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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bike Trip to Chirala - fun, nature, good food, an accident, suggestions etc

                                                        On the Vijaywada Expressway

It all started one Sunday when we had our Jukaado family Lunch meet. Our senior student Prateek suggested that we can look at a place called Chirala for our next training camp. Especially since it has a beach it would be a nice place to train. Sravan our manager further supported the suggestion. That night I checked the place out on google and contacted few of the resorts there to plan our camp. Two weeks later the date was set for a trip to Chirala. 

My bike a 200cc Bajaj Avenger will complete 5 years this August. Had bought the bike with the hope of doing long rides but somehow work and commitments kept it far from being a reality. The Chirala trip gave me the perfect opportunity to have this long awaited bike ride and a wonderful way to bring in the 5 year partnership between man and machine. To sum it up the Avenger rocks even after 5 years. It handles well even on wet roads or rain, has good traction, balance and grip even at speeds between 80 - 100 km/ph. Good roads, muddy tracks, wet marshy tracks all roads are like a piece of cake for the Avenger. Secunderabad to the resort at Chirala is about 380km. We covered about 800 plus kms in the weekend.

It had been constantly drizzling in Hyderabad for the last few days but I had no intention to cancel the trip. So on Friday morning my pillion rider Lynette and myself draped ourselves in raincoats and started our road trip at 5:30am.  We had to go slow till L.B. Nagar as the roads from tarnaka till there were filled with potholes and the nonstop drizzle was making it difficult to see them. Surprisingly the rain seemed to vanish about 2km from L.B. Nagar. It was cloudy but no rains the roads were clear with no traffic and visibility had improved. Allowing me to zoom through the outskirts of the city. After crossing Ramoji Film City the roads are very  good even though they are not part of the expressway they are well maintained. We were cruising at around 80 - 90 km/ph. At around 8:00 am we stopped at Hotel 9 on the expressway for some cups of hot tea and puri. We took a stop of about an hour then continued. The roads were just perfect the clouds started to disperse bringing the sun out to shine a bit. We virtually had the expressway to ourselves with only a few trucks or cars every few kilometers allowing me to zoom between 90 - 100 km/ph. It was just amazing the wind in the face and lush green nature on either side of the expressway. My helmet began to fly with the wind it was like a good conditioning / strengthening workout for the neck and jaw. Stopped and tightened the helmet strap and whizzed through the expressway. About 50km before Vijaywada the expressway heading to Vijaywada diverts through few small villages and towns bringing settlements along the highway and hence reducing our speed to between 50 - 60km/ph. We entered Vijaywada to face the worst traffic jam I have ever been stuck in. It took us about an hour to just cross about 2km to reach the Guntur bypass road. The Guntur bypass road is good too but being a state highway was much smaller and had settlements along the road so preferred to stay within 60km/ph. 

                                                      The hills of Vijaywada.

                                          The state highway.

One should be aware of a strange practice of people from Vijaywada till Chirala - if you ask anyone for directions they always reply saying  Right  but their hands may point to the left. So basically look at the hands and do not follow their words because they always say Right. After crossing Guntur and entering the highway leading to Chirala it was a long ride. I think it seemed longer because we were getting hungry and could not find a nice place to eat. We crossed through few villages but there were long stretches between these villages with empty roads allowing us to maintain a decent speed. At Bapatla we did see a few decent places to have lunch but with Chirala being only about 15km from there we preferred to ride to our destination. We were heading to Ramanpuram beach at Chirala. With no rains after Vijaywada people were starring at us like we were from some other planet all covered in raincoats. We reached our resort - Palm Coast Beach Resort at around 1:30 and immediately ordered food. Which seemed like it took eternity for them to prepare I think they went to catch the prawns fresh after we ordered for it. The resort is small but has a beautiful location with the beach in front and a back water on its side. However am sure they can improve on their facilities and service especially since their competition is really well organized and professional in their service.

                                                     Palm Coast Beach Resort.

           The backwater beside the resort.

There are only two resorts at Ramanpuram beach - The Palm Coast Beach Resort and the Sea breeze Resort. The Sea breeze however is the better one to select. 


                                      The Sea Breeze Resort.


Saturday we went about discussing our camp with the managers of both the resorts and negotiating a good package for our students. The beach is virtually your own. Except for a few fishermen in the morning the rest of the day there are not many people on the beach making it ideal for our training without any disturbance. 
                                          Fresh catch crabs- Sushi anyone!!!


                                    The beach at Ramanpuram.

