Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sunken Spirits at Cloud Valley

I am drifting about wildly in a swirl called the ‘quarter life crisis’, trying to find some direction to my life. The mood has definitely been depressing during the last few days; I am simply not able to get rid of the lump in my throat. The group ride to cloud valley at Coorg, set in this gloomy backdrop, was an attempt to clear up some of the obscuration.

The ride started the usual RTMC way, bullets pouring in at town hall till 630, and more guys joining in all along till Bidadi. The initial plan was to ride to Madikeri along Virajpet with the breakfast point at Bidadi. Anil’s 500 which was ridden by bladyphul packed up even before the ride had begun and then a few of us, including the new mod, Centhil, overshot the breakfast point at Bidadi. We finally stopped for poori, dosas and pongal at the coffee day outlet.
To reach Madikeri, take a right off Mysore road, a little after Srirangapatana. Another right turn after about 5-6kms will take you to Hunsur. From Hunsur you can either take the route via Kushalnagar to Madikeri. Or you can ride about 30kms longer route via Nagarhole forest, Titimati, Gonigoppal, Virajpet to Madikeri.
Going against our earlier plan, we took the Kushalnagar route on the (ill)advice of a local. There were bad stretches of potholed roads adding to the traffic on the ghat section; the ride was anything but footrest scrapping. When we regrouped at Madikeri, we had our first casualty. Arun aka naayi roast and prasy had a minor fall on the ghat section, no broken bones, just some dented fuel tank. He managed to dent it in the area where the two thighs meet each other, the tank and the seat ;-)
To reach cloud valley from Medikere, you need to ride along the lush green ghat route to Cherambane and take a left turn off Mithra wines. Cloud valley is an estate about 2kms from there.
At 230pm, the starving riders were treated to sumptuous meal. The non-veggies freaked out on pandi and koli curry, I settled for the pulav and daal and some very refreshing RC beer.
Meander to Misadventure
When the evening came, Prashee suggested we ride down to the river bed. 6 bullets took off, mindless of the dark clouds brewing up. The off-roading experience was awesome. We had to ride down a muddy lane leading right into the river bed, and ride across in silencer deep water. When all the bullets were over on the other side, the skies opened up. In coorg, when it rains it pours. Within minutes we were drenched completely. A lot of the slope we had used on our way down started to slide into the river and we decided to ride up whatever was left of it, before it became too slippery. Imagine this, a bullet is stuck half way up in slush, the rear wheel is high on rpm and spraying a thin sheet of slush around… and the rider needs help to push through. I got a first hand experience of what it feels like to have mud in your balls, rain in your eyes and ride like a maniac.
When we reached base, we were a sight to see!
Madikeri, like any other town, shuts down early. Pimpley and Prashee kept us transfixed with anecdotes of their rides even as the electricity flickered on and off. I had an early dinner and slipped into a slumber even as the story telling, the partying, singing and dancing continued well into the night.
I can’t curse myself enough for sleeping till late and missing a wonderful opportunity to ride at the crack of dawn with vijayraghavan and sam, in the mist to Talakaveri. I woke up at 8, not discerning if the thumping was in my head or in the frontyard.
Uday and Hem, our hosts at Cloud Valley, were at the top of hospitality ensuring that we were comfortable. Breakfast of Puttu and chutney, went in easily, round after round.
With naayi roast, having to fix a puncture, the start was delayed slightly, and we left the estate at 11.
A series of disaster events followed. First, the group was split, we got lost, and as we were back tracking, Tiger’s earthing wire burnt out, leading to one hour delay before we could get back on the right road. If that was not bad enough, naayi roast, who already had more than his share of bad luck, had another major fall. The rear tyre of his thunderbird, burst while he was doing good speed, sending him and prasy crashing on the highway. Although he riding gear protected him, prasy and the TB could not escape the impact, fractures, bruises on both of them.
The Highway is no more mine
I had left the larger group by this time and after a samosa break at Hunsur, had made it almost non-stop to Mandya. Mysore road had heavy traffic of cars and bikes all the way to Kengeri and to add to this were the sand laden trucks, spraying sand as you pass by. Maybe it’s a good idea to throw some paint pellets on their windscreens when you overtake them. Back home, my apartment’s interiors are being done and I had to get back early to be able to meet up with the carpenter. I rushed back without a break and was home by 530.
Although, there were some memorable moments on and off road on this ride, the mood as I hit the sack that evening, was no less depressing than what it was when I started.
Hot baths are good cures for depression. I should have just tried that in the first place. Sometimes it takes a tankful of fuel before you can think straight.

photos courtesy Centhil (aka Bakery)


Naveen Javarappa said...

Sounds like an adventurous ride, Manoj, at some point in time, you should author your own "Motorcycle Diaries".

AK said...

the idea of adding your personal thoughts (depression) and commitments (carpentry work) to the trip report adds more depth to it :) keep going :)