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The MahaRM Ride ||| January 2018

 

Attending a BOBMC Rider Mania is an annual pilgrimage for every Royal Enfield motorcyclist and I have failed as a pilgrim since attending my first RM at Ooty in 2009 but it had to change in 2018 as I was going to attend the MahaRM 2018 organized by the biggest and the oldest RE Club of India, Mumbai based Inddie Thumpers at the Bhor Village in Maharashtra, some 75-odd kms from Pune.

We came back from Kuwait in end of May 2017 and settled down in Vadodara. Even before coming back I had started the process of getting The Mighty One ready with a new avatar with the help of the best RE mechanic ever – Zaheer Saifi of Bullet Point, Delhi. We had lots of mobile phone conversations along with tonnes of WhatsApp messages to get things 100% right and exactly in the way I wanted them to be. Finally my bike was ready by the end of May and I got it transported through VRL Logistics in mid-June. As always, Zaheer had done a fabulous job of getting the engine in the best possible condition. I was disappointed with the paint job done on the tank though as lots of bubbles came up within few weeks. But it wasn’t a big issue for me.

For the next 6 months I used my bike for commuting within Vadodara and eating up the mandatory running-in 1000 kms due to the Cylinder Kit change.  My son Abhay is my pillion partner and we have a lot of fun during our short bike rides!

I registered myself for the MahaRM on 6-Dec-2017 and booked myself a slot in the hangar after paying 5500 bucks for 2 days of madness! I must say that the registration and the payment process were super smooth and I managed to finish it within 3-4 minutes itself. And then the long wait started! I am sure every motorcyclist would relate to it.

I got my Bike serviced by Mr. Bhavesh More who operates his shop in the Dandia Bazar area here in Vadodara. He is a one-man army and is well renowned amongst the CI Engine RE motorcyclists of Vadodara. Infact I got his reference through freak luck! It was during one of my cycle rides when I had gone to the Sama Lake along with my Cycling friend Mr. Niraj and had stopped for a Chai-Thepla pit stop when we met Professor Hitesh who was having tea at the same shop and when I saw him riding a CI Engine bike I just could not stop myself from introducing myself to him. Prof. Hitesh has 2 old RE Bikes and is a professor in the Civil Engineering department of MSU, Vadodara. I called him later to get reference of a trusted mechanic and he referred me to Bhavesh More.

I gave my bike for full service on 17th of January and got it back on 21st January after getting all the minor issues fixed and Bhavesh Bhai had done a fabulous job indeed. The bike was riding butter smooth and the engine sound sounded like perfect musical symphony. I knew I had struck Gold and had found the perfect mechanic for The Mighty One.

Now that my bike was ready to rock the roads, it also needed some embellishment to make it look even better. I had to get the Tiranga installed on the flag pole which Zaheer had got for me. So off I went to the Akota Flyover and got a cotton fabric Tricolour installed which fluttered high and mighty like it always does. Even during my 2009 West Coast Ride which culminated at the Ooty RM, Sunder had got the tricolour for both our bikes and we rode along with it, People on the way used to call our bikes “Jhande waali Bikes”! I also bought a new Vega helmet as I had got bored of my old Vega helmet which has been my trusted headgear since 2010. I got some new stickers for the bike as well.

I got my entire riding gear ready, packed all my stuff and got my Bungee Cords out which are serving their duties since 2008! People might say that Karol Bagh stuff is low quality but for me all the KB stuff has stood the test of time since 2008. All my stuff bought then is still serving me perfectly.  I was all excited to come out my motorcycle ride hibernation and just could not control the adrenaline rush! My last ride was the legendary Lahaul Spiti Ride in September 2016 and I just could not wait any further.

This ride was also special for a completely different reason too. I have been on 29 long-distance motorcycle rides (200 kms plus) and my 30th Bike Ride was going to be my first solo ride. I have always stayed away from solo rides for the “sole” (pun unintended) reason being that I love to blabber and riding without my comrades doesn’t seem to be any fun.  I have done short 200-250 kms solo stretches in the past during my group rides while coming back home but the 2018 MahaRM Ride was going to be my first true solo ride. I was also a bit anxious about it thinking about how I would fare but the sheer excitement was overpowering any sort of anxiety floating in my mind.

25th January 2018 – Thursday ||| Vadodara to Pune through NH-48

So finally the day had arrived. After a short 4-hours sleep, I woke up at 3 AM and finished the final pre-ride set-up, got the luggage on my bike, said goodbye to Bandita and Abhay, prayed to God almighty for a safe ride and kick-started The Mighty One at 4:15 AM with a roar to go on the open roads where I belong. With a loud chant of Jai BoP Che was “On the Road” again!

