Recounting the Five Lucky Misadventures in My Two-Score-and-Ten Years of Bike Hikes in Sri Lanka


Nanda Wanninayaka on Bajaj Pulsar 200 (A file photo)

Nanda Wanninayaka on Bajaj Pulsar 200 (A file photo)

I have been riding motorbikes for over 30 years now. It is the most fascinating pastime for me, maybe next to horse-riding. (It is too early to take horse-riding a pastime because I don’t own one, not yet.) I started motorbike riding with a Honda C70 model motorbike my eldest brother bought for the family and then went into riding other models the friends use too. I bought my first motorbike, a stunning Bajaj Pulsar 200, made in India, the talk of the town those days and then kind of downshifted it to Bajaj Pulsar 150 in a folly without a valid reason. That unlucky Bajaj Pulsar 150 is now rusting away in a garage after it faced its second terrible accident. (First one happened by my brother-in-law.) I am hoping to salvage it by spending another 30,000 (195 USD) to 40,000 LKR (260 USD.) Let’s see how it goes.

What follows is the narrative of the five major bike accidents I met with still lived to tell the five successive stories.

First Misadventure

The first mishap took place when I was still in my teens and had not even been licensed to ride a motorbike. I was riding my eldest brother’s Honda C70 with my younger brother, Aruna as pillion. We were riding on the Suriyadamana Road.  I was as thrilled and free as a bird as this was a time I could enjoy daredevil things away from the watchful eyes of my other elder brother (Upali Aiya) who was hot-tempered and would be mad if he saw how fast I rode. With both Aruna and I frenzied with the new-found freedom, I was on the top speed and was singing “Zindagi Ek Safar” (the famous Bollywood song superstar Rajesh Khanna sang while riding the bike with his screen sweetheart on the pillion in the movie Andaz) as this was the song that surrounded my mind whenever I sped on a motorbike. The Sinhala language song of the same tune was also popular with charismatic Sri Lankan superstar Vijaya Kumaranatunga as the lead role.

The frenzy did not last that long. There was a sharp bend when you passed the public cemetery and I had no control at all when I tried to negotiate the corner and the bike got almost airborne and the rider and his pillion unceremoniously landed up on a heap of coconut leave decorations that had been used for decorations in a cemetery ceremony a few days earlier. I knew I was unharmed and was not sure if my younger brother was. He was not to be seen. It was then he, too, emerged from the heap of coconut thatches decorations and found to be unhurt. Maybe we both were saved because the heap of coconut thatches absorbed the impact and cushioned us. The bike’s front was damaged a lot and we could still manage to ride home the disfigured bike. I was waiting to see my elder brother going into a rage and barge at me but au de contraire, a calm elder brother told us just to be careful next time. This was the first big accident I had with a motorbike.

Second Misadventure

Nanda and Gayani

Nanda and Gayani (A file photo)

I was newly married and the nuptial couple were proceeding from the hilly and cool Badulla, or in other words, my better-half, a small-time beauty if I may classify her so, and I were on my younger brother Aruna’s Bajaj Pulsar 180 bike. Road from Badulla via Mahiyanganaya and Polonnaruwa was not in an acceptable state of repair those days but we so far had no problem even though I rode at top speed. We stopped several times on the way for snacks and meals and it was a beautiful sunny day with a gentle breeze – ideal condition for biking. Road was long yet I wasn’t tired and my better-half, too, enjoyed the ride in the pillion. I had been advised by several people not to take such long bike rides and instead use the public transport which was less expensive and less risky. But I was (and am) not the one who pays heed to others, especially in things related to my favorite hobbies. We started early from Badulla’s salubrious hills and it was around afternoon when we reached Habarana, the lush monsoon jungles. From Habarana to Anuradhapura, the marvel of ancient civilizations besides being my native territory, we came even faster because the desired destination, Mahawilachchiya, my native village, was closing in. We thought of taking the road passing Anuradhapura Air Force Camp (aka Northern Camp) and there was a bend of which no notice was taken by me as the corner materializing ahead seemed insignificant compared to the large number of bends we had just been negotiating all along the winding stretches I took from the mountainous Badulla to Loggal Oya on the plains. So, I misjudged that this was something very simple and too small to be treated as a noteworthy bend but the bend thought otherwise. It gave such a resistance and bike took its own control as gravity dictated, and not my frantic anti-gravity inputs to control the machine. It somewhat veered and a kind of careened and dragged itself on the tarmac and my precious cargo, the pillion passenger was thrown asunder from the bike first and me next. When I collected my senses in a rather dizzy way, I first looked at my wife to see if she were unharmed and beheld she was sedentary on the middle of the road and laughing out loud as she used to be. We both were all right saving some bruises in me and the bike was only slightly damaged. One has to be really in the good books of the providence above, to be able to walk away unharmed from such a grave mishap caused by sheer disrespect for Sir Isaak Newton’s laws of gravity.

