On the morning of 23 June is when I started out late, I had to reach Pune by Sundown and ETA was after 12 hours, that’s the amount time I took last time!
I had in mind to leave by 6 AM but as usual, my optimism allowed me to leave my place of Residence at 7.45 AM. I hoped to not encounter rains because then I would have to stop and put on all the rain gear, that’s a lot of work for a lazy person like me and I just hate breaking the ride’s momentum.
Nature was pretty cooperative for the first half of the day in terms of rain, It didn’t rain for 400 Kms till Hubli but within just 200 Kms arrives Chitradurga, an area covered with windmills! I expected crazy cross-winds but not the kind of winds that push Jumbo jets off their course, how bad could it be? I was sure they wouldn’t knock me off the road. They did. The winds kept slapping me from East and West, but mostly from the west. Keeping my head straight and steady at times was equivalent of pushing a Bus with my forehead, I was being pushed from the lane on the extreme left to the lane on the extreme right, my cruising speed dropped to 90 and higher speeds ensured the winds took control of my KTM. Fortunately, I never experienced neck ache or back ache and soon found myself out of the mad ‘windy zone’.
I halted at Kamat Restaurant for Lunch before entering Belgaum where it began to rain superbikes and supercars (my version of raining cats and dogs). The rain settled down by the time 2 Idlis and 1 vada with some tea had crossed my Oesophagus. I always hoped to see no sign of rain on the way as I was only worried about my riding gear, especially my boots which are waterproof from the outside only. Getting wet was fine but I had to get my riding gear ride ready the next day.
I was extremely surprised to see that the roads in Maharashtra were repaired unlike last time, that was a relief. But it wouldn’t matter much as there was very little luggage on my Duke the previous time I rode to Mumbai but this time, my motorcycle had transformed into a 1BHK apartment, I had everything on board from a portable stove to a tent and sleeping bag, from thermal clothing to cotton clothes. Consequently, the ride softened because of the added weight and my Orange partner in crime swallowed potholes like it was born to do so. What a butt-saver it was!
It rained on and off till Karad. My Tank bag from Dirtsack had a waterproof cover over it that kept coming off due to the wind, hence I used my knife to make some holes and took the bag’s strap through it, Jugaad at its best. Soon, I stopped to have chai and Biscuits, people always came up to me and asked all sorts of questions but it’s a good way to pass time and know the locals, it was fun to see their expressions and hear them react when I told them I hoped to ride till Manali.
I think nature had plans of cooling off the excess of chai I had, I reached Satara (150 kms before Pune) in a while where visibility due to rain was about 500 to 800 meters, that scene according to my relatives would’ve been apocalypse x 10 times. Frankly speaking, I loved the weather! What could possibly go wrong? I had ABS and a decent set of tyres to prevent me from skidding or sliding which is one of the greatest fears resting at the back of any motorcyclist’s head! My speed dropped to 60-70 kmph, thanks to the lush green Ghat section. I was reminded of Black Leopards that exist around Satara and many get killed on NH4, one of the drawbacks to having clear roads in the country, I’m sure there’s something that can be done to prevent road kills but at this point of time, I don’t have a concrete plan as to what can be done and there’s no point relying on the Government for that as there is very little that people in power are doing which is in the best interest of humanity, so expecting things to get done for wild animals would be too much to ask for.
I was getting wet because I hadn’t put on the rain pants over my riding trousers and not because of my imagination. It would’ve been useless to wear them as the intensity of the rain was too high, water would’ve penetrated through some or the other gap only to conquer my sweaty cotton shorts. On straight roads though, I continued maintaining 110 Kmph.
Some guy in a Ford Endeavour suddenly got ‘sporty’ by trying to keep up, it is easily noticeable when somebody increases speed and is up for a game. You can’t keep up with a KTM, especially in a car as bulky as 6 buffaloes! That was the case on straights. I let him go in the curvy areas to see how much of a distance he could create and it was boring so I overtook him again and carried on. What cheered me up soon was the combination of tunnels and the Orange machine’s engine, I went mad with the throttle to produce a sound loud enough to scare modern kids.
Then, I faced symptoms of entering Pune. The roads got bumpy and I came across idiotic traffic jams. They were idiotic because you can clearly see there’s enough space for the cars to weave through empty pockets and leave in a jiffy, but no! How could they do that? It was raining and they were regular commuters, I think they too perceived rain like some of my relatives did and they probably drained away too much of their precious analytical abilities in scheduling long meetings to discuss the number of toilets they should have in their new corporate office. That’s the way a few Corporates like to work. They could schedule ‘critical’ board meetings for hours together to discuss ridiculous things. When something’s decided, a fancy name with ‘management’ as suffix is assigned to make it sound like they mean serious business. You should definitely have an MBA up your armpit work for them else you’re a miserable human being not fit enough to do such creative work. 😀
The sun had landed but I hadn’t. I slowed down a little as the highway was poorly lit in city limits, the auxiliary LED lights on my bike were very useful in such conditions, paying INR 3,250 for the pair was a good bang for the buck! Soon, I was able to see ‘Ginger’ written in huge font on a building which was my place to rest for the night, at least that was well lit. I checked in to the hotel at 7.40 PM and thanks to the Panniers, all my luggage was off the bike within 2 minutes! 🙂
I don’t know why but this time, even after riding for 12 hours, I was fresh as morning. I was in a position to do another 450Kms with ease. I guess it was the excitement that played an important role, after all the physical body is a manifestation of your thoughts. When I left Bangalore, I was a little worried as the plan of my tour went through layers of objections, as a result I didn’t want any thing to go wrong when I left. Worry is a negative feeling known to suck out all energy but thanks to my motorcycle and the weather for converting the worry into excitement in minutes. I put all my clothes to dry and ended the day after dinner. The next day landed me into Mumbai, the city of Traffic Jams. Oops, I meant dreams. 😀