The first pit stop came way too early! After riding for just 3-odd kms, I stopped for Tea as I badly needed one to get myself in the groove. I quickly finished the delicious tea and got on the saddle again with a promise to atleast ride for 75 kms non-stop. I had planned to cover atleast 200 kms before sunrise and I was on track. The weather was brutally cold and most importantly unexpected, as I had never thought that Gujarat during end of January would be this cold! I was constantly pushing myself to hit the 100 kms mark but could not go any further and stopped at a Dhaba for some hot tea at the 85 kms mark at 6 AM. I was actually shivering when I got down from the bike! All I needed was some piping hot tea and had 2 big cups of it along with couple of slices of bread coated with Paprika Cheese which I had packed. They were the perfect saviour in that weather. Anyone who says Gujarat doesn’t get cold needs to get out on a Bike Ride at 4 AM to experience the chill!

I wore my Che bandana to cover my neck and started the ride again. It started to get a bit warmer and I was chomping off kms from my target by the minute. I finally stopped after hitting the 200 kms mark near Navsari at a highway bus stop at 8:30 AM to enjoy another round of Bread along with Amul Cold Coffee which was my light breakfast for the day. I called up my Parents and Bandita to inform them of my progress, stretched my legs for a bit and started the ride again. The Sun was out in all its glory and I had never been happier to see sunlight hitting me after the child ride earlier in the day!

NH-8 or NH -48 as it is named now is a beauty to ride/drive on. I have done a lot of travel on it on The Delhi and Rajasthan side plus quite some driving on the Gujarat part as well but this was the first time I was riding my bike on it and it is an absolute pleasure. Continuous 3-lane road filled with responsible truck drivers who drive quite sanely ensured my first solo ride started on a great note!

My next pit-stop was after I hit the 300 kms mark at 11 AM near Talasri after entering Maharashtra and this was going to be my Red Bull stop! Not that I was exhausted or anything but I surely needed a dose of Taurine and Caffeine to hit my system!  I had also got my fuel topped up at the last petrol pump of Gujarat to make best use of the 10 Rs price difference thanks to the Gujarat Election sops! Petrol price in Maharashtra was a painful 82 Rs a litre that day! I was quite happy saving my 120 bucks!

The day was getting hotter and the traffic was getting messier as I was approaching Mumbai and all hell broke loose when I hit the road just before Vasai creek.  There was a massive traffic jam and I had to use my Delhi riding skills to ensure I got in front of all those cars, trucks and buses stuck. But still it was tough going as there was minimal space on the extreme left side of the road and I had to wait for quite some time to get through. I drank 2 full 1-litre water bottles in one gulp each to avoid any dehydration and was forced to remove my gloves and the balaclava plus opened my jacket zip too! It was painfully hot plus quite dusty too.

Finally I reached Hotel Fountain at Vasai after traversing 91 kms which took 3 hours of riding. SAM of Roadshakers-Pune had recommended me this restaurant for a lunch of Keema Kaleji and Chicken Biryani and I followed his advice to the T! More than the food, I was happier to be finally sitting in an AC restaurant away from that shitty traffic jam. The food was delicious and the service was stupendous too. I got the leftovers packed which came in quite handy later in the evening.

 

I quickly got ready and started the next leg of the ride at 2:30 PM and the traffic jam was still raging! The reason being, 2 huge water tankers had toppled on the Vasai creek crossing which had created that disaster of a jam! But I was happy to have crossed that and now was enroute Panvel where I was supposed to meet a new comrade.

I reached Panvel after crossing Thane at 4:15 PM where I met Sagar Mhatre of the Pan Thunders Motorcycle Club and it never felt like that we hadn’t even known each other before. True to our passion we met “On the Road”. We bid each other goodbye and I started the final leg of the ride from Panvel to Pune.

I crossed the 2 famous Maharashtra hill stations – Khandala and Lonavla enroute which to be honest looked quite ordinary to even deserve a short stop. I was in constant confusion during this entire stretch thanks to Google Maps continuously recommending me to take the Mumbai-Pune expressway where Motorcycles aren’t allowed. I tried my best not to get misnavigated but as they say “old habits die hard”, I took a wrong turn and ended up riding for 8 kms before hitting a toll and entering the expressway where a good police cop was kind enough to guide me back without imposing any fine which I have heard is 1000 bucks! I went back those 8 kms and decided not to follow Google Maps but the good old distance boards on the road.

