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Say hello to Amir Sasidharan, resident of Bangalore and also an MRF Thrill Ambassador. On a whim, he decided to embark on a ride, but with no destination in sight. Let’s Ride Along with Amir on this meandering two-wheeled expedition, to see the places he visited. This is his story, in his own words.
The Golden Land
The day it all began, I woke up by 4 am, and I was hyper excited! I could not sleep, but I was already dreaming about the places I wanted to visit. Waking up at 4:30, I geared up and started off. I was scared it might rain but it didn't. I had planned to take the Aryankavu route from my place because it was the best route to Kodaikanal. The best time to start a ride is early morning because you won't be disturbed by traffic. I reached Thenmala earlier than I thought and stopped the bike when I saw the beautiful view of the dam, I couldn't ignore the view, and so I clicked a few pictures, stretched a bit and got back on the bike. Riding alone makes me so happy because it gives me a sense of freedom, something I really can't explain. I had to keep on calling my buddies to make sure they also would reach Kodaikanal at the same time that I did.
I crossed Aryankavu and pretty soon it started getting very hot. I was getting roasted under my riding gear.. Interestingly, I crossed Usilampatti, on which an old Tamil song has been filmed. Around 1 pm I reached Kodaikanal, and the climate was so good that I wasn't tired anymore, I felt so fresh! The fog, the rain and the view just made me feel like I should have come here earlier. My friend had told me about his cafe (Mama's Cafe, Vattakanal Road),which is where I headed to wait for the rest of my gang to arrive. They reached by midnight, and all of us rented a cottage, from where we could see bison, which was slightly scary for me.
A few days of rest later, we left for Manavannur. Roughly 40 km from Kodaikanal, it is a place worth visiting. We spent the evening there.
We found a tea shop on the way . The owner was kind enough to give us a room to get dry, where we stayed later on. We were too soaked to continue riding, so we did a bit of shopping and settled in for the night.
Tamil Nadu Beckons
Our riders reached the outstkirts of Tamil Nadu after battling bad weather, jam-packed traffic and more. This is what happened when they started the next leg of their journey .
The 583-km ride to Chennai via Trichy was a tough one, especially since our clothes were still wet. While passing through Trichy and nearing Chennai, the temperature shot up from 13°c to 43°c. The drastic change in temperature had one benefit, though. Our clothes dried very quickly. We somehow crawled into Madarasapattinam (what Chennai was originally called), and found a hotel. There was no respite, though. While we were resting our tired bodies, we got a call from the reception that someone pushed our bikes , causing one to fall on top of the other. The culprit was an old man who sold soda to make his living. We felt pity for him, and in the end let him off. Our bikes, though were damaged. There were scratches on the panels, and my fuel tank had a deep dent.
The next day, we were joined by two more friends, on the way to Pondicherry in the afternoon. The 200km ride was made almost impossible because of the searing 42-degree afternoon sun. We had to stop and drink water many times.We reached Pondicherry in the evening, and that is when I came across the most beautiful view in my life. The hotel we had checked in to, had a wonderful, sea-facing cabin, made of bamboo and cane. Bright moonlight softly danced on the crashing waves, proving once again what an unforgettable experience this was turning out to be. After lazing around on the beach, we slept soundly, dreaming about the wonderful places we would visit next.
After taking in the sights and sounds of Pondy, we started back for Chennai. The hot and humid city would be our halt for the night as we headed on towards Bangalore the next day.
Rains, Goa and Home
After Tamil Nadu, our riders now enter Karnataka. Here’s what happened.
The ride to Bangalore started early, but the unforgiving heat dampened our spirits slightly. We met a number of riders along the way, mostly on the way back to Chennai. Me and my buddy had to stop every 50km to drink water, as it was a complete oven all day. In spite of all that, we reached Bangalore in the evening.In Bangalore, we stayed for two days because we had to service our bikes, send our clothes to the laundry, and meet up with a few more friends.
It was raining heavily as we started our from Bangalore to Chikmaglur. This time, we had purchased waterproof bags to protect our clothes and phones. It was 3 am, and we were frankly, very tired. But the ride had to go on. In poor visibility, traffic and the unending downpour, we rode. Nature seemed to finally recognise the spirit of the biker within us, and by 6 am, the skies cleared. Finally, at around 11, we rolled in to Chikmaglur. There, we found riders from our area. It was a welcome change to finally be able to speak in our native tongues. They even joined us on a sightseeing trip to Baba Bundagiri. In the evening, we came back to Chikmaglur, found a hotel and slept.
From Chikmaglur, after a full nights’ rest, our riders started towards the famous Jog Falls. The normally curvy roads were perilously slippery due to the heavy rain. There was mud and slush everywhere, and the 168km ride from Chikamglur to Sagar took over 8 hours! They finally reached Sagar, enroute to Jog Falls, checked in to a hotel and went on a street-food binge. The rain stopped at night, which was excellent news as they wereto reach Gokarna via Jog Falls the next day.
This was the best part of their ride. The hills, the lovely weather, the clear, black asphalt, as clean as a slate due to the recent downpours, the curves, all made the ride to Gokarna a really enjoyable one. They also visited the Nirvana Beach, and were lucky enough to find a place to stay by evening, because it started to rain again.
The next day, they were to head to Goa, and finally to Bangalore
After a week of riding in the rain, only one thing powered our riders. The thought of reaching Goa. Their jackets, gloves, and all their luggage was soaking wet, but they did not give up. The rain could not dampen their spirits. The quote, “ If you haven’t ridden in the rain, you haven’t ridden at all” was finally understood by Amir and his group. The 200km ride finally ended at Anjuna, where they found a resort. They were so tired that some of them dozed off at the reception desk, while waiting for their room keys.
From Goa, it was a daunting 560-km ride to Bangalore. We left in the afternoon and were stuck in traffic due to the bad roads, the rain and the low visibility. It took us a groaning 15 hours to reach Goa, all due to the strain of riding on bad roads at night. By the time we reached Bangalore, it was 8 a.m. The only thing we could think of was, “Mission Accomplished”.
This ride would be one of the most memorable and difficult ever embarked on by Amir. But like he always says. “To Travel is to Explore, To Explore is to Live and to Live is to Travel”. He has well and truly been seduced by the spirit of motorcycling.