Distance Is Not A Measurement For True Love Of A Father – Daughters are the most precious Gift of God. Just to meet my daughter Isha Sheth at Manipal University (SOAHS), I rode SOLO for 3865 kms on my Pulsar 200 NS. As the Pulsar 200 NS has tubeless tyres, I did not fear for flat tyres. My Pulsar was only 1 year old so no fear of any mechanical breakdown also. At the end of the ride, I can assure that the Pulsar 200 NS is a good bike for long distances also. As the purpose of this ride was to meet my daughter, who studies in Manipal University (SOAHS), I have taken few pictures of roads, mountains, lakes, forest, etc.

Many have asked me why Manipal? Ever since she took admission for Physiotherapy (B.P.T.) course, I could not go to see her medical college campus due to my business. I am a share broker by profession. My age is 47 years and I had a passion for motorcycles since my college days. I purchased the Bajaj Pulsar 200 NS in November 2012. I used to go for small excursion rides for a day on holidays on the bike. I used to upload those pics on Facebook. I went from Cuttack to Rachi on the bike in August 2013 and Isha saw them and was very happy. At that time I told her jokingly that one day I will come to Manipal on bike to meet you. Since Diwali she was feeling homesick. It was exam time and no holidays, so I decided to ride to see her.

I was encouraged by my better half, my wife Bina Sheth, for the ride. Together we considered all the pros and cons of the trip. Then my trip was almost final. At first I had to be mentally prepared for this maiden longest ride of mine. It took around 2 days for that. I was very much inspired by Mr. Manish Lakhani, a cyclist from Baroda, who had done 12,500 kms cycling across 22 states in 5 months 10 days. I had many doubts about road condition, my night stays and food, but he cleared all that and told me to just start and not to think so much; “don’t plan too much, just jump”. He assured me that the road is good and I will find food and place to stay everywhere.

Then I had to get a route map and plan my night stays. I had thought of and was suggested many routes for this trip. All highways roads, mix of highways and state road etc. Google’s Maps was of major help for me all the way. GPS and Navigation tool helped me build confidence to ride on unknown and unheard roads.

Mr H.V.Kumar (HVK), a very renowned driving enthusiast with an online forum on FB, suggested me a route via Cuttack – Vizag – Rajahmundry – Vijaywada – Hyderabad – Anantapur – Bangalore – Hassan – Manipal, for good roads all the way but it was 2061 kms one way. Few bad roads were no problem for me as I was riding the Bajaj Pulsar 200 NS, a sports bike. And riding on National Highways is sometimes boring compared to other types of roads.

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My Final Route  was – Cuttack – Bhubaneswar – Brahmapur – Srikakulam – Vizag – Rajahmundry – Vijayawada – Guntur – Chilakaluripet – Narasaraopet – Vinukonda – Doranala – Kurnool – Dhone – Gooty – Guntakal – Bellary – Challakere – ChitraDurga – Shimoga- Thirthahalli – Agumbe – Manipal ( stayed for 2 days) – Mangalore – Hassan – Bangalore – Kolar – Chittoor – Tirupati – Naidupeta – Nellore – Ongole- Guntur – Vijayawada – Rajahmundry – Vizag – Srikakulam – Brahmapur – Bhubaneswar – Cuttack.

This final route was a mix of National Highways, State Highways, district roads, good and bad forest roads, uphill and downhill roads, lake side road and city traffic road. I wanted to ride till I enjoyed it for each day. The distance to reach Manipal via Kurnool – Bellary – Shimoga route is around 1775 kms. So I planned my daily ride to be around 550-650 kms.

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I had started jotting down the items to carry with me. It started with 15-20 items and ended with 57 items finally. I had taken 57 items with me out of which 12 were not used.

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Unused items were bag lock and chain, rain cover for backpack and main bag, puncture repair kit, wipe tissues, ropes, mosquito repellent tube, bike’s duplicate key, mediclaim papers and card, sweater, small medikit, etc. I should have taken my rainy riding shoes, my blanket and 3 pin electric plug. After packing all the 57 items, I had only three items to carry – 1) ViaTerra Waist pouch, 2) ViaTerra Claw Luggage bag and 3) Backpack. Finally I came out from my comfort zone and rode to rejuvenate my soul.

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Before sleeping I packed everything. On 12 November 2013, I was ready to ride at 5 AM from Cuttack. Although I usually get up very late, but during this ride, everyday I saw sunrise during bike riding. It felt so good to see the sunrise and feel the greatness of it.

