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sridhar.pradeepEast Coast West Coast Solo Ride
I have been riding my Royal Enfield TBTS since 2011. Covered over 45K Km riding with friends, clubs, solo and enjoying thoroughly. The longest I had done so far was to Goa for the first India Bike Week in 2013 and then to Courtallam with a few friends in 2014. For every biker, the Mecca is Leh Ladakh, no doubts. I have been wanting to do that since 2012 but had to postpone every year due to various reasons. The next ride that has always been on my mind was the Coastal ride covering the coasts of Tamilnadu & Kerala upto Mangalore in Karnataka. I did open up about this ride to a few friends but due to personal reasons, but couldn't get the time to do it together. 

In 2015 May, I met with a major accident on the first day of a Southern Survival ride with a plan to cover almost 1500km in 3 days. My left humerus (bicep) bone broke into two and I had to undergo a surgery leading to a metal plate fixed to my bone. It took me 5 months to start riding again. There was a lot of pressure from family to quit riding, but once the riding bug bites you, it never leaves. The first ride i did was with my Riding club IBRMC for a short day ride. Later I did solo to Chennai in December along with my wife. Since then, I couldnt go for any ride. Finally in July I took the chance to go for the anniversary ride with IBRMC to Kolli hills. Post the anniversary ride, I wanted to do a much longer ride. I checked with my Wife and she was very supportive to do the coastal route. She not only motivated me, but helped me in every planning, deciding the halt points, hotels etc. 

I decided that the Independence day weekend would be the ideal time to ride. I anyway had to visit Chennai to meet my cousin. Why not ride further down from Chennai and cover the coast of TN till Kanyakumari. Then I thought why stop there, lets get into Kerala and complete the coastal ride that was always on my mind. This being a vacation month for our counterparts in France, the work pressure was manageable and I got the approval to take a week off. Thanks to my boss Smile. So it was final, I decided to take the bike to Chennai on 13 Aug (sat), spend a day with family, meet up with my cousin and begin the mega ride from Chennai on 15Aug, Independence day. 

Ok, now to decide the route map and the places to stop. I wanted to visit Dhanushkodi, so Rameshwaram was the first pitstop from Chennai. Ofcourse need to visit the southern most tip of India, so Kanyakumari was next. I was confused whether to stop at Alleppey or go further to Guruvayur. I decided lets decide Guruvayur for now and see how it goes. Mangalore was the final stop before Bangalore to complete the 2300Km Ride. 

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I got my bike checked, got the tool box from Renny bhai and the spares ready and was all set. 
Finally the day arrived, 13Aug. I was packed and ready to ride to Chennai. 

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Day1 - 13 Aug, Bangalore - Chennai, 350Km: 
Started at 6am. The ride was chilled out. Being a long weekend there were a lot of vehicles on the road, a lot of bikers and at the Attibelle Toll, there was a long queue that extended to the flyover. Thought of having breakfast at A2B, but as I entered there was no place to park. Somehow parked and entered the restaurant to see a huge line almost till the entrance to order food. I thought if i wait, it will be a waste of time, so i continued my ride. After Krishnagiri the traffic reduced and i stopped over at a road side hotel for breakfast. Had yumm pongal Vada, and continued further. I entered Chennai by 12 with ample breaks. But to reach my home, it took more than an hour. Lot of traffic. Finally reached home by 130pm. Mom was surprised to see me on bike as she expected I would be coming by train. 

Had a good time at home meeting up with cousins, nephews and my bro. Told my family about my ride plan and as usual they were apprehensive. Convinced them all would be ok, packed my bags and began the ride on 15th morning at 6am heading towards Rameshwaram.
Day 3- 15 Aug. Chennai -Rameshwaram, 570Km:
I took the East Coast Road, the road which in our terms is "Makkhan" means as smooth as butter. Here is the first look at the coast at Muttukadu.

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I reached Pondy in quick time and proceed further to Cuddalore. Entered the city to have a look at the Silver beach. Not sure why it is named as such, however the views were pretty. 

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After a short break, headed towards Velankanni covering Chidambaram, Karaikal & Nagapattinam. I wanted to cover 300km by lunch. 

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Taking a break at Karaikal
I reached velankanni, the scheduled stop for lunch by 2pm. Took a long break as it was extremely hot. I still had to cover another 250km to reach Rameshwaram. 

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Resting at the lunch break point
Started from Velankanni at 315pm, expecting to reach Rameshwaram by 7. The roads were empty and I was doing 80-90kmph. As I reached Kottaipattinam, there was a stretch where the roads were hardly 50m from the shore. It was a beautiful sight. 

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I continued further towards Rameshwaram. As i was nearing the city, there was one stretch of 15km near Ramanathapuram, wherein it was pitch dark. No vehicles in front or back. I was wondering what is this place. Then all of a sudden i see a man walking. I was wondering how is this guy walking without any lights. Anyways, managed to cross the stretch and reached Rameshwaram by 8pm. Checked into Hotel Harish that i had booked prior. Took a stroll around the city & temple and was off to bed early. 

