Sunday, November 15, 2009
The Ranthambore Rapiers
Jai BOP…these 2 words mean a lot to me and I respect them wholeheartedly…BOP – Bulls on Parade for the uninitiated…its our Royal Enfield Motorcycling Club and we have completed 2 years of Riding Brotherhood…24 Months, 33 Members, 20 Rides, 12,660 kms. & unlimited memories…
As you know by now, BOP always indulges in grand style which often is on-the-road and this anniversary was no different, we planned a ride to the Ranthambore – A Tiger Sanctuary in Rajasthan some 400 kms. from Gurgaon and to keep the ride exclusive it was open to only the 33 BOP Members…finally 15 riders signed up but Rajiv Sir & Bantu had to drop out due to some Medical Emergencies…so we were finally a bunch of 13 Riders…hungry for some NH-8 Riding through the mystic land of Rajasthan with a hope of spotting a Tiger in the wild and have loads of raunchy fun on the way...
The Ranthambore Rapiers were:
1. Dips on his Black Electra
2. Sunny on his Red/Maroon/??? Standard also called The Highway Skorcher
3. Ashutosh on his Silver Electra
4. Jaggi on his Silver & Black 5S Electra
5. Zaheer on his Lightning 535
6. Ashok on his Red Electra
7. Chadha Paaji on his Black Standard
8. Rohit on his Maroon Electra
9. Pravin on his Marco Polo
10. Bhatia on his Black Thunderbird Twin Spark
11. Ajit on his Blue Thunderbird
12. Rishi on his Black Standard
13. Che on The Mighty One
The Meticulous Plan
I floated a mail for this ride way back in August so that all of us could plan our leave well in advance as I wanted the maximum of us to join this ride and make this the biggest BOP Ride ever. Hotel Options were carefully evaluated and eventually with Make My Trip’s help we booked Hotel Tiger Safari Resort in Ranthambore (Special Thanks to Sayani Gupta from MMT who helped us with the bookings). We chose the route plan courtesy www.ghumakkar.com.
The Grand Start
13 of us started the Anniversary Ride from the Leisure Valley Park at 5:30 AM…This is the place where BOP(then known as Gurgaon Cruisers) met for the first time way back in November 2007…it was heartening to see all of reach on time and after a photo session and some loud chit-chat we started the much-expected Ride.
The Breakfast Pit-Stop
We stopped our riding for some 90 odd kms at a place which was aptly chosen, ample parking space for the 13 bikes and a perfect setting for a formation photo opportunity!!! Paranthas & Curd were ordered in haste. The mood was upbeat and the weather amazingly beautiful, we had left the early morning November chill behind us and the Sun was trying its best to come out of its night-long sleep…but the biggest surprise was yet to come out…Chadha Paaji had been given the responsibility of managing the Ride-Finances and a non-descript paper came out of his pocket…but when it was visible to all the peals of laughter were heard in as far as Jaipur & Delhi & I actually fell down on the ground after seeing the paper…he had prepared an excel sheet for a perfect calculation based on a count of 14,15 & 16 riders but sadly we were 13 so his plan was hit badly but the brave analyst he is, he was never bogged down and was ready for more. Chadha Paaji is an old-school type, very cautious on the road & extremely meticulous in his approach, it’s no joke that he is the most respected amongst the 33 BOPians, we swear by his name and discuss his Bahaaduri Kartabs in all our rides…after the heavy breakfast and Chadha Paaji’s analytical bravery we started the next leg of our ride…
The Sad Mishap
Just 20 minutes in this leg, our BOP Comrade Rishi Singh Maurya met with an accident, he was riding at some 60-70 kmph and the truck-trailer infront of him braked suddenly and he banged into it’s rear head-on…it was a real bad accident, we were stopped by people who had just crossed the accident site and Dips & Jaggi reached there first, his condition was real bad, he was unconscious, in terrible pain, bleeding mouth and a badly-swollen head…a good-Samaritan rickshaw-driver emptied his passengers and took Rishi to the hospital with Dips accompanying him and Jaggi staying back at the site taking care of Rishi & Dips’ Bikes, we followed them to the hospital which was a very small Village Hospital in Shahpura, Rajasthan and the facilities there were not-too-great, he was given basic first-aid and was rushed to Jaipur’s SMS Hospital for further treatment. All this while Dips was with him. All of us were left stunned and really sad as this was the first such major accident in all our 20 rides till now.