Third Misadventure

Abhilash Wanninayaka

Abhilash Wanninayaka (A file photo)

The other day, in 2010 I was riding my own Bajaj Pulsar 200 Rocket and I was impatient as I was to see our one and only son, Abhilash after some time. My being emotionally overly eager to be with the child eclipsed my thoughts focusing solely on the bike’s controls and the traffic on the road from Isurupaya, Battaramulla in the metropolis to sub-urban Ja -Ela where my son lived with his mother. I was day-dreaming how to take the child in my arms, take him on the bike, tell him bedside stories at night, and so on. But I was still riding between Borella Junction, a principal roundabout in Colombo city, and the Welikada signal lights. All of a sudden, the bike back-ended a car and it was all my fault as I was behind the car and lucky for the car, nothing much happened as it had a strong buffer. I fell off the bike and could not get up till the driver in the car stopped it and came and gave me a helping hand. I explained to the driver my reason to speed and he being a, considerate man let me go without making a big fuzz out of it. It was a drizzly evening and I should have known better how to ride in such a wet weather condition. Besides, roads in Colombo are perennially greasy due to constantly leaking fuel from vehicles and one should be extremely cautious when riding or driving on Colombo’s metropolitan roads.

Fourth Misadventure

Real Michael Jackson, till I find a photograph of my friend "Local Jackson" I will use this for this post.

Real Michael Jackson, till I find a photograph of my friend “Local Jackson” I will use this for this post.

This was the most bizarre accident I met with. It happened in 2016. To begin with this episode, I could safely say that the great greedy Greek divine, Bacchus has failed to impose a bacchanalian lifestyle upon me. I partake in intoxicating spirits very rarely, and only if a good company is found at that, and I possess enough courage to say no to any drinking party if I am not in the right mood or if I think the company incompatible with me as far as imbibing is concerned. But on this particular day I was silly enough to drink with Sampath (aka Michael Jackson, due to his Jackson mania and Jackson imitations in his youth) during the bright day light, and that is a thing I never do. He brought some strong alcohol and I am a person who hardly get drunk even with the toughest stuff. I hear this is not something to brag about when it comes to drinking and the ones who do not get intoxicated easily have stronger livers and kidneys to filter away the toxic material that is alcohol various denominations of which were apparently invented and made use of among warring peoples. Despite its somniferous medicinal quality of inducing sleep, its misuse can make imbibers go berserk with its narcotic characteristic anesthetizing the drinker to commit inhuman acts, and it is what the wise say and I, am one such. (Once, at my nephew’s wedding I drank a little more than half of a bottle of hard liquor at Ranorawa, a small hamlet in Anuradhapura, and had a lavish meal and followed by a good shower to cool down the stuff running in my circulation and rode my Bajaj Pulsar 200 up to Kahathuduwa, Piliyandala via Puttalam road, some 220 kilometers and did not have any hiccup on the long ride since I was as fit as a fiddle even after gulping down such a big amount of tough stuff.) However, after the drinking session with ‘Jackson’ he implored me to have lunch with him but I declined and started to ride back home, Mahawilachchiya. It is said that one should not drive without having a meal and get exposed to the wind after a drink as both the acts catalyze the intoxicating process. I brushed off such talks and continued riding. I started feeling sleepy while riding but was okay till Oyamaduwa Junction and took the roundabout properly and all I could remember from there was that the speedometer marked a lot more than 100 kmph and I was on a daze. Bang! I heard I was hitting something big and hard and I was thrown off onto the right side of the road and the bike was on the left side of the road. To make things a comedy of errors, I fell asleep soundly just after the accident. Then I could remember a Buddhist monk coming and helping me to stand up and asking if I needed any medical attention. I said no and thanked the monk for helping. In fact, what had happened was that there was a used-up barrel of tar, filled with soil and placed on the middle of the road to prevent vehicles getting into trouble by falling into the big pot hole created in the middle of the road, during floods. It had been marked with yellow stripes but I was in a differently luminous world by that time and did not have the sobriety sense to see it. I broke my collarbone (which had already been fractured by another silly fall while riding inside a garden at a speed less than 5 kmph) and still I am deprived of playing cricket, my favorite game, for two consecutive years due to this fracture.) After this, I decided never to drive drunk even if I feel totally comfortable. It is putting others’ lives in danger than that of mine. Moreover, I decided not to drink alcohol except Wild Apple beer, which was introduced to me by a foreign friend of mine which is quite harmless and not bitter like other brands of beer. Thus, I have said goodbye all other alcoholic beverages.

