Should SaddleSore be banned in India?

By | February 10, 2015

IF the first question that comes to your mind after reading the title is “What’s Saddlesore?”, you are probably on the wrong website. Even the most useless bikers know that term, and also its slutty sister the Bun Burner. As hard as it may be to believe, there’s really an organization with a name that provides a very interesting mental image, the organization that manages Saddlesores and Bun Burners.

Iron Butt Association

I can’t help but giggle whenever I hear that name, makes me think of metal dildos and rusted assholes. But don’t go by the name, IBA is a pretty well-respected establishment based in the US that certifies Saddlesores and Bun Burners and a whole variety of public endurance races

Public Endurance Races, I like that term. Pretty sure IBA does not, because they always attempt to portray their events as anything BUT a race. In my opinion, using euphemistic language doesn’t really change the facts, IBA events are a race against time, even if they may not be race against each other.

For example, in a Saddlesore, you are expected to ride a 1000 miles (1609.34 kms) within 24 hours. That’s a lot of distance, almost like going from Pune to Bangalore, touching the city, and then coming back to Pune, non stop. Yes you aren’t really racing against the other people on the road, but you are fighting the clock, and that’s kinda the same thing.

Bun Burner ups the game even more, you gotta do 1500 miles (2414.016 kms) in 36 hours. These two are the most famous events from IBA’s repertoire, and today we shall discuss if we should completely ban them from our roads. This is a sensitive topic, and I’ve seen a lot of people get riled up about it on social media, which is awesome! I love it when people get pissed off.

Why should SaddleSore be banned?

When I say Saddlesore, I mean all of these public endurance races. Any event where you are expected to push your limits while away from the protected environment of a track are included in here.

1. It’s dangerous: Allow me to explain. I don’t really care if you do 358690 circles of your own private lawn, complete the saddlesore, and then die of stupidity. What I do care about is you overspeeding on the highway, taking chances to save some time, and then bumping into a fellow road user who has nothing to do with your record attempt.

No matter what anybody may tell you, no one should ride more than a 1000 kms a day, no matter what the circumstances may be. There’s NO WAY anybody can maintain their physical and mental health over such a long distance over such a long time under our road conditions. It doesn’t matter how much Red Bull/Monster/Gatorade you abuse, you are attempting to cross the limits of human endurance, which by default makes it a very risky endeavor.

2. It’s pointless: There was a time when I wanted to the saddlesore. Fortunately after a while I came back to my senses and decided to write this article. There’s only one reason anybody ever does these endurance runs:

Bragging rights.

That’s it, there’s nothing more. There’s no skill involved, no genius required, nothing. If you’ve seen the movie Rush you might remember this line Lauda says to his future wife: “There’s no need to drive fast. We’re not in a hurry, we’re not being paid. There is no reward for the risk. So why would I drive fast?”

Completing a saddlesore doesn’t prove anything except 2 things:

  1. You can sit on a motorcycle for a very long time
  2. You are stupid enough to take unnecessary risk for no apparent reward

3. It’s against the spirit of riding: I don’t know about you, but I ride motorcycles because they are so much fun. You can stop whenever you want to, talk to random people, never get stuck in a traffic jam, bypass tolls, do pretty much anything that your heart desires. If you are going to bind yourself with routes and rules and deadlines, you might as well just take the fucking bus.

Endurance runs are as opposite as you can get to the real purpose of riding, which is to be free. Randomness, unpredictability, chaotic fun is what defines the whole biking experience. I have repeatedly said riding is an art, and art cannot be hurried, it cannot be restricted, it should never be self-contradictory.

Why should SaddleSore NOT be banned?

Like I said, there was a time when I wanted to do it. I know people who’ve done it, and I know people have died trying to do it. It’s kinda like the debate against guns, do bikes kill people or do people on bikes kill other people and themselves?

