Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chennai Pondi Relay ver 3.0

Date: Aug 14-16th 2009
Total personal effort in 3days:
~10k run in Chennai on 14th, 2pints, 10x200m sprints with the baton, 50k bike ride on OMR & ECR, 15k noon run to Pondy, 4pints, 8k Heritage run at Pondy, more pints.

Key Highlights:
Red Dress Run: 14th Aug, 5pm
* Late start, fading light, bloody long for a run without a water stop
* Run on streets, along crowded beaches was not pretty
* With the light dropping the trail was barely visible. Jugy, Zach and I ran back on our own having lost the trail
* Yours truly iced for representing BH3 filling in for the absent BH3 GM
* The party at Green Meadows was high on decibel levels & low on IQ levels, as teams tried to figure out what the team captains were strategizing

Chennai – Pondy Relay Run ver3.0: 15th Aug, 6am
* Horror start – First, Horror Zubin actually started the race at sharp 6, the hard, long baton in hand. Second, the Hyderabad runners van with Obelix and some 10 other runners ended up in the ECR toll booth and not the OMR toll booth!!
* Arun, Sunil, Jugy & I ran our guts out in short bursts; Arun ran out of turn a few times too.
* The Obelix van joined us about 5k later and we finally got some more time between turns to catch some breath.
* Our team finished our 10.4k in some 43mins or so.
* Amidst a lot of attention from team mates, Jugy & I put our bikes together, changed to spandex, changed shoes and were off on our bikes
* The bike ride was excellent. OMR has some flat stretches, it was an overcast day & the breeze was light.
* We made good progress, stopping only once during the entire 50k stretch. Except for a stray incident of a tractor trying to mow us off the road, ECR was friendly too.
* Reached Radha’s farm at Kalpakkam in about 2hours for some fab breakfast of omelet, idly, pongal, watermelon juice
* Packed the bikes back in and sprinted the second leg when our turn came. This time more organized, less frequent, but nevertheless as lung bursting as the first one.
* Then we hopped on to the car, with Vinod at the helm and headed to the last toll bridge on ECR as we entered Pondy, with an estimated 12-15k left to the finish.
* Jugy, Sunil & I started running (at 12:30, it was blazing heat) the last leg, Jugy dropped out & hopped on to Abnash’s car after 5k or so, Sunil dropped pace after about 7-8k or so. I finished the agonizing run at Nalla beach.
* Met some very snobbish hashers who were very reluctant to offer a lift in their car (to the adj St. James Court) for the fear that my sweat would stink worse than their beers. I farted in the car for good measure – phat phatia
* The baton reached to the awaiting hashers in 8:20hrs – jerking at an average of 4:11mins per km for all of the 120km!!!
* BBQ, dinner, party, football on tele, dance floor, KF pint at Nalla beach resort and back to Ginger well after midnight

Pondy Heritage Run: 16th Aug, 9:30am
* This was where the hashers were given treatment they are not used to
* Run started near the Gandhi statue. It was to be flagged off by the CM of Pondy himself!!
* The police made great efforts to clear the roads for us. The trail was very well marked with chalk, but the FRBs just couldn’t get the police van out of the way
* And yet again, Zac, Jugy & I lost the trail and ended up running the last few kms off the trail
* It sure was a hot day and a long trail for the recovery run
* The circle was at a beach resort, the cherry on the top was the Ballad by Mike(?) – the One of Each reproduced at the end of this post
* Lunch was served with the amber fluids at the Mahindra Zest Big Beach Resort. What a lovely place that was!
* The drive back from Pondy was a blinding one – first by the heavy downpour, then by the headlamps and finally as we neared Sarjapur by the lack of street lights

Reported in the press on the 18th. Linked via the MH3 site here
More pics here
Sing the Ballad Chorus before signing off… (full Ballad here)
Zac started filming – “Which way do we go?”
Leather Coater said “It’s this way.”
Red Stud answered “Where”
Arul said “That’s a long one, the longest one I know”

On On…

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bheemeshwari Ride

Little did I know that in 2 weeks of testing my bullet on the Kanankpura highway, I would attempt a similar ride on the same road on a different set of wheels.
On 2nd Aug, BBC planned a ride to Bheemeshwari with Georg at the helm of affairs. With the amount of enthu in the forum & now a good bike, there was no excuse to not do this one.
I know the report has taken a long time to get here, but I will jot down the key highlights (from somewhere deep down the folds of my not-so-great memory).
The ride was to start at 6, some 40 odd bikers had joined the list. When I landed at the Family Mart junction, there was a mere fraction of that no. It seemed to take me forever to find a decent place to park my car. I tried an apartment complex – visitors parking, the Metro (which opens only at 6!) to no avail, then chose a by-lane, parked quickly, picked up the bike and was off before suspicious questions could be asked.
I rode back to the Family Mart junction, met Georg, topped up the air on my tyres and was off by about 6:20 or so. Many bikers were already on their way & I joined Prashant also on a road bike. We were settling down into a decent pace when we hit the first of the riders from the earlier pack.
We caught up with Annjuu on her Hercules wow & we decided to keep her company till she was safely in the company of slower riders. The only pack that sped past was that of Samim, Dipanker & Georg and Prashant slid into that pack. I don’t think I missed any of the put-your-head-down-and-ride section and Annjuu was fantastic company. She was quite slow, but made up for the lack of pace with sheer determination. She had only done a 40k before this and was challenging herself to do a 100 on this ride. Tagging along with Annjuu ensured that I conserved enough for the ride back, plus Annju was excellent company and we chatted on hordes of topics from motorcycling to parenting to spirituality.
We reached Sathnur (about 60k from Metro) and by then the rest of the bikers were way ahead. Annjuu wasn’t feeling great and was trying in vain to reach the support vehicle to pick her up. The mini snack at Sathnur, my persistent cajoling did not help and we talked to a few villagers at the next village. The were very willing to take care of the bike (without a lock) while I flagged down a tractor to take her down to Bheemeshwari.
I rode down to an awaiting Jeep where bikers were making their way back after having spent close to an hour in the Cauvery waters. I was quite fresh myself and after a quick refilling of supplies, I started back with Murthy, Nelly and Prashant. We stopped for a some chai, curd rice at a tea stall outside Sathnur.
The return on Kanakapura road was great – Samim, Georg, Prashant and I rode in a single file, pace lining a long distance. Outside of Kanakpura, Samim joined Dipanker shot ahead. I fell behind somewhat, managed to reach the Venki store at Family Mart junction at 5pm for some stretches and chilled beer with the rest of the bikers.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Of Clutch Plates, Laal Ghoda & Mavathur lake

