Rider Mania – A Royal Enfield mega event that drew the attention of Outlaw and Maverick; two 40+ bikers who have been chasing their wanderlust and have struck a chord that allows them to ride side by side onto new adventures.
Outlaw has mapped out Northern India on his RE Classic 500 (Mina) – Rides to Leh, Spiti, Chansil and the likes all in one riding season through 2017. Maverick in the meanwhile had been busy behind a desk while his RE Thunderbird 350 (Faith) and Rider mania offered a chance to break free…
Delhi to Beawar: 4:30 am zip out of New Delhi meant that we beat all the chaos and were safely on NH8 enjoying the chill and the breeze as we smiled at our fortunes to be fulfilling our wanderlust. As we stopped for breakfast we wondered why the traffic into Delhi was so clogged up. Turns out the Fog had already started raising concerns even as winter kicked in.
Parathas and tea lining our hungry tummies, we rode steady and reached Beawar well before schedule and that allowed us to cater to petty problems with Mina’s auxiliary lighting. Our evening was an adventure as we loitered the local markets (Tibetan ware sales) where everyone thought Outlaw was a WWE Superstar and I was his agent and we had fun behaving likewise.
Beawar to Ahmedabad: After an easy start and and eventless day 1, day 2 was all drama. Passing through picturesque mountains through Rajasthan we were so lost in the beauty of nature and the fresh air that we forgot to even take pictures of the sights we saw until we hit the most dangerous final few kilometers before Gujarat. NH8 suddenly turned dry and dusty and the roads were full of potholes. The events started with a Rock coming in front of Outlaw’s bike and was duly shown the finger. How he runs into these boulders I will never know – LOL.
The big one though was a major pothole (Outlaw truly believes that it has its own zip code) that my bike flew over since we were riding fast; and for once it was the speed that saved me as both the rims of my bike were dented but the bike moved on and I was still riding without a scratch.. Thats when it struck me… My ride, My RE was my “Faith”. I believed in its ability to scale the pothole and it took me across without a major mishap. As we stopped by to assess the damage, we decided to check if RE’s roadside assistance was up to its promise…
RE’s assistance has upped its game and were on the money. They offered to pick up “Faith” from where we called but I couldn’t let Outlaw ride alone so we found ourselves to our hotel in Ahmedabad and called the assistance who picked the bike and took to Karnavati Bikes – One of the best RE Agencies and people with a heart of GOLD. They not only took my bike in for early repairs but they made sure the job was completed in good time so that we could continue on our journey safely.
Ahmedabad to Vapi: Starting only after noon and some snacks instead of lunch due to unscheduled repairs on Faith, we were duly guided to avoid the expressway until Vadodra – and then we got “GOOGLED”. Leading the way, Outlaw’s navigation lead us into some fields and away from our route and he threw his arms in despair. We laughed, reinstalled our belief in the data network from Vodafone instead of Airtel and were soon back on track. Soon the sun set on to the highway (NH8… 48); how they are numbered is something to study as they pass through the states. We rode hard as we wanted to reach Vapi before it was too late. As we roared on – the high beam highways beckoned us. I have always wondered if its selfishness, lack of sight, or lack of faith on the quality of roads that makes everyone turn on the headlights and keep them as high beam without considering the glare that hurts the traffic in the opposite direction and through the rear view mirrors. Believe you me, NHAI has done a swell job of developing great highways connecting through India so it has to be selfishness or lack of sight.
Vapi to Nanded: Starting Early from Vapi, we were tired of eating Parathas every morning and nearing Mumbai our eyes traced the most famous yellow curves on the planet. McDonald’s had Outlaw jumping in excitement and we dug into the burgers like children.
Our next challenge was avoiding the Mumbai – Pune Expressway (Motorcycles aren’t allowed on expressways in case you didn’t already know) and as we took the old Mumbai Pune Highway (still NH48) we ran into a few riders from RE New Delhi. Abhishek, Mohit and Arun had set out with a riding club who deserted them for a diversion to Dandeli for white water rafting. That was hilarious to listen to and we did feel bad that they were left to ride on their own eventually. As we said our byes and rode on, the cryptic signage on the highway near Lonavala had us run around the curves a couple of times until we decided to go what we thought was the wrong way due to the road signs.
