eight hundred, seventy five kms : Day 1

Biking trip: March 25, 2005 to March 27, 2005
Destination: Madikeri (Coorg).
Numbers: 6 bikes and 9 people.
Bikes: 2002 Bajaj Pulsar 180, Bajaj Pulsar 180 DTSi UGII, Bajaj Pulsar 150, Bajaj Discover (125cc), Honda Unicorn, Hero Honda CBZ.

In the end, I ended up riding to a place called Madikeri, which is a hill-station.
The plan changed on Thursday night. Vamsi's back ache aggravated and so he couldn't make it to the ride. Raj suggested that we join some of his friends who were biking to Madikeri (Coorg). As usual the destination was not important for me and I decided to join. Sharan too opted in.

After the last minute plan changes, got a good night's sleep. Woke up on Friday morning at 04:00. Got to Venkat's place by 05:15 to meet up with Sharan and Raj. We then met up with Raj's friends (Vivek, Santosh, Sandeep, Sachin, Vinod and Praveen). They were six guys on 3 bikes. By about 06:30 we were outside Bangalore cruising towards Shravanabelagola. This road, part of the Bangalore-Mangalore highway, is perfect. I was cruising at 90kmph. Not a bounce, not a shake.

We were in Shravanabelagola around 09:30. This is approx. 150 kms from Bangalore, so we were averaging about 50kmph with breaks. Good progress. Shravanabelagola is known for its very huge statue of Gomateshwara. We had to climb hundreds of steps to reach the shrine. Very tiring. After walking back down, we had a huge breakfast of idlis, vadas, dosas and lemon juice.

Around 11:30, we decided to start riding. That's when the good luck changed. Somebody guided us to a "short" route to reach Madikeri. The road was bad. Then we took a wrong turn somewhere and were soon off-roading. We lost count of the time and the distance we were on that road. I was thoroughly enjoying it even though I knew my back was going to scream that night. To add to this, Vivek's bike started to misfire and sometimes just stopped running. It was slow progress until we reached some better roads. We stopped for lunch at the next town and Vivek's bike got a carburettor job. The food was horribly spicy and the service was at snail pace.

We were still looking for the state highway - the promised land. I saw it from a few kms away and I was so happy to see the road. Off-roading is fun for a while, but not for too long and definitely not when the sun decides to beat down upon you. :) Once on this road - narrow, twisty but good - we started to make good progress. It was great fun to ride on that road.

By 17:30, we were at our next target, Kushal Nagar. After some phone calls to various hotels in Madikeri, we chanced upon somebody with a farm-house, who agreed to rent out a couple of rooms to us. With the accomodation part settled, we headed out to a Buddhist settlement in a nearby place called Bylakupe. The Namdrolling Monastery houses within it a beautiful Buddhist temple called the Golden Temple. The monastery is a very peaceful place with a garden and several buddhist artifacts.

It was dark by the time we left the place. The road to Madikeri was full of twisties and made riding difficult in the dark. We took it real slow and easy. We were gaining altitude and the cool weather helped us relax. We were in Madikeri by 20:30. Vinod went to check out the farm-house, while Vivek went around looking for rooms in hotels as backup. Vinod gave the go-ahead for the farm house, but because it was in an interior location we finished our dinner at a restaurant close by. Dinner was good and our taste-buds and stomachs were satisfied. It was a little after 22:00 that we reached the house. Yes, it was in an interior place, away from the bustle of the town. A very calm and serene place. After dumping the luggage and washing up, we sat around chatting. Sometime during the chat, I dozed off. Wonderfully peaceful sleep.

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