Next day morning woke up early to see the sunrise. Went to Agni Theertham, but was surprised to see the crowd. I decided to proceed to Dhanushkodi without waiting for sunrise. 

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The ride to Dhanushkodi was around 20km and beautiful. Got a first glimpse of the shore and the sunrise

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As you all know, Dhanushkodi is called the ghost town. This town was washed away by a Tsunami in 1960. A lot of people died. All that we can see now are remains of the old buildings. As I reached Dhanushkodi, there were a few vans ready to take us to the tip. The ride to the tip is through the beach, you have to literally ride on wet sand. The tip of Dhanushkodi is the closest point to Srilanka. It is said, one can see the lights in Srilanka from this point in the evening. I parked my bike at the checkpost and was ready to board the van, when one of the drivers told me "Why dont you take your bike, you will have a good time". I was apprehensive as I was alone, and if I got stuck in the sand there would be no one to help. The driver Suresh gave me confidence and i decided to take the plunge. Smile. I am glad that I took the bike as the ride through the sand was the best riding experience so far. I had to follow the Tyre marks created by the vans, at times my crashguards would hit the sand on either side of the tyre mark making me lose balance. I somehow managed to continue and reached the tip of Dhanushkodi. Once I reached there, you should have seen the smile on my face. I had the most beautiful time riding on the sand. It was just Bliss, Heavenly....dont have words to express how happy I felt. 

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Took some time to look at the building remains at Dhanushkodi, the railway station, the church, lighthouse.... 

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The roads are being laid till the tip of Dhanushkodi and are likely to open in 2 months. Took some snaps and decided to take the road back to the checkpost. 

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On the way back from Dhanushkodi there is a deviation towards Kothanda Ramar Temple. 

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People coming back from a dip in the sea
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Finally left for Rameshwaram with beautiful memories. Headed straight to a mechanic for a waterwash. 
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Got ready and headed towards Kanyakumari. On the way stopped on the Pamban bridge for pics. 

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Day 4: 16Aug, Rameshwaram to Kanyakumari 330Km
I started from Rameshwaram at 1030am. It was extremely hot. The east coast road was fabulous and i was cruising towards Thoothukody at 80kmph. Stopped for lunch by around just before Thoothukudy. Had a heavy meal and rested for some time. There were two routes to Kanyakumari, one through Tirunelveli which was a National Highway. The other one through the coast through Tiruchendur, Kudankulum. I took the second route, after all this is a coastal ride, isnt it. Few kms towards Tiruchendur I was cursing myself on why did i choose this route. There were no roads. I mean literally no roads. Just gravel and mud. I asked few people if this is how the roads will be, I was told just for a few km, after that the roads will be great. My bad. after a few kms, the roads got worse. All in all, the entire stretch of 90km from Tiruchendur to Kanyakumari had about 10km of roads, rest was pure offroading. Below some pics from that 10km stretch of roads. One could find peacocks flying across the road. It was beautiful.

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As i got closer to Kudankulum, entered into a huge Wind farm. This one stretched for about 40km till I reached Kanyakumari. 1000's of wind mills. Was a sight to see. 

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Finally I reached Kanyakumari by 730pm. Checked into Hotel Temple Citi, right next to the shore. Went to the beach, spent some time and hit the bed inorder to get up early for the sunrise. Kanyakumari is famous for Sunrise/Sunset, Vivekananda Rock and the merger of the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and the Indian ocean. I got ready by 545 and was reached the shore. There was already a big crowd waiting for the sunrise. I tried to find a good spot to sit. 

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There was stretch which extended into the sea as in the above pic. This was the best place to see the sunrise. I decided to go there. When i reached the tip of this stretch I was welcomed by a familiar face. One of my friends from my Apartment was also In kanyakumari. Nice to meet him and his family.

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We were waiting for Sunrise. Unfortunately it got cloudy and the sunrise wasnt as expected. 

