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