I started along with the lead group and all of us followed a single-file formation until we hit the highway. Everyone were asked to keep their head lights on so that it will be easier to spot other members in the rear view mirror. And boy oh boy what a sight it was to see a long string on lights in the rear view mirror and thump and roar of the Bulls from up front. Immediately after we hit the highway the group fell into a staggered file formation taking up an entire lane and starting rolling towards Vellore for breakfast. I wanted to test out my bike so took a "pee" break and starting playing catch up was very much satisfied with the performance. I got settled in the formation and the lead group of Bose Sir, Amar, Saran, Unni, Prabhu, Danger (he was riding without any lane discipline) and myself started pulling away. We reached Vellore by 8.30am and stopped at Saravana Bhavan. Everyone had their breakfast for the day but our table (Amar, Saran, Unni and me) had a feast with atleast 3 orders per person. Slowly people started to trickle out of Vellore where myself and Unni had to catch up to the lead group. As Unii was riding his newly acquired AVL 500 he was also keen to test it out. Both of us opened up the throttle was hitting and cruising at 3 digits with easy. Caught up with the lead group within 10 mins and continued along with them. Suddenly we realized from the lead group of 5-6 people we didnt find a single soul behind us. We stopped waiting for the group catch up and took the chance to get acquainted with each other. We called up "Maggie" who was the central co-ordinator told us Prathamesh had a fall. Thanks to his riding gear his upper body was scratch free but had a scrapped knee. His ride suffered a broken foot rest and it has to be welded. Good they were still in Vellore when this happened so got this fixed easily. Meanwhile we decided to move ahead, tank-up and wait for others at Vaniyambadi.
After a quick re-group we started only to find the stretch between Vaniyambadi to Tiruppathur was bad. Every had their own ways of to deal with bumpy roads. Some preferred to find a way across/between/around bad patches, some standing and while some riding over each of the pot holes. Anyways everyone made through that patch and from there on in was bliss. Smooth twisty roads with tress on both sides and excellent weather making the that section wonderful. In the mean time among all the pot-holes Unni took the lead and was charging on they smooth roads and clearing the way for others with finger pointing, hand gesturing, head taping or sometime plain aggressive behavior. Met up with the other group near Uthrangai. We reached Kuppanur in no time and started our climb. Unni, myself, Bose Sir, Harish, Prathamesh and Saran started climbing together. But the torque figures of the 500s meant that 500s could take the hair-pin bends in 2-3 gears and still pull away while the TBTS had to work their gears pretty hard. All credit to Harish for keeping up his TBTS with the 500s in the climb. Reached Shevoroy by 2.45pm. Got ourselves registered, dumped our stuff in the rooms and had a sumptuous lunch though we were late. I was so excited to see about 100 odd bikes in the parking lot and the thump of few others who were riding in. I could feel the "Biking Brotherhood" in the air. We had arm wrestling competition and some other stuff which I dont know coz I went for a quick nap. While got back Bose Sir was giving a tech session and explaining his new creation. Samrat/Samrith not sure the exact pronunciation took the bike for a test ride and when he came back he had his teeth showing from ear-to-ear. The gathering was adjourned till 7pm for dinner.
The evening gala started about 7.30pm with the distribution of prizes for winners in competition that happened earlier in the evening. I could not see even 1 person without a plastic bottle in hand carrying all sorts of drinks. Some looked like diesel, petrol and even burnt up engine oil. But one thing is for sure all were having fun. The dance floor and dinner were open a little later and people started to feast and groove to various numbers. The party went on till 12.30am.
Woke up to the ringing of the door bell at 7am with hotel staff serving tea and coffee. Almost everyone were up by that time and it was time to have breakfast. Slowly people started to trickle out and later we decided to leave but couldn't decide which route to take. Anyways we saddled up and decided to take Uthrangarai-Gingee-Tindivanam route. With Hari's "Diesel Rocket" smoking its wake in the front people like me who started a little later did not have any trouble finding the way down and just traced the nauseating diesel smell. Had a couple of photo sessions. The climb down was not without incident with me running over a cat and a fellow rider taking a fall and continuing as if nothing happened only to be forcefully stopped by Hari. Quick job to remove the front mud fender which got bent and was scraping the tyre. A quick re-group at the bottom and Amar led the way while Nedu and Hari sweeping. We had a small confusion at Harur but we were well on our way to Uthrangai. The roads were little more familiar with the lead group scrapping foot peg at every turn only to realizer that Nedu who was sweep was already waiting for us there. Man that Std 350 can fly. Had lunch at Uthrangai and the nightmare began. Pathetic road with pot holes all over and we had to give our butts a break every 45 odd kms. Finally hit a piece of tarmac about 30 km before Polur. The road extra wide, beautifully cambered and with the right mix of curves and straights except for 3 bike breakers (speed breakers). The road was so inviting and I saw Kaushik in his A350 flying past me. Told to myself what the heck and began the hot pursuit. With speeds above 95kmph even in curves we were pulling away for the group. We thought we were in front only to see Unni in front. Then we all set of an amazing 15-20 mins taking curves, scrapping foot peg literally. I wanted to test the top speed and crouched down when we got a straight piece of empty road. Gunned it down to reach about 140kmph. I was not that confident to take curves at higher speeds coz I was worried how the bike might handle. We reached Polur and waited for the others to come. Surprisingly the TBTS triplets (Saran, Harish and Ashok) were not that far behind immediately followed by Prathamesh who was nursing a bruised knee. A little while later the entire group came. The roads became bad to worse and some of us couldn't take anymore. We regrouped and the group split into 2. 1 group heading towards Tambaram and the other towards Kanchipuram-Porur. I, Nedu, Unni, Harish and Ashok decided to go through Tambaram hoping to reach GQ and the promised ice cold beer by Nedu at Porur. It had got dark and we passed through Kanchipuram, Sriperambathur and reach Porur by 7.30pm. Bid good bye to Ashok who was running late already and four of us just relaxed in an AC bar having some cold beer and chicken. By 9pm all of us bid good bye to each other and headed towards home sweet home.
Man is was such a memorable trip for me which might be evident from the number of lines I had to type. Wishing many more trips like this and thanks to RTMC for organizing flawlessly. Bravo!!!!
Notable mentions from the trip:
- Bose Sir Frankenstein bike.
- Abhishek's Electra 350 which had to be topped up 2 times to go one way.
- Hari's Diesel Rocket which disinfected the entire stretch.
I realized that leading or sweeping a group is no mean feet. The lead requires patience and good knowledge of road and road sense while the sweep requires even more patience and good hands-on skill. Thanks to all who participated.