It was still dark when I woke up early in the morning. It took me a while to realize it wasn’t the alarm that woke me up, but the constant pitter-patter of the rain outside. I got up, finished the morning chores, went out the main door into the portico, pulled a chair and settled in. The vast canvas of greenery along with clouds and rain was in front of me, a cool breeze and few rain drops falling on my face as I looked on. Everything looked like a dream. Especially for someone who is not a morning person & who needs multiple alarms to wake up it certainly appeared to be a beautiful dream. I was woken up from the dreamy state when a friend came out the door and joined me in the portico. It was certainly not a dream, but the monsoon weaving its magic all around us. Few minutes passed, some more friends joined us on the portico. After few minutes of talking, one by one became silent soaking in the magic around us yearning for a hot cup of coffee/tea.
While we waited for a hot cup of coffee, my mind wandered back in time to previous day’s journey. Our first day’s ride started from the outskirts of Mandya after gulping down idlies with some super spicy chutney. A perfect weather to be on the saddle – overcast sky, wonderful breeze and not so crowded roads. While the speed demons sped ahead in full speed, I settled into my usual slow pace along with few more slow riders like me. It wasn’t long and the regular questions started from the people on the road – ‘Where are you going?’, ‘Where are you coming from?’, ‘Is it a race?’, ‘You are number 18. Why are you slow?’ and so on. While the questions never seemed to slow down, the constant cheering & waving from the kids got added too. Couple of school going kids on their cycles saw me and started to race along. I did a mock chase and let them win till they stopped at their school. They had the widest grin on their faces with a sense of achievement. As I moved on, it was time for the bullock carts loaded with sugarcane to share the road with us – a common sight in Mandya region. After a bit of hesitation and passing few bullock carts, I slowed down near one of them and asked for a small piece of sugarcane. The guy was happy that I asked, he dug in and handed me a full sugarcane – I settled for half a length. After the usual talks I bid him good-bye and continued with the sugarcane in one hand. The next half an hour was much slower thanks to one-handed riding & chomping on the sugarcane.
Though there were short breaks the first longer break was at Jakkanahalli cross, few kilometers short of Melukote. While at 30KMs mark (and another 50 to call it day 1), we started getting information that the leading pack was already at Shravanabelugola (almost 80% of distance covered by them). After gulping down few bananas, dry fruits and another long break at Melukote cross, the journey resumed. Post Melkote, the terrain changed drastically. Roads got narrower, traffic became almost nil, temperature reduced and soon it was plenty of trees & greenery all around. To top it off, the much awaited rain welcomed us. The light drizzle though intermittent was more than enough to refuel the energy levels. It was rolling terrain all along – after multiple short breaks, I was finally caught up by the support vehicle on the outskirts of Shravanabelugola as we were running short of time. A short drive to the lunch point – Kamath on NH48 and after heavy lunch I settled cozily in the bus and drifted off to a dreamland. When I came out of the stupor, heavy rain welcomed us & there we were at our place of stay for the night. With a sumptuous dinner and a bit of rain watching, it was time to call it a day.
The rain that we missed the first day decided to keep us company for the rest of our stay at the home stay. As it dawned, the magic began to unwind around us. Sipping hot cups of coffee one after the other, we waited for the rain to slow down so that we could start our ride for day 2. Two more hours of waiting and gulping down local cuisine breakfast, the rain slowed down a bit. The day’s journey was a bumpy ride on the jeeps back to the main road for us to start on our steeds. While we were about to start the ride on the bridge across the fully flowing Hemavathi river, it started to rain as if to wish us safe journey. From the outskirts of Hanabalu near Sakaleshpur we zoomed towards Belur via Jannapura. Compared to previous day, the road condition was better and were relatively empty. Last night’s rain plus the greenery of western ghats made the ride very enjoyable. Except for one long climb, the route was pretty easy. Just after Belur, I had to stop thanks to slight pain in the left knee. I got into the bus while most of the riders rode all the way to the end point – outskirts of Hassan. Two days of fun riding in monsoon was aptly ended with a joyful journey comprising playing antakshari all the way to Bangalore.