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So Many Roads, So Little Time
South Indian Peninsula 2010
South Indian Peninsula trip 2-up on a BMW R1200GS


After the European Alps ride in May 2010, I suddenly seem to be a man in a hurry! Having ridden on the European continent, I decided to embark on a different kind of a ride- one that would be very different but nevertheless thoroughly rewarding and most suitable for the SUV of Adventure Touring bikes- The BMW R1200GS. In fact few years back when I first rode a BMW GS as well as a Suzuki V-Strom, my biking instincts instantly told me, here are 2 fine machines for long distance touring in India and it was love at first sight with the GS, although I also immensely liked the V-Strom which can do most of what the GS can do at almost half the price! So it was natural when I bought the GS, touring in India was a must do on my list of things. Long story short I ship my GS from Saudi Arabia to India on a temporary Carnet, that allows me to run the bike in India for a max period of 6 months. Shipping delays mean the trip in October 2010 now takes place in December 2010 with some more bureaucratic red tape to add to the adventure experience.

Bike secured & ready at my doorstep in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Loading onto the container for its long journey by ship across the Arabian Sea

Coming to my pillion, after having tasted ‘bike touring’ for the first time in the Alps, my trusted companion- my wonderful wife Farzana, was very enthusiastic, but somehow was not sure till the last moment considering the humid climatic conditions & crazy challenges on Indian roads. Anyway, 3 days before the ride, she gives me a nod and we are back in business as a team…Oh, that also meant I will have more pics on the trip, all the logistics/packing will be done better(polite way of saying she does it all) and she makes great tea for me during the trip!! Jokes apart, thanks Farzana for being a great riding companion. And did we have a blast? Yes, an absolute riding treat over 8-9 days. In all I rode more than 3500kms in India. 2400kms of the actual peninsula trip with wife and another 1200 plus kms of solo riding from/to cochin seaport & other small rides. The GS did not miss a single beat inspite of the fact that for the whole trip I rode it like the way she is meant to be ridden, or crudely put- “I rode it like I stole it”!

This trip was more about the ride and not the destination. Purely to enjoy the ride on a big bike thru the varied roads & states of the South Indian Peninsula. So, naturally, most of our pics and few videos are shot while on the move by our onboard amateur cameraperson(!) juggling between a point-n-shoot camera & a handycam.

In brief, the ride starts from the city of Bangalore located in the state of Karnataka and heads west towards Mangalore that faces the Arabian Sea located on the west cost of India. From there we head south thru the lush green state of Kerala called ‘Gods own country’ and then cross over into the next state of Tamil Nadu touching Cape Comorin (Kanyakumari), where the Arabia Sea, Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal meet. From here we switch to the east coast briefly that faces the Bay of Bengal, but head inland northwards thru the ancient temple city of Madurai. Then proceed towards the old French colony of Pondicherry that is located on the East coast of India facing the Bay of Bengal and then head to Chennai, the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu. Finally the last leg from Chennai back to Bangalore where the trip concludes.

My heartfelt appreciations to the helpful inmates on one of India’s best & largest biking forum- www.xbhp.com who guided me with all the required information on routes, POI etc. I also had a chance to meet with many of the XBHP members during the ride and could instantly relate to the comaradere & strong passion for biking that runs deep within all of us irrespective of what we ride or how we ride.

Special thanks to our kids Adil & Amal who permitted us a few days off to pursue our biking interest and to my wonderful in-laws who took care of them during our absence. Lastly, thanks to Hella India for providing me a set of complimentary Hella FF50 fog/running lights.

During the 8-9 days of our ride, my bike could be the top contender for the most photographed bike and probably my all-time-on-headlight attracted more Indians’ attention than the recently concluded commonwealth games! And ofcourse, the second most prominent thing was that motorists, pedestrians and the occasional policeman all putting out their hand with the palm wide open trying to gesture that I am riding in bright daylight with my headlight on! One particular biker on a curve with a kid riding pillion and some grocery bags on the handlebar stretches across his left hand (coz right hand is on his throttle!) to gesture my headlight is on. I was amused & touched to see for myself to what extent people go to do courteous things. Oh, yes there was a cop in the state of Kerala who was very unhappy about me riding with my headlight on! I had to stop & explain that it comes on with the engine. He wasn’t too convinced but seeing this funny looking bike, I guess he did not want to push it further and let us go….

Countdown to D-Day:
After some delay with customs, I received my bike key late evening on 6 Dec and the following day was spent with all related preparations such as packing the essentials into 3 hardcase boxes & one tankbag.

The messy room before the final take off

I also removed the front wheel and did the straightening of my bent alloy wheel (which happened during my earlier trip from the seaport to Bangalore and the wheel was leaking air). A local alloy wheel straightening specialist did a very professional job with my wheel as they do a lot of hi-end car alloy wheel repairs as well. Just that when he asked which bike, not wanting to be charged thru the nose for a BMW, I said it’s the wheel of an old Yamaha 400cc bike and the repair bill was a ‘modest’ Rs 500 (US$ 12)!

I know the inverted buckets don’t add glamour, but that’s the best I could find at home to support the hanging brake calipers & ABS sensor!



Here is the complete trip route
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