The call for taking delivery of the bike came at 530 on a Thursday evening. Collected the bike and put on the necessary add-ons like the lights, the lock and the stand, unfortunately my head would not fit in any helmets that were available at The Gear Junction.
Starting from Mattancherry to my house in Kakkanad was both my first ride as well as a revelation. The first thing you notice is the stability and the solid feel. May be as a friend put it, that is the difference between Indian and German precision. Like a Hero Honda and the Honda.
Its faster, handles way cooler and the ride back up via Kundannoor and to home via Maradu onto Kakkanad was over in a breeze. My fastest 25k. To top it all, I never went on a gear higher than 14!
I think I should say something about the Rapidfire Shifters, they are a revelation over the Twist Grip I had on the previous Astra. It is complicated, initially, in place of the two controls in Astra, there is 4. Two for each derailleurs. As usual the left hand controls take care of the 3 front sprockets and the right takes care of the 7 in the back. The shifters require both thumb and forefinger of each hand for operation. Right thumb paddle makes the chain to shift to easier pedalling sprockets ( larger ) while the forefinger paddle takes to the faster sprockets ( smaller ). The front derailleurs work the opposite. The left thumb shifter takes the chain onto the larger sprockets it makes pedalling harder and faster while the forefinger paddle makes the pedalling easier. ( Technically the thumb shifter moves the chain onto larger sprockets and the forefinger shifters move it to the smaller ones for both the derailleurs. )
So the next days plan was technically absurd, ride 114 kilometres to Preethi’s house. On a bike that I just got less than 10 hours back, a ride height I am unfamiliar with, a seat that I am not used to, a distance that I have never tried. My maximum previous distance was 65km, spread over half a day. It was to be a feat. It was insane. Somehow I love Insane!
I started the ride from home at 330AM. Had a bottle of Apple+Banana juice, a few bananas which I never ate and an apple.
The cool morning helped me pull in some speeds that was unimaginable on the Astra and the ease at which I could do it was exhilarating.
The first real pitstop was to get a tea and eat a banana fry. Boy! Wasn’t that Banana fry tasty! Had a few brief stops to dunk in some water in the midst and sun broke out as I was nearing Aleppey. The next stretch was my trips highlighted folly. The Aleppey-Chenganassery stretch, is a beautiful straight line. A slight upslope that had scenic fields on both the sides. But the straight ride turned monotonous and I just wanted the stretch to be over. The road faced east and the sun almost blotting out my vision was not helping. I took a break on that stretch, drank up some fluids and then sat down, sprayed some Volini on my right knee. Sitting down never felt so good. Then restarted the ride towards Chenganassery, the ride was again monotonous but I was a bit more energetic.
Finally reached Changanassery and the traffic started again in earnest. Reached Thiruvalla and the final stretch to Preethi’s house started. Towards Kozhencherry. The only great thing about the ride was the feeling that “The return journey is going to be awesome”. Because the whole journey was an upslope in the sun. Tragic, though I had a few dates and did an electrolyte fill up with to Lime Sodas.
The funny side of the story is that Preethi and her sister were also enroute. Via Train. They started 2 hours after I did and we reached with the difference of about 5 minutes.
The talking down I heard from Ma and Pa for the crazy ride has nothing to do with biking and more to do with care. So I might put a Facebook status on that.My first two days of biking was 142km. Can’t wait for the ride back tomorrow.