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Old 3rd July 2013, 23:32   #91
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Default Re: "bitten the bullet" - my *new* used RE 500 ES

Hi bIte tHe bulLet,

this is an absolutely mindbogglingly amazing journey you have taken us through with the Climax still unfolding .

I too am awaiting the delivery of my TBTS 500 and planning to in the near future undertake a near similar trip as yours, this thread serves as a great motivator for us new Bullet (know you may not call us so) Riders.

Eagerly awaiting your next post !! cheers !
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Old 4th July 2013, 21:49   #92
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Default Re: "bitten the bullet" - my *new* used RE 500 ES

BULLET- a word that triggers passion in my soul, a feel of pride flows through the adrenaline and awakes the sense of brotherhood towards someone riding that gentle giant. I have been riding my passion, my dream bike from past 8 years, but every time I kick start by Bull It feels as new as it was on day one. A lovely journey you have narrated brother and great photographs. Just loved them
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Old 8th July 2013, 22:48   #93
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Default Re: "bitten the bullet" - my *new* used RE 500 ES

Day 10

Google maps very helpfully states:
Srinagar to Pathankot, National Highway 1A. 360 Kms, 5 hrs 59 mins.

Google maps has been smoking some crazy ass w**d.

And it should be shot.

After being bull whipped with a leather thong, with nails on it’s end.

And then chased down a dirt road while being pelted with stones.


The twins, Digvijay, Jaiveer and even Ashwin *praise the Lord* were almost completely saddled up, packed and loaded, by the time I walked out to where all our rides had been parked overnight. A little way away from the comfortable quarters we were bunking in at the officers mess in Srinagar.

I take it, the use of the word ‘almost’ did not evade your eagle eyes.

Someone’s bike had given up the bleeding ghost. My memory is extremely fuzzy on this and no one from the rag tag contingent wants to own up as to whose it was, but someone refused to start. And then it began to rain. Unlike the insidious rain we had encountered on our way up to Zoji la, this was the whole hog. The full fireworks; shebang; display – call it what you may. This was God letting us know that riding anywhere in North India in the middle of the blessed monsoons is just downright daft…

The good thing was that we were on an army base, with a station workshop (and mechanics) literally seconds away. It was a small matter that at this hour of the morning, the poor souls were all at morning PT in the ridiculous rain. And we had no access to any of those magical mechanics till they got back, showered, had breakfast and then reported for duty. So while we waited for the rain to ebb a little bit, we also waited toget the erring motorcycle repaired – all the fugly shmucks named in the top paragraph had better own up who it was, else I’m just going to call on one randomly… *hrrrmph*

We finally rode out at about 8:15 am with all the motorcycles ticking over, the rain having subsided and under strict instructions from our guardian angel to ride like hell till we got to Jawahar tunnel, and call once we had got through it safely. For those of you wondering at the importance of the Jawahar tunnel (also known as the Banihal tunnel), it is a truly physical separation between the Kashmir valley as we know it and the rest of J&K. Once past it from the Srinagar side, you are officially out of harms way with regards to insurgency and/or other activities that might be a physical threat to you.

Who were we to argue it? So we rode like hell. Given that the rains were still playing intermittent havoc, what with it coming and going as it pleased, we kept a brisk pace all the way out of Srinagar and then through rolling countryside that was many shades of unimaginably gorgeous green(s).

Till Ashwin’s bike skidded. He followed in person immediately thereafter.

By the time I realized riding up front that Ashwin was not, wagging the tail so to speak and turned back to see what had happened, Jaiveer and Digvijay have already helped him and the bike up. Nervously got him to climb on, start her up and ride away from a quickly gathering and decidedly unfriendly looking crowd. We regrouped quickly at an open stretch of road, to check that nothing on Ashwin was broken – but we needn’t have bothered. Ashwin is built like a T 72 battle tank. Some of the boys might argue that he’s built like a Hippopotamus or a Walrus or an African Elephant even, but then, I’m no naturalist…

Off we went again, quickly passing multiple villages and roadside towns where men, boys and male members of the community were swiftly gathering in uncomfortably large numbers. Gunny sacks lay unobtrusively by the roads that we sped past on. Only later did we realise the import of the gunny sacks and the assembling crowds, as another unfortunate rider told us, while we were stopped, waiting for our turn to go through the Jawahar tunnel. More on that in a bit…

So, we were absolutely racing our way up the generally very good NH 1A, till Angelina coughs politely once. And then almost immediately without so much as a, by your leave, she chokes completely and seizes. This, the same motorcycle that ticked over like a swiss watch movement, through some of the harshest terrain that Leh could throw at her, and then someseizes as she’s coasting on NH 1A.

