A Ride, A Cyclone and A Wish to reach Home

Tripoto
25th Sep 2021

There are times when you may feel irresolute before starting something new. There is nothing bad in having confusion. In fact, it’s good in my opinion. It encourages you to research more and empowers you to take a decision.

-ME

Gathering all the courage I had and being informed that the wind speed till my destination is not going to uproot trees or roofs around, I decided to start my ride. With in the city, although heavy pours, I saw a decent traffic movement. That helped. That really helped to uphold the confidence. The roads were flooded. Just like the roads of Bangalore after a 5 min shower. And, how can you forget the secret potholes hiding under water? This is majorly because Vijayawada is undergoing infrastructural change with flyovers being constructed at Benz Circle. Accessing many facilities around that area is quite a task. Google maps fails. I tired. The level of water was almost touching my shoes. May be 180mm of depth (Avenger has a ground clearance of 165mm). Somehow my ride managed to swim through the temporary river on the road. I wanted to capture this, but my camera wasn’t mounted. I was a little hesitant to put it on.

Things started looking more difficult when I came out of city and was on the highway. It was the side wind I must face. Though expected, it wasn’t easy to keep the momentum. If you don’t know what side wind is, it’s basically the wind flow that hits the rider perpendicular to its direction of movement. On road, it is categorized to be of 3 types, head wind, tail wind and side wind. Head wind will slow you down and exhausting. Tail wind is like your birthday wish coming true. It pushes you further from back and increase your speed with very less effort. For cyclists it becomes a joy ride if they get tail wind on their way. My personal best is 86kmph on a downhill with tail wind. While that wind pushed the speedometer of my bicycle, the one currently I am facing is trying to throw me out of my saddle. I stopped at a place and readjusted all my mounts. Finally, the GoPro was out as well. It’s proven to be robust, but I wanted to test it in my way on the highway. How stupid was that. Check out some clicks and reels.

The roads were almost empty. Only few cars and few heavily loaded trucks. They weren’t friendly either. All I was doing is eating their spray when they zap pass me. Yeah, I was that damn slow, but I was good. No stops on the way today. There wasn’t any place to stop. As announced the day before by the patrolling police, all eateries and food joints were closed on the highway. May be around 20 km before Rajahmundry, it stopped raining. The sky was getting clear (in the process of getting blue again). Today, my so-called waterproof, rain proof, xyz proof, Royal Enfield riding shoes gave up. If my feet weren’t inside the shoes, it could have easily turned into a high ankle designer aquarium. (I will review that separately). I sopped in NH16, swapped my shoes and gloves with the dry one (that’s ride preparation) and cruised again. It was relaxing. Music was back. Stopped sharing my live location to friend and family. I coved 160 KM. It was okey with me. At least some part of the total distance was covered. An workday was saved. It was time to check in to a cozy hotel with good Wi-Fi bandwidth and work from home hotel. Oh, If you were thinking I was on leave for this ride, No I wasn’t.

didn’t want to stretch the first day of the ride and took the decision to stay. Even though road condition is very good, riding in rain has more risk than dry ride. On top of that if its evening or night the risk multiplies. As I was prepared, I was able to reach Tirupati without much of issues. But I reached at midnight as the wheels were slow and other cars and trucks were splashing water everywhere. The city was fully asleep during that time. Reception of Hotels/ lodges weren’t picking call. I was continuously searching via google maps. Most of the doors were closed and there was nobody responding because it was already midnight. I kept moving with a hope and finally found one on the highway. It was not that good a lodge but was enough to take shelter for a night. I could have got into a big hotel during that time but was not in a mood to stretch the budget as well just for few hours. But do remember big budgets hotels usually remains open 24/7 and you can keep that as the last option. If you plan to stay in small cities make sure you reach there by evening to get enough options, if you haven’t booked your stay already. I usually don’t book my stay and depending on my day I plan my stay for that night. Sometimes you get awesome stays with cheapest price and vice versa. The next morning was a beautiful morning with clear sky which can crate the desire in any rider for a long ride.

