RM ‘05 Tour: A Long Strange Trip
January 5th – January 18th 2005
CHAPTER 1 A: Phoenix Rising… The Great Biker Build Up.
The year gone by was eventful. It had stared with me attending Rider Mania 2004 in Goa and having a blast, coming back to Nagpur and starting Wanderlust MC and so on. Then innumerable arguments and discussions happened about RIDER MANIA as an event, who should host it, where it should happen and so on.
Then.. suddenly, as if totally out of the blue.. there was just about a month and a half left to go for Rider Mania 2005. The air and atmosphere in all the clubs was Electric.. excitement about being there again, meeting old friends.. people you’d met somewhere on the road on a tour, people you’d only read about in their Numberplates or magazine interviews, people who had E-Mailed you after they saw your numberplates or pics in Magazines, friends you made at the previous Rider Manias, or friends with whom you’d only interacted on Yahoo messenger or their yahoo groups.. everyone was gonna be there.
My bike, the Grey/Black Lightning 500 CC had suffered extensive engine and cosmetic wear and tear and needed a complete overhaul to make this tour. As soon as I got my paycheck, I started work on it with barely 40 days to go before we rode out for the event.
Then, as if fate just wanted to play a joke on me, I busted my back again and was on bed rest for a week, unable to sit up or stand, leave alone kickstart a 500 CC bike. But the will to be there was STRONG. As soon as I was able to get outta bed, I enrolled myself in Yoga classes to cure/strengthen my back muscles to be able to ride. At the same time, my then bike technician and I opened up the bike and Changed the Piston and Barrel, The Pushrods, The Rockers, The Valves and guides, got an endurance Clutch, new adjustable timing pins and a new wiring loom. So, while the techie worked on my bike, I stripped out and chopped off the original Lightning Tank, Mudguards and tool boxes.The RD 350 Handle bar I was using came off too.. now, in a months time I had to get my bike ready from scratch to a cool custom cruiser. The Bike Build Up had begun. The Phoenix was about to be resurrected from it’s own ashes.
I sat with the denter/welder for 3 weeks and got everything done on instinct, with no specific designs in mind. I also designed and made my own Custom FATBOY Handlebar. The Lightning meter Console had to go.. it was Ugly anyway. I also did away with the RPM Meter and relocated the Speedo on the right side of the Tank. No place for the Ammeter??… no probs.. I broadened the Tool Boxes by 2 Inches each and relocated the Ignition Switch and Ammeter on the right side Tool Box. All this while, my bike chassis and engine were with the techie, so I used a friends bike for the fittings. I rode that bike to the welder everyday, took out it’s original Fenders and Tank, and mounted my new customized parts on it’s frame to see if they fit. They did:) The Gear Box Cover, the timing Cover and the Clutch Covers also got a new Chrome job done on them:) Lookin good;)
All through the month I was HECTIC shuffling time between the Techie, Yoga Classes, the Welder and my Business. I was going crazy and loving every moment of it. Then, the moment had arrived.. the engine had been built.. now we had to see if it would start.. Coz of the new piston, the Compression was ballistically high and the kickback was the worst I’d ever seen on any bike. So, I devised a new way of starting the bike without breaking your leg. Get it to de-comp stage, kick Gently and jump 10 feet away;)
Well.. I got used to the kickstarting in due time. The Custom parts of the bike were also ready and needed a paint job. Now.. this was the tough part. I needed a retro cruiser look, and I had achieved it.. but couldn’t think of a colour that would suit the bike or my mood. So, after going through a lot of shade cards, I finally took a deep breath and decided on my two favourite Colours. BLUE AND WHITE. A good friend, Rahul, another Bullet enthusiast, and I finalized the colour scheme and Rahul helped mark out the Blue and White areas on the bike. We did the masking ourselves. 9 Days to go for Take off for Rider Mania. And the bike was still not painted. The Job was done in 2 days.. and a FANTASTIC one at that. The Bike looked like a piece of art. Better than I had expected. I also got two Wanderlust MC Emblem stickers made and put them on both sides of the Fuel Tank before the clear coat of paint came on!!
BUT.. the bike still wasn’t road tested… the brand new piston needed running in… Atleast 1500 Kms before I took on the Highways. I took it out for it’s first ride in it’s new Avatar the following morning to my Yoga Class and my Guruji was awestruck. He then asked me why I’d chosen the Blue and White Colour scheme.. and I replied that since I was running short of time, I, on pure impulse, decided on the colours. Then he said something which was cool.. “Blue and White symbolize Spirituality and Purity respectively… and since I’d started my Yoga classes and meditation, the state of my mind and soul were Pure and Spiritual!!, Hence ONLY those two colours appealed to me in the end.”I then realized that I actually had poured my heart and soul into designing and rebuilding my bike. And I had burnt my hand twice at the welders shop, got pricked a few times with screw drivers and literally had put my blood and sweat into the bike. Pretty cool, huh??
CHAPTER 1 B : Planning The Tour.. Budget and Routes.
While all of the above was happening.. I was also working on the Route of the tour, the Distances, the places I wanted to tour, the expenses and other such things.
Rider Mania was Happening in Panvel, near Bombay. So, the route from Nagpur would have had to be Via Amravati-Aurangabad-Pune-Panvel. That was set.
But I just didn’t wanna do RM and ride back.. I wanted a longer tour which was overdue for sometime now… So, after a lot of planning we decided on the following route that WANDERLUST MC was to to:
Nagpur to Aurangabad 520 Kms MAHARASHTRA
Aurangabad to Pune 230Kms MAHARASHTRA
Pune to Panvel 80 Kms MAHARASHTRA
Panvel to Goa 510 Kms MAHARASHTRA – GOA
Goa to Hampi 280 Kms GOA – KARANATAKA
Hampi to Kurnool 220 Kms KARANATAKA – ANDHRA PRADESH
Kurnool to Nagpur 750 Kms ANDHRA PRADESH – MAHARASHTRA
2590 Kms in all was just the distance between every two destinations!! The actual figure at end of the tour would be something else!!
So.. in the final week before take off, I did as much running in of my engine as I could ride, and managed to clock 1000 Kms in 6 days. The bike wasn’t running properly…not going beyond 65Kmph…but the Techie aasured me of a troublefree ride.
