Monday, 26 December 2016

A Way Long Journey

My riding journey started when I was 14 years of age. I still remember the day my dad taught me how to ride. It was Hero a honda splendor. I was always fascinated with bikes and riding to different places that time.
My father was a very enthusiastic rider and observing him and the places, I slowly started developing my interest towards riding. But I did not have much opportunity to buy a bike till I joined my first job. He bought me a Hero Honda Karizma R a 223 CC Engine, which was a big bike for me. As days passed, I got used to the bike. Then I started fulfilling my riding dreams slowly by doing short rides initially for 300Kms, 400 and then 600 Per day. I use to enjoy the freedom, speed and feel of the wind while riding, but the ride was just for a day and ride is over, destination reached! I wish I could continue riding on and on. My passion continues and just to ride different places I move around places and change my job every year.

I heard and read about people in the riding world on motorbikes and stuff but, I thought my bike is not suitable for such rides and I was just an amateur rider. But, one fine day on December 12th I was just searching for Long distance riding on Karizma at google, lol! I found an article about Mr. Bharadwaj Dayala who did alone around the world on Karizma R. After reading the complete article, the very next moment I learnt that I have one of the best bikes. Wow! That feeling….. Then, I opened another google tab and started looking at India Map, and thought how about Kanyakumari to Kashmir, which was also my dad’s dream to ride. Then, I saw the Golden Quadrilateral map, which was connecting all major cities of India East, West North South. It was really wonderful feeling just to think about riding GQ. But from where and how to start? I did not know anything about Riding gears, Just knew about wearing helmet. I started doing a lot of research on internet. Read many articles and saw youtube videos. Okay now I just learnt what all are actually required to ride a motorcycle. Still I had half knowledge. I was excited and told all my friends about The GQ ride solo, few of my friends didn’t understand what it is ! But they still said Wow man awesome. Lol, then my roommates said will you come back? Alive? I was like,!!!!!
Okay I should speak to people who really understand what I am talking about. Then, I spoke to a friend (Raviteja) who is a bike enthusiast and recently did Leh Ladakh. He was the first who actually understood what I am talking about. He helped me with what all needs to be taken care with respect to riding gears and other stuff. Then, I connected with The Bike Guru of India Mr. Dilip Bam, after writing to his blog, he responded and we met. That time I understood, I have knocked the right door. I made an Itinerary, budget plan and other preparation. Bam Sir, made few changes in budget and regarding tools and spares to be purchased. Then he approved my plan for doing it in 9 days, I also got in touch with Biking record holder Devjeet  Saha at Pune. He gave me great help and motivation. Now, the main challenge starts, making a budget and saving it. I am an US MNC employee, working night shifts. But, slowly started buying proper riding gears from top to bottom, I did not compromise with the quality of riding gear and started saving for the ride. I applied for leave at my office in the month of January and they approved it for April. Wow! That was a long wait, every single day I get dreams about the destinations, engine oil changing, riding, and all related to GQ. It was struck at my sub conscious mind badly. So now the wait was over the day had finally come it was 5th of April.

