Desperate Getaway! - A Weekend Ride to Yelagiri

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Riding to Yelagiri did not turn out to be as big a deal as gathering the group to find a weekend for the road trip. Then came the task of choosing a destination that would be ideal for a weekend ride. ECR and NH45 were instantly rejected, considering the numerous runs we had done on those roads. Yelagiri (about 200 km from Chennai) turned out to be the most favourable destination, as the prospect of riding on hill roads was definitely more exciting than the usual highway runs. Most in the group were rookies to long distance motorcycle rides. Enthusiasm and excitement hit a high mid-week, and we just couldn’t wait for the weekend to arrive. Somehow, we wrestled through the week and finally, the much awaited Saturday arrived. After ensuring all the bikes were mechanically sound and bluffing about our mode of transport to our families (most in the group had to!), the 6 of us set ourselves for the long haul on 4 motorcycles.

 

Two Bajaj Avengers (200 and 220), a Bajaj Pulsar 180 (UG4) and a Yamaha FZ-S were our steeds for the road trip. Since all of us were heading from different parts of Chennai, we decided to meet at Sriperumbudur, on the outskirts of Chennai. The plan was to ride non-stop at least till Vellore so that we would cover good ground while daylight was still available.

 

Yelagiri Travelogue Bikes

 

NH4 was much better the further we pulled away from Chennai, and we upped our cruising speeds to 75 from 65. The smooth buzz of the engines was drowned by the wind. It’s interesting to point out that the FZ, being the smallest and least powerful of the lot, never felt stressed while cruising at 75 kmph, with the engine revving a tad under 6500 rpm. The Pulsar 180’s revised gearing and sprockets allows it to purr, where the previous gen would start showing signs of stress. The Avengers were absolutely at home at these speeds.

 

 

Beyond Ranipet toll, the roads opened up further with 2 extra lanes. We were sufficiently warmed up by now and with increased confidence, we upped our speeds to the magical ton. Vellore was our first halt for tea. Google Maps pointed out to a Cafe Coffee Day just a couple of kilometres from Vellore, so we quickly headed out of Vellore. After a quick bite at CCD and a couple of photo sessions, were back on the highway, cruising at triple digit speeds, which was more of a necessity now as it was darkening pretty rapidly and we had covered only a little more than half the distance.

 

 

One shocking incident, where an auto popped out of nowhere onto the main carriageway and hit a bike in front of us, put us all on caution mode for the rest of the journey. Various flyovers were under final stages of construction on the NH4, which meant we had to take time-consuming detours. By 7:30 PM, we reached Vaniyambadi from where a left turn into a town would lead to the Yelagiri hills. With a little help from locals and Google maps, we confirmed the route to the hills.

 

After a refreshing short break and pic session, we began the climb. As we rode into the night up the hill, the chill began to set in and some of them decided to take it easy. The route to the top is about 14km and the road beautifully snakes its way upwards. I was in no mood to relax and started pushing the Avenger through the corners. Bajaj may never have intended the bike to be ridden chasing corners, but all that was running in my mind was how to tackle the next bend. After just a couple of corners I managed to pull away from the rest of the group, though I did notice my friend on the Avenger 220 in peripheral vision occasionally, trying to keep pace with me. Twenty minutes later, after several gear changes and redlining through the tree-lined roads, I reached the top with the joy of winning a one-bike race.

 


As the bike ticked and cooled back to atmospheric temperature, I did a quick review of performance of all our steeds. There was no doubt the Avenger had the most comfortable saddle, but the narrow rear seat meant we had to keep rotating the pillions between bikes. There’s little to split between the Avenger 200 and 220 in terms of performance, though the 220 seems to run a wee bit more relaxed at speed than the 200. Both are quite similar, apart from a repositioned ignition slot, a more ergonomic pass flasher and DC powered lamps on the 220. Though the FZ ran at a higher engine RPM than P180 at most cruising speeds, it was nonetheless comfortable, incredibly stable and confident. Yamaha has struck an amazing balance between comfort, power delivery and dynamics of the FZ. The Pulsar 180 UG4’s extra teeth in the driveline allowed it to munch miles peacefully at good speeds. The seat was the low point, it was much harder, and higher (giving a slight forward bent) than others and unsurprisingly the Pulsar rider was the first to throw up his hand for a stop.

 

By now the rest of the group had arrived, and we scouted for a place to rest for the night. After a good dinner, we reflected back on the days ride, it was clearly visible, even beyond the fatigued body and mind, that all of them thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

 

Now, Yelagiri is not the most happening of hill-stations. Yes, there are the usual boating, trekking and handful of sight-seeing spots, but apart from that there is nothing unique to do here. On the plus side though, it’s a great place to relax, forget the rest of the world and enjoy the cool breeze. We did quiz a few locals on things to do in Yelagiri, so trekking, boating and couple of sight-seeing spots filled up our itinerary for the following day. Next morning, after a sumptuous breakfast, we headed to the Yelagiri lake for boating, hired two pedal boats and enjoyed the wonderful view of the hills from the middle of the lake. Next up was trekking, which required us to ride through some wonderful roads. Our poor fitness levels showed up when we started panting very soon, and we hadn’t even reached halfway. A visit to the top (for some apparently beautiful views) had to wait another day. On the way back we stopped at a couple of scenic spots. This time, not stopping with just pictures, we attempted stunts on the bikes, jumped off rocks and did more such crazy stuff! Exhausted, we rode our way back to the hotel, and took some much needed rest. A long ride back home was awaiting us.

 

 

 

 

Since all of us had tanked up sufficiently, lack of fuel wasn’t a concern, so we ripped the bike downhill and roared onto the NH4 in no time. Life felt so good cruising at triple digit speeds, and the sound of 4 bikes thundering down the open highway attracted lots of stares from passers-by. All of us were now able to sync better with each other. Armed with more highway and group riding experience, we kept a good pace to return back to Chennai on Sunday night. A fuel top-up and quick dinner bite at a CCD near VIT Vellore allowed us to freshen up. Since all of us had to get to work the next morning, a good night’s sleep at home was a must, so that required a higher average speed and lesser stops. Riding in the night through the heavy vehicle traffic on the NH4 was tough, but get back home in single piece we did.

 

 

In hindsight, the road trip, though a short one left us with lasting memories. Far from the maddening city life, pestering managers at office and the likes, we were able to relax, disconnect ourselves from the outside world and most importantly, be ourselves. In all, it was time and money well spent. It’s a much clichéd line after any travelogue, but I just can’t wait to get back on the road and wring that throttle again.

Travelogue Brief
Start Date 2014-06-07T08:00:00.000Z
End Date 2014-06-07T08:00:00.000Z
Region Yelagiri
Route Chennai- Kanchipuram- Vellore- Vaniymabadi- Yelagiri
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