Good God woman.

With my stomach tying itself into knots, I open my oil sump, to find it billowing white smoke – and almost completely dry. Those of you who are familiar with the big single cylinder engines at the heart of the Royal Enfield, will know what I’m talking about. The rest of the audience, suffice to say,

Billowing smoke = bad news, while No oil = you’re so scr*wed.

So while I admit, some of it was my fault, I am still not entirely to blame. Angelina was the most well behaved and frugal sipper of engine oil on the entire trip. While the others were periodically topping up liters of oil at pretty much end of each day, she would daintily take about 150 ml every 3rd or 4th day, if that. So, thinking she was doing okay, I had neglected to look at her oil levels at either Kargil or Srinagar.

BIG mistake.

And a costly mistake.
(She has just had a full engine rebuild almost three years later – with a new 500cc CI piston and head kit in Mumbai)

With almost 300 odd kms of high speed riding, at fairly high altitudes having been completed in the last 2 days, I had stressed the hell out of what is essentially a 50 year old engine design. And what was a slow burn of engine oil – common to the Enfield family, had become a raging flood. To cut a long story short, no one was carrying any more engine oil, since everyone had topped up that morning except moi of course. Jaiveer and Digvijay promptly turned around and raced back down the mountain we had started to climb on the way up to the tunnel. There was a petrol bunk that we had crossed some 10 odd kms back and they were hoping against hope that they stocked some of the right oil that our rides sipped from.

The twins and I waited by the side of the road as it started to drizzle once again. There is a curious air of, “If I don’t see you, I don’t have to help or ask after you” of all the vehicles that travel these roads here. Understandable to an extent, but disconcerting nonetheless. Many vehicles passed us both ways, but none so much as looked at three men standing with an evidently troubling Enfield, leave alone stopping to offer help! The guys got back in about 40 minutes with 2 big cans of the right viscosity of engine oil. Pouring it into Angelina (who had stopped smoking by now!) I confess to having a quiet prayer as I decompressed her prior to turning her over.

She ROARED to life!

I kid you not, she absolutely shattered the silence of those mountains – in a wonderfully good way!

Everyone else also dipped into the fountain of engine oil as I tucked one litre into my cramster and we started off again. This time of course being a lot more careful with speed and throttle on the climbs. We reached the tail of another of the ubiquitous traffic jams in the hills – to realise that this is the traffic being regulated for the Banihal (Jawahar) tunnel. While waiting here is when a couple of foreigners on a rented Enfield and another Indian riding his own bike also came up. The Indian had some cuts on his face, which were bleeding. He told us of the scores of men lining the roads, pelting rocks collected and stored in those gunny sacks we had seen earlier in the morning, at passing cars, bikes and buses. He had got hit by a couple and his helmet had saved him from being knocked off the bike. The foreigners also told us of how they had dodged and scurried as rocks were flung at them too. People sitting in the Sumo’s and assorted Jeeps near us, then revealed that these men/boys were paid up to 200 Rupees per day to do just this.

Easy money.

We realized once again how lucky we had been. First aid was administered to the Indian and then we slowly inched forward till we were at the mouth of the 2.5 km long tunnel. It is surprisingly narrow and damp and slippery and very poorly lit Being reminded that we are to keep to a steady 40 Kmph (or thereabouts) all the way through the tunnel, we are waved through by the military police controlling the traffic at the tunnel entrance.

Because it is so poorly lit and the presence of a little walkway, with a metal grab rail to one side, it makes for an oddly hypnotic visual as you ride through the tunnel. Being on a motorcycle amplifies the problem, because unlike in a car, here, you are being fed an almost 170 degree field of view. Steeply curving wall to your right, geometrically straight grab rail to your left, flanked by an equally steeply curving wall behind it. I almost lost control on two different occasions and desperately needed to stop to re-orient, but that would have brought on more problems than solving any because I’d have caused an almighty pile up behind me – and possibly got myself killed in the bargain too. So I continued to focus on a far away point in the distance and shake my head every now and then… till a small white dot came into view. The exit to the other side, which rapidly grew in size and brightness, till we finally burst through into bright gorgeous sunshine on the other side of the mountain.

It was almost as though a switch had been thrown.

We weren’t complaining since Pathankot was now firmly in our sights.

The road opened up beautifully and we were back to making spectacular time as we raced downhill. We zipped past little touristy towns, whose names completely elude me. And then Angelina seizes once again on a particularly long climb.

