Friday, January 31, 2014

Rider Mania 2014

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A day after celebrating Uttarayan – the beginning of the northern movement of the sun, the BisonsRideHard gathered outside the Hanuman Mandir in Bandra east, to begin their movement in the opposite direction to Chennai for participating in BOBMCRiderMania 14.
As the sun was about to announce a new dawn we announced our departure by honking the traditional beeps of our beasts and moved in a predetermined formation led by ride captain Bison Vishal Jaju.

Our 1st halt for a refreshing cuppa was at the usual café in Dehu Road where we had missal pao and vada pao followed by hot chai to keep us going till our next halt at a dhaba near Kolhapur for lunch.

The enthusiasm of the Bisons was amazing and nobody lagged and kept the pace as we had to ride a distance of 632kms to Hubli. Since all the bikes were examined for their fitness prior to the ride by Paaji, no bikes misbehaved and obeyed every clutch, brake and throttle command by their masters.

The heavy lunch necessitated a short power nap that was initiated by Paaji and followed by others who felt the need to do so.
‘Saddle up’ hollered Paaji, that got everybody scrambling for their respective rides and off rode the Bisons to the next halt outside the beautiful Suvarna Vidhan Soudha in Belgavi for some photo ops after which we 

rode on to Hubli to be received warmly by the 99Cannons (Bullet riders’ club in Hubli). We were then ceremoniously escorted to Swayam Residency where we were accommodated by the 99Cannons for the night.
After a restful night in Hubli, we were joined by the 99Cannons for breakfast and the ride onwards to Hosur. The roads all along were beautiful and the discipline exhibited by the riders was exemplary. The 99Cannons

rode with us in perfect formation till Bengaluru where they broke off to their homestay while we rode on to Hosur where we stayed the night at ‘The Victoria’. On the way we stopped over at Deol dhaba for a chai break and at Gurjent Dhaba for delicious north Indian lunch.

Next morning we kicked off again to head for our homestay in Mahabalipuram, just about 12kms from the BOBMCRiderMania14 venue. 

Delicious dosas were consumed near Vellore for lunch where we were rejoined by 99Cannons for lunch and then we rode on.
As we neared Mahabalipuram, the MadBulls (hosts of RM14) were there at every corner to direct us towards our destination which indeed was a blessing as it saved us precious daylight minutes.
We had covered a distance of 1506kms to Mahabalipuram from Mumbai and despite that there was not a sour face amongst us. Just smiles and joy all around. Sure was a pleasant sight and proof of camaraderie among the Bisons. After a bit of chatting, quenching and satiating, everyone hit the sack.
The day had finally arrived to check in at the venue for the BOBMCRiderMania14 and we roared in with our bikes roaring and horns blasting the BisonsRideHard tattoo.

We were then guided to our parking lot and we were led for Registrations where we were each
presented a goody bag containing stickers, key chains, a sipper and a tee as memorabilia of the event.
Then we went off to the camping area, pitched our tents and started chilling. It was time now to
visit the events area and bond with other Bullet riders and exchange fascinating stories. There were various stalls selling biking merchandise and the festive mood set in. this went on for two days with lot of events like dissembling and assembling parts of the bike, dirt track racing, beer guzzling and arm wrestling and of course the Music and dance time.
It was a memorable two day festival and the arrangements made by the MadBulls were superlative. No cause for complaint at all!
There were a total of 1248 riders from all over India and Nepal attending this Manic festival!
And then it was time to bid farewell. So on 20th morning the exodus towards ‘home’ began. Some of the Bisons who had to get back to work early left early and rode hard to reach Mumbai in 2 days while others took it leisurely and reached back home in Mumbai in twice the time!
Overall it was a memorable epic ride of 3000+kms and a wonderful time for Bison bonding. Now looking forward to the Rider Mania 2015 in Chandigarh!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Riding the Rann

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Rann of Kutch is a salt marsh located in the western tip of Gujarat (primarily the Kutch district), India. It is divided into two main parts; Great Rann of Kutch and Little Rann of Kutch. It is located in the Thar Desert bio-geographic area in the Indian state of Gujarat. The area is also spread across the Sindh province in Pakistan. This is actually a seasonally marshy region and the word Rann in Hindi means desert. 

This extensive salt marsh of western India and southeast Pakistan lies between the Gulf of Kutch and the Indus River delta. It was the scene of major border disputes in 1965 and 1971. Reading about it had always intrigued me and my desire to visit it was fulfilled recently when an All India Meet of the ‘HV Kumar - Fan, Forum & Message Board’ group on Facebook was arranged in this exotic place.
Incidentally the Rann is home to a lot of wildlife too and is home to the Wild Ass sanctuary and some amazing birdlife too. But since our visit was a short one, we concentrated more on the drive and marginally on the wildlife, while ensuring that we carried all our garbage to be disposed back home.

My ride began on my Royal Enfield’s Desert Storm from Mumbai on a cool morning at 0830hrs after a good sleep and a heavy breakfast. The ride was beautiful right upto Anand in Gujarat where I joined a few friends, whom I had interacted with online and met for the first time, in the hotel they had booked! They had driven in all the way from Pune. Was great meeting up and all the tiredness just wore off as we chatted through dinner getting to know each other.

Next morning after a sumptuous breakfast we left for Ahmedabad which was the scheduled flag off point for the meet. There were a total of thirty eight 4 wheelers and eight 2 wheelers divided into different groups, each led by a member of the ‘O’ (Organisational) team who would lead the team to the destination of the day – Zainabad. 

We were guided to the last petrol pump just about twenty kms from Zainabad and asked to top up as there would be no fuel available once we started out on our journey across the barren Little Rann of Kutch, on the next day. The roads all along were beautifully maintained and was a pleasure to ride on. The speed limit on the state highways for cars is 100kms while on the Mumbai Pune Expressway it is 80kms! Strange but true.
Once everybody was shepherded into their respective accomodations, the ‘Meet’ began in right earnest as a face was put to the name one interacted with on the FB forum. It was a fun evening and after a lot of 

accolades being showered on HV Kumar, a inhouse designed calendar containing photographs by members was launched followed by an excellent dinner of the local cuisine. It was announced that next morning everybody had to be in their respective vehicles to move on by 7am hence most retired early and like true travellers everybody was up and ready to storm the white desert, on the dot of seven!

It was  a single convoy led by HV Kumar that vroomed off for the amazing ride through a desert that was 

sparsely marked by a stone here and a flag there. Kumar had the GPS logs saved by Arnob Gupta, an amazing rider, who had crossed the desert a month back. It would have been so easy to get lost without the logs.
The ride was absolutely amazing. One had to be careful to ensure ride in line with the convoy with an 

exception here and there to prevent falling off as the soil on the side of the track was either very soft or hard broken lumps. Fortunately we all made it without any mishaps and felt a sense of achievement at the end when we were back on a thin strip of tarmac on our way to Balesar where we stopped over for some delicious Kutchi lunch.

Post lunch the convoy set off again to view the most amazing sunset near Dholavira at Karni Border Out Post. There was a Dattatreya temple there which was looked after by the jawans at the Outpost. After

soaking in the beauty of the sunset we were treated to some yummy Kutchi Dabeli before being led off for dinner and dorm. For all practical purposes the Meet was over and everybody exchanged email ids to keep in touch.
With Vikas Malhotra from Ahmedabad, another great rider that I befriended on the ride, I left for Baroda the next morning. The ride again was just superb!
Spent a beautiful evening and stayed over at my cousin’s in Baroda and left for home the morning after.
Reached home after a fantastic ride of 1956kms in 4 days!