It has been a long time since I have been on a bike tour or a trek. This trip to Tadiyandamol was a bit of both and later proved to be too much of both. The plan was to leave Mysore on Saturday morning and reach Coorg by late noon. We would then set up our camps and goof around a bit and end the day. Sunday morning we would trek and start to Mysore by noon.
I left to Mysore from Bangalore on the afternoon of Good Friday and reached GK’s house by 6. After a cup of Latte, caught up with a few friends and did some shopping for the next day. Pradeep’s Legendary Fiero had to get a new set of brake shoes and we installed it at GK’s house. The drive chain on my bike was over tight after the ride to Mysore due to some funny reason. I sat down to fix it while GK prepared dough for twenty chapathis that would take care of us over the next two days. After dinner GK and I had to cut onions and tomatoes for his mother would prepare pickles the next morning to go with the chapathis.
The others would arrive at GK’s house at 6:30AM the next day from where we would start. Kitta, on his Pulsar arrived first, Ajay and Pradeep followed immediately on the RX and Fiero. Soon we were all having breakfast at the Mylary Hotel close to GK’s house. We then secured the tents and the sleeping mats to the bikes. After a word of caution to ride slow, to be careful and not to use our cellphones while riding from GK’s mother we set out.
From Mysore, we took the Hunsur road and rode behind each other like the best boys in town at a constant 65KMPH. Our first stop was after 45 minutes at Hunsur for tea. We then took the Hunsur by-pass road to reach the Nagarhole forests. The weather was perfect for a fulfilling ride. We could very easily do a constant 70kmph through the forest and after riding through a few villages, we reached the town of Gonikoppa. Our next break was at Virajpet, 30kms from Gonikoppa. We bought water bottles and other necessary stuff. Twenty-five km through winding roads and a few hairpins brought us to Kakkabbe. There was a small bus-stop and a corporation water tap near it. It was 2:00PM already and we decided to have lunch. We spent time eating in the bus stop and relaxed socializing with the natives there.
Our destination was a yard in front of Mr. Thammaiah’s house. Thammaiah is an assistant to the forest range officer and has been living there for the past 30+ years. This place was another 8 kilometers from that bus stop. We left and I started to lag behind the group right after the first hairpin bend. The roads were poorly asphalted obviously and the surface was loose at every hairpin. The exit of the hairpin was a steep climb and naturally we had to take that in the lowest gear. So every time I bend the bike at the hairpin entry and shift to first gear, the rear wheel, a hard compound MRF-Zapper, would slide on the loose asphalt by two to six inches. I hated this. I began to lose confidence and rode slow. The others were unperturbed by the loose surface and went like they were in a hill climb rally stage. I caught up with them after three or four minutes where they had paused for a quick break. It could be a gross sin from my side to term the previous worn-tarmac road as loose. It actually would be a fresh laid 12-lane super-express highway compared to what was present in front of us. It looked like the bed of a waterfall which was a tourist attraction a hundred years ago! The incline was 60 degrees from the horizontal and the surface was made of boulders each approximating to one foot in diameter embedded in a bed of fine dry clay. It was a 100 metre course before we reached Thammaiah’s house. I set out first knowing that I’ll be slowest of the pack. Right after the first stone, the bike started to misbehave. The front wheel would be clamped between two stones and I could feel the handle bar turn all by itself. Riding cautiously for 5 minutes I covered ten metres! It started to feel as if the path was getting steeper. At this point, one could not sit on the bike and expect it to pull him as none of the bikes offered enough torque to climb against a big stone planted right in front of the rear wheel and the engine would simply knock as the throttle position sensor would have advanced the ignition but the engine revs would still be less than idle. This would completely be useless and a prolonged action could even damage the piston apart from overheating and ruining the clutch which was already happening at a big enough rate. If you were successful in not knocking the engine and moving the bike forward, a little fast release of the clutch would result in a wheelie which could be last of the things you’d want to happen there. One cannot witness such damaging instances while riding anywhere close to the city.
Nor could one stand on the foot pegs and expect to ride off comfortably. In case the handle turned like I said before, you would simply be on the ground and if your stars weren’t in the best of positions, you’d break a few bones too. That’s not all. The moment you stood up on the pegs, the rear wheel would lose load and simply spin freely against the fine deposited clay on the rocks. So to me it was a quiz asking myself whether can I take on this stone, brake on that crack, place my foot here bend the bike there and when all answers were a confident ‘Yes’ I would twist the throttle to cover one or two feet of the course. So after twenty minutes of an eventful phase of life, we reached our destination, the yard. We put our bikes to one side, took out the mats and fell like logs onto them. AJ and Kitta went in search of Thammaiah and to see if we could get some tea. It seemed he was up on the hill on some work with the forest ranger.
The road in which we came would continue till the summit with sections big enough to accommodate one cow. That was the route, a pretty comfortable one, for a trekker to go up to the summit. The road though narrow, muddy, wet and filled with dry leaves it didn look as hard as the stretch we had just covered. The craziness in us had still not died and we decided to ride our bikes along that road.
The first fifty metres was pretty much a cakewalk with occasional controlled wheelies and wheel spins. Half a km into the ride, I realised I was trailing behind everyone and was struggling to get the bike up on a foot high boulder. Everyone was possessed! They were riding that way. The path was two feet wide with a steep fall on one side and a hill on the other and we went on riding climbing rocks one after the other not knowing the destination and not even having the faintest idea of how we plan to come back!
