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Friday, October 29, 2010

Kodaikanal bike trip part 2

Day 1 Trivandrum to Tiruvalla

Trip Distance: 121 km
Total Distance: 121 Km

Dawn of 21st morning came as usual without any real excitement that a trip brings , as things were still not finalized.

I went about my work as usual other than Arun contacting me for few more rental agencies numbers.

At 2 pm I had given up hope and was contemplating on going for a movie in the evening just to take my mind of the disappointment of another non materialized trip.

At 3 got the eagerly expected call from Arun , the bugger had got the bike and was almost half way to his home in Tiruvalla , guess he should have called me when he got the bike but the great news really  overshadowed that aspect.

The Trip was on….yipeeeeee

My plan was to leave office by 4 pm so that I could start the trip by 5 pm that would give me at least an hour of day time driving. Based on previous experience wasn’t too keen to do much of night driving in Kerala traffic and roads , so the more distance that can be covered in daytime the better.

But as luck could have it was 5 pm before I could leave office and that’s when I realized that my tank was in reserve – went to the nearest bunk to fill up and as luck could have it they were out of petrol- finally got fuel from a bunk which was nearly a kilometer way – which meant that by the time I started it was 6pm and darkness had descended – boy it will be hard now as the average speed would have to be low which would directly result in close to 5 hours to reach Arun’s place.

So with a mixed emotion which consisted of cursing myself for delay and a happy prayer for a safe and successful trip I pushed the self starter.

The bike immediately came to life with a very welcoming noise

And I was off; the much awaited trip had begun for me with no more ifs or buts

With failing day light and fast approaching darkness got into NH47 near to my home only to be caught in peak hour traffic – the crawling traffic lasted till Amalacode couple of kilometer past Attingal from where I took a …..Km deviation to hit Kilimanoor from there I would be using the hopefully less crowded and better MC road all the way till Tiruvalla.

Within few minutes of getting on the MC road I knew the heavens were with me on the road, primarily because the road was good and the very clear despite the darkness – I was not even affected by the constant high beam of approaching vehicles (something unusual)

With predictable less traffic and above factors I surprised myself by maintaining high night time speed and within couple of hours (8pm) I was in Kottarakara. And hour saw me in Cheganur.

This was all too good I had covered almost 121 Km in near about 3 hours especially in night.

But as luck could have it just 6km before Arun’s place the sky opened up and I had to bitterly take shelter in a petrol bunk. Had the skies remained calm for another 30 minutes and I would have made it.

Anyways as I said this was a field test trip and the rainfall helped me in realizing that the rain gear was not packed properly and took time to be installed on bike (first lesson learnt)

The rain broke in another 15 minutes and I was off navigating some of the most horribly crater filled roads I have ever encountered. Add to that couple of wrong turns near to Arun’s place and finally I was there. Dude was waiting for me in his sit out and was either amused or pleasantly surprised to see my entire kit including the saddle bags.

I was shown to his guest room followed by a delicious meal consisting of prawns, duck, fish and chicken
After the dinner we inspected his Thunder Bird which looked pretty well maintained for a rental bike , this was followed by an hours tete a tete session which had to be cut short the moment we realized it was getting late.

Our plan was to start early by 6 am next day.


Day 2 Tiruvalla to Kodaikanal

Trip Distance: 273 km
Total Distance: 394 Km

Got up by 5 am to a very wet morning; however it was 6.50 am by the time we started off, primarily because I had to do a bit of repacking after last nights experience with rain.

It had rained heavily in the night and we were a bit worried that the rains would not break in time, not only was that fear was unwarranted as the rain had stopped by morning but the rainfall had made the road and day more beautiful and entertaining for the ride.

Arun’s plan was to reach Kumily by 10 am for breakfeast , but based on my past experience I knew it would be impractical especially since we were planning to stop in Peermade . Our plan was to visit Vagamon & Peermade and try to get as close to Kodaikanal as possible if we are unable to make it (night driving was out of scope)

The ride was great; we started slowly and soon picked up momentum stopping for occasional photos.

Our first photo stop


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Think we made a good pair ; me all padded up in my cramsters and on contrast this hefty guy with just his helmet on Thunder Bird hahaha
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For me safety was the policy and Arun wanted his freedom – must say I was a bit skeptical about his disregard to protective gear but overall he drove well and didn’t do anything foolish so guess it was okay. He also had a valid argument that being in Sharaja he may not indulge in biking again so spending money on all the protective gear for just one ride didn’t seem right.
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Soon we hit the ghat section and boy we were suddenly engulfed in fog probably due to all that rain last night.
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We had a blast riding through the fog in low visibility, at times the visibility was hardly 50 meters but the most amazing fact was the constant shift of fog and visibility. We would be riding in thick fog with our lights on for few minutes and then suddenly for next few minutes we would be riding through clear visibility- just amazing
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Somehow we missed Peermade possible because we had to take a deviation to reach it and due to our late start we had decided to make to Kodaikanal as early as possible so that we can reach there with daylight to spare, our biggest concern accommodation which was not booked in advance.

Weather was foggy cold and awesome, we halted at Valanjangam nearby a beautiful waterfall for tea
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one of the many road side water fall we saw enroute
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