It was craziness. Madness I tell you, madness.
But then so is pretty much everything that I plan to do in my life. This time I am talking about the ride that I undertook from Bangalore to Varkala. For folks who do not know about these cities, they are two cities in the south of India about 700 km apart. Each with its own charm. Bangalore is my home city and Varkala is the only one in India with cliff beaches. A city I had never been to.
As is customary, this time I planned a New Years’ trip. Varkala wasn’t my first option. The first plan I made got cancelled. I replanned to another place, but I did not find any tickets. I searched again for a third place, and the routes to get there was complex. I finally almost decided on the fourth place, that I was about to fly out the next day and unfortunately an ambush attack struck there. May they rest in peace.
I had a certain ‘category’ of places I had to be at New Year’s and I had almost run out of options. To add to that, this time I was raving to do something ‘different’. I am a neophyte. But it was not just about experiences, This time I wanted to start unraveling a new part of myself. Understand me better. I looked for yoga retreats, vipassana, meditation. I had the contacts, but somehow I never really saw them through. Even I had moved to a comfort zone and I, unintentionally, did not want to move out of it. I just kept putting off the planning. The interest and the excitement as before were not there this time.
Yet I did not completely drop the idea of a New Year’s travel. Every day had a to-do note of ‘I will plan this today and close the decision’. I looked for places, made lists, google maps, plotting, but nothing really went beyond planning to get my adrenaline pumping. Or even me wanting to do it from within. To me, all just was the same.
It was on one such morning that I thought why not visit Varkala. I had never been there before, it looked interesting. But you may ask, what is new about that place that got your adrenaline interested. And here is where my follow-up thought fit. Why not go there on a bike, a solo trip? and then there it was the excitement and the interest of doing something different, something outside my comfort zone, that needed more planning and preparation in ways I had not done before. So now my decision was made. I had decided to embark on a solo trip across cities. I was excited as I had not been in a long time. The plan was on.
Yet this was a secret mission. Despite everyone posting their vacation pics everywhere, I did not want to tell this to everyone because of two main reasons
- Varkala was close to 700 km away.
- My bike was a 125 CC gearless vehicle, also known as a scooter
In a country such as mine, a combination of point 1 and point 2 is not heard of. I have not even added that I am a female and a solo traveler. Riding all around on a bike has always been something that excited me. I liked being a pillion. It has its advantages, but I feel alive only when I am riding. I don’t like cars that much. That fact that I am sitting inside it, feels more like it owns me. But a 2 wheeler is different. It is that I own it and I navigate it and we build the bond together. I am more of a bike person. So there was no second thought of why not take a car. I was most comfortable riding my vehicle. Other than speed, I never really found a difference visible enough with the gear bikes. So through my life ever since I learnt how to ride, my love increased, as I took it around, as I raced it against other vehicles, and as I just kept whirring the engine and letting her roll as we hit high and low speeds. It was true love.
Across life, I met a lot of people who liked bike rides as I did. The difference, however, is every avid rider I knew had geared bikes. Some loved it so much they went ahead and bought sports bikes or durable ones. I was comfortable and consciously content in my melodious soothing 40 kmph and for adrenaline and control above. Don’t get me wrong. It is not that I do not enjoy higher speeds. I like them too. I have zipped past as a pillion. Yet riding at my comfort speed was something I enjoyed more.
This thought of riding long distances on a gearless vehicle was not born at that moment. It was in the making for many years. It is hard to subdue a passion. But I often met with disparity.
A gearless bike cannot handle such long travels. Your body will be impacted. They are not built for that kind of a ride, it doesn’t make sense. No one does it. Take the other bike or even lamer, take the train.
Dude if I wanted a train ride, I would have taken the train.
In the initial days, I did heavily doubt my interest and capacity to do this. After all, I heard the same rote across big macho guys with heavy bikes, who had been riding for years and are core riders. Perhaps the Activa(scooter) would fall apart as they showed in animations.
Maybe yes, I will be severely ridden with back pain for two days that I will not be able to do anything.
Maybe they are not built that way for a reason, else they would have been advertised that way.
I kept agreeing to all that they had to say, but that flame never died.
With months and years, this only got stronger. I googled for folks who were travelling the country in the scooters. Yes, it wasn’t that common. Once I was bored of nodding my head to the obvious perils called out by folks who had never embarked on something like this, I started challenging it. Why is it that a 125 CC engine that is built to move the wheels, will not move it for long rides? What stops it? How will it fall off? What is the vulnerable part of it? Why can I handle 3–4 hours of a ride but not 7–8 hours of a planned ride. How can a human body handle 12 hours of non-stop gear bike ride but not 8 hours of with breaks gearless ride?
And when I did this search, it turns out it wasn’t anything new. The body will pain more, cos of the way the seating is. The vehicle parts will wear and tear faster because the parts are not built for long rides. But if these two are addressed, then it is not really ‘the impossible’.
I had ridden a scooter all my life. If I recall correctly, from the time I was 15, and then on the primitive version of a scooter called Luna. I had gone on longer trips to meet someone because I liked riding. I had made my own plans to catch up on a team party a distance away because I liked riding. I rode one day to recover from my heartbreak. Riding wasn’t new, neither was the seating arrangement nor was how my body would take it.
And for the faster wear and tear, well it did serve its purpose of life. :D that, it was my father’s vehicle had no bearing on my decision;D
With the challenging points came the points on the ‘pros’ side. So month over month, I had begun planning this in my head. I had had large plans to go around for the New Year. But for one reason or the other, it wasn’t working out. and so by the time everything else failed, this slow cooking plan in the back of my head was cooked enough. I decided it was time for me to execute this long-pending plan of mine. The 3000 Ride.
It was named after the number of kilometers I planned to ride. My initial sketch was to cover 3000 km. However, when it came to execution, I couldn’t hit 3K kms for a lot of reasons as you will see. Nevertheless, on Dec 25th I would step out on a ride and return after I finish a cyclic loop covering 1800kms across a ride-time of 4 days. My longest ever clocked.
Part II and so on, to continue !!