BOBMC Rider Mania Unleashing the brotherhood and where it all began! Tue, 05 May 2015 05:21:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Highway to Marriott – A Solo Ride Sun, 05 Jan 2014 18:10:11 +0000 Very rarely in life does one come across occasions where one can stitch variables from ones personal passion and ambitions along with his/her professional commitments and create the perfect marriage between the two.

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Very rarely in life does one come across occasions where one can stitch variables from ones personal passion and ambitions along  with his/her professional commitments and create the perfect marriage between the two.

Prem Joseph the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Marriott hotels located in Hyderabad, was amongst those lucky few who was able to find an occasion to do so.

Long before Prem joined the Marriott Hotels he was a part of the BOBMC brotherhood and has ridden along with clubs like the Inddiethumpers and the Madras Bull to his current club the RTMC in Bangalore. In fact Prem was amongst the fortunate few to attend the first Rider Mania in Goa.

Prem always kept his passion alive for biking despite his growing professional commitments. However, time was becoming scarce and between career with increasing responsibilities and a family with two dotting daughters dreams of doing an all India ride for Prem was fast dying.

It was then that everything fell in place to create the ride of lifetime for Prem. BOBMC approached Prem for sponsorship of a few vouchers from Marriott for Rider Mania in Chennai 2014. To ensure all Marriott’s participated and to create a long term relationship with BOBMC the idea evolved to support Marriott’s Spirit to Serve concept which is basically Marriott’s CSR initiative.

About Marriott Home & Rising Star Outreach

Rising Star Outreach fondly called as Marriott Home shelters the children of people who have been affected with Leprosy. Their mission is to help the Leprosy colonies become thriving, self-sufficient communities. They accomplish this through three major initiatives: Economic rehabilitation through micro-grants; providing medical care through mobile medical clinics; educating children by providing opportunities to become productive citizens of India.

The children there have a school, a community centre, library and playing ground where they spend time with each other studying, playing and growing in a spirit of peace and harmony. The joy they share among themselves is spread over to the associates at Courtyard Chennai who wait for their chance to go and spend time with the children.

Through their association with Marriott Home, the hotel team helps deliver vital services to people affected by leprosy in the nearby Bharathapuram colony. The team works to raise funds for the colony; provide educational opportunities for adults and children, focusing on English instruction and computer literacy; and introduce business training and concepts like micro-credit, which have helped turn the poverty-stricken hamlet into a thriving colony.

For more details log into –

Prem and the BOBMC team came up with the win- win proposal. Every Marriott Hotel in India would sponsor a voucher for two nights stay inclusive of breakfast. 7 of these vouchers would be put up for auction to the BOBMC community and the remaining would be given away as gifts and prizes. The money collected from the auctions would be given to the Marriott Home which coincidentally is in Chennai as well.

With this plan in mind, Prem with the help of BOBMC members set out on  6700 Km solo ride (Delhi- Chandigarh- Gurgaon – Jaipur- Bhopal- Ahmedabad- Mumbai- Pune- Goa- Bangalore- Cochin- Trivandrum- Chennai – Hyderabad) with mission to not only collect the vouchers from each hotel but to also spread the word of the BOBMC community across India.  Prem started his journey on the 6th of Dec and completed his ride on the 22nd of Dec. Majority of the breaks were to interact with the Press and media.

Leveraging Marriott’s PR network, Prem was able to not only spread the word on Marriott’s Spirit to Serve ethos and the Marriott Home, but was also able to create impressive press coverage for BOBMC and Rider Mania.

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When asked about this best experience during the ride that was over 15 days, Prem’s pat reply was “ I started out thinking that this was a solo ride and obviously had my apprehensions about the same. Not long into the journey I realized that I wasn’t alone on this ride. The brotherhood was always with me. I had an electrical problem with the bike in Jaipur and really thought I was stuck. It was then that I realized the strength of the brotherhood. Help came pouring in from various sources, people I never knew nor did they know me. All we had in common was the bond of the brotherhood. Believe me when I say I finally had to switch off my phone at 2am that night because of the phone calls coming in to ask whether I received the help in wanted. And this was not just in Jaipur every city I went there was the presence of the Brotherhood willing to help and support you at any cost”

Would he consider this ride a success. “ Absolutely. At each hotel we were able to generate the desired publicity apart from the donations. I do hope the auctions work well and we would be able to forge a long term relationship with the Marriott. Equally encouraging , every hotel I went had Bulleteers who were keen and willing to do the ride the coming year. This could turn out to be a joint annual event between Marriott and BOBMC coinciding with Rider Mania.”

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Rider Mania 2004: Of Sun and sands Wed, 24 Jul 2013 19:30:56 +0000 Rider Mania 2004 – Mumbai – Goa – By Prem Joseph Every good thing in life has to come to an end, but the good thing about that is we know that its not the end of the road and we’ll have these days again. Rider Mania 2004 was one of those experiences. After a […]

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Rider Mania 2004 – Mumbai – Goa – By Prem Joseph

Every good thing in life has to come to an end, but the good thing about that is we know that its not the end of the road and we’ll have these days again. Rider Mania 2004 was one of those experiences. After a lot of hue and cry the Chief was finally declared Road worthy for the Goa trip and that too at 2300 hrs on the 7th.

DAY One 08/01/04
All set to leave at 0545 hrs on the 8th from the Leela’s and then from Chembur at 0620hrs. The group had been given strict instructions that those who were not on time would have to catch up later on as there would be no waiting business this time. So at sharp 0445 hrs on the 8th I’m up to check my kit one final time. Never had prepared so much for a trip before. New leather jacket, new bungi chords and net, spark plug, chain lock, new camera and not to mention the new retro silencer I had put on the Tbird (Chief). Man I was so excited that my room mate even commented that I was behaving like a teenager going on his first date. Hah what does he know what RM is all about and above that what the InddieThumpers are. Anyways with a full tank I’m at Leela’s at 0530 hrs 15 min before schedule to meet Sunny at 0545 he doesn’t turn up and at 0550 I decide to move on. Reach Chembur along with Rasik and the customary yelling and hugging goes on while a few irritated crows decided to leave their nesting trees, guess they never thought they would be disturbed like this before sunrise. Leave the place at 0645, late but none the less a marked improvement from the usual IST. Picked up a couple of guys from Vashi though there was no stop and then proceeded to Panvel where Gautam, Dino, Rose and Calvin joined us. The grp (21 bikes) decided to stop next only at Mahad. And so we thumped ahead. 50 odd kms down the line where the turn for Alibagh and Pajim comes Rasik who was leading the packdecided to stop for a cig I guess but waves on those behind him which was me and Vijay. So we both rode on oblivious that there was no one behind us. The roads at 8 in the morning with a thin fog and the slightly chilly weather was paradise. The new thump of the Chief with the retros were music to my ears. Vijay and I ripped at an avg of 100 to 110 till 0900 hrs. When we decided to stop 4 the others. The first bike to arrive at the spot was Rasik at 0945 hrs and we waved him along. By 1000 hrs majority of the grp had passed us and we decided to move again, after a light breakfast.

Ripped again to our hearts content again. Anthon and Hemal had decided to ride along with us by then with Anthon in the lead. It was pure pleasure driving with these guys especially Anthon in the Ghats. I just had to follow his path and I we were clocking an avg of 90 km/hr even on the Ghats. Have never done such speeds on the Ghats before. Vijay and Hemal had a few close escapes with Hemal nearly racing off the road on the Ghats. Anyways by 1200 hrs we touch Chiplun and decide to wait 4 the others and have lunch. Sunny, Pritam, Anil and a guy whose name I believe was Ameen turn ! up by around 1230 hrs. We get the bad news that Gautam had a fall just b4 Chiplun and his bike has been taken to a workshop close by for repairs. Me and Vijay get there relieved to find that Gautam ok though the shocks of Whispering Thunder would have to be changed which would take a couple of hrs. Anthon, Vijay, Hemal, Pritam, Ameen and I decide to move on at 1400 hrs as there’s no point in all of us waiting. With Anthon at the lead again we go ahead ripping to glory. Man! Anthon made the group do something like 200 odd kms before we stopped. Mid way Ameen’s bike stalled and we find theres no engine oil. I stopped along with Vijay and Pritam but couldn’t wave down Anthon and Hemal. Vijay went ahead and picked up oil and rode back. Its a pity I must say some people aren’t grateful enough coz after that we never heard of this character. Apparently he decided to stay else where and never decided to meet us again.

Anyways we reached the Goa Check point at 1930 hrs and catch up with Hemal and Anthon who had reached half and hour back. By 2030 hrs we reach Calangute to be greeted by Bruce and the gang ( Bilal, Yash, Dilip, Zenosh, Amith and his fiance) They were supposed to reach on the 7th but stayed overnite coz a couple of the guys found it too tiring. The 8th nite was pretty relaxing. Spent sometime at a shack on the Calangute beach. While on the beach got news of the others on their way. Abhishek, Menon, Vishy, Bozi decided to stop some 100 kms before Goa as Vishy was nearly falling asleep on his bike. Sir DJ had a fall and had to keep his bike at a hospital at Ratnagar and carry on in a car. The flat was pretty congested with just 3 rooms and 30 odd people. Hemal, Bruce and I pile into a double bed and call it a day.Bilal did try his luck to pile in but was thrown out of the bed by the three of us.

DAY Two 09/01/04
Got up lazily to find Gautam and Rasik in the room too. Apparently they reached pretty late and were chilling out at Tito’s from till the wee hours in the morning. By around noonish we move to Brittos at Baga. After the customary beers and oogling at the scantly dressed firangs we decide to test the waters of Baga. By now Saxena had also joined us and we ( Bruce, Saxena, Vishy, Vijay, Rasik, Subbu and I) have a gala time in the water. Dipesh decided to do show off his muscles in the Bhaga water after some time only to be attacked by Bruce, Vijay, Saxens and myelf. The poor guy was first immersed in water and then subjected to a sandstorm. Was great fun to see Dipesh in his white Jockeys run for his life. After some lite shopping we move to a fav joint of mine on Calangute beach for lunch. Ok guys heres the menu – Prawn Vindaloo, Chicken Cafreal, Stuffed Crabs, Roast Pork, beef chops, Grilled Kingfish, Crab Curry, Port Wine, Beer, Irish Cofee and banana split. Man those who weren’t there what can I say……. there are some things in life that u just cant miss.With such a heavy lunch we decided a couple of us decided to crash out for sometime. Spent the evening arranging Sir DJ’s air ticket back to Mumbai on the 10th and a drop. Plus we got the patches made from Mumbai stitched on to our brand new leather jackets. Man they really looked cool. Rasik and a couple of guys took the initiative of arranging a booze party in the evening. Goa and booze……. take a wild guess guys on how it must have been. The party went on in its usual flow with booze and the laughter all around. That when Goli (Sameer) and I for some reason had a discussion. Before u know it Goli and I cleared the centre table and decided to end an argument with an arm wrestling match. Man that created the whole atmosphere. Soon there was an official InddieThumpers arm wrestling match. Who was the winner? Well overall Zico defeated me once and in a rematch I defeated him. Otherwise we lost to none other. Zenosh was definetely one of the hot favourites and when I had a match with him the guy proved to be stronger than I thought.

With all the Daru over and arms aching we moved on to Calangute beach for Dinner. Had a huge table set on the beach and placed the orders for everyone. Bilal I guess had a few too many drinks and lets say was feeling a bit too generous, throwing his wallet all over the beach. But hey, then these are the things that make a party complete. Way to go Bilal! On the way back Dilip uncle met with a small accident with a Kinetic and broke the bikes headlight. Nothing major but it hurts when its on a new bike. The rest of the nite was pretty peaceful except for Subbu’s Snoring.

Day Three 10/01/03 – RIDER MANIA
The reason why we are here has come. Everyone was visibly excited. Helmets and bikes were being cleaned, jackets were being donned, guys were actually going to a near by saloon for a shave!!! Bruce and I put up the two flags that were made the previous nite on sticks and had them put on the bikes. It was decided that Bruce and I would lead the pack and there would be no overtaking and the speed would be 50 odd. Guys the feeling is one Im sure anyone who has ridden with us would know about. And I was feeling xtra proud coz I was leading the pack. Thanx to all the senior members who let me do so. Tony and his friend met us mid way and lead the pack with their Honda City in front. It was a sight to see. 34 bullets and the honking mania. A couple of passerbys even started to honk the Thumper honk. And the entry we made was amazing imagine all the honking with the bikes riding down the slope to Riva resort.

Once in the resort we did what we did the best. The moment we heard free Beer the waiters had a tough time. Saw a couple of cool looking bikes modified, new and old ones. The best part was the ideas we got for future changes we may want to put on our bikes.Couple of bottles down and majority of us moved to the beach with our bottles to check out the firangs and the rate the stock. The best part was when Goli man decided to use Calvin (3 yr old) as a pretext to get close to the dames on the beach. By evening Sachin (REM) called us for a beach football match. From the Inddie Thumpers Bruce, Vijay, Abhishek and I decided to play with me and Abhishek on one team and the other two with others on the other. Sidhartha Lal joined us after sometime and made the mistake of joining the other team. Poor fellow came in front of me and got the kick of his life that kept him on the sand for a few mins and finally retired hurt. Hehehe..No guys it wasn’t intentional.

The rest of the evening was as usual with beer and guys rocking the dance floor. Must admit the Rolling Thunder made the loudest noise but the Inddies horn was also playing on the floor courtesy Zico, who had bought one of those hand horns. By around 2330 hrs we decided to ride back as it was a good 30 km ride and quite a few of the guys were pretty high. The ride back was ok till at some place we got stuck in a major jam of some Sat nite market and were stuck there for a good 30 mins. The only good thing about that was the dames we got to check out there. Looked like the doors of Dame Land had opened up and they too were staring at the leather clad bull hoisted guys. Once we reached the flat found out that Bozi had blown up a tyre and had to leave the bike back. Decided to pick up the bike the next day.

Day Four 11/01/03
Guys got a bit grogy and it was unanimously decided not to go to RM for the proposed ride. We were planning to go to Paloleim beach which was some 80 odd kms from Calangute, when Zen, Bruce, Vijay and Abhishek decided thay were moving on to Jog Falls Shimoga some 180 kms from Goa, and return to Mumbai on the 13th nite. Dilip, Yash and Kumar decided to move and stop mid way for the nite and reach Mumbai on the 13th. So after the usual hugging, farewells and promises to meet at Carter took place and at 1330 hrs the rest of us decided to move to Porvorim circle to another fav joint of mine called O’Coquiero. Here goes the menu again-Pork Chops, Roast Piglet, Grilled Pomfret, Kingfish Curry, Chicken Cafreal, Pork Chops, Beef Steak, Grilled Crabs, Butter chicken, Beer, Wine, Margaritas, Tequilla shots et al. Only poor Hemal looked lost with his veg curry and rice. Well as to how good the food was?……….. I guess it’s evident that all the guys went back and crashed for a good two hours. Allwyn’s sister joined us later on with her friend. Man she must’ve been frightened with the way we were hogging away to glory.

The evening was spent quietly on the Baga beach with a few drinks and a very lite dinner. It was planned that Gautam, Anil, Subbu and Myself would be the first batch to leave at 0430 hrs and the next batch would Anthon at 0500 hrs and Rasik would bring along whoever was left by 0600 hrs.