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I don’t ride a bike to add days to my life, I ride a bike to add life to my days. Traveling gives pleasure to many of us. I used to talk to my family members before starting my ride, during lunch and after reaching my day’s destination. I advice all adventurers to keep family members and friends informed about your current position and your next plan. I started this ride on 12th November 2013 and reached Manipal on 14th November. I stayed in Manipal till the early morning of 17th November and reached Cuttack on 19th November 2013. By the Grace of God, all things went according to my plan and there were no major problems of any type.

I always feared about the road conditions, direction, lodging and food. But our India has the third largest road network in the world. I could find breakfast, lunch and dinner very easily and almost everywhere. It was around 1.30 PM on the second day and I was feeling hungry. I would mention a place between Guntur and SriSailam, called Narasaraopet. At this place the hotel looks like this and for lunch they take you inside their home and serve food. A homely feeling indeed!

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For searching good hotels or dhabas for food at any unknown places, it is better to look for some crowd at that hotel or dhaba. Basic rule is if there are many vehicles parked outside it, then you will definitely not get bad food. Near Srikakulam on the way to Vijayawada on Day 1.

On day 1 at around 6.00 PM, I reached Rajahmundry. At an HPCL petrol pump near Lala Cheruvu junction, I enquired for some lodge and it was right beside the petrol pump. So there was no trouble at all to find a place for the night stay. I used to ride generally from morning 6 to evening 6 only, and then used to stay at the nearest lodge. I stayed at Hotel Sankara Villas AND Lodge at Lala Cheruvu Junction, Rajahmundry for dinner, breakfast and for the lodge room. Every morning I used to clean my bike with a bucket of water and lubricate the chain so that both of us should be fresh for the day’s ride.

This pic was taken at  Rajahmudry next day morning, day 2.

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My overnight halts were – Day 1 at Rajahmundry, Day 2 at Kurnool and while coming back Day 1 at Chittoor (before Tirupaty) and Day 2 at Rajahmundry. I had two thoughts in mind for the night stay. One was that that this total ride will be for 3 nights and 4 days, and other one was for 2 nights and 3 days. But only if I could ride for at least 645 kms on the 1st day to reach Rajahmundry, then I can reach Manipal at the end of the 3rd day.

From day 2, I started using GPS and Google Navigation tool, as from now onwards my ride was on the NH as well as SH. I had to cross Nallamala Srisailam forest also. Roads between Narasaraopet – Vinukonda – Doranala – Atmakur – Nandikotkur – Kurnool are more damaged as it passes through Nallamala Srisailam Forest Range.

Between Rajahmundry and Eluru, Google Navigation tool guides you to pass though Vemagiri, Cotton Barrage, Nidadavolu using state road and a railway level crossing also. But this is a wrong route. Use NH5 / AH45 passing through Ravulapalem, Tanuku only. You will have to ride for 35 kms more but time consumption will be the same. I passed though Doranala – Srisailam and then there was Nallamala Srisailam Forest to cross. Road here was bad with lots of potholes and dust. Lots of monkeys were sighted. But the end part of this ghat road is very nice and a new one.

I reached Kurnool at around 7.00 PM and stayed at the new hotel at Telecom Nagar area of Kurnool. I had South Indian Thali at a vegetarian restaurant on the 1st floor of the same area. On day 3, I started at 5.30 AM from Kurnool and had breakfast of steam idli at a roadside dhaba on Hyderabad Bangalore AH 43. I rode on this NH up to Gooty. Road was nearly empty early in the morning. In this ride all National Highways I traveled through were very nice and had less traffic. More traffic was found only near any big city or town like Rajahmundry, Vizag, Vijaywada, Mangalore, Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, etc. It took more time crossing Bangalore, Vizag and Bhubaneswar due to the traffic.

National Highway from Kurnool towards Bellary was also the best road with very less traffic.

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As bike riding exposes you to a certain amount of risk on road, I minimized this risk by wearing complete riding gear like full face helmet, knee guard, elbow guard, ankle length shoes and gloves, etc. Don’t feel shy to wear it. After all it’s your body and you are important to your family members. Don’t overtake taking risks. Use horn wherever necessary. Don’t feel yourself as the king of the road, you are just an ant compared to heavy vehicles on the roads and ride accordingly.

I was riding my Pulsar 200 NS from sunrise to sunset daily. I could ride around 500 to 660 kms daily. Crossed Gooty and riding towards Guntakal and Bellary on State Highway.

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It is said that sometimes you have to get lost to find yourself. But I did not get lost anywhere as the local people were very helpful to me in all the places. They never misguided me. I rode on good and bad roads, but the worst roads of this ride were –

(1) Dornala Atmakur road which passes though Nallamala Srisailam Forest,
(2) Agumbe to Manipal (downhill road) and
(3) Some parts of Ghat Raod of Bangalore Mangalore Highway between Nellyadi to Sakleshpur.