The Sun was setting and I was getting hungry with just 48 kms left for my destination so I decided to make a quick stop to gobble up the packed keema-kaleji-Biryani combo and washed it down with Amul Cold Coffee. It was a much needed break as I was really hungry and also avoided riding in the twilight time which I always stay away from during my rides.

Finally I hit the Pune roads and crossed the dreaded BRT of Pune outskirts and followed Google Maps to the T to reach my dearest friend Rohit Sharma’s home in Pune but not before encountering and navigating through the mad evening rush hour traffic of Pune. All that while I was comparing that traffic with Vadodara during the same time and thanked God to have given us the opportunity to settle down in Vadodara where the traffic has still not got crazy and life is much simpler!

I finally reached “Kumar Primavera” in Sainath Nagar, Vadgaon Sheri where Rohit was waiting for me at the entrance gate. I parked my bike, removed my helmet and hugged him tightly for the first time ever. Finally our Madhur Milan moment had arrived. We became friends in 2003 when we used to write reviews on Mouthshut.com and met for the first time after all these years; who says that friendships today can’t be maintained virtually! We share our passions for books, travel and movies and it was great to finally meet him. I also met his vivacious wife Shikha and his cute daughter Naina at their home. It felt like being at my own home!

I quickly went to take a much deserved & needed bath before settling down for a long round of bakar. Shikha had made a fabulous dinner of Kadhi (one of my top favourites) and Bhindi Masala which I gobbled up with innumerable hot tawa rotis. BIG THANKS to Shikha for that delicious and hearty dinner. I badly needed it!

We continued our Bakar session late after dinner and finally called it a day at 1 AM. It was fabulous to have finally met Rohit and discussing so many things with him. It seems unbelievable that we were meeting for the first time!

I rode The Mighty One for exactly 570 kms that day and took 14 hours which included 6 breaks and massive traffic in Mumbai and Pune. My first solo ride was fun indeed, was expecting to get bored but ended up enjoying the ride thoroughly. Now was the time to sleep my heart out!

26th January 2018 – Friday ||| Chill in Pune

It was our Republic Day and another lifelong ritual had to be followed. As far as I remember, I have never missed watching the 26th January parade and today was no different. I watched the Parade in India after 7 years after watching in Kuwait since 2011! I always went late to office on 26th January in Kuwait as there wasn’t any holiday there, giving a different reason to my boss each time! D And it was even special as I watched the parade with Rohit who shares my enthusiasm and passion for this special day equally! While we were enjoying the Parade, Shikha got us some fabulous Missal Pav and Vada Pav which were the perfect breakfast options on that day.

Spicy and mighty delicious, they went well with the Nescafe 2-in-1 Coffee which I always carry while travelling. Thanks to my dearest friend Abhishek Tripathi to have got it for me all the way from Kuwait and then sending it across to me from Bhubhaneshwar. Gobby/Trips, BIG THANKS.

All of us lounged a bit more after the heavy breakfast and decided to go for a late lunch. I had planned our lunch at the iconic Parsi restaurant Dorabjee & Sons which is serving lip-smacking traditional Parsi food since 1878 (yes, you read that correctly). I enjoyed a lunch at this iconic restaurant last in 2005 when I had come to Pune for a Recruitment Trip, there is such a beautiful old world charm about this place which remains unparalleled till date. It is also my brother’s favourite restaurant since his NDA days and he had also visited it few weeks back. Surprisingly, it was Rohit’s first visit so he was also quite excited. I ordered Bheja Curry, Keema Masala and Farchaa (egg-coated fried chicken) for me and Rohit. His wife is a vegetarian and there is only 1 veggie option so she had to settle with the Parsi Dal only. Naina was very excited about the Caramel Custard and that was her lunch! I also got my dinner packed which was Dal Gosht! As has always been the case, the food was super delicious and served with a smile.

We got the customary photu clicked outside the main gate and went to the Dorabjee Bakery to get some goodies packed.

I spotted a man selling the biggest Strawberries I have ever seen and just could not resist buying half a kg of them! They were the World famous ones from Mahabaleshwar and boy-o-boy they were so damn succulent, juicy, sweet and mighty delicious. I gobbled up 6 of them and saved the rest for my pre-ride breakfast for the next day.