Day Five 12/01/03 – Bye, Bye, Goa
Up at sharp 0400 hrs and was all set to go by 0430. The other guys were also ready and we left by 0445. Before leaving Subbu asked me if it would be very cold. Little did I know what lay ahead of us when I said it would be slightly chilly. After and hour or so of riding my fingers were so numb that I could’nt feel my fingers. Thats when I decided to change my half gloves for the full ones. I waved the guys ahead and stopped to take out the gloves from the bag. Guys Im not exaggerating. my fingers had become so numb that I was struggling to open the bag for 20 mins and I couldnt even open my jackets zipper. Luckily a local came along and helped me out. Caught up with the gang after 45 mins. We stopped at this place called Ratnaghar or Rajaghar where Yash and the guys had stopped for the nite. Kumars bike’s battery was giving him some problems and they had a mech working on it. There were 4 firangs on bull who were on their way from Mumbai to Goa! Well guess what they had heard about The Thumpers and knew what we were all about. They couldnt believe their luck when we told them Anthon was on his way behind us, coz as per someone recommendation they had gone to his garage only to be told he had gone to Goa. Anthon arrived half an hour earlier with Hemal but the firangs were luckless coz Anthon true to his nature zoomed by and failed to notice us standing there. Rasik joined us by 0930 hrs with Dipesh and Bilal. At 0945 hrs Rasik and I with Gautam decided to carry on. The ride was pretty much eventless but it was nature at it best and Ghats were simply superb, except for the fact that there was a trail of oil on the highway for a good 30 kms. Rrasik and I actually skidded a couple of times over it. We finally caught up with the culprit, a truck as expected with a Transformer on it whose oil was spilling. We stopped the guy and forced him off the highway. After giving him a piece of our mind the guy took the truck to a nearby pertrol pump and started to fix the problem. From there on the speed became full throttle with no stops except once when me and Amith had to stop to remove a pup from middle of the highway. reached Chiplun at 1200 hrs and had a lite lunch we moved on. Lost the group midway coz my clutch cable broke. Was feeling a bit sleepy durin the day with the heavy lunch and early morning but managed to do speed of 80 to 90 . At 1700hrs reached Panvel to find Rasik arguing with a cop coz he didnt have his papers. The Dick actually convinced the guy to let him go by saying he’d arrange a loan for him the UTI branch of Panvel hahahha!! Anyways, bid him good bye at Belapur and reached home at 1815 hrs.

When I look back at this trip………guys I dont know how to say. Was it faultless….. definately not, could it have been organised better….. probably, Was it worth it…………. anyday, would I do it again……………. WHEN DO WE LEAVE. Signing out with memories that would last for a long time and with hopes the next trip is round the corner.

Written by Prem Joseph of Inddiethumpers

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Rider Mania 08: A biker movie in a filmcity Wed, 24 Jul 2013 17:36:06 +0000 The ride to the second RM was a lot easier because I had done the route before and we were riding in a big group. RM was happening in Ramoji film city, and I really wanted to partake in the entire experience, so I consciously decided not to carry work. Thankfully, because of my past […]

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The ride to the second RM was a lot easier because I had done the route before and we were riding in a big group. RM was happening in Ramoji film city, and I really wanted to partake in the entire experience, so I consciously decided not to carry work. Thankfully, because of my past record, I got a colleague to act as back up for the two days that I was away.

The group had fun riding, but after a long, hard day on the road with the destination nowhere in sight, patience started wearing thin. Some members wanted to stay the night in Hyderabad and leave in the morning, but finally, after a lot of deliberation, we decided to ride on. When we finally reached, it was the Cinderella story in reverse! – it was close to midnight, the party was just starting, there was a lot of activity and hot food. So much better than being cooked up in some hotel and cold sandwiches for dinner!!

I was staying in the dorm inside Filmcity. When the organizers were escorting me to my room, I was too tired to notice the roads or landmarks leading up to the dorm … which made for a rather interesting next day! I decided to get an early start the next day to catch up with the other folks over coffee and breakfast. I had grossly underestimated the vastness of the film city, and became Alice in the Film City Wonderland. I kept going round in circles and had practically toured the entire city on my purple and white bike. I got some very interesting directions from security guards that led me to the airport, railway station, a nearby film set…. Everywhere except where I had to go! I finally managed to reach the actual venue with the help of one of the organizers, just in time for breakfast. Everyone who was present at the previous RM kept pulling my leg about my ‘missing’ laptop bag. I played along saying I just finished shooting for a song on a bike at the film city!

I had a wonderful time at RM – partying and dancing on the lawns on both days with the nights being surprisingly cool and pleasant. I also made sure that I took the complete tour of the film city, much to the amusement of the security guards who saw me riding around the previous day.

The ride back from Hyderabad to Bangalore was quite eventful – one of the couples fell on the badly lit highway and we had to make sure they were taken care of. We reached Bangalore late at night. Inside the comfort of my warm home, I started to wonder about the fact that the same route was done a year back in about 10 hours and in complete daylight. This time, it took almost 16 hours, and we rode well into the night. Was it because we were such a large group? Maybe, I had just become older and my weary bones were beginning to feel the pain of being on a bike and riding for that long!!!

The ride to the second RM was a lot easier because I had done the route before and we were riding in a big group. RM was happening in Ramoji film city, and I really wanted to partake in the entire experience, so I consciously decided not to carry work. Thankfully, because of my past record, I got a colleague to act as back up for the two days that I was away.

The group had fun riding, but after a long, hard day on the road with the destination nowhere in sight, patience started wearing thin. Some members wanted to stay the night in Hyderabad and leave in the morning, but finally, after a lot of deliberation, we decided to ride on. When we finally reached, it was the Cinderella story in reverse! – it was close to midnight, the party was just starting, there was a lot of activity and hot food. So much better than being cooked up in some hotel and cold sandwiches for dinner!!

I was staying in the dorm inside Filmcity. When the organizers were escorting me to my room, I was too tired to notice the roads or landmarks leading up to the dorm … which made for a rather interesting next day! I decided to get an early start the next day to catch up with the other folks over coffee and breakfast. I had grossly underestimated the vastness of the film city, and became Alice in the Film City Wonderland. I kept going round in circles and had practically toured the entire city on my purple and white bike. I got some very interesting directions from security guards that led me to the airport, railway station, a nearby film set…. Everywhere except where I had to go! I finally managed to reach the actual venue with the help of one of the organizers, just in time for breakfast. Everyone who was present at the previous RM kept pulling my leg about my ‘missing’ laptop bag. I played along saying I just finished shooting for a song on a bike at the film city!

I had a wonderful time at RM – partying and dancing on the lawns on both days with the nights being surprisingly cool and pleasant. I also made sure that I took the complete tour of the film city, much to the amusement of the security guards who saw me riding around the previous day.

The ride back from Hyderabad to Bangalore was quite eventful – one of the couples fell on the badly lit highway and we had to make sure they were taken care of. We reached Bangalore late at night. Inside the comfort of my warm home, I started to wonder about the fact that the same route was done a year back in about 10 hours and in complete daylight. This time, it took almost 16 hours, and we rode well into the night. Was it because we were such a large group? Maybe, I had just become older and my weary bones were beginning to feel the pain of being on a bike and riding for that long!!!

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Rider Mania 07: A Wanderer’s Chronicles Wed, 24 Jul 2013 17:25:10 +0000 For a long-standing solo rider like me, any company is always welcome; but in this instance, getting to ride with RTMC was a privilege, so what if we were only 4 Bullets! It’s another thing when you are riding in a small pack, early in the morning, bugs entering your mouth, your nose, your eyes […]

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For a long-standing solo rider like me, any company is always welcome; but in this instance, getting to ride with RTMC was a privilege, so what if we were only 4 Bullets!

It’s another thing when you are riding in a small pack, early in the morning, bugs entering your mouth, your nose, your eyes and you take your bike up through the gears, till the sound of the engine fills up more than your ears, till it fills up your very soul.

Man, was I happy!!

The stretch till Kollekal is heavenly, four-laned almost all the way, and it sure was bliss, overtaking the trucks, seeing the others all lit up in the my rear-view mirror and slowly but surely – as one familiar landmark after the other fell by – letting the magic of the road fill my being. And then, with the skies lightening into dawn, we reach Kollekal and I turn left and pull into the A-1 Plaza.

First thing GR says when his helmet comes off is “Why did you turn and stop man, the ride was heavenly”. But then, this is where he wanted to turn back from, so that is what he did and we also rode ahead in no time as there was no Tea available at the place.

After Kollekal, it was Deepa who was leading; I take off after her and note that Prashant is talking to the Reliance Bunk attendant. There’s no sign of Prashant as Deepa flies in front of me. By now the light is getting brighter and I note that the quaint water-logged quarry before Toopran where I have stopped on a number of times to watch the water-birds is getting filled up.

Maybe the right place to put up another A-1 Plaza or some swanky resort, eh??

We ride on, me happy to tail and maintain a safe riding distance, doing a nice 80-90 and drinking my fill of the green Turmeric and the just awakened Sunflowers, even as trucks get overtaken and Sumos and Cars on the wrong side get the middle finger. Then I see a blazing headlight on my right and yes, Nomad is here. Prashant also seems content on riding herd and we do exactly that for something like 20kms or so and then he suddenly high-tails it.

I am content being on the highway, happy with my pace and not keen on pushing this bike I love so much, so I see Prashant and Deepa become specks in front of me and then disappear, till we link up again, when I see them parked on the left side of the road at Narsingi. I tell Prashant everything is okay but I am not happy with the way the bike is moving and that I will carry on at my pace.

He wanted to know where the next A-1 Plaza is but it’s a while since I was on this road and 2 years or so back there weren’t that many A-1 Plazas. So we start off again and the bikes in front of me become specks again. A bit after, a blue Thunderbird comes pretty close to me on the right side, the rider gesticulates, I say, Hi, Hello, etc. Evidently he can’t hear over the din of two Enfields, he now comes to the left, tries to pull his Balaclava down to talk, I shout and say “You must be Deep, Prashant is up ahead”, he falls back and then in a burst of heavy truck traffic, I lose sight of him.

If you are lucky enough to be on a road when the light is that of a full-blown golden winter morning, you can’t just ride through, you get touched to the through. I can see the water birds in the ponds, road side ditches and the small stretches of wetlands. I want to stop and put the camera to use, but I am pretty happy just riding along. From Ramayampet to Kamareddi is a lovely wooded stretch where the road dips and snakes nicely and this is where, while I am having fun with the throttle that I see two RE’s parked on the left side of the road and Prashant up-ending a bottle. Before my heel can crash on the neutral finder, Prashant waves me on and I ride on, enjoying the sights and the beginnings of the usual pain in the butt.

At Indalvai, I finally get to have a long delayed Chai! By now, my legs are getting a bit cramped and my back paining a bit and I do need to have a water and Tea break so I pull over to the left at Indalvai, buy some Chotta Gold Flakes from a shop and three RE’s come along, the Blue Thunderbird in the lead. Prashant is all eyes and blazing headlight, but this time I wave him on, I do need that Tea and I do need some time for the bike to cool off.

I managed to have the Tea without having to remove the jacket and once on the road I finally get proof of AP10R8691 not being in the pink of its health. Why? Where the road is straight, perfectly flat and with nary a pothole on it, the bike seems to want to go to the edges, right into the fields. I am bloody pissed and am like, “wtf, the rear tyre is new, the rear sprocket and chain is new, my attitude to life is new, then why isn’t this bike the Don of the old?” I hold back a bit more of the throttle and gentle the bike along at 60kph and realize that this is no wobble from the wheel. And resign myself to riding along. After all there is a road ahead and I have all day to do something like 350 kms.

Riding alone is something that has never worried me and I have always had the bad habit of looking all around me when I ride. So, I do just that, enjoying the views from a motorcycle’s seat, cutting out the frills, holding onto a steady 80kmph, gulping mentally when the bike weaves and still grinning from ear to ear from the thrill of being on the road. The sunflowers are more than what I can count and I also spot small patches of what could only be flowering Onions while the rest of the canvas I am riding through is green, just transplanted, growing rice.

And then, I do not really know when, I am suddenly passing through fields and fields and fields of Millets. Some are green all through, some are green and ripening golden, some are green and ripened red. So, I decide to stop and get a couple of quick snaps for my memoirs. Back on the bike, after a quick smoke in shade (did not remove the leather Jacket) I mosey along, wondering if I should stop for breakfast or try and catch up with the rest of the guys. So I don’t stop at Balkonda (there are a couple of hillocks here that look as if they are a pebble heap made by some supernatural child) I don’t stop at Son Gad (a small and solitary fort on the right side before Nirmal), I don’t stop at Kadthal (there are three statues here, one of Mahatma Gandhi, one of Subhash Chandra Bose and one that looks like that of Lord Rama, but maybe is of Alluri Seetaramaraju), I don’t stop at Nirmal fort (bang opposite is Nirmal tank and man, oh man it was full of ducks and any number of other water birds) and I for once don’t stop in Nirmal either.

Once through Nirmal, I note that there is a A-1 Plaza on the left, just before Mahboob Ghat starts, but I don’t see any RE’s parked there, so I get going and hit the ghats. The fun of riding in the ghats is not for me, I am too intent on ensuring the bike doesn’t go off the road, but somehow manage to ride on, noting that the monkeys are out as usual (this stretch always has monkeys on the road, probably because most truckers throw Roti and other food crumbs at them) and that the stretch isn’t as green and cold as it was last time I rode through here. By now, it’s getting hot in the leather jacket so I don’t take the turnoff to Kuntala (AP’s highest waterfalls) either and ride on wondering if Prashant and the others are behind me or ahead of me. Finally, I stop at Adilabad, its around 11.30 in the afternoon and I see a SMS from Prashant, saying that they had stopped at a hotel Nirmal to my right, at around 9.45. I ask around for Hotel Nirmal (for all I knew that could be the name of a hotel), ask everyone who looks at me if three RE’s have passed by, they say “No”, so I decide to ride on.

While intent on roaming and wandering, I was aware that I needed to stop somewhere and activate the roaming on my cellphone, but somehow I went on avoiding doing that and finally I was already in Maharastra. Now I had another major worry, my bike hit reserve and the two bunks I come across were out of petrol too. But then, I am kind of used to hitting reserve all across the country (the joke is entirely on me) so I hunker down and ride on. Entering Maharastra, the first thing I note is that the roads are no longer the millpond smooth ones behind me, but patchy and broken in a number of places. This means that there is more than a weaving bike to now contend with, every vibration of the bike making me feel as if I am on a rack, driving a million needles into the nerves at my elbows, knees and wrists.

Ouch, but I do deserve all this pain, I have been stupid to not ride for so long, and must say I have got used to the comforts of city living. I finally tank up 30 kms into Maharastra, @ Bori, with probably a spoonful of juice left in the tank and its one more reason to like AP10R8691 even more.

I could do with a bit of a bite but I am still intent on catching up with the guys ahead so I ride on again, weaving bike, hot leather and groggy self, notwithstanding. By the by, it’s around 1.00 in the afternoon, and I get to see the mirages on the road, the sunlight is a blinding glare from the centernut of the handlebar and I am wondering why there is absolutely no shade for me to just park the bike and catch a nap. Then all of a sudden I see a roadside hotel and I stop as I am suddenly overtaken by the urge to gorge on some Vada Paavs. The hotel doesn’t have Vada Paavs, but Samosas will do for me as well, so I tuck into three, enjoy a tumbler of Chhai and send the SMS updates to brother and colleagues, “150 kms from Nagpur and its lovely to be on the road”.

The roads are bad on this stretch and the traffic is a bit heavy and the weather is getting hotter and hotter so I forget everything about stopping for photography, pass lovely bridges with water flowing under them, a couple of canals nicely bending and reach Hinganghat at 2.20. Pull over at a quaintly named place called Kisan Hotel, order the most basic fare – a plate of rice, two dry Rotis, Dal, Brinjal curry, Chaach and a plateful of Radish salad – and get around to SMSing Prashant and calling my brother in Nagpur. Brother is like, I will take two and half hours to reach Nagpur (Hinganghat is 90 kms from Nagpur), I am like are you mad, I will be there in one and half, finally we agree that I will be at Panchsheel Square by 4.30 and I ride on again.

The roads are a bit better now but then I get caught up at a Railway Crossing where everyone seems to be looking at me. Normal behavior from the onlookers, considering that I was in a black leather jacket, my helmet is a catchy Red and my Bullet is growling even at idle.

