Travel

 
 

Travel and Technology

The argument goes on, has technology improved our lives or has it made it more complicated?  In many cases, the constant access to people has brought them closer in terms of reachability, but taken them further away in terms of relationships. One area that I believe technology has actually helped is travel.

Again, this is purely a point of discussion depending upon the person you talk to. If you ask my father or his generation, they would say, nothing gives you better direction compared to physically asking a localite for directions. I swear by google maps or the GPS system for accurate travelling.

So when I was thinking about this, I wanted to list the major apps that are available to us in India for travelling. This is purely my list and I am sure there are plenty more , so I would love your comments to hear about them.

Google – I have put the mothership in here. Google as a platform has innumerable tools to help your travel. From Translate to maps, google is the true swiss army to make your travel simpler. I am not even alluding to the search engine which is the best place to search and research before or while you travel.

If you are flying down to your destination, Makemytrip and Cleartrip give you excellent choices in booking your flights as well as your hotels at your destination. With a clear and neat layout, they , to me , are the foremost in booking apps / websites in the market today.

You need to book your hotels, how do you find out which is the best? Tripadvisor does your job for you. Just enter your destination, and you will get a plethora of choices with ratings and reviews and pictures of rooms and amenities. I have gotten so used to surfing here that I dont book a place nowadays without checking here once.

All tickets booked? Rooms reserved?  What are the activities that you want to do at the destination? Tripadvisor can help you here also. But I find this gem of a site- Tripoto gives you a lot of neatly reviewed things to do in certain places.

And if you are a foodie, like I am, You cant be far away from Zomato. You could do a lot of research before hand and look at the menu of the restaurant before you even venture out of the home!

Yes, we are a pampered generation. Elders constantly bemoan the fact that we have no sense of adventure. I think we have no time! On the go research and being prepared will keep you ready with the entire itenary so that we can get the maximum bang for the buck.

However, one thing is for sure, if you are a tech freak, or a by-the-seats-of-your-pants navigator, it is very important to get out and start travelling.

 

 

Image courtesy :- https://alphacityguides.com/sites/default/files/307070828/8528528736_0ffb3e6316_kupdated.jpg

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Categories: musings, Travel | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Together, Forever and ever!

So, up came this very interesting concept that I needed to Blog about. About togetherness, about memorable times spent with your family, buddies etc, and as I sat down to pen a few words, I realized that all I needed to convey in terms of what my friends and family means to me has already been conveyed.

I have written about my family , as my biggest asset, how they have always stood by me ( not a small task, with the kind of crazy stuff that I am prone to do). I have written about my friends, my fellow bikers, with whom I have spent many a day travelling and trusting each other’s instincts. I have written about my Bikes and cars, with whom I apparently have more conversations than with my family! What else is there to write about?

I was on the road travelling to work when it suddenly struck me. Literally. My car thumped into a pothole and I cursed the state of the roads, as is my wont, before pursuing my thoughts. I realised , that the one constant in all my travels, be it on my bikes or my cars, have been roads.

We have always been together. My moments on the road, have been the most memorable to me. I have felt happy at the start of the journey, saddened at the end of the trip, exhilarated when zooming on the open highways, frustrated when I have been stuck in traffic jams , a plethora of emotions targeted to an obviously inane object , which most of us take for granted.

Each road has its own charm and attributes, be it the curves of a Ghat road, the openness of a national highway, the beauty of a state highway or the danger and adrenaline rush that an unpaved road provides. I promise myself this, the next time I get on the highway, and the road and me travel together, I will pay attention to its unique characteristics a little bit more than I have been doing so far.

On the NH17, we need to be just a little more careful because of danger lurking around each curve. Its rightly called the bikers nightmare!

Similarly, the NH4 is one straight stretch of road that seemingly never ends and is a speed demon’s paradise.

Personally, one of the best roads according to me is the coastal road all the way from mangalore, right upto goa. The beach on one side and the swaying coconut palms on the other side. This road will weave you  into a trance that makes you want to come back again and again.

Recently, on our trip to the Rann of Kutch, we found the roads in gujarat , mainly state highways , incredible! we were able to make double the time we normally make on other roads because of the quality of the roads and the fact that there was hardly any traffic.

So what I am trying to get at, is that no matter where you, go, your one constant companion is the road. Be it the asphalt that you refer to or the path that you take towards the goals that you set , embrace the road and maybe appreciate it a little bit more!!

Which is your favourite road?

 

https://housing.com/.

 

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Of friends, the highway, bikes and fun!!

Biking in india has moved on. With bigger and better bikes and new biking groups sprouting up every other day, kick starting a bike and hitting the highway has become another checkbox in the bucket list of things to do.