Fifth Misadventure

Nanda Wanninayaka on Bajaj Pulsar 150 (A file photo)

Nanda Wanninayaka on Bajaj Pulsar 150 (A file photo)

The fifth and the most recent accident was inevitable and it happened on October 22, 2017. I knew it even before I mounted the iron horse that fateful day. I wanted to go to Colombo to submit my visa application for the then impending trip to Ecuador. But I was never ready for this as I did not feel fit enough for such a ride. You could say that I should have taken public transport if I was not comfortable with it but even if I did, I would still have knocked down by a vehicle even while walking that day as I was never fit or ready for this day. I wanted a good night’s sleep but my elder sister, who worries about me much more than I or anyone else on earth does, kept nagging me that I should come back from Ranorawa the previous evening and go to Colombo the next day. I was annoyed as I wanted to rest at Ranorawa with my other sister and her children and the cute grandchild but it was not to be due to constant coaxing from my sister. So, I had to forget everything and retrun to Anuradhapura the same evening and without a good rest or sleep had to ride to Colombo, 200 km far down, early morning the next day. I passed Dambulla (64 km), Kurunegala (110 km), Alawwa (132 km), and I was surprised why I didn’t still have the inevitable accident! Because I knew it would happen and it was inevitable. Passed Warakapola (147 km,) Weweldeniya (148 km) and Nittambuwa (157 km), still I was riding but knew it was imminent. Opposite Imbulgoda (168 km) fuel station, I saw a small sign board on the road side saying that they sell Katu Anoda (Prickly Custard Apple) juice and I went ahead, turned to the other side of the road and came back to the fruit juice stall by turning the bike the proper way. Bang!!! That was all what I heard and the thud was so strong it made me deaf for a while and I felt I was rolling with the bike several times round by round and then it stopped right on my chest. (While I was rolling, all that came to my mind was if I died or got crippled, what would happen to my son?) I could not move a muscle as the whole weight of the iron horse was on my body. People around later said that they thought I was done for! Anyway, I gathered the strength and tried to move the bike off my chest and then a few people who gathered there helped me. They were furious about the school bus driver who hit me from behind for the simple reason that he could not control his speeding and they were trying to harass him. I told the people to see if the kids in the school bus were hurt first. Luckily, they had survived the jerk and were unhurt. Having heard the news, the owner of the bus also came to the spot and asked if I should be taken to a hospital. I told him that I was not that hurt at that moment and there was less pain but the pains would increase by the evening for sure. Scruples notwithstanding, I rather let them leave the scene of accident or rather a traffic crime (where in fact both parties were guilty) because if this case were to be reported to the police the poor bus driver (his wife had just delivered a baby a few days back according to the driver) would have to lose work for a few days. Besides, I was to go to Ecuador and the last thing we both wanted was a court case dragging sine die. Therefore, we settled the case amicably and the bus owner gave me 20,000 LKR as damage – that was all what he could muster and I accepted it even though I knew already this would cost me a little fortune when I go to the repairer. A real gentleman, a Grama Sewaka (a village headman) called Mr. Wipula Jayawardhana who was extra helpful in assisting me after the accident took me to his home and gave me food and accommodation for the night. This is the typical Sri Lankan hospitality that is displayed anywhere in Sri Lanka. My condition worsened by the evening and I had to return home the next day and the bills of medical checkups alone cost me around 15,000 LKR (97 USD.) And the cost of replacing the digital meter of the bike alone costs 15,000 LKR (97 USD) and I am not sure when I would be able to afford to repair the bike.

