Ride to Rajasthan - A journey of a Lifetime !!!

Ride to Rajasthan - A journey of a Lifetime !!!

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Genre: Non-Fiction

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Eight Motorbike Riders take a journey of 2500kms on the bike in India ... which turned to be an adventure and journey of a Lifetime !!!
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Eight Motorbike Riders take a journey of 2500kms on the bike in India ... which turned to be an adventure and journey of a Lifetime !!!

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Submitted: May 15, 2017

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Submitted: May 15, 2017

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15th August 2012 – 04:30 am – Rakshak Chowk, Pune (A place in India close to Mumbai)
Life is a gamble. You can get hurt, but people die in plane crashes, lose their arms and legs in car accidents; people die every day. Same with fighters: some die, some get hurt, some go on. You just don’t let yourself believe it will happen to you…!!! Muhammad Ali

This is what we believed in and what we told to all our relatives when we started for this ride. 
It was not raining, which was anyways a heartening thing for all of us. I left my house at 4:00 am sharp, the thump and the roar of my Royal Enfield on the 15th August morning 4:00 am made most of the guards run towards the parking to see what had happened. They could not dream of someone leaving from the parking at 4:00 am on 15th August – a national Holiday … But I was ready to take the journey. I reached Rakshak Chowk and saw 3 bikes parked opposite the tanks at Rakshak Chowk. I was happy that I was not the last to reach. I had done a small shopping the previous evening for everyone. Being an Independence Day ride, I bought 10 India flags which we may tape on our rear view mirror and it would look awesome. I carried the tape with me to fix it properly on all bikes to endure the wind and the water and be with us till the end of the ride.
4:45 am – Rakshak Chowk – 10 bikes were vrooming at Rakshak Chowk … we had got 2 additions …
Udyan like the old sailor had come to bid us adieu and Abhijit, one of our riders in Brzzz … who hails from Vadodara and planned to ride home on this break with us till his hometown.
So let me introduce you to the 8 bikes and 9 riders for the Ride to Rajasthan, it is very important to introduce the protagonists, or I call the Lead role players of this movie:

1. Ayush Chaturvedi – Moderator of Brzzz … the man, the machine aka Sabu – Riding the RE thunderbird 350

2. Vikas Bahar – Moderator of Brzzz … Started Brzzz 4 years ago … the pillar of the group – Riding the Pulsar 180 cc

3. Rachit Rastogi – Moderator now … Passionate rider – done all Long rides with Brzzz … riding Pulsar 200

4. Sharath Shivarama – aka Anna, moderator now … he would live on the roads if given an option … riding a Pulsar 220 cc

5. Prateek Baliga – the Young Gun of Brzzz … he loves speed … riding a Pulsar 180 cc

6. Rohan khanapurkar – the Photographer … wish the CBR was a little low, the crash master – Riding the Honda CBR 250

7. Bharat Gopalakrishnan & – Moderator – the Gravity guy – he loves adventure – riding the RE 500 Classic

8. Sarthak Chandra – Moderator now – let me be modest for myself – Colonel Sahab, the Alarm Clock and headmaster – Riding the RE Thunderbird 350cc

Men and Machines
We were all there, ready to rock n roll, and lined up for a photograph at the starting point … when to our horror, the Armed guard from the cantonment came running towards us …. “hey … yahan photo kheechna mana hai” (photography is not permitted here), we could not take panga with the armed forces and we like good citizens of the country started our machines … and with a roar of 4 RE, 1 Honda CBR, 5 pulsars moved from Rakshak Chowk. The Ride to Rajasthan Had officially started!!!

Living with the traditions of Brzzz … we still needed a pic of the start of the ride … so we had to stop at Wakad … for the official pic of the Start to the “Ride to Rajasthan” … once done … off we went.

The plan was to ride through NH-4 to Mumbai, then cross the Eastern Expressway and move towards Kolivada … straight on the Ghodbandar road to hit NH-8 and take a right.
Being the 15th of August, we expected some checking but the intention was to cross Mumbai as soon as possible. 10 bikes started from Wakad, Udayan had joined us to see us off till the first toll on the Old Pune Mumbai highway and we had Abhijit as mentioned before to ride till Vadodara. We decided on the formation where Ayush would lead till Mumbai and Prateek, being from Mumbai would lead us through the city till we hit NH-8.

Starting Point
So all set … but we had lost some 30-40 mins in the course of taking a starting pic, and the 10 bikes roared through the empty roads at 5:35 am on a national Holiday…. BUT…. We were 1 hour behind schedule.

I am sure all of us took the name of the almighty and started. As it normally happens on rides, the first couple of hours are a bit slow since the machines and the riders are warming up, so how could this be different … but, we had to cover a whopping 700 kms today and we had to reach high speeds as soon as possible, as crossing Mumbai was haunting everyone, and crossing Surat by 3:00 pm was a top priority. We had decided that we would avoid riding as night as much as possible… BUT … yeah yeah again … the but … came in … it started raining while we crossed Lonavala … and we slowed down a bit … we were cruising at 70 – 80 by then … but this is not what we had planned … we had to move at 90 at least … but this is the life of a rider … !!! We were at Vashi at 8:00, which was ok, but as I said, as per the plan we were running 1 hour behind schedule … now the real test … how long would it take us to cross Mumbai. We halted for a quick sync up and change the lead, as Prateek would lead the group now, being aware of all the roads of Mumbai.

We saw, people doing the pranayama, some walking briskly, some people doing some weird yoga … staring at us as if they have seen aliens … I am sure they did not expect 10 bikes roaring past them on 15th August with Saddle bags and in full riding gear … but we could not enjoy their white faces for long since we had a plan in place and we had to cross Mumbai asap. We were lucky that we didn’t get enough traffic and not even rain … which is a surprise for Mumbai and 15th August … as most of us have the memory of a few things when it comes to 15th August ….. 1. The march past in School, 2. The laddu and samosa after the march-past, which turned to Frooti later and 3. Rain …

The first 2 were out of question now … but surely the third has been there ever since we left school … but we didn’t get Rain, except little in Lonavala earlier … which was a big benefit, as we could maintain speeds as we desired. We turned left on the Ghodbandar road, and wah … 9:10 am we had crossed Mumbai and we were at the Red Light to Take a right on NH-8 … NH-8 had to be our proxy home for the next 3-4 days as we would be spending 10-12 hours on this very road … so we loved to take that right turn … !!! Once we were on Nh-8… we had to stop for Breakfast, as you know by now, at Bladerunnerzzz … we love the following; Roads, Destinations, friends and Food.

We have been riding for almost 4 hours now and we and the machines wanted a break … so we stopped a km after we took the right on NH-8 for breakfast.

Wow … the first pit stop … the machines are doing well, all riders are feeling great and the best part … we had crossed Mumbai. Just for your knowledge, we Bladerunnerzzz are often called “Bhukkadrunnerzzz” ‘cause we are always hungry. All the nine Bikes and 10 people took off the gear, and took the table where we would hog … normally we need the same size of the table to keep our riding gear as we are sitting to have food. Luckily this place didn’t have any other travellers who had stopped by, and we had the luxury of using the entire place to ourselves.


Breakfast- Day1
The order was simple – 6 plate idli, 4 plate wada, 4 dosas, 3 omlettes, 6 wada pav and 20 cups pf tea … sounds a little dangerous …. But Plz don’t forget we are Bhukkadrunnerzzz … we need to have the energy to ride for another 500 kms…!!!

15th August 2012 – 10:30 am – NH-8 (160 kms)
The breakfast was over and all of us were full … ready to burn the rubber now. NH-8 is debatably one of the best roads of the country, 6 lanes excellent condition of the roads …!!!! WOW
We started cruising and soon we were touching 85-90 kmph … it was indeed a pleasure to ride on those roads.
We were cruising, and with a few stops for Sutta and water and nature’s call … we crossed the Maharashtra Border to enter Gujarat … excellent roads … excellent weather … and we were cruising towards our destination. BUT …. Haha … yes the but ….
When we entered Gujarat, it started getting hotter … and with all the riding gear we were all slowly boiling … so that stops increased and speed decreased …!!