During the beginning stages of planning the tour, Manish Bhai, Miku, Rudy, Anmol, Nisarg, Nikhil, Sagar, Major Danny and I were the Riders for RM05.. But.. Major Danny suffered a broken wrist, Miku thought spending New Years Eve in Goa was a better option, Anmol couldn’t make it because of work, Nisarg opted out for personal reasons, Manish bhai too, and Rudy’s bike engine got screwed somehow. So.. it was just gonna be Nikhil, Sagar and I.. and with Sagar in Pune, only Nikhil and I were to ride from Nagpur till Pune. At the last moment, though, we got a call from Rajesh…not a club member then, but a Bullet Enthusiast none the less, saying he’d like to join us on the road to RM. Most welcome, brother. We were to meet up at Law College Square on January 5th at 6 AM and Ride out at 0630 Hrs.
In all, 3 THUNDERGODS and a guest rider were gonna rock RM05, as opposed to the single solitary your’s truly at RM04.
CHAPTER 2 : The Journey Begins: Januray 5th 2005: Day 1
January 5th 2005 began for me at Midnight.. wishing dad a Happy Birthday and his cutting the cake at Midnight:) Then, after last moment preparations, packing, toolkit, spares, clothes, toiletries, Maps, batteries, Flashlight, Swiss Knives, Walkmen, Tapes, Bungee Cords.. I went to bed at 01:30AM. The alarm bell woke me up at 5 AM, and after my Yoga, Shower and Prayers I Hugged mom and dad and sis and they wished me a good journey:) YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS:)
I reached Law College Square at 6:30, and Major Danny was the only one there, waiting to see us off. Nikhil and Rajesh were no where in sight. Nikhil arrived in another 5 mins and Major Danny left after wishing us luck. Then Rajesh called saying that he was running late. We thought we might as well do some minor check ups on the bikes till he arrives. In the process, I discovered that my Handlebar was rotatring in it’s place coz the clamps were loose coz 2 of the studs had lost their threads. DAMN.. and the journey hadn’t even begun yet. We decided to ride on anyway, no turning back, and to get them fixed at Amravati.. 150 Kms away. Rajesh finally arrived at 7:30 AM and we finally rode out at 7:45AM. The first stop for topping up fuel was to be at the new Reliance Petrol Pump 25 Kms away. NH6.
We reached The gas station in another 20 Mins and Nikhil topped up his fuel tank first and waited for Rajesh and me to do the same. While we were doing that, we heard a strange evaporating noise coming from someplace nearby. We saw Nikhil’s bike and it was engulfed in smoke. He had a customized squarish tank and had never fully topped it up before, and there was a tiny pin hole at the top of it which was leaking fuel directly on his HOT bent pipe which was evaporating the fuel and causing the smoke. DAMN IT!! An option we had was for Nikhil to ride back home and get his brothers Bullet for the tour.. He lived just 20 Kms away back in the city. But then we decided to fix the tank there and ride on. THUNDERGODS dont turn back and Quit.
Get Your Motor Runnin’,
Head out on the Highway,
Lookin’ for Adventure,
In whatever comes our way!!!!!
So, we drained out all the fuel out of his tank and fixed it with M Seal and waited another hour for it to dry while we engaged in discussions with Rajesh, getting to know him better and making him feel comfortable with us. The M Seal dry, we filled up the tank again and rode off. Next Stop was Amravati. 130 Kms!!
On we rode.. the weather was beautiful.. the road was even better. I kept having trouble keeping my Handlebar straight in place, coz everytime we went over a bump or a pot hole, it would roll forward and I’d have to adjust it in place again!!
At around 10 Am we had a small breakfast of Tea and Poha at Talegaon, 40 Kms before Amravati. We reached Amravati at about 11 AM, riding slow because of my handlebar problem and located the Mechanic there. He fixed the bike in no time and now the Handlebar felt like it was welded in it’s place. I felt much better. We Left Amravati at around 12 Noon and got on the Amravati by pass road. One of the best roads I’d seen till date. Smooth, Straight and Empty as long as your eye could see.. stretching far and deep into the horizon.. this road was built for Speed. But I still had a speed limit coz of my new piston and was told not to exceed 80 Kmph. But, no matter how hard I tried, the bike would refuse to go beyond 65 Kmph.. and neither Nikhil, Rajesh nor I could understand why!!?!! Something was surely wrong and all sorts of theories were being discussed by the 3 of us about of the practical problem my bike and I were facing. But NONE of us had an Idea about what was wrong. The bike would run perfectly well till 65 Kmph, but if I tried accelerating beyond that, it behaved like there wasn’t enough fuel being supplied to the engine. Anytime I had to overtake a truck, I would align myself in the overtaking path and press down the CHOKE, and then my bike would zoom past like a rocket all the way uptil 90 Kmph. But once the choke was disengaged, the same problem recurred.
We stopped for Lunch at around 4 PM just before Akola and Nikhil, being a Veggie, totally freaked out at the sign of the first “PURE VEG DHABA” he sighted. The food there, however, turned out to be not so good. There was no mineral water, no cold drinks, and no rice. We pacified ourselves somehow… and rode on!! We had lost 3 precious riding hours in bike fixing and all, and we were still losing time with every passing Kilometer due to my bike not performing properly. We had hoped to make it to Aurangabad that day, but now it semed likely. We decided to ride on without breaks till Sunset, and then scout for a place to halt for the night.
A little after Sunset we reached the outskirts of the Village Chikhli and after a little bit of searching, booked ourselves a room at the Govt. Guest house there. The room had an attatched Toilet and Bath, Running Water, 2 cots and a Mattress, Lights, Fan and all of this just cost us Rs. 100 for the night. Rs. 33 Per head. Fantastic. We unloaded the bikes and dumped our bags in the room and had a few drinks and dinner at Hotel Hardeo. FANTASTIC place for a small town like Chikhli and GREAT food too. During dinner we were told to head back straight to the guest house, 1 Km away, coz of a scare of Highway robbers and murderers in the area. Well, we were in no mood for sightseeing in Chikhli anyway, so we headed back straight to the Guest House and crashed into our beds around 10:30PM. Day one of the tour ended on a very relaxing and comfortable note.
CHAPTER 2 B : JANUARY 6TH : DAY 2
We woke up fresh and well rested at 6 AM and after our regular morning routine of showers, Yoga and checking Oil level and tyre pressure in the bikes we left the Guest house and headed back to Hotel Hardeo for a good hearty breakfast of Pohas, Paranthas and Scrambled Eggs. We had to reach Pune the same night. We also decided to get my bike checked at Aurangabad, 120 Kms away, at the RE dealer there.. if there was one. On we rode through the State Highways through Dhulegaon Raja and Jalna, my bike struggling to go beyond 65 Kmph, me still having to press down the Choke everytime I had to overtake a vehicle. It was crazy.. very irritating, but we rode on. Rajesh showed excellent team spirit and touring ability. All 3 of us got along well and were enjoying the ride in it’s entirety.. including the technical snags.
