We told almost every soul on Earth about the trip we had planned. It had started with a friend of mine wanting to travel to Kochi. He had invited most of us to join him in the ride and promised to host the stay at Kochi. Excited, we had about seven invitees and all of them accepting the offer. As days passed bringing us closer to the trip, the list was growing smaller. Finally, it was just three of us; Allen, Kiran and myself to do the ride. The host himself was off the ride and so was Kochi. We planned to cut off at the spots we wanted to visit and avoided traveling to Kochi as it now served no purpose. Kiran, suddenly dropped a bomb shell very close to the ride date. His girl friend wanted to travel with him to spend the four days with him. Unfortunately, it means that he can’t ride the whole trip with us, but just part from where they would find it uncomfortable. With everything running in mind, I closed my eyes trying to sleep. I could visualize every other minute that was ahead but could never sleep. Excitement had taken over at least a few hours of my precious time for rest.
Excited by the beginning
I heard this irritating noise that we call as alarm. I had turned it off instead of snoozing it and had overslept. It was close to 15 minutes to meeting time and I was thinking, “Oh God, not again.” I pity Allen that this keeps happening every time, but managed to make it to the place delayed by 20 minutes. Meanwhile Kiran had called me and told that he would start off with Allen and requested me to join them on the highway. I had no reasons to oppose this and also understood that it was not a good idea to be standing on the highway, with a girl at the back and all bags packed.
My Mom was there at the gate as I left slowly on the bike. I could see her concern in the eyes, but since I never had an answer to the questions running in her mind, all I could was give her a convincing look back and leave. I was all geared up with my backpack tied to my saddle. I had to manage the small drizzles making me look harder through the visor, but all this was already in my mind before I started. It was monsoon and we had prepared to meet the worst of the rains. Allen had both our rain pants and I kept riding on praying it won’t rain heavily until I got the pants from him. I drove with extreme care exiting Chennai in less than half an hour.
I spotted Allen waiting for me at Chennai’s border. I don’t know how this happens but the both of us have never called each other to sync up during rides. I happens… like that! Allen thought that he had passed Kiran, but I assured him that Kiran must’ve crossed the area and we were the guys who had to catch him. We took it really slow and careful as this was the first rain ride and we didn’t want to mess it up right at the beginning. With average speeds of 60 kays, we didn’t need breaks. We stopped once to call and find where Kiran was, but his mobile was out of reach. Not longer from then, we found him on the side of the road, about to start. It was clear that his girl friend wasn’t quite comfortable with the ride for some reason. We didn’t want to stop and waste time and signalled to him that we’d take a break near Vellore.
On reaching Vellore, Kiran promptly honked and the bikes came to a halt. He told us that his pillion was very sleepy and they needed a break of at least an hour. He reassured that it was going to be very hard for them to reach Salem as his pillion was finding this very hard. We told him that the best option for them would be Yelagiri and thus we had to part. Bidding farewell to the duo, we moved on. It was the two of us now, Allen and myself. This was turning out to be like the Wayanad trip we did about a few months back. We had a good feeling about this, though a member had dropped off the plan.
During the previous ride, we stopped somewhere near Vaniyambadi for tea. We’d like the place then that we tried to spot it again. Finding it sooner than we thought, we parked the bikes and got off only to realize that this place resembled the older, but was different. But who cares, as long as we get tea, has space for us and is deserted? Those are some of the main things we look out for; privacy. We had a small tea break, reassuring ourselves that Kiran would be fine and moved on.
Not very hungry, we decided to ride on for some food about 150 kays from then. As we crossed Vaniyambadi, we diverted from the highway into the twisties that leads us to Salem through Yelagiri. We had reached this place quite early in the morning, at about 8.30. The sun wasn’t too hard on us and the wind was less, helping us enjoy the ride better. Occasionaly, we had to experience overcast conditions, but we were always prepared for the rain ride. Allen didn’t stop much, since he was a steady cruiser and never does swift maneuvers. Me, on the other hand just can’t stand that due to the nature of the bike I had. Mine was sporty giving me comfort in the top end and I had to stay there. I therefore chose to ride faster at my comfortable pace and stopping here and there for photo shoots.