15th August 2012 – 1:00pm– Vapi, Gujarat – NH-8 (290 kms) 

It was 1:00 pm … at least 32-34 degrees … we were crossing Vapi … we had come about 300 kms and some vehicles needed a re-fuelling as the next big place would be Surat another 125 kms ahead … so we thought let’s sync up, as we were now divided into 2-3 groups … some had gone ahead, some had fallen behind … so sync up at Vapi was obvious …!!!! And lo … we were just 8 bikes…. Surprisingly Rohan on his CBR 250 was missing …!!! Now we were not sure if he was ahead or he was behind…!!!
We all tried to recall who was behind Rohan and who was ahead … 10 mins, 15 mins …. We had no clue where he was…. Stopping at Vapi was not scheduled earlier so he may just have gone pass … but we were not sure.
Another 5 mins … and far we see a red bike with a guy with riding gear … yeah … Rohan was there… he had stopped for fuel.
Now around 1:30 pm … we were still 122 kms from Surat … this was our first checkpoint in the morning. This seemed difficult now, some people were hungry, but it was very hot … so we decided to be on liquids and move …

15th August 2012 – 2:15pm –Valsad, Gujarat – NH-8 (325 kms)

We crossed Valsad in 35-40 mins once we started from Vapi … the roads were awesome, 6 lane, disciplined traffic … being a holiday and a long weekend … we were being overtaken by cars where the entire family was going on a holiday, and the kids and the passerby would come near our bikes and start shouting “kahan se aa rahe ho aap log?” “Kahan jaa rahe ho?” … we at 90-100 kmph would have to answer them … coming from Pune … going to Rajasthan … and they would pass funny comments … Bike pe …!!!

What do they think … we are riding the bike from Pune to Surat and then board the train to Rajasthan …!!! But for most of them we were the biggest entertainment on the highway….!!! U can imagine … 9 bikes … in full gear … some would call us … “who dhoom waale … dekho “as if we are coming straight from the shooting of Dhoom-3 … and doing a reiki for Aamir Khan !!! But it was fun … it is nice to see the faces of kids who enjoy it soo much …. “Hey mumma mumma … see racers”


15th August 2012 – 3:25pm –Navsari, Gujarat – NH-8 (385 kms)

The First Check point of 3:00 pm had crossed … we were still 35 kms from Surat… and all of us were burning in the heat … but we carried on …!!! But now the water breaks became quite frequent.

15th August 2012 – 4:25pm –Surat, Gujarat – NH-8 (420 kms)
It was 4:25 pm … we were 1 hour 30 mins behind schedule and as per our discussion a day before; we may now stop at Vadodara and not ride till Ahmedabad. Everyone was quite tired, the Gatorade and the Red Bull was the only thing pushing everyone hard.
We stopped at a petrol pump where I had to get the re-fuelling done and couple of other guys also had to re-fuel. There was a small shop where everyone jumped on for cold drinks and tea … we did not stop for Lunch so everyone was hungry and we had to take a decision now.

The decision: Now the crucial decision needs to be taken.
Fact 1:- Surat – Vadodara – 150 kms
Fact 2:- Surat – Ahmedabad – 280 kms + distance we will have to travel in the city to reach the hotel
Fact 3:- we have no Bookings in Vadodara
Fact 4:- We have a booking for a Free Stay in Ahmedabad
Fact 5:- The average speed till now has been around 50-55 kmph
Inference 1:– we can reach Vadodara in another 3 hours – around 7:30 pm
Inference 2:- We can reach Ahmedabad by 10 – 10:30 pm as per the current average

Now, we had to take a call … One fact which we had not considered, which was very crucial was Bharuch, which was 70 kms from where we had stopped … there is a bridge you need to cross in Bharuch which is single way … there is some construction going and there are heavy traffic jams at that place … now we were not sure that what time can we even got to Vadodara.
So not wasting much time, and postponing the discussion to take the decision where to halt in the night, we thought of moving and first cross Bharuch and then take a call. Now seeing the time we decided to finally RIP …. Hey not rest in peace but to really rip the roads apart
 ? … off we went … after the much required water and cold drink break.

15th August 2012 – 5:10 pm – Bharuch, Gujarat – NH-8 (500 kms)

We had really ripped the roads and covered a whopping 80 kms in less than 45 mins … and to the delight of all; we crossed the bridge … the much controversial bridge in 10 mins.
At 5:15 we had crossed Bharuch and were 75 kms from Vadodara … now the spirits were high since we were ripping … but a couple of guys were too tired and wanted to stay in Vadodara … we crossed the toll after Bharuch and stopped to decide what to do …. All the facts and inferences were considered again … now the weather was also a little pleasant as the sun god was not as scorching as it was a couple of hours back.

Rachit’s hometown is Vadodara and he expressed the desire to stay with family overnight and join us in Ahmedabad the next morning before we leave for Udaipur, as per the initial plan. Most of us, Ayush, Vikas, Sharath, Prateek and me determined to go all the way to Ahmedabad … what this meant was – 200 kms to go and it was already 5:15. But we decided that we have to cover the maximum distance today so that the next day is easy on us and we can leave Ahmedabad a little late. But Rachit wanted to stay at Vadodara and we knew that he can catch up in the morning and move together to Udaipur. Bharat who was with his wife was very tired and decided not to go till Ahmedabad, and we decided that Bharat may stay at rachit’s place and next morning both of them can leave early to catch with us in Ahmedabad and we move together to Udaipur.

Now there were 2 groups made:
Vadodara group – Rachit, Bharat & Rachna and Abhijit (who was riding till Vadodara – his hometown)
Ahmedabad group – Ayush, Sharath, Prateek, Rohan, Vikas and Myself
Off the groups went …!!!


15th August 2012 – 6:15pm – Vadodara, Gujarat – NH-8 (570 kms)

Would you believe it … we were standing on the Vadodara – Ahmedabad by Pass at 6:25 pm … we had covered 65 kms in 45 mins again … and it was still not dark …!!! Wow!!! Now another 125 kms left and we are in Ahmedabad. Our spirits were high and we stopped for a final water and red bull break … we were glad that we have done 140 kms in the last 2 hours … this is what Brzzz is … !!! Now we were in full control of our machines and the roads and nothing could stop us now.

Oh … we didn’t know!!!!

We spent a good 15-20 mins having water, juices, Gatorade, red bull… washing our faces … as we were very confident that we are in hitting range now … 120 kms .. With the way we are riding should not take us more than 90 mins.
But …. Yes the last but of the day … which was the worst …. But, we didn’t know that 2 wheelers were not allowed on the Vadodara – Ahmedabad Express-way and we had to take the old highway … which was not the 6 lane highway we have been getting, but a single road with oncoming traffic … a narrow 2 lane highway …!!!! And we were screwed.
After 12 hours … 570 kms … riding with trucks and Busses and taxis and cars coming straight on your face was horrifying. Our plan went for a complete toss…

 


15th August 2012 – 7:15pm– Vadodara – Ahmedabad Highway, Gujarat – NH-8 (610 kms)
The roads were narrow … there were lots of Buses and trucks and it was dark … all the vehicles were showing off their headlights and trying to prove that how strong they were … in the process blinding us every 10 mins…!!! We took a small halt and I decided to lead, experience does matter … I took the lead and started cruising from 50 to 60 to 70 … !!! 

BUT …..
It is easy to see your fellow riders in the rear view mirror in the daylight, and if the one behind you falls behind, you may slow down and stop, but at night is actually impossible to see if the vehicle behind you is one of your group members … and yes the same thing happened.

I was leading, followed by Prateek, Sharath and Rohan. Vikas and Ayush were together and had fallen behind. I asked everyone to stay together as we also had to find our way to the hotel in Ahmedabad.

I was riding or rather fighting the lights and traffic and cruising at 60-70 kmph … I was able to see a lot of lights in the rear view mirror … after 55 mins and covering some 45 kms I thought of stopping and sync with all the others … as we had just crossed Anand .. !!! I stopped, Prateek was behind me and he stopped. And lo … there was nobody else in sight … Sharath, Rohan, Ayush and Vikas were not in sight.

I asked Prateek if he realized where they fell behind … but he was also blinded by the lights and had no clue … we thought of waiting on the highway with our bike indicators on for a while for them … !!!

We were standing on the highway in Pitch darkness … the only light was the light of some traffic from either sides … or the lights of our indicators. 20 mins passed and no-one arrived. I was sure that they have not overtaken me … but they could not be so behind … but we had no option, it was around 8:15 pm … we took out our phones and by God’s grace had network, Google the “Jagat maamu” told us that we were just ahead of Kheda … and around 25 kms from Ahmedabad. Then we realized we saw a right diversion some 10-12 kms back and started wondering if they would have taken the diversion. But right now we were clueless … we called Rohan and Sharath who would not take the call …. So we decided to move … and reach Ahmedabad and then call the again … It had been 15 hours and 660 kms that we have been riding … and it was high time that we wanted food … and the bed … … if you remember we did not have anything to eat after breakfast in Mumbai … we were just on water, Gatorade and Red Bull …!!!

