Rides with Grey - Continues..
Feeling the pulse in my blood...The rubble in my heart!
The IBR event invites always catch my attention and it dint take me more than two seconds to click "Going" on the event page of the IBR third anniversary ride to Ooty. As days got closer to the ride, my shopping list got exhaustive..full faced helmet, knee pads, rain pants and so many more. The evening before the ride, my packing and crossing the items on the checklist went brisk and it was an early night for me. 3 am goes the alarm and I wake up in a flash.. all excited like a little child going for a picnic. Biking gear - check, documents - check, fuel - check, Energy - double check!! Quick briefing at 4:15 am by Abdul at the NICE road junction and off we were. 100+ bikers.. yeah - all set to rule the roads! Was a part of Batch I, while the second Batch was to start an hour later.
The first 80 km was beautiful, a twilight ride feeling the fresh air on my face. Reached Hotel Kalyani, a quaint hotel after Mysore. The breakfast was delicious and the coffee piping hot. As we were about to gear up, we heard our second batch of riders come in. Some known face and a lot more new ones to exchange hugs and smiles :)
Nanjangud road is being remade and causing traffic jams in multiple places. Soon the traffic eased and we stopped at Gundalpet for tender coconut and selfies :) The next 100 km is not something I can type out - the surroundings suddenly changed, engulfed in the mountains, clouds caressing them and the lush green forest overlooking. Bandipur National Forest ..and oh boy! it was a wonderful experience ..smooth small single lane road with thick forest on either side ..with beautiful scenery and silent music of wilderness .. luckily we were able to spot some animals including elephants and deer in a far away distance.
Reaching near the Nilgiri foot hills our ride captain called for a break, not only to cool down the machines but also to brief us to maneuver the hills - the Ooty's famous 36 hair pin bends! Counter steer (push right go right,push left go left) and then leaning into the corner - this worked for me to cruise to the right.
Lunch at YWCA AnandGiri, Ooty and a much needed nap. Evening was set aside for a casual walk in the town, chewing fresh carrots, sipping cardamom tea and of course Ooty chocolate shopping. Celebration time as IBR was turning 3!! Abdul, Jitendra, Abhijeet... you guys spoke from your heart and I could listen to your journey of making this club forever. Everything you planned and executed was PERFECT! Celebrations continued with cake cutting and unveiling of the personalized watch. No evening is complete without music and this was special too with bonfire and guitar and melodies. Thank you Solomon for strumming all my favorite chords. An uphill run was on cards the next morning with Sridhar and Viresh. Lovedale and back with no sign of sunlight and occasional drizzle..blessed to run in the lap of the queen of hills.
Almost time to head back - again the feeling of excitement in my stomach with a small pinch of sadness "I don't wanna go back".Climbing down the hills from the other side was superb decision as we got to ride among the tall white Eucalyptus trees. Ooty includes the verdant hills, cascading waterfalls and sparkling brooks, dense forests, sprawling grasslands and extensive tea gardens.
As expected the traffic was chaotic once we touched the Mysore road. The group kind of drifted away due to that, but the spirit remained with some one or the other riding along.
'Thank you' may seem just two words for the meticulous planning and execution of this ride. I definitely cannot mention each of you out here, but you all are with me as i live through the two days once again - from the ever smiling couple in the orange car, to the handsome marshals, my strong ride captains and my focused sweeps.