Me being chastised like a child stealing cookies from the cookie jar, she is topped up with oil again and allowed to cool down before we start up again. Speed well in control on EVERY climb from here on end.

We pass Patni top where a boat load of tourists has just laid claim to every dhaba that exists there and decide to continue on for a little while longer before stopping for chai.

Till the twins break their bike again.

They blow their rear brakes to hell and smithereens. The very same rear brakes they blew coming down from Tanglang la too. Thankfully the axle is intact and the engine running. With nothing else to do, we shepherd them down the hillside after splitting most of their load over the other 4 bikes. They use engine braking and low gears to control their descent, gingerly stabbing at the front brake every now and then too. We reach a little town, Doda I believe, where we stop for chai and to ease the fire in our buttocks. And we also find the most amazing Sone papdi.

Soft, feathery, cooked in desi ghee, melting in mouth, utterly sinful Sone papdi.

I bought 12 kilos. The twins bought 8 kilos or something. Digvijay, Jaiveer and Ashwin also bought obscene amounts of it, till we realized that we had to carry all that back on open motorcycles no less. I never said the cerebral capacity of the riders was very high did I? Or maybe it was the continued exposure to the rarified atmosphere that had done it… We still managed to fit it all on somehow though and on enquiring, we were told that there was only one Enfield showroom in Udhampur who would be stocking brake shoes / pads etc and he shuts by 7. It was 5:30 pm at this point, so I charged off ahead to get to the dealer in time before he shut down, to buy the parts required.

Having got to him in time, I pick up everything and then wait for the gang to roll up. Exhortations to keep the workshop open so that we can be repaired and sent on our way are entertained briefly and then the owner pulls shutter and stutters off home. I find a mechanic not far from the dealer and speak with the boys still nursing the twins down, to come there straight instead.

They finally get to me at about 8:30 pm and then it takes a good hour and a half to have their bike repaired. In the meanwhile Digvijay has some crisis brewing with regards to getting some forms submitted online, so he goes searching for an internet café in the middle of all this chaos. Needless to say, he is utterly unsuccessful and more than a little panicked.

A vote is taken and we decide to still try and make Pathankot, so that Delhi is achievable by late next night. Digvijay needs to be near the internet, Ashwin needs to be back at work. And the rest of us just need to get our butts off these saddles. We of course promptly lose our way getting out of Udhampur and then miss the bypass to Jammu – having to retrace our steps a good 15 odd kms after realising our monumental blunder…

Tired, irritable and hungry, we finally pull up at a solitary wayside dhaba at about 1.30 am. The owner kindly gets out of bed, whips up some tea, a stonkingly delicious dal and hot rotis. All of which are devoured instantly.

Then the exhaustion hits us like a ton of bricks…we’re still a little over 100 kms from Pathankot, but we couldn’t care less. Taking permission from the dhaba owner, we open up our mats, clearing as many of the rocks as our tired bodies would allow, lay out our sleeping bags and drop dead for the remaining 3 hours of the night.

to be contd...

Last edited by bIte tHe bulLet : 8th July 2013 at 22:57.
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Old 10th July 2013, 02:08   #94
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Default Re: "bitten the bullet" - my *new* used RE 500 ES

I need to correct a factual error before I go any further!!! The twins (Jitin) was riding Ashwin's bike down from Tanglang la when it's brakes exploded.

So this was the first time the rear brakes exploded on the twins ride on day 10!
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Old 11th July 2013, 19:39   #95
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Cool Re: "bitten the bullet" - my *new* used RE 500 ES

It's oddly poetic, that the final installment to this narrative is completed exactly 3 years (to the day) from when this trip began. We rode out of Delhi on the 11th of July 2010; today is the 11th of July 2013...

Go figure huh!!!

Day 11

We get up, brush and wash our faces with bottled water (there was no hand pump visible or available) have ourselves a cuppa, which leads to some of us having some private time in the fields…






get home to Delhi…

Trip done.


Errrr… nope. Not quite.

You see, Pathankot was still about a 100 kms and some away. Then Delhi was another 480+ kms away – which meant we were hoping to cannon ball a 600 odd km ride in a single day – AFTER having done almost 2500 over some decidedly challenging terrain, having faced some *ahem* difficult situations and with most of our bikes showing the stupendous strain of the past 11 days.