Prashant’s SMS was that they are somewhere at a A-1 Plaza before Nagpur (on the right) so I ride on, cross Jam and then see a A-1 Plaza to my right, turn and check the parking but there are no bikes. I am riding pretty fast now, I want to get to Nagpur in a hurry, the road is now four laned and superb and yet in passing I see stands of Bamboo all along, glowing an incandescent yellow, reminding me of “yellowtome”, the Nikon competition which I somehow managed to forget all about. And then, finally at around 4.15 I am in Nagpur and use a local phone to call up my brother, berate him and ask him to spare me the pain of going around in traffic on a heavy Enfield and he finally guides me to Ravinagar Square.

Brother comes and I get a warm hug. He has no exclamations of surprise or incredulity, (my family knows me fairly well) but he still wants to know what Rider Mania is. I tell him people from all over India ride over to meet each other and talk Bullets. He wonders if I have ridden down to party and offers me all the booze in Nagpur if I stay back with him. I am like, no you come along, we will party there. While this repartee is happening, we have had two teas each and I have another nice palate experience, having eaten a “Cutlet Paav”, it’s getting late so I take his leave and tell him I will try and catch up with him in the next two days. I am also anxious to get the bike checked ASAP, so brother doesn’t manhandle me and I ride out of Nagpur hunting for Star Key Point Resort. The resort is on the Amravati Road, pretty simple to find really, since its straight all the way from Ravinagar, but I manage to cross the Resort and ride 10 kms beyond. Reason being, I mistook the logo of Star Key to be an arrow pointing the way down towards Amravati :-)))).

I forget to say of course that I also had a sunset to shoot and was looking for a suitable place where I could shoot it through one of the numerous Orange groves. As usual, when in doubt, I managed to stop and ask; got directed by a friendly car driver, took the turnoff this time and 2 kms of riding through a nice interior road lands me up at Star Key Point Resorts.

Prashant and Deepa are already there and I meet Deep too, so I get around to giving the bike to the RE Service guys (thanks to Sachin) and divest myself of the heavy leather jacket and the boots. By the by, I link up again with Deepa and Prashanth, meet Mr. Bose, meet CP of GBC, hear that RoadSurvivors are some 400 kms away and so on and on. The RE guys say the problem is with the Rotor and Stator, they dismantle the Clutch case and then say it’s because the front sprocket (behind the magnet) had developed play. I get around to sending some more SMS updates in between meeting Dino and Anukaran (who did not recognize me since I was as clean shaven as him), registering for the event and meeting Dipesh and some other guys from 60kph.

By now, I am dog-tired but the Wanderlust guys had arranged for drinks for everybody on the eve of Rider Mania, so I have a couple of Beers and then we (me, Mr. Bose, Mr. Naidu, Deep and another guy who had a Tee Shirt saying “Eaashoo” ) have dinner together and man that was some session. We talked of everything under the sky, right from Biryani to cleaning bikes, to a love for the road and so on. Finally, I knew I had to crash, so I got myself an extra mattress and fell into it.

Thus, I arrived at my second Rider Mania. God, be kind

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Rider Mania 04: The Ride Wed, 24 Jul 2013 17:09:12 +0000 The Ride – Rider Mania 2004 7th January 2004 Lot of last minute work and running around to be done… before we even realized it was past 12 and we were supposed to leave for the much awaited Rider Mania 2004. 8th January 2004 Solo, Saru, Dodo, Hero and myself gathered at Jaf around midnight […]

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The Ride – Rider Mania 2004

7th January 2004
Lot of last minute work and running around to be done… before we even realized it was past 12 and we were supposed to leave for the much awaited Rider Mania 2004.

8th January 2004
Solo, Saru, Dodo, Hero and myself gathered at Jaf around midnight and the bikes had their final touch up done to hit “the road”[before I continue, Jaf is a very respected Enfield mechanic in Madras and a perfect gentleman to say the least.]

From here we go ahead to a chai shop and decide as to who is doing what and when do we gather again. Finally it was decided that Saru and Solo would go together to get Solo’s insurance papers. To cut a long story short none of us 5 got ANY sleep and we had informed Brijesh at 5 in the morning to leave with the first group and wait a bit before Ranipet.

Finally at 7 Dodo, Hero and I start of from Le Meridian and Solo and Saru head back to Chromepet since Solo’s insurance work was not yet done.
Finally we were on the roads; Dodo was leading while Hero and I followed.
Roads were quite good, nothing to complain about really. We saw Apun coming our way and was wondering what went wrong, after a short gossip we learnt his bike was not pulling hence he had to ride back, really felt bad that he had to go back home after all the mental preparation he had for the Rider Mania. The Mad Bulls and Eastern Bulls regrouped some where before Ranipet.

Dodo’s parents were very kind to bring us some lovely sandwiches and hot coffee at the highway, after about 15 minutes of breakfast break we moved on. Now we were all together, the whole bunch [Dodo, Brijesh, Navaneetha, Hero, Easher, Kaushik, Ajith, and me], Solomon and Saru were behind. We had stopped at a place called Woody’s in Kolar to wash our faces and for some refreshments. We were wondering what had happened to Dodo and Hero as none of them were to be seen for quite some time. Then Brijesh and I got our beasts to life and went the other direction hunting for them, finally we see Dodo towing Hero’s bike which he was doing for the last 20 kms or so!!!.His wiring had got burnt and his bike just would not start. Anyhow we got a mechanic near by and got him to do a job which would at least allow him to ride the bike to Bangalore.

Just before entering Bangalore all of us re-grouped at a mechanics shop, the mechanic said he would not be able to do the wiring hence it had to be done in Bangalore. And then Dodo decided to split the group. Now the groups were – Hero , Dodo , Navaneetha [These three would go into the city – Bangalore and get the work done] and the remaining [Brijesh, Ajith, Kaushik, Easher, and myself] we were told to move on to Hassan and look for a place and crash.

From here we were riding in a pack and we were intact till we reached Hassan, we did some great night riding, and night riding is what I love :), you just have to know how to play with the lights and wala you can have a lovely time. Just as we reached Hassan we had stopped and calls were made here and there to know where the rest of the gang was. We were updated, Navaneetha was running on a new piston, Hero had his wiring done, Dodo got his bike fixed and all of them were ready to roll, these guys halted the night at Kunigal. I called up Ashwin[Swami] and told him
where we were and he told me that we would be getting ghats first thing in the morning and not to get tempted to rip as we would be getting some beautiful roads even better than the ECR next day.

Finally after getting a decent place to stay in, we unpacked and dumped our luggage after which we went to get some food. After a good light meal I went into the hotel room took out my sleeping bag and crashed on the floor.

9th January 2004
Woke up, washed my face and was ready to roll. Rode out of the town and stopped at a place for chai and some tit-bits. Here Easher did not balance his bike properly on main stand and his bike had a fall, the clutch lever and the head light glass broke. Easher went pillion from here with Kaushik’s brother while Kaushik rode Eashers bike. The ghats were simply awesome we were scraping pegs, main stands, side stands
and everything that came on the way. I simply love ghat riding and night riding. Picked up ghat riding tips from Solo in the “All India Ride for Peace and Unity”.
We stopped at the ghats at a joint for breakfast and moved on, after some time Easher had enough of sitting pillion and wanted to get used to the feel of riding without a clutch, and he was soon quite comfortable rolling on the ghats. After the ghats came to an end and we were nearing Mangalore we came across a mechanic and he got the clutch lever fixed along with a head light glass. Over here we enquired about the Mangalore Bypass which Ashwin had told me about and once we got to it, it was great. It heads straight into Udupi and it’s a completely ghat section, very narrow roads and beautiful turns. Brijesh found it a bit bumpy also the nut which holds the silencer to the bend pipe on his bike gave way, but nothing really to worry about.Finally we hit the road which Ashwin was talking about, the road was very beautiful and a straight stretch, everyone was maintaining a steady 80kmph in a close formation. A stop for tanking up, here we were 280 kms away from Panaji. When we hit the coast, the sight was amazing and we had to stop for a couple of snaps. Got the bikes on side stand and parallel to each other and pictures were taken from all different angles.

The road along the coast was unfortunately only 2kms and I enjoyed every bit of it. After about 10 minutes I stopped Brijesh since the jacket he was wearing was not chained and to add to that a string was hanging out which could have proved to be quite a menace. After having him take of his jacket and tying it into the bungees we moved on.

A couple of kilometers ahead the remaining three were waiting and waved us to go ahead and so we did. From now on we were doing a steady 80 and we were doing it or longer durations, we were covering great distances in good time. After about 80 kms of continuous riding we decided to stop and give the beasts some rest. This was one great stretch and we decided to ride on without stopping for a longer duration. Brijesh was
wondering how fast the remaining three were that we  could not yet catch up with them in spite of doing such great speeds, and then I realized that Brijesh had probably missed those three waiving at us. Anyhow it was no use waiting for them now since they would be at least half an hour behind, hence we decided to continue, and since they were three of them they should not face any problems as such. We were about 100 odd kms away from the Goa border so we decided to hit the border in day light. We did exactly that, we crossed the Goa border by 6.45pm and the sun was still up and shining. Once in Goa we were doing some really lazy riding, stopping every 10kms for some Chai, soup etc etc. Once it so happened we saw a Pepsi board and decided to stop for some tea, we then realized we had stopped at a bar and we were turning our bikes to
head back on to the road when the people there asked why we were doing so, on telling him that we wanted chai he readily agreed and made some tea for us. Here Brijesh made some calls to Dodo, Ajith, Karna and all. Ajith and company were way behind due to some problems they faced with the locals but thanks to their sources they did not face much hassles, but were delayed by a quite a good number of hours.

By around 10.30 we found our resort which was near the Vagator Beach where all the arrangements had been made for the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Club [Bangalore], Eastern Bulls [Kolkata], Madras Bulls [obviously Madras]. After contacting the rest of the team, and being assured that everyone is safe we dumped our luggage in the room and went to see the neighborhood. After about half an hour we got back to our room and went of to sleep.

10th January 2004
In the morning at around 5 we heard our names being shouted out and I was wondering was it a wild dream or something, but no, it was the three bikes which had delayed finally arrived. We contacted Ranga , who is another Madras Bull member but had come a couple of days earlier into Goa to arrange for accommodation and requested him to come to the resort. Once he arrived we got the accommodation fixed and while the others wanted to take a batch and sleep for some time I decided to head on to the Rider Mania venue with Ranga.
The venue was very well chosen, with lots of parking space for the beasters [There were about a total of 130 bikes which turned out from across the country, New Delhi, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Chennai, Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Kolkata] Ranga then introduced me to a number of guys; it was great to know like minded people. Day time everyone was basically chilling out, some was still coming in hence it was more or less a very informal day. The ones from the Madras Bulls who were in Goa already came in quite late since they had got no sleep. And the remaining who was riding from Kunigal had arrived by lunch time. Finally all of us were together. Everyone was simply lazing around, some informal introduction here and there and it was sunset before we even realized. Great music was being played, all those good
old Rock, the kind of music which the old guys enjoyed in their college days and which our generation is also enjoying.

The dance floor was packed with guys from all the clubs shaking a leg banging onto each other thereby introducing them selves to. This was the Royal Enfield night where Royal Enfield had organized the dinner. After Dinner we packed of for our hotels as the next day was supposed to be a big day for us.

11th January 2004
By 10.00am we all were ready to leave the resort and head towards the Rider Mania venue. On arriving at the venue Sachin announced the schedule for the day. Firstly all the founder club members/club representatives were awarded with a memento by Siddhartha. And then Siddhartha Lal the CEO of Royal Enfield who was with us through out at the Rider Mania and was interacting with many of us. We were now of for a city ride and Sid was also one of us on his A500 which is to come into production in a couple of month’s time. Try imagining 130 bullets thumping a 40kmph together. Actually it is not possible to imagine such a scene; you have to see it to understand what it actually is. This ride got over in an hour or so. Siddhartha headed of to the airport to take a flight to Delhi for some work while the rest of us headed back to the venue.

Some of us, namely Dodo, Brijesh, Navaneetha and my self wanted to leave today itself so that we can stay the night at Honnavar and head to Jog Falls the next morning. We halted at a hotel 61 kms before Jog Falls. We had lots of company here, Sid, Rocky & Pallavi, KJ, PP from RTMC and the four of us.

12th January 2004
Rocky & Pallavi leave 15 minutes before us. They are steady and safe riders. The four of us left the hotel at about 8.30 in the morning, tanked up and head towards the falls. I am running out of words to describe the ghats. They were simply out of this world. The roads were good, the turns were neatly banked. There were some lose gravel in the centre of the road which could prove to be dangerous if not noticed. Dodo and I were ahead most of the time I preferred staying behind Dodo, though there were times he told me to go ahead and enjoy the curves. Unfortunately his bike was not pulling well and he felt there was something wrong with it hence was a slower than his usual speed. We stopped for a couple of snaps and continued. About 20 odd kms before the falls there was this undisciplined Indica driver who had probably taken his car out of his back yard for the first time and had taken it for a spin to the jog falls, almost put me of the road. As we were about to enter Jog falls Sid overtook us and gave us a nice smile. From here I left Dodo behind and was tailing Sid, we were doing good speeds but since the roads had started to break up in this section suddenly I preferred staying behind him. The turns were beautiful, before we could even straighten our bikes out of a turn the next turn came up☺.And we had a lovely time leaning left and right scraping whatever our bike’s got on the tarmac. Finally we arrive at the so famous jog falls where Rocky and Pallavi were waiting for us , they had arrived about 5 minutes ago. The first thing I did was took my
camera and head for the falls , and what I got to see was a thin stream of water was making its way out of the hills into the falls. Here I said to my self “The journey is the destination”, how true.

After a couple of rounds of coffee, magi, bread n’ eggs we head towards Bangalore. We came across certain bad patches of tarmac, thank god we did, and it worked as hot water being poured on us in the morning to wake us up. The Bangalore guys went ahead while we stuck to each other since Navaneetha was running in and was not exceeding 60-70kmph.We had Lunch at a decent place , over here again we had the whole group together which included Dodo , Navaneetha , Brijesh from Chennai , Rocky, Pallavi , Keerthi , PP , Sid , David , from Bangalore and yours truly from Kolkata.

After Lunch again the Bangalore guys were way ahead with us going steady at 60-65kmph. We stopped quite a few times for pictures, chai and snacks .Quite obvious since we were out to enjoy and not set any time – distance, non stop Destination A-B record. At our last snack stop we decided we would halt at Tumkur for the night and head on to Chennai via Bangalore in the morning, Bangalore being just 70 odd kms from
Tumkur. As we reached Tumkur my speedometer cable snapped. We searched for good accommodation and by 10 we had dumped our luggage and freshened up. By 11 we set out to get something to eat. Returned by mid night and crashed.

13th January 2004
Woke up lazily at 7 in the morning. Tanked up and headed towards Bangalore. It was so chilly and foggy we hardly went over 60.We checked tire pressures and cruised steadily in close formation. On hitting Bangalore we asked our way out of the city. Once we were out of the city I told Dodo I am going ahead and would meet you at Woody’s for brunch. I covered good distance in decent time. No unnecessary stops or speeding. Was
cruising at a steady 70-80. Reached Woody’s freshened up ordered for some food and waited for everyone to arrive. Dodo arrives and then we see Brijesh , Navaneetha come in , Ranga had also caught up with them. Dodo had some of his father’s friends here who had gone to Bangalore for attending a medical conference and was on their way back.