All riders must know that you are never lost on a bike and if you still have fuel in the tank, you are not lost yet.

Road from Bellary to Challakere, the Bellary Hiryur Road is very scenic with lots of big stones along the road, particularly when nearing Challakere. It feels so nice in roads of Karnataka with small mountains/hills along the road. Chitradurga is a beautiful place between Challakere and Shimoga. It is surrounded by small beautiful mountains. All the mountains are having 2-3 wind turbines/mills. It looks very beautiful. An old fort is also there.

A picture at Gooty – Guntakal – Bellary Road, nearing Bellary.

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I used to take help of GPS and Navigation tool of Google all the way. During end of day 2 and day 3, I had no power left for using these tools. While in state highways and while entering city you need these tools very much. But those who have used it must be aware that it consumes a lot of power. Although I had a 2200 mAh mobile charging power bank with me, then also during evening I could not use them. I faced this problem on day 2 after Atmakur while going towards Kurnool and again on day 3 after Channagiri, while going towards Manipal.

Shimoga was the city where it was difficult for me to pass through it for moving towards Thirthahalli. But the scenic route of Solapur Mangalore Highway, which passed near Gajanur Dam and Shettihalli Wildlife Sanctuary was the best state highway of my ride.

While riding from Agumbe to Manipal (downhill road), I was tired and it was already 6 PM. Roads had become worst with lots of cracks and full of potholes. GPS as well as google navigation was not working due to 5 to 10% power left in my mobile. I did not want to ride in the night on hilly and bad roads. But then I saw a biker coming up towards Agumbe. He had come up without a headlight. Only source of light was indicator. He used his left indicator and was riding slowly. This inspired me to ride towards Manipal on this worst road of my trip. Although the distance from Agumbe to Manipal was only 45 kms, it took me around 1 hour 50 minutes to cover it.

I would suggest riders to see the route map using navigation tool, note it down. Then use only GPS so that power consumption is less. Or else when the navigation tells you to ride for straight more than 25 kms on a route, better exit navigation and use it only when you get confused on a particular road junction or a diversion. You will also feel smart if you don’t ask anybody about the route and just use the GPS and navigation tool.

On the end of day 3 (14th November), I reached Manipal at 7.40 PM. I informed my daughter about my arrival. I checked in at Shantala Lodge of Manipal, got fresh and then I went to her hostel to meet her. As the Manipal Campus is very big, she was waiting for me at the famous Tiger Circle of Manipal Campus. But I went directly to her hostel and called her on mobile. She came back to the hostel and was very happy to see me on my bike. This was the moment I thought of, coming all the way from Cuttack to Manipal. Total distance covered on the bike was 1785 kms in 3 days.

Half of the mission was complete. Manipal University Edu Building –

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For the next two days, I relaxed. We saw KMC (Kasturba Medical College) Campus, Museum of Anatomy & Pathology, End Point, MIT Campus, Kamath Circle, Udupi Shree Krishna Temple, Hanging Bridge of Thonse near Udupi and Kapu Beach between Udupi and Mangalore. I met all her best friends and had dinner with them. Met the students from Cuttack at MIT.

In my free time I used Isha’s laptop for knowing about the route for coming back to Cuttack via Mangalore – Hassan – Bangalore – Chittoor – Vijayawada – Rajahmundry – Vizag – Brahmapur – Bhubaneswar – Cuttack as well as planning for my night stays and possible places for lunch was done.

My younger daughter’s (Neha Sheth) birthday was on 20th November. I wanted to reach Cuttack before that. I decided to cover around 585-600 kms on Day 1 from Maniapal to Chittoor, on Day 2, I should cover around 650 kms from Chittoor or Tirupaty to Rajahmundry, on day 3, I should cover the rest up to Cuttack. Total should be around 1900 kms. But this time I was riding only on the NH, so I could manage it.

Manipal University Edu Building and Library Building – World Wide Manipal.

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Manipal Campus and around –

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Opposite the Rajaji Hostel of Manipal Campus.

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At Udupi Sri Krishna Temple.

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Marena Gym and Sports Complex of Manipal University.

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Hanging Bridge of Thonse near Udupi.

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Having a lighter moment with Isha.

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At Kapu Beach between Udupi and Mangalore.

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With Isha’s friends who are her family there. They study at KMC, SOAHS and MIT.

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Posing with daughter Isha at Kapu Beach between Udupi and Mangalore.

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On 17th November 2013, I started back to Cuttack from Manipal. Now the next mission on my mind was to reach before 20th November, before my younger daughter Neha Sheth’s birthday. Total distance was 1900 kms on the NH. But I knew that the ghat road between Mangalore and Hassan will take more time and will not be in good condition. I was ready to start at 5.30 AM. I went to Isha’s hostel to meet her and say goodbye to her. I crossed Mangalore at 7 AM. Then the ghat road started. It was a scenic route though.