1. You can’t: There’s no practical way anybody can effectively ban such events. How can you ever tell if a guy is on an SS run or just riding along somewhere? It’s not like they run with a flag of a tight, steel, curvy ass on their bikes, they look like every other biker out there.

You could discourage people on social media, write articles denouncing them, or run naked through the streets registering your protest, none of it matters if some dude wants to do it. I may make as much noise as I like about the anal condition of our automotive websites, it doesn’t mean they are going to start doing something about it. Same thing.

2. It’s a freedom of choice: Everybody has their fetish. Some people like gold, some like smelly feet, some like deepthroat blowjobs, some are into 2 girls 1 cup. Everybody has every right to do whatever they feel like doing, as long as it doesn’t fuck with other people’s free will.

In some ways, you can say that Saddlesores are kinda in a grey area.

Ideally speaking, they do infringe on other road user’s rights on the asphalt, but if you think practically, infringing on each other’s rights is kinda like India’s national sport.

A bunch of people speeding along the highway doesn’t really make any difference on our roads, where everybody is always speeding for no particular reason anyway. At least the saddlesore guys get a little certificate to show for their effort!

3. It’s an achievement, no matter how moronic: Like all art forms, there are very few ways you can show your level of expertise on a motorcycle. Some people stunt, others get their knee down, and some people travel great distances. As a natural byproduct of touring, it’s an obvious thought to travel more kilometers per day than you ever have before.

When somebody tells me they have completed the Saddlesore, I do feel a certain level of respect for them. There are a lot of people who love bikes, it’s just that their way of expressing their affection might not always conform to your standards. Even though you got your badge by risking other unconcerned individuals, at the end of the day it’s the badge that counts.

********************

The first thing that you have to understand is that it’s all about opinions. Everything is relative. My opinion is that such events should be banned because they serve no understandable purpose and push people’s expectations to unreasonable levels. A lot of others may feel different, and that’s completely OK. Discussing something isn’t bad, being a buttplug and believing you are the only true voice of God is.

  • Deadpool

    haha. you can’t write this after writing this http://riderzone.in/1-thousand-kilometers-1-bike-1-day/

    • Akhil Kalsh

      I can 🙂

      • Deadpool

        Lol of course you can. Not talking about the opinion but I guess mumbai-bangalore-mumbai was something on the same lines you’ve criticized and also pretty kickass thing to do too!

        • Akhil Kalsh

          In a way, yes, but the differences are many. SS is 1600 kms, this was 1000. I didn’t have to worry about time lost eating, pissing, or fueling up, didn’t have to worry about taking photographs and getting receipts, had no average speed to maintain 🙂

  • Haroune Ambati

    Your concern is appreciated and your patience to write such an exquisite article must be applauded, it’s a general attitude to pursue that there are limits for everything and most riders who attempt saddlesore and bun burner are simple humans who test their boundaries constantly, we have become this magnificent human race because we as a creature of each have always believed on achieving more than what we believe we could and similar notion applies to the world of touring too, Undiverted concentration to finish the challenge doesn’t only boost his Confidence in life but will inspire other enthusiasts to have faith in human potentiality in every field.

    Takeaway: We are an incredible beings on this planet earth and if we keep bounding ourselves then there is no way for growth, the understandable purpose is to ” achieve the impossible, inspire all of human race to transcend our physical boundaries”

  • Sudipto Roy

    I agree that it is pointless and a pursuit of the ones bitten by some kind of inferiority complex where they need to prove something to the world. I am sure long distance truckers would have a great laugh if they heard about such a silly thing. But why ban it? Let some jokers feel good about being jokers.

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Yeah, can’t ban it, even if we want to 🙂

  • Infringing on each other’s rights is kinda like India’s national sport.
    I thought that was “You have hurt my sentiments, lets ban you.”

  • Ricci

    Whoa there, you almost spoke my mind , but with a little more mirch-masala.

