Mega adventure – East Coast of India

saurabh01seth

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Having lived away from home for a year I missed some key events be it a close friend’s wedding, travel to Leh - Ladakh, Bulletiyappa, RE Rider Mania and just the sheer joy of riding.

Once my return date was confirmed I began planning a 10 day ride, initially I had planned to explore the southern state of Kerala, it was around the same time a member of my riding group India Bull Riders posted a ride which was being planned on the East Coast of India. I signed-up for the ride, hoping I am free and don’t get pulled into a new project.
 
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Final Ride map

D -3
Three days before the ride, I fell sick, picked up a stomach infection, hurriedly rushed to my family doctor, explained to her what I was about to do, she thought I was crazy to be riding for so long, she gave me med's and asked me to take care.
D -2
Med's began to work, stuck to a strict no spice diet and had begun to recover. My bike was also ready, after having spent the weekend with the mechanic as there was paint peeling off from within the tank. I was driving it around the city while hunting for riding pants and boots. Finally found Rynox riding pants and Buse shoes from Orion Motors, Koramangala (highly recommended for picking riding gear, they have good range).
D -1
With the saddle bag packed and spares ready, I was all set to ride. Caught up with a friend in the evening for dinner chatted till late evening, he too thought I was crazy but wished me luck and a safe journey. Around 11 at night I realized I did not keep the Certificate of Registry and a duplicate key, after about 45 min of frantic search, It was in one of those safe locations I had forgotten about.
D 1
Woke up late, quickly got ready and left for the meeting point, ITI colony K.R Puram. Fellow IBR riders were waiting there to flag us off, it was sweet of Akthar bhai to have got us sandwiches for breakfast, we chatted for a while and then realized Manish bhai had forgotten to get our riding T-shirt. Those T-shirts have a story of their own, without going into detail it took over a week of consensus to finalize the design. We drove for about 50 Km and stopped at Kolar CCD to freshen-up.
 
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IBR riders at the starting point
 
 
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Excited for the ride ahead @ Kolar CCD
 
Once back on the road we rode till Chittoor for breakfast, it is there I realized I had forgotten to carry an essential travel kit Power bank, I asked Satish bhai for his home address to buy a new one and ship to his place, only to realize AmazonIndia takes 7-8 days for shipping to Bhubaneshwar even for a prime member, time of delivery was important hence purchasing from Amazon was not an option.
We briefly stopped for tea after Tirupati and continued to our first location, Mypadu, a small beach town on the coast of Andhra. We were staying at Haritha resort. Having had a heavy lunch, I took a nap only to wake up at 6 in the evening, the boys had good fun playing in the water, while I caught up on much needed rest. We explored the town and ate dinner at a dabha.
 
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View from Haritha beach resort Mypadu
 
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Royal Enfield's lined up
 
 
Day 2
We left Mypadu at 4:30 AM as we had close to 640 km to cover to reach Vizag. It was a good 4 lane highway, barring the crazy traffic we encountered at Vijayawada, where we had to cross through the city it was a smooth ride.  I was still on the path to recovery, it was a new experience to me as we stopped at road side dabha’s not something I am used to, though the food was delicious I was a bit cautious in what I ate.
One of the most mesmerizing moments of the ride was crossing Godavari at Rajahmundry, majestic river endless basin of water, to my mind I thought, how huge would Ganges be.
 
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Godaveri basin from the bridge
 
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Selfie on the bridge
 
During Day 2 I realized something was not right with the bike, it was experiencing sudden power loss at speeds of 110 -120, which was new to me, I suspected there may be some residual paint waste near the fuel pipe, I rode cautiously as I did not want a breakdown. As we were entering Vizag Manish first had an electrical issue with the horn and a puncture on the front tyre, both issues were resolved quickly.
We checked into hotel Seacity in MVP colony Vizag, decent hotel for budget travel situated close to market. Srinu was our city guide having spent four years there as an undergrad, he took us to Kamat hotel a restaurant he used to dine at, but forgot the directions to it. The food was good, we were in the mood of celebration and ordered a lavish dinner. I stuck to eating egg biryani and tasted prawns for the first time.
Tasting Prawns – my first reaction was it felt like eating arbi (Colocasia), non-vegetarians were not impressed their reaction was similar to having heard me saying something blasphemous, they rejected my notion immediately.
Srinu then guides us to RK beach, to be certain we turned on google maps as well. Riding beside the beach was a nice to experience the cold breeze air of the sea, I was too tired to admire the city then. We headed back to the hotel and slept.

