You know it’s kinda difficult to try and sleep by 10:30pm and then wakeup by 3:15am!
Well, this was our plight if we wanted to make to the meeting point near Forum at 0400hrs that chilly Friday morning. We were going for the annual meet of Bike Nomads, one of the biker clubs that I’m part of… funny thing here is that this is one of those clubs that is not bike specific! So doesn’t matter if you have a 100cc chotu bike or a 500ccbull; if you have the passion for touring and biking, you can join in!
I was overly excited about this particular ride… main reason being that this would the first ‘long ride’ that we’ll be doing together (read more than 300kms in a day) and secondly, we never had been to Hampi, those of you who know me and ‘my better half’ would know that she is a big fan of history, archeology and the arts in general; so this would’ve been the best place for us to go for the weekend. The wifey and I had started preparations for it since a long time! A lot of physical workout and training for our endurance and stamina was going on. I took the RedEye to the mechanics and got her completely serviced to ensure that I don’t face any major showdowns for the ride.
I met the bikers from the Bangalore BN chapter a couple weeks before the ride and found out that none of them had a bull! They all were plastic riders! This brought the first question in my mind; do I really want to ride with the plastic crowd? I’ll get back to what I think now later… a total of 11 bikes were scheduled to leave Bangalore at around 5am on Friday the 23rd of November… this group also included a few newbie bikers who hadn’t done a single ‘long ride’ and some of the veteran bikers who had done enough to earn good ‘bragging rights’
Cut to morning of 23rd
I turnoff the alarm at 0315 (my special alarm theme for that day was ‘gonna fly now’ out of the movie Rocky) look around the room, the gleam of the night light and a few flickering lights on the laptop and modem made our bedroom look real cozy! I wanted to pull the sheets over my head and go back to my la-la land as soon as I could. But I roused my sleepy brain and asked my body to move, to get out of the bed and turn on the geyser, walked around the house once completely aimless trying to figure out why was I up so early, practically in the middle of the night? And then it dawned… we were supposed to meet in the next one hours’ time with the other BNers! I woke the wife up, she was strangely relatively calmer and focused when she woke up. We hurriedly freshened up, dressed, had some coffee, did a final check on the luggage that was packed the previous evening and stepped out. This was the first time that I was putting the saddle bags on my bike, was slightly confusing… but once I figured the front from the back, it sat on the bike like a charm and we were all set to roll!
This was the first time, both of us were riding through the area at this hour… forum was strangely only 10minutes away on the empty roads! When we reached there, the scene was awesome! There were already 7bikes waiting there and all the riders looked eager to ride, here I met Aditya who was the only other biker from Bangalore riding with his spouse, met Sapna and found out that it was her second longish ride with Adi… we waited for Prassanna till 0440 but he didn’t show up, finally I called him and we decided that he’ll catch-up at the second regroup point at Nelmangla.
I was the point rider from this point till Nelamangla where we were to meet Vaas, Aashish, Kaapi and the others… by the time we reached Nelmangla, it was already 0530, 15minutes late from our originally decided departure time. Vaas and Chamolibhai are the guys who I would call punctual; they were already there and had finished their first rounds of chai. We all ordered our chais, ciggys and other stuff… other riders rolled in by 6ish and we finally rolled out by 0630, already over an hour late…
What can I say for the roads? Amazingly smooth! As they say in Hindi – Makhkhan! Pretty picturesque, almost a straight line and no bumps at all! We all averaged pretty decent speeds and stopped post a town called Sira for our breakfast, the small dhaba there was just right, the only things available were idli and dosa. We all ordered our options, did a small photo-op there and rolled again… the next stop was Chitradurga. And this ended our ‘good, smooth’ roads… the road from here was almost nonexistent; I guess Karnataka has this specialty, after every good stretch of the road they put an equally pathetic stretch so that you can appreciate the good roads. We gazed at hundreds of windmills and rode on, onto the really bad roads. This stretch was just sad.
Finally we made it to Hospet and Hampi was just 15-20 kms away… by now, the bad roads had started taking their toll and most of us started feeling tired. The hotel looked like heaven when we pulled in the parking lot. All I wanted to do was just crash. Sleep for a while and then decide on what next…
The Bangalore crowd was the first to reach Hampi, we were expecting people now from Bombay, Pune and Hyderabad… on and a few unannounced riders from different locations. While the couples rested in the hotel, the bachelors and the enthu-cutlets went out for a short ride around Hampi to just explore the place… I somehow couldn’t sleep so after a while I stepped out in the foyer of the hotel to find Vaas chatting with a gentleman who smoked two cigarettes back-to-back… on getting introduced I realized that this guy was GR, the most witty, punny and soft spoken gent I’ve ever met! I just turned into a big fan of this chap when I realized that he is almost 40 and rode nonstop from Hyderabad to Hampi (not even bio-breaks!)
The second set of riders to turn up was Doc. Arnob and Prasad Themkar; these two also had done an almost nonstop ride from Bombay to Hampi… after they freshened up and came to the dining area, I discovered that Doc also is a very witty and jovial person! And Prasad was a ‘well built’ well mannered guy. I was actually realized that I was smiling more and more and my apprehensions were turning into dust as the people I got to meet were all much better than what I was expecting! Usually bikers are thought of as the typical of loud-mouthed, unruly and arrogant people, but here is a crowd of really nice, well mannered and genuine people!