Our next destination was Seasons Mall where we had planned to watch a movie together. There was only one show of Mukkabaaz listed and that was starting at 10:10 PM which would have been very late so we dropped the movie plan and decided to some gedi in the mall itself. We enjoyed a round of Coffee together and Rohit got the delivery of the 2 customized tees which he had ordered for Abhay, a very thoughtful gift indeed!

Shikha is a fitness enthusiast so I decided to gift her a Fitness tracker, we checked out the Titan and Timex bands but they weren’t available in the Seasons Mall outlets so we decided to walk to the Amanora Mall at the Pune Central watch section and thankfully the Titan Fastrack Reflex fitness tracker watch was available there. Shikha was pleasantly surprised and wore her gift straightaway! I hope she utilizes it properly and enjoy her fitness journey!

Naina is a fabulous artist and paints beautifully. She has painted this and I found it absolutely mesmerizing. I am sure she would get her skills even better in time to come; wishing her the best of luck, good health and all the happiness!

We got back home at 9 PM and I enjoyed my Dal Gosht along with hot tawa rotis which Shikha made. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to this Pune sojourn. We slept early that night as I had to start my next leg of the Bike Ride early morning. It was a day well spent with friends, good food, shopping and strawberries! What else I could have asked for…

27th January 2018 – Saturday ||| Pune to Bhor Village ||| MahaRM Day 1

I woke up sharp at 6 AM and after all the rituals was ready to rock and roll at 7 AM. I had to wake up both Rohit and Shikha as I wanted to bid them goodbye and thank them for their gracious hospitality during my stay. We hugged each other and started the ride to the MahaRM venue at 7:15 AM.

I stopped for a cup of tea at 7:30 AM to get things going and then started the 72 kms ride. I stopped at the Malegaon village 24 kms before the MahaRM venue for a Vada Pao-Chai breakfast and also charged my phone in the meantime.

 

The excitement was palpable and I just could not wait to get in the RM mode and in all its craziness!

I reached the MahaRM venue – Mantra Resorts in the Bhor Village at sharp 10 AM, quickly got the registration done and moved to the Hangar area where I had booked my Dormitory accommodation; it was a well-designed covered area with 300 beds lined up – each provided with a pillow, mattress, blanket and bedsheet.

 

I got a corner bed and got my luggage sorted, changed and went to the main stage area to soak in the MahaRM feel.

I went to the area where the Motorcycle & Adventure gear shops had been set up where I met my old comrade Saurabh Katar, I was meeting him after March 2010 and it was really nice to meet him. He had set-up a kiosk for his venture SANS Motorcycle Parts. I also visited some other kiosks and quickly glanced through the products being sold.

I was identifying a lot of familiar faces whom I had last seen or met during the Ooty RM in 2009. I met my Inddie Thumpers friend Abbas Abid Bazmi who is such a fun guy! Slowly the venue was being filled up with people coming from all-over India. The venue was very well-organized and was spread out very neatly. Inddie Thumpers had surely done a great job in identifying the venue and also designing various zones.

I had a quick snakes session of Missal Pao and Coffee which was going to be my staple for the next 2 days!

I hung around the main stage area meeting old friends and waited for the clubs to make their grand entries which is always a fun affair! The club members started to enter at around 12 Noon with music, revving up of the engines and what not! It was getting crazier by the minute.

My favourite Club Entry was of Belgaum Bullet Gurus, the members were dressed in Raja Babu style and they also had one member dressed up as Shakti Kapoor’s character Nandu from the movie.

The song “A-aa-ee-u-uu-o” was playing proudly and loudly in the background! It was absolutely hilarious and very well planned too.

Another entry which I really liked was of the female club named Bikerni, it was awesome to see a group of ladies riding their Royal Enfields for the MahaRM.

I made a lot of videos and clicked a lot of pics during the club arrivals and had a real good time.  And now time was ripe to enjoy a hearty lunch which was absolutely fabulous. I filled myself to the brim and then went to the Dorm to enjoy a brief afternoon siesta. But I got busy talking with my dorm neighbors who had rode from Kerala and had a long chat with them so the siesta idea was well and truly dropped!

The evening was going to be great fun too with lots of activities planned so I got ready and went to the man stage area where I met my dear friend from Chandigarh-based Road Survivors – Gurmeet Sohi, with whom I have been in touch through Social media since 2009 and met him for the first time due to some freak luck at the Nako lake during my 2016 Lahaul Spiti Ride.

He had come with his wife and son, I was missing Abhay and had a whale of a time with his cheerful son Naunidh whose obvious fascination were the Motorcycles on display!