We all gathered at a Highway Dhaba and decided our next move, and it was decided that me, Ashok, Ashutosh & Ajit would reach the hospital and the rest of us would follow later after taking care of the 2 bikes left behind and ensuring that they stay safe.
I reached the hospital which was some 75 kms away and went straight to the X-Ray Room and his reports were handed over to us…2 fractures, one in the jaw-bone and one in the collar bone and no other major injuries to any other body parts. To confirm the extent of his head injury he was taken for the CT scan where I met Dips and saw Rishi, in pain and completely out of his senses. We shifted him to the poly-trauma ward where further treatment was to take place. All this while in the commotion, Dips had informed his parents in Jodhpur but was unable to pick up any calls, so I talked to his parents, brothers & friends to comfort them and inform them about the extent of his injuries. His Father & Brother had started for Jaipur from Jodhpur by bus and were expected to reach only by midnight. He had 2 clots in his brain but nothing serious and no possibility of an operation and that was a major relief, as we knew the fractures would heal with time but a major head injury can be troublesome for the entire life.
One point which I must mention here, whatever the cynics might say about the sad condition of the Government Health Care system in India but the SMS Hospital disproves all such myths, Rishi was given all the treatment he needed in time, the hospital staff was very courteous & prompt and the facility very clean. I would be always grateful to the SMS Hospital for saving our friend’s life.
At 3 PM Rishi’s Jaipur-based friends came and we went down to meet the rest of the BOPians to figure out our plans, but one thing was very sure in our mind that the Ride had to go on. We had done all we could do and we were sure that if later Rishi got to know that the ride got cancelled he would have felt really bad, so when we met we had just one decision to make’ stay in Jaipur overnight or start for Ranthambore which was some 160 kms. away. Everybody was in consensus to ride to Ranthambore except for Bhatia & Chadha who didn’t want to ride in the night so there was a long convincing session which started and here a special mention goes to Sunny who was the silent assassin here, without speaking much he was able change their minds and we were finally off towards Ranthambore at 4 PM, some 10 hours into our ride already and still 160 kms. left.
42 kms of Madness
The first 60 kms were absolutely perfect, we crossed Jaipur through the IOC Fire Mishap site and saw thick-black smoke billowing out into the horizon and it was a crazy sight as all of us had read about in the news but seeing was an all-together different experience. I reached the Lalsot Crossing first and it was a 42 kms. long road, I had 8 bananas for my late lunch as I had skipped it as I was busy at the hospital and lunch was the last thing on my mind then…soon all of us gathered and started one of the toughest 42 kms of our ride, we were taking this route as one of Bhatia’s connections had given the information to us that the Jaipur-Dausa road was in a bad state and this was a totally incorrect piece of info…
Soon it got extremely dark and the road’s condition transformed from bad to extremely worse, and believe me we have been to the Ladakhs & the Lahauls of the world but this was even worse, the actual road was just 6 feet wide and we had 2-3 feet deep dry mud for company so each time a vehicle was coming in our way we had to move to the mud and keep our bikes balanced somehow, I was leading the pack and was riding at a brisk pace without stopping and all the time my eyes were transfixed on the road and my odo-meter as I was waiting for the 42 kms to pass…and the tractors approaching us made our task even more trickier as they had no headlights and I could notice them only when they were just 10 feet away from me…but as brave fighters we defeated the road-demons and reached the end of the tumultuous 42 kms as hardened riders who can manage any challenge thrown at us…and when I reached the Lalsot-Madhopur crossing I was surrounded by shocked villagers each wanting a piece of me & The Mighty One, they were shell-shocked to see a Motorcyclist riding all the way from Delhi through such torturous roads and I baked in the glory…had my bravery tales to share with them and also clicked pics to the sheer delight of the camera-shy villagers…though some of them were not that shy!!!
