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.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The months that were...

It has been a while since I updated anything on this blog. I want to say that I was busy but unfortunately no one is going to believe that. So lets simply say that I was lazy. A lot of things happened since my last post. So let me get myself upto speed now.

Just after RM 2011 ride to Kolkata the Madras Bulls was covered by a french team for their documentary. Even though the footage was very little its always nice to see us in it. Hey any publicity is better than no publicity. Here is a link to the video and please note it is in French.

Then the biggest surprise happened. Motor Vikatan, a leading regional auto magazine covered by Kolkata ride. Man that was a surprise. I'm sure most of you won't understand Tamil but again something is better than nothing.

Following month I was made moderator of Madras Bulls. It is an honor because you can proudly say so but its a nightmare because the 9th anniversary of Madras Bulls was on the month of May. Organizing an event for a group of 150 bikers is a nightmare!!! But somehow managed to get it done with a lot of help from other members.

In the month of April, 2011 my favorite mathematical law, "Law of averages" caught up with me. If you are riding so many kilometers you are bound to crash and the probability of a fall increases with every passing crash free mile. It happened in the month of May on our way to Sathyamangalam forest to celebrate KTMC's 5th anniversary celebrations. It was a scary crash atleast that is what I'm told because from were I was sitting everything happened so quickly. The bike low-sided on a curve and my bike and I flew in two different directions. Luckily it happened at a remote place with no traffic and finally all the money spent on the riding gear paid rich dividend.

Two weeks after this incident I wanted attack the ghats once again and boy what a ride it was. Thanks to Trooper, Kaushik and Pelu. We were tired of riding on arrow straight highways so decided to head to the hills. The route took us from Chennai-Sathy-Coimbatore-Valparai-Chalakudy-Munnar-Kumily-Thekkadi-Theni-Trichy-Chennai.

My work took me too Toronto, Canada for the more than three months and everything was put on hold. In the months I was there I could think only about hitting the road again. I was off the road quite literally from May to September and during that time public transit was preferred mode of transport not by choice but due to lack of options.

I finally hit the roads with the gang last week on a day ride to Gingee fort and found myself lacking ride fitness. My butt starting burning, my back started giving up, the heat was getting to me but the only thing that didn't change was the urge to keep moving. Will be hitting the rode again next week to celebrate the 10th anniversary of RTMC at Ooty. But as usual the route is going to be a long one. Chennai-Trichy-Kumily-Kumarakom-Ernakulam-Munnar-Ooty-Chennai.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Rider Mania East 2011 - Where the Bulls met.

I thought I would do the write up sometime later because I was still in the RM mood but reality struck me pretty hard when I was asked to work on the weekend by my boss. So here it goes.

All bikers know "There are bullets, then there are bikes" and all bulleteers knows "There is Rider Mania (not the RE Rider Mania), then there are other events." Ever since the roads became my best friend I was so keen to attend Rider Mania and this made the wait till the event date nerve wracking. The event was hosted by Eastern Bulls this year at Lake Land Country Resort near Kolkata. I started prepping up my Bull and myself well in advance. Getting all spares, changing the handlebars, changing the seats and heck I even did the 4th service on my Bull myself because I know it had to be perfect. As for me I got ample exercise especially around my neck and lower back.

The ride plan was to start on Jan 19th and reach the regrouping point ob 21st. But things took a tragic turn when one our fellow rider's dad passed away. We are all sorry for your loss Unni. However each people have their own coping mechanism and being the biker he is he still wanted to ride. He had to finish the 13th day ritual on 19th in Kerala and reach Chennai the same night so that he can ride out on 20th morning. I decided to stay back and ride out with him and 1800+km in 2 days seemed doable.

Day 1:

The Bulls were tanked up the previous night itself and we rode out by 5.00am on the 20th. The lead group which started on 19th stayed at Vizag on the first night so we had to cover atleast till Vizag (850km) on the first day.

The first day first session was damn brisk. Cruising at 100+kph was a breeze on both C500 and LB500. Its a good think to ride with similar bikes because you pretty much stop at the same time for fuel and you pretty much ride at the same speed. We had our breakfast at Ongole and continued to Vijayawada for lunch by 2.00pm.