The ride from here onwards was quite good. Had some more ghats greeting us with broader roads and good stopping places. At one such stop Sarangan and Narren had caught up with us. After exchanging experiences/thoughts et all. Sarangan and Narren ripped ahead while we four steadily thumped ahead.
We stopped at a phone booth and informed Dodo’s father not to take the trouble and come to the highway to meet us. We went ahead and Dodo showed us a road and told us go ahead and clip since this is a very isolated road and nothing could possible go wrong, so I readily went ahead after riding for a good time I saw Narren’s bike parked under a tree since I saw no one in my rear view mirror I told my self why not wait for the
rest and then ride together. I parked my bike inside out of everyone‘s sight. Dodo, Navaneetha and Brijesh passed by and did not notice me. Dodo later got worried whether I had got lost or whether I was way ahead and went clipping ahead to look for me. In the mean while I waited for Narren to finish his meal and then we both started riding together. We were doing good speeds and we crossed Navaneetha and Brijesh on asking them about Dodo they said he was further ahead. Narren and I stopped at a diversion which the rest could easily miss out. After about half an hour Ajith comes by and tells us he has been riding non – stop from Bangalore leaving Easher and Kaushik behind since they were very slow. Narren then told him since you have been riding non – stop its better you don’t wait here and waste your time.He revved up and went ahead into Chennai.We waited for the remaining two. Navaneetha had missed the diversion and went ahead, so I shouted my lungs out till he heard me and rode back into the correct road along with Brijesh. We then asked around for Dodo, no one knew where he was. He had to be ahead. So again we rolled ahead, Narren and my self clipped ahead while Brijesh and Navaneetha followed. We stopped at the place where the Rajiv Gandhi’s memorial is and waited for the rest. Finally Dodo arrives and narrates his story. He went clipping ahead looking for me and then was having tea at a stall when he saw all of us go by.

All of us re-grouped here. Narren , Dodo and I went ahead over taking at proper intervals – the traffic was bad. We stopped before entering Chennai for the final photo session. Over here I told Narren to go ahead since I would be riding with the group into the city. We arrive at Chennai and split. Dodo and Navaneetha showed me the way to my house and went ahead.

This was my story of Rider Mania 2004. I am back in Calcutta, this event and the friends I have made during this event would be well remembered through out my life.

Thanks to Bullets, It gets like minded people together.

Written by Brijesh, MadBulls

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Rider Mania 13: In a land far far away Sun, 21 Jul 2013 13:08:43 +0000 A rider mania in a land far far away, and hosted by RERAM for the first time ever in North East. Over 500 riders rode from across the country to meet and spend the most amazing two days with brothers. It was raw, and just what the doctor had ordered!

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We hear of Oasis in deserts. 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 pit stop 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.

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 Rider Mania.

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.

When it was decided that “The Royal Enfield Riders Association of Meghalaya” or RERAM Storm Bringers 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. “

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 Rider Mania 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.

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.

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.

Written by Deepak Ananth, Bisons Ride Hard (Mumbai)

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RM06: Rockin’ Hard, Ridin’ High, Livin’ Free Sat, 29 Jun 2013 10:41:02 +0000 January 18th – January 31st 2006 JANUARY 18TH: WEDNESDAY: DAY 1: DESTINATION HYDERABAD The alarm bell set for 5 AM woke us up. Us meaning, Mandy and CP from Gujarat Bullets, who had arrived in Nagpur the night before and myself. After our daily morning routines, we were all ready to ride out of the […]

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January 18th – January 31st 2006

