Monday, March 17, 2008

The Bicycle Diaries

Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, 1952 (The Motorcycle Diaries)
"This is not the tale of impressive deeds. This is the life of two (eight) people taken in a moment, when they were cruising together along a given path, with the same identity of aspirations and dreams"

The Plan: To travel around 60 kms in one day
The Method: Improvisation… by cycling
Objective: Explore the Dakshina Kannada area… that we only know by names and spoken words
Equipment: Eight, borrowed, broken, battered, backstabbing bicycles
The Pilots: Som, Sagar, KK, Suze, YShanta, Kalman, Pras and Dha(Me)
The Pilots’ Dream: To trek places that haven’t been visited before
Departure Time: 4:15 AM, March 16, 2008
The Route:
From 8th Block, NITK Hostels, Surathkal – Haleangade – Pakshikere – Kinnigoli - Kateel – Neerkudi – Nalli Thirtha – Bhatlekere - Permude – MRPL –8th Block, NITK Hostels, Surathkal
The Trek:
And it begins:
Surathkal Hostels, 0 Km, 4:15 AM
Kalman with his cam (not in the pic)…First Rays:
Pakshikere, 8 km, 5:30 AM
Supernova in the sky :-)

Pit Stop 1:
Kinnigoli, 11 km, 6:30 AM
Sated with idlis, sambar and the promised excitement

Temple 1:
Kateel, 15 km, 7:10 AM
The view inside

Temple 2:
Nalli thirtha: 35 km, 11:15 AM
8 guys.. . 8 bikes

The Eye Of Sauron:
Near MRPL, 50 km , 4:30 PM
Right out of LOTR

Mission Accomplished:
Surathkal, 60 km , 5:45 PM
Bliss.. Rain never felt better


  • Suze’s method of pumping the cycle tires
  • The ‘stretches’ – the terrifying one after Nalli Tirtha, the one which generated enough momentum to reach the peak of the next road, the one near MRPL, and the amazing finishing one – MRPL – Surathkal - race against rain (6 kms in under 20 minutes)
  • The idea of bathing in a clear, wide pool for hours, shattered at first sight – Nalli Thirtha
  • The Jabali cave – distance: 100+ meters, average height: about 3 feet, visibility: zero, method of travel: jumps inspired by Gollum, discovered: place where Jabali’s supposed to have performed penance, the River Ganga rising from the ground of the cave, a tunnel which is supposed to lead all the way to Kashi, A large, wet, paste producing, perfume smelling rock which is supposed to cure afflictions of the skin
  • KK’s (borrowed) bicycle… stuff that gave way (in order)… chain.. chain guard.. the back wheel itself.. both the breaks – front and back.. two punctures in the rear wheel.. and chain again about fifteen times in between…
  • The Hiccup (Yshant) and The Slightly Bigger Booboo (Som ) along the way
---[The Only Hotel Open At 6 AM, Kinnigoli]
[me] : Swami, yentu plate idli
[a pause.. which you normally describe as ‘pregnant’]
[dude] : naavu illi chai ge anta bandirodu

---[Pushing the cycles up a devilish slope, more than half way through the journey...]
“Christ had less trouble carrying his cross up the hill”
“This is just like life. Even life has ups and downs.” “Yea, I know. But why are there more ups in the afternoons?”

---[Sign put up in the entrance of the cave in Nalli Thirtha]
“Please do not insult any snakes or other (poisonous) creatures that you might find in the cave”

---[Reclining on the street in the shade]
[query]: Nalli Thithakee hinge hogoda?
[woman]: haudu.. ide daari
[query]: illinda yeshtu duura? One km? yerudu? Muuru?
[blank stare] [she walks away]
[pras]: she chose Option D…None of the above

---[After having fixed KK’s cycle’s chain for the nth time]
[Discussing the best method to travel from kanyakumari to kashmir]
[suze]: … go to the top of Himalayas, start rolling down and the momentum will carry you till Madhya Pradesh
[yshanta]: the vindhyas are in the way...
[som]: yea.. u have simple harmonic motion then… from vindhyas to himalayas
[pras]: but because of the momentum gained, after a few oscillations, you can take off, and land right at kanyakumari…

---[Sagar and Me, at a shop around a corner, near Parmude]
[sagar]: Swami, Zaffa yeshtu?
[swami]: muuru vare [3.5 /-]
[sagar]: yeradu kodi
[the rest of the guys show up then]
[kk]: inna 5 ade kodi
[kalman]: yeshtu idakke?
[swami]: nak rupaee [4 /-]

Hearty Thanks To:

  1. All the dudes from whom we borrowed the cycles
  2. Suresh (Pakshikere) … a silver merchant…saved the trek very early in the day , by fixing KK’s back tyre at 5:20 AM in the morning
  3. Cycle tatha (Permude)… saved the ending of the trek… fixed two punctures, the loose chain, and both breaks…on KK’s cycle
  4. Bhatta (Nalli Thirtha) … cave escort … for not letting any of the creatures in the cave get ‘insulted’ [:-P]
  5. All the people along the way who gave directions, with distances in their own individually defined systems of measurement... unfortunately with units borrowed from the SI system
  6. LBNTL [Last but not the least], Kudos to all the dudes who made up the group – “A Band Apart – Tour de Dakshina Kannada”. Twas a great goddamn trek.
The group:
[clockwise from top]... KK, Suze, Yshant,Som, IPK, Sagar, Kalman, Me

Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, 1952 (The Motorcycle Diaries)

“This is not the tale of impressive deeds. This is a piece of two (eight) lives taken in a moment when they were cruising together along a given path with identity of aspirations and a conjunction of dreams. Was our vision too narrow, too partial, too rushed? Were our conclusions too rigid? Maybe…but that aimless roaming through our enormous America (Dakshina Kannada) has changed me more than I thought…I am not myself anymore. At least, I’m not the same inside”


evilsense said...

With a perfect horse shoe around MRPL, with our initial plans going bust, with the amazing highlands, there are only memories of beauty that blinds us even now.

I can see a straight path ahead of me, which seems steep and difficult to climb, but what I can feel now is the wind, what I can see now is the effort of my friends riding beside me,the gravity which is pulling me gives hope of climbing, and the glimpse of future where we all meet again and laugh to the uncertainty of the path ahead.

Keep going, keep feeling the wind and the gravity, the beauty of it, still blinding me...

Anonymous said...

its spelt "diaries". "dairies" are those milk-related facilities.

I think its awesome how you compare yourselves to Che; the next time I walk to the beach, I'll compare it to the Dandi salt march.

Dha said...

1. thanks for highlighting the blunder in the title.. that was a sad oversight.
2. the quotes by Che are random, mate. The movie "The Motorcycle Diaries" begins and ends with those quotes, and thus, so does the post. thats the extent of the connection intended between the two. (there was never meant to be any comparison b/ween anybody)
but, if dandi march tickles your fancy... i say... compare away...after all, this is a free country.

Rakesh Babu G R said...

I feel sad that I couldn't be a part of it. But hope I will have many such treks in the future, in many picturesque routes.

trukka said...

@ Takal -
Hope you recover from your knee ligament tear as soon as possible and rejoin us soon on brilliant treks like the one to tadiyendamol. Rats are waiting to smell your pheromones, accumulated from weeks of not bathing ;)

Nithin "Kitta" Shenoy said...

Whoa! What toppers man!

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