I had also registered The Mighty One as one of the participating motorcycles in the “Custom Build Bikes” competition where the winner was to be decided by votes from all the participants. I was allotted Number 15. All the participating bikes were very well-designed and it was quite a collection.

Two events took place in the late afternoon – Chug-o-war and Michelin toss the tyre. All of us had lots of fun during these and lots of beer-chugging took place too! Members of BOBMC won the chug-o-war and I have forgotten who won the other one J.  Both the events were very well organized, I must say.

I enjoyed another Evening Snakes session before the main agenda of the night was to start. You know Pet Pooja is the most important & relevant Pooja I indulge in and never miss it at any cost.

The MahaRM was officially opened by the core team of Thumpers and the excitement was already at its peak.

The frenzy started with a mind-blowing performance by a group of local percussion artistes, all of whom were school/college kids. Man, I haven’t seen such energy from young kids ever. They played on and on and one while we all were lost in their music and energy. It was by far one of the best live performances I have ever experienced. The first night of RM couldn’t have started on a grander note! The guy who led this troupe is also a RE Motorcyclist himself and was a participant at the MahaRM. It was the perfect icing on the cake.

The second performance of the night was by an India band named Fiddlecraft. They were absolutely fabulous and got the entire crowd going. Most importantly, they sang all their original songs and no covers. All their songs were in Hindi and I loved 2 of their songs immensely – Banjaarey and Laundebaaziyan. The lead singer was quite an energetic guy who involved the entire crowd with his performances and I simply loved him. Would love to see them perform again some other time for sure. More power to them.

And then the main act of the night began. DJ Akbar Sami played some absolutely magnificent mixes and the entire crowd danced away to glory for the next 3 hours. It was fabulous to experience the art of Akbar Sami who is one of the most popular DJs of India. It was a great opportunity to have finally seen him up, close and personal.  I danced like a mad man, like I always do and made many friends in the dancing area. It was crazy and unadulterated fun.

The music finally stopped at 1 AM, I took a breather, enjoyed a very late and filling dinner before calling it a night. The sleep was well needed, deserved and very satisfying indeed! And not to forget quite comfortable too.

28th January 2018 – Sunday ||| MahaRM Day 2

I woke up late at 8 AM, got freshened up and ready for the fun to begin. But before the fun I had to fill up myself for the long day ahead so understandably I went to the food area to enjoy another hearty breakfast of Vada Pao, Missal Pao, Poha, Halwa, Poori Sabzi, Idli Sambhar and lots of tea and coffee. It was quite a heavy breakfast as you can imagine!

I had long bakar conversations with a lot of fellow motorcyclists in the morning in the breakfast area, the dorm and also the stage area. It was great fun catching up with friends whom I had lost touch after moving to Kuwait. This was the biggest positive I took from attending this MahaRM as staying away from my Bulls on parade comrades of NCR has meant I am motorcycling much less and engaging in much less bakar but I had lots of it in those 2 days!

I attended various Speed Race events held that day where BPCL Speed’s Brand Ambassador Narain Karthikeyan – India’s first F1 driver flagged off the initial few races. It was great to see him LIVE for the first time even though he isn’t in the limelight much these days.

The races were great fun and I cheered all the participants and all the races finished without any mishaps or injuries. This was the first time I watched a Royal Enfield speed race event and I enjoyed thoroughly.

The grand lunch that day was named Maha Bhog and it was grand indeed. What a spread it was with lots of options across salads, main course and desserts. I got my plate full and sat down with a fellow motorcyclist named Prince Makkad from Indore who was a recruiter too! It is a small world indeed.

Later I went to Shopping Zone and bought couple of tees and some stickers for my cycle. The quality of all the products on sale was top-notch and good discounts were on offer too. I got some kick-ass posters from a start-up named “Obsession Inspired”. I also got funky goggles with LED Lights for Abhay from the SANS kiosk. I am sure he was gonna love them.

Motul was the lubricant partner for this RM and they were offering free oil top-up and chain lubrication free of cost. The moment this announcement came, I took my bike out of the display area and headed straight to their stall where my bike was duly taken care of. The tail light assembly had got a bit loose so I headed to the RE Service Zone which had been set up to get it sorted. Another of those things meticulously planned by the Thumpers.

While heading back I spotted the sunset which was a beautiful sight indeed so got some photographs clicked with the help of fellow comrades, enjoyed the majestic Sun going down and headed towards the main stage area where the last few events were to take place.