The Deserved Break
This successful challenge surely deserved a BBB Break and we didn’t disappoint us, after some crazy phone-calls and losing our way we finally reached a theka where some of us enjoyed chilled beer with Egg-Bhurji and discussed our individual tales of valor & craziness…
The next 60 kms were sheer riding pleasure as we were crossing the Mega Highway Road which connects Ambala to Nagpur/Jabalpur and believe me it was better than NH-8 & NH-1, the roads were clearly marked and had reflective blinkers guiding us all the way through the pitch-dark night. I switched off my headlight a number of times to enjoy the darkness and the sound of my Bike…just me & my bike for company…what a time it was…
The Shattered Dream
With some 25 kms left for Ranthambore, all of us gathered and decided to ride in a formation till the end of the ride after Ajit literally begged us to do so but as you know by now BOP proposes and Dips disposes…all such dreams were shattered to pieces when suddenly I saw Dips overtaking me from the right at 90 kmph and all hell broke lose…I decided to shun the sanity of formation riding and followed Dips and soon overtook him…I was followed by Zaheer, Ashok & Sunny who did the same…it was a crazy riding adventure and I don’t blame Dips even one bit…the magic of the smooth tarmac took us over and it was sweetened by the fact that the last 40 odd kms were nothing but misery!!!
The Dream is achieved
See you might call us a crazy bunch of riders but when it comes to companionship we can give everybody a tough fight…finally to prove everybody wrong me, Dips & Sunny rode the last 3 kms in perfect formation and reached our resort…don’t underestimate us by looking at the distance but just think of the sheer coordination prowess we pulled out from our reserves to achieve this feat…after all it had been 16 hours since we had hit the road and had literally no reserves left in our body to call upon!!!
We finally reached our destination at 10 PM and were mentally & physically exhausted till the brim and each one of us had only two things in our mind…a good meal & a long sleep…all of us got freshened up and reached the restaurant where food had been served for 12 famished riders, it was an attack of sorts with nobody talking to each other and just attacking the food with focused-determination, even Beer & Rum was out of our mind for that brief period…everything served was over in 20 minutes and burping sounds were heard even by the sleeping tigers…we were duly warned by the Hotel Staff as the legend says whenever a Tiger hears a Human Burp it comes to the city for the same kind of meal…and its not a joke…refer to google for more information on this!!!
The Night Bakchodi Session
After the tumultuous day we wanted some Alcohol Therapy badly but only few of us were mad enough to stay awake that late; Me, Jaggi, Sunny, Dips & Pravin were the only mad ones for this late session…and we discussed what-not; maids, rides, mishaps and our patented BOP Bakchodi…finally at 1:30 AM in the night we called it a day…a really long day filled with tragedy, pathetic roads, stories of valor & riding brotherhood…
Special Mention to Chadha & Bhatia for changing their decision and agreeing to ride in the night as only due to them we could reach Ranthambore on the first day…I am sure it was a great riding experience for them as well and would make them even better riders…
Pool is Fun
The new day started for me with a phone call from Ajit at 8 AM and I was up & away…had my FREE breakfast of Coffee & Paranthas…nothing great but okay enough to satisfy my empty tummy…soon the rest of the BOPians also came out gingerly and the plan for the rest of the day was charted out…amidst all this planning the Swimming Pool was beckoning us and we didn’t dare to disappoint…I was the first one to test the chilled waters and had a ball…see when I get into the water I get into a different zone all-together and this inspite of the fact that I don’t know how to swim!!! I start singing the weirdest of the songs, keep jumping & howling and yes never ever miss to enjoy chilled beer while enjoying the water…and this time was no different…had Kingfisher, Sunny, Dips & Zaheer for company and they faced the agony of my music as well!!!