Scenic Road between Mangalore and Hassan.

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I am not lost, I am just going by the scenic route. A small waterfall, near road between Mangalore and Hassan. It was very refreshing to wash my face and hands at this small waterfall. It felt so good to touch the cold water from the mountains.

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No matter how far your journey goes, you are always on home ground on Mother Earth. And for her hospitality, she demands so little. Wherever we travel, we respect her landscapes, conserve her resources and value her local traditions. It is only if we travel this way that we can gift our children the same green, generous planet to explore. I was now nearing Bengaluru and was 125 kms away.

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A rainbow on the way from Bangaluru to Tirupati. After taking this pic one bad thing happened to me. I had kept my tripod in the backpack. But between Kolar to Chittoor, I lost my tripod. I came to know about this at Chittoor. There was a hole in my backpack and my tripod fell down somewhere. This tripod was purchased by my father. He was a great photographer by hobby. I was very unhappy about the loss of the tripod as it was having an emotional value.

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At the end of day 1, I reached at Chittoor at 7.00 PM. Stayed overnight at a lodge. On day 2, I started at 5.30 AM and I had breakfast at Tirupaty. The great mountain of Tirumala Hills looks sacred. I touched the NH at Naidupeta and Cuttack was around 1150 kms there. I passed through Gudur, Nellore, Ongole and then Chilakaluripet. After Chilakaluripet the road was known to me as I had come via this road only. Riding always improves your self confidence, as you have done something which any other person can only dream of.

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Chennai 106 kms only. But I have to come back to Cuttack, a 1150 kms to ride back home. I passed Guntur, Vijayawada, Eluru and reached Rajahmundry at 6.45 PM. I stayed at same SV lodge of Lala Cheruvu Junction. Known road and known places makes you feel confident.

Then came the last day ride of this trip. I did not need an alarm to get up. Everything finished quickly and I was ready to ride at 5.30 AM. I crossed Tuni, Vizag, Srikakulam and had lunch at Palasa at Sri Jagannath Dhaba. Due to the recent Phailin Cyclone, the area from Palasa to Chhatrapur was damaged. So I feared about good lunch at this dhaba. But to my surprise I could get good food here.

Never ride faster than your guardian angel can fly. There is always someone who cares for you without your knowledge. While riding, keep your family members and friends in mind and do not take unnecessary risks.

You can stay fully hydrated throughout the day by drinking water. I used to ride for 50-55 minutes and then take a break for having coconut water or a cold drink (preferably mango drink) or plain water. I also used to do stretching exercises. In Andhra Pradesh, all roadside shops keep drinking water and they fill up your empty bottle for Rs. 4 or 5/-. But in Odisha and Karnataka, I had to fill the water bottle at some hotel or had to buy water pouches.

Another good thing about Andhra Pradesh was that ladies used to operate little shops for food and snacks. There is no gender wise bias here. In Andhra I could see food grain and other agricultural activities on both sides of the National Highways as well as the State Highways. There were so many multi-storied cold storages in Andhra Pradesh. This could be the reason why food is cheaper in Andhra Pradesh compared to Odisha and Karnataka.

Having coconut water before Vizag for Rs. 10/-

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As I entered Odhisha, I felt good. Petrol was cheaper here by 10% compared to Andhra and Karnataka. I used a total of 89 litres of petrol for this ride (mileage of 42 km/l). Traffic was more from Ichapuram onwards. I passed through Brahmapur, Chhatrapur, Ganjam, Khallikot, Chilka Balugaon, Khordha and Bhubaneswar. I reached Khordha at 5 PM on Day 3. I experienced heavy traffic from Khordha till Cuttack. The distance is only 50 kms but it took 1 hour and 45 minutes because of traffic and congested traffic signals of Bhubaneswar. As around six flyovers are being constructed between Khordha to Cuttack on NH, the road had become congested and narrow.

Bhubaneshwar still 402 kms away and Cuttack another 25 kms.

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While riding back I had one thing in mind that I must reach Cuttack before my younger daughter Neha’s birthday.

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I was present on my younger daughter Neha’s birthday also, so I could make both my daughters happy and proud. As long as you are passionate about your ride and have a story to tell, the ride is always great. Now I can consider myself a passionate motorcycle enthusiast. What next? Gurudongmar lake of Sikkim? Leh Ladakh region of Kashmir?

Lastly, I would also like to thank Faisal Khan, Editor-in-Chief of MotorBeam for suggesting and guiding me to share My Bike Ride Story.

– Sajal Sheth