So Prateek and I started off heading towards Ahmedabad … it was so heartening to see the signboards and milestone showing Ahmedabad 30 kms ….. 20 kms ….. Finally … we crossed aslali lake, and saw … Welcome to Ahmedabad…. We were standing at cross roads with a huge Signboard saying “Sardar Patel Ring Road” … wow….we were in Ahmedabad. BUT …. Yeah the last but of the day …

Prateek and I didn’t know the name and the location of the Hotel … Rohan knew about it … and we had anyways lost them on the way … now again we didn’t have any choices what to do … we just had to wait to see them coming or their call …

15 mins … and we saw 2 bikes showing the indicator towards left … on the highway these were the only indicators we saw … and realized that finally our prayers have been answered. Sharath and Rohan arrived, and as I had presumed, they had taken the diversion and had to return which took them those 30 mins extra. Now we had to get the location of the hotel …. But lo … where are Ayush and Vikas?? We were dead tired for any more excitements … we all did the routine tasks, which we have been doing since morning, 

Check-in on Facebook about our location, this is critical for our families back home to also know that where we’ve reached and how are we doing, and it was also very important for someone if he falls behind to know where the other group members are…. Technology as a boon …!!! in the process of doing the same, Sharath saw an sms from Vikas that they have halted in Anand to meet a friend and would come directly to the hotel… so now … we had to reach the hotel, Rohan called and asked for directions, once we got all the directions “mama ji” told us that we are 13 kms from the hotel, after 694 kms, 13 kms looked as if we will reach in the blink of an eye. We started, together and made sure remain together till we reached the hotel. Now it was easy as we were riding in the city and were going slow. We had to ask directions on every turn and every red light for our good night hotel … hey … this is not where we will have a good night … but the name of the hotel was good night … uuuhhhh … I remembered “Hotel Decent” of jab we met … I wished it was not the same class … Hotel Good night. We had to go to Sidi Sayyed jaali masjid, lal darwaza. The name itself sounded horrifying…!!! And right opposite to the masjid was the hotel …!!! Uufff….we had to cross through the entire city to reach the destination … while approaching all of us were apprehensive where we were going and what type o a hotel it would be … but since Rohan’s dad had arranged for a free stay, we carried on….asking directions at least 20 times … and wherever we stopped for directions, there would be crowd of at least 10-15 people instantly to watch us … wearing riding jackets, helmets, with bags on a summer night … asking for lal darwaza.


15th August 2012 – 9:15pm– hotel Good Night, lal darwaza, Ahmedabad, Gujarat (697 kms)
Finally we were at the reception … and wow … the hotel looked shabby from outside, but it was excellent inside … Excellent 3 AC rooms were booked for us … with running hot water …. Not the running hot water in the movie “kahaani” but there was running hot water in the taps. WE HAVE DONE IT !!!

The toughest day was over … Pune to Ahmedabad – 700 kms 16 hours … 6 bikes …!!! We were finally in our rooms … dead on the bed … waiting for food, Vikas and Ayush!!!
Vikas and Ayush, who had halted in Anand to meet a friend also reached the hotel by 10:15 … we all, had a good hot shower … and ordered lots and lots of food …

15th August 2012 – 11:30pm – hotel Good Night, lal darwaza, Ahmedabad, Gujarat (697 kms)
We had finished 1 Butter chicken, 3 dales, 3 Paneer, 23 Rotis, 3 plates of Rice and 3 plates of curd … Aahhh … and finally the 1st day was over, and we all bid each other Good Night !!! The day 1 for Ride to Rajasthan was over!!!

 

16th August 2012 – 08:00am – Hotel Good Night, lal darwaza, Ahmedabad, Gujarat (697 kms)

It had been a terribly exhaustive and an adventurous day … and I think everybody was dead tired to know that it was morning … I got up and it was dark inside the room and was very comfortable at 21 degrees inside the blanket …I knew the temperature as being displayed on the AC’s panel … and I managed to grab my phone to check what the time was….
Last night I and all of us had switched off all alarms and put our phones on silent, as we could not afford any disturbance…. 08:00 am … oh … we need to get ready to move ahead, we were still 260 kms from Udaipur … but on second thought, we had covered 700 kms on day 1 … so 250 kms …. Huh … EASY !!! BUT …. Yeah … the but’s of the second day start …
But, we had to call Rachit and Bharat, who stayed back in Baroda and would have to ride to Ahmedabad, on that single 2 lane road … once they reach, is only when we can move …!!! So against all wishes I got up, freshened up and called Rachit at 8:20 am … !!!
The First Disaster … !!! Oh no-one expected this !!!

Rachit: “hi Sarthak, Good Morning. Hey how r u bro … what time did you reach last night”
Sarthak: “Oh … don’t ask … it was hell of a ride Rachit … the road was not the 6 lane as we have been getting since Mumbai … yaar, we reached only at 09:30 pm … !!
Rachit: oh … that must have been tiring riding in the night … !!! And let’s cut the crap … and come to the first shock he gave me …
Rachit: “Arre Sarthak, Bharat is not willing to continue and wants to ride back!
 

 
Sarthak: “Kya ???? Kyon ????”
Rachit:  ‘hey speak to him only … “ and gave the phone to Bharat …
Bharat: “good morning Sarthak…”
Sarthak: “hey I heard you willing to go back … hey what the %#$@?””
Bharat: “Yeah, it was very tiring, and Rachna is also very tired, I think hum log aage nahin jaa sakte, hum waapas jaa rahe hain…”
Sarthak: “are Bharat … just go on … once you start riding today, you’ll feel better”
Bharat: “Oh No bro … hum log waapas jaa rah hain … it will be too tiring, and with pillion, it is becoming tougher… you guys carry on.
Sarthak: “ok Bharat … main Ayush and Vikas se baat karta hun … chalo take care… bye !”
Bharat: “have a good trip, ride safe…bye!”
Bharat was a senior rider and a seasoned rider, but the heat, distance and pillion got better of him I guess …. Infact I also got into a double mood when I spoke to him … I was soo tired and … … let me not disclose this right now … my wife will kill me …!!! You will come to know soon.

But my riding passion got better of me and I decided to continue … !!!
I called room service and ordered a cup of tea … which was most important that time and went out of the room to check if Vikas and Ayush, who were in 1 room and Sharath and Rohan, who were in the other room were awake or not?
And lo … who log to “ghode bech ke so rahe hain” (all of them were fast asleep).
I woke up everybody … and therefore became the wake up alarm for the entire trip … and thus the headmaster .. I used to wake up every-one is the morning and push them to get ready and be ready to leave on time … and invariably we were late on most of the days, and someone or the other would take more time in the toilets or in getting ready … but this is part of the game I guess.

So … to the main issue that struck us that morning, I informed everybody about Bharat’s call … and everyone was shocked and unhappy since one person was not willing to continue. Vikas called Bharat to convince him to carry on, in the meanwhile, I got my hot cup of tea … and for all the others I asked to get ready fast. We should be out of Ahmedabad in a couple of hours.

We also asked the hotel manager to ask someone from the staff to wash our bikes and we would pay him for that. We rode through rains, mud, sun dirt and our bikes also needed a wash … one of the key features of Passionate riders is that they maintain tier bikes like girlfriends J if you keep them happy, they will keep you happy.


16th August 2012 – 09:30am – Hotel Good Night, lal darwaza, Ahmedabad

The Bikes were washed and were shining, 15-20 people had already gathered in the parking. We as humans are always inquisitive for answers … Does God exists, will I get a call from KBC, will my son come first in school, etc etc … and these 15-20 people had a new question on this morning … “where are you riding from? And Why?” most of the times it is wise not to give all answers … the first question had an answer … the second question didn’t … or rather it would have fit into the frames of those people … so we better LET GO !!! They gazed at us and came to their own sweet conclusions on why 7 bikes and 7 people would ride on Bikes to Ahmedabad from Pune … when there are so many trains, Volvo busses, flights to come … !!! again … one of the best things to learn in life, which you do as a rider is LET GO !!! people have their own reasoning … let them be happy with it.
So, after the wash, we needed to check our bike if everything was ok? By God’s grace all the bikes were in perfect condition, except some minor oiling and lubrication that we needed to do on the chain and some other parts. All was set for day-2.

In the meanwhile the breakfast had arrived in the room, and we hogged on to it … even after the heavy dinner, we were still hungry, or rather were getting prepared for the 2nd day, and …… 10 aloo paratha, 6 omlettes, 6 cups curd went down easily … !!! Now we were all set… and everyone rushed to the bathrooms for a good bath and get geared up.


16th August 2012 – 10:30am – Hotel Good Night, lal darwaza, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Ayush and I were ready early and we came down to the parking, we used “mamaji” to get the directions to get out of the city towards Udaipur … I hope you have not forgotten mamaji – Google (maps).