Another Day…another Fort…
The BOP connection with forts is a very old one…as far as November 2007 when BOP went for it’s first meet to The Neemrana Fort and we have followed it up with visits to numerous forts; Bhangarh, Tughlaqabad, Rakhigarhi & Kurukshetra and I am sure there are many more to come in our expected illustrious future…this time we visited the Ranthambore Fort and had an enjoyable time…I really enjoy exploring India’s rich heritage which lies in the forts, I get really humble when observing the kind of technical prowess which existed in our country but we have really lost our way since then as if we would have utilized our acumen India would have been much more developed…
The Action of the day was reserved for the last part…the moment the 12 bulls started to roar the innumerable Langurs started to act like confused zombies, itw as a hectic sight with every Langur scouting for cover in the trees, the funniest & scariest sight was when 2 Langurs fell on the road infront of our bikes and we had to brake instantly to avoid any further damage to the simians…
We clicked the customary BOP Group Pic at the Entry Point of the Ranthambore National Park and it was the biggest group pic of BOP till date, really made me feel proud, we have come a long way together in the last 2 years…so many new members who have joined us and we have seen the highs & lows together for close to 13,000 kms on the road…
The Hurried Lunch
We had a really quick lunch at a recently opened Restaurant aptly named “Jungle Bytes”, the lawn of the restaurant was perfectly manicured, great service to boot and delicious food which sweetened our experience. And we planned to return in the night for a relaxed dinner…
Spot the Tiger
We reached our Resort in time to start our Jungle Safari on a Canter at 2 PM, with anxious anticipation in our minds as all of us badly wanted to spot a tiger in the wild, the safari started with the normal routine; loads of deer species’ spotting and the crescendo was reached when we saw a huge crocodile enjoying a swim in the sunny day and a baby crocodile sun-bathing on the lake-side, it surely looked a rubber specimen but when our canter started with a loud thud it went into the water quite rapidly and it was proved that it was a real one!!! soon we got bored of seeing the innumerable spotted deers & Sambhar Deers…the wait was getting palpable for the royal beast- The Tiger!!!
Our Luck turned on it’s back very soon, in a distance we saw 5-6 jeeps parked and everybody had their eyes transfixed at one same spot and we know all the commotion was for something majestic, we reached the spot and it took us atleast 5-7 minutes to finally spot the Tiger resting in the bushes well camouflaged by the tall bushes in the foreground. It was not the best spotting we were hoping for but nonetheless it was the first time 11 of us were seeing a tiger in the wild…the exception was Bhatia who had been really lucky and had enjoyed clear sightings in the past…we left after loads of pics and bucket-full of memories and I made a promise to myself that I would be back pretty soon to enjoy a much more clear sighting.
The Last Hoorah
The Night was reserved for another of our legendary BBB Sessions laced with 2 brands of Rum…Hercules (courtesy Dips) & Raffles (courtesy Ajit) and how can we forget the Korean Liquer brought by Bhatia; I took the safe route though and had my favourite Kingfisher!!!
After the long fun-filled session we left for the Jungle Bytes Restaurant for the dinner and there was a surprise in store for me, we met the owner of that place and just started to chit-chat and in between our conversations he mentioned EOiD – Eating Out in Delhi, the Foodie Group I am a part of (Read more at www.eoid.org) and he was simply delighted to meet somebody from the group by which he had been inspired a lot, it was a pleasant surprise for me and this ensured that BOP got special attention after this, the garden was laid out and was specially set-up for the alcohol-friendly BOPians…quite a luxury!!!
The Dinner was quite enjoyable and an icing on the cake for our Ranthambore Stay.
We reached the hotel where the sane ones left to sleep and the insane ones sat down for another Bakchodi Session, special mention here goes to Jaggi who was extremely passionate in describing the horror scenes from the Saw Movie Series and it was quite a revelation for me as I have not watched either of them till date… we finally slept at 1 AM and had to wake up at 5 AM to start our return ride at 6 AM. Sadly I could not sleep properly and kept moving in the bed till 3 AM when finally I could manage some sleep.
Return to Basics
Me & Dips started early as we had planned to visit Rishi at SMS Hospital in Jaipur and the rest of us were to take a different route and reach Gurgaon. The first 90 kms of the ride was perfectly described as Riding Bliss, what an amazing road it was, and the best part was spotting Road Sign Boards of Delhi & Ambala on the way, Delhi was not as far as we thought!!! And for a change Dips was my pillion as his bike was parked at a Dhaba near the accident site and after visiting Rishi we had to pick up his bike.
We made our first pit-stop for some much-needed tea and even more deservedly an open-dumping opportunity for me and I didn’t let it pass by and went straight to the bushes to relieve myself!!!