As I waited for Allen at some unknown place, I logged to the internet from my phone. I had a quick chat with a couple of my pals at work. Before I could get hooked on to a conversation with them, Allen had arrived. We kept talking for a few minutes watching a bullock cart approaching up on the empty road infested with occasional bus traffic. As the cart came near, I smiled at the guy riding it and asked him if I could take a picture. He felt it was a privilege and posed for a few snaps. Before I got off, I asked him if I could take it with just myself on the cart. With a second thought, he gave me some basic instructions to keep the bulls from moving. As I followed them, I requested him to pose with my bike. The guy couldn’t believe what was happening. He got on my bike and posed as Allen clicked the shots.
Starting from there, we had to ride through small villages and towns and reached Salem in no time. Our target changed from food to fuel. We took the bye pass to avoid the town where we spotted the fuel station of our choice. The pump appeared to be new and a very decently dressed man was assisting the operations. I could guess that he was the owner of the pump by the way he behaved and the concern he had. Looking at the weirdly dressed two of us, he walked close to me and whispered something into my ears. He excused himself not to mistake him and reminded us to drive very slowly as traffic was bad. I thanked him for the timely advice and registered it deep in my mind. Such things don’t happen normally and I accepted it as God’s message. Parking the bikes at the corner of the pump, I started noting down the fuel price and the distance traveled. I was trying to calculate the mileage. After doing the math, I was shocked and repeated it again. With the same result to be seen again, I jumped with joy after finding that the mileage was 47! My bike used to return 33 consistently and the recent fuel filter change was doing magic.
Not very hungry, we decided to move on. Crossing Salem, good roads were history. We had to face construction in every other part and continuous off roading and switching lanes was quite tiring. The signboard reading ‘Take Diversion’ was a very common sight. We had a good time until Salem and things were changing the other way round. About an hour later, we were only 35 kays from the pump we started from. This showed poor average speeds and it showed us we need a lot more effort to make it to Pollachi, our destination for the day. Not too long from then, Allen was quite hungry and we were in search of a proper dhabha. We never prefer very small shops during road trips as health is a major concern. We make sure what we eat is healthy and safe. It took us some time to find one, but what we had found was like heaven to us. It was quite sunny by then and the air conditioning in the restaurant was a quick chill. We asked for something that we would get quickly, but had to wait longer than we thought. It almost turned out to be an hour’s break and quickly geared up to start.
The guy at the hotel however told us about an alternate route to Pollachi that saved our day. We started riding towards Tiruppur, where roads were better and peaceful to ride. It was close to evening and we were about 150 kays from the destination. Roads were turning out to be as promised and we kept riding for longer times. The only reason we had to stop now and then was to ask for directions. During one such occasion, we had to stop by a small road side shop, where a very old lean lady was taking care of the shop. As a person nearby was telling Allen about the directions, I asked her for a banana as they were quick source for energy. As I gobbled one, I noticed that her ears were unseen and the place near the ears had undergone some massive accident. As I kept thinking about it, she suddenly asked, “Where are you from?” I was shocked for a moment and was wondering where those words of English came from. Oh yes, she was talking in English. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I conversed to her, and I started understanding this was becoming a common sight as something like this had happened before.
Close to sunset, we were at Palladam, a place very close to Pollachi. Allen was quite tired and wanted a quick nap. We found a shady location with a shop closed nearby. Allen sat on a small stone and rested his back on a pillar nearby. He must’ve never known what happened for the next half an hour. I was meanwhile logging on to the internet, trying to check out posts on xBhp. I wished luck to the other members of Chennai who were planning a short ride the following day.
Soon enough, after Allen got up and refreshed and were heading for Pollachi. We were in for a scenic ride and this was completely unexpected. I was remembering the sci fi movies looking at the numerous massive wind mills on either side of the road. There was a good amount of wind that kept them all alive and the road quality was nothing to complain about. I couldn’t see Allen anywhere in front of me though I kept riding quick and stopping for occasional photos. Nearing Pollachi, trees were growing in numbers and the color of green they were in was sensational. After a day long ride, the final stretch proved to be our relaxation.