The roads now weren’t so promising as before and we rode together at 50 Kmph for a good part of the 120 Kms till Aurangabad. We finally reached there at 11AM and stopped, asking for the RE dealer there.. When the time came to start our bikes again.. another screw up.. Somewhere on the road, the folding metal part of the kickstarting lever fell off my bike and I had no clue about it. We pushed the bike and started it and finally found a Royal Enfield service Station after an hour and a half of searching. I got my bike checked there. The mechanic was good.. he knew his job well.. but even he couldn’t tell why my bike refused to go beyond 65 Kmph. He tuned the bike and I bought and fit a new Kickstarter Lever. We had lunch at a Motel right next door to where our bikes were being fixed.. good food at good prices.. and headed off for Pune, our destination for the day, and also my last hope of getting the problem with my bike correctly diagnosed and fixed before RM. It was 3:30 PM and we still had 230 Kms to go till we reached Pune.
We rode out of Aurangabad at 3:30 Pm and had good roads till, at dusk, we reached Ahmednagar. We did good time somehow, not taking any more breaks. As soon as Ahmednagar was crossed, the roads turned crazy. There was roadwork going on all over the place.. smooth roads suddenly turned into loose and dusty gravel, and the oncoming vehicles, all with their lights on High Beam to see through the dust, weren’t helping us through the night ride either. We couldn’t exceed 25 Kmph. Somewhere in the chaos, we lost track of each other and I got seperarted from our Pack. We all met again down the road, somewhere between Ranjangaon and Pune and called Sagar from there that we were reaching in another hour’s time coz of the roadwork going on.
Just outside Pune, about 20 Kms shy, my bike fuel came into reserve and I had to stop for the first time for re-fuelling since we left Nagpur. I calculated we had done 750 Kms and I was getting fantastic mileage.
Just then I got a call from Baljeet who told us that he and Sagar were waiting for us at a Police Check post just outside Pune. We finally met at 9 PM and headed straight for Baljeet’s Mai Dhaba. It was great to meet up with Baljeet and Sagar again;) It had been a long time.
At Mai Dhaba, Baljeet treated us to a lavish dinner, and we all had a great time together discussing the journey and making plans for the next day. We were to get our bikes Checked by Alex, the Roadshakers’s recommended mechanic.
We left Mai Dhaba at around 11 PM and headed straight for Sagar’s apartment in Kuthrud, had showers and plopped into our Beds.
Through technical snags even before the journey had started, and good amount of time lost because of bad roads and other problems, we’d still managed to reach Pune on day 2.. just as we’d planned. We were on a Roll. The next day was to be spent in Pune, meeting up with a few friends and getting the bikes checked and tuned up for the tour ahead.
CHAPTER 3 : A DAY IN PUNE: JANUARY 7TH : DAY 3
We all woke up fresh in the morning and Sagar told us he’d received a call from Rudy the night before that he was on his way to Pune on a Bus, coming for RM 05!! I wasn’t particularly happy about him coming on a bus and not on his bike, but he was gonna be a pillion on an Enfield, plus he’s a Wanderluster.. so that was cool!!
We all got ready and the first thing to do was to change Nikhil’s Handle from the broad easy one to the more stylized clip-ons of a café racer!! By the time we did that, Sagar had fetched Rudy from the bus station, and in another hour’s time we were all good to go. I had to get my bike checked and both Sagar and Baljeet had already recommended Alex. We then went to JP’s office to pick up his bike and take it to Alex’s as well. Was great meeting up with JP after one whole year!! We’d been friends since the last RM 04 in Goa. Getting JP’s bike as well, we rode down to Alex’s Garage near the Airport, and got to work on our bikes!! My gears, which were feeling horrendously rigid were set by Alex, and then I told him to fix the speed problem. He did a few tune ups and said it would run fine!! While we were getting our bikes fixed, we met up with Dev from Mad Bulls who told us that Sachin was at the washing center nearby, getting his bike washed. We decided to head out there and get our bikes a wash as well. On the way to the washing center, I noticed my bike was still refusing to go Beyond 65Kmph.. problem still not solved!! I told this to Alex when we got back to the garage about it, and he suggested that I should go in or a bigger Jet in the Carb, and that should solve it!! And then it struck us all that all the while the problem was just a smaller jet not giving enough Fuel supply to the Engine, and that’s why the bike would suddenly speed up after I pushed down the choke everytime!!
Sachin, Sagar, Rajesh, Rudy, Dev, Nikhil and I all left Alex’s place at around 4 PM and went out to grab a bite.. I was famished!! En route we met up with Tinu and went to McDonalds.. who were all sold out of the goodies.. so we headed to Burger King at Koregaon Park, and ordered the goodies there!! We were joined there by Shona and my friend Khorshid, and I had a King Burger about which Im still confused whether it was Veg or Non Veg!! Hmmmm!?!?! We all split up from there. Sagar, Rudy, Nikhil, Tinu, Rajesh and I headed out to Shona’s place, while Sachin and Dev headed back home. It was almost time for dinner!!
As soon as we reached Shona’s place I got a call from Sachin saying he’s got a spare carb and that I can have the bigger 500 CC jet from it for my bike. So, while the others had a few drinks, Sagar and I rode down to Sachin’s house where we changed the Jet in my Bike. Turned out that my Techie had put in a Standard 350 CC Jet in it to restrict me from overspeeding coz the Piston was new!! We got the bigger Jet and Sagar and I headed back to Shona’s Place where we were joined by Sid and had a few drinks together. We headed out to a Chinese restaurant for dinner, had a great time there, and all headed back to home bases to wake up early and get ready the next morning ride to Panvel. Rider Mania 2005.
CHAPTER 4 : The Ride To Panvel : January 8th : Day 4
Nikhil, Sagar, Rajesh [with Rudy as pillion] and I all got up and ready on time to reach Pashan for the ride to Panvel. We caught up with JP along the way and reached the place to see about 25 Roadshakers already assembeld there. In a few minutes, after a few introductions, there were about 39 of us [35 Roadshakers and 4 Wanderlusters] with our engines roaring to hit the road as if they were a pack of hungry wolves awaiting to attack their prey!! One thing Nikhil and I both noticed was that out of all 39 bikes, only his and mine were heavily customized!! The rest were all more or less stock with tiny mods done here or there.
The ride started around 7:30 AM with Sachin at the head of the pack and Sagar at the sweep position, and off we all went roaring down the highway through the chill of that cold Winter January morning!!
