A Ramanashram ride - part I

/* The real cycle you’re working on is a cycle called yourself.
--Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance */

I started this weekend a day earlier to ride to Tiruvannamalai. Its been long since my first long ride and perhaps I was waiting for my bike to shape up from some unintentional evil doings to it by others! The back wheel had a Bullet tube *folded* into the tyre instead of the Suzuki Fiero sized! I got to know it to be the reason for uneven balance only last month, that too due to a puncture. I've never been thankful for a flat tyre till then and hope never to ever be again.

Dep: Fri, 0725 hrs
Arr: Fri, 1145 hrs
Average speed: 70-90 kmph
Top speed: 105 kmph
Mistakes: Hit 3 potholes, started late for the Electronic City traffic, had a late breakfast (tea, to be precise!)

Dep: Sun 1240 hrs
Arr: Sun, 1555 hrs
Average speed: 70-100 kmph
Top speed: 110 kmph
Mistakes: None known

The 4-6 lane highway past Hosur is a thrill. Ofcourse, many cars do not understand the meaning of *lane* still; trucks and buses, especially tankers, know these things better. Passersby do not care whether its their village mud road or a 6-lane highway; they cross roads as if they're shifting body weights! Animals understand flashes and honks better than these people. Okay, enough negatives, now for the better part of the journey.

Till Krishnagiri, the ride was just that: formula speed. Except for the sun torturing me due to my dressed-for-ill-health attire (and headache due to an extremely late tea), all went well. The bike seemed to find its increasing consistency in speed after learning little lessons at crossroads. There's not much of anything to look around on the NH-4, except some hills immediately after Hosur and just before hitting Krishnagiri. I had it in my mind that before cutting a left into NH-66 past Krishnagiri, there's a big flyover. Somehow, I lost that and stopped before taking it and checked up with a bullock-cart driver. I'm quite certain that he wouldn't have taken a flyover much so he asked me to make a left at the next signal. That missing the flyover cost me a signal and traffic that you're supposed to miss, but atleast I didn't lose my way :)

A couple more questions to localites put me on NH-66 which begins as a rather thin road in comparison to the golden lanes you leave behind. There seemed to be enough tar since my last bus visit to Tiruvannamalai in the rains erring my judgement that tar has been laid anew. Soon I corrected myself after maneuvering between some not-so-bad potholes and hitting a couple bad ones instead! I reasoned that I carried the speed from NH4 into 66 a little too far. But what I didn't guess was it was not to be low speeds at bad patches only, the road was full of potholes at many places, most of them where you least expect them to be. I'm reminded of Murphy's quote on this: When the govt errs, it errs in triplicate. Perhaps, thats why I was bound to fall for three bad spots! :)

I think I'm still stuck with negatives! The skyline improved with a good mix of sideline trees and hillocks. The uneventful highway by now had turned into all sorts of people and animals walking by: kids screaming at times, monkeys crossing across to catch on with their families, flocks of goats kept at their side of the road, etc. Even the boring straights had curved on this road, but not as much as I'd have liked... perhaps a ghat section would have helped! :) Apart from a few diversions on account of contractors playing on the road, there's only one thing worth mentioning: the first view of Arunachala! Just after entering Tiruvannamalai, there's an advt hoarding at a curvature in the road and once you cross it, behind rises Arunachala, waiting and watching over you with its broad fatherly shoudlers welcoming to hug you! If there was any discomfort in the journey, it was washed away at the first sight of Arunachala Shiva.

Then on, I was overcome with bliss from Ramanashram where peacocks were cooing even near noon. I parked and checked-in post darshan since it was lunch hour already. I'd a square meal at neighboring Seshadri Swami's ashram and slept for a few hours with a dose of medication for my full-blown headache. I was ready again after tea to catch on more blessings in the Samadhi Hall until dinnertime and sleep befell me.

... Part II: Arunachala pradakshina and return
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