Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Days before Rider Mania

Rider Mania is around the corner and what does this mean to us? It means sleepless nights... Working on presentations, preparing the bike, working out the ride plan, getting the riding gear ready and many more... This also means the week before RM is the least productive week at the office. Your boss is breathing down your neck to get the job done before you go on leave and you feel like giving him the finger and ask him to leave you alone. Many of my friends have asked, "How do you feel when you go for a ride?" I guess the answer should be " I feel alive!!!". But nothing prepares you from anxiety attack before a RM ride. It doesn't matter its your 1st RM or your 10th you get sucked into this feeling. But at the end of it all these feelings put together is what makes Rider Mania so special.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Hindu : Life & Style / Metroplus : A cosy corner for bikers

The Hindu : Life & Style / Metroplus : A cosy corner for bikers

Jaiganesh Ranganathan has a sore throat and an incipient fever. Feeble-voiced and weak-legged, he mumbles a greeting to his friends as he walks up to a seat at Cozee, a restaurant overlooking the Elliot's Beach in Besant Nagar. Saravanan works at Kancheepuram but makes the long trip to Cozee twice a week. He is part of a group that assembles at this restaurant, often ignoring the little problems of life, to discuss their common love — bikes.

The group has bikers of various stripes. Introducing those who have assembled this evening — Shanthanu is a moderator of the Bullet club Madras Bulls, Rajagopal is an independent biker, Jaiganesh and Gokulram are members of the Jawa-Yezdi group Roaring Riders as well as Madras Bulls, Saravanan, who rides a diesel Bullet, is a newbie, a Bulls' jargon for a newcomer on probation, and Ajay Srinivas and Srinivasan Kasyap, members of Roaring Riders, swear by a 1976 Yezdi and a 1979 Jawa.


Besides associating with one or more bike clubs, members of this informal group embark on road adventures and biking projects independently. Gokulram Vasanthi, for example, likes to prove that the humble Bajaj M-80 is good enough for long-distance rides. Jaiganesh has a fascination for exotic machines: he used to have a rare Jawa Type 638 that he meticulously restored and now tests its power.

At Cozee, there are two tables — joined end to end — where these bikers meet from 5.30 p.m. to 10.30 p.m. “The chairs around these tables are vacated and occupied many times during the evening. After drinking two cups of chai, I may place twenty rupees on the table and leave. The guy who leaves last hands over the money to the cashier. There's an unspoken rule that the last man settles the bill with the money collected over the evening.”

While biking is the main topic, the conversation drifts to other topics too. In fact, the banter is so interesting, it's often continued online. They have a closed Google group called Nathari Sangam, where discussions range from the farcical to the profound. “It's geared towards having fun and establishing a sense of community among bikers,” says Shanthanu.

All of them believe the management of the restaurant has played a role in forging this unity. Explains Rajagopal, “We often order only tea, but hang out for hours together. It does not make business sense to let us stay for so long, yet they don't mind. Even when there is a rush, we are not asked to leave.”

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bulls of Shimoga - 1A

The paint was fresh and the mods were new. After a host of changes on my bike in lieu with the preparation for Rider Mania I was itching for a ride after Ooty. Thank God for BOS for having their 1st anniversary and thank God for hosting it in an off beat location. Ballavara is 15km from Kemmangundi, Karnataka. Hopes were high for a scenic ride. We decided to leave on Friday evening hoping to reach B'lre by mid-night.

The riders were Harish aka Chairman, Sailesh aka B-Ro, Dr. Raja aka 1gm and I. Hari and Ram aka Partner for some reason decided to ride out after 9pm and still reach B'lre. Shocking!!! Anyways we rode out from Sriperambattur by 7.30pm and I was leading the group. Night riding is tough as we need to come to terms with the headlight glare from the opposite lane. Just when I thought things cant get bad and there came the rains. It started off as a drizzle and then into a downpour. With the trucks and cars spraying water and dirt on to our visors visiblity was 0 when we had to overtake them. That didnt deter us and still rode in a single file formation and reached Krishnagiri by midnight. All were socked to their bones and decided to halt at TTDC and head out early next day. Riding with a wet boxer is no fun. Hunting for food that late in the night is a joke and we had to settle with some chips and such foods. Finally hit the bed by 2pm only to be woken up by Hari and Partner by 4am. Damn!!! Grrr!!! I being a darling wanted to share this experience with everyone so I decided to wake up everybody. All were up and finally we rode out at the break of sunlight.

