Planning my very first trip with CTC brought with it all the inherent excitement and thrills (“cheap thrills”, if I may, thanks to CTC for an economical trip), where my long-term dream of being a traveler/bikerni finally saw the day. The enchantment of a first long motorcycle ride to a beautiful place known for its pristine air and surroundings kept me enthusiastic and almost devoid of sleep the whole week before the actual journey!
That said, the day finally arrived, I was up at 3 30 am after hardly a couple of hours of sleep and started off to Chengalpattu. Was late by 5 minutes and found a few people gathered right after the toll plaza. After a long wait, finally started off by 7 am. I was already famished and was such a relief when we finally grabbed some breakfast at Ulundurpet around 9 am. After a few pitstops, reached Athur by 12 30 pm following which the challenging roads were to begin.
Dodging more than 70 hairpin bends with your brother’s 7-year-old pulsar 150 seemed like an insurmountable task until the point where it actually happened and I could feel the adrenalin rush. Probably nothing amazing with the bends for the pros in the team, but such a liberating, empowering, soul-filling feeling doing what I was doing, being the only bikerni of the group. It’s this feeling that constantly pushes you to try a bit harder, to be a bit more daring, to continue facing challenges on road.
Amidst the testing rides in the bike, you find yourself drifting in the lighter moments where you eat ripened tamarind, set up tents, prepare dinner, or play anthakshari to not be one of the extra cooks that spoils the broth. Non-invasive people and serene surroundings really formed the core of this trip for me – if you’re the kind of person who enjoys nature by yourself (like me), it’s a boon when nobody disturbs you, not having to constantly make conversation or be obliged to say something. I had my moments of losing myself to the night sky, the moonlight, the stars and a cold night, and the experience remained undisturbed despite being part of a big group.
While we had decided to camp at a private farm, I came across some random people of the village who were overwhelmingly warm and welcoming. It would be unjustified to not mention Rajamaa, who was so concerned she couldn’t supply us with jackfruit and pineapple some of us had just casually asked her about. She was adorable and gifted me some candy and roses as she mentioned I resembled her granddaughter (who was in school, no idea where she found the connection!) and insisted that I arrange them on my hair. She went on to request us multiple times to visit them during the Tamil month of Aadi, where jackfruits and pineapples will be available in abundance.
After a nice dinner and a quick introduction session (part of the fun I missed as I was extremely tired and sleep-deprived), we were off to sleep into a cold night and wake up to a colder morning!
A quick ride to Masilla falls and a quicker shower later, we were hogging on value-for-money, hot and tasty kuzhi paniyaarams. A few pictures with all the beasts and riders later, we were on our way back home. Except, instead of riding down the endless bends, we were rolling down an off-beaten track, my very first again with off-road trails. It was a constant battle of whether the fear would win over the thrill seeker in me. Nevertheless, finally when I made out without falling off my bike, it was a momentous occasion for me.
We had started home later than expected and had to ride over two hours at night to reach Chengalpattu. Riding on the highways after dark is a nightmare come true for me. Without the major support of George Bush, I might not have made it in one piece!
Despite the troubles with my idle setting on the bike, with the help of many in the team (Praveen, Balaji, Mani and all the others), I finally successfully made it through my first bike adventure!
My body was killing me while I was still riding home from Chegalpattu with Balaji, Satish and George Bush. Feel like a ball of flesh once I was home, but the feeling of accomplishment stayed long after all my energy had drained.
My thanks to everyone in the team for their support and encouragement in their own way. Special thanks are in order for the following people:
All the oragnizers: for being the perfect, ideal organizers. Particularly both Praveens, with all the patience to answer my every lame question!
John, Bharat and Dinesh: for the support car holding all our stuff while we rode sans burden and for your patience with my constant requests for drinking water!
Suresh (NS 200): for paying up at the fuel station for me without a second thought and for the good company.
Apoorva: for being the good cook and for giving me an ointment for my foot when I most needed it.
George Bush: for constantly supporting me during the night ride and covering me when I wasn’t sure to overtake a vehicle.
Arthi: for a couple of random decent pictures of me amidst my awkwardness in front of cameras!
Balaji: for being the constant supply of water, every time. For also guiding me, a directionally changed person, home. Much appreciated!
Kani, Preethi and Madhu: for being the female companions in the trip.
Periasamy and Mani: for constantly reminding me I need to let go of the clutch and some much needed tips on maneuvering the hairpin bends!
Jagdeesh: for being my singing companion at the anthakshari: well played!
And to everyone else who I got to know, for the chatty conversations, great company and amazing memories, I owe you all my gratitude. My sincerest thanks to each of you for making this a “Trip to Remember”.
I would particularly like to highlight how comfortable I felt though I was the only bikerni of the group. Nobody went overboard with too much surprise/compliments, but found the right balance to provide me the encouragement necessary to be able to proceed without fear. Again, appreciate each one of you for that as that’s one of the biggest reasons I’m looking forward to the next trip to Nagari by the end of this month!