First up was the prize distribution ceremony for all the competitive events which had taken place. And then all the participants of the “Custom Build Bikes” were called upon the stage where we had to briefly introduce ourselves and talk about our motorcycles which were competing. I didn’t win the top prize but all those memories would stay with me forever. The deserving motorcycles won the Top 3 prizes and this selfie is definitely a sweet one!

And then the BIG announcement happened – The RM handover from Inddie Thumpers to the club which was going to host it in January 2019. And that esteemed club is IBRMC – India Bull Riders Motorcycle Club which has chapters in various cities and they would be hosting the RM in Udaipur, Rajasthan. It is going to be one helluva RM as it is being held in my favourite Indian state; I have already done 11 Motorcycle Rides in Rajasthan lasting 9,080 kms including the 2,160 kms long February 2015 Rambunctious Rajasthan Ride during which I covered Udaipur. I am surely going to ride to the 2019 RM and hope my BoP Comrades from NCR would come too.

IBR has already started working on the initial planning of the 2019 RM and have already designed 3 kick-ass logos! Here is my favourite one.

2 other bands played out their music. I was quite exhausted so I sat down at a distance and enjoyed the music; another reason being that they played all covers and no original songs. Also I was conserving my energy for the night dancing session one last time! But still I had enough energy for a selfie with Sohi Bhai!

Once the bands’ performances got over the DJ started belting out songs and then I just could not control myself and danced for almost 2 hours non-stop with fellow motorcyclists from Manipur.

They were absolutely brilliant dance partners and the 6 of us had a ball! By the end of it I was almost dead and had to literally push myself to go to the dining area to finish my dinner. But once I reached that zone, the aroma of all that delicious food took over and I got energized once again! I thoroughly enjoyed everything on offer and gorged like there was no tomorrow and infact there would have been no tomorrow of the MahaRM as this was the last meal on offer!

After the daning and all that eating, all that I needed was a good round of sleep as I had to ride almost 300 kms the next day so I wanted to get adequate rest. I finally slept at 2 AM.

29th January 2018 – Monday ||| Bhor Village to Vapi

I woke up at 7 AM, got ready, tied my luggage and started my ride for that day at 8 AM, the first target was to clear the Pune city traffic and stop for breakfast somewhere on NH 48 after riding for some 90 odd kms. Initially the Pune traffic was quite decent but then there was a massive traffic jam enroute, thankfully Google Maps guided me to an alternate route which saved me some 30-odd minutes. Soon I was back on the highway and spotted a small shop. I stopped and ask what was available for breakfast, the lady owner replied “Poha ban raha hai, aa jaao”. How could I say no to that!

I enjoyed the breakfast of fresh from the kadhaai poha, hot tea which was followed by a glass of fresh Watermelon juice. It was quite a nutritious and filling breakfast.

I rode for another hour after that and then had to stop for a ritual which I have followed in almost all my Motorcycle rides – an open dump! I rode for some 10-odd kms trying to locate a perfect stop for this mandatory activity and finally found one well disguised and yet not far from the main road where ZI could keep a watch on my bike while I finished you know what!

I rode for 90 more kms before finally stopping just before reaching Panvel to enjoy a refreshing drink of Neera, it is a coconut based drink sold in the Western part of India during the summer months. I had 2 glasses of cold neera and rode towards Panvel where I was meeting another friend for the first time!

I reached Panvel McDonalds, parked my bike and met Nafees Ahmed – founder member of the film review group named “High on Films”; we have been interacting on Facebook for almost 5 years and were meeting for the first time. It was quite a lucky occurrence as Nafees was visiting his home in Mumbai and was travelling back to Hyderabad the same evening. We had a fun conversation while I gorged on “3” McDonalds Burgers; Nafees was shocked to see my appetite!

We bid each other goodbye and I wished him the best of luck for his upcoming new journey. Hope to see him soon when he travels to Lucknow where he would embark on a new ride!

I started the next leg of the ride and rode for 90 minutes before stopping at a shop to get some Neebu Paani as I was feeling a bit dehydrated; I had 2 big glasses of it and felt much better. I rested for some 15-odd minutes fiddling with my mobile and then started the final leg of the ride when I was to bid goodbye to Maharashtra and get back in Gujarat.

It was another 90-minutes long stretch and I stopped at the famous Parsi highway restaurant named Hotel Ahura to enquire about the availability of rooms but sadly they didn’t have any boarding facility and the nearest place to stay was almost 30 kms away; it made no sense to come back this long to enjoy the food so I dropped that idea with a heavy heart and started my ride again.