Day1 Mumbai- Haveri (620 Kms) 5th April 2015
I decided to start early in the morning at 5 AM from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, I reached Pune at 7:30 AM and met Dilip Bam Sir, had a small chat with coffee and from there I left at 8:30 towards Hubli Karnataka. At 11:30 I crossed satara and It was super hot. Every 1 hour tried to grab a sugarcane juice and water. Pune to Bengaluru Highway NH4 was awesome, at 2 PM I crossed Maharastra border and Entered Karnataka, at 3PM suddenly I met Devjeet saha as he was also doing his Bun burner ride on Hero Splendor. We just had a 5 minute chat and he left as he was on a race, I was not. I reached Hubli at 5 PM, But I planned to ride another hour till 6 and reached Haveri at 6:30 and that day I did total 620 Kms. Took a nice lodge in the city for 900INR and took rest for the day. I had called up all my friends and well-wishers to inform them & they were happy with my good start that day. Took a nice shower and went to sleep.
Day-2 Haveri – Chennai (662 Kms) 6th April 2015
It was nice cold early morning at Haveri. I checked out of the hotel room and did my basic bike check like headlights, indicators, horn, engine oil and tyre pressure. Loaded my saddle bag and started towards Chennai via Bengaluru, at 7:30 AM I had my breakfast at Kamath hotel. After riding few kilometers I saw a tea stall & wanted a hot tea desperately, so had to make a U turn there. I made the turn and the very next moment my bike fell down. I escaped safe but there starts the drama. I was trying to lift my bike for 5-10 minutes and totally failed. That moment I realized the actual weight of my bike with luggage. Lol, finally got help from a tea stall guy. Huh! Then I was very careful during curves and turns. At 11:45 AM I reached Bengaluru and had to cross the city and go towards Hosur. It took me 2 hours to cross the city, No way had I expected this much traffic, but I was particular about the GQ road as I dint want to take any other route.  It was almost 2 PM I crossed the Karnataka border and then the actual Summer heat began from Tamil Nadu. Wow! awesome heat close to 45 degrees. I was only on liquids that complete day, electral solution helped me a lot while riding in hot conditions.
I crossed Sriperumbudur at 5PM and entered Chennai city by 6:30 PM and faced huge traffic again. I wanted to take halt at Red Hills, so that it will be easier for me to escape the city during mornings. So, took my route towards Redhills, I stopped at a place and was having a juice and local people were asking me where the hell are you coming from I replied, Mumbai. The old man was WHAT?? He immediately said, there is no route to Chennai from Bombay. WHAT? I just said Bye to him. No more discussion can be done with him. Lol. So I was on my way to Red Hills and I saw a Hero showroom opened at 7:30 PM. I immediately took my bike to them and explained the manager about my ride and requested them to do a basic servicing for my bike. I changed engine oil, chain tightening, brake adjustment and tyre pressure with Nitrogen. I asked them about the bill, they simply said no need, It’s for free and they wished me luck for the ride. I felt very happy. Finally, reached Red Hills at 8:30 PM and took a nice hotel room for the night stay.

Day 3: Chennai- Guntur (420 Kms) 7th April 2015
Woke up at 5 Am in the morning and started my basic stretches and exercises for 30 minutes, Did basic check for the bike and geared up and started at 6 AM towards Guntur (My home town) situated on NH5.
NH5 is always special for me, not only because of the roads but also many old memories of my rides. I reached Andhra boarder at 7:00 AM at TADA. Saw, AP registered vehicles moving besides me, that moment was really awesome. Don’t know but I always feel good when I see my own hometown state registered vehicles. The roads were excellent. Some places here and there were diversions for Six lane work. I had my breakfast at local highway dhaba at Nellore. The best part was the food I was enjoying at every place. The flavors and the different types of ingredients used for making the same dish but you always feel the local taste. If you are a foodie, you know what I am talking about. I reached Ongole at 10:30 AM, had 3 tender coconut water and started towards Guntur. I reached my home at 12:30 noon and took rest for that day. The main reason for the halt at Guntur was to meet my parents and friends. I haven’t seen them since almost a year. That moment was special, when I met them and spent some great time chatting about the journey.
Day 4: Guntur – Bhubaneshwar (816 Kms) 8th April 2015
Woke up at 5 AM, as usual did my basic exercises and regular bike checkups and started towards Bhubaneshwar. It was a very emotional moment for me with a sendoff from my parents. I crossed Vijayawada and reached Eluru, had a nice breakfast and continued towards Vishakapatnam via Rajahmundry. Places and sceneries at Rajahmundry were awesome, as I was riding between coconut trees on the highway full of greenery. I reached Vishakapatnam at 1:30 PM and had my lunch after crossing the city. Then I started riding towards Icchapuram, which is the border for Odisha. I crossed the border at 4 PM and then, it was a complete new world for me because I never had been to Odisha. It was really calm and little isolated too. I was riding towards Bhubaneshwar via Berhampur. Initially as per my itinerary Berhampur was the stop for the day, but a few of my close friends advised not to stay in that location as it was not safe.
I soon realized they were right as I could not find a lodge in that location, so I continued riding. After sunset, It became dark and to my surprise there was not even a street light in the villages. People were moving out with torches and other lights, this is not the case with one village but all. Till Bhubaneshwar not even a single village had a street light. That was little scary, I was thinking what if my bike breaks down. I was just praying and then heavy rain started to pour. I decided that this was not the place to stop at all. I had to reach Bhubaneshwar at any cost. So, was riding slowly and reached Bhubaneshwar at 9 PM. Huh that was a ride covering 820 Kms. My bike was literally crying for rest. I took a halt at a small budget hotel and ordered some local food, like dal and rice and roti and crashed on bed.

