A few weeks back I rode to Ooty in Tamil Nadu. This was with a group that I ride with regularly, called Riders Republic. It is now India’s largest independent group of riders. It consists of people riding super bikes.
On this particular ride the smallest bike in the family was the Harley Street 750. The majority of bikes were Harleys in the group but there were also a number of street-bike style and tourer style super bikes – Kawasaki, Honda, Yamaha, BMW and Triumph were the others. There were two Ducati Diavels which were gorgeous beasts.
There was one Triumph Thunderbird – I just loved the looks of that bike, simply awesome.
Among Harleys my favorites were the Fat Boys – beautiful machines they are.
All told there were more than 150 super bikes making the trip.
It was the third anniversary of Riders Republic which meant it was going to be a big party in Ooty.
There were quite a few couples riding together and some kids riding with their dads. There were a number of people who were driving there as well. My wife also joined for this one though by car and not pillion.
The whole gang got together at the usual meeting place in Bangalore which is the cafe coffee day at the corner of Vittal Mallya road. The program was to roll at 6-30 a.m but as it is with a large group it took a little while before everybody was in place and ready to roll.
The route we took was via Hosur road on to Salem then Coimbatore highway up to Avinashi turning off towards Ooty. approx 400+ kms
Some roads are just meant for long bike rides and the Salem Coimbatore highway is certainly one of those. Lovely broad road with 3 lanes on each side of a wide divider with plants to obscure headlights from the other side and mercifully little traffic at most times.
It is a road on which you can ride for a couple of hours just being one with road and bike. If you are riding with a group of other bikers so much better. But I am getting ahead of myself.
First things first – breakfast!
As usual food is the most important ingredient of any ride. We rode for about 50k before coming to the pitstop. This is a nice pitstop for whenever you are heading towards Chennai Pondicherry or Yercaud from Bangalore. There is a Shri Krishna (south-Indian fare), a McDonald’s , a Cafe Coffee Day and one other restaurant, decent toilets and a large petrol bunk. We of course choose the south-Indian one, being lovers of idli-vada and suchlike. The organizers of the ride, phenomenal chaps, more about them later, had already planned the breakfast and all we had to do was pick up a plate. It was the usual fare of idli vada and dosa something the restaurant knew how to make really well. This was followed by coffee, if I were nitpicking I would say that there are other places with better coffee. The food however was superb.
There is nothing like riding with a big bunch of Super-bikers and then having nice breakfast. I met a lot of my fellow riders for the first time over breakfast, it was a brilliant start to the three day ride jamboree. We talked bikes and accessories – what else!
The next section of the ride was on the Salem Coimbatore highway. This was the highlight of the ride, ripping on the tarmac with my fellow riders. That day we owned the road. The highway passes through a section of Salem which is a short revisit to reality when you wait at the signal. Soon , however, you are on your way again on the highway. At this point you pass by Sarvana bhavan. This is a great place to stop for traditional lunch in case you are ever in the vicinity. We did just that on the way back. On the way out it was too early.
Continuing on the route we rode for another hour and a half before stopping off the highway for chai etc. Don’t know the name of the place but it was a great little nook where we had refreshing coffee & tea. Some of us were brave enough to go for fresh lime juice. The place also had those things I know as bobbys, little yellow crisp things that you can stick on your fingers and eat.
We spent a good twenty minutes chatting and relaxing. The weather from Salem on wards was seriously warm and all of us in our riding gear were literally melting under the sun. It was coming on to midday and getting hot so we needed the refreshment and the time of of the saddle as well.
A little further on we reached Avinashi. There were dark clouds in the distant sky now. The weather looked like it was turning in to great riding weather but then we were a bit worried about doing the steep and sharp curves to Ooty in the rain.
At this point some of the riders, my buddies Jayanth-Street Bob (since then he has become Fat Bob) and Dev – Fat Boy were so in love with the road that they missed the turn off and rode on almost to Coimbatore.
We waited for a while to let them come back and catch up with us.
From Avinashi we left the highway and took the smaller road towards Ooty. This was much busier and gave little room for maneuverability. We had to be content with riding in a long single file and ride through the traffic.
Shortly the ascent to Ooty began, lovely curves on the road. I really enjoyed this section of the ride. The weather turned and it became quite chilly. The layers we had shed on the highway all came back on and we rode.
At times we got to ride through the clouds. Riding through clouds is always magical it is as if you are suddenly in a fairy tale and riding in a fantasy land.
Around this time the bunch I was riding with got somewhat separated. We ended up riding a little extra through Conoor and Wellington which was not necessary but thoroughly enjoyable nevertheless.
So, by the time we made it to Ooty and thence to the hotel it was past 4 pm. The guys at the hotel were kind enough to hold lunch for us. The parking of the hotel was a sight to behold.150+ superbikes adorned it.
With some good liquid and solid lunch in to us some of us retired to our rooms for a well earned snooze. The wife had already reached having taken the much shorter route via Mysore.
But the extra 160 kms we rode was well worth it, kudos to the organisers who planned the route. It was a fantastic ride.
The evening was a full on party with a white theme and next day we spent time chilling in ooty walking around the market etc and letting our derrieres regain their shape. The wife and I found some interesting stuff to shop at Mohan’s. We had lunch at Ooty’s oldest Chinese restaurant. A nice quiet affair.
On the way back, it was well after 10 a.m. before we set out. Plenty of people were working the previous nights revelry out of their system, which is what delayed us.
We made quick time down the slopes and on to the main road. It was baking on the highway and since this was the end of a long weekend there was a lot more traffic going towards Bangalore. But still the road was relatively empty. We hit serious traffic close to Hosur much later in the day.
In this leg we stopped at Sarvana Bhavan for a good south Indian lunch. This was served in the traditional way on a banana leaf. It was a splendid meal.
Unfortunately for me I got separated from my camera most of the time. It was being carried on Jayanth’s street Bob and we just ended being in different parts of the route. So I did not get much in terms of photos on the road.
From Sarvana bhavan on it was a much more tedious ride through traffic and as the day wore on and evening approached it was a little fatiguing too. My buddies and I were wondering if we shouldn’t have just started much earlier.
We reached Hosur by twilight and then through the nice expressway to home.
Hats off to the riders Republic for having organized such a fantastic event. Can’t wait for the next big ride.