4 AM, the alarm went off. Fuck me, is it time already?
Care for a shower? No sir, not this guy. A bit of dry toothbrush shall do fine, thank you.
Preetam had told me to wake up him when I left, but I watched him sleep for like 15 minutes, and decided to let him snore away in peace. Locked the door from outside, flung the key in, and was on my way.
Meeting people is overrated
We had planned to meet up in front of Esteem Mall at 5.30. Candida had organised a group breakfast ride to Avalabetta, and there were bikers in the group who apparently wanted to ride with me.
This would be a good time to try explaining why I don’t meet a lot of people. There are a number of reasons for this behavior, and I’d try to tell them to you in as much detail as possible.
1. In my opinion, meeting someone is highly overrated. I find it weird when people try to meet celebs and click pictures with them, I find it weird when people do subscriber meetups, I find it weird when people get excited about meeting other people. Unless it’s a one on one session, meeting someone usually involves the exchange of a bunch of nonsense small talk, followed by awkward silence, and ending in one of the parties walking away from an enormously embarrassing situation. The bigger the group, the lesser the chances of any meaningful conversation.
2. For any creative person, there’s always a moral dilemma between being famous and not being famous. On one hand, it feels good to be recognized by people, to be appreciated, to be someone who’s known for something. On the other hand, it’s embarrassing to find yourself to be the center of attention, it’s unpleasant to feel like you need to live up to your image, it’s difficult to spend time and brains to genuinely speak to so many people.
3. Specifically for someone like me who writes the shit that he does, it’s even more uncomfortable to be told that someone likes my work, or that he/she read a certain article. Once a guy came to me and said that he was a fan of RiderZone, I told him it’s an extremely sad thing to be, and he should immediately stop doing it. Whenever someone tells me that they recently got introduced to my site, my first reaction is always an apology, your life would’ve gone on perfectly well without this new and unwelcome addition.
4. My articles are like the songs of a bathroom singer, I say whatever comes to my mind, doesn’t matter if it’s correct or not. A bathroom singer cannot sing well if he knows someone’s watching. This is also why I haven’t spent a single Rupee in marketing on RiderZone till date, the people who come here come by their own choice.
5. There’s a very thin line between following your heart and following your follower’s heart. It’s very easy to lose focus on what you want to do, and start slowly moving towards things that you think others will like. I would rather be unaware and keep doing stupid shit, than be aware and do things that I should be doing. Although I don’t care about what people think of me, I do feel sad if I have to be impolite to someone.
Put my phone on the crappy eBay handlebar mount, started Google Maps, and off we went. Even at 5 in the morning, there was traffic, filled by high-beamers who converted my visor into a psychedelic disco ball. On top of that, the roads are so fucking weird, that I had to focus real hard on the phone to stay on track. This level of dedication is needed to get to a national highway, imagine what you have to do to ride inside the city.
The theory behind group rides
Somehow made it, and a few of the riders were already there. I am terrible with names, so I just remember people with their helmets or bikes. There was a guy with an AGV helmet and Ninja 300, a guy on a Himalayan, a lady on an R3, a few Thunderbirds and Bullets, which all looked the same, a Pulsar 200NS, and 2 Dukes, one with a snazzy wrap, other with a Leo Vince exhaust. There were also a few others, I really didn’t know which ones were with us and which were not, there were quite a number of people riding to the same place as us.
Now would also be a good time to explain to you why I don’t ride with groups. I have ridden extensively with the LOST people, but that’s a whole other story, we know each other well, understand our instincts, this is more about riding with people you don’t know.
1. It’s just boring. When you could be doing 120, you are doing 60. It’s especially boring on a Duke 390, a bike whose 6th gear doesn’t work until you are past 80. Riding with a group slows your pace down dramatically, and for no good reason.
2. It’s unsafe. You end up spending too much time looking at your mirrors, flailing your arms and legs for signals, and pushing the indicator switch. Any brain power spent on anything else except the road is wastage, riding with a group drains you quickly, makes you feel tired.
3. You get caught up in shit that you could just ride away from. A slow truck overtaking a slower truck is a situation that doesn’t take more than a few seconds to deal with when you are on your own. When you’re a part of a giant snake of bikes, it can take millions of years. You end up getting stuck in other people’s problems, stuff that has nothing to do with you.