Cyclone Gulab & Its Thorns

When one door closes, another one opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.

- Alexander Graham Bell

Day-2: Tirupati to Vijayawada

Distance: 410 KM

Start: 8AM

End: 8PM

Road Quality: Mostly 4/6lane highway in very good condition.

Duration: Typically takes around 7.5 hours riding + breaks

Did you see that start time? Day-2 started at 8AM. That’s quite late to start a long ride. Usually we, motorcyclists prefer to start the day early. A start time of around 5am makes it easier to cover longer distances. The dawn and early morning weather remain cool. You don’t find regular traffic on the road and the ride becomes smooth and fast, spending the entire saddle time enjoying the ride and nature. Away from the busy city life, when you get to see the sun rising from the wide-open roads, you get lost in your own thoughts. Anyway, I was late. The stay was not comfortable enough to make you sleep easy and wake up early. That led to a delayed morning. Nevertheless, I packed quickly and started the day. Just after few KM I had to stop. To capture the beauty of the city from a flyover. That’s the fact of a ride on monsoon. Eye soothing greenery everywhere. Although Tirupati being surrounded by hills is always beautiful, the full night shower of rain made the sky clearer. The perfect sky blue. The view that will make you fall in love. I could not stop myself from not stopping my ride and take some time to feast on view. Tried to capture it on my camera as well but remember nothing can beat the experience of being there.

Day 2

Aspiring for the iPhone 13 pro max. Technology these days !!!

Photo of Ongole, Andhra Pradesh, India by Avinash Kumbhar

Andhra Meals. That's all I had during my ride. it can be called an Andhra Meals Exploration Ride :P

Photo of Nellore, Andhra Pradesh, India by Avinash Kumbhar

You might have heard of weather.com or acuweather.com. Do check out the weather-forecast.com if you haven’t yet. Most accurate local weather forecast even on local areas. It’s proven on the next day ride.

Day-3: Vijayawada to Rajahmundry

Distance: 160 KM (Only)

Start: 6AM

End: 11AM

Road Quality: Mostly 4/6lane highway with numerous roadblocks, potholes and diversion

Duration: should take around 3 hours on good road but took 5 hours due to weather condition

Unlike the last night, I found a much better accommodation but not enough to get sweet dreams. But, at least, I could wake up early and get ready by 4am. Came out of the room to find the flooded roads in front of the hotel. Damn!!! I thought its going to start raining again in Vijayawada after 6AM. But the weather does not follow our time. I recalled the weather forecast site. Ahh, its all the same. I murmured. With a heavy heart, heavier than my baggage, went back to room. And sat on the bed for some time. Then got up after some time from the bed and started walking in the room, walking on the corridor of the hotel walking to the empty reception as if it’s chaos. But no, I was not waiting for the rain to stop. I was trying hard to take the decision of starting the ride. If you have ever survived a cyclone, you already know what it feels like. Of course, you might have seen the videos on news media and relate to it up to some extent, but you can never reach that heartbeat if you haven’t seen trees flying over the road.

Day 3

While the weather destroyed my original plan and broke my journey in to pieces (It was supposed to be a continuous one with fewer stoppages), it also gave me an option to save on few “corporate leave balance” and try out my new strategic travel plan. Ride & Work.

I will talk about it but It’s time for the “Work from Hotel” break. Catch you later…

#bike #bajajavenger #cyclonegulab #lifeontwowheels #thesportyexplorer

The Riding DNA

I am sure my love for motorcycles is inherited. And my skills as well, I guess. It’s the same riding DNA.

I remember the way my father used to teach me “from how to release the clutch, to how to accelerate with control”. He used to be a skilled traffic cutter as well as a highway rider, a tourer of 90s. Back then, when people around him used to avoid riding, he used to prefer taking his motorcycle out on the highway for 100s of km. And I remember him telling the time he took to reach a destination and how he had surpassed his old records and how he over took the various challenges on the road while riding.