Day 3
Rajan shared a message he got of sale at Levis, boys were excited and were in the mood of shopping, as I was already over packed with no space for even an extra t-shirt. I am not a light traveler, though I thought I was carrying only essentials, which was not the case as I observed luggage of fellow riders. While they went out shopping I was packing my clothes, so that we could travel. They took longer than I imagined, upon their return I picked up the bike, to meet a friend at CMR mall, having found a Reliance Digital I picked up a missing essential –Power Bank, this got me late as fellow riders were already saddled up. I quickly placed my bags on the bike and off we rode to Chhatrapur, Orissa.
Since the distance was only 300 km we were taking it slow, we reached Chhatrapur by evening after experiencing the most horrendous traffic Orissa – Andhra border, both sides of the road were lined with trucks and what added to the chaos was motorist were driving on wrong side of the road, after 20 min of maneuvering we went past the traffic and stopped for a quick tea.

We checked into hotel Lisa Galaxy, decent hotel with clean bathrooms and functioning shower, we were surprised how Rajan found the place. We stepped out for dinner at a Dabha, the boys now wanted to eat crabs. They got me prawns they tasted better no doubt, still similar to Arbi this time better cooked. Judging my their facial reaction, they loved the crabs.

Once we got back to the hotel, I was having a good time with Rajan and Sudhir bhai, while Manish bhai was turning up the heat by playing some crazy 70’s music of Bappi da. We were still in dry mode. As the clock hit 12 we celebrated Satish bhai’s birthday, he was nicely caked. Cheers to Rajan and Manish for having organized a quick celebration and keeping it a surprise.
 
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Manish giving Satish a cake facial
 
 
Day 4
We woke up early and headed to Gopalpur beach, no one was in the mood to bathe so we took a lot of pictures and sang what I could probably call our trip songs “Samunder Main Naha Ke” and “Saagar Kinare Dil Ye Pukare” (cheesy video’s, honestly I had not seen Samuder main naha ke video before, just googled it to add hyperlink).
Near Gopalur beach we stopped by at a roadside eatery to have Puri sabzi, I was destined to spend some money so ended up eating a lavish breakfast at Mayfair Palm Beach resort, great service would love to go there again with family. Since we were short of a bike, I had to wrap things up quickly and head back to meet the gang. We freshened up and left for Bhubaneshwar. We stopped by at the famous Chilika dabha for lunch, I was unwell so stuck to eating simple light food, did taste prawns though.

My bike was still giving trouble, I had called up RE service center and booked an appointment. Upon reaching Satish bhai’s house we freshened up and left for the RE service center I dropped my bike, we later went to a sweet shop and ate Samosa’s and Rasgulla’s, there was a lavish dinner planned along with his family.

Day 5
While my bike was getting serviced, we left in the morning to visit Sun temple in Konark, lake Chilika and Jaganath temple in Puri.

The temple was marvelous, I felt bad as it was poorly maintained and it was deteriorating, felt anguished as I could see people standing or sitting on top of stone engraving even though there were sign’s asking them not to do so. The engraving on the wall were sexually explicit, depicting that era. This made me ponder which version of Indian culture we are living where certification of movies depends on the number of kissing scenes.
 
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Stone engraving in Sun temple, Konark.
 
 
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Sun temple, Konark
 
We explored the temple and began our first profile pic photoshoot, Sudhir bhai was our photographer and took some wonderful pics, by now he had already dismissed my camera skills as I was still stuck in aperture mode rather than manual.

We ate breakfast and left for Satpada one of the tips of Lake Chilika, spread over 1100 sq km it is the second largest coastal lagoon in the world. We intended to see dolphins, after about 15 min boat ride, we finally spotted a school of dolphins. They were a delight to watch, we circled around them a few times and then headed back to the shore, with a brief stop at an island where we drank coconut water.

Upon reaching the shore we had lunch and left for Puri, I was ridding pillion to Manish, he is fabulous rider. There are some daredevil motorist in Orissa and Manish ensured neither of us fell down or got injured, also riding pillion is TOUGH! My calf muscles were hurting and that moment I gave a mental salute to every pillion I have seen on a long ride, kudos to all of you. I pray I never have to sit pillion again.
 
