They put up a ride plan for LKG-2 i.e. LOHE KI G&%#D for the uninitiated, after having completed LKG-1 to Ganpati Pule with great success. The places to be raided were Ellora, Ajanta & Lonar. As I sat up on my office chair and read the ride announcement, sensed minor goosebumps going all over me. Here I was, off the road for almost six months. My last ride was Ride Of Faith-4 to AshtaVinayak in late September 2007. The ensuing months were very hectic for me and quite ensured that I couldn’t hit the road as often as I would have loved. Heck, I hadn’t taken Colossus to the friendly neighbourhood Paanwallah in a long time and the proof lay upon the fact that my battery gave up twice on me in 75 days. My mind was engulfed in thoughts just as it used to be after every ride announcement. Work commitments, vitamin ‘M, family commitments…the reasons always seemed endless. Fortunately the issue of playing truant from office wasn’t substantial. 21-23 March was one long weekend that occurs once in a billion years. Lit up a cigarette as I pondered a bit…I guessed I COULDN’T make it this time too considering the other factors. I thought about all the reasons why I couldn’t ride & then came the decisive moment. That one reason, WHY I SHOULD, struck me.
Because I NEED TO………………CARPE DIEM BABY !!!
TIME TO GET COLOSSUS READY FOR BATTLE
Got a new battery, Cramster Saddle bags, Cushioned back rest for the pillion, Oil Change,a thorough servicing @ Vishwas’ garage in Kalyan where I pestered Pakkya to tighten every visible nut-bolt. Admit that am not a tech-mech savvy guy, but I always make it a point to be around Colossus whenever he goes for a check up.
March 20 2008
What seemed initially to be a Customs holiday a few days before, actually turned around to give me a nightmare. The day was declared ‘Working’. To make matters worse, was stuck up with a few urgent shipments which meant I had to stay back in office till at least 2000 Hours. There went away my plan to have a good nights rest before the ride.Reached home at 2300 Hours. Hit the bed at midnite. Before I could start dreaming of the road, the shrill of the alarm clock woke me up at 3.30 am. Colossus thumped at 0430 hours. First stop, 3 kms away, mandatory prayers at ‘Ichcha Ganesh’. Ritual of sorts before every significantly long ride. 0545 Hours reached ‘Datta Snacks’ at Panvel, where Guri Paaji, Billu, Andy, Rohan & others were already waiting. A quick round of Poha & coffee whilst Andy & Rohan started the bike inspection rounds (Keep up the good work guys). Rest of the guys arrive in mean time.
Flag-Off time. The bulls thump collectively & off we go to the start of a very promising ride. After covering a fair distance, the pack gets spaced out. Our group of around 7-8 riders halt to wait for the guys behind to catch up. Chinky and me brief the newcomers about the importance of not overtaking from the left side and other general instructions to be followed while riding in a pack.
Understand that one STD 350 was having a overheating problem. Daku, Billu n others were giving able company to Vinod (later rechristened TAPPET)
We ride on and halt at ‘Indraprastha Dhaba’ at a place near Wadala, ahead of Ranjangaon. Kaka and Animesh were waiting for us. A quick lunch of Palak Paneer, rotis n chaas & we are ready to set sights on the route to Ellora. A group of 6-7 riders, including me, were supposed to move ahead while the rest of the gang regrouped and followed us. Unfortunately I lagged behind by a few minutes as we set off. Push the throttle hard to catch up. The highway was a dream. Ripping at full throttle over long stretches was orgasmic. Was hopeful of catching up with the guys ahead when suddenly the tank hit RESERVE. Damn…some more precious time lost. Tanked up. The weather heated up. Sapping conditions. A quick stop for some Glucon D. Rode furiously till we reached Aurangabad Circle. Ellora was around 23 Kms left of the circle. Had no clue where the guys had headed. Was it to the Hotel or Ellora ! Called up Daku who was still at Indraprastha Dhaba. He confirmed that the guys had moved towards Ellora. Had a tough time navigating till Ellora. Slow moving local traffic made matters worse. The clock hit 1645 hours and I was informed that Ellora entry gates closed at 1700 hours. Ran through the traffic like a man possessed. Heaved a sigh of relief on sighting Jackson, John, Nishant & others at the gate. The next hour was spent marvelling at the caves & sculptures. Exit Ellora Caves at 1815 hours. Head to ‘Ghrushneshwar Mandir’, one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. Head back to the place where accommodation was booked. Some 425+ kms clocked and the feeling of a good days ride filled me up and the prospects of a lovely session of booze, good food & yes of course RAGGING excited me.
The guys assembled at the concrete lawn adjoining the dining area. Guri Paaji, Billu, Chinky & Madcat took turns ragging the newcomers. Mrs.Vinod aka Rocker could have easily won the most sporting newcomer on the trip. Dinner was extremely sumptuous especially the chicken curry, raita (my pick of the entire menu) and gulab jamuns. In those moments, we had a pleasant surprise. Drip, drip, drip. We couldn’t believe it. Rain Drops. A slight sprinkled ensued. Post dinner, the air was filled with lovely renditions from Billu, Vinod, Kaka & others. Midnite.