The alarm bell set for 5 AM woke us up. Us meaning, Mandy and CP from Gujarat Bullets, who had arrived in Nagpur the night before and myself. After our daily morning routines, we were all ready to ride out of the gates of my home by 7 AM. Gurdeep, as punctual as he always is, had shown up at my place to join us dot on the Scheduled time.
After a little photo shoot at my place, we rode out to the nearest Gurudwara to seek blessings from the Gurus for our long journey ahead!! We were supposed to meet the rest of the gang at the Patton Tank Square in Ajni on NH7. A 10 Minute ride brought us  there and the riders were all assembled and ready to ride, along with other members of the club who had come to see us off and wish us well for the tour!!
The riders were:
1]Anukarana Singh [WMC] Custom Lightning 500
2]Nikhil [WMC] Custom Campus 350
3]Rajesh [WMC] Std. Electra
4]Ruchir [WMC] Thunderbird
5]Gurdeep Singh [WMC] Std. Machismo
6]Mandy Singh [GBC] 500 CC
7]CP [GBC] Std.350 CC
Come to see us off were Sagar, Munish and Vivek!! We all assembled at the Patton Tank for a little photo shoot, and after some cheers and wishes rode off Southwards on NH7 towards our Destination for the Day. Hyderabad…485 Kms away!!
We took our first halt at the Reliance Petrol Pump and A1 Plaza barely 25 Kms on the Highway for Taking up and breakfast!! Half an hour later, we were on the Road again!! Nikhil and I in the lead, the weather perfect and the Morning Sun reflecting on the chrome, this seemed like a good day to ride, with all of us in the best of our Spirits!!
A couple of Kms before Jamb, I felt like taking a leak, and didn’t feel like breaking everyone’s rhythm of the ride as well, so I decided to race ahead, do my job and be back on my bike by the time the rest of them caught up with me!! I signalled to Nikhil that I’m racing ahead and sped off towards Jamb!! As soon as I was done, and mounting my bike again, I saw the rest coming in full speed and turning right from Jamb on NH7, towards Hyderabad!! They all thought that I had raced much ahead of them and wanted to catch up with me, and didn’t see me trying to start my bike by the side of the road!! At that same time, my bike was giving me some trouble in starting up and I lost a couple of minutes of time there!! By the time the bike started and I got on the road racing behind the pack to catch up, I was about 3 minutes behind them, with the pack racing full speed trying to catch up with me thinkin’ I was ahead of them!!
 Ridin’ on full speed, I came at a Y Junction on the Highway with NH7 to Hyderabad going left and a State Highway cutting towards Wardha on the right!! At the Y junction the tea stall owner signaled me to stop and told me that the rest of the pack had taken the wrong road, gotten on the SH to Wardha instead of NH7!! How did he know we wanted to go to Hyderabad?? A day earlier, about 12 Beasters on 11 bikes had passed the same way after spending a day with me in Nagpur and they had passed the same tea stall and asked him for directions, which our pack, in a bid to catch up with me, forgot to do!!
I waited for a few minutes thinking whether I should ride behind them on the wrong State highway or continue alone on NH7 without them and meet up somewhere on the National Highway again!! I decided to go alone on NH7!! I sent the guys a couple of SMS’s telling them they were on the wrong Highway, and rode Solo towards Adilabad, the town that I mentioned in my SMS to them where we’d all re-group!!
The road was great and I enjoyed my solo ride on NH7, till all of a sudden there were huge pot holes all over the road without warning!! My front shocks took the beating, but the road smoothened out again and in a while I crossed the bridge over the Godavari River and was well on road towards Adilabad!! About 11 Kms before town, I stopped at the next Reliance A1 Plaza, sent another SMS to the pack that I was there and waiting for them and dozed off for an hour on my bike till a distant rumbling sound of the pack approaching me woke me up!! We all had a light lunch there. The manager of the Adilabad A1 Plaza, impressed beyond words and awestruck by the bikers in their Leathers and Patches, clicked a few pics of our’s and took my E mail ID, promising to send me the pics!! While we all had lunch there, Nikhil rode on into town and had some repairs done on his bike, and ate at a dhaba after Adilabad to save time and waited for us there!!
 Riding along, we grouped up with him, and the pack was complete again!! With Nikhil and I again in the lead, we rode on Southwards on the fantastic Highway through small ghats and forest covers till we all came across a popular Highway Sign Board on NH7!!
Here Nik’s bike was giving him some trouble and he thought his fuse needed replacement!! He didn’t have a spare one, so I checked for my spare fuse and noticed that though the fuse wire of my bike was intact, the tiny glass tube encompassing the fuse was cracked!! But it was running ok, so I decided to leave it and replace it in Hyderabad the next day!! It was almost 4 PM by then and the 7 of us had automatically been divided in 2 groups with Nikhil, Ruchir, Rajesh and I ripping together on the highway, and Gurdeep, Many and CP tailing slow and easy together behind us!! By the time we left the sign board, after a few modifications I did to it, the board now reads “BOOB GHAT ROAD AHEAD”!!!!!!!!!!!
We crossed Nirmal around Sunset and that’s when we really slowed down!! Night riding was posing a major problem for some of us, especially Gurdeep and me!! Nik and Ruchir, I noticed many times and even told them so later, were riding and overtaking trucks and buses very recklessly and refused to listen!! Through the night ride, everything was bright and ok for us on the highway till each time the lights of vehicles approaching us from the opposite direction on high beam almost blinded us!! After a while we all got the hang of it, and crossing Nizamabad and a couple more small villages entered the outskirts of Hyderabad!! With about 20 Kms to go, I called up Vinod from Wanderers  and told him our location!! He told us to get to the City Centre Mall in the Hyderabad and wait for him there!! In another half an hour, we were all assembled and waiting for Vinod at the Hyderabad City Centre Mall!!
He showed up in a while on a Kinetic Honda and took us to a nearby restaurant and treated us to some awesome Hyderabadi Biryani there!! After dinner, we all rode with Vinod to his house, and after some conversations and plans for the next day we all dozed off between 1 and 3 AM!!
Everyone woke up at their own leisure on day 2, and took their own time in getting out of bed and getting ready for the ride ahead!! As per plan, we were all supposed to do an easy ride of 271 Kms from Hyderabad to Vijaywada after getting our bikes checked in Hyderabad!! Things started going wrong then!! Vinod spoke to some guys from Wanderers and told them about our plan who all, for some reason, kept insisting to us us that the Hyderabad-Vijaywada road NH9 was in pathetic condition and should be avoided at all costs!! Instead, they all wanted us to take the route some of them had rode off on that morning, towards Ongole, through some State Highways!! Wanting to avoid any bad roads, we changed our plan to go to Vijaywada and decided to ride to Ongole instead!! After a much delayed start from Vinod’s house, and a much more delayed breakfast in Hyderabad, Talib took us to a Bullet Mechanic there to get the bikes checked for the road ahead!! There was really nothing wrong with any of our machines, but everyone was just wanting to get them checked just for the heck of it!! We also saw 2 awesome Royal Enfield 500 CC Twins there, and all of us drooled over them for a while!!
I remembered the cracked fuse capsule on my bike and decided to replace it while we were all at the mechie’s!! As I opened up my fuse box and removed the fuse, there was a spark in the wire and I let got of it. The Wire touched the body of the toolbox, got earth, and before we all knew it, my whole bike was smoking up!! My entire wiring loom was burnt!! The mechanic ripped open my battery box and pulled the battery wire off to avoid further damage!! I was pissed and mad as hell!! First the un-necessary delays since morning, and now I needed a new wiring loom that, the mechie said, would take about 4 hours to replace!! I guess what has to go wrong, does go wrong!! While my bike was getting a new wiring loom, we roamed around the city and treated ourselves to another huge serving of Biryani at the famous Paradise Restaurant in Hyderabad!!
 My bike was ready by the tike we got back at the mechie’s, around 7:30 PM!! We asked the mechie about the Vijaywada road again and he told us it was as smooth as a mirror and we should take it with no problems at all!! We decided to stick to our original plan and ride to Vijaywada that night!!
 By 8:30 PM we were out of Hyderabad City and roaring on the the beautifully smooth NH9 to Vijaywada!! We all wondered why the Wanderers kept insisting that the road was terrible!! We stopped 30 Kms down the Highway at another A1 Plaza for tanking up again and by 9:30 we were on the road again!!
JANUARY 19TH: THURSDAY: DAY 2: Part 2-Near Death Experiences
The smooth and easy ride on NH9 soon became a battle for survival for us all. Though the road was awesome, that only made it more dangerous because of the terrible traffic on it!! Being one of the busiest highways in the country, NH9 has Volvo buses coming up and down at breakneck speeds with no regard for other road users, bikers be damned at all costs!! And night riding was still posing a huge problem for us all this time!! After an irritating run through the crazy traffic, we all halted around 11:30 at a Dhaba for dinner before heading on!! We had barely covered 100 Kms in 3.5 hours, and the traffic showed no signs of thinning out!!
We were done with dinner by 12:30 AM, feeling a bit sleepy and tired from constantly fighting the traffic, but none of us wanted to halt before we reached Vijaywada!! On we rode through the night with Volvo buses roaring past us full speed from both ways like death angels waiting to devour their next prey!! Nikhil and Ruchir took the lead this time and zoomed away into the dark highway!! Behind them was Rajesh, with me behind him and Gurdeep, Mandy and CP last!! Rajesh too zoomed off into the distance after a while and I rode alone for a while when my first close call came!!
As I was negotiating an easy curve on the road, doing about 65 Kph, a Volvo bus overtook me at atleast 110 Kph and as it passed me on the curve, the bus slightly fishtailed me and pushed me off the road with no time to react, and I rammed my bike into a pile of Cement blocks on the side of the road!! The bike toppled over to the right with fuel spilling all out of the gas tank!! My first reaction was to check if I was ok!! Nothing hurt or bled on me, but my bike had a broken front brake lever and a cracked headlight!! I pulled the bike up, and pushed it about 20 Metres outside a farmhouse where I was well away from the highway under a few lights and safe from the Volvo buses, still speeding with no signs of mercy towards anyone!! I was a bit shaken up, but ok!! Gurdeep, Mandy and CP caught up with me after a while and I narrated the episode to them!! I had got my bike running again by the time they had reached there, and in about 15 mins we were all ready to ride on again!! They halted there for a while while I decided to ride on alone ahead at a slow 50 Kph!! My headlight was fine, but the front brake was gone!! I found Rajesh waiting for me about 15 Kms ahead and we decided to ride together till Vijaywada from there!!
On we rode with Rajesh behind me through the 2 lane Highway!! Almost 2 AM!! The dark of the night and the blinding flashes of the speeding Volvos still unrelenting!! I got the hang of stopping comfortably without the front brake after a while, and I throttled up to a constant 60 Kph after a while on the 2 lane highway when all of a sudden, without me even realizing it, I found myself riding on the wrong side of a 4 lane highway with the blinding lights of a speeding truck directly in my path not more than 100 Metres away!! I panicked and realized that this was the end of the road for me!! The truck showed no signs of stopping, and my hands were frozen stiff on my handlebar to make any move or decision at all!! In half a second, half of my life gone by had flashed before my eyes, in the other half of the second, I remembered my parents, closed my eyes and waited for the collision with the truck not more than 20 Metres away now!! I heard the roar of the truck come closer and then a loud screeching sound of brakes and then felt the wind from the huge vehicle passing me, missing me by a few inches!! I stopped my bike, got off it, white as a ghost and shaking in my boots… feeling reborn twice in an hour from 2 near death experiences!! It was nothing but 2 miracles and the blessings of all my family and friends that saved me from certain death twice in an hour that night!! Rajesh pulled up behind me, after witnessing the entire drama that I had been through, and looked more scared than I was!!
 After a 15 minute halt to regain our breaths, we decided to take it real slow from there on!! The road was 4 laned, and the Volvos had started to thin out!! Almost 3 AM!! And now, I was more than ever to end that days ride and reach Vijaywada no matter what!! I had survived twice, and there was nothing that could stop me now!! My fatigue and sleep were replaced by a burning ambition now to make that ride!! I had to enslave the highway that was trying to beat me down!! Rajesh and I rode on together, precariously now, till the next Toll Plaza, and stopped there for a couple of snaps from my new life!! By this time, Nik and Ruchir had crossed Vijaywada and were lodging at a Lodge in Guntur, about 40 Kms after crossing Vijaywada!! Rajesh and I still had about 100 Kms to go!!
As the clock struck 4 AM, I had a feeling in my heart that the bad day was over, and at 4 AM, a new day had begun!! As we entered Vijaywada, we were awestruck to see a massive 120 Foot tall white marble Shri Hanuman Idol magnificently standing guard at the gates of the city on the banks of the Krishna River!! I thanked the God for saving me twice that night!! After Vijaywada, we crossed massive bridge built on the River Krishna and made our way towards Guntur, not more than 10 Kms away!! Gurdeep, Mandy and CP had stopped riding and had taken refuge from the death highway at a Motel about 100 Kms behind us!! Im glad they did!!
 Rajesh and I reached the Lodge at Guntur by 5 AM, and within no time at all, I was snoring away safely in the arms of sweet slumber, feeling lucky to be alive!!
I was woken up at around 10:30 AM by Rahul, ou Member who had started out on his coastal ride tour that would take him from Nagpur-Vishakhapatnam-Kanniyakumari-Goa-Nagpur 4 days before we had started out from Nagpur!! We were scheduled to group up with him again in Vijaywada, and we were right on schedule!! He had heard of my experinecs from the others while I was asleep and wished me Happy Birthday twice as I woke up!!
After a little chat, I was all ready to ride again by 11:30 and Rahul and I decided to ride off first and get my bike fixed somewhere close by!! Luckily there was a Royal Enfield Spares shop and mechanic at Guntur, and by 12:30 my bike was fit for the ride to Chennai!! Rahul and I got on to NH5 and rode on together till Ongole, where we stopped for Lunch and waited for others to catch up!! The others crossed our restaurant at Ongole and stopped at another restaurant about 2 kms down the NH5!! By that time Rahul and I had finished with our Lunch!! We informed the others that we’d ride ahead while they had their lunch and meet up again somewhere on the highway!!
NH5 turned out to be a bikers’ paradise!! Rahul was still running in his Brand new ES500 so wasn’t going beyond 80, but the road was too tempting for me to resist!! I raced way past the 100 Kph mark… 105…110…115…120 Kph and locked my throttle there down the smooth and empty 4 laned Highway…20 mins later, my throttle was still locked at 120 Kph, and I had seen neither another vehicle, nor a dog on the road!! On this highway, our mighty 500 CC engines seemed inadequate, and it all got boring after a while of doing speeds between 115 and 125 Kph!! I took a 20 min halt at one place, besides other liberal halts for taking pictures, and regrouped with Rahul at a Reliance A1 Plaza for evening Tea, about 120 Kms from Chennai!! 6 PM!! We had covered about 320 Kms in 5.5 Hours including all the liberal stops for pics and discussions!! Another half an hour of wait brought the rest of the pack to the A1 Plaza, and we spent some more time there before starting for the last 120 Kms to Chennai together!!
We reached the Chennai City Central railway station at around 10, and had a dinner at a South Indian restaurant there!! Around 11:30 PM, I had a talk with Yatin who gave us direction for wherever we were all supposed to stay for the next 3 nights!! We met up with Yats at the rendezvous and made our way to the Private beach Bungalow he had booked for Inddie Thumpers and Wanderlust MC’s stay during Rider Mania 2006, about 5 Kms from the Venue at Casuarina Bay, Kovalam!! The 8 of us were welcomed by the Thumpers there as we roared into the bungalow, and after a few introductions and rounds of whiskey, I finally ended the night with a rocking acoustic Guitar session of some Classic Biker Songs!! By 3 AM, we all were sound asleep!!
Around 9 AM, I was woken up by Varun, one of my best friends in the Biking Community!! The first thing he asked me was if I needed a back massage, and I said “yea, sure buddy”, in my sleep!! In a few seconds I was wide awake under Varun’s gigantic feet on my back!! What a massage man!! I felt recharged!! Getting outta bed, we all straight away dived into the swimming pool and just relaxed!! Varun gifted me an awesome belt buckle with “HELL ON WHEELS” written on it, while Gautam Da gave me a Tiger bone pendant!! Bilal played the guiter next to the pool while we all had a great time there!!
By 11AM, we were all ready to ride to the Rider Mania venue, Casuarina Bay!! With Yatin in the lead, we were all there in another 20 minutes and were greeted by the Mad Bulls!!
After registrations, the party began full swing in no time!! Awesome bikes were riding in and out and all around the venue, the beer was flowing endlessly, meeting with old friends and brothers from the road!! The party was on!! Half an hour later, Aman lead the Road Survivors in with full Punjabi Panache!! Then the Beasters came roaring in like a Motley bunch in full party mood!! The brotherhood and camaraderie between of this kind is only possible between clubs and bikers in India!! No rivalry and gang wars between clubs like they happen in the West where 2 members of different clubs don’t even see eye to eye with each other!! The Bulleteers’ Community of India is what being true biker’s is all about!! Peace, Adventure, Camarederie,  Friendship and Brotherhood!! It’s all just too good!!
By Lunch time, everyone had found their own corner in the party and the festivities went on!! I rode with the Beasters to Mahabalipurm for Lunch and on the way we passed a crashed Red Ferrari!! OUCH!! That must’ve hurt!! After lunch, I came back earlier to the Venue and caught up with more old friends and made some new ones!! By Sunset, the DJ was playing Remixed Madrasi Trance in full swing!! While all of us were in total culture shock of the Music at first, we all got used to it after a while and the DJ churned out some groovy music to dance the night away to!! After the DJ stopped, I got my guitar out again and we had an acoustic Rock Concert with me on Guitar and Vocals for about 3 hours!! I had had about 300 beers by then!! After the guitar session, I rode back to the Bungalow and dozed off!!
I got a call from Sachin around 10 AM that the Custom bike Judging was about to begin!! In another half an hour I was back at the venue checking out the awesome bikes lined up there!! After the Bike Judging, we all roared down the ECR towards Mahabalipuram for the Traditional Rider Mania Group Ride with all the clubs together!! Coming back from the ride, I caught up with Victoria, and we both cooled off with a dip in the Sea, the Bay of Bengal!!
Later I had a shower in Jayagopans room at the Venue and was back in time for the Arm Wrestling event!! I won the first round, but lost out in the second!! It was all fun and in good spirit anyway!!
After the Arm Wrestling, it was time for the Screening of the Clubs’ Videos and Pics for everyone!! The screening started with an awesome clip by Royal Enfield that made us all feel proud of owning these awesome machines, followed by a Video by the Roadshakers!! Then Aman took the stage and announced the screening of “The Mother Of All Rides” by the “Most Happening Club”, the Road Survuvors’ Ladakh Beckons 2005, which had 19 people and 4 Females!! Umm.. ok!!! The Road Survivors’ presentation was awesome and inspiring and was greeted by many well deserved Cheers and applauding!! They certainly took the cake with their visual treat!! Then, RTMC came up with the icing on the cake with their visual presentation which was simply mind blowing and fun filled!! Just awesome!!
After the Visual presentations, it was time to give out the awards!! Karna received the “Varun Spirit Of Life Award” for being the youngest rider with an outstanding achievement of doing all 29 States in 39 days!! Well deserved!! Road Survivors’ couple Dushi and Simi, celebrating their first wedding anniversary at Rider Mania, both won the Male and Female Arm Wrestling events, and then came the controversial part… the best Custom bike award which was given to a bike from Chennai!! On what grounds was Nitin Jadhav’s bike not chosen as the best remains a mystery!! Though the bike that actually won was a fantastic piece of art, it was nowhere close in comparison to Nitin’s bike which was clearly a hands down winner and the crowds favourite at the meet!! Nitin Jadhav lost it, coz it was clear injustice, and took the stage by storm , claiming his right as the winner!! What he did, fighting for the injustice done, was right. The way he went about claiming is prize was wrong!! But that clearly explained his love or his piece of art that he had so painstakingly done up beautifully to the minutest of details!! After a while, a public opinion was asked and Nitin was announced the joint winner along with the other bike!! Everyone happy!!
Then it was time for all club Moderators to get together and decide the venue for the next Rider Mania!! We all had a group discussion for a while, very well conducted by Varun, during which Royal Beasts, Wanderers and Wanderlust MC expressed the willingness to host the next RM!! After some more discussions and exchange of ideas, our club, WANDERLUST MC were chosen as the hosts of RM07 in Nagpur!! This was the most ecstatic moment of Rider Mania 2006 for me!! Nikhil, Ruchir, Gurdeep, Rajesh and I were overjoyed and congratulated by Moderators of all other clubs who also pledged their help and support to us in organizing a Kick Ass event next year!! Aman then announced it to the entire meet and lifted me up and I was overwhelmed by the cheers and applauding that followed the announcement!! I then took the mic and thanked all the Moderators who had found us worthy of entrusting upon us the responsibility of organizing the next RM in Nagpur, and pledged to do our best in making it a defining Bikers Meet next year!!
The Madrasi Trance exploded again from the speakers connected to the amplifier connected to the DJ’s console, and the bikers danced the night away till dinner time amidst warm farewells and “see you next year” and “see ya on the road” and “ride safe” kinda stuff!!
After the DJ was packed and gone, I was called with the guitar once again!! My throat was hoarse from the dust and the 3 hour singing session the previous night, and I tried to sing and play the best I can for another 2 hours till, fittingly at the end of a song called “The End” by The Doors, I broke the G String of the guitar, bringing the party at Rider Mania to an end!! After that, Bilal and I hung out at the Venue with the RTMC guys with KJ of Cramster fame literally having everyone in splits with his humour!!
Around 2 AM, I rode back to our Bungalow and dozed off!!
Rider Mania 2006 was over!!
I slept off liberally till late that morning and woke up around 10AM!! By that time, Nikhil, Ruchir, Rajesh, Gurdeep, Mandy and CP had all started back for Nagpur!! But my post Rider Mania tour was planned much earlier along with Bilal!! We had decided to ride to Kanniyakumari after Rider Mania and see where our roads went from there!! Just go with the flow!!
By 11AM we rode off to Pondy and joined Dipesh at a restaurant halfway between Chennai and Pondy on the ECR!! The East Coast Road is another delight to ride on!! The 3 of us reached Auroville in about another hours riding time and met up with my friend Victoria there!! After a bit of searching we found accommodations to suit our requirements there!! In a couple of hours, Sid from Roadshakers and Rahul from Nagpur also joined us, and we all went about exploring and partying around Pondy that evening!! We met up with July and John from Beasters there and  after lotsa beers and Dinner, and episodes we all swore never to mention to anyone, we all headed back to Auroville!! What Happens in Pondy, Stays in Pondy!!!!!
Chalo baaya, chalo!!
Later that night, Victoria and I strolled down to Auro Beach and spent the night there talking about the strange Love between the Moon and the Deep Blue Sea!!
Next day again we all, Sid, Bilal, Rahul, Dips, Victoria and I  hung out together for the major part of the day and evening, checking out the beautiful Visitors’ Center in Auroville, the Aurobindo Ashram, the French Architecture and traces of French Culture still present in Pondy, the Bazaars and the Restaurants before heading back to our rooms!!
Chalo baaya!!
Earlier, Bilal and I had a discussion about where to go from Pondy!! I wanted to go to Kanniyakumari and then back to Nagpur, but Bilal wanted to cut across Bangalore, straight to Mangalore [as Dips had suggested] and ride to Goa and then back to Bombay!! After some discussions, I decided to chuck Kanniyakumari and do the Bangy-Mangy-Goa tour with Bilal!! Rahul had already left for Tanjavur that morning, Sid had left for hs own Solo tour and Dips had decided to stay back in Auroville for some “Peace and Quiet”!!
Bilal and I decided to ride from Pondy to Bangalore and ride as close to Mangalore as we could, and possibly make it to Mangalore by night!! 650 Kms!!
Chalo baaya, chalo!!
After some hugs and goodbyes with Victoria and the Road Survivors gang we bumped into at Auroville, Bilal and I rode out towards Bangalore via Thiruvannamalai!! After some road searching through the villages, we finally got on to HN66 that took us through Thiruvannamalai with it’s magnificent Temples, Krishnagiri and Hosur and finally brought us onto NH7 that would get us to Bangalore!!
We reached the outskirts of the Bangalore City on NH7 by 5 PM and stopped for some tea and pakoras at a restaurant there!! On the road again by 5:30, we found ourselves caught in the worst traffic we’d ever seen!! After 2 hours of bumper to bumper riding towards Bangalore, we finally pulled off the road and called up KJ and told him where we were and that we planned to ride to Goa via Mangalore!! KJ saved our tour by telling us that the Mangalore way to Goa wasn’t only longer, but a pathetic road as well and that we’d be better off taking the Bangalore City bypass to Tumkur and staying there for the night!! The next day, KJ said, we could ride from Tumkur-Shimoga-Sagar on NH206 all the way till Gersoppa on NH17, and then ride Northwards from there towards Goa!! Im glad Bilal and I took KJ’s advice and did as he told!!
We got on to the Bangalore City bypass towards Tumkur, still snaking our way painstakingly slow towards our destination for the night!!
We took a 5 minute halt in one place where I had to buy a pair of night riding goggles to cope with the wind and dust from the road!! Riding on for another 10 minutes from there, we came across the scene of an accident that had happened barely 5 minutes before we reached the site!! A Van being driven at full speed had collided head on with a speeding truck in the wrong lane, and when we passed the scene, people were still extracting live and dead bodies from the Van!! A woman’s body lay on the highway, another man a few feet away from her and another man’s body being brought out of the mangled heap of junk that used to be a Van!! The truck driver had fled with the truck!! A million things raced through our minds as we quietly passed the scene of the accident!! One thing that came to my mind was these words from “The Ghost Song” by Jim Morrison, which defined the scene of the accident perfectly!! “Indians Scattered on Dawn’s Highway Bleeding, Ghosts Cloud the Young Child’s Fragile Eggshell Mind”!! Bilal and I both felt so much negative and morbid energy at that place, that, without a word to each other, with disturbing images of the accident scene, and the feeling of those dead peoples’ ghosts just freaking out on the highway there, we carefully rode on till we saw the first A1 Plaza on the Highway and decided to halt there for the night, about 20 Kms short of Tumkur!! Watching the scene of the accident, we were both pretty shaken up, and though we didn’t speak about it till much later, neither of us had wanted to ride further that night after that episode!! The traffic on the road too was so horrible that it had taken us 4.5 hours to cross that 40 Kms patch on the Bangalore bypass!! With lumps in our throats, we had a silent dinner at the A1 Plaza, and went off to sleep on two of their cots there that they offer for free to travelers!! A very disturbing day of riding was over, and we wanted no more of it that night!!
JANUARY 26TH: THURSDAY: DAY 9: Part 1-Road Rage