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Satish bhai, on way to Satpada, Orissa
 
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East Coast riders on way to Satpada, Orissa
 
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Dolphin at Lake Chilika
 
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Lake Chilika
 
Jaganath Puri temple – The temple was majestic but highly commercialized, asking for money seemed to be a norm which I did not appreciate, and we had a glimpse of the deity which was divine. My personal take is temples in south are better administered, they use the donation they get for upkeep of premises and surroundings, Tirupati is a prime example of that, or even Chamundeshwari temple in Mysore. I rather have a dedicated donation box or ticket system than pay individual persist, who pocked the money for personal benefit.

While we were there I got a call from the RE service center, bike was ready, there was no major issue with the bike, rear bearing was replaced and he suggested I change the fuel kit upon return. Since we were still in Puri, Satish bhai requested him to drop the bike at his residence which was a few km away, he agreed.

We moved to a secluded corner of the beach and sat there and just heard the sound of the waves, we were there for a good half hour in near pitch darkness and I was pondering on the year that had gone by and what 2017 would bring.
We started our journey back to Bhubaneshwar, upon reaching Satish bhai’s house I picked up the bike and we went to Saheb nagar to eat rolls, Satish bhai shared some interesting stories of being a regular visitor to the eatery back in the day and would practice his ornithology skills there.

As we reached home, we assessed our riding plan to Bhitarkanika, after much deliberation it was decided to go by car as we had a long ride back to Vizag.
 
 
Day 6
 
Satish bhai arranged for an Alto and Sudhir bhai drove, there was some confusion as to where I would sit, but it was unanimously decided I would sit in the front, I asked Srinu and Manish bhai to switch seats which they did not and hence I was left with just enough space to fit my legs.

Out of the 170 km, 50 km road was under construction or there was no road, Satish bhai’s parents had booked a boat, after a few minutes of wait we began our boat ride into the mangrove forest of Bhitarkanika, the view of the river was mesmerizing, the place is known as a sanctuary for salt water crocodiles we learned there are 18,000 of them. We spotted many baby crocodiles, one mammoth and two medium size crocodiles, we also spotted deer’s as we crisscrossed through the river.

After about a ~20 min boat ride there was a stop at the sanctuary for lunch, there is a museum within the sanctuary a quick stop to get an understanding of the area we were in. We walked about a km for lunch and came back to docking point to start our journey back. I would probably skip the lunch and a walk through the sanctuary on a future visit.
The journey back was tiring, we were relived on having ditched the idea of coming by bike. Just after we crossed Cuttack we stopped by to eat Rasgulla’s by far the best I have eaten, they just melted in my mouth. I probably ate four in a minute, I was asked to slow down as there was dinner to be eaten.

We reached home, while I happily ate egg masala and kadai paneer, others were busy eating mutton curry. Post dinner I was again tempted to eat Rasgulla and oh yes I ate three more!
 
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View of Bhiterkanika from bank of the river
 
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Deer's by the bank of the river
 
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Large Crocodile in peace 
 
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Bhiterkanika, Orissa
 
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Bhiterkanika, Orissa
 
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Casual pic of me :) at Bhiterkanika
 
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Another casual pic, Srinu, me and Satish bhai
 
Day 7
 
After breakfast we left for Vizag, we covered 200 km in 2.5 hours, with minimum stops just to stretch, I enjoyed the momentum Manish was able to maintain, we stopped for a tea break, Rajan noticed some wobbling in front tyre and tapping sound in his piston. He topped up oil and we continued to ride, close to 1 we stopped at a RE showroom on the highway to see if we could get Rajan’s bike quickly fixed. Since it was lunch time the mechanics were not there and the attitude of the service representative was not very cordial, he seemed in a mood of fleecing us.

Rajan being a veteran, if I can say so, seamlessly rode the bike to Vizag. With help from Teja bhai he contacted a local mechanic and got the alignment of the bike fixed. Sudhir bhai and I joined Manish and Rajan at the mechanics place, while Srinu was taking rest as he had picked up cold.