4. You run the risk of getting tagged from behind. Just because you’re riding nicely and in perfect formation doesn’t mean others will too. You might be going slow in the left lane, but the guy trying to overtake that truck that’s occupying the right lane will end up coming too close to you and at a very high-speed differential.
5. Most importantly, there’s simply no need for riding in a group. Riding together proves nothing and helps no one. All riders have different comfort zones, all bikes have different comfort zones, you can’t expect to have one speed that’ll be loved by everyone. The simplest solution is to tell all where the destination is, and let them go at whatever pace suits them best.
I was quite uncomfortable in the group, so pulled ahead a few times, but I didn’t know where we were going, so I couldn’t really take off like a dick. The riders were good people, they rode well, they kept enough distance between each other, used their brains, but none of those things help because this is India.
It was cold! My balls were freezing, and that always leads to a tsunami of pee, even though I tried real hard to cup them with my left hand and generate some heat. Took a few stops to relieve myself while others were filling up on fuel. The views were marvelous, there was a small hill on the left with a cloud licking its top. There were a lot of small lakes and ponds too, plus lush green fields and beautiful vantage points.
Took a left from the highway, and started on some real bad roads that roamed through sleepy villages. I was in the mood to enjoy some twisties that time, but there were none to be had. The final section was nice, with a few tricky hairpins and sexy curves, but it was all concrete, and my front tire was half dead.
I was surprised to find a lot of cars and bikes already parked in there. We found a few slots and parked ours too. Turns out there were a few views where you had to walk up a few stairs to get to. I wouldn’t have mind if we had just stayed where we were, but we walked, and went up, with all in riding gear.
The views were great, although I was far too tired to really appreciate them. Carrying a backpack with your helmet dangling on its side didn’t help either. Some of them went to check out a different view, a few of us stayed back, rested, and then slid back to where the bikes were parked.
It was getting late, I didn’t want to miss the Moto3 race, but that boat had sailed long back. Now it was all about MotoGP, and there was no fucking way I was missing that too. Once everyone was back, we gunned it back down. I went in first, just to enjoy the curves without needing to follow anyone, but the pleasure was short-lived, thanks to a bunch of retarded Bullet riders who were riding like it was a race track, taking inner apexes and shit, sliding into the wrong side on a blind hairpin.
Followed Anil on the Duke 200 back to the highway, filled up, said goodbye to everyone, and fucked off.
The highway madness had taken me again, I was going too quickly. Riding in a hurry is never a good idea, and soon I found another reason why.
There were a bunch of cars ahead of me, all going rather slow. There was an MP registered Ford Ecosport though, which was not. The guy was gunning it like a psychopath, overtaking everyone from everywhere. Of course it doesn’t matter how fast you drive your car, you can never be faster than a bike. I comfortably overtook him while he was fighting against some trucks, and found some clear road ahead.
I must’ve been doing some 130, I was in the right lane because there was a big truck in the left one a few hundred meters ahead of me. Behind the truck there was a guy on an Activa preparing to overtake the slow truck. Suddenly from my left side the Ecosport guy flies past, doing 160 or more, cuts across to the right in front of me, notices the Activa guy, brakes like crazy, almost tags the dude at front, and almost collects me from behind.
I honked, overtook him, and waved my arms.
“What the fuck dude! You almost killed 2 people. Forgot your brain back in Bangalore?”.
He had black film on his windows, which irritated me even further. After this near-death experience, the guy didn’t even care. He overtook me, and resumed overtaking everyone from everywhere.
Time for a lesson.
I was very angry, near the point where it turns into road-rage. I tagged behind him comfortably, it didn’t matter how much he pushed, I was always in his mirrors. I can’t claim it was a very intelligent thing to do, but I knew there would be a toll on the road sooner or later, and there’s no fucking way I’m letting this guy go without telling him off.
As expected, a toll booth came, the guy slowed down and went in line. Bikes are supposed to take the left most lane, but I went to his right, opened my visor, and tapped on his window, ready to blast him with every expletive I knew of all at once.
*window rolls down, followed by 5 seconds of silence*
I understand the road is great, and it’s easy to go fast, but please make sure you take care when there’s someone close to you. You almost took me and the Activa guy out back there.