After a chillingly cold night’s sleep at the A1 Plaza before Tumkur, Bilal and I woke up around 8 AM and after Showers and Breakfast there were on the road on NH206, hoping to reach Karwar by night!!
We crossed Tumkur and Shimoga and reached Sagar by late Afternoon, had some tea and pakoras there and made our way towards Jog Falls!! After Sagar, NH206 is just the most beautiful ghat road ever, smoothly curving and winding it’s way through a National Forest Sanctuary with fantastic twists, U turns and hairpin bends all along the way, more than we could keep count of!! A couple of hours of riding brought us to Jog falls!! We spent about 10 mins there, took a couple of snaps and got back onto NH206!!
Riding Easy, Feeling Free and enjoying every moment of it, our ride suddenly came to a screeching halt when, while negotiating a slow U turn on the Highway, Bilal suddenly found himself in the same situation I was in a week earlier!! A mini truck, with a drunk driver coming full speed on the wrong side of the highway on that same U turn that Bilal was taking!! Even Bilal thought his number was up!! He jammed on his brakes and missed the truck by barely a few inches… shaken up!! I witnessed the whole thing happen and it was indeed a miracle by the Gods the way Bilal escaped a tragedy at that moment!! As Bilal got off his bike, I lost my cool, rode ahead towards the truck and blocked the truck’s path on the single laned forest highway with my bike!! “Get the bastard outta the truck”, I said to Bilal!! We both pulled the truck driver out and gave him a sound thrashing of slaps that he wont forget for the rest of his life!! Later, our tempers still raging, I picked up a palm sized rock and smashed both of the truck’s Halogen lights!! A piece of glass made a deep gash in my right hand thumb, that started bleeding real bad, but still was the last thing on my mind!! Then Bilal took that rock and smashed the truck’s Windshield!! What did we achieve by doing all that?? That reckless driver will think many times before driving rashly like that again, and that’ll probably save a life or two on the highway!!
After the semi-demolition of the truck, Bilal and I again got on our bikes, and sped off towards the next Village for First aid for my bleeding thumb that had soaked my glove in blood and was dripping!! 5 Kms on, we stoped and Bilal told me to pour some Petrol on the wound as an antiseptic!! As I did that, the truck driver came sitting pillion behind another motorcycle rider to fight with us!! We lost our cool again and were about to smash the trucker up for good when the motorcycle rider intervened, sided us, threatened to take the truck driver to the cops and took him back!! Just at the same moment, another mini truck pulled up and enquired as to what had happened to the smashed truck 5 Kms behind!! Bilal and I got on our bikes and rode on, very precariously!! Though we didn’t speak of it, we had this feeling that trouble wasn’t over yet!! Like bikers stay united united, truckers could be too, and with this truck right behind us, we were prepared for anything now!! We rode slowly, and as the second truck approached us from behind, we both rode off to the side of the road and let him pass. I said to Bilal that we’ll both ride behind this guy, and not overtake him again, just incase he gets any ideas!!
Soon, the trucker took a different road, and within 10 more Kms of riding we found ourselves on NH17 on the outskirts of Gersoppa!! The first thing we did was find a Doctor to get some first aid and dressing for my wound!! I also opted to get a Tetanus Injection, just to be safe!! Bilal got me the injection saying, “You got hurt for me, bro”!! I just said, “Well, we’re Blood Brothers now”!! I also realized that coming unscratched from 2 dangerous situations earlier, I really was destined to bleed on this tour, and had finally bled my share!!
 JANUARY 26TH: THURSDAY: DAY 9: Part 2-Sleeping Where We Fall
“Where are you two headed?”, asked the Doctor!! We told him we were going to Karwar and then Goa from there on!! The Doc said Karwar was around 100 Kms, and it was 8 PM by then!! He told us that Gokaran was around 60 Kms, and that rang a bell!! Gokaran… OM BEACH!! Bilal and I decided to head towards Om Beach for the night!! Another hour and a Half of riding brought us to Gokaran, and we rode on the winding Mountainous dirt road towards Om Beach and reached there around 10 PM!! We finally found a place to park our bikes, unloaded our Cramsters and slung them on our shoulders and made our way to the first Shack that we found, the Namaste restaurant!!
We walked into the place, and every eye turned towards us!! All foreigners there!! We put our Cramsters down, and ordered for a couple of beers and the house speciality in seafood for the night!! We got a couple of Prawn Sizzlers that turned out to be the best sea food we had ever had!! Just juicy, succulent and cooked to perfection!! Very well deserved meal after the ordeal we had been through with the truckers’ episode!!
By the time dinner was over, all the places at Om Beach were past their closing time, and I was really drowsy coz of the doubled effect of the Tetanus Injection and the beers!! We asked the restaurant owner for accommodations and he said that every place on Om Beach was filled to capacity!! We slung our saddlebags on our shoulders again, and walked out onto the beach, barely taking 50 steps when fatigue, sleep and drowsiness gripped me!! I couldn’t take another step and just put my saddlebags on the floor and said to Bilal that here’s where Im sleeping for the night!! Bilal told me to stay put while we went ahead and looked for some possible accommodations!! He walked a little way ahead and found a shack with a lantern burning and someone sleeping in a hammock!! As he neared the shack, a few dogs started barking at him and a dark as spades Indian girl with dreadlocks scary enough to give Medusa a run for her crown arose from the hammock, and scared the shit outta Bilal!! Terrifeid he asked her about accommodations which she said they had none!! Walking on he read a sign board on the beach that said, “Many people drown each year in Om Beach. We hope you’re not the next”. That scared the hell outta Bilal who’s afraid of Ghosts!! Walking further ahead on the beach, he suddenly came across 2 white men, and the 3 ended scaring each other even more!! He thought the place was haunted by dead souls and came running back to where I was sleeping on the sand saying, “Lets walk a little further to where there’s lights and people around”!! I was too tired, but still managed a few steps and then again plopped on the sand saying I could go no further!! Bilal’s idea was to stay close to people, just incase we get attacked by Ghosts, and my idea was that if we were to sleep on the beach, it’d be better if we slept un-noticed and away from people, so no one bothers or vandalizes us!!
Soon after, Bilal gave up trying to convince me, and put his Cramsters down, made a pillow and tried to doze off as well!! The rhythmic sound of the waves was like a lullaby!! Suddenly, a cold wind started to blow sand all over us, and I suggested we over our faces, eyes and ears with Bandanas or Balaclavas!! After another short while, we were both sound asleep under a trillion stars, by the seashore, on the beach with our gloves and boots on to protect us from the cold and with our Cramsters as pillows!!
I woke up with the first rays of the Rising Sun the next morning, and saw many people walking around, staring at us in awe and amusement at the same time!! It was the best night’s sleep I had had on this tour so far!! I also rememberd the lines from Metallica’s “Wherever I May Roam” that go like, “Anywhere I Roam, Where I Lay My Head  Is Home”, and realized that while every biker idolizes that song, and gets inspired by it, Bilal and I had just lived two lines from that song by sleeping where we fell that night!! Rock And Roll!!
I looked around for a bit, just taking in the sights of the Arabian Sea when I saw two familiar faces coming towards us!! Imran and Sachin!! Talk about the world being small!!
I woke Bilal up and we all made way to their Shack where the Nomads and Roadshakers were putting up for the night, and told them of our adventures over cups of tea!!
 JANUARY 27TH: FRIDAY: DAY 10: Palolem Beach, Goa
After a chat and cups of tea with Nomads and Roadshakers, Bilal and I again slung our Cramsters over our shoulders and started walking on the beach towards our bikes!! Our plan was to reach Palolem Beach in Goa in a couple of hours and spend the day there!! We started towards our destination half an hour later and were soon joined by the Nomads and Roadshakers pack riding towards Goa!! Bilal, Imran and I took a brief halt near Karwar for a few snaps on the Road cut between a mountain!!
Another 2 hours of riding brought us to Palolem Beach in South Goa, and after a bit of searching we found ourselves a nice beach hut on stilts at the Inn Joy Resort there!! The first thing we noticed were two gorgeously hot Aussie babes as neighbours we had at the resort!! After dumping our bags in the room and getting out of our leathers into comfortable beach wear, we went for some sightseeing on the beach and came across a Tattoo parlour where Bilal got his Tribal guitar Tattoo modified with some more lines designed around it!! I too wanted a tattoo, but decided to get it just before leaving Goa so I could spend some time in the water as well!! By the time Bilal’s tattoo was done we got a call from Sid saying he was near Palolem and asking where we were!! After a couple of Beers we went out to fetch him from the market and got him to our resort as well!! The 3 of us then spent the rest of the evening just hanging our around the Palolem Beach market, at the music shop there where I played a few songs on the guitar and attracted an audience as well, and later at a restaurant which was visited by a confused looking cow that just stood in the middle of the shack for an hour staring at people eating there!!
After dinner we went back to our cottages and dozed off around 2 AM!! Being a High tide, the waves kept lashing the beach with loud roars all night!!
JANUARY 28TH: SATURDAY: DAY 11: Part 1-Arambol/Mandrem, Goa
The load crashing of the waves fom the High tide on Palolem slowly got muffled by the sound of people and gradually fainted into the sweet sound of early morning music playing at the resort!! After a while I realized that it was a Lounge Re-Mix of the Gayatri Mantra playing there!! Beautiful!!
We all got up and got ready for the ride to Arambol where we all decided to stay for the second day in Goa!! Sid got a call from Roadshakers that they were all putting up at a bungalow in Vagator, and rode on to join them!! Bilal and I, after 2 hours of Riding reached Mapusa and lost our way somewhere only to come across a German lady in her late 30’s riding a sweet looking Enfield with Springer seats!! She told us to follow her, and was it a pleasure to ride with her!! She led us fantastically well and was riding, taking sweeping turns and giving us hand signals like a true blue biker till we reached Mandrem, thanked her and saw her ride off and disappear down the road!! A while later we reached Arambol where I searched almost every guest house for accommodations, but found not a room vacant!! We then came back to Mandrem and found a beach shack at Riva Beach resort, the Venue of Rider Mania 2004, the place where Bilal and I had first met and became friends 2 years ago!! Lounging on the beach of the Riva beach resort we both realized that our brotherhood had come a full circle since we first met at the same place 2 years ago!! Later, I also realized how my personal Association with Rider Mania as an event and the Bulleteers’ community had also come a full circle in 2 years!! In January 2004, I was a lone rider to Riva Beach Resort at Rider Mania 2004, without any club to back me up!! And two years later, I was back at the same place, with my club to back me up at home, and was gonna ride home from the venue of RM04 back to my hometown to organize the next Rider Mania 2007 there!! Full Circle!!
JANUARY 28TH: SATURDAY: DAY 11: Part 2-The Art of Kicking Ass
After Lunch and many beers at Mandrem beach, Sid joined us and the 3 of us decided to check out the Saturday Night Flea Bazaar at Arpora!! I was ready for my tattoo now as well!! While the 3 of us rode together towards Anjuna and Arpora, I told Sid and Bilal to ride on towards Arpora while I checked out a few tattoo parlours!! After a bit of searching, and no luck as most of them were closed by 8 PM on Saturday evening, I found myself  in Tito’s lane in Baga!! I saw a Sign Board that said “DRAGON TATTOO PALACE” and decided to check it out!!
I walked in the Dragon Tattoo shop and had barely taken a step in when Tattoo artist who owned it said to me in a rude tone,”Keep your shoes outside”!! I realized my mistake as I hadn’t noticed the sign outside and told him that when he again, throwing more attitude this time, said, “The sign is outside for all to see, plus other people’s shoes as well”!! I was a bit annoyed by his arrogance, but since it was my fault, chose to ignore it!! The tattoo parlour owner looked like a Goa based Indian, who definitely seemed racist towards other Indians judging by the tone he was addressing me in!! Taking my shoes off outside, I went in again and expressed my desire to get a Tattoo!! “My Charges are Rs.1000 per Square Inch”, he again said arrogantly!! “Can I see some Designs??” I asked. He just pointed to the pictures all over his walls and said, “They’re all here.. choose whichever you like”, and got back to his conversation with a foreigner babe smoking some hash sitting in one corner of the tattoo Shop!! Disgusted, I decided to walk out of the place without a word!! I went outside, put my boots on again and was about to walk away when I realized that I hadn’t come riding 3000 Kms, survived 2 near death experiences, bashed up a truck driver and smashed his truck and slept out in the open on a beach for one night to take attitude from this racist motherfuckin’ sonofabitch!! I strode into the shop again, this time with my boots on, and before the bastrad could realize what was happening, I grabbed him by his collar and pulled him up to his feet, after which our conversation went exactly how it’s described below:
 Him: What the hell is this??
Me [In an angry and low growling voice]: Shhh.. just shut up and listen!! Don’t make a move!!
The white girl started to get up asking what was going on.. I just looked at her, tigthtened my grip around the ass hole’s collar, and with a mean look in my eyes said to him..
Me: Tell the bitch to stay where she is!!
The girl sat down again… lookin’ shit scared!!
Me: Now, repeat after me!! “Sir, how may I help you??”
Him: Lemme go!!
He tried to grab my wrist with one hand, instead, I gripped his fingers and twisted them hard, making him squeal like a little girl in pain!!
Me: Do as I say or Im gonna break your fingers first, and then your face, and you’ll never make another tattoo again!!
The bastard literally shat in his pants and started to vibrate!!
Me: Say, “Sir, how may I help you??”
Him [trembling like a motherfucker]: “Sir… h-how may I help you??”
Me: “Sir, PLEASE leave your shoes outside!!”
Him: “PLEASE leave your shoes outside!!”
I further tightened my grip on him…
Me: NOW say, “Sir, these are my charges, would you like to see designs??”
Him[Looking more scared than ever now]: “Sir, these are my charges, shall I show you designs??”
The bastard was on the verge of tears by this time and ready to piss out his attitude and racism in his pants when I let my grip loose on his collar and gave him one tight slap and said, “NOW listen, you piece of shit… next time you mis-behave with another Indian here, or anyone else for that matter, you’re gonna remember this episode!! Im a biker, and I have friends from my community coming to Goa all the time!! I’m gonna tell this incident to all my biker brothers and make sure they all come here and kick your ass as hard as they can. So make sure that you’re on your nicest behaviour the next time someone walks into this shit hole of yours!! Don’t forget… we’ll be watching!!”
I gave the bastard another mean look and stormed out of his shop, slamming the door behind me!! Ok, my brothers… time to have some fun with this ass hole in Goa the next time you go to Tito’s Lane in Baga!!
That felt GOOD!!
Sid and Bilal came and joined me there while I went and had a chat with Sumit and Gautam from Delhi, whom I had earlier met in Nagpur, and then again at Rider Mania and now again in Goa!!
After that, Sid, Bilal and I decided to ride to Arpora and rock the Night Market there!!
JANUARY 28TH: SATURDAY: DAY 11: Part 3-Rockin’ Hard at Arpora
The 3 Bulleteers, Sid, Bilal and I, reached Arpora around 9:30, and immediately started drowning rivers of beers there!! We had a gala party time socializing with total strangers there who all treated us almost like stars after seeing our club patches!! There was The Prem Joshua Band playing some awesome live fusion music there with a Master of Ceremony called Shelly, a spunky and good lookin’ British lady in her mid 30’s, who was as entertaining with her wisecracks as the band was with their music!! Bilal bought a Wind Blown horn there which we honked at every shop that quoted us an insane price for whatever it sold!! We were having a ball there, and guzzling beers by the gallons!!
We went back near the main stage where the band was still playing some awesome fusion music!! By that time, Bilal and I had had too much beer to care about anything but Rock and Roll, and I said to Shelly, “How `bout some Rock `n’ Roll now??”, to which she announced on the mic, “We have bikers here who wanna rock, but we gotta tell them that Rock `n’ Roll is dead!! This is 2006!! The age of Trance and Fusion!!” She meant it all in good humour, and we all knew it!! After sometime, she announced again, “The Bikers are here to Rock `n’ Roll and Strider’s gonna take the mic now to show us what bikers are all about!!”  Bilal had told her that I was gonna sing something with the band!! I strode up onto the stage, took the mic and announced, “I’m f****’ drunk and f****’ pissed right now and I’m gonna try and screw this song up as much as I can!!” I asked the band to start playing “ROADHOUSE BLUES”!!
The guitar player got the song going, the rest of the band joined in, and I sailed through the first verse of the song with full Rock Star Flair and Panache!! Around the Chorus, Bilal got up on the stage and grabbed the other mic, and dropped it on the guitar player’s processor, turning it off… the band kept playing on…after another funny screw up, Bilal jumped off the stage and literally stage dived into the crowd!! The hippies and Trance music lovers there were going crazy and  dancing their asses off to Roadhouse Blues being played beautifully to perfection by the band that was backing me up!! After an extended Lead Guitar Solo and a mid Vocal Solo section, the song ended with loads of cheers and applauding after a near 11 minute Jam!! Rock And Roll was Re-Born!! I thanked the audience, got off stage and saw Shelly coming towards me. Hugging me tight and giving me a peck on my cheek, she said, “You were f*****’ brilliant!!” I kissed her back, winked and smiled, and said, “Rock And Roll never dies!!”
After the Bazaar, Sid went back to Vagator, and Bilal and I decided to ride to Arambol and check out the party at the Surfers Club there!! After about 40 mins of riding in the freezing chill of the night, we were at Arambol, but found out that the party there happens on Sunday nights and not on Saturdays!! Almost 4 AM by then, we ordered some dinner at the only shack open in Arambol at that time, and by 5 AM came back to Riva in Mandrem and plopped into our beds and dozed off even before we realized it!!
JANUARY 29TH: SUNDAY: DAY 12: Starting on the Journey Back Home
It was decided the day before that while I stayed back in Mandrem for another 2 days, Bilal and Sid would start back for Bombay on Sunday morning!! Sid came from Vagator to Mandrem around 9:30, and Bilal too was ready and packed to leave by 10AM, while I slept on!! By the time Sid and Bilal were ready to leave, I joined them for a breakfast at the Riva beach resort, where we were staying, and also to see them off!! While discussing things over breakfast, I realized that I was having too much fun on the road with my brothers to stay back alone in Goa and I too decided to pack up and ride on with them till wherever our roads went together and start on my homeward journey from there!! I told the guys to give me half an hour while I got ready, and by 11:30AM, I too was packed and ready to ride on with Sid and Bilal!!
We decided, on Sid’s suggestion, to Ferry our bikes across the river from Arambol which would save us about 2 hours of Riding time for the day!! As we made our way through Arambol, I was stopped by a young guy on the road!! Stopping my bike I instantly recognized him!! A few days before the Rider Mania 2006 tour had started, I met this young guy from Israel who had landed in Delhi, bought a 500CC from Rishikesh, rode all the way to Kathmandu and was riding Southwards through Nagpur on his way to Goa!! I had helped him out in getting a place to stay for the night and also helped him get his bike fixed!! He saw me riding around in Arambol and stopped me!! Great to meet another biker brother from the road!! The World really is a small place!!
After a couple of pics there, Sid, Bilal and I made our way towards the Ferry and got on to it, bidding Goa farewell with heavy hearts!! Getting our bikes off the ferry on the other side of the River, we found ourselves in Maharashtra again, and rode the NH17 through Sawantwadi and  Hatkumbha all the way till Chiplun, where Bilal got a new front tyre and we had an evening Snack at a Restaurant there!! It was almost 6 PM by then, and while we were eating we decided that the three of us would be together till Puladpur, where I would halt for the night while Bilal and Sid would ride on and hope to reach Bombay the same night!! My route from Puladpur was via Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani-Wai-Pune-Aurangabad-Nagpur!! Sid called up Kamal and asked him about the appropriate thing to do and Kamal suggested me not to try and do the Mahabaleshwar Ghat alone at night, as it was a bit dangerous!! I took his suggestion and decided to stay at Puladpur for the night!!
Riding on from Chiplun and easying our way through another Ghat on NH17, we came across a rider and a pillion by the side of the road awaiting help with a broken down Bullet!! A little light on their faces revealed, again, Gautam and Sumit from Delhi!! This was the fourth time we had met in the last 18 days by sheer co-incidence at the most unlikeliest of places!! Their Throttle cable had snapped, which they had replaced, but were having trouble with the Carb functioning properly!! We all tried our hands at it, almost around 9PM, till Bilal called up Anton who guided us on the phone and the bike was ready for the road again after a few minutes of tinkering!!
The four bikes rolled on together through the Ghat till we all reached Puladpur, and that signaled the end of the tour for us all together!! This is where we were to part ways!! With sad and heavy hearts, Sid, Bilal and I wished each other safe rides home, and while I checked into a lodge, the other 3 rode off towards Bombay!!
I went into my room, freshened up, and dozed off after a while of studying the map for the ride next day!!
JANUARY 30TH: MONDAY: DAY 12: Puladpur-Pune-Aurangabad
I woke up fresh around 8 AM and was packed and ready for the ride through Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani all the way till Pune, get my bike checked there, and then Ride on till Aurangabad to stay there for the night!!
The 40 Kms Mahabaleshwar ghat was a treat to ride on, with the Mountains covered in mist and smoke in the distance, and little lakes and rivulets shimmering in the Sun and  flowing by the side of the road!! An hour and a half later, I took a halt in front of the Mahabaleshwar Boating Club and treated myself to a delicious serving of Fresh Strawberry and Cream, my breakfast for the day!! Later, riding through Panchgani and Wai, I got onto NH4 with about 110 Kms to go till I reached Pune!! My motorcycle timing going a bit advanced, and the bike running a bit heavy because of that, I did an easy run till Pune without stressing the bike out too much, and reached the City by 1 PM!! I got in touch with Kamal who said that Shammi was on his way to meet me and take me to Kailash’s place to get my bike checked!!
In a short while, Kamal too joined Shammi and me at Kailash’s Garage and we all had a good chat about my ride so far!! Later, Nauzar and Sameer too joined us there, and after a very satisfactory job done on my bike by Kailash, we all said bye to each other, and Shammi led me till the McDonald’s joint somewhere near Nagar Road and Koregaon Park!! I said bye to Shammi there, parked my bike and walked into McDonalds for a meal!! As I walked into the restaurant, with dust and oil stains all over my Leathers and Denims, a hush fell over the place and I felt every eye in the McDonalds joint upon me, like they’d never seen a biker before!! I just ordered my meal, and pretended the stares didn’t bother me, while inside I was just feeling irritated and felt like exploding!! Another verse from a Rock And Roll song had come true!! Turn The Page!!
I got out of McDonalds by 5 PM, and getting on the Nagar road, made my way out of the city and onto the Highway towards Aurangabad, my destination for the day!! By 7 PM, I was again struggling to keep my vision through the blinding lights of the oncoming traffic all along the highway!! I finally reached Aurangabad around 10 PM, and checked myself in a Lodge near the railway Station, and after a hearty dinner at a restaurant nearby, I plopped into my bed for the night and was sound asleep by Midnight!! The next day I had a 520 Kms ride to do from Aurangabad till Nagpur!!
JANUARY 31st: Tuesday: DAY 13: Like A Bat Out Of Hell
I woke up around 8 AM, fresh and ready for the last day’s ride of the tour, and I wanted to make it to Nagpur by daylight!! I had about 520 Kms to ride and I was packed and ready to get on the road again by 10 AM!!
As I gripped my handlebar, my knuckles went white with desire under my leather gloves, and like a Wild Bat unleashed from hell, I roared out of my Hotel Parking lot and onto the highway!! The bike was running beautifully now, all thanks to Kailash and specially to Shammi and Kamal, who had take me to his garage!!
Leaving behind a cloud of dust and smoke, I rode on without a halt for the next 190 Kms when I took my first halt for lunch at Chikhli!! 25 minutes later, I was on the road again, swerving and bouncing my bike through the State Highway good and bad in patches till I finally reached Khamgaon and touched NH6!! Not stopping for anything there, I rode on and reached Akola in a short while where I took another 5 Minute break for Water!! Next stop would be Amravati, 90 Kms from Akola!! This was the worst patch on the Highway, full of bumps and patches that the road authorities had covered the potholes on the highway with!! I reached the outer City limits of Amravati in another 110 Minutes and took another 5 Minute break there for water and a Pic on the beautiful Amravati Bypass road!! Riding on, blazing a trail of smoke and rubber on the bypass, my well balanced Cramsters and the wide handlebar keeping the bike steady and the Leather Wanderlust Patch half Jacket on my back fluttering in the wind like a leaf in a storm, I took my last halt at a petrol pump around 60 Kms before Nagpur, when my bike came into it’s reserve fuel capacity!! Riding on from there, I had made good riding time, and reached the City limits of Nagpur by 6 PM, and riding slow and easy in the city, finally reached home around 6:30PM!! All in all, 531 Kms in 8.5 hours of road time!! Taking away the collective 40 mins breaks I had taken, I had covered the 531 Kms in 7 hours and 50 Minutes of riding time, with an average speed of 68 Kph!! My personal best solo riding time so far!!
I roared into the gates of my house, put the sidestand on and got off my bike, only to give it one huge hug as a “thank you for not letting me down throughout the tour”!! It was emotional!!
After a warm welcome back home with loads of hugs and kisses from my parents, I called up Nikhil and Sagar to inform them that I was back home safely, and told them to come over… beer was on me!! Mom, dad and I spent the next couple of hours in my room with me telling them stories of my adventures and all!! They both felt proud of me!! This was the BEST trip EVER!!
I took a hot shower around 8:30, and welcomed Sagar, Nikhil, Ruchir and Rajesh home around 9!! We spent the next few hours sharing stories and experiences from the road, along with a few beers, till finally, at around 2 AM, I dropped Sagar and Nikhil home, came back and fell into the sweetest slumber you could possibly Imagine!!
In the past 14 days, here’s what my statistics were:
14 Days
5 States
10 Destinations
4300 Kms
2 near death experiences
A Wild Rocking time at a Kick Ass Biker event
Watching the Sunrise on the East Coast Bay Of Bengal
Watching the Sunset on the West Coast Arabian Sea
Riding on the best Ghat ever. NH206 from Sagar till Gersopa
Bashing up a reckless truck driver and smashing his truck
Getting a bleeding wound on my thumb
Having the best Sea food ever
Sleeping on the beach with no accommodations to be found
Acoustic Jamming in a music shop in South Goa, shaking the lights out of a racist tattoo artist in Central Goa and Re-Introducing Rock and Roll to the Hippeis in North Goa all within 2 days
And finally ending the tour with a Kick as personal best riding time of 531 Kms in 7 Hours and 50 minutes.. a tour like this couldn’t have had a better finish than this last day’s ride!!
Rockin’ Hard, Ridin’ High and Livin’ Free, I was Back home from a tour that all bikers only dream of!!
And I’m Still Craving for more!!
Wanderlust!! Insatiable Forever!!
See you all In Nagpur for RIDER MANIA 2007!!
Cheers and Safe Rides!!
Anukarana Singh!!