We were having a light conversation and Manish was telling us about his shopping experience at Ali express, he warned us not to explore the site much as it can be an addiction. He was right 10 min into the site I ordered the LED back lights and would have gone on a shopping spree, if wasn’t aware of my already spiraling credit card bill.
Praveen who owned the garage and was fixing Rajan’s bike befriended us by his hospitality, not only did he not charge us for fixing Rajan’s bike, when we took him out for tea, he did not let us pay. Manish and Rajan went back to him on Day 9, to fix the tuning as the bike drinking/eating lot of oil.

Later in the evening we caught up with Mahesh bhai and went to 7 Biryani, after 7 days with Srinu that was the first time I saw him eating like us, without dietary restriction, he ordered two biryani’s and would have probably eaten one more if someone would have accompanied him.

I was tired and went back the hotel along with Srinu while the rest of the gang explored Vizag.
 
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Srinu after eating two Biryani's
 
Day 8
Srinu and I were exploring Vizag, actually looking for engine oil. The only landmark I clearly remember is Satyam circle, as we moved around I began to enjoy the city and admire how clean it is. I hardly saw garbage, there were not pot holes the streets were well marked and the roads were wide.
Once back at the hotel we were waiting for Manish and Rajan to arrive, we were being joined by Gayathri. I missed mentioning Satish bhai stayed back to spend time with family. I believe he drove to his native village and further explored Orissa.

For the rest of the day our agenda was to explore RK beach, Kailashgiri and explore the beach road. I was in the Goa mood where I wanted to sit sea facing, eat a meal and drink beer. Now that Mahesh bhai, had joined us the tables had turned a bit as Sudhir bhai and I had company. Srinu does not know vizag! I repeatedly told him lets go to a beach side shack. We found none near Kailashgiri. While the group was hungry they stopped by at the next restaurant that was serving lunch while I wanted to experience the moment of eating facing the beach. I was tired eating good food and wanted to enjoy the sea view or the bay view in case of Vizag.

After 15 min of riding I found a Haritha resort, very well maintained property I ordered prawn meal and a coke and enjoyed the meal while watching the bay.
 
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Selfie at Vizag
 
 
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Enjoying my meal!
 
 
After the meal, I walked on the beach for a wh, climbed up a few rocks and just sat listening to the waves and the sound of the water hitting the rocks, it was a blissful feeling, and I was teasing others my posting pics on the WhatsApp group.

I felt like I needed to explore a bit more, across the resort there was a gate to a hill, I rode the bike up to discover Thudlokonda, a Buddhist archaeological site. What stunned me was the road along the hill that offered a panoramic view of the coastline, since it was post sunset did not get great shots even on an iPhone!
Everyone reached the resort, we bonded as we clicked pictures and unanimously agreed Vizag is beautiful and deserves another visit. I suggested Manish to put a word across to the Hyderabad chapter to organize the next Bulletiyapa in Vizag, if they are the next host.

Next stop was Kailashgiri, Srinu was excited, and he probably remembered his college days as it was a bird’s nest, if you know what I mean... he wanted to show us every scenic point which were secluded places... He got a bit irritated as everyone was exhausted, he probably forgot we were not all as fit as him and were mortals who needed rest.
Once back at the hotel, we caught up at Manish’s room for a drink session, Mahesh bhai had got along a Teachers and the students were ready with their glasses. We video called Abdul bhai, there was usual banter and we laughed as he threw is punch lines.

We continued to our session and the discussion shifted to the reliability of RE as a machine. I shared my experience of having poor faith in reliability and how I need to inspect the bike before service and keep a record of parts that were worn out, something I never experienced when I owned a pulsar. Mahesh bhai shared with us his story of owning an RE and shared an interesting quote, paraphrasing “When you buy an RE, you also need to befriend or marry a mechanic”. He further spoke about his relationship with Imran who services his bike and how he has become an extension of his family.
We ended the night young and left for bed.

Day 9
We left for Arku in the morning, Rajan, Manish and Gayathri were getting Rajan’s bike fixed while the rest of us were on our way to Mountain View resort, Tyda valley. The first thing we noticed upon reaching was no cellphone coverage. We were able to check-in and waited for the others to arrive.