And that’s not even beginning to mention that all of us were hurting in places hitherto unknown to our respective selves, sleep deprived (and how) and more than a little cranky – for lack of a better word with the world (and each other.) And then of course, Digvijay had these ruddy forms to upload to the internet, since today was his last day to do so – which meant we needed to get to an internet café. Any internet café…

Why in God’s name he didn’t do it before the trip commenced is a question we are all still waiting to be answered. *Sheesh*

Anyhow, we rode out early; about 5:45 am if memory serves me correctly because we were attempting the said cannon ball run to Delhi. The scenery needless to say had already turned a lot less exotic from what we had been used to over the past 10 days, which added to the tedium of the ride itself. We pulled into a dhaba at about 9 am, well past Pathankot by this time, to eat pucca Punjab de praanthe, slathered with butter and with extra butter placed on the table as well. This was washed down with freshly churned lassi and a conversation I had with the dhaba owner sticks out in my mind.

Translated below, though the Punjabi was a lot more flavourful…

Dhaba owner (D.O): Where are you guys coming from?
Me: Srinagar…
D.O: Holiday?
Me: Nope, we were on our way down from Leh.

Looooong pregnant silence.

D.O: You rode these bikes from Leh?
Me: Actually from Delhi…
D.O: *insert appropriate string of Punjabi cuss words*
D.O: Why the hell didn’t you fly? *Cuss words referring to mothers and sisters in quick succession* You look like you could afford it.
Me: Errrr…this is more fun?

D.O. (completely ignoring my feeble answer) Or at least drive in a car! It’d be a lot more comfortable. *insert string of Punjabi cuss words* while muttering. Fun he says...”

I can tell you safely, I agreed with him completely and whole heartedly at this point!

Sated and heavy, we set off again, this time keeping our eyes pealed for any signs of a ruddy internet café. About an hour after that, as we rolled through yet another dusty (but wet) Punjab town, we found one. A small, poky little place with space for maybe 3 people at best inside it. And with a dial up modem to boot!!

So while Digvijay did his thing, the rest of us stretched out as best as we could.

I’d worked out a way of being able to lie down on the bike, without having to unload anything… It involved using the loaded stuff as a headrest, scooching my butt onto the end of the petrol tank (taking care not to scratch the paint) and then crossing the legs one over the other, as they were laid flat along the length of the tank and the headlights of the bike, having your feet dangle out over at the end.

Surprisingly comfortable too.

Of course, this would be with the motorcycle perched on it’s centre stand, being on a side stand might not work quite that well!

So the man comes out beaming and we all sigh with relief (we can now concentrate on getting home!) till he says (still bloody well beaming) I need to log in and complete another part in an hour and a half.

By God, if murder wasn’t illegal in our country, Digvijay would have been lynched in 8 micro seconds right then and there…

We ride again. The rains come and go sporadically meaning we alternate between riding with soaking wet crotches or uncomfortably damp crotches.

It’s a fact.

On a motorcycle, any motorcycle, no matter how well insulated you are from the elements, water will always find it’s way into your junk. It’s one of the remaining mysteries of life and the best minds in the world are yet to answer how that is even possible…

I bring it up only because an hour and a half later, we had a lot of time to ponder this mystery while we waited for Digvijay’s infernal form to be uploaded. Did I forget to mention? Since it was raining (and the reason our collective junkyards were sopping wet) something that is endemic to even our modern metropolitan cities, had occurred in this little one horse town in Punjab too. The electricity had been cut which meant that the internet was also down! Since there was no guarantee that we would find another kiosk and the assurances that the electricity “would be right back” we spent two and a half hours wondering at the various ways we could strangle Digvijay, so that it might pass for a mere accident…

He survived – which is more than can be said for the rest of us. We finally hit the road with another 400 kms to go, well past lunchtime. Since we were riding in the plains, we figured we could knock this off in about 9 hours of hard riding, most of it on pretty good highways. Ambala onwards the roads are spiffy and Delhi is easily do-able in about 4 hours, in our current states. The only worry being that we’d be riding a big chunk of it at night. Not the ideal situation at the best of times.

That is of course, not counting for the twins to have another breakdown about 40 kms short of Ambala!

At night.
In the rain.
In the most God awfully dark stretch of the highway they could possibly find.


Two bikes go scurrying to look for a mechanic in the innards of a dead as a dodo Ambala town. When we gleefully hunt one down to his home, he nonchalantly informs us that he works on RD 350’s only. *Hah* No amount of cajoling and coaxing could get him to shift his behind out of his house…

Then another mechanic is found, collared and escorted back to the stranded twins, with the promise of handsome reward or a swift kick in the pants – the choice being his!

After all of that, we of course couldn’t find the ruddy twins.