We reached Jaipur well in time after passing Dausa at 11 AM and went straight to the SMS Hospital and met Rishi and were quite relieved to see Rishi who had recovered quite a lot, no pain whatsoever and his body holding up amazingly well, he is quite a mentally strong guy as an accident like the one he faced takes much more time to get over. We spent an hour with him and spoke to him about our ride, I also talked to one of my friends working in the HR Team at Hewitt and informed him about Rishi’s accident so that his managers could be informed.
We left the hospital at 12 Noon and after that just kept looking for a Dhaba but it was all futile, we passed the Heritage City and could not find one, finally struck gold when we reached NH-8, it was a great relief for me as I had just 4 bananas and one cup of Tea since I woke up at 5 in the morning.
After the much deserved Lunch we headed straight towards the Dhaba where Dips’ bike was parked and when we reached Dips’ excitement & relief was quite visible, I have never seen him that emotional, the Rendezvous was straight out of a dream sequence. We offered Money as a gift to the Dhaba Owner for keeping the Bike safe for 2 nights but he flatly refused just proving the much-known fact about the Rajasthani Hospitality to us, India surely is the best place to be in where you can find such stories of amazing hospitality in every nook & corner …
After this emotional scene we donated 100 Bucks at a nearby temple paying our obeisance to the almighty for saving Rishi and also keeping Dips’ Bike safe…
And we could not stop ourselves from stopping at the next Theka on the highway and enjoy a chilled beer and celebrate the occasion…and not any other ber, the beer was named BULLDOZER!!! and we were duly advised by the Theka owner that anyone who has this beer becomes a Bulldozer…what an advice it was…
We had come over the major accident & bad roads and came out victorious after the Anniversary Ride and this occasion surely deserved a beer and I am sure all of you would agree 100%!!!
We received an SMS from Bhatia that Pravin’s bike had a breakdown and they would all meet us at Dharuhera to enjoy a meal together…We reached Dharuhera and enjoyed a hot meal and were back with the rest of the BOPians. Got to know that Pravin’s bike was in a really bad shape and had to be transported in a bigger vehicle to Gurgaon.
We reached Gurgaon at sharp 6 PM and it was surely a record of sorts as it was the first time in our 20 rides that we had reached back so early and once again this momentous record-breaking feat shouted for chilled beer!!! Me, Sunny & Dips stopped at a Gurgaon Theka and enjoyed chilled beer…
What a ride it was, we had our fair share of highs & lows but in the end came out victorious and celebrated our anniversary in grand style…with a promise that our riding would only get bigger & better till the next anniversary in 2010!!! The next ride has been already planned and it would be our longest till date…a 1400 kms ride to Khajuraho…
Important Details of the Ride:
Total Distance Covered: 860 kms
Gurgaon to Ranthambore Route: Gurgaon – Behror- Jaipur – Chaksu – Lalsot – Sawai Madhopur – Ranthambore
Ranthambore to Gurgaon Route: Ranthambore – Dausa – Jaipur – Shahpura – Gurgaon
Hotel Website: http://www.tigersafariresort.com/trail/index.html
Pics of the Ride:
http://picasaweb.google.com/jagmeet.virdee/AniversaryRideBOP_Ranthambore?authkey=Gv1sRgCOvK5N-ImMftrwE&feat=directlink - Jaggi
http://picasaweb.google.com/sandeepschadha/200911RanthambhoreRide# - Chadha Paaji
http://picasaweb.google.com/bullsonparadeMC/TheRanthamboreRapiersCheSAlbum?feat=directlink - Che
http://picasaweb.google.com/ajitsingh208/BOP_Anniversary_ride_ranthambore# - Ajit
http://picasaweb.google.co.in/bhatiaji/UntitledEvent02?authkey=Gv1sRgCNuaipLo9ZOAWQ# - Bhatia
http://picasaweb.google.com/asok.rana/RANTHMBORE# - Ashok
Videos of the Ride:
Latest Status of Rishi’s Health:
Rishi has coped up pretty well and his 2 fractures are healing quite properly, his plastic surgery for the reconstruction of his face was successful and he has been discharged from the hospital, he would be spending the next 3 weeks recuperating at his home in Jodhpur.
We all pray for his early recovery and hope to see him soon preferably for a ride together!!! that would be the perfec t ending to the tragic accident…Amen to that…
Che would be back on the road again…
Till then ride safe & have safe sex…
Hasta la Victoria Siempre…