After that the heat started to get to us the paced dropped. We hit Vizag by 8.00pm and decided to halt at Srikakulam. We got excellent accommodation there and having ridden almost 1000km the first day our bodies were crying for a break. We slept with a big smile on our faces. Rode for more than 18hrs out which 5 hours of night riding. Thanks to my flood lights it saved our asses and atleast couple of hours. Nothing untoward happened. Yeah the usual close calls when pedestrians were darting across the road.

Day 2:
We wanted to have an early start by 6.00am hopefully catch up with the lead group by evening. I just took a look through our windows to see the view and bloody there was no view. It was completely covered in fog.
Usually this is a bad thing because our ride timing will go for a toss. But on the other hand we could catch up with our sleep. Took the later option and slept till 9, had our breakfast and rode out by 10am. So decided on the same pattern as Day 1. Full blast morning session, a sedate noon session, a brisk evening session and a safe night session. The morning blast session abruptly came to an end when Unni's LB500 pucked oil all over my C5 and me after ripping for 100+ kph for 2 hrs straight. The reason being we over filled the oil before starting. It was a "Oh shit!!!" moment though.
Anyways marched on and we enter Orissa. The NH in Orissa is only partially completed and this made life difficult and we started to bleed time. However you can forgive them for this because they have one of the best seafood cuisine I ever had. We halted for lunch at a Dhaba about 50km after Chilika and we had the best lunch of our entire trip. We proceeded towards Bhubaneshwar and in the traffic chaos we got seperated. With the help of base contact (Maggie) we regrouped before Cuttack. It was already 5pm and we were about 400+km from our destination. Had a minor problem with Unni's light and took care of it in Cuttack. The sunset and my flood lights came on. We stopped at Bhadrakh for fuel and butt break and we were mobbed my locals at a chai shop. They have been seeing a lot of bullets passing through for the past few days and they had a lot of questions. But nevertheless they were a very friendly bunch of people.

It was about 8pm and we were about 275km from our destination. The temperature started to drop pretty badly and this made life miserable. We were not carrying any winter gear and had to improvise by keeping the shoulder back on the front of the body to keep our self warm. Even we had to stop at a Dhaba and run into the kitchen to warm ourselves up on their furnace. I didnt realize hot it was until by hair on my hands started to burn but I couldn't feel the heat. We somehow huffed and puffed our way to Kholaghat, West Bengal. We had to cross a long narrow bridge which got blocked from both sides when a bus tried to overtake a truck. Total grid lock. Crazy ass dumb drivers. We were just 2km from the regroup point and this was really frustrating. Just then when were about to give up we thought to lift the Bull on to the pavement and ride it there. Mind you Bulls are not light motorcycles but somehow manged to do it and was able to clear that bridge while others were watching us as if we were crazy. By 2.30am we reached the regroup point and was received my Sailesh and Harish.

Day 3:
This was the day I was waiting for because all Madbulls will be riding in to the RM venue in formation for the Grand Entry. Everyone were saddled up by 9am and hit the road. The sight of 40+ Bullets thundering down the road is a visual treat. Just as when the ride started Prat's Bird developed some electrical problem and refused to move. No time to check and fix. Then the towing happened. I clearly remember it being towed at more than 80kph by Dodo and Chezian on the now defunct Bird. Apparently Prat chickened out and Chezian took over.

All were set for the Grand Entry and the Madbull war cry started... "Beep Beep.... roar roar". However after seeing InddieThumpers entry I thought Madbulls were playing it safe. Next time maybe.

RoadMelters from Pune also gave a very good entry.

All of this kick started Rider Mania and it was just the beginning. The day was followed by a lot of events like figure of eight, slow race etc and night started with the DJ playing hit songs. Everyone took to the dance floor and the Madbulls rocked. Be it Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Punjabi or Tamil songs "kuthu" dance was the order of the day and we bloody owned the dance floor.

Day 4:

I was up early. I dont know what made to get up but the view was amazing. I thought I will see the entire resort and started off on a nice morning ride. A lot of people were up to clean their bikes, pictures etc.