Guri Paaji announces that Nikkhil ‘Madcat’ Khanna shall lead a group to Ajanta early next morning. The rest of the guys would have a late start, skip Ajanta and head directly to Lonar. Madcat and group would join us at Lonar later in the evening. I instinctively decided to join Madcat but my pillion wasn’t too keen to stretch the ride. Ajanta shall beckon some other day.
Guys start retiring to their respective rooms. But a couple of us including billal, chinky, nishant, priti, tappet, rocker, daku & others stayed back for some more jamming. The skies opened up & it started raining cats and dogs. We loved the fragrance of wet mud. The electricity failure enhanced the entire experience. 0230 hours and I head to my room for some much deserved sleep.
March 22 2008
Holi Day. 11.30 a.m.
After playing the most personalised version of holi ever, we set off for Lonar. The ride was pretty even and comfortable by all standards. The roads were fantastic after getting an overnight wash by the unseasonal rains , the overall weather was pretty cloudy, much to our liking. We rode on non-stop for about two hours. The villages we passed by were a colourful sight (but not entirely pretty though. Drunken hooliganisque rustic people are far from a pretty sight. I was almost relentless with my prayers to ensure any untoward incidents during the transit) markets wore a deserted look.
Chanced upon a tree tunnel enroute. Very very wonderful sight. The gang halted for a brief smoke cum photo session. Rode on for a few kms. Lunch Time. Finding a dhaba seemed to be an endless endeavour. Luckily found one at about 1430 Hours. The lunch experience was an eminently forgettable one laced with uncooked chicken, burnt rotis and over-spicy vegetarian fare. Add drunken truck drivers and villagers and my prayer session reached a crescendo. Would have been a different ball game altogether if we didn’t have women pillion riders for company. In that event, the drunkards would seriously have had to pray for their comfort and well being. We were more than happy to saddle up quickly n ride on towards Lonar.
Reached Lonar at about 5.30 pm. Ahh ! Had seen images of the crater on google, but man, the live view was something else. DEFINITELY WORTH TRAVELLING MILES TO SEE. We were soon joined by Madcat n gang (the guys who had left for Ajanta). Unfortunately, the gang couldn’t make it to Ajanta due to a mishap with Animesh Chauhan, who was forced off road by a Logan, while overtaking from the right side (pun intended). Animesh suffered severe injuries on his arm and was taken to the hospital for first aid where he decided that he was unfit to ride. Quite sadly. The boys made arrangements for Animesh’s journey back home and his bike was shipped to Mumbai separately.
We simply couldn’t get enough of Lonar. The cameras went berserk trying every possible angle to cover the magnificence of the crater. We were simply spellbound and awestruck by the phenomenon that lied in front of our eyes. But wait, there was more to come. A lovely Rainbow ! W-O-W. A rainbow and that too in March. The cameras furiously twisted towards the rainbow and went berserk again. We couldn’t simply believe our luck. ‘Assel himmat tarr karsheel gammat’ (Fortune favours the Brave). I say so, cos days before the ride every other person who knew about my ride plan, forewarned me about the sapping weather in Aurangabad and Vidarbha. Some had even suggested me to install an ‘Intravenous Drip Stand’ on the bike stating that it would be the most crucial luggage on the trip. BUT WAIT THERE WAS MORE TO COME. THE REAL SURPRISE OF THE EVENING. A TWIN RAINBOW ! Right next to the one we were feasting our eyes upon. Very Very faint but visible to the naked eye. A perfect evening created by HIM for the Thumpers. Sunset at Lonar was one of the best sunsets i have seen ever.
We quickly moved to the MTDC Resort that was situated bang opposite the crater. We were welcomed by Anukaran from Wanderlust-MC, Nagpur and Other riders from Wanderers,Hyderabad.
The biker brothers bonded over drinks, music, bike & technical banter. The skies opened up. Lightning and thunder showers took our breath away. What an evening this was turning out to be. Satya, Abbas & Sharon made a late but delightful entry. They had ridden almost non-stop from Mumbai , with a few snooze breaks in between, to Lonar just to be there for a evening with the thumpers . A very symbolic gesture of biker bonding that exists with the Inddiethumpers. Needless to say that everyone was overjoyed to see them. Ragging sessions begun and it was great fun to see people get ragged n greater fun in getting ragged . The food was a revelation. Everyone gorged to their hearts content. The thumpers had booked accommodation at a dormitory that was around 2 kms away from the MTDC resort. Me and Jackson got left behind while heading towards the dorm. Thanks Jackson for waiting for me. But on the way, unfortunately Jacksons TB went kaput. It was raining and we were completely drenched. Managed to reach dorm after quite a harrowing time. Called it a day.
