How It Started
As Ifrit and Typhon (our Royal Enfields) take a stand in the parking, I take a loving look at my flaming red monster. What a journey has this been, 2778 kms and counting. As we settle our luggage and get out of our gear I can see a similar smile on Karan’s face. I did it, against all odds. I make tea and we sit to recall the events of last 10 days. This trip was originally planned for December 2017, but our love for our work has our lives optimized around it. As a result we moved our plan to ride to Jaisalmer to January 2018. Jaisalmer is a beautiful heritage city in Rajasthan and had been on our mind for a while. It was really the food that had Karan sold on Jaisalmer TBH 😆 Jyoti and his bike (baptised as Ziya over the trip) were to join us on our trip.
We were trying a lot of new things on our trip. This was majorly in prep of what would be a long road trip around India later.
- The new gear for me included a new OMG awesome helmet and new riding pants.
- The part for Karan was a riding jacket, something he was not very comfortable with but will eventually end up liking.
- And the most challenging part, our Triton X1 by Roadgods. It took us 3 days and 2 bungee cords to figure out how to make sure Typhon is comfortable with it.
Triton roadgods to the left and the DSG jacket and MT helmet to the right
This section was brought to you to emphasise on what all was being experimented with besides my will power and courage. Also, riding skills 😆
Day 1 - The Zombie Ride
We were supposed to wake up at 5:30 AM to leave by 6 AM in order to beat all the traffic. But, something very eventful happened the night before. There was an oncall issue at work and I ended up sleeping at 3 AM. Now anxious as ever about how will I ride in a few hours I had an uneasy “nap”. Karan woke up to ask what time I had slept and asked me to sleep another couple of hours. We ended up leaving at 8 AM. This was not good, not good at all. We were hit by traffic at every possible place and yea, I was such a zombie. It was when I was almost about to fall off my bike near Narayangaon that I snapped out of my zombieland 🙈
Before we get into details of the journey a little background is in order, Jaisalmer is approximately 1200 Kms away from Pune, which means riding through the long weekend of 26th January(Republic Day) it would take 400Kms each day to make it to Jaisalmer. This seemed easy assuming we start with the sun and stop with it.
Given the delay in our start it is a no brainer we were late, so very late. Our first tea stop was on Pune-Nashik Highway, some 100 kms away from Pune. This highway was a cakewalk because of the good roads. We cross Nashik at a relatively slower pace and stopped a little outside Nashik for lunch. We still needed to do 200 on the odometer to meet the days quota and it was already 4 PM.
Lunch break, unaware of what was to come
I was so mad at myself. Karan, as calm as he is always, smiles and asks us to gear up to start again. But wait, there is another challenge, I had to use the restroom in all this gear 💦 🚽 😂 It was amusing and irritating but yes, we moved on. Shortly we crossed border to Gujarat and the landscape and roads changed.
While Nashik offered empty highways, Gujarat had beautiful landscapes along its smooth roads. We crossed our “favourite” town in Gujrat, Saputara before sundown. We were doing well. The last refuel of the day was just before sundown, in Vansda National Park. This was as beautiful as it can be but evetually it became daunting for me! First, we were losing sun so it meant we would be going at a higher speed to cover as much of the forest as we could. Second, since it was getting dark there were high beams from the opposite side. Third, it was a “Ghat” or a hilly road, which had bends and curves all around. I was scared and dying, as usual. I hate night riding. All I could say to myself was this is because of me and if we dont do this then no way in hell are we reaching Jaisalmer by end of Sunday.
What I think riding in the night is like
It’s creepy though how sometimes Karan tends to read my mind (or maybe he is well aware of my challenges). He found a nice spot for us to stop and catch a breath. I got down worried as I did not want to stop. I just wanted to reach the next stop. Karan came and played with my hair and asked me to sit for a while while he told the next steps, “we go slow and we stop at the next town”. I nodded, the sun was lost behind the trees and Karan reminded me maybe I would like to take some pictures. I did and it did loosen me up a bit.
What riding in the night actually is
We finally moved on, slow and steady and stopped close to a Parsi restaurant. Fancy that. The guy tells us where we can find accomodation and that we should come back to his place for food. Well, why not, but first things first, we needed a place.