    I do admire the endurance/stamina of those god-forsaken bums who decide they want to spend 24 hours riding their bike – at a stretch, it takes perseverance, determination, buns of steel ( or cottonwool ? ) and er, a crate of Red Bull, to ride 24 hours at a go.

    Now I love riding, more than I love sex, but I assuredly can’t – or don’t think I want to – do either for more than 4-8 hours a day , with a good lot of breaks in between to catch my breath and/or sooth my nether regions.

    Why would anyone want to do 1600km in 24 hours, for piece of paper (glorified by calling it a certificate ) ? I don’t ride to prove a point, about how kick-ass I am, how pain-tolerant by butt is and how stiff my joints are. I enjoy riding, for the joy of riding. Whether someone wants to live that joy for 20 minutes a day or 24 hours a day, I don’t criticize anyone for it, I just don’t see the point of riding an arbitrary distance just to prove a point , that you can sit your arse on a motorcycle saddle for 24 hrs and do 1600km in that time. Not worth the risk, not worth the cost and not even much to brag.

    If I really had to do 1600km in a day, I’d take my car, or beg/borrow/steal a BMW K1600 or Honda GL1800. I love my luxuries, and a sofa on wheels for long journeys is just what fits the bill.

    For the rest of you saddle-sores, enjoy the odor of zandu-balm/relispray , while I settle down for a mojito and chakna instead of reaching for a spray.

    • Agreed my friend! Life isn’t worth bragging rights 🙂

    • rider

      Ricci,

      I agree with you. To each his (or her) own. Some like a hard ride, some a sofa. It’s all about choice. But to call for a ban on such rides?

      I am a SS1000er (US) – No RedBull! Just well timed and planned stops and water. And no, I would like to think – I don’t brag – mentioning it here in response to your ‘crate of RedBull’ comment. And no, I have no argument on the fact that a similar run in India would be much harder.

      Cheers and Ride Safe (on Two wheels or otherwise!)

  • endurance rider

    Not every person can do it. You need to plan it right. And even if you divide on an avg you have to maintain a speed of 66km/hr. Even if you maintain 80km/hr you can finish the entire run in 24 hrs. And 80km/hr is the highway speed limit. I don’t think it’s unsafe if you do it in sane mind. If you don’t plan it right and just head out for SS like any other sunday ride then you are stupid it’s an endurance test. A person needs some kind of preparation. My suggestion prepare plan and then head.

    • Hey man, in my experience no amounts of preparation can help you against the unpredictable Indian road conditions. 80kmph doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s huge in real world conditions. You also have to factor in fuel stops, photos of receipts and other shit that you have to do to prove your claim.

      But the point of this article isn’t that, the point is WHY? Why prepare so much? Why do it? What’s the use?

      • Stephen!

        Do you feel the same way about marathon runners? To truly succeed safely in either activity takes conditioning and preparation. How many of you nay sayers would set out on a 26 mile run tomorrow morning?

        • Akhil Kalsh

          I don’t feel the same way about marathon runners, because marathons are run on closed roads. There is no chance of a marathon runner dozing off in the middle of a run and bumping off into someone who had nothing to do with the race.

          • Stephen!

            Are you being intentionally obtuse or do you truly not understand the concept of training and conditioning?

          • Akhil Kalsh

            I’m not sure. I generally don’t try to be obtuse, but I have never done a saddlesore, nor a marathon, so it’s possible that I don’t really understand the concept of training and conditioning. Maybe the confusion is because I don’t see this as something important that you spend time to prepare for, not to mention the fact that no matter how much you prepare, you can’t control everything in such a situation.

          • Stephen!