The weather and the road were both awesome, and on we all rode together in a double file most of the times, changing to a single file only to get through some tight spots on the highway!! My bike was performing like it hadn’t for a long time, and for the sheer pleasure of it, I revved up my machine and thundered past and way ahead and beyond the entire pack or riders, when I realised that I really didn’t know the way that led to whereever we were going, and found my place back in the pack again!! Smiling to myself:)
Some of us took a brief halt at a café in Lonavale, and clicked some pics of each other!! Someone said that the rest of the pack would reassembe someplace where there’s a diversion off the Highway onto the famed Bombay-Pune Expressway!! We caught up with them after a little while of riding, and there everyone had stopped for a headcount to make sure there were no breakdowns and that no one was left behind!! Here I was introduced to Rishad Cooper of AUTOCAR Magazine by Sachin. Rishad and I had a brief question ‘n’ answer session and a few pics of my bike and me, one each of which appeared in the following issue of the Magazine.
Then came one of the most amazing parts of this ride to Panvel!! Since the regular Highway had some road work going on it, all of us 39 bikers were diverted onto the Expressway [which is off limits to 2 wheelers]. WOW!! We all literally ripped our engines apart on this stretch of about 11 Kms that we covered on the Expressway!! WHAT A RIDE!!
We all halted again just about 5-7 Kms before Raigarh resort. This was to reassemble everyone and also coz Baljeet had to turn his bike into a Peacock!! Actually, Baljeet had this custom made contraption that allowed him to put flags at every possible angle on the bike!! There was one National Flag, 2 Royal Enfield Flags and 3 Roadshakers flags all of which made a pretty ensemble on his bike!! And when the ride started again, with Baljeet at the lead position, he looked like a spectacle to behold!! Here was this full blown bearded and Turbaned dude, on a classic Indian Machine, with the National flag waving Highest and proudest, gracefully riding down the highway!! It doesn’t get more INDIAN than this!!!!!
In a short while, we all turned left and roared in through the gates of RAIGARH RESORT looking and sounding like cowboys from hell that had come to take over that town!! As we all stopped, the sound of the engines slowly died down one by one and eventually faded into the sound of cheering and applaud by the the welcoming team of the Inddie Thumpers welcoming us to the Event!! A huge Poster in one corner read:
RIDER MANIA 2005 – FOR THE TRUE RIDER, THE ROAD NEVER ENDS.
There were already about 200 or more bikes parked all around us… all Royal Enfields of every conceivable shape, size and colour!! This was ground zero for all the anticipated biker action to happen over the next two days!!
CHAPTER 5-A : RIDER MANIA 2005 : Sat, January 8th : Day 4
As soon as the bikes were all parked, I headed straight for the registration counter to meet 2 friends I hadn’t met since one year.. since the last Rider Mania 2004 in Goa to be precise!! Yatin and Yash!! My brothers from Inddie Thumpers!! And right beside them there was something smooth and shiny that was bouncing off the sunlight right into my eyes, almost blinding me.. I figured it was Rajiv’s head!! And then I saw a short bespectacled, bearded and Turbaned dude slightly nodding to himself while looking straight at me, and I knew in an instant that it was Guri paaji, whom I was meeting for the first time!! There were huge cheers and hugs and high fives and manic bursts of excited laughter between all of us as we all got together for the first time, after having had interacted on the net for a whole year!! And I thought to myself “Isn’t this amazing?? Just 2 wheels and an Engine… that’s all it takes for perfect strangers from all walks of life to come together and swear brotherhood for life”. That’s the power and spirit of the Brotherhood Of Bulleteers!! And I am proud to be a part of it!!
After the reunion with old friends and new, Nikhil, Sagar, Rajesh, Rudy and I got together and ready to register ourselves at the counter. We did and were handed our Registration kits that contained a Rider Mania T Shirt, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner coupons for both days, a Royal Enfield diary, and an Itinerary for the event!! We were allotted our accommodation along with Roadshakers and Bombay Aces!! No sweat!!!!!
We dumped our bags in one of the rooms and headed out for the action!!
As I lingered on around the registration counter catching up with more friends, there were continuous groups of bikers going in and out through the resort gates!! The Royal Beasts arrived in sometime… all in style with modified bikes and even more modified people riding them!! Then the Wanderers from Hyderabad came in and all looked real worried and confused about something!!
Every second now and then there would be a bike or two with really loud pipes just roaring around the venue parking lot!! Pure Heaven!! Just then, something started to worry me.. something that Id really hoped to see was missing from all the action happening all around us!! Sure, there was DJ BlackJack playing all the favourite Hard rocking songs, there were bikes and bikers all around, there were some pretty women strolling around as well, there was just pure unadulterated biker talk happening in whichever direction your hearing went, but this one thing without which NO Biker’s gathering or event can ever hope to be complete, was no where to be seen!! And I was getting a bit worried about it now!! WHERE’S THE BEER?!?!? “I enquired from a few Thumpers and they said Behzad’s taking care of it!!” That was a comforting assurance!!
It was almost 11 AM now and I was getting quite hungry!! Breakfast was served in one of the Banquet hall of the Resort. That’s where I headed off too and had my fill, catching up with a few more new friends I made along the way!! After breakfast I headed back to the block that housed our rooms and there were some Roadshakers, Aces and Nikhil and Sagar all jam packed in one little room, with the AC desperately struggling to save it’s honour!! There was Tinu, Shona, Astad, Param, Shinto, Neha, Sid, Sam and others there!! Nikhil caught an evil glint in my eyes as he noticed that my gaze had fallen upon a Guitar in Astad’s hands, and he said.. “Anu’s gonna sing now!!” Anytime, dude!! We had a tiny little acoustic rock concert for ourselves there, with the audience proving out to be one of the best Ive ever played for, coz they all knew the choruses to all the songs I sang!! It was fun and before we knew it we were all chatting away like childhood buddies!! Music is surely a medium that breaks and transcends all barriers!! And Biker music being sung by a biker for the bikers at a bikers meet…..you can’t even imagine what that can do!!!!!
BEER!!!!! The word suddenly popped up in my head again and I made my way again to the dining area, meeting up with Aman and JoJo along the way!! As I was walking towards a group of people, a familiar voice said to me, “I was expecting to see you here, dude!!” I turned around to see it was Pablo Chatterjee from BS MOTORING MAGAZINE!! Again, my friend since RM 04 Goa!! Was great meeting up with him again and telling him about the progress the club had made in less than a year since the last RM where I was just a solitary rider from Nagpur with no Club to back me up!! Forget the beer he said, and he took a few more snaps of mine, checked out my bike and did a little interview for the forthcoming issue of the Magazine!! But I still needed beer!! This was torture!! Half a day gone at a Bikers meet and not a sip of beer anywhere to be found on venue!! This was a conspiracy!!