Here came another challenge which we will face for the next few days. No one wanted to give a room to two guys and a girl, even if they have come all the way riding and will leave first thing in the morning. I am not sure if they are to be blamed for this but it just made our lives harder. After splitting up and looking for rooms we finally settled for one, told him clearly we were three people and got a family room. Moving the luggage off the bikes and getting out of the gear we decided to eat at the same restaurant we crossed, Flames!! The food was great.
A Parsi treat to end the night
This was the longest Ifrit and I had travelled in a day. We went to bed and passed out tired. The next day was to start early.
363kms on the odometer.
Day 2 - Gujarat It Is
We woke up with the sun, while the guys were setting the bags on the bike I clicked a few pictures.
The boiz at work
Today’s target was to reach Palanpur after meeting Pranav, a school friend in Vadodra. Also I was well rested today, so I was quite joyful and excited. But, a challenge was up next, an empty highway! When it started I was very happy, that it was going to be an easy day but then it dawned on me; monotonous highways are probably a riders worst enemy and this was not a short one. After a good start we all started feeling sleepy and everyone found out some way to keep themselves awake. Jyoti and I were singing and Karan was beatboxing 🎶 🎤 We would stop often and discuss what each was singing 😝
Today we were also going to touch the high speed and crazy highway of Gujarat. This highway was tricky, there were trucks driving in all lanes and we had to zig zag between them. I eventually got a hang of it but I did not like riding at very high speeds. Eventually we entered Vadodra. Driving in the cities of Gujarat is a pain in the ass, we spent so much time reaching our friend that we could just meet him in a haste were forced to leave to meet our target. It was only a little before Ahmedabad that we stopped for lunch. My poor hopeful self still thought that it was just one city now and we are going to meet the targets.
But LO and BEHOLD, the city of Ahmedabad. It drove us nuts. The people there drive with a lot of “caution”, literally, they do not believe or think anyone in the world will ever drive behind their vehicle. While driving they look behind before taking a turn as if to check who is behind but its a mere formality, because it does not matter if you are right behind them. We stopped a little after exiting Ahmedabad to vent out our frustrations, we had wasted a lot of time in the city which means reaching Palanpur was now difficult 😭 We were now back on the highway and had lost the sun again. We were still aiming for Palanpur, but the single lane highway without street lights made it clear we were not reaching our pre decided spot today. We checked out a few highway hotels to spend the night but all of them were spooking me out as we were the only guests and I somehow thought when we would wake up the next day we will find our bikes without tyres (I have a very vivid imagination) 😝
We moved on, leaving the small highway and decided to get off it. Palanpur was now about 60 kms away, so we decided to stretch it for as long as we could. While on the road we saw a very lit up place with a lot of hustle and bustle and we stopped to check it out. The location was Unava and Hotel Sahil was busy with tourists as it was a midway hotel to one of the dargahs in Rajasthan. AMAZING! Next challenge was to get a room, we got two here after showing our marriage certificates, had an amazing dinner at their restaurant and a good night’s sleep followed.
452kms on the odometer
Day 3 - Subah ka naashta Jaisalmer mein karenge
We started off early from here as well. A schedule was being set up. Another few kms and we would be out of Gujarat and into the beauty of Rajasthan. The border crossing was very subtle. It was only when we realised that the sand has changed that it dawned on us that we were now in Rajasthan. Rajasthan has many memories for me particularly. My dad used to work for State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur which meant he was posted in different parts of Rajasthan a lot. My brother was born in Jaipur where I studied for a few years. I had done multiple road trips with my family in this state. All this nostalgia gripped me faster than I could handle my emotions and soon I was sniffing 😭
Gotta love Rajasthan
An eventful thing happened on this road though! A guy in a sedan waved us down and asked us to halt. Since Jyoti and I were on high speed, we crossed them and Karan stopped. Turned out they were organisors of Ragasthan a festival Karan has been tracking for 2 years now and for some reason the festival has not been happening. The crew was going there to finalise the location and they wanted “cool bikers” like us to attend the festival. Oh yea!!! ❄️ 😎
When Karan was being labelled as cool, I was making sure it was nullified
The roads in Rajashthan were buttery! I mean OMG! The route passed as a breeze and we stopped at Barmer for lunch. Jaisalmer was now 2.5 hours away and we had a lot of time at hand. But you can always trust my Murphy to make things adventurous. The lunch was painfully long because the place was very crowded.
