Write-up by Ram -
Our adventure started almost immediately, there were a few drops of water leaving Koyambedu but that turned into a torrential downpour once we hit the highway. My rain gear was safely stored in my saddle bag, so I was drenched to the skin. Once the sun rose the rain eased off and we started to dry. It was a surprise to note that people wearing jeans dried up too (jeans are notorious for staying wet forever -- never wear then on any hike!). The rain helped cut down the dust levels and it was very pleasant to ride.
My adventure quotient was to ratchet up a notch -- I had noticed my chain slipping but did not think much about it, well just before reaching Periapalayam the damn thing came off. I stopped to put the chain back on, and it came off pretty soon after. So I pulled off and we tried to fix it (thanks Geoffrey, Raj and Simon). By this time the second group of bikes caught up with us. So Nagin went with another bike and I did a slow-keep-chain-taut-ride to Periapalayem. Peter had already send a group off to have breakfast in Utthukottai. We had breakfast in Periapalayem and Raj found and convinced a youngster in a shop to fix my bike. He accomplished this and charged us a kingly amount of Rs 40! The highlight of this stop was seeing Sinu sleep on the motorcycle while we ate breakfast ;-)
Back on the saddle and we caught the rest of the group on top of the damn wall in Pitchatur. Well I did not get to see much as we left almost at once. We proceeded at good pace through the excellent roads in AP. Peter then took us through some village roads, that slowed us down a bit. The recent rains had created porridge of the dirt roads. It was a challenge to ride through some of that muck (little did we know what was ahead!). This brought us to a beautifully maintained temple of Guddi Mallam (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
A quick stop here and we were off on more dirt roads that wound through pretty green fields with paddys, sugar cane and various orchards. Soon we came to another dam where we stopped to take a dip and eat a small bit. The water was not the very best, but it was refreshing with none of the city muck (read plastic!). Now we proceeded to traverse through what can be best described as single-track-mountain-biking trail (for those who have done mountain bicycling). The jeep track had sand in places, water in some others, stream crossing, cobbled bed with rocks the size of watermelons. Each of these had its own unique challenge and with gear and a pillion rider it was amplified.
We proceeded after multiple stops at stream to guide bikers through the rushing water and the slipping rocks. A stop at a tranquil area with plenty of parking area was our luncheon stop (it was late, maybe 3pm). Ravenous souls looked for food and the tepala disappeared fast -- BUT the chappatti's were uncooked!!! So we then proceeded to build a fire with wet wood and roast the chappattis (thanks guys who did this!).
The trail was as arduous as ever going further to the next stop. Some bikers tipped over, some other slipped in the streams, Peter had issues with starting his bike... but we safely arrived at our night time stop -- another temple in Nagari with pretty waterfalls. Half a down of us leading the gang did not know much better and made the STEEP ride up almost to the temple while the others were savvy enough to leave their bikes a bit down. Interestingly one of the new bullets would not start at this point -- the air cooled engine had heated up too much! Luckily we were riding through stream to cool our beasts on a regular basis.
We bedded down near the temple and cooked a sumptuous meal of soup + noodles + beans + carrots. The waterfall and the pool cleansed our physical and mental selfs. The next day morning langurs cleaned up the cooking area off food items. Morning was uppma, rava pongal and oats (all good stuff!). Another dip in the pool and we were off RETRACING our path through the jeep trail... I cannot remember when I last did a trip with Peter where we actually retraced our path to get back! In hiking I have learnt that climbing is always easier than heading down, the same applies to bikes it seems.
Luckily the machines made their way back, with lots of photos and videos of them wading through swollen streams. The second group had a flat that Simon (that guy has all the gear for a bike trip, make sure to send him a special invitation on all future bike trips!!!) assisted in pumping air so he could ride out to a village for fixing.
Next stop was Sri Kalahasti for lunch and then on to another dam. The water here was much nicer and we spend a good amount of time enjoying a refreshing dip. The sun setting around the Nagari and Nagala range of mountains was pretty. A bonus was that my lost sun glasses were found :-D
So it was back to Utthukottai for dinner at The Dhabba and we split up to head back to Chennai (most reaching home between 11 and 12pm). Another great trip organized by Peter. Like Superman, Batman, Ironman have powers -- "Peterman" is also endowed with special powers of finding great places that stretch body and soul just that bit to make us all feel glad to be living. Thanks Peter!!!