If you wanna know how I reached Mumbai in the first place on my KTM Duke 390, you should read Solo Ride chapter 1- Bangalore- Pune- Mumbai
I got done with my meeting in Mumbai, I tried looking for other reasons to stay but found none except one- packing my stuff. I was very lazy to pack all the stuff and mount it on my Motorcycle. Oh Cmon! its a very tedious task to come up with a mountain on the rear seat of a motorcycle. Sigh, I had no other choice. I bid most of my relatives farewell on Sunday night as I planned to crank my motorcycle on A Monday morning at 5 AM.
As usual, On the day of my departure, I was late but my grandmother wasn’t. I geared up and hoisted the mountain on my rear seat. On the other hand, my grandmother was well ahead of me in preparing breakfast and a lot of lemon juice for me that would keep me energized throughout the journey. My grandfather was awake in little time too and it was extremely sweet of them to wake up that early in the morning just to ensure that they send me off with a lot of blessings and a belly full of rotis, snacks and Chai!
The motorcycle came to life at 5:58 Am and I let it heat for 3 mins. Moments later I was on the western express highway, looking for a way out before all the mad traffic attacked the roads. I was successful. After 45 minutes, the sign boards led me to the Mumbai- Pune expressway. Woah! I thought motorcycles weren’t allowed on this road. You think I really cared? Not at all.
Note: there was no signboard mentioning expressway rules this time.
I saw the sun rise behind the mountains and then went through tunnels. The roads were much better this time, its an expressway after all. I was sipping water from the hydration pack at all times as signs along the expressway kept popping up that read “No stopping on expressway”. Of course there’s no stopping on the expressway, I didn’t wanna get run-over by some maniac. But, when nature gives you a call, its a do or die situation. I saw a lorry parked just at the exit of a curve, that meant the vehicles would be relatively slower on that patch of the highway, consequently, there were lesser chances of me being run over if I stopped. To improve my chances of not being able to get run over by someone, I halted a few meters in front of the lorry so that even if someone lost control, they would hit the lorry first, I remember this particular call due to the sheer number of calculations done by me to not get run over and it was extremely relieving once I was done with it! 😛
I was surprised at the way in which the expressway got me into Pune, it was an excellent job done by whoever planned that small bit of it. The views alongside the straight expressway were staggering, I’d definitely camp over those hills for a couple of days if I ever got the chance to do it. On the outskirts of Pune, I encountered a couple of Harley Davidsons going on the same lane and I soon overtook them. Its not normal to see premium motorcycles hitting the highways on weekdays as most of the times, people get busy in the act of money making and they only take their babies out of the garage on weekends, just to have breakfast some 100 kms away! Not all do this, there are riders who take their steeds out on weekends to to explore new places, but if you ask, majority of them would prefer short runs over anything else. Some are just too scared to afford risks in life.
Satara arrived in no time, I could maintain 80- 110 kmph as the sun was out there to help dodge deadly potholes. I then saw something bright and white in my rear view mirror, about 50 kms before Kolhapur. It was another Harley Davidson, a bigger one this time. I let him pass and he stayed in front for a while. I passed him but he made sure he was in front again. This kept happening and I made truce by overtaking him and keeping him in my rear view mirror at 160 for a while, then slowing down just to let him pass again. I had my little share of fun, hence I let him go. Its important to let go, especially when you’re caught in such a ‘frictionous’ situation on the highway. I think that made him happy too, that would be great if he was going through a mid life crisis (considering he was on a Harley) 🙂
The Duke’s Tank was topped up in Kolhapur at about 10 AM. I kept my relatives posted about my progress, Its important to do that. Like a typical Gujarati, I made sure I ate Theplas and had lemon juice at the bunk to keep myself energized. That pumped me up and I blasted through the roads in the middle of a Garden– a sign that Belgaum was nearing. I maintained a constant speed of 120 kmph for a pretty long time. The quality of roads improved drastically- in terms of smoothness and width. That meant I had entered Karnataka.
After Belgaum, It was the arrival of Dharvad and Hubli at around 1.15 PM where I had lunch at Kamat restaurant, just by the highway. The advantage of stopping at Kamat is that you can keep an eye on your motorcycle while having food as the restaurant is setup in a way where the parking area is easily visible.
The goal was to reach home by sundown but at the same time, ensuring that I’m neither stressing myself nor the motorcycle. After Hubli, my next stop was for fuel and biscuits, 100 kms before Chitradurga. You know you’re near Chitradurga when you begin to witness windmills over the approaching horizon.
I pushed faster as I neared Bangalore. The outskirts of Bangalore arrived at around 7 PM, but the city traffic made sure I reached home at 8 PM where my mom and sister stood by the gate to welcome me. My mom know I’d be hungry, hence she had already prepared some nice Gujju food and a lot of chai with it. Nothing comes close to what my mom prepares, its the best! This was my longest solo ride as of February 2015. Total time taken was 14 hours. Total ride time: 11.30 hours.
What I learned from the Solo ride:
1) It’s really important to stay energized and hydrated at all times while touring. If the body asks for food, give it and fill it till it shouts back at you to stop eating!
2) Be a good company to yourself, touring alone is not boring! In fact, its much better than group riding in many ways. Major plus point- you don’t need anybody else’s consent if you intend to bring about change in plans. You will definitely get loads of time to connect with yourself and you realize that you don’t need another bag of meat on another motorcycle, every time to head out to ride 🙂
3) Consistency and smoothness is the key: it’s important to take note in advance of important places where you could stop for a good picture or a long break. Otherwise it would be a waste of time to stop anywhere else.
4) Leave early! I have to leave by 6.30 for all future rides, regardless of how far my destination is. The time advantage could also prove to be useful in case you face an unexpected setback for a few hours.
5) Through a Solo ride, you’re able to understand your needs and your motorcycle’s needs in terms of riding gear, luggage, etc which could prove to be a good determinant for taking decisions pertaining to purchases that need to be made for future rides.
6) You get to know if you’re the kind of rider who prefers to cruise and enjoy the ride or if you like to zip through the highways and indulge in a race against time. I display both these traits but as of today, I’d prefer to cruise peacefully and enjoy. That’s what I intend to do for my next loooonnngg ride in June 🙂
7) This ride helped me understand my motorcycle even better, I realised that the Duke 390 is not a delicate darling like its faired seniors, it can take up a lot of beating and load. This is one tool that could get you to a place in no time, it has definitely filled me with a lot of confidence and trust. I can’t imagine a day without riding it.
8) There’s no point in reacting to the reactions you get on road. Just do your thing!
9) Listen to yourself! There will always be people out there to tell you that its difficult to ride alone for so long, its dangerous, its a crazy thing to do, you’ve lost your mind.. bla bla bla….
All this will sound very convincing too, but what kind of passion is passion if there’s no place for fun and madness? If you wanna do it, fuck the world- Just do it!
10) People back home are concerned. Keep them informed about your whereabouts whenever you halt.
11) Try your best to be in good spirits all the time, there’s no place for negativity here. Your subconscious mind needs to know and believe in the fact that all is well and all will continue to be well.
12) Book your stay for the night in advance 🙂
13) When you deal with the locals, be polite, friendly but courageous and aware at the same time. You definitely don’t want to seem nervous and insecure before them.
14) Make sure to click good pictures!
15) Keep an eye on your motorcycle when you’re not on it but don’t make it seem too obvious. Act normal, be aware and observe, there’s definitely a lot of luggage in there if you’re headed out to a place very far.
16) Have the time of your life!! NOW is the real present and future!!
The Following weekend, I handed over the bike for service as it was due. I was glad to see it shine after a very long time!