Just then I saw all the customized biked being assembled I one area, and I figured it was time for all to check out the good looking ones, and I parked my bike there too!! Here I met Bilal, and we both too remembered meeting up in RM 04 earlier!! We both checked out each other’s rides and decided to try each other’s machines on the Highway!! We did a 2 km run on the highway and I was impressed riding Bilal’s Blue and Chrome 500 named “Metal Head”!! I guessed my engine still needed a whole lotta running in to be done on it!! As soon as we came back, I met Guri again, and this time he wanted me to ride his bike named “Shri Vinayak Rath”. We again hit the same 2 Km stretch double seat, and Guri kept urging me to ride faster and faster till the machine actually felt like it was gonna fall apart!! As soon as I came back and parked again, the NDTV guys were all around me and interviewed me about myself, the club and the bike which I had customized myself!! After that a Channel [V] dude came up and said he wanted to interview me next!! Cool stuff!! But it had to wait coz someone said that the Judging of the bikes was about to begin!! So, the Channel [V] guys shot me with video camera while I polished and sparkled up the Chrome and paint on my bike for the Judging!! Then all the bikes were parked in their places as the DJ announced that the official START of the event was about to happen and that everyone gather around the main stage in one of the lawns there!! After a few announcements by Vernon, RIDER MANIA 2005 was officially declared on!! To start off, a Customized raffle bike was unveiled by Mahima, the only biker chick present there at the meet!!Then came a highly mismanaged Arm Wrestling contest where no one had a damnedidea about what was happening!! The good news was heard somewhere that BEER had arrived on the scene!! Tears of joys rolled down many a rider’s cheeks to hear that, only to be quickly converted into tears of 3rd degree torture when it was also heard that the Beer was HOT!! It hadn’t been cooled yet!! This was sacrilege!! But beer is beer, so I got myself a bottle of hot beer and pacified myself with it somehow!! After the Arm wrestling fiasco, it was time for Cable wars which the Inddie Thumpers won!! Lunch was announced sometime during all the mania happening all around!! After lunch, everyone again gathered in another lawn there to check out the bike and biker related goodies kept there for display and sale, a tattoo artist making big tough bikers wail like little school girls, and also to check out all the good looking machines!! Somewhere during the madness, a whole bunch of bikers started riding their bikes in crazy circles in the middle of the lawn, practicing for the journey of 8’s contest!! All the while, request after request DJ BJ was playing awesome music!! Beer was cooling down, the girls were looking good, there were loud bikes still roaring up and down and all around the venue and there was a sound of “Rock ‘n’ F***** Roll, baby” coming at regular intervals from a huge guy from the BULLETWAALAS MC of Pushkar named Balu. The Riders were there, and the Mania was everywhere!!
The Journey of 8’s contest was well organized and a lot of fun!! There were friendly cheers and boo’s for every rider who completed or screwed his journey of 8’s!! I screwed up the 8’s for Wanderlust MC coz someone in our club decided to use Nikhil’s bike, which is the most uncomfortable of Café Racers to be doing a slow speed constantly crisscrossing circular motion ride on!!!!! For a rider like me, who is used to a low and wide comfortable cruising handlebar, Nikhil’s bike was an absolute nightmare to ride!!!!!
The 8’s contest ended in loads of beers and cheers and thrills, chills and spills!! Time for the Rock Concert!! The first band to play was Sceptre, which played a bunch of thrash metal anthems!! Then came Vayu, a classic rocker’s delight who played some of the greatest classic hard rock songs from the catalogue!! I enjoyed every bit of the Vayu concert!! All throughout, people were mingling and making newer and newer friends there!! Beers were being guzzled by the gallons!!!!! There was also a rumour doing the rounds that some people had spotted a huge big white bear dancing somewhere and terrorizing the people in it’s immediate vicinity!!
The party went on late into the night, as was expected and all of us went into slumber with huge satisfactory smiles as a result of a good DAY ONE of Rider Mania 2005!!
CHAPTER 5-B : RIDER MANIA 2005 : Sun, January 9th : Day 5
I don’t really remember how or when I got to bed the night before, but I remember waking up to one of the most bloodcurdling screams ever heard on God’s green Earth!! It was Astad doing his pressure horn impersonation that served as a waking alarm loud and disturbing enough to make Godzilla retire!! I woke up to find myself in a huge hall full of Roadshakers, all sleeping!! And I also woke up to find that I had somehow managed to sleep in my leather jacket!! Hmmm!?!?! I got up and went to the room where my bags were!! Luckily, I had to wait in no line for the bathroom and pretty soon I was fresh and ready for the day ahead!!
I ventured out to find that breakfast had been laid and half consumed already!! I had my fill of a hearty breakfast and went out to the Custom Bike parking area where the bikes were finally going to be judged then!! All the judging happened amidst more laughter and spirited sarcasm!! Balu, I found to be a real funny character who was promising anyone he could find that he would ride with them naked all the way if they went to Chennai with him!! I also found out that he was the huge big white dancing bear the night before, dancing naked in his room balcony!! ROCK ‘N’ F***** ROLL, BABY!!!!!
After the bike judging ended, lunch was announced. I instead obliged the Channel [V] guys who were after me for a video shoot, and we did our little bit with a little ride on the highway and some ride shots in the venue followed by a short interview. After lunch, the Super Sunday Ride was announced and assembled, which actually turned out to be the most mismanaged part of the event!!
The way it’s supposed to be:
A designated leader should lead the Motorcycle parade which should do the entire pre decided route in a disciplined formation at a moderate speed good enough to make noise and comfortable enough for all 200 plus bikers to ride together!!
The way it happened:
A hap hazard death race from anywhere to nowhere and back with no order, discipline or sense in the entire ride!! It was more like, who goes fastest and comes back first!! All the riders scattered instead of being together, and what was supposed to be a Motorcycle parade looked more like a mindless stampede of bikers trying to escape a tsunami on their bikes!!
We all got back from the Motorcycle “run from the tsunami” ride and it was almost dusk by then!! In a forgotten space in time somewhere during the day and a half that had gone by, we were visited by a group of 4 lads on RD350’s who came, checked us all out, did a few stunts, and left and the Yezdi Club who were politely asked to leave coz of some reason Im unaware of!!
Then, between 7 and 8 PM, a gathering of all the Chief’s from all the Tribes was called to discuss the future of RM amongst each other and with Naveen Malhotra, the Royal Enfield representative there!! We all actually sat down in a circle on the ground. Only the traditional peace pipe was missing as a lot of accusations flew in all directions before a lot of terms and conditions were laid bare from all sides and a lot of aasurances given from some corners and some mindless drunkard boozed up attitude crap talk came from a few present there!!
