So here we are finally, set out for a long bike ride that Ravi and I were discussing for over 3 months now. And in comes Sastry, our common friend wanting to jump in excited about a long ride, and more so on a motorbike. We have perfect understanding among us. So no qualms about riding together. I am still reminded of the selfie of Sastry with his full face helmet on sitting on a sofa 🙂 excited about the ride. There was some uncertainty of him joining us, and then whether by car or by his two wheeler. At the end when he announced he was joining us with his scooter, I was so happy that we were a happy threesome traveling together. Peaches, as his daughter named it, did not disappoint him or us taking us through the long ride.
We originally planned to leave on Saturday early in the morning, take an easy ride and decide later in the day if we were to return back home same day or rest overnight. But the mandatory Saturday working at office made us dump that thought. The early disappointment of the day to me was getting my expensive camera bag damaged while riding to office, and eventually deciding to leave my main camera in office rack. So here we are after work, and me handing over the laptop to another colleague, set out for the long ride at about 3:30 pm. There were many good wishes from friends bidding farewell to us.
It took a long while, and I mean a really long while, trying to find each other at designated spots before leaving the city outskirts. I quickly realized traveling together in a team requires more meticulous planning than otherwise so we don’t lose time trying to catch up with each other. Went through the airport road to Srisailam road, caught up with each other for one last time before our grand long ride to Kalwakurthi about mid point to our destination, where we were going rest overnight.
As I was waiting for Ravi, on reaching the Kalwakurthi junction, I couldn’t resist taking a picture or two of my beautiful bike under the golden glow of sunset, which I am sure enhanced the hue of bike. And don’t you see my beaming eyes as we finished our first leg of journey (yes, it is Sastry behind me)?
It took quite some walking and searching around to find an appropriate lodge that was good enough to rest overnight. And here is what we found.
Had some walk after dinner as well to see the town. Exhausted, hit the bed probably around 11 pm. Waking up at 4:30 am sure, was hard for me already short with sleep last five nights thanks to my shift starting at 6 am these days. But with some early morning meditation and cleaning of my bike, I was ready for a sumptuous breakfast of steaming hot white idlies over wonderful peanut chutney, in the company of friends at 6:30 am. One surprise as I look down from balcony was SIX just born babies sunbathing (see pictures from link at blog end) delivered at neighboring hospital. Left at about 7:30 am to our next destination, Mannanur.
This time, Ravi reached sooner at our next pit stop. He and I had some photo shoot as we wait for Sastry who finishes some photo shoot ‘before’ he reached us :). For a change this time for me, it’s not me who is stopping every now and then for taking pictures but Sastry doing the same. I knew how much he must have enjoyed stopping and shooting pictures whenever and wherever he wanted. True freedom of traveling by bike!
And here is the groufie of us at this point from where we would take a left to get into the ghat section of Srisailam road.
It was one LONG straight road from here before the ghat section actually starts. So I freak out flat, hitting a ton (100 kmph) occasionally. Ravi was commenting if the starting speed of my bike was 80 kmph. But that was me. Had it been Ravi riding it, I am sure he would’ve hit 120 kmph. So well experienced is he in riding motorbikes, I found myself wanting whenever I approached a difficult spot such as a village or a relatively bad patch of road. His riding prowess established through long rides from Bangalore to Cuddappah and elsewhere were definitely showing up in the cool manner he drove at a constant speed of 75-80 kmph almost irrespective of what came on the way. Hats off to him and his 10 year old Pulsar, for he can still travel at high speeds.
The ghat section was amazing amazing amazing! Riding at a somewhat high speeds over up-climb curvy roads and leaning over (no don’t worry, I didn’t even attempt getting closer to knees touching road; my top priority over everything, always, is safety!). Changing the gear half way through and taking off at increased speeds was an out of the world experience for me. I was putting to test the riding techniques I have been reading a lot in recent past. These stretches definitely improved my advanced motorbike riding skills. What a shame! After coming back home I realized I didn’t even shoot one single picture of the beautiful curves of the ghat section. I guess the rider in me took over the photographer in me for this time.