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I waited for some time, said bye to my friend and got back to hotel to start the journey to Kerala. 
Day 5, 17 Aug: Kanyakumari to Alleppey, 250km
I started at 10am from Kanyakumari to Kerala. The previous day I checked the route map to find the best place to stop in Kerala. Guruvayur was 400km away and would have taken me 12-14 hours to reach. I decided Alleppey would be the better choice and thought of reaching by 4pm. So I started my journey to Alleppey through Nagercoil, Trivandrum & Kollam. As I entered Kerala, i got the shock of my life. The road was single lane and there was so much traffic that i couldnt imagine. I had heard about how crazy people drive in Kerala. I got the taste of it when I saw vehicles overtaking one another at high speeds leaving me the left most corner of the road to ride. One thing I observed in Kerala was there is no road rage. People dont get angry or shout at the other guys on road. Even though everyone drives crazy, not once did I see people pissed off at the other driver or abusing. Things would have been different had this been Bangalore Smile. At times when you look in the rear view mirror, you would see two cars behind you, behind them would be another car trying to overtake, behind the third car would be the local transport bus zooming past all the cars in front...phew i would just slow down and let all of them pass.....Moving on...Due to the traffic i could only manage an avg speed of 30kmph. It was taking me longer than expected to reach Alleppey. I got really stressed out as my back and knee started hurting. The knee guard was putting a lot of pressure on my knee and the pain started shooting up. At times i wanted to give up and just stop. Somehow pushed myself and kept going further. When I was 50km away from Alleppey, it started raining. I thanked god for the respite stopped my bike, put on my rain gear and was about to start when the rains stopped. I was like WTF. I thought it may rain again so lets continue with the rain gear. Sadly it didnt rain till i reached Alleppey. I managed to reach Alleppey by 830pm. I had booked Achayan's homestay in Mararikulam. The owners were friendly, offered me dinner and were surprised to know my ride plan. Had good conversations with them before hitting the bed. I wanted to leave early to reach Calicut by early evening. 
Day 6, 18 Aug, Alleppey to Calicut, 220Km
I woke up early morning, had breakfast, said my prayers, bid bye to owners and headed towards Calicut. First stop was Mararikulam beach. The sea is always beautiful, calm and serene. You just feel like getting lost, away from the daily chores, away from the traffic, away from the pollution. You feel at peace. 

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I started from Alleppey by 830am and wanted to reach Calicut by 4pm. I decided not to take the main highway due to the traffic. Alternate route was the beach road to Fort Kochi. This stretch was 44km. As I started riding, I could see a lot of kids heading to school. All of them waving at me as I passed through. This stretch was parallel to the beach and one could see the sea frequently. I reached Fort Kochi and decided to take a ferry ride. This trip was all about getting new experiences. The Jangar ride was a new experience for sure. I am thankful to Devidas Menon for suggesting this. 

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Waiting to get on to the ferry
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My baby on the ferry
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Me on the ferry

The ferry ride was for about 10mins. Enjoyed thoroughly. Got down at Vypin and continued my journey. On the way stopped at Cherai beach. The beach was all rocky. Throughout this route, there were a lot of backwaters and bridges that had the sea on one side and the backwater on the other. 

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After Cherai beach, the roads had little traffic. I stopped at Ponnani for lunch at 2pm. Had Kerala meals, rested for a while and continued to Calicut. Reached my destination by 630pm. Checked into Hotel Park Residency. The hotel was ok, not too great. Had Kerala Parotta for dinner and slept early. Next destination was Mangalore. 
Day 7, 19Aug: Calicut to Mangalore - 250Km
Started by 7am as I wanted to get out of the city before traffic snarls.At around 11am I stopped for Breakfast. Had some nice Puri Bhaji.Throughout my ride in Kerala I crossed many backwaters and bridges. The color of the water started changing as I moved North. Closer to Alleppey and Kochi it was all beautiful blue.  As I crossed Calicut and reached Thalassery, it got murkier and brownish. There was a small view point in Thalassery. Nice coast. 
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After Thalassery I stopped at Muzhapillangad beach. This is one of the famous drive in beaches in Kerala. You can take your bike/ car onto the shore into the water. Although I did not Sad. Hopefully next time....

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I continued towards Mangalore, did not stop anywhere for lunch. Wanted to reach Mangalore by 4. Crossed Kanhalangod and Kasargod quickly and reached Mangalore by 330pm. I was tired and had no energy to visit any place in the city. Checked into the hotel closer to Bangalore exit, went out for lunch and got back in time for the Olympic Badminton Finals to watch Sindhu get Silver medal. Later visited one of the popular restaurants for dinner. Got back and was eager to sleep as the next day was the final leg of my trip back home. 
Day 8, 20 Aug: Mangalore to Bangalore 360Km. 
I got up early and started my journey to Bangalore by 630am. There was no traffic and the scenery was beautiful. Ghat roads, curvy stretches with greenery on both sides it was pure bliss. This continued for about 130km. In between I stopped for breakfast at road side Malnad cuisine restaurant and had awesome Neer dosa. 

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Reached Sakleshpur quickly, and continued towards the Hassan Bangalore highway. By around 1230pm I reached this highway and still had about 160km to reach Bangalore. This was a 4lane highway, so managed good speeds and covered the remaining distance in 2 hrs. By about 245pm I reached my Wife's place in Jalahalli in time for Lunch. 

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It was a emotional moment for me, as for the first time I had done such a long ride on my own especially the biggest ride since my injury. The trip meter read 2497Km. A sense of accomplishment engulfed me. There were zero breakdowns and my baby, my ride "The Nomad" did not flinch and went on and on. She was by my side throughout the journey. There were a lot of learnings, a lot of beautiful experiences, met some wonderful people and I will cherish every moment. 

Before I sign off, I would like to say, I couldnt have done this without my wife's support. Every day, at every break point she was there checking on me, motivating me and always asking me to enjoy the ride and not worry about the time. Thank you Sudha. If not for you, this ride wouldnt have been possible. 
Thats it for now folks. Hope you enjoyed reading. Do share your feedback. Signing off.
A nomad I will remain for life, 
in love with distant and uncharted places.

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