All said and done, it was time for the last of the 3 bands to play and bring another eventful Rider Mania to its curtains!! Another disappointing news we got was that the beer which was promised to us all to last both days had gotten over on the first night itself!! And as a substitute the Riders either could settle for the Royal Stag whiskey that was being sold there or go across the highway to a Motel and get beers for themselves!! The bikers did as pleased them!!
It was then time for the announcement of the winners in various categories and the raffle draws and lucky picks and all that jazz!! The winners were chosen and announced one by one amidst loads of cheers and laughter!! Then there were 2 short video clips shown about bikes and bikers, one by Bilal and by the Roadshakers!! Then there was a silent emotional moment for each one of us as we all remembered and paid tribute to 3 of our brothers whom we had lost on the roads in the year that had gone by!! And finally, the organizers’ team from Inddie Thumpers was called onstage and congratulated for a successful organising of the event!!!!! Then, it was time to rock with another Heavy metal act called Claver!! While the metalheads headbanged in front of the stage, majority of the people rather chose to meet up with everyone they had met over the last two days and spend the last hours of Rider Mania 2005 mingling with their brothers of the road!! Many more friendships were forged and brotherhoods sworn, and day 2 of Rider Mania 05 finally ended late into the night!! After the band, the food and booze had all been packed and gone, most of us were still out in the lawns catching up and just chilling, with regular entertaining interruptions from Balu’s “ROCK ‘N’ F***** ROLL, BABY” in his balcony!! Finally, the night came to an end pretty close to Sunrise!! Rider Mania 2005 was over!!!!!
Chapter 6: The Mania Continues: Mon, Jan 10th: Day 6
As decided before starting from Nagpur, I still had Goa and Hampi to cover before getting back on the road that lead to my home. So, while Sagar decided to head back to Pune and Nikhil and Rajesh decided to turn back to Nagpur, I decided to do the rest of the tour alone!! Sounded good to me!! But what made it better was that Aman, JoJo and JK of the Road Survivors were also on the same road!! So we decided to join forces and do the ride till Goa together!! There was also a bunch of Roadshakers, RTMC and Royal Beasts planning to ride down to Goa after RM, so it seemed like there was another big party waiting to happen there!!
So, on Monday morning, after bidding fair weather and safe rides to our brothers from all over the country, Road Survivors’ Aman, JoJo, JK, Vicky and I alone from Wanderlust MC, hit the road from Panvel to Goa. NH17!! We had 510 kms to cover before we touched Panaji!!
The ride started ok, but ran into minor trouble barely 25 Kms out on the Highway!! One of the Survivors had a flat tyre!! We all stopped at a gas station to fix it and I got the handy tools outta my bag and handed them to Aman who said he knew how to work on the rear tyre!! To my amusement a few minutes later instead of just removing the primary outer nut of the axle, he had also removed the chain adjustment assembly nut that holds the entire hub together!! Hmm.. Aman didn’t know how to work on it after all!! We got the tyre fixed in about half an hour’s time and saw the Roadshakers and Aces roar ahead of us on the highway while we were still fixing the tyre!!
We again got on our way to Goa, and decided to cover as much as we all could ride that day, and hopefully reach Goa the same night!! The road was awesome… a fantastic blend of non stop twisties and smooth curves and hairpin bends all accentuated by a smooth road and the smell of budding flowers on Mango trees all along the highway!! I was enjoying this ride to the MAX!! At around 3 PM we all stopped at a motel for lunch and headed on again, stopping once again for tea at Chiplun, on both instances catching up with the Roadshakers who were doing just a bit better time than us!! Twice we passed a solitary rider going awfully slow on the Highway and asked him about it only to learn that he was a member of the Aces left behind by his gang coz he had a seized piston and couldnt ride fast!! We asked him to ride with us, but he said he would manage it somehow, so we rode on!!
It was dark night now on the highway as we rode on, and suddenly got darker for me coz my headlight went off!! It was so dark that I could barely see the road ahead of me!! We stopped at a Motel and I borrowed a bulb from JoJo and replaced the faulty one with it!! We rode on for a few more Kms and saw all the bikes of Roadshakers and RTMC guys parked outside another Motel in a place called “Hathkumba”, about 200 kms shy of Goa!!
There we had a good dinner and a few rounds of whiskey and a real funny card game introduced to me by the Survivors!! We were having a ball!! The party on the highway was on a roll!! All the clubs there decided to park, in another Motel just about 2 kms ahead, for the night.
CHAPTER 7: GOA: Tue-Fri/Jan 11th –14th: Day 7-10
We all woke up more or lees at the same time to find that the Roadshakers had ridden off and the RTMC guys were just loading up and starting to ride as well!! We all got ready in no time at all!! We were having good co-ordination between us!!
As soon as we got onto the highway, we were all enveloped in thick fog and mist in the twisties through the hilly road!! It was an amazing experience in itself as we all precariously edged our bikes forward on the highway, when gradually the first new rays of the rising Sun evaporated the fog and mist to make way for a blend of Man, Machine and Nature on the Highway best described by the lines below:
WELL WEATHERED LEATHER, HOT METAL AND OIL,
THE SCENTED COUNTRY AIR.
SUNLIGHT ON CHROME, THE BLUR OF THE LANDSCAPE,
EVERY NERVE AWARE.
With the Sun shining clear and bright now, we tore down the highway towards destination Goa and decided on the way to put up at Mandrem once we got there!! We also caught up with Keerthi from RTMC on the way, and took liberal amounts of stops for photo shoots and basically just chilling out on the road!!
After a short stop for breakfast somewhere on the highway, and after a lot of excitement increasing every moment, we finally saw the sign board that brought huge smiles to our faces: “WELCOME TO GOA!!” ROCK ‘n’ F***** ROLL, BABY!!
Getting off the National Highway 17, we entered North Goa through Arambol and after a bit of searching, we finally found Mandrem beach and roared into the Riva Beach Resort there, which was the venue for last year’s Rider Mania!! For me, this felt like sort of a homecoming, like coming full Circle on my bike in a year!!
There were no rooms available in Riva, so we checked into another Hotel hardly a quarter of a Km down the road called Fantasy Land or something!! We got good clean rooms with toilets there at a very reasonable rate and were more than happy with the place!! A few minutes later the RTMC riders too arrived and checked in there!!
