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Saddlesore 1000 on an R1 in India
Endurance riding has always appealed to me more than going full out an race track, not that I don’t enjoy the track but endurance riding involves riding to new places which means new food to taste.
Endurance riding on an super sport machine such as the R1 caught my fancy even since I heard about Sjaak Lucassen doing a world circum navigation on his 2003 R1 and the most popular Nick Sanders on his 2008 R1, I loved his narration of what he went through in his book 'Parallel World’ both on and off the bike.
So how does a saddle sore fit into all this? Well Saddle sore is considered a benchmark for endurance riders, a small peak into the international riding forums and you know that an IBA number is as coveted as an Olympic medal.
IBA and a lot of riders and racers talk about the most essential thing one needs to ride an Super sport - FITNESS, which I feel is the most neglected aspect of most tourers in India and worldwide. One invests a lot of money and time to buy new touring tires, get new touring gizmos, touring gear, modifications for the bike etc, but how often does one say that I worked on my upper body, lower back and legs to prepare for this ride?
So most of my efforts were on getting myself into shape for the ride rather than stuffing the R1 with gel seats or GPS mounts or touring tires etc. My 2008 YZF-R1 having clocked about 7000kms then was in its prime condition and was raring to go.
The shoulders, Legs, Lower and Upper back, Abdomen and Neck take the major beating on long distance travel on any super sport machine, so fitness routine involved lots of exercises targeting these muscle groups.
What makes SaddleSore, A challenge in India?
Covering 1600kms in 24 hours under Indian road conditions is a challenge, add a super sport machine to the equation makes it even tougher. The aggressive riding posture, unavailability of premium fuel, human and animal interference on the highway, curious onlookers at the motorcycle and some very chaotic traffic are some of the elements one has to get in terms with.
During the reckee ride on my Bajaj Pulsar 180(a 180cc single cylinder machine) on which I covered 1700kms in 28 hours, about 2 weeks before the actual ride, my concern was the availability of fuel during the wee hours of the night since most of the fuel stations which were open only stocked diesel (diesel vehicles dominate the highway traffic during night), so backup fuel can was a must. Here is the list of the gear we carried on our ride:
For the following reasons the Bangalore - Pune - Bangalore was the chosen route:
Jan 8th was the chosen day for the ride since the 2 of us (Manjunath and yours truly) couldn’t take 2 days(ride and rest days) off on a weekday.
We got our start witness forms signed and left Girinagar, Bangalore at 1pm in the noon to hit NH4 via the NICE Road, being afternoon we encountered sparse traffic and the sun breathing down on us; I stopped for fuel at Sira about 100kms from the start point since this BPCL provided an electronic fuel receipt, gulped some Gatorade, took pictures of the odometer and headed to Chitradurga, this stretch is a planted with windmills everywhere and I could think of an analogy between rotating the 3 spoke alloy wheels of my R1 and the 3 blades of these monster fans. I was constantly clocking 120kmph + on these roads and had found the sweet posture which is the thin line between fatigue and pleasure riding.
My next fuel stop was at an IOC bunk at Davangere which is a company owned 24 hours bunk offering Xtra premium and is a 24 hours bunk. Soon we encountered the bad patch between Haveri and Rannebennur which is under construction due to an railway track, we had planned our route such that we get over this bad patch during daylight and since usually the first 12 hours is when we are at our at most awareness we had to cover the maximum distance.
We then stopped at Nipani for fuel which is again an 24 hours station offering Xtra premium throughout, having clocked about 570 odd kms we had just left ventured into the MH territory and I am always excited by these border villages since one has the advantage of tasting the cuisine of the either sides as well the opportunity to learn different languages.
Energy bars didn’t suffice us the hunger and we took our first major break of about 20 minutes at McDonalds Kolhapur for a quick bite and proceeded towards our halfway point Kothrud (outskirts of Pune), we stopped at an Axis Bank to take a time stamp since ATMs give you a precise location stamp also we were just close to completing 12 hrs of the ride and slowly symptoms started to creep in after the turn around point at Kothrud.
We stopped for fuel at Varve on the way back just after the Katraj bypass at the BPCL bunk who provide an electronic fuel reciept which was about 1:30am.
Most of the time the R15s were ahead of me due to their less fuel stops but on the way back we decided to stick together since the enormous headlights of the R1 lit up every inch of the road giving us better visibility; the cars and trucks gave way even without me asking for it since they thought the R1 must have been a 4 wheeler.