It’s been some time since I have been involved in what I consider a passion. Touring. Having travelled to the far corners of the country on two wheels , I can only claim to have travelled to these place. Exploring them and seeing them is another matter altogether. It is only recently when I have started to ride the highways with close friends and like minded souls that I have started the exploration of places.

Earlier , riding with large groups and clubs had its own charm. Just the feeling of being a part of 30-40 bikes on a highway and the head turning that ensued, gave you a high. However, it’s the question of moving and doing things that the majority of the group wants and in a lot of cases , forget about one’s own wants.

On a recent ride to the Kutch, we explored. 4 bikes, 6 bikers open highways and 1200 kms in 4 days. It’s no longer about having ridden 500kms per day but about seeing the beauty and the heritage that this country offers us. It’s about understanding the local customs talking to the villagers to see what is the best activity to do there, and going and doing it.

We explored a lost civilisation who taught us that rain water harvesting is not something we invented. It’s been there for 5000 years.

We explored the White deserts of the rann where we can practically touch our neighbouring country, noticing that the people on the border don’t really share the animosity that us city dwellers have towards this same country, even though they are more affected by them.

We explored the cuisine of the region. Oh boy did we explore the cuisine!

From convincing a vendor to let us cook our own food to making a hearty egg breakfast for all to jumpstart the day, to eating the famous thali meals that seems never to stop being served.

More importantly. We had potfuls of fun.

I guess what I am trying to say is this, As in most cases, it better to tour with friends you trust.
I know there is a lot of talk about brotherhood and such, but it’s just different when you trust and intimately know the rider in front and behind you. When you don’t need to explain why you want to do things a particular way, it’s just taken for granted and understood.

To all the new riders out there, a humble request, please try this. Get on the highway with and start exploring with friends. It will change the way you see the country and definitely the way you ride.

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Categories: biking, musings, Touring, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The BOBmc Rider Mania 2013 – The shillong chapter

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We hear of  Oasis in a desert. How that brings a smile to many a weary travellers face, how many search in vain for that drink?

We were 8 of us , riding on our bulls. We had ridden through 9 states for the past 9 days, travelled 3400 + Kms when we saw our oasis. Just outside Guwahati, at Jorabat, there was a huge sign signaling us towards the pitstop that the organizers of the Rider Mania 2013 had informed us a couple of days ago. This was the pitstop where we would re-energise ourselves with cans of Redbulls thoughtfully provided to the riders riding to the Rider Mania.

Our Rider Mania Started here.

What is Rider Mania ?

You have heard of Woodstock, of Sunburn or large congregations of like minded individuals pursuing their passion. The Rider Mania is our Woodstock.

11 years ago, a group of friends decided to ride to goa and have fun for a couple of days. They loved it so much they decided to do this every year. They Signed off shouting out same time same place next year….

The next year, more bikers joined in and during their meet , they decided meeting in the same place was not so much fun. Our country is so vast and varied, they wanted to travel to 4 corners of the country and still meet up with like minded souls. It was decided to make the hosting of the event a rolling trophy. All attending clubs would bid for the honour of hosting the Rider Mania the next year. The winning club would decide the venue of the event and plan out the entire Rider Mania.  Thus began the BOBMC RiderMania.

From 25 bikes in the first year, the 2012 event saw 750 bikes congregating in Gurgaon hosted by the Royal beasts. But to us riders, it’s the ride to rider mania that thrills as much as the event itself.

BobMC RiderMania 2013.

When it was decided that “The Royal enfield Riders association of Meghalaya” or RERAM Stormbringers as they like to be called , were hosting the 2013 edition, the moderator stood up and said “ guys, brothers, you are welcome to shillong, I cant promise you 4 star or 5 star facilities there, it will be raw, hardcore living. But I will promise you 5 million stars. “

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When we rode into the venue late on 18th evening, one day prior to the event, we were indeed surprised at the beauty of the place. The 2013 edition of RiderMania was hosted on the Sohra plateau , overlooking the Bangladesh border on one side and cradled next to the erstwhile wettest place on earth – Cherapunji.

The Boys at RERAM had worked hard and set up dormitories and tents on the plateau for the participants to stay. We quickly set up our tents and set about mingling with our buddies from various other clubs.

Day 1.

The first day of the event saw most of the clubs riding in from various parts of the country. There were clubs from Punjab, chandigarh, jammu, lucknow, Jamshedpur, kolkatta, assam, Nagaland , Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Nagpur etc etc etc.. almost every state had a representation. We even had a club come down from Nepal to attend the festivities.

Traditionally, the first day is dedicated to just meeting up with friends and catching up with each other and swapping bike stories over a hot meal. Some of us who needed to solve a few bike related problems, worked our way to the workshop set up on the site for this purpose.  There were stalls set up to sell biker goodies and these were a big hit.

