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.
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.
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”→
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.
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.
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.
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.