The empty stretches of road with nothing to look around due to the darkness made me stare at the black ribbon of tarmac with the reflectors on the ends took me to a trance and a chance to look at all my experiences behind, my decisions and my actions, suddenly I was no longer on a motorcycle but in a theatre running the movie of everything I have seen and felt for as long as I remember. I was woken up from this when my fellow-rider honked at me to indicate that the Ghats are going to start.
I usually look forward to ride in the Ghats, but this I cursed since I had to change the posture to tackle the Ghats which meant more stain on my overall body and the wrists add to this were an MH State transport bus and a 6 wheeler truck trying to outrun each other like maniacs on the Ghats and a BMW 320 behind me who was honking consistently at the bus to give way. The R15s sneaked between them and passed on indicating that they will wait for me at the end of the Ghats section.
The truck fellow finally gave in, me and the BMW passed them and the next corner is what I can never forget in my lifetime. It was a right hander without barricades, no reflective pods or what so ever to indicate how deep the apex of the corner was, I was doing about 60-65kmph and thinking that I am yet to hit the apex I throttle a bit to reach 90kmph to realize that the apex is gone and I am heading towards the gravel and then into a drop into nowhere, for the first time me being a bit sleepy helped in panicking since my responses were delayed and I got a moment to think of what has to be done rather than just grabbing the brakes and locking the wheel which would have increased my chances of going into the valley, instead I down shifted and feathered the rear brake to straighten the bike as soon as I hit the gravel and missed the valley drop by an inch.
This for a while took my attention away from the odo reading and a couple more kms my fuel light came on and so started my frenzy about looking for a fuel station in spite of having emergency fuel, most of them offered only diesel, finally found a bunk at Nerla, tanked up and went ahead to meet Manju at the next toll.
Can we sleep now?
The 45 mins of inactivity made me feel sleepy and the cold winds just added to my misery, I was praying god to give prepone the sunrise to 5am
The next 50kms I rode half asleep with my rear tire all over the road, Me and Manjunath decided that it was high time we get some sleep or find some chai to wake us up, so half asleep we wound up at a chai shop and had chai, it was after this we realized how dirty the place was and the water he used to make chai cannot be described, well this information confirmed we were back to our normal senses and decided to step up the pace since we had to reach Bangalore before 1pm.
I stopped at the next bunk just to fill fuel for a fuel receipt (since it is easy for IBA to track our route) filled up for 100 bucks, but was surprised to see that they gave an electronic receipt.
About 7am the sun finally came out and I was glad, then i realized that since I was riding facing the sun with clear visor, the radiance of the sun made me to close my eyes and soon the instinct of sleeping took over which was a constant battle I fought till Bangalore.
The Tata Safari Battle:
Some respite from this offered by a Tata Safari who mistook me for an R15 and signaled at me to race, I usually switch the left indicator and tell them to overtake me since i am very much against racing on public roads endangering the lives of other motorists and pedestrians but I was too tired to accept it. Suddenly I decided that I am show this idiot what an R1 is overtook him at about 200kmph(which is any day a dumb decision, but the adrenalin woke me up), the Safari took it on and floored it to reach me and for about 2-3 seconds we were racing side by side at 200+ kmph, I realized then that I still had another gear to go whereas the Dicor engine was begging to stop it, next moment I am clocking 280kmph on the odo and could see the Safari disappear into the horizon.
My next fuel stop was the IOC bunk at Dharwad and the guys were thrilled to see me again and congratulated me that I would reach Bangalore before the 24hr deadline, I also needed air, the bunk had the air but there was no power, the owner was courteous enough to fix a generator for the air compressor to fill up my tires and wished me luck, such instances of unadulterated goodness made me realize what makes touring in my country so special
From here on it was a smooth and boring sail(blame the monotonous NH4) to the end point via the NICE road to the ATM in Girinagar from where it all started. Manjunath had reached about 30 minutes before me and when I finally took the end receipt I was exhausted.
We are tracked by Nitin using GPS, couple of my friends and well wishers were waiting at the end point and were thrilled to see both of us complete 1700kms(on the ODO) in under 24 hours.
Special Thanks to the following friends who made it happen:
Uday Sir from Orion Motors, Bangalore (Orion Motors -Bangalore dealers in Yamaha Bikes, Trek & Firefox Cycles, AGIP Lubricants, Accessories and Services)
Praveen Sir from BikersBrew, Bangalore
Vijay (my brother)
To Avinash and Manjunath, the best riders I have ever met. Cheers guys
The certificate is dedicated to you both, your patience and advice.
Hammer the racetrack. Pace yourself on the street
My IBA Number: 47054
Hammer the racetrack. Pace yourself on the street
My IBA Number: 47054
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