Mamaji gave a clear direction to the Airport and off to the highway through Gandhinagar.
In the meanwhile, we had already called Rachit after Vikas’s discussion with Bharat, which turned futile, that he should meet us at 11:30 in Gandhinagar. Rachit, being from Gujarat, told us where he would be waiting for us … and we did not understand a bit, but we were sure we would ask and reach the place where we needed to meet.

Once we knew the directions, another important task was to get re-fuelled and check the air pressure etc. so we needed a good petrol pump where we will get the basics done.
16th August 2012 – 11:00am – Day-2 Ride Starts
We were off at 11:00 am, 6 Bikes vrooming through the roads of Ahmedabad … cannot really call in Vrooming, as it was a working day and there was heavy traffic, so we cruised along TOGETHER … as most of us were not sure of the directions, so no-one could afford to fall behind.

We went through Mirzapur Road, Shahibagh, to reach the Airport Road.
We were about to be “Shot” …. Twice !!!
First, We reached Pune Airport, and had to go straight, I don’t know what happened, and someone turned right towards the airport, I moved straight and saw no-one behind me … I stopped and turned back to see everyone riding towards the airport … we had taken a wrong turn inside.

This is how we look when in full gears and riding

If you observe carefully, only the eyes are visible, that too if the Visor of the helmet is white … if that is tinted, even that is not visible, and mostly all of the riding gears come black … So we look not better than terrorists. This though got reinforced when seeing 6 bikes in the way we were, vrooming towards the airport … we had to go till the terminal to take a U turn… 
and suddenly we saw from a distance, all security guards, CISF or BSF or don’t know what … but loading their guns and getting alert seeing us … the distance from the right turn to the Check Point was not more than 300 mts … but this was the deadliest 300 mts we had done in the last 36 hours … !!! The only prayer all of us had was … “they should not shoot…..they should not shoot“ .. .we slowed down and when the first biker reached 10 mts from the post, he shouted … “Bhaiya/Sir (don remember as I was now at the back) … Udaipur ke liye Kaun si road leni hai?”

The guard realized … these are some new jokers in the city … and they are coming towards the airport to ask the way to Udaipur …. But sense prevailed to him I guess and he told us to take a u turn … and from the circle take the right …. Then straight through Gandhinagar and hit the highway …”

All of us greeted with him with the most courteous “Thank you” we had ever used in Life.
Second time we were about to get shot, will come soon …

Now … we actually Vroomed and were on our way … yes the correct road.
I the meanwhile Rachit had arrived and we had to meet Rachit near a circle near Akshardham in Gandhinagar, and obviously … we missed the circle where we were supposed to meet. But we could see signposts of Udaipur and Akshardham, which reinforced that we were going in the right direction and we thought we would keep going till some prominent landmark and call him.

16th August 2012 – Noon – Akshardham Temple, Gandhinagar, Gujarat (730 kms)

Aksharadham temple
We were on Highway 8C, and crossed the Raj Bhawan, we were now riding in the original formation, Ayush leading and Vikas and I were Sweeping … Vikas had an idea that let’s stop at the Raj bhawan for a Pic …. !!!

Don’t worry sense prevailed, and as terrorists look alike, the second threat on life, after the airport was not warranted so fast. So we just went passed, enjoying the empty roads and the view and to top it all, the amazing cloudy weather. I guess Sun Gods had taken enough of our test the previous day and it was cloudy today … and very pleasant even at noon.
We were riding past the Raj Bhawan appreciating the good roads and beauty of Gujarat … let me comment, with no bias or political involvement, Mr. Narendra Modi, hats off to you … it is just a pleasure coming to Gujarat. Beautiful, well maintained roads, amazing infrastructure, industries … wow.

Let’s come back … we were at Sector 20, Gandhinagar and Akshardham Temple was on our left.. we had not scheduled a sight-seeing of Ahmedabad and hence stopping at Akshrdham was not in the initial plan. But we decided, let’s go and stop opposite the temple, click some pics and call Rachit there … he must be nearby and this is big landmark … !!
So, we took the left to stop right opposite the Akshardham gate.
Second threat to Life came here !!!

There are 3 guard posts outside the main gate, and the moment those guards saw 6 bikes (with 2 bullets), the sound of the silencer could shake the roads … took a turn towards the temple, they got alarmed, I don’t know what they felt, but they again starting loading as if there was a terrorist attack at the Akshardham Temple, Gandhinagar.

We had to stop immediately opposite the temple gate, there are some food stalls across the main gate and we stopped near one of the stalls … as I have told you earlier, a crowd gathered near us the moment we stopped, they were more interested to watch 6 jokers in Heavy jackets, Knee Guards, Elbow Guards, Saddle Bags, All Black … rather than going to the temple …!!!

In the meanwhile I rushed towards one of the Guard Check posts to make him understand that we are Honorable Citizens of this country and no terrorists … after much discussion he cooled down to ask the same questions which we have answered a million times in the last 36 hours … where ? when ? why ? etc etc.

During my discussion with the guard 2 things were done, we called Rachit to meet us t Akshardham temple, who informed that he will take not more than 10 mins to reach there … which was good, and second Ayush, took out his camera.  Just to inform you, Rohan and Ayush were the Official Photographers of the ride, all the pics you are seeing are clicked by either one of those.

Akshardham Temple- Gandhinagar

So Ayush started taking his angles, and suddenly the Guards shouted again … hey no pics allowed … !!! people who have been to Akshardham would know, you are not allowed to take pics inside the temple or even from the gate. But he managed to sneak one … the long shot !!!

Akshardham Temple The guard Posts in front of Akshardham
Rachit arrived in 10 mins and we left for the NH-8 towards the Royal Rajasthan.
16th August 2012 – 12:30 pm – back on NH-8, Gujarat (740 kms)
At 30 mins past noon, we started and passed through the Gandhinagar Thermal Power Station on our left,  Took a left, Passed the CRPF camp … to hit NH-8 at Chiloda.
Yippee .. we were back on NH-8, After the torturous ride of Baroda to Ahmedabad, the 6 lane highway was a pleasure to ride on.


16th August 2012 – 01:10 pm – Tropic of Cancer, Gujarat (777 kms)

We at the Tropic of Cancer

Exactly after 37 kms after hitting the Highway … Ayush applied brakes … Now we were cruising at 90-100 kmph speeds … the roads were amazing, very less traffic … it was indeed a pleasure riding and as I told you earlier, Sun Gods were not harsh on us today, so the clouds made the riding more pleasurable. So this sudden brakes alerted everyone … !!!! and he a gave an indicator to left to stop. We saw a blue board with something written on it from a distance … as we came closer:


Crossing the Tropic Of Cancer

Once we had our rounds of pics and upload pics on facebook we started moving forward … in the meanwhile Sharath and Prateek must have travelled another 20-30 kms … we were expecting them to stop once they don’t see us.

We took the help of mamaji again to find out that we were 76 kms from Rajasthan border … we looked at each other, and all of us had Goosebumps, as we were approaching where we started for … !!! but it was he time of action … we started, Crossed Himatnagar and carried on the NH-8. The roads were amazing as usual, and we were now cruising at 100+ kmph.
16th August 2012 –02:15 pm – entering the Royal Rajasthan from Gujarat (853 kms)

Entering rajasthan from Gujarat
At 2:15 we crossed the last Toll of Gujarat … !!! and we were about to enter Rajasthan … slowly the terrain started changing … and loh … we were at the Rajasthan Border.

And obviously it was a place for the Pic … we had reached the state where we had started for … we had crossed Maharashtra, Gujarat and entering Rajasthan. We were so proud and happy that we have travelled around 860 kms in one and a half day and were entering Rajasthan … and as usual we became items out of the museum when we were clicking pics … people gathered all round us….very few seen in the pic below, but everyone wanted us to talk to them and they wanted to see our machines and our gear from close … but our focus was to click and move as we had to go another 120 kms to reach Udaipur, but time was on our side, it was just 3:00 pm and we started again. There are innurable ways how you find out that you have entered Rajasthan, but the most prominent are Alcohol Shops …Gujarat being a dry state Rajasthan Border offers the full range of alcohol, in large quantities …!!! And you realize that you are out of Gujarat.


A pit stop
We had to stop on a petrol pump for re-fuelling.


16th August 2012 –03:15 pm –Royal Rajasthan – petrol pump, Shooting reiki for” Dhoom-3” (860 kms)
We had stopped at the petrol pump where as usual we had to answer the scheduled questions of where we were coming from? Where we were going? Etc etc. when Vikas came up with a prank … when the petrol pump attendant asked him about where we were going etc. he told him “ hum log Dhoom-3 ki shooting ke liye roads dekh rahe hain … Aamir Khan will come here for the shooting” and lo … the word started spreading, and wow … where is Aamir….where is aamir….started … !!!