The organisers had planned a small ride to a nearby cave for us to experience and the entire horde of bikes rode to the venue for an afternoon of fun and frolic. We were thrilled to climb down to some beautiful caves and see nature at its absolute best in virgin , untouched pristine beauty.

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As the evening set in, it was time for some music. Right in the centre of the venue was a huge stage with state of the art acoustics setup for a night of music and mayhem. The north east is famous for its rock culture and its music and it showed. Band after band kept performing and we kept dancing and loving every moment of it.  Needless to say, no one slept that night. Through the cold night, we had bonfires lit up and music blaring to keep us nice toasty and warm.

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Day 2

On Day 2 , the biking games began. We started off with a slow race. Keen competitive spirit and good natured backslapping saw 8 heats and a keenly competed finals capturing our attention for a good 3 hours. The lady riders were not to be left behind and they had their own slow race event also.

We then moved on to what was the signature event of the day- The Dirt track event.  There were more than 30 riders participating in the event. Each rider was given a Red bull and it seemed that it indeed gave them wings. The event was a thrilling one and a grand success , measured by the loud cheers when each rider passed by the huge crowds that had gathered to watch.

After a few serious events, it was time to let the hair down. Fun games like grab a banana while riding ( no hands only mouth to be used) brought many a smile to the onlookers face.  And then it was time for music once again…

As we prepared to leave the venue on day 3, we realized how much we had enjoyed the company of fellow bikers, whom we meet once a year, we interact maybe a couple of times during the year on the phone or via social networking sites, but a friendship is forged.  Promises were made to each other to keep in touch more often , but we know, whatever happens, we will definitely meet once again in one year – at the next Rider Mania. 

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Sore bums, but hoping for many more… The One Saddle ride..

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Over the last 1 year, ever since the Bisons were formed, we have been riding once a month. The boys riding kept increasing and on an average around 25- 30 bikes come for all rides. Any biker worth his salt will know shepherding such a large group is not an easy task, and with me bringing up the tail with my tag team partner- Guri Paaji, we are invariably the last and the slowest to reach the destination.

But once or twice a year , a ride comes along that changes all that. we had the RedBums in October where we set new records in riding hard and just a couple of days ago we did the One Saddle.

In january we ride to Shillong to be a part of the biggest and baddest riding event in India, – The Rider Mania. So we had decided that december will be a quiet month, which we would spend nursing our purse and ham strings, in preparation for this epic 3000 + km ride. But the biker in us would not let us do that in peace. So we planned a small ride.

The Concept

One saddle ride was meant to test our riding endurance. Once we kick start our bikes at the start point, we are not allowed to get off the bikes till we reach our destination. We can park our bikes, take a leak, eat, drink , without getting off the bikes. The start point to Dhule ( our end point) is a total of 327 kms and this would be completed with as less pit stops as possible.

The start.

tai briefing

We were briefed silently by our captain . we realised why he was called the Silencer. The summary of what he said is given below

” brothers, thanks… Lets ride to dhule. dont stop, dont get off your bike, saddle up”

This set the tone of the ride itself. we decided , we were to ride only. no chai pani, no butt breaks of either kind. just riding. We were 8 riders on 6 bikes, the smallest group going on a ride from Bisons ever since we started the group.

Tai – the vice captain of course had her share to talk.. and we patiently heard her out..

 

 

We started the bikes and after the mandatory group pic, we were off….

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We started slow. In our heads, we had a time of 2hrs 23 minutes to reach deolali. This was the record established during our Jai jawan ride on 15th August this year. The number of bikes were more, but we had zero traffic during that ride.

This one was different. we hit traffic out side shahpur and our chances of bettering that time looked bleak. The bisons dont give up and put our heads down to ride hard to our first pit stop.

We also had 3 bikers who were riding with us for the second time and were obviously nervous. Pratik, Milton and Justin were brilliant after the first hour. They got into the rhythm and were a force to recon with.

we reached deolali. Paaji and I quickly checked our watches. We had reached in 2 hours 9 mins! with the traffic and new riders, we had broken our earlier record. A quick high five later ( without getting off the bikes , of course) we continued.

after nasik we decided to quickly stop for a chai. We found a tapri and gathered around. Again without getting off the bikes sipped our chai’s . A quick photoshoot later, we were off..
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IMG_0312up up and away we went. 2 hours and 40 minutes later, we were at our destination.

we had successfully completed our One saddle ride! 327 Kms in 4 hours 50 minutes flat! Once again proving that the Bisons Ride Hard.