Date: 18th - 19th July 09
The 5in5 routine of the previous week had left a slight bad aftertaste. My silver bullet (all of 49000kms now) was not responding normally when I opened the throttle. There were also incidents when it would take me forever to start the bike, the kicker offering no resistance to the kick. I was determined to get it back into business on Saturday and hopefully make it to the RTMC announce ride on Sunday to Kabaldurga.

Early on Saturday I called Gurunandan to get it fixed. With Nandan nursing a collar bone injury and Tiger, his Man-Friday off on his monthly drinking binge, I had to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty (literally) and provide the much needed TLC for the clutches.
Nandan immediately pointed out that it was a case of smoothened clutch plates and that it was straight forward repair job. I got some gyan over the phone and waited till the brats (my nephews - Rishabh and Aryan) were at home to begin to remove the nuts and bolts.

· The first sign of clutch-slip is, not being able to reach the top-speed you earlier could. Frankly, I didn’t see this coming
· Kicker does not offer any resistance to the kick and goes through easily. I even tightened the kicker nut thinking that had come loose
· When you are in say, the third gear, upon turning the accelerator, the bike revs, the rpm shoots up, but there is no corresponding increase in speed, speed may sometimes kick-in after a lag

Likely problem area:
· Clear indication of the primary drive not transferring the power, suspect the clutch plates
· Clutch slip will be due to one of two causes - insufficient spring pressure or insufficientfriction between plates due to excessive slipperiness
· Worn out fiber-faced clutch plates (can be found by applying pressure on the fiber plates using fingernails, if it feels like a tile and not like rubber , it’s time for replacement)
· In my case, all the bolts holding the springs had come very loose

· Roughen the steel clutch plates with sandpaper (emery paper) or a file
· Increase the spring pressure a bit by inserting washers under all three of them or by using stronger springs. In my case, one of the bolts had a shake despite tightening it (possibly because of wearing of the threads), I used Teflon tape before screwing it back
· The oil that needs to be filled is light weight oil to increase friction, the cheapest one available is Laal Ghoda

“Most motorcycle problems are caused by the nut that connects the handlebars to the saddle”

I put back the primary case & the footrest and all that remained to be done was to pour back the oil into the case through the nut. But try as I may, the nut would not budge. With the edges of the nut already well rounded, there was little hope even with my new acquired adjustable spanner. So this nut (read me!) in a sudden flash of brilliance, figured that the engine oil flows into the primary case and poured the oil from the clutch case to the engine!!

It took some undoing after a call to the bullet doctor, Nandan. I went out and bought the Laal Ghoda, took the bike to a mechanic (yes, I had to succumb) to loosen the nut and filled in the Laal Ghoda.

By evening, I had more oil & grease in my finger nails than between those clutch plates.

Ride to Mavathur lake:
The Laal Ghoda did it’s job, washing away the guilt of neglecting the bullet and on Sunday morning at 5:30AM, I was saddled up to join the newbies on the announce ride to Kabaladurga.
When I landed at Khoday’s at 6:30AM, I suddenly felt like an outsider. There were small groups where riders were socializing, but there were only new faces. This was not the RTMC that I had known at all. But what had not changed was the time keeping – Goop joined in sometime, the ride captain, Biscuit, came in at 7am.

We had an early breakfast stop just outside of town within 30mins of start and one pit stop later we were near Kanakpura. We were looking for Mavathur on the map which showed a pretty lake off the highway. With the confidence on my bullet growing, I took over as the point from here on. As we turned off the highway into Mavathur, into the narrow village roads, it was yet another of those freeze-frame-RTMC moments – in the rear view mirror, the entire roads seems on aglow with headlights of Bullets - the village roads, the fields adding to the view.
We reached the far end of the lake and after making a few enquiries found our way to the bund on the other side. The lake bund was build in the 80s and there is hill at one end of the bund. A few of us climbed up the hill to get a better view of the surrounding (quite spectacular) landscape.
After a round of introductions, we rode back via Kanakapura & Ramanagara to get on Mysore road. I continued to be the point till we hit Mysore road and broke away from the main group to get back home for lunch with a visiting cousin from UK.
Total distance covered: 180km
Pics courtesy: Ajai Kamath… more here, here and here
For more gyan on clutch plate maintenance visit here