Just before Vapi, I got my bike refulled one last time and checked with the pump attendant about any cheap and good hotel nearby, he advised me to check at a highway hotel right next door. I checked with the hotel owner and he had rooms available for a princely sum of 500 bucks! The helper showed me the room which was quite Ok for the price; I got my luggage, paid the tariff and checked into the room. The name of the Hotel Raghunandan and there were atleast 15 trucks parked at the place which meant the food was going to be real good!

The first thing I did was to enjoy a long hot bath to get rid of all that grime, dirt and exhaustion. After a 20-minutes long bath, I finally emerged clean and re-energized for a tea-snakes session at the restaurant on the ground floor.

I lounged a bit more and then went back to the room to get back to the online world after staying away from it for 2 days at the MahaRM. There were lots of e-mails, WhatsApp messages and Facebook to check and I took care of all of them. I also called my parents and Bandita to inform them of my well-being.

I had a fabulous dinner of Masala Papad, Palak Paneer and Tandoori Roti at 8:30 PM and went straight to the room to enjoy a night of uninterrupted sleep. It was going to be a night with atleast 9 hours sleep and I was looking forward to it.

30th January 2018 – Tuesday ||| Vapi to Vadodara

I finally woke up at 8 AM which meant a sleep over of over 10 hours; I haven’t experienced this long non-stop sleep since a very-very long time. Understandably, I was completely rejuvenated and ready for the last leg of my MahaRM ride. I started the day with a breakfast of Idli-Vada-Sambhar which was definitely the worst food I had during the entire ride. The sambhar was sweet, the vada rock-solid and the idlis cold. I got over it quickly and loaded my luggage on the bike one last time.

I rode for almost 2 hours and 104 kms at a stretch and stopped for a Red Bull pit-stop somewhere on the Highway; it definitely was much-needed. The weather in Gujarat was much better than Maharashtra which was very hot even in February and I was thoroughly enjoying the last part of this ride.

I had thought of going non-stop till Vadodara but I started to feel very hungry so stopped at a restaurant complex after spotting a Subway and decided to enjoy the sub-of-the-day “Chicken Teriyaki” along with Nescafe Hazelnut Cold Coffee which I was carrying. It was a fabulous pre-lunch meal indeed.

I also bought a red Hot Wheels Car for Abhay; I was missing him badly and wanted him to get him his favorite gift!

I got back home at 1:50 PM after finishing another fabulous ride – the 30th of my Motorcycling journey. I rode a total of 1,233 kms in the 6 days I was on the road and Thanks to God the ride got through without any mishaps or breakdowns. I had a fabulous 2 days at MahaRM, met some old friends, made some new friends, met 2 dear friends whom I had never met – Rohit & Nafees, enjoyed a lot of good food, rode on some beautiful roads, rode the slowest I have ever done in a ride; I never crossed even a speed of 75 kmph and as a result achieved a fuel efficiency of almost 35 kmpl which is a record for me across all my rides and had a fabulous time throughout.

The Mighty One performed beautifully, thanks to all the hard work of Zaheer Bhai and Bhavesh Bhai. All my motorcycling gear was utilized adequately and I couldn’t have had a better ride than this.

Also, it was my first solo ride and I would call that experience a mixed bag. It was good because I could manage the pace and time of the ride on my own terms without bothering about co-riders but on the other side I felt bored because of no company. But one thing is for sure, I would not sky away from Solo rides from now on!

I have now traversed a total of 30,290 kms across my 30 long-distance Motorcycle rides, a journey which started in March 2008 with my first ride to Bhangarh with pravin Kora and Nitin Negi. I have come a long way since then, from a 28-years old single man to a 37-years old man with a wife and kid! It has been possible thanks to my family, all my comrades and most importantly The Mighty One!

And this was my favourite moment from the MahaRM by a long shot. The DJ playing “Bulls on Parade”, the song by Rage Against the Machine (RATM) which has inspired the name of our Motorcycling Club! It couldn’t get better than this and I was fortunate enough to catch this moment and make its video too!

Hope you enjoyed reading this travelogue, do post your comments below if you feel like.

 

So till the time we meet again…

Cheers to life…

Till then ride safe and have safe sex…

Inquilab Zindabad…

Hasta la Victoria Siempre…

Jai BoP!

7 Comments

  1. 1. Mumbai-Pune via the old highway is one of the most confusing set of roads I have ridden on. I remember my first ride through that section, got lost so many times. It took me multiple trips to understand the correct route through that section before Lonavala! Google Maps mei two-wheeler option aaya hai, it wasn’t helpful?