 

 

 

 

After such a hard ride, Beer toh Banta hai yaar! the resort ( manas resorts) were exemplary with their service. Under the hot sun, they served us chilled beer in chilled , frosted beer mugs. 11 beers and 2 full tandoori chickens later we were sated enough to take a quick nap..

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But even here the three newbies decided to trek to the nearby fort. the limited intelligence put the fort around a kilometer away. So away they went. after walking for some distance, they decided that their riding boots were not meant for walking and so they hitched a ride on a passing tractor.

They then trekked a nice 6km to the fort and conquered it by planting the Bisons flag on its ramparts. after spending a few minutes in solitude along with the local grazing cattle, they trudged back , taking a ride on a local truck and another tractor by getting our local foreigner – justin to ask for lifts.

They reached back just in time to wake the rest of us for the evening festivities.

The rest of us were still stuffed with the after noon meal and decided to walk it off. A nice evening walk of a km or so to the nearest dhaba earned us some awesome chai. Maybe there was some additive in the chai, because it inspired both paaji and myself to sing loudly , mostly old hemant kumar and kishore songs, accompanied by  Tai.

Back at the resort, we were met by Dr gautam from Dhule, who had ridden with paaji to the hyderabad RM. They had met only once on the highway, but the good Dr. skipped a marriage to come and meet with us. That is the bond that the thump binds us in. 2 strangers who had met 4 years ago for 2 days were meeting up like the proverbial Bharat milap.

an evening of revelry followed with some more awesome food post which we hit the sack.

The next day, we decided to ride back leisurely. Started after a breakfast of kings, Misal pav, egg bhurji , poha and copious amounts of tea. we started riding and stopped often to take pics . Lunch was at a trucker stop dhaba. Proudly announced as Punjab Da Dhaba – the choice of truckers. IMG_0662

After the yummiest Aloo gobi, dal makhani with dollops of butter , chicken handi and innumerable roti’s later, we literarily rolled out and sped our way towards Mumbai. Traffic snarls near shahpur did not stop us rom reaching our end point 5 and a half hours after we began our journey.

Silencer again silently thanked us , the Vice captain thanked us profusely and we nodded our thanks in between the barrage of words coming out of her. All in all we were super satisfied with the hard riding and the harder eating that we had done during this ride.

Needless to say, our first One saddle was super successful and is surely the first of many such rides that the Bisons would do in the near future.

 

 

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Oil brothers part 2 – The long distance ride…

 

Ok.. So I promised a detailed analysis of how the Schaeffer Oil performs on a long ride. In case you have not read the first log, you can do it here ( https://deepakananth.wordpress.com/2012/10/17/oils-well-that-begins-well/ )

I had been given the privilege to lead and captain the RedBums ride organised by Bisons Ride Hard. A week ago, I had serviced my Theia, a classic 500 bullet, and put in the Schaeffer 20w50.

The D day arrived. our ride was to start at Panvel on 26th and the boys were already there waiting for me. Made a note of time and the speedo and a quick tank up later , we started. 

I had already decided that my thump and my engine growl was much better than before. I felt that my initial pickup had also improved. Nothing to rave about, but there is definitely a smoothness to the ride. 

we quickly crossed pune and after negotiating the traffic there, opened up our throttle on the NH4. 

In the initial set of 5 bikers, we had with us 2 desert storms , 1 Chrome , 1 thunderbird AVl and my Classic. Any bullet enthusiast will agree that other than the AVL all others are just branding variations of the same machine  – the classic. 

But there was a difference! I was getting little extra power that was pushing me further and further ahead of the rest of the boys. I was enjoying myself tremendously till I noticed the speedo, I was clocking 135 kmph!!!! . slow down, let the other catch up… 

This is again, not a very difficult feat on the 500 cc bullet. given proper posture and a forgiving road with enough downhill slopes, you can cross the 140 kmph mark. but what I was surprised at was the ease at which I was able to accelerate fro 100 to 120 in the 5th gear. The engine was super smooth and the power output was definitely more than before. 

later , after the ride, Eshan from Schaeffer explained to us the way that the oil helps the engine to perform better. beleive me I felt the difference. 

we soon crossed Kolhapur and were looking for a suitable place to stop for lunch. one by one each of the other 500’s came up to me asking for a fuel stop. Their bikes had reached their reserve. I quickly glanced at my fuel lamp.. not a flicker. 

Pit stop and fueled up… I still had 3 lts approximately left in the tank. This is mind blowing because all of us, without an exception had tanked up at the same place. we had ridden on the same road, almost at the same speed, but their bikes were giving an average of 33- 34 kmpl, while mine was giving me an all time high of 39. That is at least 5 km per liter more that she used to give. The only difference between our bikes was the oil. 