After freshening up, we all went down to Riva, and after a lunch and a few beers hit the beach for some fun in the Sun!! Spending the rest of the day at the beach, we went out riding to Baga and Calungute in the evening, just checking out the places and raising hell!! We came back and the Fantasy Land owner had on request, arranged a guitar for me to play which we took to Riva and were joined by the Roadshakers there!! At the table, with beers flowing all around, with my guitar in hand and everyone together, I announned, “Welcome Roadshakers, Survivors, RTMC, Beasters, Aces and Wanderlust… Welcome to RIDER MANIA 2005:5 GOA!!” And the party began!! And also began those WILD NIGHTS and HOT ‘N’ CRAZY DAYS!!!!!
The next four days, January 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th [days 7,8,9 and 10 of my tour] were a non stop party full of all kinds of adventure and excitement that no words can describe!! The kind of fun one can only hope to have in Goa.. you have to be there to believe it!! The next four days were full of crazy days with lazy afternoons on the beach, in the ocean, guzzling down gallons of beers, seafood, beers, bikes, beers, beaches, beers, babes in all kinds of bikinis, beers, babes without any bikinis, beers, non stop roaming from one place to another, beers, music, beers, bazaars, beers, friends, beers, staying up partying all nights on the beach, beers, starting the next day with a Beer for breakfast, and some more beers… a sinfully ecstatic orgy of all the above and a whole lot more!! Some of the highlights were the Anjuna Flea Market on Wednesday where we later caught up with the Beasters and had another party, spending the whole night staying up on the beach playing music. We were also joined in the fun by Biku and Sandy from Survivors who had missed out on RM, but rode down to Goa to join the party, and Bawa and Rajan from Beasters. Then on Thursday night, Aman and I headed off to Arambol, the Hippy village and had an amazing experience of acoustic live music at its best at the Loekie Café there, owned and run by a well known Hippy called Zuzu!! There was an open guitar and open mic there!! Anyone could come and sing and Aman and I had a taste of Portuguese music there with a guy singing an incredible Portuguese folk song in his language. Later an English woman came and did an acapella in no language at all.. just emanating weird sounds in her voice making no words at all, and being described as a Romanian Gypsy in her previous birth!! Then came on a grand old lady with a handsome voice groaning the Blues complete with a Blues Harp and two guitars to accompany her, and then a couple of guys doing an amazing acoustic version of “Substitute” by “The Who”… all crazy mad fun!!
On Friday, being our last day in Goa, we all further expolored Arambol all the way till the sweet water lake, a beautiful lagoon in Northernmost Goa!! The same evening we caught up wuth Rajan, Bawa, July, Ankush, Heidi, Bobbee and Olga from the Beasters for the jam session on the beach in Mandrem!! After that, while the Survivors retired into their beds, the party continued and got wilder for Bobbee, Heidi and me as we went to the Surf Bar, a Hippy joint hidden deep in the trees in Arambol for a live music night there!! This was the finest day Ive ever had in Goa and one of the best parties I’ve ever been to!! There was a band playing with an open mic, and anyone could come and sing if they knew the song and the words!! The most memorable song that day being a nearly 20 minute rocking and rolling version of “Walking in your Footsteps” by “The Police” being sung by the same grand old lady singin’ the blues the night before at the Loekie Café with the music playing like a continuous self manifested orgy of sounds intertwining and intermingling with our minds and souls in mid air and taking us all higher and deeper at the same time into unexplored levels of euphoric ecstacy!! The music played itself, it seemed, as the blues lady stepped away and gave the mic to a hot young chick singing to everyone ”If you’ve got the juice, you gotta turn it loose” and finally an elderly hippy gent singin’ “There’s a party in the village”, actually signaling to everyone that the party at the Surf Bar was over and was gonna continue in the “village”!! All through this orgasmic madness, almost everyone was dancing with Mary Jane and Puffing the Magic Dragon and Lucy was definitely in the Sky with Diamonds!!!!! It felt like I had caught the 1969 WOODSTOCK afterparty there!! Bobbee, Heidi and I had a fantastic time that lasted into the wee small hours of the morning!! Then, after spending some more time together at the Riva resort, the three of us parted ways and I headed back to Fantasy Land to spend what was remaining of the night in sweet slumber!! After a night like that, the sweet angels of slumbertown were calling out my name like the song of the Sirens that lured Odysseus to their forbidden shores!! And I was more than willing to sail to them now!!
CHAPTER 8: The improbable breakdown: Sat, Jan 15th: Day 11
Somewhere during the madness in Goa, it had dawned upon the Survivors that they all had to get back home and to their Jobs on time!! They had originally planned a trip all the way down South till Kanniyakumari, but now seemed short of days to do that. At the same time, I would be alone from Goa till Hampi and Nagpur coz we were all to part ways from here!! I showed them my tour plan and route and told them about Hampi, and they all agreed that instead of riding all the way down South it would be wiser to do the tour as I had planned for myself alone!!
So, on Saturday morning after breakfast, Aman, Jojo, Jk, Sandy, Biku and I started out together for Hampi via the Londa, Dharwad and Hubli!! The ride started off well, as always, till we entered the State of Karanataka and the roads suddenly disappeared to make way for a broken down pathetic excuse for a dirt track!! As we entered Londa and passed a village, my bike suddenly stalled!! I started it again and put it into gear and had barely ridden 5 meters when we all heard a sound like someone had put a whole big bunch of nuts and bolts in a big mixer and grinder and turned it on… and my bike stopped, and my heart sank!! I was still wondering what the extent of the breakdown could be when Biku suddenly let fly his theories at the speed of 100 reasons for breakdowns per second!! “I think the piston’s gone, could be the clutch, maybe the Engine bearings, Im sure the crankshaft is broken, I think your gearbox is history, I believe you’re gonna need a new floating bush, etc.,..”, till Aman interrupted him and said.. “No time discussing possibilities now.. what next??” It was decided that Jojo would tow my bike through the terrible dirt track for 60 Kms till the next Service station in Dharwad!! It was a hellish nightmare of the worst kind for both JoJo and myself to have pulled that feat off, even crashing once badly when the rope got entangled in my front wheel!! I remember commenting at that moment, “This is the WORST day of my life!!”