We made a trip to the Chirala town to fuel up the bike and look around. The food was very nice at the Palm Coast Beach Resort. The prawns were really fresh and made nice and spicy. Sunday morning we decided to check out a day earlier and ride 60% of the distance and stop at a hotel on the highway then finish the remaining trip the next day so it would be less of a strain. We left the resort at around 9am and were heading back. There was no rain and it was sunny. Just 30km from the resort on the highway near auto nagar there was this 14- 16 year old boy standing with his cycle in the middle of the road he just was not moving and being a narrow state highway there was not enough place to evade him. We were at about 60km/ph I kept honking and even started shouting too but he just did not move. I slowed down the bike to 30 - 40 km/ph and ended up banging in to the cycle. We skid along the road. Good that we were both wearing helmets as it protected us when our heads banged on the road. The villagers came to help us and I was relieved to see that my pillion rider was alright. However I was unable to land my left leg down it felt like the bone had shattered and there was nothing left. Two men held me by my shoulder and guided me near their homes and made me sit. Luckily the knee had not swelled up which is the first sign of a fracture so I was relieved. A wandering baba came to me and started doing something to my feet and my knees, it felt much better after he had played around with my leg. I had scrapped my left forearm extensively and a bit on the right palm too. Lynette my pillion rider had a bruise on the palm and a slight swelling on the left foot. An old lady brought out some powder and started applying it on the wounds that were bleeding at first I thought it was chunna so was okay but then she removed the bottle and it turned out to be Dermi cool powder. I anyway was already covered with the powder so protesting made no sense now. Quite a few people stopped and offered to help us out or arrange anything we want. Even the policemen that came by to inquire as someone had apparently called them up were very helpful. The boy whom we banged into was fine too with no visible injuries they were scolding him for sometime and then he just rode his cycle and left. After about an hour I was able to walk with a limp though. The bike surprisingly escaped with no damage except a slight bent handle. Feeling better I decided to ride to Bapatla to the hospital there and get medical attention. It was a 10km ride to Bapatla from the accident spot. The doctor at Baptla seemed nice he thoroughly checked my knee and confirmed that there was no fracture and gave me a tetanus vaccine and a diclofenac along with some anti- inflammatory tablets. We rode on to Guntur and got the handle straightened by a mechanic and continued riding. We crossed Vijaywada and stopped for lunch at a hotel. I was hoping to get ice somewhere to ice the knee but did not get it anywhere used ice cold water bottles at the hotel to ice the knee instead. Once on the expressway we were again cruising between 80 - 100km/ph. The last 20km to our stop at Hotel 9 was through rain and resulted in me slowing down considerably and a stop for 4 cups of tea too. We reached the Hotel by about 6pm and after pouring lots of hot water on the knee I felt better. The knee had swollen up a bit due to no rest to it after the accident but the movement was there and pain free so I knew there was no fracture. Applied lots of Capsidol gel on it and slept. The burning from the Capsidol gel was really helping in soothing the swelling. Next day we started at about 10am and reached the city by 12pm. Luckily it was not raining and we could avoid the potholes. We reached home at 1:30 after a good lunch I took some rest and headed for class at 6pm. 

I did get an  Xray for my left knee to just confirm that there is no fracture and am happy to say that the knee is intact with not even a scratch to the bone. The swelling of the knee is reducing too with the ginger treatment and magic oil that we use at Jukaado.

There are a few things that I realized on the trip and through this accident. They are- 

I am blessed with lots of well wishers and some very good friends. It is their blessings and good wishes that have saved me I feel. 

I should also mention the concern that some of my students who came to know of the accident seeing me limp to class was very touching. But they should know that am not going to leave troubling them with training so easily.

Wearing a good helmet by the rider and the pillion is a must as it saved us both from getting any head injury.

My training over the years saved me. My bike is heavy and the fuel tank banged my left knee to the road had it been another person who does not train like we do he may have surely shattered his knee bone. Even my forearm is intact without any pain in the elbow or bone though I broke my fall with it and it is completely bruised. My pillion rider has also learnt to break fall pretty well I guess as she only secured a bruise on the palm which would be used to break the fall.

Wildcraft an Indian company manufacturing adventure gear are really doing a great job. We were carrying a wildcraft rucksack ( Savan 45) which did not tear or rip apart even though it scrapped on the road with us. I guess we should all support such brands that are trying to come up by providing good quality gear.

May it be a national highway or a state highway the government should install crash barriers all along the way. It would surely prevent kids and cattle from running on to the roads like this. Had I been riding a car that boy who for some crazy reason just stood in the middle of the highway would have surely been severely injured or may be even dead with such a collision.

To sum it up -

It was a weekend well spent and am looking forward to another bike ride soon.

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