We went past Mannanur probably about 30 kms further. Took diversion into an off-road that would be 8 kms before we would reach the destination of Mallela Theertham water falls. One deep look at the road, as we paused at junction, I said, “this 8 km will make me feel like it is an 80 km ride”. As much as I have ridden a motorbike quite a bit since my youth, and now doing again after nearly two decades, I still have this feeling that riding a motorbike in difficult terrains is not my thing. And I do get a little tensed before I give it the first push onto the pot holed muddy road. Thank God, it didn’t rain and so the roads are not slushy. If I can say this better through a picture (although no pot holes in this one), here is one.
It was a 250 step downhill to reach to the water fall. The fall wasn’t amazing by itself due to inadequate volume of water. But the place itself was awesome! The climb up to the rocks where the waterfalls on us was all slippery with too much of moss. As the water droplets shoot from the top, they were like tiny pebbles hitting my clean shaven head. I had to literally cover my head with hands until I got used to it. And if you don’t believe that it could be so bad, here is the proof!
Ravi and I attempted meditating a while under the waterfall. The place was so serene that it was only natural for someone to want to meditate under the cool waters, and sitting on a comfortable natural rock table. The three of us freaked out in getting ourselves photographed by a visitor in different poses. We stayed up for a fairly long time, for there were nearly no visitors when we reached the place. As we would leave however, we realized how lucky we were that we just finished staying up there, and here comes a mammoth of visitors and the noise that came along. The rocks with severe moss and falling waters was a spectacle by itself. If I was in any amount successful in capturing the beauty, here is one.
Or a couple 🙂
And here is icing on the cake! As we leave the place daring to climb up 250 steps, we hear a tiger growling from the nearby cliff (thank god it can’t jump itself to death by leaping on us below)! It was just the growl that we could hear, the tiger itself was not visible. Remember, we were in the midst of largest tiger forest reserve in India!
The return was as exciting with ghat section curves that force me down-shift half way through the curvy road to not lose traction. I just wished so hard if only we could go all the way to Srisailam temple so I could ride all of the ghat road for several kilometers (I guess about 50-60 kms further up). Since we targeted that we reach Hyderabad before it was dark, we left the place southbound to home :(. On the way had lunch at Mannanur. It was a decent one. Couldn’t ask for more traveling through these little towns. I had to fuel my bike during return, which had already given me an astounding 38 kmpl (the dealer told me this bike would give me only 26-27 kmpl when I bought). Ravi, with his bike never needing food for its long ride came well ahead of me and waited at airport road. And together we would wait for Sastry who finishes shooting parrots on his way. What a wonderful ride!
And at this point I would ask Sastry to shoot a video of us sharing our feelings of the long ride with his hifi iPhone 6. He would interview us (and then himself through me) shooting the video. He plays back and announces, the sound did not get recorded! So we repeat sharing our feelings, and he announces he forgot to press start!! And then we do a third round. Nope no sound!!! Ha Ha Ha…… Okay. We say, just one more time. This time phone closer to face so the microphone could catch our talk amidst buzzling high traffic sounds. I am eager to watch the short film that Sastry promised to make from the photographs and this video.
Yes all in all, it was one great ride that all of us enjoyed. Was I tired? Sure I am. I didn’t realize when I was riding, even as I approached home. We started at 7:30 am and now it was 7:30 pm. A twelve hour riding experience (although not all of this was literally on the bike). Waterless that I am called by someone, drank five glasses of water within short duration, a rare thing for me. Once in home and dropped my backpack onto the bed, I felt dead tired. Needed a hot shower!!!
(encourage you to check out the full photo shoot HERE for the rest of the pictures which I believe are well worth watching and in full size!)
PS: Comments/suggestions/ideas welcome . . . please feel free to post