The Sixth Misadventure –  hopefully the final … … … 

This is yet to happen and let’s hope that I would stay alive at least till I report it. Anyway, I am extra careful in riding motorbikes mainly because I either borrow or hire bikes now. I had to sell my last bike for a song and waiting to buy the next iron-horse, this magnificent Bajaj Pulsar 200 NS. I am not too sure if I would have the same patience once I mount my own bike though.

Bajaj Pulsar 200 NS

Bajaj Pulsar 200 NS

A selection of motorcycle safety URLs (Thanks Sunil Rutnayake for these links and editing my post.)

http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com

https://www.msf-usa.org

http://www.smf.org

msf-usa.org/downloads/mom_v16_GS_low_res.pdf

https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2013/04/10-motorcycle-safety-tips-for-new-riders/index.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorcycle_safety

https://www.motorcyclecruiser.com/maids-motorcycle-accident-study-lessons-921-crashes

https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812148

https://one.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/motorcycle/safebike/anatomy.html

https://rideapart.com/articles/10-common-motorcycle-accidents-and-how-to-avoid-them

http://www.mcrider.com

https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/pdf/mc/motorcyclesafetyguide-a.pdf

https://dmv.ny.gov/driver-training/motorcycle-manual-motorcycle-safety-program

www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/publications/road…/helmet_manual.pdf

http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/road_safety_status/report/en/

http://ridermagazine.com/tag/motorcycle-safety/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorcycle_training

http://motorcyclesafetynews.com

https://www.msgroup.org/articles.aspx

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My Journey from a Regular Bicycle to a Motorcycle


My existing bike, the Bajaj Pulsar 150

My existing bike, the Bajaj Pulsar 150

I am an avid bike hiker. Astride my bike, I have been to all the cities in all districts in Sri Lanka except Jaffna. The planned Jaffna trip had to be postponed after the freak bike accident I met with last September. But that accident won’t dampen my spirits and I will go on the much-awaited trip to Jaffna as soon as I get my bike repaired. At the moment it lies in a motorcycle workshop awaiting to devour 30,000 – 40,000 LKR (195 – 260 USD) for the repairs which I can ill-afford at the moment under the circumstances that prevail.

In fact, if you knew about my childhood, nobody would have imagined that I would end up as a biker at all. The reason being that I could not ride a push cycle till I was almost 16. Kids in my village (both boys and girls) start riding regular bicycles even before they start going to school. But, poor me, had to tolerate the humiliation of not being able to ride a bicycle till I was 16!!! Kids rode bicycles and my younger brother rode bicycles and I was dead angry with the innovator who created this nonsensical device called the bicycle so much so that if I could get hold of him, I would have sent him to hell to be with his honorable ancestors. There was an old Raleigh bicycle at our home and it was a very prestigious brand those days and it still is. Anyway, I was so angry and frustrated that I could not ride a bicycle while everyone else could. The big question I had was how someone balances himself/herself on two wheels, against the universal truth the natural position of a two-wheeler is not vertical but horizontal or rather fallen down on the ground.

We had an old Raleigh bicycle like this.

We had an old Raleigh bicycle like this.