Day 5: Bhubaneshwar- Howrah (430 Kms) 9th April 2015
Woke up at 5:30 AM, I did my regular routines like always. Bike and body was to be kept fit for the ride to continue on daily basis. I started towards Howrah- Kolkata, Had a tea at Cuttack and I could not stop myself from asking the tea maker about the conditions in Odisha. He explained me very nicely that except Bhubaneshwar and Cuttak almost all places are not so developed. He was absolutely right. They have temple at every corner of the street and they were really worth visiting. I started towards Kharagpur, and then the bad roads start. Six lane work was under process. So many diversions and gravel roads. I felt some change in my bike speed, it was dropping suddenly. I stopped my bike aside and checked for the issue. Finally I found a small pin from carburetor that came out and fell. This pin is the very important part. I was very very lucky that I did not fall on road as it was in the Engine. The spring attached to the pin was gone. So I immediately made a phone call to a mechanic at Mumbai and asked him what to do. He advised me to insert the pin and screw it tightly and asked me not to stop the bike till I find a Proper mechanic. I followed his instructions and continued riding for another 60 Kms and then found a Honda service center, there I got my bike serviced and got the carburetor pin tuned with digital meter. But, could not find spring for the pin, so he asked me to run few more kilometers and check with Hero service center people situated on the highway. I showed the Hero service people and they managed to arrange a spring and got it fixed.
It was almost 2 PM and I was supposed to cover 350 more kms, so did not want to waste my time anymore with halts and started riding towards Howrah. I reached Bengal area at 4:30 PM and stopped for a tea. I was talking to few lorry drivers and they started making me scared with their stories of local gangs and other robbery. They advised me to take a lodge inside the city but not on the highways. I reached Howrah at 6:30 PM and searched a lot for a lodge for 30 minutes and finally found a big hotel called Oasis, on the Highway. I did not want to enter the city because of the traffic, it was horrible riding inside. The lodge stay was costly, but did not want to take any chance, so I started with my negotiation pitch and finally agreed to pay 3000 INR for 1 night stay. But, the room was ultimate luxury. I felt very happy that I completed half way and half way more to go. Dilip Bam Sir, Just said keep going, do not stop. (Chalta Jaa, Chalta Jaa) That was inspiring me a lot.

Day6 : Howrah to Allahabad (783 Kms) 10th April 2015
I woke up at 5 Am in the morning, I was feeling good as I had wonderful sleep and food last night, So started my basic routine like every day said good bye to Howrah. Heading towards Asansol, I was bit worried regarding the hostile environment that people told me. So I was going little slow and carefully, reached Asansol and took a break for 15 minutes. An RTO officer came to me and asked where the hell are you coming from, I said I started from Mumbai and he was stunned, and said itni Garmi mein? I said yeah. He was inspired with my story and he took a picture of my bike rather than me. Yeah! I was little upset with that. I started heading towards Dhanbad- Jharkhand- Bodhgaya. Dhanbad was shit scary and there was literally no public on highways except Coal loaded Heavy trucks. For a moment I thought, why the hell on this earth I am doing this ride. But, I did not stop and stopped at Bodhgaya at around 3 PM and had a good meal. I wanted to visit Bodhgaya city but, was running out of time as I was most concerned about the dark, and people here are hostile and was also worried about lodge. So I started riding towards Aurangabad- Allahabad. I reached Aurangabad at 5 PM and had a tea break and then took a long breath of relief as I see people on highways. Then started towards Allahabad and reached there at 8 PM. I was lucky that I found a guest house on the Highway and took halt there for the night. Now, I wanted to experience some great food and sleep. Took shower and updated my journey to all my near and dears. I had some Rajma Chawal, Salad and curd. Took rest for the night.
Day7: Allahabad to Delhi (676 Kms) 11th April 2015
Woke up at 6 in the morning and did my routine, and started riding towards Agra- Delhi. Uttar Pradesh was an experience riding as I can see vast wheat fields and small rivers and canals. I had some great Jalebi, Chai and aaloo Puri for breakfast at Fatehpur. I had the famous banaras Pan too. People were friendly and I felt happy about it. Day was really hot, I experienced some heat waves too. I had to stop and take breaks in between. I reached Kanpur and had some tea. Then I started riding towards Agra. Roads were very good with less traffic. I reached Agra at around 3:30 PM and took a long break with some tea and snacks. Agra had heavy traffic. I struggled a lot to come out of the city. Now I was very desperate to reach Delhi due to summer heat.
Started riding towards Delhi and roads were awesome I must say. I stopped at Buddh International Circuit for a while and I was really on tears, I realized that India has potential to build such international level Circuit. We have everything now why are we still so back from other developed countries. I was literally stunned with the Infra development Noida and Delhi has done. Hatts Off. I tried to honk at the Buddh Circuit, but unfortunately they were closed by the time for the day. I was close to Delhi now, I asked few people there that how can I manage to get a lodge on the highway, as I have to leave towards Gurgaon tomorrow. They advised me to go towards Airport and I can get some budget lodges there. I followed their advice and reached Delhi International Airport at 8 PM and took an awesome stay just opposite to Airport on the highway towards Gurgaon. It was little expensive but I was very much tired too, so took a halt there for the night.

