Thursday, March 05, 2015

[1-Mar-2015] Solo Bullet Ride to Lepakshi

Going Solo
Anyone who has tried to organize an event can expect last-minute drop-outs. Legitimate or otherwise, the organizer has to respect the decisions. Priorities change, unexpected things come up, life happens on the sides.

Some take it personally, some might be hurt. Some might withdraw into a shell. Some go ahead with the event, as they get crazy, rebellious, philosophical, Zen-like, or just to prove a point or two to others and more importantly, to self.

Every now and then I popped the idea of going for a Bullet ride. It never materialized. Once even I was guilty of last-minute drop-out. The longing for the ride used to build up, and I used to take my family along to Art of Living, the NICE Road, or Kanakapura. But it felt like having a breezer when you felt thirsty for a Scotch.

The Week Before
A week before, I declared to myself that I will take my buddy (Royal Enfield Bullet Thunderbird 500) out for a ride to the long-pending ride to Lepakshi Temple, Andhra Pradesh, 140 KMs from my place in Bangalore - even if I have to go solo. Sent notifications to a few folks, some agreed, some didn't respond.

The Night Before
All dropped out the previous night. I expected it, and welcomed it. Packed my backpack with the puncture kit, first aid kit, spares, documents, cash, phone battery power bank, and kept an offline copy of the map on phone. I had filled fuel a couple of days before, checked oil, air pressure, and applied lubricating oil.

The Morning of the Ride, Sunday 1-Mar-2015
I woke up early as planned and informed my wife that I was going on the ride alone. She understandably refused to let me go. I tried to convince her. There was a huge churn inside my head and stomach. My kid was sleeping blissfully, it was so easy to change my mind and go back to sleep. No one would mind it, in fact people would expect me to cancel the ride, the right thing to do, to not take risk. When I told her this last bit, she sort of got the hint of the enormous struggle I was having within, with myself. She still didn't agree, but she said I should go. I asked her if she was sure, she said she was angry but I can go. She made coffee, packed some fruits and snacks, got my son to bid me bye, and I started the first solo ride at 6.45AM instead of the planned 5AM start.

The Ride
Even after starting the ride, it felt like I could still turn and go back. After a couple of KMs, things changed for the better. It was the morning after a night's rain, and the sky was overcast for most part of the ride, just the perfect weather! I was just riding, what else can I say. Clarity, purpose, calmness, confidence. They all took over. God, why hadn't I done this earlier. Missed you buddy! Passed through the early morning vehicles onto the city outskirts by 7.30AM. The green sign board read 48 KMs to Chikkaballapura, the breakfast spot I reached at 8.45AM. Saw a few biking groups, with Harley-Davidsons, Triumphs, and Bullets as well. By now, it was half-way mark at ~78 KMs. Spoke to my wife, who was now completely mad at me!

Being solo meant some degree of self-indulgence. Took selfies, which I never do.


Highway got boring after some point. Reached Nandi spot at 9.45AM, the first destination 1 KM before Lepakshi Temple.

Was blown away by the old-world rock sculptures at the temple, took easy nice stroll around the temple complex, clicked lots of pictures.




I was ready to start the return journey in about 40 minutes. This time I decided against online reviews and some people near the temple, and headed to Hindupur, 15 KMs away. It was supposed to lead onto Gowribidanur and to Doddaballapura, with bad roads. But to my pleasant surprise, the road was in good shape with playful twists and turns, lined up for the most part with huge scenic trees alongside. I had to be careful as there wasn't any median in the middle of the road (it was a State highway). Soon I switched on the headlight on my bike, which prevented most opposite vehicles not to overtake, leaving me with safe, easy path to move forward at good speed.

The Finishing
The mark of a achieving something worth is how hard the finishing is. The weak-hearted ones give up right there. Instead of the planned entry to Tumkur Road and then onto the NICE Road, I somehow ended up at Yelahanka. It was 1PM, exhausted from the slow moving and annoying traffic from Doddaballapura, 25 KMs. The choice was between going another 30 KMs to the NICE Road entrance (plus 31 KMs to reach home), or pass through 35 KMs of city traffic via Hebbal, Sankey Tank Road, Kasturba Road onto Kanakapura Road. I took the latter, and focused on taking it one road at a time, on reaching home safe, which I did at 2.20PM, 280 KMs mark on the Odometer. If you take a risk, it doesn't mean you can't take precautions and be careful. There is no point of taking a big risk if you can't finish what you started, and reach home in reasonable shape. Fun is to live to see the odds beaten, dreams fulfilled.



It's Full of Fights
If you are sure of something, you have to expect the roadblocks, the fights with the norms, the well wishers, friends, family, and with yourself - for your safety, fear of being lonely, physical and mental constraints/impediments. That's what it takes to go after a dream. Chase, go after it, fall, rise, and get there. Every little battle counts. Every big fight hurts. There are no wins, or winnings. There's just Life, as you want it to be.

PS: My friend shared this link (http://qr.ae/j7beA) of a 22-year old going on a solo ride on a 20-year old Bullet from Bangalore to Himalayas, over 4000 KMs. He fell sick after that, but then did this stretch for another 6 times. Amazing! Read more stories on "How does it feel to travel alone?" at http://www.quora.com/How-does-it-feel-to-travel-alone.

Links:

Here are the pictures in Story form: http://goo.gl/AjN23f
And here are the pictures in Album form: http://goo.gl/s0xCMF
Here's the route map: https://goo.gl/maps/VNrry


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