Friday, January 27, 2006


Vital Stats:
Total kms travelled in 3 days 825kms
Distance to Chennai 360kms
Chennai to Bangalore This one is a contest. SMS 9880624910. Type 'P followed by a space' and then your answer
Riding time (return) 4 hrs 50 mins
Average speed 70kmph
No of casualties 2 males*

* those moths came charging at me + am not SRK = they are non-females = they are males. QED

Rider Mania: what it is?
It's the congregation of Bullets. A time to meet old pals, make new friends, share ride stories, flaunt motorcycles and party with the community of Royal Enfield bikers from all over the country. The 2005 edition of Rider Mania held in Mumbai saw over 250 hardcore Royal Enfield enthusiasts having a time of their lives. This time round, the event was in the hometown of Royal Enfield, Chennai, organized by MadBulls – the madras bullets club.
Running for 140 kms all the way to Pondicherry along the coastline, the East Coast Road was the venue for this year - Casuarina Bay Beach Resort. The itinerary list was endless and promising some very interesting events. The two-day event was to be packed with interactive sessions with fellow riders, music, fireworks, laser shows, beach games, custom bikes, modified bikes and of course, the traditional Rider Mania group ride, with over 300 bulls racing together.
It has now been about 50 odd days since I had been on the highway, and I was itching to hit the road. (and in case you are wondering, itchguard is manufactured in Chennai). I was very excited about the whole thing, and just couldn’t keep it down in office on Friday. The Bullet was also ready, serviced, full tank, crash guard in place and roaring to go.
There were 30-40 bullets that were to participate in the event from RTMC - the Bangalore Bullet Club. One chunk left on Friday morning, along with ‘Road shakers’ from chandighar, riding to Pondi and then riding along the ECR to the venue. I planned to join the other group that was to leave on Saturday morning. There were about 25-30 bikers who were to join this ride. Muthu was the ride captain; he had done the road to Chennai some hundred times and knew even the bends, the potholes, mobile speedbreakers (read sheep, buffaloes, etc) like the back of his palm.
At 6:15 or so, the first batch left the KR puram ‘hanging’ bridge. No one ripped this stretch thanks to the piercing cold. At the first regroup point – Hotel Greenpark, chitoor, where we stopped to wait for others, bullets started trickling in, there were in all about 20 odd bikes. BF was pongal-vada, poori and special coffee.
The ride from chitoor(AP) to Ranipet (TN) was a superb road. And because it passes through all those states, the trucks don’t take this, to save on state taxes, octroi (manoj bhai mba). I think, we all owe it to the MBAs of the world, there was not one truck, lorry, LCV on the stretch, I swear. Imagine the no. of cops that it would take to enforce this, otherwise. So we save on cops salaries (we are not even talking of the alternate employment that they can do and the subsequent benefit to the society at large). The road also needs a lot less maintenance so we save on that too. The MBA community needs to get a slice (say, 99%) of the pie. With this, ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case.
Oh oh, did I digress? Actually I didn’t, I was thinking all this and glanced at the speedometer, it read 100kmph. I realized all this was polluting my thoughts, and stopped to plug in my sony viao, network walkman. Vroom, vroom, vroom, the bikes sped past. The tail waited for me. It took about 5 odd mins, at good speeds you can make upto 3kms in that time. The fun then started. There were three of us now making the tail of the trial. Two others were veterans in riding. We opened throttle and were taking the bulls to their top speeds. Taking curves at 110, overtaking fellow bulleters, I reached my all time high speed of 117-118kmph. And by the time we came to the next pit stop at Ranipet, we had actually crawled our way to the lead.
I had plans of visiting cousins and friends at Chennai. I went off on my own from there and was in Chennai outskirts by 1230. It took me another hour to find my way to Marina beach and my cousins place. Met up relatives, friends – vinod and pandit. I stayed over at pandit’s place for the night.
The venue Causirina Bay, was about 25kms on the East Coast Road (ECR) from Chennai city. I reached there at 11 in the morning. There was a contest for modified bikes. Don’t miss the photos for any reason. Truly amazing, the amount of work, dedication, brains and passion that had gone into each of it. I don’t know the count, too difficult to estimate, but bullets of all shapes, sizes and colors were everywhere. The best part was the ‘diversity’. There were couples - sad, happy, hot, gay. (If thou are headed for the snaps, thou shalt be rewarded). The men were as hippie as the bullets in all shapes, colors and smells.
And then at 1pm, there was a ride to Mahabalipuram. There were a few hundred bullets that took part. We rocked the East Coast Road, even the sea receded a few inches, what then to say of the rest of the vehicles on the road. On the return journey, all the bulls were riding with their headlights on and we lit the road.
What are the ingredients for a beer? Everyone knows there isn’t one particular recipe. But, hippies, hot chicks, big bikes, beach sands, sun in the face, and subsidized prices on pint and guzzle guzzle guzzle followed the thump thump thump.
I went for a swim, first in the swimming pool and then in the sea. We played a combination of footer, volley and handball in the sea, with all the beer it was hard to say. And in the hand wrestling competition and the man with the best GF behind him, won. Plan to win it next year, you know the area I need to focus upon. There was a major party in the night attended by the CEO and Director, Royal Enfield for giving away prices. Beer barrels continued to roll, amidst the dance floor and some good music.
And now for the best part of the trip – the ride back to Bangalore. There was a gang that was to leave at six in the morning. By the time I got ready, it was close to 6:45 and the gang had left. Punctuality doesn’t pay, even this time it didn’t. Along with me I had doc, muttu (who was supposed to be the 6:00 ride captian) and JFK. Muttu was on his Monster, JFK on his Maximus both 500cc bullets and doc on his Black TB. Two-by-four chai and we were on our way. The ride till Kancheepuram was slow at 60kmph or so. There was a thick fog attimes reducing the visibility to a few feet. With my visor up and my specs foggy my case was worse. BF was in about an hours time at Kancheepuram Saravana Bhavan – pongal vada and masale.
What followed, I cannot describe in words. Everytime I think about it, it brings a smile on my face. If one were to sample our speedometers the readings would probably read like this – 105, 110, 110, 110, 115, 115, 90, 95, 100, 105, 105… and the four bullets were mostly racing alongside each other. I touched and held the bike at my bullets max speed of 117-118kmph at 4500rpm for a minute or so. And despite that the 500ccs make you feel like a bacchu really. The thump thump is so loud that it drowns your bikes noise, you throttle when they do and cut speed when they do. In effect, it beats (even dictates) on the top two counts – speed and thump. The roads were simply fabulous. And you could catch that look on our faces when we took our bio-breaks. One more chai break at Greenpark at chittor. Guys got their tanks filled here, petrol costs about 3Rs less.
Next stop was destination KR Puram Bridge. We had taken 4 hours 50 mins to do the stretch of 360kms of some real good road.
Barring two incidents where I left 6 and 3 feet tyre marks on the road, there were no other stray incidents (details on demand only). Great ride in all!!
I had this sinking feeling my stomach when I got back. I was once again this small boy who hated to return back to Bangalore, to home, to school and wished he’d stay on forever doing those naughty things at his grandparent’s.
And now, in the eerie silence of my room, I take a deep breath, I close my eyes and … all I hear is the thump thump thump…
News links:
The Hindu