Running into Abhishek and gang again for lunch, we decided to ride together for the rest of the day until it was time to split up.
Nanded to Goa: The day started with an enthusiastic dad eager to have his young lad talk to us about out adventures on the road and the poor chap as excited as he may in real life about owning an RE motorcycle was surely not expecting to be woken up in the wee hours. Back on road, through the lush green fields and mountains in Satara and Kolhapur with the Sahyadri ranges (I hope I am not messing my geography) made for a great ride along the national highway. Exicted to have seen a Rider Mania sign post just as we were to make a turn for Amboli ghats, Outlaw and I posed with a service camp from Yashashri Motors.
The ride for the next 150kms turned out to be a long one. While the route was scenic, the road was bumpy and certain areas got us wondering if we were on the right track as we lost GPS signal and relied on not being “GOOGLED” a second time. Thankfully we showed up on NH66 that connects Mumbai to Goa via Ratnagiri and we had our excitement of reaching Goa back.
Navigating our way to the ‘steal deal’ at Kiara BnB we high fived and hugged our way as we reached what we thought would be our abode for the next 4 nights only to be turned away as the management claimed the place was under maintenance and all bookings were cancelled – our agent (agoda.com) should have told us. That was not really the whole truth as we were to learn a couple of days later … turns out Kiara BnB was just greedy and decided not to honor our deal since they had possibly money spinners in the wake of Rider Mania happening really close by at Vagator Hill Top.
GOA: Having thwarted off the disappointment of losing a steal stay, we settled into a fine hotel nearby “The Retreat Anjuna” which was expensive but worth the money. That night we visited a friend and were treated to some exquisite Steaks and Curries in true Goan Hospitality that binds people to Goa.
The days began with exquisite English Breakfasts at Beach Cafes and the German Bakery in Anjuna, Baga, Mandrem and Vagator. Laziness took over as we waded into the sea and soaked the sun and the sights in the horizon. As events started at rider mania only at noon, we made sure we returned to the excitement and the roaring of bikes every afternoon to make friends and root for the participants and participate in events ourselves. That lead to cooling down in the pool back at the hotel and turning up for the musical delights being dished out at rider mania every evening and hanging out with friends till we were ready to drop.
While at Vagator or Anjuna – do go to Astrid’s Cafe, The Burger Factory, The Mango Tree & Tin Tin’s – all cool places to hang out and enjoy good food and friends.
Goa is Goa and you can never have enough of it but at the end of 4 nights it was time for the ride back to Delhi…
Goa to Pune: Having had a rough ride in, we spoke to friends and chose to travel via Belagavi (Belgaum) and what a beauty of a decision it was. Through the wild life santuary and the ghats and beautiful roads, the ride to Pune was one of the better stretches of roads that we encountered and the grief of leaving Goa was soon forgotten as we headed to the homestay we booked in Pune and a welcome by our IBR brother Harbal and the Pune Chapter of IBR represented by Ujjwal. How Outlaw lost his exhaust pipe on route is a mystery we may never solve.
An evening where we enjoyed several cups of ‘Adrak Chai’ and a dinner on an international boulevard like location with Harbal and Ujjwal gave way to a sweet night’s sleep getting cosy on the smallest bed of the trip with Outlaw – LOL.
Pune to Bharuch: This was the longest stretch on the road back home and we started early and strong and rode hard all the way as we passed Lonavla and Khandala and stopped for the first time at Khopoli for some tea and poha. Eager to get past Mumbai ASAP, we continued to ride and despite a little conjestion on the Thane – Belapur road, we were soon on the Eastern Express highway and on to the Mumbai Ahmedabad Highway soon after.
Our twist on this stretch came just after a toll centre past Vapi as we stopped for tea. We were followed by a couple of riders who saw the IBR patch on Outlaw’s jacket and came by to invite us to ride to Valsad and meet up another IBR brother Dhaval from Mumbai. Daval’s Cafe in Valsad was a nice reminder of how spread out the IBR brotherhood is and how amazing it feels to be part of a Motorcycle Club that truly cares about its members, big and small – new and old.
