlooking a small village. There’s a tiny temple with a big Nandi in front and a huge tree. During my first bike ride to these parts I had stopped to stretch when I hit the 75 Km distance mark. For some reason, it has become a tradition.
A Shiva temple on the way where I usually break

After stretching my legs a bit, and also rubbing some sensation into my hands, I set off towards Swati Delicacy, my breakfast stop. For some unknown reason this place is always crowded in the morning, and finding a table for oneself isn’t easy. This time I was lucky, and with some aggressive “no’ing” managed to keep a whole table to myself. Continue reading “Day ride: Nuggehalli and Shravanabelagola”

Day ride to Chandragiri

Another place put on my radar by Twitter was Chandragiri in Shravanabelagola. My usual favourite spot on Vindhyagiri overlooks this much smaller hillock. It is less than half the climb of Vindhyagiri, and the number of visitors is usually fewer. There are temples that look Hindu unlike the Jain Bahubali temple on Vindhyagiri. But technically, even Vindhyagiri looks like a Hindu temple, only that the towering Bahubali gives it away.

Considering that it had been a while since I last visited Shravanabelagola, (the last was early June) I promptly set out in the morning. The breakfast was had at Swati Delicacy and I had reached the entrance of Chandragiri around 10 AM itself. Unlike the more famous Vindhyagiri there weren’t any lockers to hire, and I was in no mood to lug my bike jacket up the hill. In case you’re wondering, the bike jacket has solid paddings for the spine, elbows and shoulders and is pretty heavy and unweildy to carry about. Pretty much the only thing you can do well with it is wear it and ride a bike. Thankfully, the guy manning the slippers counter offered to keep it in a shelf, but asked me to remove any valuables like wallets or phones. Those weren’t in the jacket anyway and I had it cleared of my water bottle, sunglasses and cap to carry up the hill, and left it on his shelf.

Unusually, or at least unusually for me, there were a lot more people, mostly pilgrims from the North. Wonder if Navrathri holds something special for them.

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Vide of Vindhyagiri from Chandragiri...
View of Vindhyagiri from Chandragiri…

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Zen rides

Once again, I set out to Shravanabelagola, on my bike. As always there was the backdrop of protests and fears about riding on highways. But promises of regular calls seem to assuage those fears, will know only later. But this is not about that.

Most rides, I approach with a list of things to think about, a la ZAMM with his “chautauquas”. Except that, none of that ever happens. If only I had the ability to control my thoughts. Most times, you’re aware of where you are, noting down the places – that amazing hillock framed by fluffy clouds, those shops, more hillocks and the tiny sheds or temples on top of them (“who goes there?”) and sometimes just “Will it rain?!”. There are moments when thoughts that you had held back bubble up to the surface – about all the problems you’d like to have solved, and how there never seems to be any solution for them. But then, such is life eh?

If am with my cousin on his super-bike, most thoughts start with catching up and not making him wait too much. But then, of course, my bike can’t be made to go any faster, so the flow resumes. Maybe, this is why I like bike rides. The flow of thoughts without needing any prodding, and a part always engaged with the act of riding itself – the need to overtake slower vehicles, while watching out for faster ones, it’s slightly trickier with my bike where the speed I maintain is around 80 km/hr and most cars can get to 100 easily.

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Day ride to Shravanabelagola

I don’t know if it was a sudden idea, but I had been planning it out for the past 2 weeks. For a day trip, that’s a lot of planning! But when it is a solo ride on your bike, there are quite a few things that you need to plan. For the contingency of the bike breaking down, where you can take breaks and how often.

Turned out that the distance I was set out to accomplish was around 140 Kms, so it would be a 2.5hr ride with a stop for breakfast extra. The Bullet doesn’t really go too fast and I like to keep it at an even clip of 70 Kmph. So at 7 AM I set out, the fuel having been take care of the previous evening. The weather had been slightly on the warmer and sunnier side, with the promise of rain some evenings. But then, that’s Bangalore weather am talking about. I had no idea what to expect closer to Hassan.

After much dodging of potholes and climbing up and down the speedbreaker hills, I reached Magadi Road. A little kid was on a motorbike and that bike had gotten caught in a hole on the road. (Underage riders and holes in the roads. Welcome to Bangalore!) Another guy in his teens was helping him out of there and signalled to me for a lift. Being the kind who takes no lifts nor offers any, I moved ahead, but stopped after a few feet. “Well, what the hell”. He ran up and got on. “Where are you going to?” he asked. “I don’t know” I said. I had no idea why he was asking the question, so no reason to answer. I dropped him off at the turning to the NICE Road, paid 10 bucks as toll and was pretty soon at the Tumkur Road toll booth.

“Are you going towards Tumkur” asked the toll booth guy.

“Yes”.

“Nelamangala bidtheera?”

And I had another guy now sitting pillion as I went along till Nelamangala. I dropped him off at the turning towards the highway to Hassan and went along. A petrol pump was stopped at to fill the air and I was promptly on my way. It was still pretty early and the weather a bit chill. I had avoided shoes for some reason and could feel the cold biting my feet. Solur came and went, and soon the boards said Kunigal. I reached the Kunigal bypass and carried on. After hitting 70 Kms, I stopped on the side on a bridge near a village. There was a Shiva temple with a lone man sitting around. The temple had a massive Nandi instead of the usual small ones facing the Lord. I stood around for 5 minutes, stretching my arms, legs and back. A carpet seller came along below in a stocked up moped which had an audio system blurting out a Hindi number from the 90s. After 5 mins, I sped off again.

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Biting the ‘Bullet’

Can’t believe it has been a year already. I remember that evening, walking to the showroom, being given the documents and instructions etc. I looked around for it, to see which of those standing was mine. None was. I had to go to the service center to pick it up. Another 10 minutes of walking.

The sheet of paper handed over to them, the guy disappeared. I looked around for crash guards and only the basic one was around. “I’ll take that. Not riding without one!” The bike was duly rolled out and I gazed at in wonder. The man applied some polish for it, fixed the crash-guard and handed over the keys. I purred it into action, fuelled it up nearby and promptly rode home. On my brand new Bullet.

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