            Okay… I can accept that and understand more your perspective. Important? Not any more important than any other individual human challenge. Imagine how boring the world would be if challenges were accepted based solely on their perceived relative importance. It seems that most detractors of endurance riding, you amongst them, base their argument on the safety of riding that far because of the increased exposure to hazards. How does riding 1000 miles in one day expose someone to more danger than riding 100 miles on 10 different days? The answer is: For the properly prepared and conditioned, it doesn’t. Here is where the similarities to running a marathon come in to play. I know for a fact if I tried to run 26 miles tomorrow it would likely kill me. I am in no condition to do so. However, with the same degree of certainty I can assure you I could get on my motorcycle in the morning and in less than 24 hours later be back home with much more than 1,000 miles added to the odometer and have done so without breaking a single speed limit, with the same level of safety as if I broke up the trip into several smaller segments, and without even so much as a yawn. How? For the last 40some years I have been in ‘training’ for endurance riding. For 20 of those years I was in the US Navy working very odd schedules and getting very little sleep. Even still today I rarely get more than 4 hours of sleep on a daily basis.

            If you are still with me it may surprise you that I likely agree with your initial point, that being an SS1k is not likely something that can be safely accomplished near where you live. All of India, however, is a bit of a stretch. I have lived places where an SS1k would be legally impossible (Guam, where the maximum speed limit was 45 mph and only for a rather short distance) and other places where it was quite difficult (I completed the first ever documented SS1k in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. It took four attempts due to traffic.) So I can understand and agree that not every traffic environment is amicable to endurance riding. Does that incompatibility justify outlawing the activity nationwide for everyone? I guess that all depends on your level of acceptance of others controlling your life’s activities.

            As for being able to “control everything” in any situation, anyone who thinks they can certainly doesn’t understand the situation.

          • Akhil Kalsh

            Happy to see you understand my point of view too. SS might not be a big deal in the US, where people people follow rules and roads are meant for traffic, not for dogs and pigs and cows and the walking dead. I know 2 people who attempted SS and died, which makes you think.

            I’m all for someone risking their life to try and achieve some sort of mental satisfaction, which is what I believe endurance races are for, to prove to yourself that you can do this. But what I find trouble with is someone else getting even slightly inconvenienced in your pursuit of something so selfishly personal.

            In any case, you can’t ban it. Not just because it might be infringing on other people’s rights, but also because it’s physically impossible to do so. However, as far as controlling someone’s life goes, I think this would be a grey area. You are not isolated from others in a race like this, unlike say a MotoGP.

  • How much ever u plan, maintaining 80 kmph and completing the Saddlesore isn’t possible in Indian conditions. Most SS rider extracts clearly speak of the extent they had to push their limits to complete it in the allotted time frame, exceeding 100 kmph is inevitable. The risk factor on Indian roads outweighs the sense of success/pride associated with SS. Most of us Indians do not own machines with even basic safety features like an ABS, leave alone Traction Control or other added safety features. In such a scenario, the risk factor is compounded.

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Agreed!

  • Craig Turn

    Ill informed opinion doesn’t make something any more a fact than does euphemistic language. You should have prepared yourself and your bike properly Akhil and had a crack at it. If it got too hard for you or it felt dangerous you could have pulled out at any time. No Iron Butt rider would have criticised you for that and your opinions might have some merit. For you to boldly state that this type of riding is “against the spirit of riding” because it’s not what you think the spirit of riding is leads me to believe you fulfil your own definition of a buttplug. Here’s a thought…I wonder if any iron butt riders could use you to delay the need to take a crap during a ride? It might be more useful than your blog post.

    • Haha! Nice one Craig, completely illogical, but funny for sure.

      • rider

        Did I miss something? What part of the previous comment was illogical?

        • For a variety of reasons, one of which would be that he expects me to prepare, try, and then pull out of an SS attempt to justify what I’m saying!

    • Dhawal Makwana

      Craig, my dear friend.. I am not against them, but I am not with them either. That being said, I do know a lot of people who have attempted it, I know a lot of people who completed it and I know a lot of people who gave up.

      As far as I know about the conditions in my country, which is India: Dogs, cows, bullocks and humans are all known to cross 4 lane highways while they are jaywalking think about their favorite milking cow. I can totally imagine myself doing the SS ride on Route 66 in The USA. Heck I can probably do it on a litre bike in maybe 20hrs.! Who knows!