GK led the way and stopped the race to nowhere when his chassis frame struck a rock when trying to climb over it. Thankfully nothing happened to the frame. Everyone stopped one behind the other. I was obviously at the back owing to my moto-cross skills on the Unicorn!
He stood there looking at the bike and we all were a bit scared when we spotted a large herd of cows staring at us continuously for having blocked their return way. It was 5:45PM meaning it would soon become dark! The animals had to come down. It meant we had to rush down on the rocky terrain. The biggest thing was in turning our bikes so that we could ride it the way it was meant to be! There was a small clearing in front of me as wide as the length of my bike. After a two-hundred point turn and help from Pradeep, I could turn my bike. Then we turned Pradeep’s Fiero. Then GK’s. And in twenty minutes, all bikes were ready to get down. After a quick round of snaps, I lead the way down.
Getting down here was tricky at the boulders for both my feet would lose contact with the ground when the bike was on a rock and I had to counter it by bending to one side. I (don’t know about the others) put the bike to first gear, switched off the engine and came down very slow by slipping the clutch and not touching the brakes. Thankfully the road was not very steep and the pain was only at the rocky portions. We reached our camp in twenty minutes.
Pradeep and Kitta wanted to go to Kakkabbe to buy stuff while we three just lazed around watching the setting sun. There was a small construction project going on a little above and the workers were seen going back from work. One of them, a local resident for 25 years, was curious and paused to talk to us. He said it was dangerous to camp anywhere above due to the threat from wild elephants and hyenas. It seemed there were some hundred people up already camped near a stream and that the range officer would be mad if he knew of this. He went on to ask if we were familiar of the path to the summit. We immediately told him that we had been above, on bikes and were a little familiar of the terrain. He, with utmost awe, exclaimed “So was that you guys up there on bikes half an hour ago! No vehicle has ever been there so far!” This gave us all the biggest high! I was all happy and smiling though the guy meant it the other way! Kitta and Pradeep were back before dark. We had tea, dinner and after a small entertainment by Kitta we slept off in our tents.
All were up by 6AM. Our plan was to trek to the summit, come back by 1PM and leave to Mysore. We had our breakfast and set out by 7AM, leaving our tents, bags and bikes back at the camp. We walked wondering how on earth we managed to get our bikes on those paths the previous evening! The summit was 4 kilometers from our camp. None of us fell short of energy and we reached the peak by 8:30. On our way we met many people from various trekking clubs. The most disappointing thing here was those people were utmost senseless to leave plastic water bottles, polythene bags and other litter on the hill. Their previous night’s camp fire was still burning amidst shrubs and trees with a strong breeze blowing its way. All conditions well suited for a forest fire! People came from various parts of the state and their attitude showed a clear lack of responsibility towards nature!
The summit was very picturesque and the visibility was less than fifty metres at 9AM! After spending an hour at the peak and shooting photos to our heart’s content we started descending. The second half of the descent was again worth mentioning. The craziness in us was still alive and GK, AJ and I started running down the hill. We could see people clear the way for us and occasionally click snaps for the look on our faces were that of cross country runners! It was fun. It took us 55 minutes to reach our camp from the summit. So we were all down by 10:30 AM. After a quick breakfast, we rolled up the tents and checked oil levels on all bikes. We paid a nominal fee to Mr. Thammaiah for his voluntary help and set out by 1:00PM.
It was now time to descend the 60 degree waterfall-bed like incline. Again I rode last inch by inch with my engine switched off and the tranny in first gear. Braking was strictly forbidden because the bike would simply slide and fall flat on the ground. Then there were the narrow hairpins where I was over-cautious. A mere down-shift would make the bike slide by a foot on the loose asphalt and I didn’t want to take any chances. They were waiting for me near the bus-stop. The road to Virajpet too was winding and I rode slowly for the next 25km. We then had lunch at Virajpet. Mysore was still a hundred kilometres away. We started at 3PM to Gonikoppa. The bike was a pleasure to ride now that it was on asphalt. It went well at a decent speed and in 40 minutes we were at Gonikoppa being stopped by police. It was election time and every single vehicle was checked for liquor. GK soon arrived and said I rode like I was possessed! Eventually everyone was possessed at some part of the tour ;) Our next stop was at Hunsur for tea. We reached Mysore at 5:00PM. I had to ride to Bangalore and I hated to do that in the dark. After a cup of coffee at Green-Leaf, I started off.
Weekends are the worst of times to ride on the Bangalore-Mysore Highway! There was so much traffic I could not have a clear road for more than a hundred metres. It looked like the whole IT population would go on a weekend trip to Mysore on their newly acquired Swift or a Honda City and drive like crack-pots exploiting their powerful brakes to the fullest and being the biggest nuisance to us bikers. Every car had a typical fair bespectacled face in the driver’s seat with a wife to the left and parents and children at the back! 8 out of 10 cars were these! The remaining 20 percent were the reckless TATA Indicabs and other yellow board monsters with an underage driver trying to get all the adrenalin rush within the small stretch of road that he could see! The KSRTC buses were the most decent and well behaved of the lot. To make things worse it became dark and it went on to be hopeless when there was a traffic jam at Chenpatna up to Ramnagara. It took me 55 minutes of off-roading waiting crying shouting singing to cover the 20km stretch. It took me 3 hours to reach home from Mysore. A hot bath felt like the best thing in the world!
The road-trip-trek (whatever you would want to call it) was now over covering 560 km over two and a half days. At the end it again goes on to say I love my bike, I love biking.
We’ll be planning for the next trip soon.. Stay Tuned :-)