We somehow managed to reach Dharwad and found a Bullet Mechanic who opened up my clutch cover to reveal to us, in Jojo’s words, the most improbable of breakdowns ever!! The spinning magnet had cracked and its broken piece got stuck into the coil around it causing it to spin and break the 3 stays that hold the coil screwed to the inner clutch cover!! I had to get a new magnet and a new inner clutch cover for the bike to run again!! I was tired and bruised from the fall and immensely fatigued from manoevuring the bike being towed through 60 kms of the terrible dirt road. The spare parts were available in Hubli, about 25 kms away!! I requested and Biku agreed to help me out!! He went all the way to Hubli and back with the mechanic for the parts while I took a little catnap on my bike at the mechanic’s workshop!! In a matter of about 3 hours, my bike was good and ready for the ride ahead!! It was one bad experience, and I cant thank the Survivors enough, specially, Jojo and Biku, for helping me get through it like true brothers of the road!! It was almost 8 PM then!!!!!
We rode from on Dharwad till Hubli and found a place to eat and stay at a lodge there!! A very eventful day had come to an end with a well deserved bout of sleep for us all!!
CHAPTER 9: HAMPI and KURNOOL: Sun, Jan 16th: Day 12
Rising fresh and new from the good night’s sleep in Hubli, we were ready to ride the land of the Ancients. HAMPI!! I also got a call from a friend at that time that my interview was shown on NDTV’s Car and Bike show, so I was quite excited and in good spirits about everything that day!!
A few hours of riding brought us to Hampi, and we were bedazzled by the magnificent Architecture, the ruins, the Temples!! Jojo probably clicked a thousand pics there!! Though rushed because of the time wasted by the breakdown during the previous day, exploring Hampi was clearly one of the best parts of our tour!! A group of bikers on a machine legendary in itself, riding through the ruins of an Ancient Kingdom!!
We toured HAMPI till about 3 in the afternoon and decided to head on to Kurnool!! Biku and Sandy turned back for Goa and it was just Aman, Jojo, Jk and I for the journey ahead!! We all stopped for lunch at a motel in Bellary on NH68 around 5 PM, and then via Guntakal and Gooty and the worst National Highway I’ve ever been on, we finally reached Kurnool on NH7, one of the best National Highways Ive ever ridden on!! We put up in a lodge for the night after a good dinner, and went off to get some good sleep!! The next days ride would be from Kurnool to Nagpur via Hyderabad on NH7… a cool 750 Kms to be covered in a day!!
CHAPTER 10: The Road Never ends: Mon, Jan 17th: Day 13
We started out from Kurnool at about 8 AM in the finest of our spirits!! The mood was electric, the road was inviting, the weather was great and the bikes were raring to go!! After a brief halt to tank up on fuel, we let the bikes rip… I did, anyway for which I repented later!! As I revved my machine, and slowly watched the rest of the 3 fade into the rearview mirror, and throttled my bike way beyond the 110 Kmph mark, I suddenly again heard my bike make a sound that I had never heard it make before!! Luckily, my basic biker instincts made me pull in the clutch and roll the bike to a stop by the wayside!!
People who have read “The Lord Of The Rings” may remember from the chapter “Mount Doom”, the moment when Frodo, standing on the very edge of the cracks of doom, proclaims aloud that ”The Ring Is Mine”. At that very instant, the Dark Lord Sauron realizes his folly, as he sees his entire masterplan to cover all of Middle Earth in darkness, standing on the brink of being foiled itself!!
My folly that day was a tad bit bigger than Sauron’s in Tolkien’s masterpiece!! I had forgotten to check the Oil Level in my bike before starting off that morning, and due to overspeeding and lack of oil in the sump, my Piston had partially Seized!! We had no other option but to wait for it to cool down and then assess the extent of the situation!! We decided to use that time for breakfast!! We pegged the bike to a motel about one Km ahead and had a good Punjabi brekfast of Paranthas and Anda bhurji there!! The bike had cooled down and started in a kick!! I rode it slowly to the next gas station, topped up the oil in the chamber and put about 100 ml of 2T oil in the fuel tank as well!!
After this, I rode quite precariously all the way till Hyderabad, a distance of about 200 Kms!! We all got separated from each other somewhere inside Hyderabad city and regrouped again on the Hyd-Nag NH7!! Here on we decided to go the remaining distance of 490 Kms with minimal stops!! With Jojo and Aman tailing, Jk and I decided to let our wheels fly till we tired out, and stopped only briefly for tea and regrouping at Nirmal!! From there on, we rode together, stopping again for about an hour to fix another flat that one of the 3 Survivors had!! It was a pleasant and tiring night ride all the way through good and bad roads and a couple more stops for tea and to splash our eyes with water to keep us awake, till finally we read the sign that signaled the end of the tour for me!! “WELCOME TO ORANGE CITY NAGPUR!!”
We finally reached my home at about 2 AM in the night and were welcomed by my mom and dad who were anxiously awaiting us!! I had earlier called and told them about our arrival and to keep my room ready for 4 guys to sleep in!! Then, before dinner at home, Aman, Jk and I had a couple of Whiskies. The four of us riders had covered 750 Kms in 16 hours that day with a seized piston, a flat tyre, innumerable stops and 8 hours of night riding!! I checked my odo, and my bike had done 3726 Kms from the start to the finish of the tour!! And finally at about 3:30AM we all dozed off into sound sleep!!
The next morning, we all woke up at our own leisure, and after about 2 weeks of being on the road, had breakfast at home!! Strangeley, after being on the road with Aman, Jojo and Jk for the whole of last week, and though it felt good to be home, it felt really sad that the tour had ended for me!! When I saw the guys loading up their bikes again, I suddenly got the feeling that I too should be loading my bike again and riding on with them!! It was hard for me to believe that this Rider Mania 05 tour was over for me!! As they say.. “For the true rider, the road never ends – And the Mania Never stops”.. THAT’s the true essence of Rider Mania for me!!
Aman, Jojo and JK loaded up their bikes and we again rode off together to Nikhil’s Royal Enfield Dealership, PARAGON TRADERS, where we got the bikes of the Survivors checked for the ride ahead!! They still had 2 and a half more days of riding to do till they reached home in Chandigarh!! As we finally rolled out of Paragon Traders to see them off, it felt really weird to me to ride beside them without my touring bags loaded on my bike.
After a little photoshoot at the ZERO MILE in Nagpur [the Center of India], Nikhil, Shivraj and I led the Survivors onto NH69, their road to Delhi, and after a few hugs, cheers and good wishes for the journey ahead, watched them ride on till they mingled into the traffic and rode out of our sights towards their long journey back home!!
I then came back home and reflected upon the journey that had started from the very gates of my home, taking me through so many experiences, good and bad, with so many friends, through so many different places, cultures, and roads that finally brought me back here, back to the place it all started from, back home, and these lines from a famous song came to my mind to describe the whole journey to perfection:
Sometimes the lights were shining on me,
Other times I could barely see,
Lately it occours to me,
What a Long, Strange trip it’s been!!!!!