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  • Writer's pictureJoel Koechlin

Escape without Kalki!

During the past few months, I have been interacting with Kawasaki, more specifically Khivraj-Kawasaki, Bangalore. I have a confession to make: I am in love! Yes, this sweet disease can strike you at any place, any age. The object of my love has this perfect  sleek body, and she is black (I have a profound disregard towards our desi fairness obsessions). Endowed with a very powerful heart – 128 horse power, to be precise  –  the name of my girl is “Versys”. Versys-1000, quite an uncommon name on our shores, but I sort of like it.


The Versys 1000 & JK in the Western Ghats

I had taken a test ride of the bike a few months ago, with my 9 years old boy as pillion rider, and once we got home he set himself to create a surprising drawing of Dad and son on the Versys: his way to represent the dreadful acceleration was by drawing a little boy with body and legs horizontal, clinging for dear life to Papa’s waist!

A couple of week-ends ago, I was gracefully invited by Khivraj Motors to a 3 days riding week-end — destination the Dandeli Tiger Reserve, in the Western Ghats. And for the occasion they would lend me a Versys-1000. How could I refuse?!

And that’s how 3 bikes from Bangalore, and 4 from Pune — all of them fat whining Kawasaki monsters — converged to meet for lunch at Belgaum, and ride further together till a small village in the Ghats called Castlerock, some 10 km off the highway Hubli-Goa. When it comes to riding, and life in general, I am not so much of a pack adept than a lone wolf.. But let’s break our habits from time to time, in this case the crowd was lovely and I didn’t regret it: nice people, unpretending, joyful, never complaining, all sharing the same passion for big powerful motorcycles.


Ah… Castlerock, Castelrock! You were holding a surprise for us: this incredible railway station nested at a 2000 ft elevation in the middle of thick jungle, squeezed in-between mountains in such a way that we could only wonder how this railway track could have been built, back in the 19th century: clearly an impressive engineering feat for the times, and a well preserved reminder of the Portuguese/British era, with original cast iron pillars and all.


So, on the second day, following a night unexpectedly punctuated by the periodical ground-shaking tumult of gigantic ore-loaded trains climbing the hills — all in the middle of a Columbian-like jungle where we were supposed to experience ultimate peace, in this cosy forest bungalow — we decided to trade our high-speed steeds for a while, against a ride in the Konkan Express, down the hills to Collem in Goan territory, via the Dudh Sagar Water Falls. Oh! Ultimate disappointment! The train is packed to the brim, we are squeezed tight against the stinking toilets, the train moves at such a pace that we would be better-off walking and besides, it parks itself on a side track every 15 minutes in order to allow the never-ending ore trains to climb up via the single track; the humid heat is a killer and… last punishment and not least, the Dudh Sagar has apparently run out of “dudh”, only a trickle of water runs down the rocks.. Unanimously, we take the decision that the return trip to Castlerock will be… by taxi! Morality of the story, don’t ever trade your pure breed against a donkey.

But then, maybe as a result of these tense hours that fortunately we were able to live with great humour, the return journey to Bangalore the next day took place at such devilish riding speeds that the figures touched on the dashboard are, hum.. not publishable.

But let the images of this altogether enriching experience speak by themselves:


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