23 March 2008
Woke up with rememberances to the Three Great Martyrs (Bhagat Singh, Sukhdeo & Rajguru).
Approx 570 Kms to be covered today to reach home in Mumbai. Got saddled up in no time. Nikhil Khanna and a couple of boys had already started at around 6 am. A bit later, bade farewell to Aseem & his sis Aasma who were taking a different route via Pune. 7.30 am, the Thumpers kicked started the return journey. A quick tank-up at a nearby fuel staton and we rode on with minimal smoke breaks until Guri Paaji stopped abruptly. His chaincover had apparently broken n was clanging around. ‘Wingman’ Satya, promptly got to work with his toolkit and took the chain cover off in no time. We ride on a bit further and Kaput time again. This time, Vinod aka Tappet started having a problem with his tappets. Time for ‘Wingman’ Satya to spring into action. The unplanned halt lasted for around forty minutes while Satya n Guri Paaji called up Senior Vinod (A thumper n a Bullet-Doctor from Mumbai ). The injured bull finally started thumping again and we heaved a huge sigh of relief. Had ridden 250 Kms when we reached Indraprashta Dhaba, near Ranjangaon. The saddle-sore was slowly creeping in. Rested our backs as much as we could in that short period after lunch. Guri Paaji & Kaka signalled the end of lunch break. We rode on in perfect synchrony and formation. Me n Guri Paaji were leading the pack. Didnt see the guys coming behind till a long time. Must have been a breakdown. Guri Paaji took a U-Turn to check. Apparently, newboy Rohit had run out of fuel. We were soon riding together with Abbas swooping n me ahead of him. Precisely during those moments, was ripping at 90 kph to catch up with the rest. At a divider, saw an old fellow with a cycle, about to cross. I saw him from a distance of about 80 metres. Honked, dropped down to 80 kph and was about to safely pass him when all of a sudden he decided that he could beat the distance between me and himself and safely cross the road. At a distance of hardly 20 metres,HE JUMPED RIGHT ACROSS to cross the road . HEART IN MY MOUTH. I almost had no reaction time. Managed to somehow swerve right and missed the bicycle by a whisker. Saw Abbas in the rearview, screaming no end at Granpa. Later during a smoke break, Abbas told me that he had given up all hopes of Granpa n his bicycle getting away . Abbas almost visualised him travelling all the way to Heaven on his cycle. ‘Sajjan rey jhoot mat bolo, khuda ke paas jaana hai, na haathi hai na ghoda hai, wahaan cycle par jaana hai’….We had a chuckle but realised a few seconds here or there, it would have been seriously tragical. (Ichcha Ganesh to the rescue, I believe)
Took the diversion towards Malshej Ghat. Ripped on furiously amidst the picturesque settings. Was very much with the pack. Abbas still swooping, Satya, Bilal and a few others were giving him company but not to be seen in my rearview. Chota Beaster Manu was the only one i could see behind me. Manu’s Headlight reflecting in my rearview mirror seemed to get distant n distant. Decided to halt and allow him to catch up. Manu came along n we rode again. Bilal , Satya, Rohit & Abbas zoomed along eventually. TWILIGHT TIME. Touched Malshej. We negotiated the sharp bends with caution. Descending Malshej ghat at twilight was a beautiful feeling. Took a chai halt at a dhaba close by. A few moments later, the rest of the guys arrived. Rohit was having a not-so-easily-forgettable first trip with the Inddiethumpers & his first long trip overall. BAPTISM BY FIRE. Fortunately for the protective gear he was wearing, got away with minor injuries. His TB did suffer major damage though. Glad to know that though his TB was dented, his spirit wasn’t .
After a quick round of smokes n cutting chai, we set off for the final leg of the trip. Kalyan was about 40 Kms away. Covered Chinky throughout the distance as his Trailblazer wasn’t having tail lights, indicators or reflectors. Me, Manu and Chinky were riding in tandem until Manu disappeared from the rearview. Me n chinky waited. Manu crawled back. DROWSINESS…….not a gud feeling to have on a bike, whether u are riding or pillion. A brief stop n a quick smoke later Manu was raring to go…Talk about the benefits of nicotine. 2200 Hours – Reached Prem Petrol pump, Bhavani Nagar, Kalyan. The swoopers including Abbas, Satya, Billal and others followed in no time. The guys still had a gud forty kms to cover before they could reach home. For me it was a ten km ride to Dombivli, no sweat. Guri Paaji n Kaka congratulated everyone on completion of LKG-2 with special words of gratitude to Mr.& Mrs.John for their efforts during Animesh’s crash. We bade goodbye in true Inddiethumpers fashion with hugs and smiles.
As I neared home, a wonderful 1100 Kms+ ride completed, I started thinking of my next RAINBOW CHASE RIDE……..