After about 10 mins of fun, we literally had to run from that petrol pump, as the public would kidnap us until we show them where Aamir Khan was !!! but we managed to sneak out and rushed to find the first toll of Rajasthan about 5 kms ahead… where all of us had a hearty laugh..!!! this was probably the last toll before we would hit Udaipur, and we stopped at the toll to grab something to drink and move ahead. We did not have lunch and everyone was hungry, but we though not to stop now and hit Udaipur because of 2 reasons:
We wanted to have good food, and Udaipur was the place to be, relax and have food
We got a call from the Hotel Owner in Udaipur, who had sponsored our stay at his hotel, yes yes….sponsored… to ask when are we reaching, as some people are waiting for us.

We had no clue what was he upto, and we decided to take this small halt and then ride non-stop to Udaipur.

A little show off please … me with the Bullets!!! The 2 thunderbirds … mine and Ayush.

 

16th August 2012 –05:00 pm – Hotel Broadway, Udaipur (1000 kms)
Wow … Our trip meters were reading 0 again … we had done 1000 kms from Pune. It was an awesome feeling, 1000 kms in 2 days was scintillating, with the number of stops we took, it was an unbelievable feet, all 7 riders reaching together at Hotel broadway was awesome.

I want to highlight, before I tell you the action packed Udaipur, the last 100 kms, which are necessary to mention. As I told you before, the terrain had changed the moment we reached Rajasthan, it was an amazing 100 kms … we were riding past beautiful hillocks and villages, especially after Kherwara, we were going through winding roads and a very beautiful terrain, with the sun going down …!!!

We were at the Udaipur entry to get the directions of the Hotel, and after 1000 kms and 3 states, it was not difficult to find the location.


OMG….Oh My God !!!

Hey I am not referring to the movie … but we got a shock when we reached Udaipur, as I told you, the hotel owner called us a couple of hours and told us that someone is waiting for us…and lo … the moment we were entering the hotel, 5 cameramen started clicking pictures. We had no options but to stop … and suddenly it was paparazzi all around… we did not understand what is happening, when suddenly I heard a voice … “Sarthak ji” … Sarthak ji … and I understood it could be Vishal burman – the owner of Hotel Broadway, whom I had spoken to innumerable times from Pune for the booking and sponsorship … and there couldn’t be anyone else in Udaipur who would know my name.

Vishal Burman: “Sarthak ji … I called the local press to cover your Independence Day trip”
Me: “why sir …??? At-least you could have informed us!”

But the time for all these questions was a bit later I guess, as we were surrounded by the press photographers, and like the new wed bride and groom, they wanted different poses of us … ufff … it was ridiculous after a whole day ride !!! but nevertheless, the reality was….we were enjoying the attention !!

Our Independence day ride became a Peace ride !!!!

After the photo session … 4 press reporters wanted to speak to the group leader, with the skill of writing and oration, I was the obvious choice. We had Ayush and vikas, who were senior riders on the group but I took the center stage … and yes yes … I gave a full length interview … !!!

You can’t imagine how happy I was when the reporter said …. “and the last question sir….” Finally it got over after 40 mins….!!! And Vishal Burman wanted me to emphasize “hotel Broadway” as the main sponsor for stay in Udaipur.


Incidentally there was a bomb blast in Pune a few days back and there was some unrest in Bangalore today … where the North East people were being threatened to leave Bangalore and go back. So our peace ride on Independence Day was fitting into the current state of things … and we feared for the next 48 hours that we may have zee tv and start tv coming to cover us and sensationalize the news ….

Aaj tak would have presented our ride like
“ 6 yuwak, is brashtachar aur naslawaad se pareshan …ek jawaab dhoodh rahe hain … kya unhe bharat ke kisi bhi shehar mein rehna ka hak nahin hai… kya yeh bhed bhaw political hia….” Uff….it would have been ridiculous.

Star TV could have come up “6 youths want an answer, why the discrimination? Aren’t we Indians and live and earn wherever we want?” someone will have to answer them”
And we would have been the target for political parties … uff … Thank God nothing like this happened and our publicity remained in Rajasthan and specially the Udaipur region.
But certainly most of the people in Udaipur knew about us, which we realized the next day when we were exploring and sight-seeing in Udaipur … !!
Let’s come back … so after the press conference, there was a breakfast table laid for the reporters and us … and what better could happen to us …we had to skip lunch and all of us were very hungry …!!!
I was told later that the table lay the time we entered the hotel, I was busy with the reporters and all the to her five, Ayush, Vikas, Rachit, Prateek, Sharath and Rohan were standing next to the table, hungry … it looked like a scene of Satte pe satta, the famous movie of the 80’s … where hema Malini cooks food for everyone which is on the table and all the brothers are waiting for Amitabh Bachchan to come and start the food.
Hahaha … I love to compare myself to the Actor of the Millennium but I walked with the reporters and Vishal Burman, and off we go … we were honking on food like animals … !!! after we were full, I enquired with Vishal for the rooms …  and we were escorted to the third floor !!!
The rooms were fabulous, I think they hotel had gone a renovation and the rooms were excellent.
We went into our respective rooms and rested. All of us had a good hot water bath and we decided to meet up in my room at 9:00 pm for Dinner and Daaru … !!!
Yeah the next day was a rest day and we were sight-seeing at Udaipur so we could drink like a fish that night … !!!
I better not share what happened that night, as we all had an excellent time with Old Monk, Beer, Cold Drinks, Soda, Butter Chicken, Shaahi Paneer, Dal Fry, Raita, Papad, and lots of Ice !!! you know our appetite and Bhukkadrunnerzzz… from our Ahmedabad order. I don’t even want to share who had the maximum fun and who spoilt the bathroom with over drinking and cocktail. You may guess if you want !!!

 

Sight Seeing
As usual I had the job to wake up people, as we didn’t want to loose the day and visit as many places as possible in Udaipur. We had a plan in place, and I also spoke to Vishal Burman on how we can plan our day.
There were a lot of suggestions but we froze on the following plan:

 

Leave Hotel at 10:30 – Get re-fuelling done, go to Wildlife Sanctuary and Sajjangarh Palace, leave and have some rajasthani Lunch, get the Bikes checked up and washed once, then go to Udaipur City Palace, then to Fatehsagar Lake and the Ropeway….. ufff … it would be long day … but we just had a day !!!

So I started pushing everyone to leave, the good thing was that we didn’t have to gear up fully as we do on riding days … so we can get ready little faster and leave by 10:30.
I can not explain and take you through the entire day but enjoy the picture-log for this day:

City Palace @ Night


City Palace entrance

City Palace

 

 


Finally we were in rajasthan


jai Mahal Palace – Dusk


Jai Mahal Palace – End of Day

 

Udaipur City Station

Wildlife sanctuary from Sajjangarh Palace

Bladerunnerzzz


18th August 2012 – 07:00 am – Hotel Broadway, Udaipur- off to Mount Abu
After a long day yesterday, where we were mesmerized by the beauty of Udaipur, the palaces, the lakes, we were all set to continue to our Final destination – Mount Abu.


18th August 2012 – 08:00 am – Started for Mount Abu(1130 kms)
We wanted to reach mount abu before noon, as we just had one day in mount abu for all the sight seeing, and the next day we had to set course to our way back, and it was again a difficult 450-550 kms of riding 2 days at a stretch to reach Pune on 20th evening. By God’s grace nothing had gone wrong till now, the most difficult part of long rides is when the man or machine goes bad. In our case No Man or Machine had given any trouble till now. But …. Yeah again the but … things don’t go the way they are planned ….

We set course towards our destination, we had to ride to National highway 27 and at Pindwara take the left and then the road to Mount abu.

Now last day, as I mentioned, we had gone for a quick bike checkup’s at our respective brand showrooms, Ayush and I went to Royal Enfield and the 3 pulsars to Bajaj Showroom.
We had asked them to do a general checkup and not change any settings, viz. tuning, brake and clutch setting, chain etc.

But … yes the but … the workshop guys got sooo excited seeing us riding all the way from Pune and going to Mount Abu, that they did all their engineering on our machines. We could not get any hint yesterday as we were riding in the city and at low speed.
20 kms on the highway … we were again mesmerized with the beauty … the roads were amazing 4-6 lane highway as we had got most of our way from Pune !!! and we started speeding up !!!

To our surprises, our machines would not reach even 80 kmph ….

The First Goof-up
We stopped on the highway, and all of us looked at each other with pale faces … “My bike is not reaching 80 at full throttle … said Ayush. I seconded him and said…I am also not able to go above 80 with full throttle … we turned to the pulsars and they had the same problem …. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh !!!


We realized that the workshops we had visited have shown all their Engineering on our bikes and probably changed the tuning of the bikes.