Anyway, Udara Mama (Uncle Udara) a close relative of ours came to the rescue when I was around 16. He taught me the art of cycling with a lot of patience. I kept total faith in him that he wouldn’t let me fall on two wheels and while I was riding I was under the impression that he was holding the bicycle from the back of the luggage not letting it fall. But Alas! It was much later I knew that he had already let me go on my own and was not holding the bicycle nor following me at all. This was the trick he used to teach me. I thank him even today for giving me this totally new experience at a later stage of my teenage years. Thank You Udara Mama.

Let’s come back to motorbike riding. My eldest brother bought a Honda C70 secondhand motorbike for our family. That was a hit bike those days as it was a versatile piece of machinery for all the work one needs to do at home or farm. Now that I was good at riding the regular bicycle, I wanted to learn riding the motorbike too. So, my eldest brother (Nayanasena Wanninayake) asked me to take the bike out to teach me and I pushed it to the road. And he asked me to get onto the seat and I thought he would be sitting behind me in the pillion till I was able to learn the basics. But, what he told was shocking to me. He told, “Look brother, there is no point in both you and I getting injured if something happens and now you are on your own! Luckily, I did not have a single fall and I mastered the game in no time. Besides, Honda C70 was a model that made riding easy as it did not have the clutch (C70 has the same clutch assembly inside the motor as its clutched counterpart CD70. In the former the clutch is semi-automatic. Besides, the ‘Postal or Mail model is a domestic production model and better-built than the export models. C70 is better than C/CD50 and C/CD90) to break the gear into different ones. It was all about smooth sailing.

A Honda C70 bike

A Honda C70 bike

My first experience with a bike with a clutch also was equally enthralling. I was living at my friend Pubudu’s house in Anuradhapura those days and a young couple (Ravi Ayya and his wife) lived in their annex. One day, Ravi Ayya came in a hurry and asked me to get a helmet and sit in the back of his bike. I complied. And then he rode fast to his office and told me that he was going to Kandy in an office vehicle and asked me to take the bike back home. Oops! I had never ridden a bike with a clutch. Besides, this was a pretty bigger bike. I was having butterflies in my stomach but Ravi Ayya had already vanished into thin air. So, I started the bike with a few hiccups and took the bike to the road slowly. And yard by yard the bike was on its way home. I changed the gears as I had seen other guys do it and the bike had terrible jerks every time I changed a gear. On top of that, Anuradhapura is a city where you get a large number of roundabouts in Sri Lanka. My bike stopped stubbornly in every roundabout I passed and other vehicle drivers were annoyed and they kept sounding their horns (a deplorable motoring trait in unruly countries) till I managed to get the machine started and leave peacefully. Anyway, by the time I reached Pubudu’s home, I had mastered the bike with a clutch too. And here I am still in one piece after riding motorbike for 30 long years!!!

Nanda Wanninayaka on Bajaj Pulsar 200

Nanda Wanninayaka on Bajaj Pulsar 200

 

බජාජ් පල්සර් සමග මගේ ප්‍රථම ප්‍රේමය දෙදරා යමින් පවතී……..


පල්සර් ඩිජිටල් පෙට්‍රල් මීටරය

පල්සර් ඩිජිටල් පෙට්‍රල් මීටරය

මම මෙතෙක් මිලදී ගෙන ඇත්තේ බජාජ් මොටර්සයිකල් පමණි. මුලින්ම පල්සර් 200 එකක් මිලදී ගත්තෙමි. දෙවනුව පල්සර් 150 එකක් පසුගිය නොවැම්බරයේ මිලදී ගත්තෙමි. මීට පෙර මම ලිව්වෙ බජාජ් පල්සර් මෝටර්සයිකල් වල හොඳ පැත්තය. ඒත් අද නම් යන්නේ බජාජ් පල්සර් මෝටර්සයිකල් වලට බැටේ දෙන්නටය. බජාජ් පල්සර් සමග මගේ ප්‍රථම ප්‍රේමය මේවන විට දෙදරා යමින් පවතී.