The never ending lunch at Barmer
(Yes we haven't changed our clothes)
After lunch everyone was taking it easy as we were now very close to the destination but I had set a personal goal - I wanted to reach Jaisalmer before I turned on Ifrit’s light. So I started taking lead and sped as much as my dearest Ifrit could, forcing others to pick up speed as well. The run paid off and we were in Jaisalmer before we lost the light in the sky!! Yeyyy!!! Personal achievement number 2 unlocked, along with achievement 1, reaching Jaisalmer 😝
After a painful search for a place to stay, we found a hostel which was to be our office for the next few days. It had a nice view of the fort and a rooftop where we could sit and marvel the same.
458kms on the odometer
Office for the next few days 😎
Dream Ride - A Wednesday (Super Blood Blue Moon)
We had moved in to a hotel in the fort by now. WE WERE LIVING IN THE FORT, how cool is that!!!
Have you ever worked in a fort?🏰
January 31 brought a lunar trifecta: the Super Blue Blood Moon! I will be honest, we did not know about this when we had planned the trip and learnt the same via a friend’s post, Manu, who probably loves sky a little more than I do.
This full moon is the third in a series of “supermoons,” when the Moon is closer to Earth in its orbit – known as perigee – and about 14 percent brighter than usual. It’s the second full moon of the month, commonly known as a “blue moon.” And its a complete lunar eclipse, hence a “Blood moon”. In the rare occassion of this happening at the same time, it is Super Blood Blue Moon 😀
If this doesn't explain it, nothing else can 🙅
Given this detail and an already in progress plan to see the border at Longewala, we chose this evening for the ride. Since I was new to the entire riding thing, everything was new! Riding in front of giant windmills, overtaking trucks to experience a WIND BLAST, it was then that I realised how powerful Ifrit is 😀
Ride to Longewala on the perfect BRO roads
Ride to Longewala was another silky ride thanks to BRO and we made good time but, maybe we left a little too late (because we were working and it was not a time off for us, but mainly because of me). We reached but by then the border had been closed, the army folks told us to turn back! We were dejected. Then the army guys called us and said “15 mins, go in and be back in 15, leave your bikes here.” We finished the formalities and dashed in. It’s a weird feeling, the one which is inspired in all these war memorials. You may not have anything to do with the war directly but when you reach such places you feel a sense of pride. I was not only filled with pride but also immense gratitude to these folks who are posted here, in the middle of the desert, in one of the harshest weathers India offers. We finished our tour in 15 mins as promised, maybe like in 17 mins or so. The officers offered us water and started a chat about where are we from, how the next time we should plan better and come back with more time. We left as it was dark and which meant the phenomena was to start anytime.
Sandese aate hain!
Since it was beginning to get dark we were a little slower than usual. Eventually it was pitch dark. If we would turn off the headlights of the bike you will not see a thing. Why would we do that you may ask… cheap thrills 😝
We were riding casually looking for the moon when I suddenly signalled everyone to stop, I could see a faint outline of the moon as the eclipse had already started. Karan was amazed as how I could see it while riding my bike, as it was that faint 😎 We parked our bikes and waited for the sky to get dark to get a clear picture of the moon and slowly it did. After this started a series of positions to stablise the camera and get a clear picture. We got so many and I am so thankful to these guys for being so patient while I did my thing.
SUPER BLOOD BLUE MOON!
The eclipse was lifting forming a ring on the moon (me and my thing for rings) 😀 When we began our return journey everything was eerily magical, the bright full moon shining on the vast desert and in the middle of it, three bikes, all alone. We reached the fort. The last event of the day was yet to happen though, the incline to the fort was steep and while on our way up, I somehow ended up freeing the rear tyre of Ifrit, as a result I was now stuck on the incline not moving ahead. A group of young men stopped to help me, adviced me to pull the bike up on the first gear, I was already on first gear. Eventually not seeing me behind him, Karan walked down, he told me to let the bike go down the little so that it could find a footing and move but by this time my confidence was on an all time low. Eventually I got down and he took my bike up. When we landed, he ruffled my hair and said nothing had happened, had I let the bike go back a little I would have made it. ☺️ We rested well and rest of the week was spent in working.