The Activa guy made a wrong move, he shouldn’t have come in front of me.
Dude, how would have he known that you are flying towards him so fast? It’s his road too, he was following all the rules, you were the one who came in far too quick. I get that it’s fun to go quick, but please be careful when your actions can hurt other people.
But he came in front of me.
You aren’t listening to me. If the road ahead of you is clear, go crazy, top out your car, nobody cares. But when you have people in front of you and behind you, don’t behave like you own the road, give them space, give them time, and overtake them when it’s safe to. You are far faster than all of us, you’ll easily overtake everyone eventually, don’t rush it. You’ll hurt someone, then you’ll get stuck in all the shit that follows, it’s not worth it. You’re trying to make time by going too fast, you’ll end up spending hours at the same spot because you’ll make a silly mistake and take someone out. Use your head.
Cool, see you around.
In the 5 seconds of silence that happened between the window going down and me speaking, I realized that it doesn’t matter how angry I am.
A few weeks ago an asshole in a Verna overtook me from the left, then rammed his car onto my car’s side to make sure I end up in the divider, just because I lost him a few seconds when I didn’t immediately go into the left lane when he told me to by running over the people who were occupying that lane to begin with, and then sped away. I went to the Police station, I had his car’s number. I submitted a written complaint, and that’s where it ended. I had no proof he was wrong, and there’s nothing I could’ve done to bring that fucking anal belch to justice, even though he very nearly killed me and my wife, for absolutely no reason.
With the Ecosport guy, I tried to be reasonable, even though I just wanted to smash my knuckle protector into his nose. I think it worked, I never saw him on rest of the journey, which is impossible if he was still going the way he was going. Alternatively, he didn’t give a shit and went on some other highway somewhere and drove like an asshole that he was. I did what I could.
What followed the Ecosport cunt was an unusual string of exceptionally good drivers, and a cute dog who scared me by flying out of the bushes of the divider.
A tale of 3 cars
Before I’d even seen Anantpur, it started raining. It was the sad kinda rain, something that isn’t hard enough to make you stop, but isn’t soft enough to not affect your ride. My visor was getting smashed with drops, more so from the spray of trucks than the rain itself. I’ve learned from experience that there’s little you can do about a wet visor except turn your head to the sides and hope the drops fly away. The more you finger it, the dirtier it gets.
The conditions were getting a bit unpleasant, but I still had to ride. I have a love-hate relationship with following other people on the road, most of the time I don’t do it, but sometimes I do and it’s rather fun. Given the situation I was in, I didn’t mind following someone’s tail lights to feel a bit safer.
I would like to clarify here that following someone is a bad idea, most of the time. Even when it is a good idea, it’s more psychological than real. You feel safer following someone because you think that you’re just taking the path cleared by someone else, and you’ll have time to learn from their mistakes. However, when shit hits the fan, like it always does, things don’t always work out the way you’d imagined them to.
The first guy I found was driving one of those new Vitara Brezzas, a car with a weird name and weird looks. He wasn’t an ideal candidate to follow, although he did satisfy some of the conditions. He was slightly faster than my pace at that time, but he wasn’t a smooth driver. He braked at random times, and his pace wasn’t consistent. I couldn’t complain though, I was in a stupid hurry, and wanted to get home as quickly as possible.
All thoughts of taking breaks every hour were simply buried somewhere in the dungeons of my mind. It was quietly decided that I would ride until the fuel goes away, fill it up, and then ride again till the fuel goes away. I hadn’t eaten anything since morning, except half a bar of Snickers, so this was not an ideal thing to do, but I’m stupid.
This would also be a good time to remind you not to take everything I say too seriously. When I write stuff, I have to speak from an ideal standpoint. When I’m riding, I break a lot of the rules that I tell others to follow. The entire point of this website is to give you the opinion of one man, so that you can mix it with yours and a few others, and then make your own goddamn decision.
I followed the Brezza guy for around 100 kilometers, by which time he got stuck in a toll both, and I had no time to wait for him again. It was raining continuously since it had begun, and soon I found myself making dangerous overtakes with not much visibility.