The last few days, during my ride, he was always in my mind. For every move that I made on the motorcycle, may it be leaning on a curve, may it be taking over a speed breaker, may it be coming to a halt from top speed or over taking another vehicle, it always flashed how he used to instruct me then. It felt like he was watching me all along, as if he was with me. That’s special about this ride.

Everyone around me, most of the time, warns me, shows concern over my riding on highways for days. I understand their point of view and I don't disagree. No one in the family history had ever taken motorcycling to the touring level. It was only used for commuting with in the city. At the same time, when my father got to know I am riding Bangalore – Sikkim – Goa – Bangalore during last December, he was some what concerned as a father which is relatable, but he was not discouraging like others. And when I did it, in 3 weeks he said “Maanba ke padbaa bo”. This phrase in my native language translates to appreciation with surprise.

I was always a pillion rider when he used to be a rider (my childhood). When I got my Bajaj Avenger, I have always wished if I could go on a ride with him, at least a short one. But, due to his age and health issues, we could not. Sadly, it never happened and can never happen anymore. But it felt like he was with me.

This ride is dedicated to my father. I miss him.

The Ride Begins

Day-1: Bangalore to Tirupati

Start: 5.45PM

Stop: 11.30 PM

Distance: 250 KM

Road Quality: Mostly 4 lane highway in very good condition. Few diversions with narrow 2 lane roads with out divider

Duration: Typically takes around 4.5 hours riding + breaks. but during rain add 1-2 hour

It was originally planned to be a 4-day ride with 3 stops on the way being Nellore, Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh and Rayagada in Odisha. But due to the dramatic change in weather (Cyclone Gulab), the plan had to change in the middle of the ride.

On the first day I had to stop on Tirupati due to heavy rain. Though rain was anticipated on the first day, the intensity was not. May be a mistake during my research on weather. It all started just after I went past Kolar, around 50km from Bangalore. So around 200 km of the ride was during heavy rain. Initially it wasn’t intense, but later it stated pouring cats and dogs. So, during the low intense rain I dint bother about putting on my rain suite. Most riding jackets can handle drizzles. But I remember, during another ride in the past, it started pouring immediately giving no chance to get into our raincoats and within 100 meter we were drenched completely. There was no shelter nearby. Not even a tree. This could have happened, but the highway was full of shelters this time. I was confident that I will be able to stop it. Luckily when I had stopped for a break, the intensity increased, and I got enough time to cover myself. On the road it was just water from every direction. The diffraction of headlights and sounds of trucks and cars passing by. The so call beautiful and green route from Bangalore to Tirupati appeared some shades of dark. It was not very challenging, as this wasn’t my first ride during rain, but it comes with its own fun. Highways with dividers are not very tough to ride on but most stat highways without it are challenging during night and rain. The tar becomes darker with very little chance of seeing a pothole ahead. The incoming traffic from other side makes it difficult to judge. You need to ride more to gain more road sense. That’s experience which is very difficult to write down in a blog.

During the dinner break, I happen to start a conversation with the cook of the Dhaba. He was from Patna, Bihar and he started talking about the difficulties during the lockdown. However, the Dhaba was reopened few weeks ago but still they don’t find the number of travelers coming in as they used to see pre-lockdown. Their days are dull even though they get full salary, they say. There’s not much work and it kind of feels boring when they don’t see people around. The hard truth, hospitality industry has taken the max hit due to Covid.