The ride to Borra caves was fun, there were many curves I personally enjoyed listening to my bike roar as I accelerated. The caves were amazing, reminded me of Jenolan caves in Blue Mountain. AP tourism needs to do a better job in upkeep and offer tour packages, this would promote local employment and help in the upkeep. The entire process of standing in queue waiting to buy a ticket was also ridiculous, the process can be turned digital, what added to the wait was the ticket counter was closed for lunch break, which was odd for a tourist destination, especially if you believe in revenue generation.

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Sudhir bhai looking into the valley, on way to Borra caves
 
 
We walked deep into the cave the lighting added to the magnificent natural beauty, as we explored the caves we saw a colony of bats. The place overall was good, should be better maintained and may be having some marking explaining the rock formation or some key discovery would have made it a little more interesting.
 
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Borra caves, Andhra Pradesh
 
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East coast riders within Borra caves
 
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Manish bhai behind the lens.
 
We next rode to Arku valley, it was a good ride, many scenic points on the route. Once on top there was not much to see, I could only find a tribal museum the market wasn’t lively either. My expectations were that of Ooty.
 
Ride from Arku to Tyda – It was a challenging stretch as night had set in and there was fog, visibility was low. Mahesh bhai was with family and he was rightly cautions, I was ahead of him with only two goals in mind one to ensure I can see him on my rear view  mirroe and secondly to warn incoming vehicles to slow down, I was profusely honking on blind curves every time I saw a light and would waive to them to slow down as there was a group behind me. The LED were of great help as the offered a wider view of the road. 

On our way to the resort encountered an idiot being polite here, was driving a jeep without lights, he was using our light to guide him... what worried me was either he will meet with an accident or to avoid him we will be hit by an incoming vehicle. After a while we stopped our bikes. We resumed our journey back to the resort.

The resort had arranged a tribal show, I was not impressed, it  came across very artificial, probably because there were only women dancers, seemed like the mantle of showcasing culture only fell upon women. There was nothing unusual in the dance form as well, hence Sudhir bhai, Mahesh bhai + family and I left. We sat down and began session 2.

Surprisingly it did not last long, probably because we were all exhausted, as the clock hit 12, we wished each other a good 2017 and watched the fireworks arranged by the resort, they were good. Sudhir bhai was exhausted and was ready to pass out any moment.. Srinu was already asleep and had to be woken up at 11:45. He was equally quick to sleep.

Day 10
The morning started on a bad note for me, while I was still not healthy and was on meds, I now had a stomach infection. I popped a pill to stop the diarrhea, ate breakfast and began the ride. We were expected to cover 550 km, it was going to be a long ride. After about a 50 km we stopped for tanking up the bike I was feeling pukish, but thought the feeling would subside after some time. As we rode another ~30 min and stopped for tea on AH45, I felt it was best to throw up... within moments all I ate came out like a running tap. Momentarily I felt a sense of relief only to feel tired and exhausted later.

We continued to ride and a few km after Rajahmundry we stopped for lunch, I was in no condition to eat, body felt exhausted was still feeling pukish. I was drinking water to keep myself hydrated and then Manish bhai, Mahesh bhai and Preeti bhabi suggested I buy meds. I picked up an anti-vomiting pill and a fever pill, came back to the hotel and sat as I waited for them to finish food.

It was 3 in the afternoon then, we had another 5 hours to go, I assessed my situation and realized I won’t be able to ride, though Mahesh bhai suggested he could ride the bike while I take rest in his car, I did not feel right about it and politely refused. At that moment I booked a room in Vijayawada using OYO app, my estimation was we would reach there before 6. Once there I will take rest and ship the bike. In all my misery I was found time to appreciate the seamless process of booking via OYO, I was impressed.

Upon reaching Vijayawada I separated from the group and headed to the hotel, Manish had already given me Teja bhai number and asked me to contact him, as he could guide me.

The hotel was good, very close to the highway, after checking in I went out to buy more meds. I was not sure what I would do in the morning so chose to tank up the bike to half tank. I came back to the hotel ordered curd rice which I could not eat, drank ORS, spoke to my mom, she was worried and was of the strong opinion I ship the bike. Teja bhai suggested I take the bike to railway station and bring it in the train. I was too exhausted to think, popped the medicines and went to sleep by 7:30 PM.

I was in Vijayawada and the rest of the group was on Ongole, 125 km away before departing Sudhir bhai suggested, if I feel better in the morning I should come to Ongole and ride with them.
 