    2. Ghat section pics bring so many memories, from my 1 year stay in Pune. Lonavala is best during monsoons, early in the morning. Otherwise, it is as good as any popular tourist destination

    3. IBR ka mast logo hai!

    4. BC, hagte waqt bhi photu!

    5. Wapas aate yeh 90 ka kya bhoot chada tumhe? Pitstops after 90 mins or 90 kms atleast 4 times

    6. Gujarat ke highway restaurant pe idli-vada rahega hi ghatiya, aur kuch nai tha khaane ko?

    7. Agree with your solo-riding observations! But once you do a couple of them, you enjoy it more I feel.

    8. How come you were riding slow?

    • 1. Mumbai-Pune via the old highway is one of the most confusing set of roads I have ridden on. I remember my first ride through that section, got lost so many times. It took me multiple trips to understand the correct route through that section before Lonavala! Google Maps mei two-wheeler option aaya hai, it wasn’t helpful?

      >>> Absolutely. And the ever so helpful Google Maps made matters worse by recommending U Turn after U turn! I have an old android version and that 2-Wheeler option on GM is supported only in the new Android version. NHAI obviously isn’t focussing on the old highway so very few boards to guide as well…

      2. Ghat section pics bring so many memories, from my 1 year stay in Pune. Lonavala is best during monsoons, early in the morning. Otherwise, it is as good as any popular tourist destination

      >>> I guess entire Western India is a treat to ride/drive during the Monsoons…experienced a lot of it during our car trips in 2017…I am planning a trip to Mahabaleshwar soon…

      3. IBR ka mast logo hai!

      >>> Bande bhi mast enthu hain!

      4. BC, hagte waqt bhi photu!

      >>> Traditions must always be followed, BK…

      5. Wapas aate yeh 90 ka kya bhoot chada tumhe? Pitstops after 90 mins or 90 kms atleast 4 times

      >>> Initial Target was 100 but I stuck to 90 as I was worried about my bike’s engine heating up…that’s why took it easy…

      6. Gujarat ke highway restaurant pe idli-vada rahega hi ghatiya, aur kuch nai tha khaane ko?

      >>> Poha was the only other option and I already had a lot of it in the preceding 5 days so took a risk and it backfired!

      7. Agree with your solo-riding observations! But once you do a couple of them, you enjoy it more I feel.

      >>> Even I think I would start enjoying them in time to come as I go on…plus without my BoP comrades here, they look like the only option to me…

      8. How come you were riding slow?

      >>> Yaar I ride like a mad man in group rides because I always like to lead the pack and not stay back but this being a solo ride I didn’t have that issue. Plus I wanted to take care of my engine and come back without any breakdown, during my Spiti ridw while coming back on the last day, I blasted my way through from Manali and the engine gave up at Kurukshetra, that was always at the back of my mind. Plus I had a lot of time on my hands during this ride so I was in no hurry and experienced a different kind of ride this time. Believe me, it was damn good fun!

  2. Nafees Ahmed

    Read it again one more time. This is impressive writing and immersive reading, so vivid and heartfelt.

  3. Wow Man!!
    Helmets off to you for the awesome achievement.
    We waited for this moment eagerly for years, it was indeed so great to have finally met you. As I said, not for one moment I felt as if I was meeting a friend, you are more like a brother from another mother man.
    Naina and Mona both loved you, your enthu and what not. Right after you left, Naina declared that you are one of the two of my best friends that she liked most 🙂 and thats some award that she gives my buddies. She and us both are looking forward to see you this time with Bandita and Billoo both, it will be one awesome meet, soon in the very near future.

    Going around town with you and trying all those dishes was too good.
    Every moment that we spent is a life-time memory.
    Loved your “The Mighty One” one sexy bike that you have made and well maintained.

    Mona has started using that Timex band big time and has already lost about a Kg and more in the last two weeks 🙂 she has become more aggressive in Gym and Cycling after meeting and knowing you 🙂 all thanks to you again.

    Cheers to life man.
    Live life king size, just the way you are doing.
    Love you loads.
    See you soon.

    PS: And this was one terrific read that I awaited since your departure from Pune 🙂

  4. Well, that’s beautifully penned down MahaRM experience!

  5. Gurmeet Sohi

    Super awesome,

    Finally read every line with tassali.. maza aa geya.. Thanks for mentioning me & Naunidh.. We too had a gala time with you around.. See you soon bhai..

    Cheers,
    Gurmeet Sohi

  6. Beautifully penned, great detailing. Looking forward to many more such travelogues from you.

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