Back in September of 2018, I had planned a ride to Dandeli with my friend. Little did I know that this would turn into a ride of firsts. If you want to see the ride, the video is just below this para, but if you like reading, here is what happened.
A bit about Dandeli
Before I start talking about the firsts, let me tell you a bit about Dandeli. Dandeli is a town in North Karnataka that is about 460 km from Bangalore. The ride from Bangalore to Dandeli takes about 8 to 10 hours at an average speed of 50 kph. It used to be a mining town but has turned into a tourist hub. Even then, the good thing is that it is not overly commercial.
The things that you can do when in Dandeli can range from a jungle safari in the Kali Tiger Reserve to indulging in some water sports. The water sports include white water rafting, kayaking, and zorbing on the river. There are some temples to see there, and then there is Syntheri Rocks to check out too.
Overall the place is an escape more than anything else. It is surrounded by greenery and is quiet and peaceful.
The context of this story
Now, before I start telling you about the ride, let me give you some context. 2nd October was nearing, and it was going to be a long weekend. I had 1 ton of leave and an itch to go for a ride. It had been a few months since my last ride.
So, my friend and I set about looking for a destination. We finally settled on Dandeli and ended up booking this place called The Jungle Resort; it looked nice in the photos. Booking done, we returned to the daily grind because we still had a couple of weeks to go before we left.
2-3 days before our scheduled departure, my friend was called home to take care of an emergency. He said he’d be back in time for the ride, but it soon turned out that he wouldn’t. Our first instinct was to postpone the ride, but when we went to cancel the booking, we saw that the last date for a refund had passed.
This, for most people, wouldn’t be an issue, but it was for me. It meant that I could either lose the money we had paid or go for the ride… alone. I was in a bit of a conundrum because I had never gone on a ride by myself and I was a bit apprehensive.
In the end, I thought, “what the hell, I’ll go”. So, on the morning of the departure, I got up at 3 am, loaded the luggage on the bike and set off, and this is where the ride from Bangalore to Dandeli, a ride of firsts, began.
As I said earlier, this ride from Bangalore to Dandeli was a trip full of firsts for me. So without further ado, here they are:
First of the first was, of course, FIRST SOLO RIDE! YAY!!!
Second of the firsts came as soon as the sun came up… the rain! I was soaked even before I could put my rain gear on. The rain was unrelenting, and after a couple of stops, I decided to ride in it. I ended up doing some 70 km of the ride in the rain.
It did give up after a while, and the sun came out, allowing me to dry myself. Everything was going fine from here on till the time I reached Dandeli. I was waiting at a small tea shop for someone to come and guide me to the resort. After they came, the moment we set off for the rest, now only about 5 km away, it started raining AGAIN.
As if that was not enough, I got caught in the rain the next day too when I went for a jungle safari AND the day after that while coming back after enjoying some water sports (irony).
I dropped my bike (read motorcycle, not bicycle)! 🙁 Yes, you read it right, I dropped my bike in the silliest way possible. While I was riding in the rain, I decided that at the next toll booth I will stop for a bit of tea. I found a nice shop and stopped.
It was still raining so in my hurry to get out of the rain I didn’t notice that the side stand (kickstand to those not of an Indian persuasion) was sinking in the mud softened by the rain. Just as soon as I took my first sip of nice hot tea, the stand sunk in completely and my bike fell on an Enfield parked next to it. There was no damage… thank God!!
Bangalore to Dandeli is about 460 km so that, coupled with the riding done in and around Dandeli, I had covered 1,000 km by the time I got back. Therefore, the LONGEST ride so far! (Pats self on back)
The first breakdown for the bike and it was a bit of an alarming one. First, you need to know that this was the fourth out-of-town ride that I was doing and the last three to Kotagiri, Chikmagalur, and Coorg had gone off without a hitch. On this one, the bike broke down when I was on my way back.
I was a mere 3 to 4 km from home. I was already marvelling at my achievements when, while taking a U-turn, I noticed that the engine temp was rather high. Immediately, I stopped by the side of the road and realised that the cooling fan was not coming on. The KTM 390 Duke, even the 2017 model that I have, has a fan that is loud enough to be heard, so the silence was noticeably loud.
As soon as I stopped, the engine temperature indicator hit its highest mark and I got a temperature warning. I tried figuring out what had happened and even checked the fuse. It was all working. When I tried starting the bike, I got an ECU failure warning, and I decided that I’ll wait for the engine to cool down and then push or ride the bike home, very slowly.
When I gave the bike for repairs, it turned out that the fan had gotten jammed due to a manufacturing defect. KTM was nice enough to fix it under warranty, and I escaped a big bill.
In the end, the ride from Bangalore to Dandeli was a sort of a turning point for me.