Now what to do at 8:30 am on the highway !!! Our savior was Ayush … the man and the machine aka Sabu !!! we parked the bikes on the highway and took out the toolkits … and we started to check the idling and the tuning … for the people who understand the bike basics … the tuning which normally should be 3-4 rounds in Royal Enfield and 5-7 rounds in Pulsar was way off the mark … and the idling was also changed. That’s why the Petrol oil ratio going into the engine was not good and hence the bikes not picking speed and acceleration was very poor.

Ayush Changed the tuning the idling for all the bikes except rohan’s CBR, as he did not give for a check-up, since there was no workshop for Honda handling CBR. He was the luckiest I think, as our bikes have been tampered properly.

After about 30 mins of setting changes, we started again to check if we are able to get the acceleration and speed.
Wah … the bikes were now able to reach a 90-100 km/hr at full throttle… so we stopped again and another round of expertise was shown by Ayush on all the machines. And now we tested again.

Vroom….vroom … we were back in form… !!!!
In the process we had lost almost 45 mins … and we decided to enjoy the roads again and move as fast as possible, since we would be left with very less time to explore Mount Abu….!!!

We were cruising at good speed and had to take a right from the highway for Mount Abu … But…yeah yeah … what had happened that in the process of our bike disaster and fixing it, we asked Rohan to move ahead and we would catch up with him….but I guess the excellent 6 lane highway, the scenery and the CBR speed took better of him and he missed the turn !!! as we didn’t find him there… we all thought that it is futile to wait for him as there is another turn some 30 kms ahead which he may take and meet us at the intersection where our road will meet the other road…. But this was all hope …. !!!

We took the turn and moved about 6 kms where we came to the intersection where we should be meeting Rohan … and we stopped for a cold drink break … and tried calling up Rohan, and he didn’t pick the call, so we dropped an sms to him to come on the Abu road and we would be waiting for him just before the climbing the ghat.
In the meanwhile we explored the area which has been developed into a common stopping place for all vehicles, so that intersection had a lot of small shops and restaurants serving refreshments, snacks and food. We saw a shop selling Nimbu paani/Shikanji … wow … after 2 hours of riding and fixing the bikes that would be a great refresher … as living upto the reputation we all had 2 glasses each of the refreshing drink. Vikas in the meanwhile bought some bananas, which were energy food for the moment, as it was around 11:00 am … the normal coffee break at Offices.
During our brief stop we saw Rohan approaching us … and we took a sigh of relief, or we would have got stuck waiting for him and finding him, Luckily he had checked the sms and carried on.

After a glass of Nimbu Paani for Rohan, we moved on to climb the ghats, which was barely 25-30 kms … people normally take 45-60 mins to climb it as the roads are narrow and with lots of twists and turns … but after riding around ghats of Pune we are all pro on ghats…30 mins…we were at the toll.. entering Mount Abu. There is an entry toll that has to be paid when you enter Mount Abu, being a Holiday, there was enormous rush, but we managed to take our bikes ahead and were 2nd in the que, Ayush Paid the toll and in the meanwhile I called up the “Rising Sun retreat” the resort where we were staying.

My Sales Skills had worked here as well, and we had got the stay at this resort discounted for us for 1 day. I learnt that the resort is very near to the toll, and as I said before, after 1100 kms of riding, across 3 states, it was not difficult to follow directions.


18th August 2012 – 12:00 Noon – Rising Sun Retreat, Mount Abu (1175 kms)
WOW … we had reached our destination … 1200 kms, 3 states, 7 riders … and we were sitting in Mount Abu. The last 1 month, 16th July – 18th August came in a flash, when Ayush sent the first mail, to reaching where we had to. It was an amazing feeling of satisfaction, pride, happiness and achievement.

 

18th August 2012 – 12:00 Noon – Rising Sun Retreat, Mount Abu (1175 kms)
WOW … we had reached our destination … 1200 kms, 3 states, 7 riders … and we were sitting in Mount Abu. The last 1 month, 16th July – 18th August came in a flash, when Ayush sent the first mail, to reaching where we had to. It was an amazing feeling of satisfaction, pride, happiness and achievement.

Personally for me, it was a huge achievement. Who would have thought 4 years ago, when I was bed ridden due to a severe infection in the back bone, and started walking after 1 month with the help of a walker and a Tripod Stick, that in 4 years’ time I would be riding on a Bike, a Royal Enfield for 1200 kms … I was soo elated and proved to myself that Determination and grit can overcome all obstacles, it re-enforced the feeling, that it is never too late in life and you need to bounce back harder when u reach the bottom fast…. Sorry … enough of Gyan … let’s go back to the ride … enough action still awaiting … and as Shahrukh Khan said … we had just reached, we had to return, … “Picture Abhi Baaki hai mere Dost” aur interval ke baad to real action shuru hoga….!!! Abhi tak to Suraj BArjatiya ki Film Chal rahi thi … all good good … Rohit Shetty ki Film to Ab Shuru Hogi … !!!

 
We were Greeted very well in the resort, with the entire staff an guests wanting to have a look at the 7 Daredevils, who were riding from Pune to the beautiful Mount Abu, 1200 kms. I want to assume daredevils … they might also be thinking as … “what Jokers … they could have taken a train and bus … why ride … “

But we were quite used to the attention now, we were getting the same attention all through … hmmm… yeah yeah … show off, show off …. !!!

The weather at Mount abu was very pleasant, and the Resort was Beautiful … we decided to catch up on a cup of tea and then leave for sight-seeing, as we just have today and we need to leave tomorrow morning, very early. There was a lot of planning and discussion on the return … but let me take you through Mount Abu right now … !!!!
16th August 2012 – 01:30 pm – Mount Abu Sight Seeing

Warm Welcome by Resort Owner in Mount Abu

Welcome in Mount ABu
 

 

 
Sunrise Rtreat – Resort in Mount Abu

Ready to leave for sight seeing in Mount Abu – Our sponsor – Kings Auto


1st Halt – Lunch
Waiting For Lunch in a Dhaba en-route to Gurushikhar – the highest Point of Rajasthan

Lunch on the way to Gurushikhar

Highest Point of rajasthan

Climbing up to Gurushikhar

Bell @ Gurushikhar

Bladerunnerzzzz @ Gurushikhar

Weather Laboratory

R2R in Gurushikhar

 

 

The Day came to an End at the Mount Abu market … there is something so unique about these markets on Small hill stations … the Pop Corn, the Ice Cream Cone, The Corn … yeah … we loved it. The finally came to a close with everyone shopping, that was also amazing fun … Someone from our group had just changed his facebook status from single to committed … and he had to buy something for his girlfriend … and OH MY GOD … Everyone was giving him suggestions … and it was real fun … Ayush had to buy some gifts for his wife, and me too … after 6 days and 2400 kms, if we reach without a gift .. we will be killed. So we finished our shopping around 9:00 pm and headed back to our hotel … we were all hungry and decided to get some food delivered at our resort … where we had to discuss the plan to go back, which was not same as it was while coming … !!!
We had lots and lots of Dinner … and started the discussion in the Cold Night @ mount Abu … !!! here is where the real fun starts …
We had the following options to return:
Option 1: Mount Abu – Udaipur – Ahmedabad – Baroda – Mumbai – Pune (The same route we had taken to reach) this was 1116 kms.
Option 2: Mount Abu – Palanpur – Patan – Mehsana – Ahmedabad – Baroda – Mumbai – Pune (The same route we had taken to reach) this was 930 kms.
 
Obviously option 2 won hands down.
 
Now the challenge and discussion: where to halt for the night.
 
Mount Abu – Ahmedabad was 240 kms and to Vadodara was 350 kms .. the first group had a view that we should halt at Vadodara since it is the second last day of the ride and we are all tired.
 
Second view was, that we should halt at Surat – 500 kms, so that the last day we do only 430 kms … since we all need to cross Mumbai, and people who have been on Mumbai roads know how much time it may take to cross the city. So we wanted to cover as much distance we can on day-1 of the return journey… but at Midnight, after a long day it was looking quite impossible that everyone would get up early and start to reach Surat by the end of next day, but we have to cover it if we need to reach Pune on 20th evening. So we decided, after discussions again and again, that we will start asap the next morning and try reaching Surat, but we didn’t know what was in store for us the next day.

19th August 2012 – 06:00 am – Rising Sun Retreat, Mount Abu (beginning of the return journey)
I, as usual, woke up everyone, it was dark and COLD … but we had to get ready to leave … after multiple knocking on the door, and shouting and yelling, everyone was ready @ 7:30 am, and we were ready to start our journey back, all of us were anyways happy and feeling proud that we were at our destination 1100 kms from Pune and ready to head back home … it has been a difficult, exciting, adventurous and demanding journey till now, but the feeling of pride and happiness was overpowering our tiredness by miles.

