As the Officer’s band of Shillong belted out Pink Floyd’s – Wish you were here, everyone felt a stir in their heart. For those who were there at the event, it was sweet to be there, feel the vibe, the heat, the difference of heaven from hell, the magnitude of meaningless nothing that we all strive for. There was also a silent tear that went down most eyes, the feeling of missing the essential, the warmth of a loved one, thoughts, dreams….
……..and then they went on to sing Nothing else matters which brought everyone back to the zone !
This was Rider Mania 2017, in Kundapura, Karnataka and there was nothing short of saying that this was one of the most awesomest Rider Mania that ever was ! This had it all – The charm, the glam, the brotherhood, the familiar faces, the food, the beer, the love and the list goes on.
January is always a busy month for the brotherhood.. As the world stirs slowly into the new year, the BOBMC folks are busy charting routes, visiting mechs, begging for leaves, building castles in the air, dreaming of good times and for most – to feel alive.
This year was no different with most of us from Madras spending time at our mechs’ and getting our bullets sorted out before we took to the roads.
Rider Mania was scheduled on the 27th and 28th, which meant one thing.. you ride to the venue on Republic day and ride out on a Sunday. Fair planning if you ask me, but given 800 kms one way, it was going to be quite interesting. BTW, the 800 kms included Sakleshpur Ghats. For those who know about those ghats, there’d be a laugh already on your face.
Muddling between getting out on the 25th afternoon, evening or night is when Dodo’s message comes in about leaving on the 26th morning and straight to the venue. A quick call confirmed few things
1. This was going to be fun
2. Our bums were going to hate us.
3. The bullets better move.
Given the extra few hours I had on 25th, it was enough time to head to Taj’s garage to sort out some of the electricals. There was good news and sour news. Good news was that i got the lights fixed. The sour news was that the wiring wasn’t exactly spot on, but they would hold. Birdie has held on to the stock wiring for the last decade and she’s done a good job at it.
The ride back home and the sputtering engine confirmed one thing to be checked- the carb float. So after a nice hot steaming plate of biriyani from Khaja in Perimet, I sat down by midnight to take a look at the float only to find a sand mine inside. Perfectly understandable as she hadn’t been opened for a while and after all the riding I did, Im super glad i cleaned it before the ride.
The Southern Squadron’s choice of venue was in Kundapur, in North Karnataka. Riding through Bangalore, Mangalore, chikmagalore is a treat for the eyes and the wheels.
Kundapur/ Kundapura is a quaint coastal town located 35 km north of Udipi on NH 75 and serves as a junction for temple visitors, beaches and resorts. Riding through the various villages of Karnataka, one realizes the large expanse of the state and the sights it offers.
As the alarm buzzed at 430AM, it didnt feel like I had gotten much sleep.. having slept past 230ish after all the packing and figuring out what is where and where is what! The funny part about morning alarms is that, once it buzzes, it gets a nitro boost and time moves really fast after that.
The time was soon 500AM and there was not much time to fool around. A cold shower and a warm heartfelt prayer later, Birdie and I were chugging along the roads towards Beasant Nagar where Dodo and Indro( yes, that one and only Lubro from Eastern Bulls) were meeting up. Indro took 4 flights to reach Madras and ride out for RM.
Dodo being the planner, had Plan A – Sunrise to Sunset- Start at 6ish at the first sight of the sun and reach Point B at Sunset. Plan B – East Coast to West Coast. Either ways, we were there, the sun was there, and our asses were getting used to the saddle.
Settled in to the ride, we were doing pretty respectable speeds. Dodo on the Prez-GT(535cc), Indro on the Thor(500cc) and me on Birdie(350cc) – Pretty much the lineup of bullets from the RE stable.
Crossing Kaveripakkam and nearing the second toll, the thor wasnt revving and we had to pull over. A quick look confirmed the issue was with the throttle cable. We were carrying clutch cables, but not a throttle cable. Sometimes to find the solution, one has to look at the problem closer – and identified the problem. The nipple on the cable wasnt taut enough and had jumped out. It was a custom cable and there was barely any nipple to pull the carb. Quickly fitted it back and we were back on the road, but we had to pull over again. The quick fix had worked only for a few kms. Pulled over by a shop and we had to put on our thinking hats to figure out a solution. Tried chewing gum, cable from the lamp post nearby, twine- but nothing worked. Until we walked into the shop and started looking around to what we could find. The solution was a rusted thin steel cable that was hanging without any use.
The cable was ductile enough to wrap around the thin cable and strong enough to hold up and serve as a nipple. We seemed to have fixed the issue !
Birdie was rattling away as well. While we were identifying the solution for the Thor, we managed to identify the rattle issue. The nut under the tank had pried loose – holy heavens !! The tank was holding up about 20 litres of fuel and the last thing i wanted to ride with a rattling tank. The rattling wasnt too bad.. Only at speeds between 40-60kmph. So the idea was to keep the throttle at 100+. Managed to locate a mechanic at Vaniyambadi and finally she was fastened.