The roads always reminded me that I am in Andhra. Not because of anything else but the tasty aroma of Idli, Sambar, Dosa and Chutney :D. I love the sambar here in Andhra. The roadside small hotels were not letting me control the urge of having a bite. Though my diet was different post the covid infection, I could not stop myself from stopping at a counter. Thinking “Chalo yaar, Itne dino baad mauka mila hai, pehle kha lete hain”. Nutritionist say that it takes 90 days to build a diet habit and just one day to destroy it all. I am going to board the same plane. Ask me how? Because, after having breakfast it felt like “Moksh mil gaya chutney chat ke” and I am gonna have more of these in the coming days. For those who don’t like this kind of breakfast eat aloo paratha and paneer. Wohin swarg he aapka. (No offence)

The highway from Tirupati to Vijayawada is very well maintained. Although the initial few kilometers were not so broad, its not bad at all. On the highway, plugin your music and ride on and on and on till you find the need of a break. On a long ride, its highly recommended to take break and do stretching religiously. Taking sufficient fluid in regular intervals to keep the body hydrated helps you ride long without cramps. If you are a rider, you already know the weight of the safety gears that we wear and being in the same riding posture for hours may not go well with everyone. Stretching and breaks are must. I personally prefer coconut water on the way to hydrate. This electrolyte is low on calories and carbs. Making it much better than a sports drink which mostly are loaded with sugar.

In one such stall, just before Nellore, I stopped to find a lone kid being the coconut vendor. Talking to him revealed that he helps his parents on weekends and is studying in standard 7. Felt good to know that but then the conversation took a different direction when he asked which phone I have in my hand. He knows about the iPhone 13 pro max and he wanted that to play some games which I had never heard of. I won’t shake my head saying “kids these days …” rather I question “technology these days..” and shake my head. His father dint buy him a phone while his friends have, so he wanted to buy it of his own. The conversation went as funny as you can imagine with my broken Telegu and his broken Hindi. Finally, I told him, by the time you buy it you might get the hands on to iPhone 20 super pro super max abc xyz. Good luck kid! He laughed and I took off.

Soon after, there came the crave of Andhra meals. On the way before 25 km of Ongle, you will find hotel V grand next to an HP petrol bunk. There are many such restaurants on the way, but I got in here because it was recommended by someone. The food is tasty, and service is good as well. The next beautiful view came in just after Ongle at an elevated place when I saw the clouds pouring over a region. Hardly you find a chance to witness such moments. It was raining next to me but not on me and I wished I don’t want to face it again today. Let it be a dry day :D

The evening was well spent chilling @The Rush Café Guntur with a friend, who recently moved to Guntur from Bangalore. This is probably the best one in Guntur and the evening there was peaceful. Just the time for sunset and the sky went crazy. Look at that picture and honestly, I haven’t edited anything on it. Are Sach me :D, God Promise!!!

Heard, Vijayawada to Rajahmundry route isn’t that good. And the effect of cycle was going to be felt from Vijayawada. This time, I tried to do a better weather research by talking to locals as well. Most of the shops and stalls on the highways were removed and there was warning from the patrolling police as well. So decided to stop at Vijayawada. It, being one of the big cities in Andhra, I had a lot of option to stay. That wasn’t my worry anyway but the news of Cyclone Gulab badly hitting Andhra was. By that time my plan of reaching Rajahmundry on the same day was already shattered. Rain started at Vijayawada just after me checking into my accommodation. Just like on the sky, there were clouds on my thoughts as well. A lot of uncertainty, on how damaging this cyclone will be. Even if it was announced that its not going to be severe, I wasn’t sure what the condition of the roads will be. Majorly, open areas get spoiled easily by such cyclone and roadblocks are common with trees falling on the road. I was looking at the Google Maps frequently. It was showing the constant warning of cycle effected road. The projected commute time started increasing hour by hour and at one point of time the ride time was projected as 8 hours till Rajahmundry. That’s enough to unsettle you through out the night. A rider’s dilemma. Trust your gut feeling and go ahead or surrender. Don’t dare to take it to your ego in such situations. Its time for more research. Well searching in Google is not research it’s just collection of information. And that’s what I did. The more the information, the more the analysis. The more the analysis the better the plan to conquer. Day 3 dint become easy, but I was well informed of the difficulties.

