Wednesday 5 April 2023

5 and 55

Winter wonderland - Off K.R.Pete, Chikmagalur
These are not just a pair of fancy numbers. Our motorcycle (Kiki) has completed 5 years and 55,000 kilometres. It may not sound like a big deal to many who say, Oh! my machine has clocked more than that. I am someone who has been riding a scooter (without gear) for almost 15 years of her life. It was a life-changing experience to learn or be able to ride a motorcycle with gear at the age of mid-thirties.


They say there are two ways to change things in one’s life. Either take a giant leap and go for it. Or take baby steps (one step at a time) to reach the goal. Personally, I prefer the second way, but somehow, most things in my life have happened in the former way. I’ve been riding a scooter, mainly in the city limits.


We welcomed Kiki into our lives, and things changed drastically. I’ve always been a big fan of anything on two wheels. Before Kiki, weekends were spent cycling around 20 kilometres and trekking occasionally. In 2017 December enter Kiki, and weekends were all about going on rides to nearby interior routes on Kanakapura Road and such. Slowly, the rides got longer, and eventually we reached Goa.


Monsoon magic in Western Ghats - Sakleshpur


A year after buying the motorcycle, I learned to ride and acquired my driving license for MCWG (motorcycle with gear). As with all stories, there is a twist and a not-so-good one in this as well. In less than a year, approximately 13,000 kilometres issues started to surface with the bike. This happened while on a trip to a remote place in Kasargod, the northernmost part of Kerala. The following months were spent getting the issue solved. The biggest challenge was to find the workshop or a mechanic capable of fixing it.


Long after this episode, the number of trips started reducing. Weekends mostly spent on fixing some or the other minor issue arising. God sent the mechanic and now a good friend who is skilled and passionate at servicing (specifically) the KTMs. To find someone who likes the machine he works on and does not complain about it is a relief. Many mechanics always put the blame on the bad quality of KTM. How is it then the past 2 years have been trouble free? I have done longer (overnight) solo rides without a worry.


For a while, I thought Kiki (KTM Duke 200) is the only perfect motorcycle. No other bike would please me. Guess it takes time to mature in the riding space and to respect and enjoy other machines equally. After gaining my driver’s license, we used to fight to ride the motorcycle. Solution to this was renting a second motorcycle. Some were well maintained (if they were new with just a few thousand kilometres on its odo). Some were trash. This experience was significant and a spark to buy a second motorcycle.


Soaking in the rain in Western Ghats - Jog Falls


Many trips have been fulfilled on a rented or sometimes with a friend’s motorcycle. The fun of riding a motorcycle solo without a pillion is the ultimate way to enjoy it. Two-up riding is nothing like two people driving a car. In the car, you switch the driver, the other person gets the rest, and you can keep going. On the motorcycle, even when you are not riding, you are not resting. It tires you sitting behind. The second motorcycle made it possible to cover a longer distance in a day. The extra stop to switch the rider, apart from usual pit stops, was no longer required, and that increased the average.


The 10-day trip around Karnataka Dandeli-Gokarna-Udupi-Chikmagalur on two motorcycle was easier riding-wise than the 10-day Goa trip with one motorcycle. We had to stop every now and then to switch riders. Sitting pillion on Kiki is not the most comfortable thing to do. I admire and thank my husband for putting up with it and sitting pillion to help me learn to ride.


Kiki and I have come a long way in achieving the fancy number of 5 and 55. With the disappointment at not finding a reliable mechanic and the machine not being dependable for a lady to venture out on her own, Kiki was on the verge of being sold. It was my earnestness that stopped it. From around 13 months and 13,000kilomtres there has been no looking back. I always feel Kiki is like Toruk in the movie Avatar. You ride the bird only after connecting with it.

The first shot of the bike