While sitting and chatting, Doc. Prithvi Raval turned up… I must say that Doc is older that my dad! But his spirit for biking is just amazing! a very nice guy to know… I actually had heard a lot about him whenever I talked to rocky’da about the other bikers he knew and the ones he would recommend for me to know. We ordered dinner and sat in a nice big group in the chilly evening, having our dinner and sharing stories about names, tattoos, bikes, places to visit and almost everything under the sun!
We retired by around 11pm as Saturday was supposed to be a long day… woke up at around 7ish, got dressed and stepped out to have our breakfast. Strangely the wife hadn’t complained about anything and I could see that she also was enjoying our stay here, in the dining room we met Capt. Nandu Chitnis, the ‘ageless biker’ as we know him, he is I guess in his late 50s, a person with an enormous passion for a lot of things in life, who rode to Leh-Ladakh this July with his wife; that too on an avvy!!! I met him and instantly became an avid fan. I would want to be something like him when I grow old.
Slowly the other Pune, Bby people started pouring out in the dining room, another round of introductions, more amazing people introduced to each other and all I could think was WOW! So many people at one place, all here just to make sure that they turn up for the annual meet and all respecting each other so much! Amazing!!!
By the time we actually stepped out of the hotel, it was pretty late… so the whole ‘guided tour’ plan got chucked and we decided to see only the famous places at Hampi… we rode around the ruins, looking at whatever we could and whatever our brains could digest… there is just SO MUCH to see! By around 1330 we decided to break for lunch and meet again at 3ish at the hotel for our photo-ops… we all split into groups for lunch and my group was Capt & wife, Adi & sapna, Vibhu & Anu, Nav and 2 of us (my wife and I) we went into the by lanes of the Hampi bazaar looking for a specific place that Capt had talked about… it was a nice shack sorta place, good music, good ambience and only 2 people running it. When all of us started ordering for stuff the guys panicked… we actually waited almost 2 hours for the lunch (which could’ve been better) but by this time we were already late and had to rush back to the hotel.
Imagine 40 riders and over 25 bikes in one place!!! We clicked a few ‘formation parking’ photos at the hotel and then all of us left for the Vithalla temple; it was THE PLACE you come for at Hampi. It’s a huge, magnificent structure… a whole stone-pillared market place; musical pillars in the temple, a whole stone chariot in the compound… just breathtaking! We clicked some more pictures here.
(Image Courtesy: Harshad Sharma)
After the photo-op we descended to the TungaBhadra river, dipped our feet in the cool, clean water and just sat there till the sun set… from here we decided to go towards the TB canal and click some more pictures… but only 4 bikes made it till there, the others apparently lost their way and headed back to the hotel… the canal in the full moon light looked very eerie and a bit spooky. We didn’t spend too much time here, went back to the hotel and found everyone waiting there.
Now was the most interesting part of the meet. The ‘introduction’ round, I know, I know you’ll be thinking what’s so funny about the intros? The twist here was that one person stands up and the others were supposed to introduce him; now imagine you are standing there and people all around are passing comments for you, both good and bad! :-) was a gun session after which Doc. Raval pulled out the BN stickers from his bag… now we all BNers have a BN sticker on our bikes, helmets and for some even their cigarette packets! (Yes, Mayank from Sangli actually smokes BN brand ciggys now) after all this followed the dinner which was strangely tasting better than the previous evening’s
A desperate attempt for a campfire was next; but after around 20 minutes of pouring kerosene and Petrol out of Mayank’s bullet we realized that the wood was just too wet to light. We all said our good nights; Sunday morning people had to head back to their own destinations…. Bombay, Pune, Hyderabad and Bangalore. We all said our goodnights and goodbyes and retired into our rooms, the single junta had a grand drinking binge (which I was kept out of)
Sunday morning came too early! We had decided to meet sharp at 8 in the parking lot so that we can roll out by 8:30… guess what? The people showed up only after 9! Then some of the junta suggested that instead of riding straight to Bangalore we should do a detour to the TB Dam and spend some time there… after too many protests I had to give in and ride to the damn dam… this pushed our departure quite a bit and we could get out on the highway only after 1230! This was scary for me… well; honestly, I am very scared of riding into the nights and always make a point of either reaching my destination by nightfall or stopover wherever I can. But NO RIDING IN THE DARK! Now, all my fears were coming to surface and I pushed my bike and the others to ride as fast as we could…
The lunch stop was at chitradurga, and I told Vaas that we now have to follow discipline in riding and take a break ONLY after at least 1hour of riding… he agreed to this and we pushed off towards Bangalore. But, darkness came too soon and we did ride pretty much in the dark for a long while, by now the order or the formation of the bikers was getting broken and we were into really small groups of 2-3 I was with Chamolibhai and Gaurav… we stopped only at Nelmangla, had a chai and started towards Bangalore again, after almost 2 hours we reached home at around 9pm. Tired, with sore bums and just wanting to crash.
Must say the wifey was pretty strong all through, she had a bit of tonsillitis before we started which got really aggravated and coupled with a bad cold, but she stayed pretty strong all though. Just made me fall in love with her all over again.
And another point that I’d make here is that bikers are not made by metal or plastic but only by the passion and drive that they have… I saw people ride 150cc pulsars, to 220ccZmas to 180cc Avvy cruisers; and all I could understand is that they all share a similar passion fro biking.
I liked it! Gave me a new direction to think and appreciate people the way they are…
Anyways, this post is long enough and I’ll signoff for now…
The pictures of the meet are here:
Capt. Chitnis ka album
Vibhu (moderator's view)
Harshad Sharma - superb pics!
And my album!