Ready

 

19th August 2012 – 08:00 am – Entry and Exit Toll, Mount Abu (1208 kms)

 


We were crossing the entry and exit toll booth thumping and zooming past the onlookers at high speed … and climbing down from Mount Abu was not difficult after so many rounds of Lavassa and Ghats we had done around Pune, it was rather a cake walk for all of us … we were down on the plains in about 30 mins, where we took the first halt for Breakfast, and here is where the disaster seems obvious … !!!

After a long previous day and heavy food, Ayush was not feeling well. He decided to have some very light breakfast and start soon. We had some light breakfast and started in 40 mins … the sun was out and it was getting hotter … even @ 9:00 am we could feel the heat in our riding gear. We realized that it may not be an easy day … we started and decided to halt not before we 120 – 150 kms … !!! but … yeah yeah … that but again …

After about 80 kms the sun was blistering on the Highway and obviously it was getting hotter and hotter … we took a couple of minute breaks and carried on, somewhere near Siddhpur, In Gujarat, around 11:00 am, we stopped, and we had done around 140 kms … where Ayush started feeling very sick and dehydrated … It was burning on the roads and we needed water and liquids as frequently as possible .. and we were still 140 kms away from Ahmedabad and 240 kms from Vadodara.

Ayush, Rohan and I stopped for water.

What had happened is that we were now broken into 2 groups of 3 and 4 .. due to the frequent stops, but we were still 2-3 kms apart, we knew that.

At the halt, we saw Sharath, Vikas, Prateek and Rachit coming .. we asked them to stop, but they felt that we asked them to carry on … so they zoomed pass us … we had water, some Gatorade and started … !!!

 

19th August 2012 – 11:30 am – Sinddhpur & Unjha (1332 kms) – First Diaster – The Accident

We would have went just about 2 kms … when we saw the 4 of them stopped, at a distance … I wondered why they didn’t stop where we were and stopped a couple of kms later … 1 km closer .. we saw a Donkey … wounded in the leg badly … and it was quite eminent that some car or sumo or similar vehicle got hit by this donkey, standing right in the middle of the highway… but as we went closer to our folks, we senses something is wrong …
Sharath was riding at around 100 kmph and hit this Donkey head on …!!!!
We were wondering and thanking God that he didn’t fall off his bike and control it to stop it. It would have been a terrible accident, but in this he completely damaged the Fender of the bike. For non Bikers, Fender is the front portion you see in some bikes, pictorial representation will help !!! ?


The fender was completely damaged and it was not possible to ride the bike with the damaged fender, it needs to be replaced or broken completely otherwise it was restricting the handle movement.
We were happy that Sharath got saved, and the donkey was alive ?, but now we have a bigger problem in hand. We are in the middle of no-where with 1 man not feeling well, and 1 bike damaged.

While we were trying to break off the damaged fender so that that bike may be taken to the nearest mechanic, Ayush was getting bad to worse … he was completely dehydrated and fell flat on the Highway … 12:00 noon … around 38-40 degrees … no-one around and Ayush Lying on the road … the others breaking the fender so that the bike can to taken to the nearest mechanic … !!!

After 30 mins of deliberation the bike was ready to move, but Ayush had become worse, we asked Sharath with the bike, Rohan and Vikas to move and get a mechanic and get the work done, in the meanwhile Prateek, Rachit and I will get Ayush moving.
After another 20 mins Ayush was ready to ride again, but he could not wear the jacket … so we decided to cruise and reach a place where we can make him rest till the time the bike is ready to go ahead.

We were still about 32 kms from Mehsana where we could find a decent place to stop of a decent mechanic, but to our delight we got a mechanic about 10 kms ahead.
In the meanwhile we started and after 7 kms got a toll. We stopped at the toll.

 

19th August 2012 – 12:30 pm – Somewhere on SH41 (1340 kms) – jacked

Now the situation is: 3 people are getting the bike fixed, Ayush is not feeling well, is drained and dehydrated, we have covered 150 kms in 6 hours. As per the initial plan we are 320 kms short of our destination – Surat. Which is nowhere in range now … we are still 210 kms from Vadodara, which also looked impossible. It was evident that we will have to stop at Ahmedabad … or rather Mehsana if Ayush is not able to move and the bike is not ready.
I was getting tense – 

The Secret.
Every minute passing made me tense… why ??? Hey I had a flight to catch at 06:10 am from Pune to Bangalore and then Drive 150 kms and reach Mysore by 11:00 am … to start a training workshop …. !!!! ha…

2 weeks before we left Pune I got a mail from My DM … not the District magistrate …. IT people know this character very well … charting our destinies most of the time … the Delivery Manager.

The mail read … “Sarthak, you are expected to reach Mysore – Our N.R. Narayan Murthy Center of excellence Campus on 20th August and Start the 1 week training for the new batch of ID’s who’ve joined Infosys. Please raise a travel request and also mail Mysore for the accommodation on campus”


The mail hit like a Bofors gun fired at me from 10 mtrs … I immediately called up the batch co-ordinator and informed that I was on a Ride to Rajasthan from 15th and returning on 20th August … it being a holiday. Lakshmi, the batch co-ordinator, who was well aware of my program, gave a hearty laugh …. “This is how it is, Sarthak … She wanted me to go on the ride but the training dates cannot be changed“ I could not cancel my trip after soo much of preparation.

I requested if I could reach on 21st itself and start the sessions by noon, and will cover the syllabus anyways. Like all good bosses and generous employers … I was given the permission, provided I finished the syllabus … !!!
I am going to rajasthan atleast … !!! But on the back of the mind I knew I had to reach Pune by 20th…. And get myself ready to travel @ 5:00 am from home the next morning, and …… the most exciting part was… I had NOT told my wife before leaving for trip that I will be back and within the next 12 hours have to leave again for 7 days … I knew if I broke this news before leaving … 


I would have the face the as usual trauma of married people:
“You don’t have time for me !”
“Rajasthan se hi direct Mysore chale jao … why come back to Pune?”
“Isko guest hosue samajh rakha hai … koi zaroorat nahin hai waapas aane ki”
“Jab Biking hi karni hai to shaadi kyon ki ….
To avoid all of this I had planned to break the news on 20th morning only … when I would be near Pune … that too because I will have to ask my wife to get my formals ready and pack it … I know I would be murdered because of this … but I could not take a chance. But now with Ayush Down, 1 bike broken, still 755 kms from home, after a tiring ride … it was looking kind of impossible to reach Pune the next day.


The Toll Booth Officer – It happens only in India
We stopped at the toll and Ayush was still not feeling good. We had no option but to stop and take a good halt for him to rest till the time the Bike would be repaired.
This was a big toll booth with a big office … I seeing Ayush’s health had to take a chance to get inside the office. We found out where the in-charge was/ the toll booth officer? He was just returning from a scheduled round and he saw us resting under the shade near the toll office building, and obviously, as always there was a crowd to watch us … 4 jokers in thick jackets, balaclava, etc in this heat. As he walked towards us, I had decided, we need to get into his office.

“Sir … our friend is not feeling well, can we rest inside the office under the fan is possible and get some water to drink?”

I could not ask his name … but if you are ever reading this …. I like to thank you from the bottom of my heart …

He instantly said yes … plz come in … and to our surprise, he opened his personal chamber, and as Government officers would appreciate, and not us, the Private sector employees, who spend their 12-14 hours in office in a 4X6 cubicle that his chamber was a 16X20 ft room with a 2 ton Split AC, which is normally kept switched on the whole day as sir may walk into anytime.

It was 18 degrees … amazingly scented room … we walked in … that room didn’t have too much of fancy furniture but a simple furnishing, and that was looking to us better than a presidential Suite of Taj Hotel that time. From 38-40 degrees and s much of disaster … this room was heavenly.

The officer instructed us to use his room till the time we wanted and walked away for lunch … so we were sitting in the cabin of the Toll officer and he had gone out for lunch not to return for the next 1-2 hours … it took us less than 10 mins to take our jackets off and we all were lying flat on the floor … no-one even dare to think if it was clean or wiped … the cold cemented floor felt like the finest spring mattress you could find anywhere in the world, and there we lay … relaxing and thanking our fate.

 

19th August 2012 – 2:30 pm – Chilled Cabin @ Toll (1340 kms) – what to do?
It was about an hour we were lying in the AC … Ayush and everyone else was feeling sooo fresh. And we got a call from the other group that the mechanic has been found and the bike should be ready to move in the next 20-30 mins.
We didn’t want … but had to move … and I had to take a call what to do? The others were ok stretching the trip to another day and take a halt at Mehsana or Ahmedabad, and move the next morning and halt in Mumbai on 20th Night. On the last day, it would be impossible to do 700 kms and reach Pune, after such a hectic day and 2 guys not feeling well.
So with thoughts of what to do, we started from the toll … thanking everybody possible who was there at the toll office.

