Stretching the Boundaries

When you have a motorcycle, I believe there is never a wrong time to do a trip. So, amidst my semester exams, feeling the need to ride and take a break from all the studies, I decided to ride on Sunday the 19th of December for a few hours with my friend Satvik and be back in time to prepare for the next day’s exams. Thus started our “supposed to have been short ride” on Bannerghatta road. Satvik was on his Standard 350, and I on my Classic 500.

We set off from BTM Layout at 7 30 AM. The initial plan was to ride a few kms to a small hill near the outskirts, trek up the hill (which has a beautiful view of a breathtaking landscape). However, with absolutely no traffic at that hour of the day, we reached our destination in very little time. The thump and the feel of the ride had not set in at all. One look at each other and we knew we wanted to ride more. And so began our ride on the roads less taken.

We chugged along on the state highway for a little longer until we glanced upon an indistinct right turn. The signboard did not reveal much about where the road led to, other than some random names of villages listed on it. Being in the adventurous mode that we were in, we turned right. The road was narrow, bumpy and lined with farms on either sides. The green surrounding us and the absence of traffic welcomed us. We felt the morning fresh air that is generally absent in the city.

After crossing a village and few more farms we came across, to our delightful surprise, a signboard that read “Welcome to Bannerghatta National Park range”. Beyond the board were winding roads that passed through a hilly terrain. Our smiles broadened at this sight and in unison we decided to ride forward. Before entering the park we took a brief stop to soak in the fresh air and for a small photo session.

We had begun to feel the ultimate feeling of riding through these country roads. It was just us, the road and our thump. The wind hitting us in our face, carrying with it the sweet fragrance of farmlands was a lovely experience. As we chugged along, not knowing where we were heading to, we asked a few villagers if the road would lead to Kanakapura Road, which was closer to my house. The villagers told us that the road did connect to Kanakapura road. We had to make a choice – either to head back in the same route we came in or explore this new found route to Kanakapura road. The former sounded safe as we did not know much about the latter route or the distance. But like every other bulleteer, we did not take the safe option.

As we went forward on this new found route, we came across a small rock facade with a valley on the other side. There were some cars parked, mostly villagers’. We stopped our bulls, took some more pictures of the place and the bulls. There were beer bottles and gutka packets thrown around. While we were taking pictures, we heard lion/tiger roars from the forest side. Satvik, who had been here before, told me that they were coming from the Bannerghatta lion/tiger safari which was very close by. The experience of listening to these majestic cats roar was a thrilling and a scary one.

We continued our ride through this rural landscape as we passed more villages and there were small hillocks visible on the side of the road. We kept going forward until we hit a small dead end. The right went down into a muddy uneven road into forest and the other one went towards the next village. We rode towards the village, pretty confident of that fact that the muddy non-existent road cannot be the way forward. After reaching the village, we hit a dead end again. Upon enquiring we were told by the locals there that the muddy road into the forest was the road we had to take to reach Kanakapura road. We exchanged surprised glances at each other. Satvik asked them again, reconfirming if it was the only path. The locals assured us that it was just a 5 km bumpy ride that would end with a small water patch, and crossing that we should get a main road that would connect to Kanakapura road.

With this reassurance we turned back to head towards that road. We entered the road with caution. The road was muddy, uneven and not a patch of tar was seen anywhere. Around it the jungle looked quite dense. Satvik was quite excited and was hoping to sight an elephant or some other wild animal. This place was known for being an elephant corridor. We progressed slowly, cautious but enjoying this off roading experience. As we finished the 5 km stretch, we reached a small pond. This was the small water patch that the locals had mentioned. Only thing, upon reaching, it was not small enough.

We saw a small alternate path that led to the far end of the pond where the water was shallow. We took a u-turn and went along on the path. This path was meant more for people walking and not for bikes. The path was slippery with water on one side and muddy patch on another. We reached a steep incline after that which led to the path. We parked our bikes, checked the incline and were wondering if we can do it. Going back was an option, but a boring and lengthy one at that. Satvik got down, pretty tensed and checked for the incline. He decided to go first.

I ran down the steep and with my camera in hand was ready to capture the moment. He slowly inched towards the incline, his engine turned off. He made it comfortably till the middle of the incline. At that point, there was a small bump after which the incline got steeper. His tyres were not in a perfect condition, in fact almost balding and his drum brakes not the best for this situation. Combine this with the weight of standard 350 and he slipped. The bike slipped a little to the right and he had to put it down. After gathering his breath, he started again, this time making it to the end and riding it through the shallow water and towards the main road on the other side. Reaching there, I could hear him shout out in joy.

Next was my turn. But after seeing his adventure, I was not very confident. So it came upon him to ride my bike too across the swamp. So with an additional responsibility of making sure that my brand new bike cannot be damaged, he started the bike. It was much easier on my bike, thanks to the disc brakes and the fact that he had already done this once. The bike took the steep beautifully and crossed the swamp like a champion. On the other side, on the main road we were excited. We had gotten much more share of adventure and adrenaline rush than we had bargained for, and no one was complaining. From then on it was a comfortable ride through the country side that existed so close to Bangalore.

We reached home by around 4. Our original plan was to reach home by max 1 pm. We received our share of expected scolding at home, but both of us were extremely satisfied. The trip was an amazing experience consisting of adventure, exploring new roads, pushing not just our bulls, but our own comfort boundaries, experiencing pristine nature so close to Bangalore and of course the off roading bit that gave us a rush.

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