The morning ride was not as cold as expected and we stopped at Shoolagiri for breakfast for both men and machines. We took the NECE road to by-pass B'lre and was joined by Amith aka Itham and Ashok Aka Aunty Hero who made us wait for 45mins. Paid 50/- as toll which is outrageous for a two-wheeler roared our way past Tumkur, Arasikere and reached our destination for lunch. I think its the first time we have reached for lunch for an anniversary event.

The event in itself was organized brilliantly the BOS boys. Music was great, food was even better and the liquor never stopped flowing. On top of that it was clear sky witnessing a lunar eclipse. Man!!! It was surreal.

The next day we decided to ride out after breakfast taking a longer route Kemmangundi, Mulayangiri... It was a forest route. The roads were bad at the beginning and then became non-existent. It took us more than an hour to cover 20km. Just we were about to give the road a mouth full we approached a clearing and the view was breath taking. We couldn't resist stop and enjoy nature at its full glory. After soaking in the scenery we decided to move on. After riding for about 50km we reached the same place from where we started. Damn!!!! Cus words started flying and swearing on anything and everything which moved. We were back to where we started even after riding for 3 hrs and we still have 600km to home and the time is already 12pm. Somewhere a dumb ass bugger showed us the wrong way.

We just decided to go "Patrang". Partner was leading and I was sweeping. After a while when Partner pulled out to fill fuel Harish was leading. We stopped at a Dhaba for lunch and decided to rest for half hour. The ripping again started and we reached NECE road by 6pm. I was getting dark and I took the lead. We stopped at Shoolagiri for dinner. By this time it was already very late (past 9pm) and we still had 300km to cover. The long lunch break started to hunt us now. We decided to make a dash for home. Started to rip and we had to negotiate some traffic till Krishnagiri. After that it was home stretch. That piece of 250km highway is home stretch for most Madbulls and they know it like the back of their hand. We took a total of 2 breaks and we reached home by 1.30am. The daily grind would start in another 5 hrs.. Grrrr!!!!

Highlights: Road to Mulayangiri
Lowlights: 50/- toll on NECE road, B'lre and the surface quality is shitty.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Long way up - RTMC 10A @ Ooty

It has been months since I last went for a multi-day ride and as usual I was too eager to make up for it. RTMC 10A @ Ooty was a great excuse to satisfy the itch. But riding from Chennai to Ooty and back is fun but I had something bigger in mind. Instead of riding 1200km ride 1800km with more than 600km of twisties which I like to call as "twist-tease".

The problem of being in Chennai is that we have arrow straight four lane highways on three sides. Now don't ask me whats on the 4th side. For a regular road user this should be a blessing, but we aren't a regular bunch are we. Bikers crave for corners, ups & downs and a few potholes to dodge. One of the worst stretch of road in from Chennai to Trichy. Its dry, straight and the best place to sleep and ride. So we wanted to get that over with at October 4th night. Harish and I (poor Prat could not join us) started from Meenambakkam at 7pm and just avoiding the mad city rush. Gunned down the highways dodging pedestrians and slow moving traffic till we reached Chengalpattu. We decided to halt at Perambalur for the night and I called up my cousin to make place for 2 of us. We reached Perambalur by 11 pm. We were glad we got over that section.

We rode out from Perambaur at about 6.30am and decided to halt at Dindugal for breakfast. Amidst the regular stares of people we had our breakfast and it was time to hit the state roads. Yippeee!!! Finally this is why we came here. Just as we started to get into the groove we saw a lonely rider on a brand new C5 slowly coming from the opp. side. As always both of us stopped to say hello and it was Junaid from RTMC. Bid goodbye and "see you in couple of day" we pressed on. After about 50km we got bored again. The problem with state roads in Tamilnadu is even the those are arrow straight with very little turns and twists. One good thing was there was plenty of greenery around. Crossed Theni and Kumban and it was bloody humid. Before we knew it we were at Kumily and the roads started winding up. We crossed into Kerala and before we knew it we were dodging craters on the road every few hundred feet. This continued for 20km we decided to break for lunch. We couldn't help but think and worry about the state of the roads ahead. But just as we started after lunch the roads magically turned into butter smooth tarmac with twists. Hell.. there was no straight roads itself. The lefts flowed into a right followed by a long fast sweeping left hander followed by a downhill sharp 2nd gear right and then going up the gearbox before braking hard into a steep downhill 1st gear left. Phew!!! The next 2 hours was sheer bliss. Scrapping footpegs and what not and putting all we have learnt on how to handle twisties into practice. Harish and I split at Kottayam. I stayed in Kottayam to see my ailing grandfather while he went to Ernakulam to attend his friends wedding.