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RM05: A Long, Strange Trip Sat, 29 Jun 2013 05:30:38 +0000 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!!!!!

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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.
    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.
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:
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… 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:
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!!!!!
Anukaran Singh
Wanderlust, Nagpur

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RM12: The Beaster Mania Sat, 29 Jun 2013 05:10:29 +0000 Part 1:The most eagerly awaited event of the year was fast approaching. The excitement shooting up manifold each day. I’d gotten my bike done up again.. just needed a change in the way it looked.The plan was for the first batch of riders from Wanderlust MC to start on the morning of Jan 25th. But […]

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Part 1:The most eagerly awaited event of the year was fast approaching. The excitement shooting up manifold each day. I’d gotten my bike done up again.. just needed a change in the way it looked.The plan was for the first batch of riders from Wanderlust MC to start on the morning of Jan 25th. But family being in Dubai and me all alone here to take care of the house, two studios and most importantly the two kids Buddy and Puffy, I did make an alternate plan to start with the 2nd batch on the morning of the 26th. But on the night of the 23rd I heard that my family’s stay in Dubai would get extended till the 27th, which left me no time to ride out and make it on time for the Rider Mania. Incidentally, Thomas found himself without a bike, and so I offered him mine for the ride to Delhi. This way my bike reaches Delhi in the hands of a seasoned rider, and saves me the trouble of haggling with the railway station authorities if I had chosen to pack it off to Delhi. Also, Thomas wouldn’t miss his ride either.

I saw the first batch off on the 25th morning from my home, some of whom had stayed the night over. The next day I met and saw off Sheetal, Manish and Purnima, after having had a party with Armaan, Pammi, Pupu and gang from the Nawabs, Hyderabad as well. And for the first time missing out on a ride to RM in 9 years did make me feel weird.

Nisarg, Hyena, Ashish and I were on the same flight to Delhi on the night of the 27th. We had a taxi take us to Gurgaon to our hotel where the rest of the pack, the riders from botch batches, and Sutta also joined us within minutes of our landing there.

That night was the usual madness and hellraising that Wanderlust is all so [in]famous for, coming to a point when the room service staff was too scared to enter our party zone and just handed us our orders through a slightly opened door. Oh well.

The morning of the 28th, it was time to ride to the biggest RM yet. All of us assembled outside the hotel in Gurgaon and started loading up the machines, and getting into gear when it dawned upon me that I’d forgotten my helmet back home. Not like Im big on helmets anyway, but for the city authorities it seemed like a big deal. So I picked up one cheap ass helmet for 250 bucks from a roadside seller just for the ride to the venue, thinking there’d be better helmets being sold there, and I can pick myself a good one later.

The venue was massive, and Wanderlust MC made the entry in our usual style.. engines roaring and resounding in tandem to our war cry and into the parking lot. That reminded me of my first RM, back in 2004, when I’d ridden solo to Goa. Wanderlust MC was still an idea in my head back then. But I do remember entering that parking lot in Mandrem at Riva Beach resort and finding myself amidst 150 enfields.. rock and roll.. the beach.. the beers and the [now] usual regalia and saying to myself: “Im finally home.” And 9 RM’s later, I still get that same feeling each year as I ride into that parking lot which now has close to 900 majestic motorcycles, the chrome gleaming in the sun, finding it’s way out through the layers of oil stains, dust and mud from the road.. each one with a story to tell. It is home.

The next two days of the RM.. as they say, if you remember any of it, you were never there:) Super amazing time meeting with new friends and old and brothers from the road that swear by the bond and the code of the open road. This was the 10th year celebration of that bond. This was the celebration of the first 10 years of an event like no other in India, a community and brotherhood like no other in the world, and perhaps the first counter culture movement of this ancient land. In a long long time at least. We have arrived. And we’re here to stay.

Part 2

The RM done, we all woke up on the morning of Jan 30th to the saddening news of the passing away of one of our brother from Inddie Thumpers, Chetan. It was all too sudden, shocking and confusing. After a few words with the Inddie thumpers and Beasters, it was best decided that not too many people stay back at the venue, and by mid noon we were off on the road to Pushkar.Thomas had earlier in the morning left for Nagpur along with Eashwar as well on Prashen’s bike, so now I had my machine back for the road ahead.The road was good, and a slight chill stayed with us all through the day. My concentration on the road was constantly perturbed with thoughts of Chetan, and his final moments spent with us all before he left on his great ride into the infinite beyond. Time and time again I had to shake myself outta my thoughts while riding and kept reminding myself to keep focussed on the ride. Sheetal, who was riding pillion with me, if noticed it, or did feel uneasy, she didn’t show it.

Nightfall descended and the chill found it’s way through our gloves, jackets and boots and made it’s presence ever felt.

We rode into Pushkar around 11PM and straightaway made our way to the suggested place to stay, The Narayan guest house, which was packed to capacity. The people running the guesthouse were still kind enough to make a couple of phone calls and fix us up at The Mama Luna guest house, which we made our home for the next few days.

Everyone woke up at their own leisure the next morn, and once all freshened up, we decided to check out the Land of Brahma. WildChild Dipesh Shah was also chilling in this amazing place, and we all joined forces. The regular “touristy” routine of visiting the important sites and places done, we parked for a lazy afternoon at the Moon Cafe and drowned in glasses of the special bhaang lassi there which left one with a subtle buzz and good feeling for the rest of the day, needless to say super hungry after every few minutes.

I also got my bike fixed, found an oversized nut to fit the bent pipe back into place. The packing was gone, and there wasn’t one for the 500’s there, so I just let that be. The exhause was still makin a very funny sound, but nothing one couldnt get used to for just a couple of days.

One of the nights, Sheetal, Naga, Soni and I decided to go and hang out at one of the ghats by the lake and just soak in the mystical silence of the place.. in contemplation of thoughts within. It certainly was a night to remember there for some of us.

On the first morning of Feb, the guys all had to start back for home. I decided to stay back for a couple of days for a few reasons. I needed some time to myself again [which I usually do anyways ever so often], I was loving being in Pushkar, and I also had been wanting to do a long pending solo ride back home, and this seemed like a good time to do it. Guys in the club were in a hurry to make a dash for home. I wanted to do it a bit differently this time. And so I saw them all off.

Part 3

With the Wanderlusters now off on their way back home, I had decided to stay on for another day at Pushkar, and began to make a mental list of things to do when I got a call from Dipsy and we met up again at the Moon Cafe for a couple of glasses of Bhaang Lassi, and headed to the Baba Roof Top for breakfast, also joined by Jack and his Wolfepack there. Dipsy went into his “vishram” mode, Jack and boys left town and I was on my own for the day.