The time was somewhere past 10 and we had only ridden 300 kms. It wasnt very much compared to the 500 we had.. and with the sun spinning in its speed, we had to be quick.
And we were quick ! Krishnagiri was a blur, Hosur was a quick entry and exit, getting into Nice road was a minor speedbump as we had to negotiate chamak traffic. The Nice road is indeed a neat road that circumvents the pain-in-the-butt city traffic.
Stopping to catch up with our butts, we had ridden quite a bit since our last stop. Pretty good progress!! we were soon back on the roads, this time Neelamangala – Solur – Kunigal – channarayapatana – Hassan.
Stopping to cool off and for fuel, there were other riders passing us by. This was the road for the brotherhood towards the venue. We were to meet more as the miles went by.
At Hassan, we could have taken the right and gone via Agumbe, but no, we chose Sakleshpur. The last memory of Sakleshpur was way back in 2008 were there were no roads, but only potholes and rubble. But from what we heard, the roads were pretty decent of late. Continuing with our speed burst, we were soon in the thick of the ghats. The Sakleshpur ghats stretch across 110kms of winding curvy roads, narrow stretches of adrenaline delight but at the same time, very unforgiving in its own way. The Thor wasnt sounding as she should be and as we took a much needed break, we figured what the issue was. The silencer had broken. It could be the metal or the constant thumping, either ways, she needed work.
The last 20 odd kms gives a taste of how Sakleshpur ghats are. One wrong calculation can see you collecting all of the dust and rubbles, but by God’s grace, the three of us zipped right through it. There were others who werent very lucky and had a tumble. With the mild drizzle that was constantly oiling the roads, even a skillful rider would find it difficult.
Ghats done and into the last leg – Mangalore. Stopped by for some juice and that reminded our stomachs about hunger. We hadnt eaten all day and we had clocked 680kms so far. The sun had long set, it was close to 7PM, but 12 hours of riding and close to 700 kms was something.
Jumping straight to Plan B, we were going to Mangalore – come hell or high water.
Mangalore- is a beautiful place ! We didnt get a chance to see much, but for the litle we seen, the ghat roads were worth it!! A definite revisit place.
We would have grown old by the time we found Panambur beach. But we did! Hunger, tiredness and fatigue was showing. Especially for nipple boy, Indro. He hadnt had much sleep and after 4 flights and 700 kms, it was time for some dinner.
Coast to Coast done – now was the hunt for dinner ! Dodo spotted a fancy place and we plonked right in, much to the fancy of the restaurant owners. Quick to break ice, we were only curious and interested in the local flavour food. Fish from the Arabian Sea, Ghee fried chicken, Fish fry , some rice and indian breads, saw us lift our heads only to repeat the order that had just come in. The food was absolutely delicious and our hosts were kind not to add too much spice in them.
717 kms done, another 75kms to Kundapur. According to google maps, it would take us 1 hour and 37m to reach. Indro and the EB boys were going to stop at Udipi and regroup tomorrow while Dodo and I were meeting the rest of the Madbulls at Kundapur.
From the word go, the rpm meters were well above the 3800 mark. The chill night breeze, the open highway, the synchronised beating of the 535 and the 350 saw us at the venue in under 55 minutes. We did have a heart-in-mouth moment, but that went by quickly.
Reached safe for the night, the party was just starting. The rest of the riders were catching up and as the night progressed, it was a madbull night as usual.
Much needed sleep and a bath later, we were all ready to ride to the venue. For the 70 odd Madbulls, we were planning our entry into the venue. The Madbull Train was ready, Paul, Hari and DJ entered the venue in true MadMax style and once we were there, the only sounds were engine thumps, honking horns, Nerupu da from Kabali and the cheer on everyone’s faces.
Here’s Paul charming the crowd
The parking lot at RM
RM had started. The next 2 days were all a blur. Checking into tents, getting it set up, sweating away in the humidity, meeting old friends, staring at awe at the stalls present, admiring the amount of work that had gone into hosting this event, gearing up for the 1st day party, enjoying the evening and hitting the tents to sleep. Wake up next day and repeat procedure !
As we saddled up for the ride back, a quick look at the venue strewn with food, beer cans, and the party reminded us that we had a ball, met friends, made friends, and felt alive in every perspective.
The ride back was an other experience. This time, Kundapur- Agumbe- Hassan- Chikmagalur-Bangalore-Chennai. Beautiful Ghats, lovely views in Chikmagalur, straight stretches and we were back home by 10 PM. About close to 16 hours of riding.
As we settle into the daily mundane routine, cant but help thanking that we as bikers get a chance to do stuff like this. Feel the wind on our face, let our hair down and experience the freedom of chores, deadlines and pressure.
Thank God for immense grace along the roads. We were cheeky, we were fast, we were really fast ! But in all of this, God’s grace held us steady on our steeds and on our feet.
Pictures at : https://goo.gl/photos/37U8qmQPJzij2pvS7