We carried on. Did an awesome ride , completed 1000 kms in less than 24 hours without a hitch. I did not expect the need to top up at the end of the ride and I was right. 

All in All, after using the Schaeffer oil, I can vouch for the fact that yes, My bike ran smoother, gave better mileage and ran problem free for the entire ride. I am a convert and will continue to use their products.

I am in talks with the team here to see what other technical details they can share with me to explain this phenomenon better. I will post more about that soon.

Kudos team at Schaeffer, please keep the oil flowing..

 

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Red Bums – The Captains Log…

Veni, Vidi, Vici – I came, I saw, I conquered – said Julius Caesar, nah, say the Bisons!

The Bisons Ride Hard team came, saw and conquered..What, how, when??..Well read on..

At T – 5 months

Scene held at Jai Bhavani Tea stall.

Paaji: Boys, Anniversary is coming..We are going to do something unique..

Signals, Deelux: Yes Paaji..Itna toh banta hai..

Paaji: We are going to do a non – stop 24 hour ride..Day and night riding..Mumbai , Hubli, Pachgani.

Signals, Deelux: Waah ! What an idea sirji!! Let’s do it.

Paaji : The captain for this ride is..Deelux..

Signals: Hahahaha, Bakra !!

Deelux : Nahiiin!!

T -1 day

Email from Paaji says, we need to go to sleep early on the previous night of the ride. Reached home, early enough from work, thorough check up of the bike done, one round of polishing of the bike done.

Bath, food done.. Packing done.. And its only 9! Awesome, now for some sleep!

9 :10 pm : Good night messages to all Bisons has been sent, everyone is settling in to sleep.

11 pm:  Chalo bas yaar, last good night message ok! Really, please go to sleep!

12 am: Kamino ! So jaao..

Finally sleep!

T – 0 

Cruising along the open roads at New Bombay, I reach Panvel at 6:25 am thinking, reached early.. Now will have to wait for the others..

What the..! What’s that I see! Around 15 bikes already parked and chai’s doing the round.. Then its hits home..This is the ride that we called the mother of all rides..Every Bison is raring to go! My heart swells with pride and after a quick tank up and nashta, we are ready for the briefing.

Paaji, in his inimitable style… Boys ride safe.. Ride hard..Deelux leads..I shall tail..Everybody else in between.  Father says a prayer and we are OFF….

 

Date: October 26th, 2012, Time – 7:53 am

The Red Bums 1.0 is underway!

In the first half an hour, we realize that this is gonna be one helluva ride..We quickly settle into a rhythm and are cruising at 80 kmph.

My rear view mirror can see the entire chain of 26 bikes behind me, an awe inspiring view.  We hit traffic outside Pune, but still manage to stick to each other. Outside Dehu road, a couple of headlights move to the left of the road. We stop to investigate.

Shri Sohan roy’s rear brake is not functional, Signals and Manny volunteer to take him to Pune rectify the issue and catch up with us. There is a hint of trepidation in Signal’s voice. Because of this delay, he might not complete the Red Bums! But he is a Bison and Bisons never leave a brother behind, so off he goes.

The rest of us – Ride on.

First stop – Lunch at Kolhapur!

Time 2:00 pm

Distance: around 400 kms.

Quick fuel stop, first for the bikes and then for the riders. Father’s bike starts making noises… should be ok..

Food over , saddling up in flat 30 minutes, Father kick starts his bike and the noise is overpowering. His piston rings are shot. The first casualty of the ride..

Quickly we put the bike in the breakdown truck following us. Father plonks himself albeit sadly as a co-rider/pillion on Hawk Eyes bike.

Ride on.

Second Stop – Belgaum

Time: 5:30 pm

Distance: around 100 kms.

The riders from 99 Cannons have agreed to meet us at Belgaum and escort us to Hubli. We reach Belgaum and in 10 minutes Sanjiv Bhatia and team reach us to lead us to the midway point.

A quick chai and greetings..30 minutes later, we are ready to go..

Fafda screams out, “Arrey, my tanki is leaking re”.. We ignore, thinking this is one of his jokes.  But there is all permeating smell of petrol and we get down to investigate. His tank is busted. Another casualty. We load his bike also onto the truck, tank ourselves (the riders) up on the Red Bull, given to us by our partners for this epic ride – Red Bull and resume the ride.

But what is that we see on the highway? Is it a bird? Is it a plane ? No, its Mr. Sohan Roy followed closely by Signals screaming down the highway!!! They have ridden non-stop from Pune and have caught up with the rest of us at belgaum!

Signals gets down and mutters, “Arrey bhai, Kyun rukna? Rhythm pakad ke chal rahe the, Chalo…” This is the Bison Attitude…

50 kms later, we are welcomed by a sudden thunderstorm. Sudden torrential rain drenches us, but fails to slow us down. Our target was to reach Hubli by 7:30 pm. Quick and quiet dinner, a power nap and start the ride back to Panchgani, fresh.