A lot of events were lined up for the day but some of us were busy fixing the Bull for the next days ride out. Guys there is something I need to mention here. Eastern Bulls did a great job in arranging a Service center inside the venue, however due to the sheer no. of vehicles there was a lot of delay. I didnt see any of them fixing their own bikes except out very own Hari. The bugger carries enough tools to take apart a bike in minutes and he was working on his own bike (complete rear end overhaul.. I guess). The service center guys kept wondering that did Hari take their tools. Anyways the point I wanted to make was that Bullet is relatively simple vehicle to work on by yourself and if you mess it up you can always get help.

The evening started of Rock Show and various bands performed very well. The Iron Maiden, The Eagles covers still play in my mind. Mind blowing stuff!!! There was this bike beauty show and the finest bikes participated. Some were real vintage and others were radically modified. My personal favorite was a Royal Enfield LB500 off-roader.

Day 5:

After 2 days of fun it was time to hit the road again. A lot of people wanted to do different things. Some wanted to get into Kolkata city and do some shopping and some wanted to go to Konark and Puri on the way back and some wanted to do both and some just wanted to get back home. Myself, Unni and Hasan decided to get back home and skip everything and started the ride back by 12.00 noon. The initial plan was to halt at Bhubaneshwar and if time permits hit Konark. We were riding leisurely as Hasan was nursing a seized engine and Unni a busted exhaust gasket. It was starting to get boring and then Hasan's chain lock gave way. But he was ready with the tools and spares and was on the road again within 10-15 mins. As the night approached it started to get cold and fog started coming in. We rode through thick fog for about 30 odd km. The group which followed us got the worst of it. Even for us at some places visibility was just 5-10 feet. The flood lights really helped. We decided to crash early and found a place 50km before Cuttack.

Day 6:
We started early so that we could get the Bulls checked at RE, Cuttack. The address we got was not updated so ended up going to Bhubaneshwar. It literally was a suck fest because the RE mechanics were so ill trained they couldn't even bleed the disc brakes properly. We spent about 3-4 hours there and it started to get frustrating. i could not even get a horn clamp which broke earlier. However I had some spare exhaust clamp with me and managed to get it fixed by myself. Meanwhile Santhosh (beer guzzler) was passing through and he was telling about the lack to mechanics, spares and everything at Bhubaneshwar. He wanted to a seat done just like mine and asked whether I could get it done from Chennai and ship it across. But we decided to head to this tinker and take measurements of my seat so that he can fabricate it there itself. All this while our initial plan to head to Rajahmundry for the night was going down the drains and even hitting Vizag looked bleak. We somehow started from there and decided to halt at Srikakulam.

Day 7:
990km lie ahead of us and its gonna be a repeat of Day 1. We started by 7am from Srikakulam and decided to half at Rajahmundry for brunch. But things not at all went according to plan. After we entered Vizag we lost Hasan and there was no sight of him. We decided to have breakfast and wait for him so we asked the hotel people to serve us food on the road so that we could catch Hasan if he passes by. Even after an hour there was no sign of him and he had lost his mobile phone the previous day. We were a little worried but reluctantly proceeded towards Rajahmundry. The only thing that was good was there were couple of groups riding behind us and if there is any emergency they could take care. After we crossed Vijayawada we got a call just as when we were stopping for a break. Thank God it was Hasan and all was well. Some wheel bearing issue and he decided to halt at Rajahmundry and ride out with the next group the following day. We were so relieved and started towards Chennai. We could not get a move on due to traffic and when the sun went down we were so tired. Took plenty of breaks coupled with extended saddle time and we were at Nellore by 11.30pm. There was still heavy truck traffic and we took our final break at Tada. Both of us were too sleepy and both of us had different ways of coping up. Unni was riding steady and I just blasted of from there. Once I overtook few trucks at good speeds I bacame alert and continued to ride like that and reached home by 2.15am. Unni reached home by 2.45am and RM 2011 officially came to an end and the daily grind started in another few hours.

Special Mention.

1. Maggie and Chidambaram for providing constant support. They definitely made life easier.

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