One good thing about following someone is that they regulate your pace, don’t let you go too fast. It of course depends on the driver, but if you are lucky enough to find a good one, they tend to take care of you almost like you’re their fucking baby.
I slowed down, things were getting bit too red. My right eye was in an excruciating amount of pain, and I could barely keep it open.
If you’re one of those guys who whines about silly things during rides, fuck you. Both my corneas are fucked up, the number being -6.25 for the right and -6.35 for the left. On top of that, my right eye is severely scarred, to the point that a lot of the cornea is simply opaque. I wear RGP lenses, which are nothing like the super comfortable ones that are generally available in the market. Recently I spent 11,000 bucks on a new contact lens for my right eye, because the damn thing kept falling off while I was riding. The new lens doesn’t fall away, but even the slightest bit of dust causes it to start drilling for oil inside my eyehole. This means that I have to always wear goggles over my eyes, and then keep the visor closed on top of it, no matter what. Even then, most of the nights after a day of riding are spent with an ice pack around the right eye.
Be happy that you can ride, don’t cry over tiny things that don’t matter.
Soon a guy in a black Chevrolet Optra ovetook me, and you could tell just by looking at the car that he was a good driver. It was obviously an old car, but extremely well kept, with beautiful alloy wheels. It was a pleasure to follow this guy, I kept a big gap between us, around 5 seconds, just to ensure he doesn’t get irritated by my presence, and he took me faster and safer than I possibly could have gone. We stayed together for more than an hour, but then he also got tangled in a toll booth, and I had to move on. I wanted to stop, shake his hand and tell him he’s an excellent driver, but I decided not to.
Never meet your heroes.
While following the Optra, I did think of a Haiku that I would now like to present to you all.
My balls are sexy.
My bike is sexy.
My butt is sexy.
Kawasaki, go fuck yourself.
Soon after the Chevrolet experience, I found a beautiful Audi A3 Cabriolet that was being driven like a fucking boss. Same strategy with this guy too, keep distance, follow his tires, and don’t frustrate him. On a slight right hander I noticed him braking in the middle of the corner, and slowed down. There was a cow in the middle of the road, if I hadn’t been following him, might have said Hi to her.
He helped me do another 100 odd kilometers with fantastic speed, and I wanted to personally appreciate him as well, but he got stuck in Kurnool city traffic, and I got going.
Even though these 3 cars helped me really munch some miles, I really needed to munch on some food. Found a restaurant after Kurnool and pulled in. Ordered a double omelette and 2 chapattis, and gobbled it all up in seconds.
I enjoy rides like these, disciplined rides that satisfy my OCD, where everything is perfect, everything happens when it should. Of course that’s not always the most comfortable or safe way to do things, but as I said before, I am a moron.
Just as I was about to finish my food, saw 2 guys on KTMs fly past. One was on a Duke and the other on an RC, with both of them carrying Claws on their tail. Based on the fact that they were both KA registered bikes, going towards Hyderabad on a Sunday, with giant bags strapped on their behinds, I assumed they were heading further north. They were quite slow though, so I didn’t get to speak with them, I just overtook them twice and waved as I did. I wanted to meet them and tell them the route via ORR service road, if they were planning to cross Hyderabad through the city, but I decided not to, because I’m a cunt.
As I got closer to the destination, I noticed a giant black cloud to my left, with a scary rain column under it, like one of those tornadoes that you see on Discovery channel.
Could I outrun it? It has never worked out in the past, but I thought what else can you possibly do? Tried to speed up a bit, but sure as hell, it started pouring.
About 150 kms away from Hyderabad, the rain got real hard. I was already wet to the pubes, but I was carrying a bunch of electronics in my backpack, and I didn’t want them to get fucked. Pulled into a small restaurant and waited for the worst to pass.
The last hundred kilometers were just a blur. The traffic steadily increased as I came closer and closer to the city. Found my way back to the ORR and as I was about to get to home, it started raining again. When I got inside the house and stripped down to nothing, the skies opened up and it poured like crazy.
I would have preferred to do this ride over 3 days, or even more. It was an idiotic decision to stay in Bangalore for just one night, but I think the reasons for that are simple. I kinda like my wife, and she has made our house too damn comfortable.
This ends the Ride against Kawasaki, another pointless little exercise in a vain attempt to kill myself.