Day 8 - Time to head back
You have got to look pretty always
I was the first one to head down the fort, I did it easily and was so proud, the beginning was on a positive note. The return journey was not as eventful as we started on time, the roads of Rajasthan were great and I had way more confidence than when we started. We did 494 kms on the first day of the return leg, which was more than AWESOME! We stayed at Chaatral, 39 kms off Ahmedabad. Karan and I went for a long ATM walk because we were not tired enough ☺️ One thing which I forgot to mention thus far is how much attention I got as a female rider. Especially during lunches, it was a very movie like situation, bikers in India generally get attention! So everytime we parked we had eyes on us and once I take off my helmet started the whispering, it was the same routine always 😝 We had dinner and closed another uneventful night!
Day 9 - Saputara, you have changed
Saputara has been a place we have been evading! There is a backstory to this….
Once upon a time on a long weekend of 15th August, we had come to the hill station of Saputara, at 7 in the morning we saw people boating and thronging the street side stalls. As if this wasn’t enough to turn us off, no one wanted to give rooms to couples but only to families of more than 4, like places had family rooms of 8 or more. As much as I hate to say this but Gujaratis and their preferences!! We lost it and took the next bus out of Saputara and in 24 hours we were back in Pune.
Coming back to present, a lot had changed in Saputara. A lot of new places had come up and maybe people seemed a little more open to giving us rooms. We did have to show our marriage certificate again but whatever. The hotel was giving me hibbie jibbies, as it was new and we seemed to be the only guests there. I ended up asking the receptionist and then he mentioned that there were more guests on that floor who I finally saw while using the lift and felt a little relieved. Maybe the bike tyres wont be stolen this time 😆
We went to the street side stalls to have a very non impressive set of items, Karan loved the Anda Gotala though but the Maggi sucked! After that we went for a stroll around the lake. It was VERY dark till the moon came out which still had the after effects of the Supermoon and seemed quite big.
Day 10 - Home
I was glad to find the tyres of our bikes intact the next morning 😆 We left early in a quest to reach Pune soon to unwind and get ready for work the next day. It started off well, the roads leading us out of Gujarat were beautiful and the landscape looked stunning in the rising sun! I was feeling sad that all this was ending and tomorrow we would be back at work. And then there was a thud to interrupt my thought followed by multiple more thuds, we had entered Maharashtra 😭
The ride from Gujarat border till we crossed Nashik was excruciating! When we stopped I was so angry that I wanted to throw my gloves on the ground and scream in anger. That was the point when I wished the trip was over and I was home, right then. Was I overreacting? Well! The roads were bad, the people had no traffic sense for a highway and some of them were plain assholes. This is not how I wanted my trip to end! Karan calmed me down and said we are taking a break at the place we had halted outside of. There was no point in an angry ride!
Up, close and personal with Ifrit
Nashik highway, almost home!
We had lunch and then moved on! Once we hit the highway from Nashik to Pune I calmed down a bit! We halted multiple times as Jyoti was quite sleepy! The entire trip was perfect, no accidents, no goofups, but what is a trip without incidents! Very close to home, maybe 70 kms off it, I see a truck in the opposite direction coming towards me! I move to the left assuming it will pass, it keeps moving in my direction! I couldn’t go any further left. This is all happening very fast and not at the pace you are reading! Karan is no where in sight. I keep moving on, my heart was beating really fast and very close to my bike the truck manuevered right and missed me by inches. I stopped and got down and Jyoti halted besides me. My hands were shivering and he came over to ask if I was okay while abusing the driver. That was so close, so so so very close. I started riding again and we entered the mad rush before Pune. Slowly, we entered Pune and parted ways with Jyoti. We finally reached home and parked our monsters to head back home and recollect my first bike tour!
Aannnnnnddd it's a wrap!!
- When you see a vehicle approaching you from the other side, no matter how fast, stop! If immediate stoppage is not possible, slow down. Give him time to change course.
- Every fuck up is yours and every clever manuever is yours on a highway, its your bike and your control, no one else can do anything to help you!
- Mind over matter yet again! Its all in your head truly.
- Spread happiness, when locals are looking at you surprised, wave at them and see their enthusiasm as they wave back.
- Everything is possible.
Post ride feels 😎