If you recollect, they had chosen to find the darkest patch of highway in the entire world to break down in, which is why we didn’t have a clue where they were. Many phone calls to and fro, and after much colourful swearing, we re-group. The mechanic sets to it and does his magic with the gearbox. Takes the bike for a spin, declares it road worthy *HAHAHAHAHA* and pockets his healthy remuneration, as he roars away into the distance.

Coming up to 1 am now and decisions needed to be made. Ashwin had to be at work 10 am next morning, come what may, which kind of ruled out our stopping for the night. Introducing some steel in our souls, we decide to ride on, after a quick pit stop for a bite to eat. None of us did really eat, petrified that we’d all doze off while riding if we ate heavy.

Those of you who’ve stayed up nights will of course be well aware of that cursed hour between 3 am and 4 am? That hour when you just want the world (and it’s actions) to stop, so that you can drop everything you’re doing, sink to the floor and pass out cold? When wave after wave of sleep hits you and no amount of coffee can keep those insistent waves at bay?

And that’s just when you’re having a normal day!

Our day had been far from normal…We’d been in the saddle almost 20 hours, had 450+ kms of riding already done, had not eaten very much after breakfast and were hanging on by the skin of our teeth. I’m not sure about the others, but I at one point, dozed off while riding on the highway. At about 70 kms per hour.

For a split second.

When I came to, I pretty much wet my already wet junk… and promptly pulled into a dhaba. By the time all of us had our bikes on centre stands, we had decided that we would do 20 min naps in the saddle for every one hour of riding. It’s a different matter that at one point we were pulling over pretty much every half an hour or so!!! Dawn broke beautifully as the Panipat’s and Sonepat’s of the world whizzed by in a blur of sleep deprivation and abject pain! We finally came level with the Delhi border at about 7 am, which of course didn’t mean squat, since there was a minimum of another 60 kms of riding to do, before any of us got to our respective homes.

But, it was the home straight!! Pun unintended.

We rode through the border check posts with the familiar bored Delhi police traffic cops manning them, 11 days after we had left the same way. It called for celebration (okay, at least a photograph) which was duly taken. None of us had the energy to so much as take off our helmets, so we just left the damn things on our heads. If pictures could speak, this one would have one helluva story to tell!

We finally parted ways near the ITO building, not far from where we’d first all met up at the beginning of the trip. Jaiveer, the twins and Digvijay peeling off to head to Noida, with a tired wave serving as a final salute to what we had all achieved in these last 11 days. Ashwin and I carried on till the Defence colony flyover, where he took a right to get to South Extension, while I continued on a little further to Greater Kailash and home.

I was later told that Ashwin actually went to work that day – and reached office on time at 10 am too!

This was our trip.

And I’m glad I got to ride with people in whose hands I will willingly put my life in, if need be, (actually on second thoughts….) and remain friends with for the rest of my years.

Well done gentlemen (and ladies!)

Till next time, it’s been an honour and a privilege riding with you Jaiveer Kumar Singh, Ashwin Anand, Digvijay Kanwar, Nitin Gupta, Jitin Gupta, Ramshreyas Rao & Vinuta Gopal (Rao).

Attached Thumbnails
"bitten the bullet" - my *new* used RE 500 ES-img_0169.jpg  

"bitten the bullet" - my *new* used RE 500 ES-img_0170.jpg  

"bitten the bullet" - my *new* used RE 500 ES-img_0173.jpg  

"bitten the bullet" - my *new* used RE 500 ES-img_0181.jpg  

"bitten the bullet" - my *new* used RE 500 ES-img_0190.jpg  

Last edited by bIte tHe bulLet : 11th July 2013 at 19:47.
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Old 12th July 2013, 01:02   #96
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Default Re: "bitten the bullet" - my *new* used RE 500 ES

Excellent writing about a truly amazing adventure.

You really need to come up with another harebrained idea for another journey so we can enjoy your next deeds and discomforts on the road.
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Old 12th July 2013, 10:38   #97
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Default Re: "bitten the bullet" - my *new* used RE 500 ES

Originally Posted by ArizonaJim View Post
Excellent writing about a truly amazing adventure.

You really need to come up with another harebrained idea for another journey so we can enjoy your next deeds and discomforts on the road.

Thank you! Hare brained ideas are aplenty, just waiting for opportunity to knock all the sense out of my head!

Post this trip, I rode from Delhi to Mumbai - solo (canon ball) 23 hours and some change while we relocated to the city. Two days after that, I went and did a Mumbai - Bangalore - Mumbai with the wife riding shotgun too!

Next on the agenda is a ride through Bhutan, ride through Spiti and possibly a full west coast to east coast ride all the way upto Calcutta...

Let the madness arrive!!!
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