Ride on.

Third Stop –  Hubli

Time : 7 pm

Distance: around 100 kms.

We are at our mid point level of the ride and ahead of time!  As we turn into Hubli, we see a posse of bullets and bikers waiting for us. The Boys of 99 cannons are there in full strength, carrying banners and welcoming us in style!

Sanjiv tells us, dinner is arranged at a farm house, but to reach there we will need to take a small detour of around 10 kms and the roads are “not that great”.  We say “Chalo, off – roading is always welcome”

Understatement of the year!!

Turns out the 10 kms is more or less accurate, but roads “not that great” is not. There is no road! It is a series of small hills and troughs that we need to traverse through..Does that hold us back..Has anything ever held a Bison back..Bring it on we say!

As we turn into the farmhouse, we hear a faint beating of the dhol .. It is dark, we are surrounded by trees and are in the middle of a forest and tribal drums playing..Oh, oh..This cannot be good.

This isn’t good at all..This is freaking awesome!..99 Cannons have arranged a gala welcome for us into hubli. The dhol was just the beginning, for as we enter the gate of the farmhouse, flower petals are showered on each rider.  We are dumb struck.  There are around 40 people there waiting for us. The local rotary club has turned up in full force and felicitates us. Local media and press take interviews. It hits us again, what we are doing, this ride, is huge, its unique and here in Hubli it has captured the imagination of the local people.

So much for a quiet dinner.

Having said that, the food served was nothing short of orgasmic. The chicken, in Paaji’s colourful language was “bombastic” (well it was even more colourfully described, but in the interest of the reader, we shall refrain from publishing that).

They even arranged for a mechanic to be available for us to solve any niggles that our bikes might have! Brotherhood at it best!

Hugs, and shake hands galore we head back to the road with our pack having increased by another 4 bikers from the 99 Cannons to be a part of the anniversary celebrations at Panchgani.

A quick fuel stop, we tank up and are ready to go.

We ride back in a formation of 2, led by Paaji and me. Our headlights light up the entire highway. My new set of LED lights light up the immediate road, Paaji’s HID and Xenon combo headlights lights up the road ahead.

We are followed by no less than 5 Xenons and LED lights, making for an awesome sight. The entire highway was lit up like the proverbial Christmas tree.

Ride on.

Fourth Stop –  Belgaum

Time: 11 pm

Distance:  around 120 kms

We are riding slow..Average speed is 60 kmph.

The Bullet Guru’s of Belgaum want to wish us and offer any help we may require en route to our destination. Another example of the brotherhood and how this machine binds us together! They come to the outskirts of the city in the middle of the night to meet us 35 boys and girls with whom they have never met or interacted with. All this to just to wish us all the best!  We were touched and after a few quick words, we resumed riding.

The Bisons had all tanked up on Red Bull and were bright eyed so far. We were on the NH4 , in the dark, and riding against time to reach our destination. We slowly approached what we call the “graveyard shift”

The time between 2 am and 4 am is probably the most dangerous time to ride in. The rider is tired and sleepy, it’s an eerie sort of darkness and quiet around and there is typically not a soul around to get help from.

Around 3 am, we had passed Kolhapur and stopped. Our average speed had increased to around 70 kmph from 60 kmph. All the boys were riding in a perfect formation.

We decide to stop at the next dhaba to freshen up. Quick chai and Red Bull later, we were ready to resume our hard riding.

One thing I noticed was that the spirits of each Bison was on an all time high. Here we were in the middle of nowhere, riding for the last 20 hours, dirty, tired, sleepy, but there was a smile on the face of each bison. There was no complaining. All we could do was talk about how our bikes were performing, ribbing the other riders on how they were riding. Not a single rider was complaining or doubting that they would be able to complete the ride. True lion hearts all!

Next pit stop was Satara for another quick chai at around 5 am. We were running short of time, so we decided to ride slow till the first break of dawn and reach wai. From Wai to panchgani , we wanted to ride when there was sunlight as this was mainly Ghats.

We rode to plan.

Fourth Stop –  Wai

Time: 6:45 am.

Distance: around 260 kms

One hour to complete Red Bums

Paaji: “Deelux, bhagga…. We need to reach Panchgani in 30 minutes”

I take 6 boys with me and zoom ahead.

We are attacking the curves with a vengeance. In our minds, there is no alternative but to reach the destination before time.

With me is Corner. He is moving like greased lightning, behind us are Fallen and Despo, not more than 5 feet from us, behind them I can see Bhagta and Changu – Mangu and a couple of other riders. Not one of them is letting up. We will need to ride in this formation to reach our destination in time.