Day 8: Delhi to Udaipur (680 Kms) 12th April 2015
I woke up at 6 in the morning and did my warm up exercises and basic bike checkup. It was slightly raining in the morning, It did not bother me much, so started towards Jaipur, Had some breakfast in Gurgaon. I reached Rajasthan Border at 9 AM and then the ride was more fun watching the hills and completely different geographic scenes as the weather was also supporting me. I reached Jaipur at 11 AM and Bikers from Karizma Biker Club Jaipur were waiting for me at the Entrance of Jaipur city to welcome me. That moment was awesome, that was the moment I felt special. They welcomed me royally and took me to their place and we had some good chat with cold coffees, Ravi (Lead) of the Jaipur club killed me with his hospitality. He forced me to stay at Jaipur for the day, but I wanted to continue my ride, so had lunch at Ravi’s home and left towards Udaipur.
As soon as I crossed Jaipur city, heavy rains started, and it was 5 PM almost. I stopped my bike and covered whatever possible and took a decision that, it’s always neither the same smooth road nor the pleasant weather.  A true rider has to face all these and cross during his ride. I started riding in heavy rains but couldn’t see anything at all. Because of heavy winds I could not raise the throttle more than 50KM/hr. Slowly I was riding till Bhilwara via Nasirabad road. Crazzy! I reached Bhilwara at 9 PM and another 150 Kms were left to reach my target. I was feeling slightly feverish. Took a tablet on the way from my first aid medical kit and started riding towards Udaipur via Chittorgarh. It was pitch dark and cold. My riding Jacked was totally wet, I wanted to reach the destination, though I found plenty of lodges on the way, I finally reached Udaipur at 11:30 PM. Damm. This was one hell of a ride. I took a lodge in the city and took rest for the day.
Day9: Udaipur to Mumbai NH8- (752 Kms) 13th April 2015
I woke up at 6:30 in the morning as I wanted to ride slowly. This is the final day, I had been riding since 8 days continually and finally I am about to finish my ride today. Felt very excited and also little dull because, this is the last day and this became a habit for me to just keep riding daily. I thought how good it would be if I could just ride daily like this. Life could be totally different. Anyways, I started towards Vadodara- Surat. I had some great local breakfast and started riding. Trust me Rajasthan is the place to ride. It was awesome scenery hills, forts and such clean roads. I was happy riding, and reached Vadodara at 12 noon. I had some lunch and started moving towards Surat. By 1:30 I reached Surat and weather was too hot for the day. I think those were the days the summer was reaching its peak. But still a rider is a rider, nothing can stop. There were some diversions and bad roads in between due to 6 lane work, but after crossing Surat, all was good. I reached Vapi at 4PM in the evening, I was riding little fast as the rods were smooth as silk with very minimum traffic.
From Vadodara I started posting status and distance status on Facebook, that was also an exciting moment for my friends and family that I am going to finish this ride in some more time. I crossed Vapi and was moving towards Virar. Finally I reached Maharastra Border. Wow that moment was best of all. Now I was just few kms away to the finish line. I reached Virar at 8Pm and there was a Rider from Karizma Biker Club Mumbai giving me a welcome garland and coconut water for finishing the ride. I reached Thane at 9 PM and from there Bashab (Admin of Karizma Biker club) welcomed me with the complete team of riders. That OMG! Moment, it was literally a grand welcome by the Mumbai club. Thanks Guys! That was the moment I felt that I really did something big. Best part was the brotherhood they were showing towards the riders was hats off. We rarely see that.
I reached Kharghar, Navi Mumbai the place from where I started on 5th of April. I finally completed my dream Golden Quadrilateral in 216 Hours (9 days) riding solo 5,950 Kms.

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