We reached Bharuch and were surprised by our hotel that reminded us about the Ghost hotels that are seen in movies. While the location was prime – opposite the Railway station, the hotel seriously needed attention.
Bharuch to Udaipur: Our desire to leave the hotel early was inspired by the fact that we were to meet up with Chris Hyde – a brother from the Udaipur Chapter of IBR. After a quick oil change we got back on the highway roaring all the way to Vadodra. Then it happened. Outlaw snapped his clutch cable and skillfully changed it with the spares and tools we carried. It was very fulfilling as we realised that we are pretty capable of looking after ourselves.
Refueled – bikes and tummy, we rolled along to Udaipur enjoying the scenic routes. Udaipur beckoned and what a welcome it was. Chris and Kris opened their doors and hearts and arranged a comfortable stay and a wonderful dinner. Other members of the Udaipur chapter also showed up to make the evening a memorable one.
Chris’ living room has two RE motorcycles opened up like a child has his lego set sprawled around the house and we were privileged to learn a few tweaks that can improve on the performance of one’s beloved RE motorcycle. Chris has written a service manual and I would highly recommend every motorcycle owner to have one because the proceeds from the purchase go towards keeping the needy warm through winter.
Udaipur to Jaipur: After a hearty english breakfast we headed out to Jaipur. Outlaw was still riding without an exhaust and we were concerned about the burning of oil on the highways as we raced on the wonderful highways. Akshay waiting for us as the NH48 forks out between Delhi and Jaipur and we rode straight to Ajmeri Gate to address the exhaust pipe problem. We also did a quick oil change and settled into the Nahargarh Palace hotel on the foothills of the Nahargarh fort.
Our ride to Udaipur included a diversion to Bhilwara where we met Maatsaab, the only member of IBR staying there and probably affiliated to both Jaipur and Udaipur chapters. We were treated to a traditional Rajasthani thali what was delicious but our appetite fell short of doing justice to the hospitality as we struggled to make space from the sumptuous breakfast not so long ago.
The evening turned into another wonderful one as the Jaipur chapter members of IBR showed up to dine with us in the moonlight and views of the wonderfully lit Nahargarh Fort. Conversations and selfies rolled on till late in the night and the eve of our return and the last leg through Rajasthan had turned into a memorable one due to the hospitality and support of the Udaipur and Jaipur chapters of IBR.
Jaipur to Delhi: Early to rise had been our mantra right through the trip and we once again arose and kitted up early. Loading our motorcycles one final time, we rode up the paved street to Nahargarh Fort for some spellbinding views of Jaipur city. Outlaw raced down the curves like a child going downhill in his wagon.
We had watched innumerable hoardings of Hotel Highway King – “Live Love Eat” and to quell our excitement we rolled into one. We were a tad disappointed as the staff did not seem to replicate the enthusiasm of the hoardings and a short break later we were quickly on our way to beat the Delhi Traffic heat.
NH8 into Delhi going to Dwarka was an easy run in and finally we found ourselves bidding good byes and taking selfies – WEDUNNIT !! Locked with memories of the adventures on route and the generous hospitality and enthusiasm of the IBR Brotherhood, my first ride was a memorable one mostly thanks to Outlaw whose undying enthusiasm always shows up at the doorstep of anyone plagued with WANDERLUST.
4360 kms later I wonder:
- Why do we have hell beam highways ? People need to be more considerate and drive more responsibly
- Why do we switch on Hazard lights in Tunnels when we should actually be switching on headlights in the dark ?
- Why are there signs on the highways to follow traffic rules when actually no one know what rules are there to follow ?
- Why are there Traffic instructions in English when most of the heavy vehicle drivers are illiterate (Signs ask the heavy vehicles to keep ‘left’ but one rarely finds them in the left lane even on empty roads)
- Why are people on roads in India so selfish? Outlaw has stated a valid concern about road safety that you should read about here – India’s Killing Fields