Panchgani town is a blur. They are woken rudely to the sounds of the roaring bulls. The ghats are a blur. I promise to come back and enjoy the view at some other time. We ride hard.

Our speed and will power carry us, literarily, past a set of Bisons (DietPal, bala and Droppie) waiting at the venue to welcome us. They had reached there early in the morning to make sure that we were comfortable once we reach. Another example of how a Bison supports their peers.

We slam our brakes and quickly note the time.

We have reached our destination at 7:08 am. 45 minutes before schedule! I can’t believe it. Nor can any of the other brothers. We have done it! Well almost..As we wait for the other riders anxiously they all vroom in and within 25 minutes all riders (Bisons and 99 Cannons) have reached..The clock ticks at 7:33 am..We left Panvel at 7:53 am and reached Panchgani at 7:33 am. That’s it mate, we have indeed done it! We completed the Red Bums successfully!

A lot of us have tears in our eyes, Paaji and I hug and we can’t let go, we are joined by all the Bisons for a gargantuan group hug.

This is a proud moment. We set out believing that we could accomplish this feat and this is a feat. It is no mean task to complete 1000 kms with 30 + bikes within 24 hours as any biking group will tell you.

And we did it!

Summary:

26 bikes, 32 bikers, 1000 kms, 23 hours 40 minutes – One ride – RED BUMS

The Bisons indeed rode hard!

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ImageImagethe last mile!!! awesome curve hugging entry into panchgani!!!

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My Boys! the red bummers from Bisons Ride Hard.

To know more about our last 1 year check this out

Categories: biking, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Oil’s well that begins well

They say, that the oil in your bike is like the blood in your body. The only difference, to me, is you cant choose what blood you want to run through your body.

I have never been a very technical person to go into great detail about the facets of a good oil. So when I was given the baton of leading the Bisons on their anniversary epic ride- The Red  Bums, I knew, I was in trouble when I needed to choose the oil.

Google Singh helped, in confusing me further, when a friend came to my rescue. He brought in Schaeffer Oil as a sponsor for our ride and I was the recipient of 3 liters of this automotive nectar.

So I did a bit more research, cant obviously put in any old oil into Theia, can I ? turns out that the people at Schaeffer oil have been doing this for some time, since 1839 to be precise. Well having so much of experience only strengthened my resolve to try the oil out.

So one bright sunny sunday afternoon,Theia and I rode to our friendly neighbourhood mechanic- Vinod and started the oily business.

For all those who are interested , this is the 20w 50 version of the oil and is termed as a “synthetic plus ” oil. According to their website, and what ever little research I managed to find time for, I came to know that this oil uses a synthetic mixture base that is able to withstand temperatures of upwards of what our bikes should and would never reach. Also, because of its composition, it coats the engine to ensure that even with the first kick the protection kicks in. So far so good.

 

 

 

 Vinod hemmed and hawed and based on the numbers that I read out to him declared the oil a hit. Is mein Jhaag nahin aayega, accha hain…

what else do I need to know? Pour away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other  recipient of an additional 3 liters was corner, our native petrol head. He has promised that he will pen his words in a more technical aspect, so I will stay away from that.  But the  first thing that I noticed was that  there was a change in the Thump of Theia immediately after pouring the oil!

The engine was growling and the distinctive thump that used to come out of her bowels was even more distinctive. Very Nice and all the motor heads present at Vinod’s sagely nodded in appreciation.

The ride test. 

Well, the servicing was completed and I decided to do my usual cross country trudge back home. BKC to Thane is 30 km obstacle course that puts to shame most rallies. The single biggest obstacle- traffic.

What better way to test the oil than the infamous mumbai traffic during rush hour. So began my journey that fateful monday evening, the world was out on the streets, or so i dubiously hoped.

BKC to Kurla- not much traffic, weaving in and out. The Engine feels smooth and there is definitely a difference in the thump – for the better.

Kurla – Sion, where are all the cars? why is there no traffic still? is it really this free or has my Oil changing changed the world. cruising smoothly on  a  nicely warm engine.

Sion – chembur – mystery solved. all the cars are here. standstill traffic. chock a block with cars, bikes, trucks, containers , buses, and I swear I saw a bullock cart.

For the first time in my life I smiled at the traffic, what better way to test the oil. I weaved in and out between the cars and felt something missing. The  Heat !

Most bullet riders will identify the familiar warmth that they feel on their calves while riding. Its the bull’s way of letting you know, Baby, I am Hot for you. Or like most of us know, its time to give the throttle a rest. Even through the start stop and jerky traffic ride, I did not feel the all to familiar build up of the heat. That is good. very very good.