Gathering all the courage I had and being informed that the wind speed till my destination is not going to uproot trees or roofs around, I decided to start my ride. With in the city, although heavy pours, I saw a decent traffic movement. That helped. That really helped to uphold the confidence. The roads were flooded. Just like the roads of Bangalore after a 5 min shower. And, how can you forget the secret potholes hiding under water? This is majorly because Vijayawada is undergoing infrastructural change with flyovers being constructed at Benz Circle. Accessing many facilities around that area is quite a task. Google maps fails. I tired. The level of water was almost touching my shoes. May be 180mm of depth (Avenger has a ground clearance of 165mm). Somehow my ride managed to swim through the temporary river on the road. I wanted to capture this, but my camera wasn’t mounted. I was a little hesitant to put it on.

Things started looking more difficult when I came out of city and was on the highway. It was the side wind I must face. Though expected, it wasn’t easy to keep the momentum. If you don’t know what side wind is, it’s basically the wind flow that hits the rider perpendicular to its direction of movement. On road, it is categorized to be of 3 types, head wind, tail wind and side wind. Head wind will slow you down and exhausting. Tail wind is like your birthday wish coming true. It pushes you further from back and increase your speed with very less effort. For cyclists it becomes a joy ride if they get tail wind on their way. My personal best is 86kmph on a downhill with tail wind. While that wind pushed the speedometer of my bicycle, the one currently I am facing is trying to throw me out of my saddle. I stopped at a place and readjusted all my mounts. Finally, the GoPro was out as well. It’s proven to be robust, but I wanted to test it in my way on the highway. How stupid was that. Check out some clicks and reels.

The roads were almost empty. Only few cars and few heavily loaded trucks. They weren’t friendly either. All I was doing is eating their spray when they zap pass me. Yeah, I was that damn slow, but I was good. No stops on the way today. There wasn’t any place to stop. As announced the day before by the patrolling police, all eateries and food joints were closed on the highway. May be around 20 km before Rajahmundry, it stopped raining. The sky was getting clear (in the process of getting blue again). Today, my so-called waterproof, rain proof, xyz proof, Royal Enfield riding shoes gave up. If my feet weren’t inside the shoes, it could have easily turned into a high ankle designer aquarium. (I will review that separately). I sopped in NH16, swapped my shoes and gloves with the dry one (that’s ride preparation) and cruised again. It was relaxing. Music was back. Stopped sharing my live location to friend and family. I coved 160 KM. It was okey with me. At least some part of the total distance was covered. An workday was saved. It was time to check in to a cozy hotel with good Wi-Fi bandwidth and work from home hotel. Oh, If you were thinking I was on leave for this ride, No I wasn’t.

The weather report, as predicted on local areas were bang on point. Experienced the projected precipitation from Elluru to Kovvur. It was around 11am when I entered the city of Rajahmundry. Found a reasonably good stay on the first walk-in itself and didn’t bother to search more. Vijaya Residency it is. I mentioned this because I found it to be much better than the last 2 stays. Big and clean rooms with almost all amenities except swimming pool. For swimming, Godavari was just 50 meters. Visit during summer and jump into the flowing river. Did I mention riding over the great Godavari? I was confused if I should take the 4th bridge, also known as the Arch Bridge or the usual bridge to get into the city. The beautiful Arch Bridge was intimidating to ride on but was adding few more miles to the city. I parked the idea and took the other option to reach early. If you stay, there for a day or two, it’s a must visit. Do try to take ferry to the small islands within the riverbed. I happen to stop on the other bridge to click some photos of this famous architecture. Remember the movie Godavari? And the songs “Andamga Lenaa”? As if the river was poking the same to me. Tune in if you haven’t yet. If you don’t like such songs, it’s absolutely Okey. There is more to read 😊

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