I’d been wanting to visit the Dargah Shareef at Ajmer on this trip too, so with my head still faintly buzzing, I rode towards Ajmer with just my camera, cruising along nice and easy, enjoying the sights on the way and occasionally stopping for a pic in that short distance of 20 Kms. Finding my way into the overcrowded main street leading to the Dargah, I immediately, while still riding slow, started getting hounded by shop owners in the street that have been convinced down countless generations that materialistic offerings and goods please the Gods and spirits. I rode on towards the Dargah, finding a slightly more open space there to park next to a shop the owner of which seemed ready to have my motorcycle parked in his vicinity, in exchange of me buying stuff from him for the Dargah, ofcourse. The problem was them asking me to leave my bike unlocked, a thought Im never comfortable with on a street and crowd of this size and chaos. I managed to convince him somehow that the bike cannot remain unlocked, did the needful, picked up a basket of offerings from him, paid him, left my shoes at the shop and walked towards the Dargah entrance, where I was again stopped by a security guy who refused to let me enter with a camera. Mobile phones were fine [all of which incidentally too have high resolution cameras these days, so this logic was beyond me again]. I was asked to go back and leave the camera with the shopkeeper. Again, not a comfortable thought. So I just turned back towards the shop, handed him the basket over, not asking for a refund, got my shoes on and rode off back towards Pushkar, with a slight look at the Dargah and a “see you next time around, maybe” voice in my head. The ride back was blissful.

Back in Pushkar, I parked my bike near the Rainbow lodge and met John from Beasters who was there with his family. A cuppa tea each and John was off, and I began my sifting and drifting through the streams and rivulets of humanity in all it’s myriad forms and colors flowing on the streets of this ancient oasis, and Jim’s words resounded in my head again:

“Choose” they croon, the ancient ones, “the time has come again”,

“Choose now” they croon, beneath the moon, beside an ancient lake,

“Enter again the sweet forest, enter the hot dream, come with us”,

 Everything is broken up, and dances…

Walking around the market streets around the lake, and occasionally walking onto a ghat to sit and take pictures on the steps, a lot gets revealed, while a lot more raises new questiones that need answering.

A gently approaching coolth in the atmosphere, and shadows stretching eastward, the hour bringing on the sunset began and I heard a faint sound of drums coming from one of the ghats. I followed the sound and found myself on steps leading up to a platform where 4 sets of traditional looking drums were lined up. Each set consisted of two bowl shaped drums placed in a “V” with the skins facing each other. The set being played by Ramesh Kumar, a local, was placed directly in front of an ancient looking Shivaling, beyond which were the waters of the lake, on the far bank of which were temples and homes with their lights coming on, shadowed in the hills silhouetted by the setting sun. Sitting behind Ramesh was a gent from Israel playing the black hand clap stones [dunno what they are called] keeping in time with the beat of the drums. As the hour progressed, another lady from Israel with the clap stones, another Indian guy, a lady from Japan and two more gentleman from France and Germany each joined in on the remaining drum sets. Ramesh, being the lead drummer there started on a basic beat first, and everyone else joined in till all played the same beat in tandem precision, which once achieved, Ramesh began filling in his drum rolls and solos over that beat creating a flurry of percussive sounds. Each piece played for about 20 mins, the session for that evening lasted close to 2 hours. I stayed through it and got it all on video. The session over and everyone gone, I lingered on by the lakeside till the chill really began to bite, and I made my way back to the room to take a little nap. Later that evening, I made my way to the roof top of the Mama Luna, and partied till late into the night with fellow travelers, Mama Luna guests and new friends and connections made at Pushkar.

Feb 2: On The Road

Don’t know what time I really woke up, but that too was a part of the plan. The past few years every ride has been a race against time. This time, I wanted to do it differently. I’d made sure I dont carry a watch on this tour, and then also made sure I never saw the time on my mobile phone either. This time I wanted to start riding when it felt like and stop where it felt like, with no fixed plan on where to stop for the night. I chalked out a rough route and decided if the ride goes smooth, I would spend some time in Ujjain and later visit the caves of Bhimbetka again. I also didnt want the speedometer telling me if I was going too fast or too slow, nor the distance I had traveled for the day, so I un-screwed the speedo cable and packed it with my spares. All I knew is that I had to be back to work on the morning of the 6th, and though not entirely a satisfactory time on the road to satiate wanderlust, I still wanted to make the most of it and not be in a rush bound by distance and time, but to ride by feel.

I got back on the road by what seemed like a little past noon, and took my first halt for lunch at a Dhaba just after Chittorgarh. The next stop I took at Neemuch when the fuel had to be turned onto reserve stock. Back on the road I heard a funny scraping/grinding sound coming from the bike front, and stopped on the side of the road at a junction to inspect. A guy emerged from nowhere and said that a puncture repair shop was just across the road. I checked, and it was my front mudguard, the side clamps of which had broken on the ride from Nagpur-Gurgaon, and was being held in place by a wire, had slumped a little forward and the front screw of the Wanderlust plate was rubbing against the front tyre. But no flat tyre, so I just told the guy I didnt need a puncture shop, and fixing the mudguard a little back in place, I rode off again. Almost Sundown.

I rode on for a few kms on and my bike gave a sudden wobble. The rear tyre had gone flat. I turned the bike around, and sitting closest to the tank, trying to keep max weight off the rear wheel, I made it back to the junction and parked at the puncture repair shop. It was dark now, and after what seemed like quite a while, and finding no nail in the tyre, the guy fixed the tube which had a piercing on the inside rim, seemingly caused by a protruding spoke. Not a very comforting thing to happen on a ride.

I wasn’t yet tired and rode on for the next few hours at an easier pace incase the tyre acted up again. The front wheel grinding sound coming on again after a while. I reached the outskirts of Ratlam and stopped for tea at a dhaba. The cold and sleep were beginning to really make their presence felt, and I found myself a little lodge at Ratlam to stay in for the night.

Feb 3: On the Road

It still seemed comfortably early in the morning by the time I had loaded my bike outside the lodge in Ratlam. Many shops were still yet to open, and the morning hustle bustle of the little town was beginning to catch full steam. The bike loaded, I gave it a kickstart, and the spinning rear wheel reminded me of the flat I had the evening before. I checked, and it was all falt out again. Another puncture repair shop was just across the street from the lodge, and so I dragged my bike over and began the process all over again. Same thing again. No mark on the outer edge, but 3 holes in the tube caused again by what now was seeming like the rim. I hadn’t had a flat tyre in the past couple of years, so it always remained unchecked, but coz of a lot of off-roading trips in the past two monsoons, the water seeping in had rusted the wheel rim, and the rusted flakes were causing the flats. The front tyre too had a well pronounced jagged edged groove caused by the front mudguard. I bought a fresh tube for the rear, getting the already twice repaired on fixed and kept as a spare, and having the rust scarped off and smoothened out a bit. Tried looking for a new front tyre, but none was available. I took the front mudguard off to prevent further damage and tied it across the rear seat of the machine and I started the ride towards Ujjain, a little before the Sun had peaked on it’s noonward race.

Riding through narrow state highways now, a milestone signalled Ujjain another 12 Kms ahead, and the fast moving motorcycle wobbled again. A couple of kims down the road I found another puncture repair guy who didnt have the tools for an enfield. I used my own toolkit and opened up the tyre for him. The fresh tube had 3 fresher holes in it. We decided to cut open my spare tube and turn it into a sleeve for the again repaired new tube and sheath it in shielding it from the rusty rim. Seemed like a great idea, but this time I had to get it fixed properly. I rode into Ujjain and straight towards the Mahakaleshwar Temple. The place was so crowded that it seemed it’d take me all day to get in and out. Plus again there was the hassle of not only leaving my bike somehwere in the vicinity, but this time along with my saddlebags and the rest still mounted on it. I gave a nod there again, and made way outta Ujjain, picking up another fresh tube. I found a dhaba and puncture repair shop side by side on the highway and decided to get the fresh tube in, along with the sleeve while I had a good lunch. it was well past afternoon now.

The lunch and tyre in their respective places again, I got back on the road with no idea of where to stop for the night. The highway was fantastic on this patch. Lush green fields on the left, smooth tarmac wide enough for 3 trucks to ride side by side on the up lane, a natural division wide enough for another 3 trucks lush with tall trees and smooth tarmac again on the opposite lane with lush green fields beyond. I was more confident of my rear tyre now, was less conscious of the groove made on the front one, and I picked up pace, enjoying the ride to the fullest, getting back into my element . I opened up the throttle a little more to overtake a truck from the right side, a speeding Scorpio behind me doing the same, and I felt something go wrong or amiss. For some unknown reason, and the first time in my 12 years of riding, the rear brake pedal fell off it’s mount and dangled between the two fast spinning wheels of the bike still in motion right after the truck was left behind and the Scorpio closing in a lot faster. I panicked a little, but instinctively steered the bike to the extreme right corner of the road, the truck and scorpio racing ahead from my left and brought the bike to a halt, downshifting gears and with gentle use of the front disc. Though I’d never had this kinda trouble before, and hence never had to ever fix it, I was kinda clueless about how to do it. For miles around there wasn’t anything or anyone in sight. I got my tools out again, and just applied basic logic and physics and after a coule of attempts managed to get all the braking parts back into their working places again. A little pat on my own back and I sped off again down the road somewhere close to Sunset.

Riding on without pause, I reached the outskirts of Bhopal and stopped for tea where the dhaba owner told me not to take the bypass, but to ride through town, or best, halt in Bhopal for the night. I contemplated this for a while, and asked how far ahead of Bhopal was Bhimbetka. Though I was getting tired and a bit sleepy, the distance to Bhimbetka seemed manageable, but there was a warning on the bad condition of the road. I decided to go ahead with it.

The traffic in Bhopal was chaotic, senseless and irritating.. as is almost anywhere in India. The city roads were super confusing as well, but the Mughal architectural monuments seemed fabulous. At a traffic signal I stopped next to a local dude Tejinder Singh astride a brand new T-Bird, and asked him the way outta town. He was gracious enough and asked me to follow him till a point from where he turned homeward after guiding me onto the road to Bhimbetka, again warning me about the bad road ahead.. in his own words, “It’s pure hell.”

It took me forever to cross that single lane stretch in the dark and I finally reached Bhimbetka quite late, and making my way straight to the MP Tourism Highway Retreat to stay for the night. With just 4 rooms at hand, they were packed to capacity. I backtracked a few kms and found a dhaba quite abuzz with activity and decided to have dinner there. I also decided to park there at the dhaba for the night on a cot. The food was great amidst all road talk with truckers and the dhaba people and with a double shot of neat Old Monk as my nightcap, I drifted off into slumbertown. It was a cold, cold night.

Feb 4th: Homeward bound

The sounds of a thousand birds chirping woke me up with the Sunrise and the nearly freezing morning chill, amidst fog mingling with the smoke from little bonfires from the night before, still holding on to their last embers. I rolled off the cot and got my boots on. After a brush of the teeth and a wash of the face and hands at a tube well, I had a nice large cuppa tea, getting my gear on and rode to the Bhimbetka Highway Retreat again. The morning staff now recognized me from my previous trip here 4 years ago and said had they been there the night before, they’d have made sure I was comfortable there. But now I wasn’t ready to trade the night at the dhaba for anything else. I thanked ’em, and asked if I can leave my bags with them and take a tour of the Bhimbetka cave shelters again. They told me the morning round timings were yet to commence for the day, and suggested I leave the bags there and check out Bhojpur in the mean time. I asked whats in store there, and they told me a little story about Raja Bhojdev and the massive monument he left behind 1000 years ago, housing the largest ancient Shivaling. I thought about it no more, and asked for the way, and they guided me towards a dirt track leading into the forest. 28 Kms one way, they said.

I got my camera ready, and got on the trail to Bhojpur. The track was all dirt, but loose sandy soil. Slow and gliding one way or another I enjoyed the morning ride through the forest, with bird calls incessantly echoing and filling up the morning calm whenever I turned off the engine to take a look around. In a little over a while of riding, I saw in the distance a tiny and flat little village at the foot of a little hillock in the middle of nowhere. Atop the hillock was the massive temple structure looming large above everything else in sight. And it looked ancient.

I rode into and through the village and towards the temple complex, parking my machine, boots, gloves and helmet at a flower shop and entered the walkway to the temple. Not too many tourists or activity around, I crossed a lady [with a Cobra that looked malnourished and weak] asking for money, a random stuff seller dude trying to sell me a different story saying this temple was from the Mahabharat era, more than 5000 years old.. incidentally he was telling this story parked right next to the slab stone with the actual story and historic account of the place inscribed on it.. and then I saw two old musicians.. one with a dholak and another with a string and bow instrument [which I again can’t recall the name of].

I first thoroughly checked out the outside of the temple, with all its erosion and restoration side by side and rock sculptures of nymphs and celestial angels and musicians, some broken, some still intact adorning all the walls on the outside. Very interesting ones. Making my way then inside the temple, the massive rock Shivalingam mounted on the even more imposingly large Yoni, at first sight, stuns you a little. Photography without flash is thankfully permitted here so I tried to capture as much as I could there. I also ran into a group of elderly gentlemen from Calcutta, all travel and photography enthusiasts. One of them was using his old, tried, trusted and impossible to part with Nikon FM2, a Film SLR. The way he spoke of it, and the few prints he carried with him that he showed to me was inspiring. And it did inspire me enough to make sure Im gonna get my hands on a Film SLR pretty soon, which also arises from the fact that I love all that’s retro and old school.

Spending a generous amount of time at the temple, I rode back again to Bhimbetka Retreat and ordered breakfast there. On the ride back from Bhojpur Id also thought it had been very fulfilling indeed to have so randomly visited the new place to find such a stunning piece of ancient art and architecture hidden there. I could give the caves a pass this time and ride homewards now.

Back on the road to Nagpur now, I recalled Tejinder’s words, “It’s pure hell”, and he had much underestimated it. There was no road. Just potholes and sharp edges of what used to be a narrow single tarmac lane dangerously throwing the bike off balance, all the while snaking one’s way around the thick black smoke emanating from a bumper to bumper, never ending line of trucks and buses, also kicking up crazy thick clouds of dust. The first 100 kms took me about 4.5 hours to cover. Also because any village that one passed on this stretch also had a traffic jam from hel from all the highway chaos mingled with the weekend village bazaar madness. It does teach one a lotta patience and self control, though.. constantly fighting with the road rage slowly trying to build up within.

By the time I reached Itarsi, the roads were starting to get slightly visible [though the traffic jam on the road and more in villages was as bad] and as I was making the climb of an overbridge I heard a loud metallic whirring sound from my machine, and the lack of throttle response told me the chain had gone loose. The biked rolled over the climb of the bridge and rolled down the descend and straight into a roadside mechanic’s place.. he already had a couple of Enfields parked around which made it easier for me to spot from atop the over bridge. He tightened the chain in about 10 mins, wished me luck and I rode out of Itarsi.

By the time I reached Betul, the roads had smoothened out quite a bit, and after Betul there was hardly any highway traffic at all. The ride from Betul was one of the best stretches on this ride, with nice, smooth and winding roads snaking around little hillocks and lakes with almost completely flat lands for miles and miles. They say the last mile is always the longest, and it’s true. The closer you get to home, the more you start to relax the ride, trying to hold on to road a little longer, making each km last, savoring it all for stories to tell back home.

I reached home and mom and dad were ecstatic to see me, as always. Puffy and Buddy went nuts. It was close to dinner time. I unloaded my beast of burden, thanking it in a silent way for making it with all the little troubles on the road. Went up to my room, opened a bottle of beer and I put my feet up for a while, waiting, for even after you reach home, you mind and soul are still somewhere on the highway for sometime, trailing behind you, only to catch up with you the next morning when you realize you dont have to load the motorcycle again and get into gear for another day on tour. And then that sweet aching pain from the road gently caresses your bones, staying for the next coulpe of days.

Till another tour, another day.

Anukaran Singh
Moderator of Wanderlust, Nagpur

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