Chembur to thane ( after weaving for an hour ) – Open roads, eastern express highway, I quickly opened the throttle and was cruising effortlessly at 80 Kmph. The pick up seems to be excellent…

Thane – Parked the bike and gave the engine a once over. It was purring , begging to go for another  spin.. I am loving it.. All in all , the traffic test is a pass- with distinction for Schaeffer oils.

By the  way, this oil is not the cheapest that you will find in the market. A liter will set you back by 1400 Rs. On par or slightly higher than most synthetic oils. I have used other  brands before, but the difference felt with this  was palpable.

I cant wait to take Theia on the high way once again to test her on the long run. You will get a detailed review soon at the end of the Red Bums ride for sure. Till then, ride hard ride safe..

P.S to know more about the oil  , here is the link… or call me !

http://www.schaefferoil.com/supreme-7000-racing-oil.html

 

Categories: biking, Travel | Tags: | 4 Comments

My Reason to Ride…..

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The above picture shows the reason why I like to ride. The Brotherhood of bikers,  My friends, my Brothers, who ride with me, make each of our rides a memorable one.

The reasons , superficially are many, get away from the daily office routine , fulfill your passion of photography and seeing new places, my wife likes to travel so that she can get away from cleaning and cooking ( like many other better halves also do, I am sure) .

I ride with the Bisons Ride Hard Motorcycle club. We are a relatively new biking club, around 60 in number and bonded by one common thread, our passion to ride the Bullet.  When together, distances seem small, punishing temperatures, non-existing roads, idiotic people and stray animals crossing the roads, seem so much more easy to handle.

Before you jump to any conclusions, we are a very sane set of people , not the archetypal biker boys( and gals). Our group has the most interesting set of people that I pride in calling brothers.

There is our chosen leader of the pack – Paaji, Gen singh, who is a self-proclaimed truck driver, whose life revolves around 2 things – riding and drinking tea. This gentleman consumes buckets of tea at every pit-stop that we take and rides for distances that gives the rest of us a real pain in the a** . After 3 – 4 rides, most of us have the Gluteus Maximus that would put body builders to shame.

There is Signals – the communication wizard in the team, who refuses to get photographed without his helmet, because he believes none of us can capture his inner beauty. Signals, is always on a protein diet. I almost feel for the restaurateur or in our case the dhaba wala who serves food to us. The entire Non vegetarian food on the menu is finished by this gentleman in one sitting.

There is Kauwla – named so because he is the youngest in the group. The Josh machine loves being photographed and has a different pose for each click that we try of him. There is not a single one with a straight face.

There is Tawa masala – Captain, who gets his name because he is always in a hurry , like he is sitting on a tawa.. by the time we park the bikes in our nightly pit stop, tawa masala has already run out, checked the rooms, the food available, the nearest atm, the petrol station and what not.

There is Yeda anna – probably the most colorful one in the group, whose life revolves around – “The humble vada pav”.  He has drawn maps for people asking for directions , with waypoints as vada pav stalls.  A connoisseur of this maharashtrian snack, Anna, even coaxes chefs who don’t have the vada pav in their menu to make it specially for him..

There are many many more such characters in the group and when we get together, and ride together, that’s what makes it so much fun to do.

That is my reason to ride….

For many such stories, and to talk to other bikers, what better way than to link up at www.facebook.com/CastrolBiking

Categories: humour, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Lonar – an eye for an eye.

Every year, on the day after Holi, this small town becomes a biker hangout. Lonar is approximately 500 odd kms from mumbai and is known for the largest salt water crater in the world. Apparently , a few million years ago, this was a site where a meteor struck earth and created a hole in the ground.

Started 4 years ago, biker clubs around mumbai congregate over here to just chill out and exchange pleasantaries over a beer or two.. or three.

This was the first Gaddha mania for the Bisons and 25 bikers left mumbai in the wee hours of saturday . needless to say, the adrenaline was pumping and we rode hard towards the kasara ghats. en route, i had foolishly left my visor open and felt a sharp pain in my left eye, but i rode on , shrugging the pain as a temporary one.. slowly i realised that i could barely see from the eye..

Not wanting to slow the group down, we rode till the next pitstop. by the time i reached, my eye was swollen and red and i could not see a thing out of it. needless to say, riding like this added an edge to the trip. A quick wash and the vision was better and off we went. Not for long though… our first casualty for the bike was immediate, when amol’s bike’s head gave way. we had to stop and arrange for a truck to cart the bike back to mumbai.

Though this was not in the least a very scary episode, it did teach me not to brave the nature and its power foolhardily and to respect it. Never again am i going to ride without proper protection.

 

Categories: Travel | Tags: | 1 Comment

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