Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tadiyandamol on Wheels!

In recent times, there has been too much of talk about a big biking expedition, to the Himalayas, and at times when craziness reaches the zenith, to Dakar! One such time, after having watched Dakar 2009, there was a talk about doing an off road trip, partly though, just to get used to the feeling of riding on loose surfaces, to get more confidence on the bike and on our own riding. Added to this, we'd never been out for a long time, blame the recession, I guess. So we were all looking for a simple solution, something where we can ride and camp at the same time. Then someone, I don't remember,could've been me too, came up with the idea of going to Tadiyandamol on bikes! Sounded interesting enough, all we had to do was solve some minor logistical problems and we were set. We got the tents hired and summoned Subbu from Bangalore the previous evening. After a few coffees, we went around shopping for food, survival food, Glucose, electrolytes, Jam, chocolates, Bread and the like. Batteries for the torches, a must as was the emergency medicines. Then came the main course!Chapathi and Curry! yeah, and you though we could just survive on bread?

What I'd actually done is, I'd made the dough, that's after fixing the Fiero's rear brakes in a formula-one-in-the-dark style operation with the help of Subbu, asked mom and sister to prepare chapathis enough for Subbu and I for two days, and had gone out shopping, then to collect a camera from a friend who was kind enough to lend it and not ask it back till today! When I came back, mom gave me a shocker that chapathis was done, but, (you thought that was the shocker?) the curry wasn't cause she was too tired and couldn't find time to prepare it, so she asked us to dice five onions and five tomatoes and keep then in the fridge and she would get up and prepare the curry the next morning just before we left. But, as usual, things got a little delayed and it was around 11 when I sat to chop the onions, recruiting Subbu for the job too since we we short of time. We both were slightly hampered by the faulty equipment at our disposal although my knife was much better than Subbu's. But the knife was the least of our problems, half way through the first onion, I found out it was not my cup of tea! I was crying like crazy and knew of nothing that could stop it! Then Subbu came up with the idea that chewing gum would help us stop crying, so he went, dug around for a while in his bag and came back empty handed and teary eyed as usual! Right then, the feeling was worse than when you got out of water with your eyes open in the most chlorinated water you've ever been in your life! and it was getting worse! I was worrying about dicing my own fingers and Subbu was worrying about the size of the pieces, not of my hand, but of the onions! I figured, since it's only we both who're going to eat it, we don't mind some unusually sized pieces of onions in our curry! so, I diced, blind, 3 or 4 onions, and Subbu did about 1 or 2 but with exceptional quality! I ended up with a headache and had to pop a pill to bring it down so I can get some sleep cause it was certain that I'd have less then five hours of sleep with a hard day ahead!

As the alarm rang, we both got up and got ready, correction, he got ready in time, I was still in a towel when all the guys arrived at my place! After having breakfast at Mylary Hotel and a little more time spent in fastening the tents and the sleeping mats to the bikes, we were off on a sunny Saturday morning. The first stretch of road, 30km or so till Hunsur was silky smooth with big open curves and perfectly laid and painted roads. It was a pleasure to ride, I was a little cautious as I had just replaced the gaskets on my bike and I thought I hadn't given enough time for seating the piston rings again. But all that thought disappeared as we left Hunsur towards Virajpet through the village and the forest roads, it was just going with the rhythm, as fast as our senses and reaction time would allow us to ride safely through the crests, blind turns and sweeping curves. We were all enjoying the roads, then we reached Virajpet, and had a cup of tea discussing the roads, weather and the bikes. From Virajpet, it was pure mountain roads for 23 kilometres till we were just a kilometre or two away from Kakkabe, this was when things stepped up a notch on the craziness scale, I went ahead, soon had my mirrors full of a flaming helmet and ears full of a two stroke hum at high speeds, Aj had caught up to me and we both were riding in tandem overtaking each other almost at alternate corners and were a little on the limit on the braking, at least me, sliding under braking just to give him a pass (and a good scare). As we arrived at the sign post which pointed the way to Tadiyandamol, we were a little clear of the other three, then they arrived one by one, Pradeep on the Fiero, then Kitt, then Subbu who was not really liking riding on those roads owing to grip problems and a recent dent in his confidence and a large one in his petrol tank, which he got fixed!

This was another stop, time for lunch, we had chapathis and shared curry among ourselves, filled our stomachs, packed our bags again and started, it was nearly 4km of hill-climb style roads ahead, and right from the star Pradeep went ahead, myself behind him, Ajay behind me, Kitt followed and a nervous Subbu brought up the rear of the pack. Pradeep was taking revenge for all the hills he couldn't climb easily on his bike when it had lost compression! Ooty Episode, Kanyakumari Episode and maybe a little in Kemmangundi. He was on a roll now, shooting up the hill, looking at him, I panicked and tried to keep up, upshifting and downshifting too many time on one stretch and over heating my newly assembled engine! Then we came to a place where there was no road and the only track up the hill went 35 degrees to horizontal! We managed to get that up with ease and stopped waiting for the others, Ajay arrived complaining of an overheated and repeatedly stalling engine and Subbu and Kitt had nothing to say, cause the next stretch of road was even steeper and even rougher than the ones we just came by! It had boulders all the way! Sub went first, and got stuck after a few feet, he had to be pushed out after overheating the engine an losing out on torque, I went second, I got stuck in the same hole Subbu had dug with his tyre! While I was struggling to get out of the ditch and smelling my engine catch fire in the process, Kitt comes and waltzes past me on his bike as if it was his driveway and I was just sitting on a bench! We were all surprised looking at it. It was a good show of bike control from the big man! Ajay made it through with a screaming engine almost on fire,Pradeep came at last and also managed to make it look easy.