පළමු මොටර්සයිකල්  එකේ ඩිජිටල් පෙට්‍රල් මීටරය හරියට වැඩකලේ නැත. ෆුල් ටෑන්ක් පෙට්‍රල් ගැසූ විට පෙට්‍රල් සීරො පෙන්වය්. පෙට්‍රල් සීරො උන විටදි ෆුල් ටෑන්ක් පෙන්වයි. එය කීප වරක්ම රෙපෙයාර් කළත් කිසිම වැඩක් වුනේ නැත. අන්තිමට මෝටර්සයිකලය විකුනා දැම්මේද ප්‍රධාන වශයෙන්ම මේ නිසාමය.

මම මුලින් සිතුවේ ඩිජිටල් පෙට්‍රල් මීටරය අකර්මණ්‍ය වූයේ මගේ අවාසනාවට කියාය. ඒ ගැන නැවතත් දෙවරක් නොසිතා අලුත් පල්සර් 150 බයික් එකක් මිලදී ගත්තේ නැවුම් බලාපොරොත්තු ඇතිවය. නමුත් ගත්තු දාම බයිසිකලය ගෙදරට පැද ගෙන ඒමේදී රබර් ෆුට් රෙස්ට් එක බුරුල්වී ගැලවී ගියේය. ඒත් එක්කම ඩිජිටල් පෙට්‍රල් මීටරයේ ප්‍රශ්නයද මතු විය. බජාජ් සර්විස් සෙන්ටර් එකකදී එය රෙපෙයාර් කර අලුත් කෑලි දැමුවද කිසිම පළක් නොවීය. පසුව දැනගත්තේ බජාජ් පල්සර් වලට එන ඩිජිටල් පෙට්‍රල් මීටරය තවම පර්ෆෙක්ට් නොකල තාක්ෂණයක් බවයි. එහෙනම් ඔවුන් ඩිජිටල් පෙට්‍රල් මීටරය සවි කර  වෙළඳ පොලට නිකුත් කලේ මොන මළ මඟුලකටද?

තවමත් ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ අලෙවිවන බයික් අතරින් සුන්දරම නිමාව ඇත්තේ බජාජ් පල්සර් 150 සහ 180 මොඩලයන්ටය. බයික් එක හරිම හුරුබුහුටිය. ඒත් ඒ සුන්දරත්වයට යටින් ඇත්තේ එතරම් හොඳ කොලිටි එකක් නොවේ.

මෙසේ ලියන මම සමහර විට ඊලඟටද පල්සර් එකක්ම මිලදීගත හැකිය. ඒ පල්සර් හොඳ නිසා නොව, බජාජ් සර්විස් සෙන්ටර්ස් හැමතැනම ඇති නිසාය.

I Sold My Motorbike Through ikman.lk


With my Bajaj Pulsar 200

With my Bajaj Pulsar 200

I had decided not to sell my Bajaj Pulsar 200 motorbike before I use it for 5 years. But suddenly I decided against it and sold it when it reached 3 years and 8 months. Emergence of www.ikman.lk also was a reason for selling the bike. I wanted to test the site. I uploaded a classified advertisement about the bike. Within a week there were more than 5 offers and one of the offers matched the exact price I had quoted. Had I known ikman.lk was this powerful; I could have quoted a higher price and still found a buyer.

Two of the offers came from Anuradhapura and I was more interested in selling the bike to someone from Anuradhapura as it was registered in the North Central Province. A guy from Pandulagama, Anuradhapura called me and insisted that he was really interested in the bike and asked me to bring it over to Anuradhapura from Ja-Ela. Once I took the bike to him, he did a thorough check and again he brought a mechanic to my ancestral home next day and double checked that I was not selling a bike with poor quality. I loved my bike a lot and ensured I do the services on time and maintained the bike’s quality. Its only fault was the defunct digital speedometer which came as a factory fault.

We did the sale the following day and it was heartbreaking to part with my beloved bike. It was with me all these years and had been a part of my life. Parting with it was like parting with the first girlfriend. This was my first bike.

Ikman.lk advertises heavily on TV, radio, internet and other media. I rightly guessed that there should be a bigger hand behind the site and Indi had unearthed who are behind it. We are yet to learn what the business model of the site is. At the moment it is 100% free.

Advertising on ikman.lk is very easy and simple. You can try selling your property and anything legal under the sun through ikman.