The next day it was quite uneventful day at the saddle as I rode only 50 odd km from Kottayam to Mulanthuruthy. I had asked Harish to join me there at my cousin's place. The uneventful day became an eventful day for the tongue. We had Toddy with prawns fry at a Toddy shop.. Yummm.. My cousin made some beef steak, chicken sausages and some beacon and had it along with some black label.. Yumm Yumm...

The next day morning we rode out towards Ooty and asusual we took the long way. Via Munnar, Chinnar and Udumalpet. The climb to Munnar was as scenic it can get. We were just enjoying the view, the greenary and the weather and decided not to scrape any of our foot pegs. Took it easy. We kept the same pace till we reached Chinnar and decided to halt for lunch. Now we realized that we have behind schedule and started to open-up once we hit the plains. Came across many windmill farms near Palladam. I always wanted to be there. After a couple of hours we were at Metupalayam (4pm) waiting for the gang from Chennai. Big mistake. By the time we re-grouped and started in was 6.30pm and it was dark and there was heavy traffic. The group rode at 20kmph.. Seriously I'm not kidding and I had the unfortunate task of sweeping. Finally we reached Sterling Resort, Fernhill by 9pm and was welcomed by a mouth full of words ;) That was for being late. We quickly got ready for the PARTY....

The event carried on Saturday and we had a local ride were more than 100 bikers rode around Ooty in a formation. The people were awe struck. Heck even I could not keep my mouth shut. The sound of all the bullets were intoxicating. It was indeed a Rolling Thunder at Ooty.

Sunday and its time to head back home. The very thought of riding between Vellore and Chennai made me fall asleep. But there was plenty good roads to look forward too. About 6 of us started together by 8am. I was still pissed off for climbing up Ooty at 20kmph. So I just decided to go make it up for the climb. Within few corners i knew everyone had that same thought in their mind. After few km Unni and I were in the front and pulled away from the gang. Rode our wheels off and we stopped at Black Thunder to re-group. Re-shuffled the group based their speeds and started towards Chennai. The state roads we great till Thoppur and from there we hit the four laned highways. From that point everything is  a blur. We were doing 120kph till we hit Vaniyambadi were we stopped for a late lunch. From then on it was home stretch and those roads were as boring as ever. Bloody hell I feel sleepy even I think about it. All of us reached home by 7pm without any incidents.

The next day I got restless and want to ride more but I have to put it off for a few months. Till then ECR should keep me happy. :D

Group Riding Etiquette Hand Signals

Group Riding Etiquette Hand Signals
please pass all signals to riders behind you.

With your right or left arm extended, move your
Raise your left arm horizontal with your elbow fully extended.
Raise your left arm horizontal with your elbow bent 90 degrees vertically.
Extend your left arm at a 45 degree angle and point towards the hazard.

Extend your right arm at a 45 degree angle and point towards the hazard.
Extend your left arm upward at a 45 degree angle with your elbow bent to 90 degrees and point towards the hazard over your helmet.
Raise your left arm up and down with your index finger extended upward. This indicates the leader wants to speed up.
Extend your left arm at a 45 degree angle and move your hand up and down.

Extend your left arm at a 45 degree angle with the palm of your hand facing rearward. SINGLE FILE:
Position your left hand over your helmet with your fingers extended upward. This indicates the leader wants the group in a single file formation. Usually this is done for safety reasons. STAGGERED or SIDE-BY-SIDE FORMATION:
Extend your left arm upward at a 45 degree angle with your index and pinkie finger extended. This indicate that it is safe to return to staggered formation. TIGHTEN UP:
Raise your left arm and repeatedly move up and down in a pulling motion. This indicates the leader wants the group to close ranks.

Extend your left arm straight out with your elbow bent 90 degrees. Carefully extend your middle finger to clearly demonstrate your dissatisfaction with the other guy. NOTE: It is not recommended you do this when you are alone.

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