      All I know is that it would be too much of a risk for a certificate and a badge and respect here in India.

      In a country where motorcycling is not a hobby, but means of commute for 90% of the population, lack of infrastructure, amenities of even getting a printed petrol receipt(!!) and unknown hap-hazards, I don’t know about anyone else but I am not convinced to do the ride given so much variables.

      Just my two cents.

      • rider

        Dhawal,

        Akhil’s post and your comments are not wrong in highlighting the Indian traffic conditions. I am from India myself and have completed an IronButt Cert ride. (And personally, I’d like to get an SS1000 in India cert!)

        The SS is not just a ride of 1000 miles in 24 hours. More importantly it is how you plan, given the conditions you’d be riding in. Without doubt an SS ride is more difficult in India than in the US. However, Indian riders have completed this successfully on a variety of bikes, proving that if you plan well, it is possible and achievable, IF you so choose to do. It is a very personal choice. Choice being the operative word here. There is no compulsion.

        Using your words ‘I don’t know about anyone else but I am not convinced to do the ride given so much variables,’; Based on the factors personal to you, coupled with your perception of the riding conditions, you chose not to attempt a SS ride. Fair enough. Clearly the author, Akhil, is in the same boat. So be it.

        However, based on your personal choice and decision, calling for a complete ban on any such endurance attempts is not warranted. Let the other riders make their own choice and decisions. Let them reap their rewards – whichever form they may be or face the consequences.

        Akhil went on to say that SS rides are a danger to other people. Taking that analogy, the loaded trucks on Indian highways especially at night, are a known and accepted ‘danger’. So much so that given a choice, smaller vehicle users will not travel the Indian roads at night. Should we then call for a ban on all trucks?

        My do paisa.

        Cheers and Ride Safe!

        • Point taken 🙂 Not that I already didn’t mention that in the article.

        • Dhawal Makwana

          Rider,

          There is no denying to your opinion. If somebody wants to do a SS Ride, it is completely their choice,

          As for preparations, We prepare ourselves everyday to commute to work. Physically and mentally. We prepare ourselves physically and mentally before every ride we do.

          I have been riding for 14 years now in Mumbai and out of Mumbai,
          I have been taken out by cars on straight roads, turns, highways, and recently on a flyover. I have been hit by cars and rickshaws on numerous occasions. The State Transport buses drive on our roads like they are being tailed by Lewis Hamilton on the last lap of the Monaco GP.

          Let me tell you by personal experience that you are mentally less fatigued on foreign roads when you are riding. I have been less intimidated by an old lady driving an Audi at 200+ kmph while I was doing 200 on the Autobahn as compared to my death defying experience on my commute of 16 kms everyday. So now someone may have a question ‘Why ride then?’ For the love of motorcycling, that’s why!

          I am sure you have come across people who have attempted (completed& failed) how grueling it is to ride once you are tired, Let alone keeping your head in place, keeping your eyes open is a miracle!
          Now plug in the dangers and variables in my previous and above comments and I am sure the SS RIDE IN INDIA IS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER.

          Preparation is good. But it is never possible to prepare yourself 100% for everything you will face on our roads. ATGATT and any of these synonyms are just a preventive measure to reduce the danger, It does not eliminate it completely.

          According to analogies here, if the trucks should be banned as they are symbolic to danger and small vehicles prefer not to be on the highways at night, motorcycles should be banned as they are dangerous enough to kill someone.

          Once again, I respect your opinion and take it in all seriousness that if somebody wants to do something, they should do it. Just as the author Akhil says: “Go out there and do something stupid. Why?? Shits and giggles mate, shits and giggles”

          P.S I am not a friend of the author, neither am I from his PR agency, I just read his blog.

    • Sunit Chakravarty

      Bingo!
      Spirit