The question I am asked repeatedly is ‘why a bike?’ There are plenty of buses and trains to take you there in lesser time..
The answer to that one is that at some point in your life there is a realization. I have been pondering on the great Indian philosophy of ‘work hard and emerge victorious’- where the emphasis is on the ‘work hard’ part. Now from my experiences, I beg to differ. There are some things that are just hard wired in your brain. Accept reality: you might be bad in some stuff but might be decent enough in something else. Efforts to improvise your weaknesses may not yield the desired results. On the other hand it might be a good idea to focus on stuff you are built for.. That gets me to the point that there is something with driving/ travelling hard wired in my brain that gives me unparalleled happiness.
Now that I was relocating, the idea of giving my vehicle to transporters so that they can deliver it to Mumbai in a pitiable state did not go well with me. Our gang’s last experience featured a punctured fuel tank, a broken fender and a seriously dislocated carburettor (read: someone was trying to steal fuel).
And I love seeing my country. The colors, the people, the climate, vegetation: I love experiencing it all. In that regard, a bike takes me closer to the elements than a car.
The start was sloppy. I managed to hit the roads around 6:45 am. By the time I was out of the chaotic Tumkur road, it was 8:15. After the Shivagange turn, I saw a CCD coming up and decided to stop keeping in mind that this might be the last decent washroom I’ll get (I was proven wrong later though..).
Progress remained sloppy. I was enjoying the surroundings at my pace. I stopped repeatedly take pictures, make phone calls and even to scratch my head! At around 10:30, I was in Chitradurga. From the elevated road, you can see the walls of the Chitradurga fort. Sadly, I was unable to capture it thanks to my camera’s resolution and limited zoom capabilities. The other interesting things around Chitradurga are the wind farms. They are everywhere in the hilly region and paint a lovely picture of ‘India shining’..
By noon, I was nearing the city of Davangere. Just three dogs and two cows seen in the 300 Km stretch. Now that’s a number we Indians can live with J. This region marks the advent of heat. I was missing Bangalore more and more. The highway beyond Davangere is still not complete and the elevated roads will take at least a year or two to be complete. In the stretch up to Haveri, speed fell numerous times and I was stuck at both the railway crossings. Beyond Hubli, things were lovely once again with a panoramic view and some hills and dense vegetation. I crossed Belgaum around 4pm and had started contemplating on moving ahead to Satara instead of the planned stop at Kolhapur.
I stopped at a fuel pump somewhere after Belgaum and struck a conversation with a truck driver. I asked him about the condition of the road and how long it’d be to reach Satara. After our jolly talk, he concluded it would be 6 hours before I reach the outskirts of Satara. I politely told him to get a better truck and I was sure the distance of 240 Kms could be covered in half the time provided the road conditions remained the same.
Entering Maharashtra marked the end of the great Indian joy ride. The winds were getting a bit annoying. The bike had to be banked by a degree or two to counter the force exerted by the wind. For a moment the thought of uneven tyre wear thanks to a long slanted ride came to my mind; but I rubbished it soon enough.
Reached Kolhapur around 6pm and stopped at the Mc Donalds out there. This was definitely the worst Mc Donalds I’ve been to. No queue, no water in the loo and the staff trying too hard to sell you something you don’t want. My experience with Maharashtra was turning out to be not at all pleasant.
I was done munching by 6pm and decided to head towards Satara. The traffic was pathetic and comprised of a rich variety (cattle, tractors, autorikshaws, etc). I reached Satara at 7:45 beating complete darkness by a minute or two. Getting off the highway before dark is vital according to my rule-book.
I found a pretty good hotel somewhere near a place called S.T. Stand. Behold, this is an important place to be remembered as it is the only part of the town blessed with a tower holding of 4 street lights. I was welcomed by a grumbling fellow who wanted to murder me since I could not reply in Marathi. Anyway, after dumping my bag, I headed to the famed S.T. Stand. After exploring the small town city centre, I headed back to the hotel. The gujju thali for 80 bucks sounded promising. And it turned out to be a treat.
In all a majestic day. The only sad fact was that the mileage figure was not very flowery. The bike guzzled a little less than 21 litres for the 770 KM run which turns out to be 37 Km/Litre. That proves that this gearbox is better off cruising on state highways where speeds range from 60 to 80Km/hr than revving hard to keep speeds of 90-110Km/hr. Also, age takes a toll on everything. This loyal motor has served 27000Km’s consistently returning a mileage of 40-45 Km/L. I guess an overhaul is due in some time.