[img=400x225]https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Eo5l8vHQBPM/WG0VWAhUGeI/AAAAAAAADt0/Vt9avJiYwKUn-NFerY0DxHnZoAP7fYBmwCEw/s400/IMG_6571.JPG[/img]
First pic of 2017!
 
Day 11 – Rider’s day
I woke up at 4 in the morning, was feeling better still exhausted and drowsy, Manish bhai had tried contacting me, I dropped him a few messages and went to sleep again, I had given up on riding back.
While half asleep I pondered why I came on this trip, I was down with infection even before I started, I was a bit of an inconvenience to my fellow riders because of my fragile health. If I wanted to cancel I should have cancelled on the first day as I was not ready to ride, I was still recovering from Jet-lag, flu and infection. I was on the trip to ride, to do something I am passionate about and to challenge my endurance.

To me riding is a form of mediation, the constant thumping and the crisp sound of the wind through the helmet sends me into a land where my mind goes blank and rejuvenates and I missed that feeling in all of 2016. I may be wrong here but I think every rider has had a traumatic story s/he rides because they crave for something and feel a sense of accomplishment after every ride. I wanted to feel accomplished I had ridden for 10 days and I was not going to let go on the last day.

I mustered courage got ready, saddled up popped three pills for fever, vomiting and diarrhea, was on the bike close to 5:45 AM. My first goal was to reach Ongole which was 125 km away. I took it slow as I wanted the bike to warm and the body to settle. I had an eye on the speedometer as I was close to clocking 20,000 km, which was my first stop. I got down clicked a selfie, texted my location to the group.
 
[img=225x400]https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-zx969hd3Ge0/WGu8dfriRVI/AAAAAAAACqc/E1lJCooZjt8r6ZZsj2p0vDVObiN4eM6IQCEw/s400/IMG_6570%255B1%255D.JPG[/img]
Having completed 20,000 KM
 
I spoke to Manish bhai, unfortunately he had fallen sick as well, I asked him if I should come to the hotel in Ongole or they shall meet me at the highway, he suggested the later. I continued to ride and tanked up near Kavali, 200 km from Vijayawada around 8:30 AM. I believe the other riders got delayed and were waiting for Manish bhai to recover. I continued to ride as I was not sure how long I could last, I was still fresh and my experiences over the last few days taught me because of fatigue riding speed slows down post 1 in the afternoon. What also gave me confidence was if was unable to ride for some reason, the group was behind me, which was a great sense of security.
The next 200 km I rode non-stop till Tirupati, I reached Tirupati around 11:41 AM, took a 20 min break as my ass was hurting I seated myself in CCD, picked up a sandwich, drank ORS popped three pills again and started. My target was to reach Mulbagal as from there I would get 4 lane roads and would have a comfortable journey.

Exhausted, feeling feverish but determined to reach home, the next 130 km were treacherous, fortunately I have been on that highway many times and was familiar with the riding condition even though the roads are good, being a two lane road there is adventurous over taking that takes place by bus drivers, trucks or even cars. At two instances I had to step off the road because of an incoming vehicle, there are numerous unmarked speed breakers as well. You pass through many villages and being alert is the only option.

My body had given up, I promised myself I shall stop at 2:00, regardless of where I am, but was determined to push till two, having crossed Palamner around 1:30 I was sure the toll road was close. I continued to ride and my good fortune at 1:50 I entered Karnataka to be welcomed by a 4 lane highway.

I rested myself for 20 minutes drank water, admired my Thunderbird for having got me 555 KM, without a breakdown and just felt glad as I knew I had made it. I was happy, on a side note a cat was trying to play with me and I kept telling her I am a dog person... random thoughts that hit your mind after 8 hours of continuous riding.

I started at 2:20 and was home by 3:45 covering 100 KM in 85 minutes, the ride was smooth and I was glad to be home!
 
[img=300x400]https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-NAOLs0RZKOo/WGyqjEEMeoI/AAAAAAAADsk/4UfyB6hiZUUQiNG9g_ZB2S0QK5Ve-aZoQCLcB/s400/IMG_6548%255B1%255D.JPG[/img]
Cat trying to play with me
 
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Home sweet home!
Pictures credit - East coast riders.
http://srbseth.blogspot.in/2017/01/mega-adventure-east-coast-of-india.html
 
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