 


19th August 2012 – 2:45 pm – Near Mehsana (1355 kms) – The Tough call
Vikas gave me directions and we reached the Workshop where the bike was about to get ready. Now the situation:
14:25 pm – Mehsana Ahmedabad – 100 kms Vadodara – 196 kms Surat – 350 kms

Surat was completely out of question.
In this heat we were not able to do more than 60-65 kmph of average speed.
Ayush is not well .. .and even doing a 60-65 kmph was debatable and unlikely.


The Tough call now?
The group knew about my tickets to Bangalore and Mysore so I had to move. I suggested they go slowly and reach Ahmedabad and take a halt … and next day reach Mumbai and reach Pune on 21st , but I had to move. But going alone was also not recommended.
After some discussion we decided to start and see where we are by 5 pm.

Hats off to Brzzz and the Biker community – A Biker is a fighter – We conquered against all odds

After 5 days 1400 kms, 40 degrees, we were all ready to fight. Ayush was not feeling very well waiting at the mechanic shop so he started moving, and he was feeling better so it was better that he starts covering as much ground as possible.

We decided that I will definitely move and reach as much as I can even till late night so that I could reach Pune by next day evening. Prateek agreed to come with me.

So now we had split in 3 groups … Ayush was riding alone, I was riding at High Speeds of 110-120 kmph with Prateek and all the others were riding together.


19th August 2012 – 4:15 pm – Crossed Ahmedabad…what a ride (1460 kms)
1 hour 10 mins – 110 kms … Awesome !!!

Prateek and I had overtaken Ayush and were vrooming past the traffic … and lo … when we stopped for a refueling .. we had done 110 kms in approximately 1hour … Now at 4:15 pm .. we were in Ahmedabad.

Finally in the day there was something going our way. We decided to stop for the others and decide what to do …
Were they planning to stop at Ahmedabad or move ahead?
Another 15 mins and we saw the other coming.
4:30 pm … we were all together and had to take a call what to do. I had anyways decided to go as far as possible and may be stop on the highway (NH-8) somewhere after Vadodara. Now Ayush was feeling better and the heat was bearable, it was not the scorching heat and temp was coming down as we could see the sun going down.

We have had breakfast in the morning and nothing else to eat the whole day … we have just been on liquids. So some people were very hungry, but if we stop for food … it will be atleast an hour and by the time we start it would start becoming dark.

I vouched for not stopping and keep moving … reach Vadodara and then decide. As we had faced the problem while coming, we knew that Ahmedabad – Vadodara is a single lane for us (2 wheelers) and riding at night on that road was horrendous. So we out on our gears after a fresh splash of water, Gatorade and red bull and were ready to ride again. It was cooling down as the sun was low and it had become much pleasant to ride after the terrible day in extreme heat.

Some bikes needed a refueling and we quickly got that done and headed towards Vadodara, we were 129 kms away from Vadodara still through the old highway and it was 5:00 pm … we knew that we have to ride at not less than 70-80 kmph average speed to reach Vadodara before dark…and to get 70-80 average speed we need to cruise at-least 100-110 kmph. So be it … we set forth for our destination … in a disciplined formation.

I would not say we were riding in a very disciplined manner as we had to overtake from right and left sometimes due to a single lane, but we knew that we cannot afford to loose time and speed.


19th August 2012 – 6:20 pm –Vadodara…@80 kmph average speed (1595 kms)
We had done it … !!!
Just before the lights started to come on … we were standing in front of GSFC Fertilizer Nagar township, Vadodara.

We were all delighted as we are in the hitting zone now … we are just 545 kms from Pune and if we start on time the next day, we would be home by evening.
So we decided to stop over in Vadodara, the problem was we had not booked any place and we didn’t want to go inside the city too much and waste more time.

Being with a technology company, we all set out on our phones and google maps … to find a resort very close to where we were – prakruti resort. We decided to go and ask for what best offers they can give us, with all our charm.

The moment we entered the resort …we realized it’s a 5 start or a 4 start resort … and hence all of us stopped outside the gate, ‘cause if the rates are high, we need to hunt for another place.

Being from a Sales background, now a consultant and the eldest, I was the obvious choice to talk to the resort for the rooms and the offer.
I walked into the hotel with my full gear and met the manager at the reception.
In the first instance he did not even greet us. I have told you how we look in the gear and we look like ghosts anyways after a full day’s ride in the heat and dust. But I asked him for the tariff card.

Manager: Good evening sir? (with hesitation)
Brzzz: Good evening.. I am looking for accommodation for 6 people, may be 2 or 3 rooms.
Manager: Did you look at the tariff? (As if Aukat dekh ke room mango bhai)
Brzzz: I understood what he may be thinking, and flipped open my tank bag to present my visiting card. And used the international experience I had to bring in the US Accent… and tell him that we are riding from pune and returning and looking for a place to stay.
Manager: He was shocked to listen to us and realized that looks are deceptive.
Brzzz: I asked him how much discount could he offer us as we would leave early morning.
Manager: 10% Discount sir. (It was still coming to some 1800 per room)
Brzzz: hey give us some 20% man and is it possible to have 2 rooms with extra person in each room.
Manager: We don’t allow extra adults in the room … which was quite ridiculous.

I called up the guys standing outside the gate and shared the price … !!! We could have got something cheaper, but this was a beautiful resort with excellent rooms and we were dead tired to find out rooms in Vadodara at 7:00 pm … we wanted to rest as the next day again would bring a lot of surprises.

So we decided to check in and all the Bikes vroomed into the parking.
Here you go sir … Room no 301, 302, 303 …. !!!

Wow after such an eventful day we were finally in a hotel room ready to have a good bath. But wow … we saw the swimming pool right ion front of the rooms … and God how tempted were we to just jump in …

But to all our dismay … the swimming pool was chargeable @ 150 per person, which was ridiculous. We enquired if the water in the bathroom is included in the tariff? I had never seen a pool chargeable even for the guests … or they had made it chargeable for us seeing our state that they may have to replace the water after we go in. but that was not the case, it was chargeable for all guests, which is the most ridiculous thing I have seen at any resort.


19th August 2012 – 7:20 pm – Prakruti Resort, Vadodara (1600 kms)
We checked into our rooms on the first floor and immediately ran for a Shower … we so desperately wanted a shower. And we were all starving and wanted food.
We had not planned and budgeted for a resort stay in our trip, and hence were running out of budgets, after the shower we came together to order food, and oh … looking at the menu we realized, with our appetite and state right now, we will be broke if we order here, the food was exorbitantly expensive.

Dinner
If you remember, one of our colleagues – Abhijit had started with us from Pune on 15th to come Home …. And where – Vadodara. He had planned to ride back with us and was calling up since morning to get our status.
The bulb ignited in my mind … I called Abhijit and asked him to come and see us, and also get dinner. What an idea sirjee….

We all decided that we will ask him to get food for us which would be suiting our pockets … and smsed him the order …
2 Butter Chicken
2 Paneer Butter masala
2 Any Seasonal veg
30 Roti
2 Chicken biryani
2 Veg Biryani
5 Curd
5 Dal Fry
We were not sure if this would be enough, but the whole bill was Rs. 1800/- which could have been not less than Rs. 6000 at the resort.


At 9:00 pm Abhijit was at the door and we were all ready with the Bowls and plates to honk over food.
10:15 … the plates were all looking like new clean again as we had finished everything … we asked Abhijit to join us and we were happily full.
Program for the final Day

It was that time of the night when used to decide the program for the next day.
I had a very clear program in my mind – we had to cover about 550 kms and it will not be easy. So we need to leave latest by 6:00 am to reach Pune by evening.

But … yes … again the but … No-one had an urgency that I had, and everyone was so tired that no-one was ready to leave so early. But I had to, but who will leave with me … I had a mentos and Dimaag ki batti jal gayee … ?

I asked Abhijit if he was ready to leave with me at 6:00 am? He has been resting at home for 4 days and was urging to get onto the roads … so he willingly agreed.
Wow .. so now I have a partner to start early. Once my program got finalized, Rohan also wanted to leave with us.

Now, Rohan and I were in 1 room, Vikas and Ayush in another room, Rachit and Prateek in the 3rd room. So it was comfortable that I will leave with Rohan and Abhijit and no-one would get disturbed.

After the amazing Hot water shower, Lovely food we sat chatting for a while, before people started falling off due to excessive tiredness and sleep.

 

The last Day – 2 stories running in parallel – excellent and disastrous start
20th August 2012 – 05:15 am – Prakruti Resort, Vadodara (1600 kms) – ready to ride back !!!


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