We camped soon after and still had a lot of light of the day, so thought we'll go exploring on the bikes. We wanted to test how far it was possible for a bike to get on that mountain. Started our bikes and took off, bouncing from one boulder to another, skidding and sliding almost all the way as the roads got narrower and the drop on the right hand side got steeper, the weather was getting foggier and we were getting crazier. We'd scaled rocks of enough height to count as the median or footpath kerbing on regular surfaced roads. All this came to an end when I was trying to scale a big rock, I got the front over it, and just when the middle of the bike was about to pass over the bike, I heard a loud "tung" and a grinding and then the bike passed over the bike, I knew exactly what it was, I immediately switched off the bike, got down and waved the others down. The bike's frame had hit a rock pretty hard and had chipped the rock. Although a later inspection revealed that nothing serious had happened, it was a scary moment and was enough to make me lose all the rush and put on a worried look on my face!

The problem now, was this: The bike was stuck in a narrow 2 foot wide track and we were supposed to turn it around to head back. On the left was a steep hill face with mountain grass and on the right was a few bushes beyond with lay a drop of a few hundred feet. Everyone helped a hand in turning each bike around by lifting one of the wheels off the ground and getting it faced the right direction, mine was the last bike to be turned around while a herd of hyper active cows waited for the path to clear so that they could go back home before dark too. We then came back when it was still bright, relaxed for a while, talked to some locals who broke the news that we were the people who'd motored the farthest on that hill, that got a sense of achievement in all of us and we were are very happy! We slept in mild rain, two of us slept indoors cause of the rain, myself and sub slept in one tent,Pradeep slept in the other.

Next morning, surprisingly, we were up by six, Sub and I were up talking right from 0530 or so. Woke up, brushed, half a loaf of bread and jam for an early morning breakfast while Ajay and the others packed the same thing to eat on the summit along with loads and loads of water, some glucose and a few chocolates. As we started, we were shocked, we were finding it difficult to go through those roads on foot, we had no clue how we could make it through those roads on a bike the previous evening. As we went along we saw a tent city with ten tents put up in a group. then saw people who'd camped on the top of the hill descending down after having dirtied the summit. We reached the summit in a shorter duration of time compared to the last time we were here. one hour and twenty seven minutes or so the clock read. The guys had breakfast, Sub and I had chocolates, we took some photos of the scenery. And headed back, after the steep parts of the hill, I found it easier to run than to walk, so I started running,Subbu joined me, and soon we both were bullying our way through the oncoming traffic of people. Soon, we'd broken away, and soon enough, Ajay had caught up to us just as silently as he'd catch up with us on his bike when we breakaway! We were running as a group now, and made it to the camp in 55minutes! That was a superb time considering we'd gone up the hill just a couple of hours ago. We then had breakfast and since Subbu was in a hurry, we both started dismantling the tents, packing them up and fastening them up to the bikes while the others either took a nap or took a bath.

After having tea prepared freshly by the local person taking care of the land, we started off, I was the first one to go and was in a good mood to enjoy the roads, skidding into the hairpins and going up and down the gears as fast as you could read one-two-three-four-five. By the time I reached the bottom, the bus stand, Ajay and Pradeep came and informed that the entire mountain was smelling of my engine! But still I managed to enjoy the roads almost till Virajpet, but lost the guys ahead of me soon.. and was riding last but one with Subbu at the end. We met up at Virajpet for lunch at a hotel and left soon afterwards, our minds firmly on reaching Mysore, and Subbu's on reaching Mysore and leaving for Bangalore immediately since he had to make it to work the next morning. Mysore wasn't far away and Subbu had taken the lead right after Virajpet and the next I saw him was in Hunsur for tea and then after tea, next we saw him was at the entrance of Mysore, he was riding like man possessed, maintaining high speeds all the way through. Once into Mysore, it was tough task to convince Subbu to come to a hotel and have coffee before leaving, we did manage that however, it would've saved him fifteen minutes had he agreed right away. We returned the tents and went home very pleased with the trip, our own riding, the bikes and the whole experience in total, The tool kit I had packed never came to use thankfully, so did the emergency medicines. What was used well, was the jam, my mom's cooking which was finished at breakfast, the bread, chocolates, torches, tissues and the water we'd taken at Virajpet. The riding spirit is firmly on all of us now! more trips are going to be planned soon! probably repeat ones, but it'll be much enjoyed for sure! Till then! Cheers!


  1. hey gecko....

    nice one on you mate, keep the trips going...

    Miss the sense of adventure, do as many trip as you can before you fly out, you're going to miss them..

  2. If this post happens to inspire someone somewhere you must also know that safety was our first concern. We understand there is no substitute to it.

    Well yeah, we could've survived on bread if the situation wanted us to! what do you think!
    It's true, we were not crazy but we were crazier and we shall go on to be that way. For it's just one life we have they say, it's meant to be led the crazy way ;)

  3. @ Adithya: Thanks macha! Yeah, gotta see, planning to do 10000km in the next three months, wish me luck! :)
    don't ask me where i came up with that number or how i'm gonna do it, no harm dreaming!

    @Sub: Safety, of course! We were wearing helmets all the while! Yup we were really crazy! i, for one, was in a trance over the track!
    And for the food, well, logic tells me all sweets and no sodium can lead to a lot of trouble. That's why i was very specific about the curry! And i don't wanna learn that the hard way! Scared! :|