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Old 4th November 2011, 08:23   #1
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Default Desert Storm Travels (Travails?)

Monday evening, the day after F1 races:
Me: Whew F1 is over!! It has taken its toll in form of time and energy.
She: Yes. And pretty pretty please do press that leg a bit more I am tired.
Me: Why are you so tired? It was me who was walking the track for four days getting all track and flag marshals in to their posts all over the track. And there were 350 of them reporting to me.
She: So? Do you mean to say that I did not do anything? Who fed the baraat of 1000+ marshals for a week? Our department.
Me: You used vehicles to deliver food
She: That was only on track. And do press the other foot also.

Taking my moment of silence as a possible victory.......
She: And do remember that we delivered breakfast early morning....yeah press it right there a bit harder....and then cold drinks and then lunches and then dinners. It is no cakewalk.

I was heading for a surrender and it continued....
She: Your people did duty 5~6 hours while we worked virtually round the clock managing the feeding of hungry army. And my maid is not coming for duty for last two days.

F1, Desert Storm and Maid???!!!

In case you are wondering where this is leading to let me just say so was I.
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Old 4th November 2011, 12:26   #2
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In my current state of under employment I am blessed that I am involved in many motor sport activities. I was the Chief Marshal at the recently conducted F1 GP and my significant other, politically correct terms should be used, was part in the Marshal Welfare team. The team that no doubt cared and fed a horde that descended at the BIC circuit to help conduct the F1 GP.

Now that this was over I was trying to elicit her consent to accompany me for a road recce across Western Rajasthan. A recce is done to select the route that the rally will take and make a detailed road book that is issued to all participating teams.

The Desert Storm 2012 will be held during February 18-25, 2012. Not enough time between now and then to do recce, make road book, cross check, print etc. etc. And this year because of F1 GP we are running behind schedule on our task list to complete the road recce.

Recce trips are fun in retrospect.

They are dusty. They are frustrating. They are days without lunch. They are days when you get stuck in middle of nowhere. They are going on roads to nowhere and retracing your steps. They are days of endless drive. They are days of back and butt pain. BUT they are unique and provide very interesting encounters.

This is travelogue that will evolve over next few days while I travel the back of beyond in western parts of the country. The travelogue will also encompass a write up by my young friend who was sitting in passenger seat during the last Desert Storm. So in short it is going to be jumble of view points. And I will persuade Alka to contribute her inputs also during the trip.

I did manage to get her to agree even if meant giving her back a further massage. How I wish I also got one back massage!!
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Old 5th November 2011, 05:30   #3
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The take off is postponed by a day due to some business exigencies so I start off tomorrow. Okay so this is the plan for next few days: There is no plan.

The broad outline for the next ten days is to head off towards Bikaner from there to Jaisalmer and Barmer. All the while trying to find a new section that can be used for Desert Storm 2012. I have ten to twelve days of travel available to do this. You can reach Bikaner in a day from Delhi (and perhaps foolhardy enthusiasts like me can also drive back home the same day. Let me just say been there done that.) but I would plan for two to three days for reaching Bikaner trying to find a section.

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Early February 2011 : My name is Niranjan Saigaonkar and I am a student of Mechanical Engineering and belong to Pune. I am mad about motors and motor sports. This year I am the team leader of my college team for the annual SAE BAJA competition (Welcome to Baja SAEINDIA 2012 Website :: Baja SAEINDIA 2011). The team objective is to design and build a small vehicle to specifications and then compete with other colleges entries.

As I said I am a cool guy who would like to participate one day in motor sports once I have money to spend. Till then I am happy to keep in touch with friends and mentors who are in to this sport and learn. I am also member of forums where motorsports activities are discussed.

Few days back on one of the forums I saw Hrishi's post that he is looking for a navigator to go along him in Desert Storm. To me this was an ideal way to fulfill my dream of participating in a rally without too much of financial burden. Though I immediately replied to Hrishi's post that I am willing, I considered that I had no chance of being taken seriously as I had no experience or financial support and thought he would not ever reply.

Later in the day when I was in college attending RAC lecture I got a call from Hrishi but all I could do was SMS him to text me the message. His reply was to ask me if I was really serious about participating. I couldn't help being super excited. I immediately called him. He sent me a business card for Raman, a fellow participant who was in need of a navigator. When I contacted Raman all my hopes were dashed as he thought I was too young and inexperienced to navigate for him but he said he will get back to me.
What is a section? A section is road or track that is used for high speed driving during a rally. Obviously it is closed to other traffic during the rally. Other than that we have a our own list of criterion that a section must meet:
  • Minimum length of 50 kms
  • No villages or population
  • Possible to close other traffic
  • Offer challenging surface
  • Offer fast evacuation possibilities if needed

SO while it is easy to spot just any road it is a task to find out sections.

Last edited by sudev : 5th November 2011 at 05:33.
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Old 5th November 2011, 09:14   #4
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If I were sane and if I were planning a simple journey online maps like this would have given me the route, distance and turn by turn directions!!
Name:  Screenshot at 20111105 090557.png
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If only....

Highway 8 is a disaster right now. Widening works, truck traffic, diversions and few over bridges being made. Simple three hour journey can take up to eight hours. But future is bright.

For how long? The road is now being built is six lanes specs but I fear that is grossly underestimating the truck traffic that moves on this highway.

Once Jaipur Bikaner there was scanty traffic. No more. It is increased many folds and buses on the road travel at really high speeds.

From Bikaner to Phalodi you have additional truck traffic joining in from north. Thankfully most of them divert to beyond Barmer from Phalodi using toll road that is also superb. Phalodi Jaisalmer is nice drive if you do not get caught within an army convoy movement.

BUT I am not a normal traveller. I get no answers from Google Maps as the sections I am looking for do not appear as roads.

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Mid February 2011: Next day anxiously I waited for a call that never came. In the meanwhile when I checked with Hrishi again he advised me Sudev, who is incharge of all marshals, could place me with some one as a volunteer marshal. So I thought if not as participant atleast I can go as a marshal. When I contacted Sudev he informed me that it was difficult because the volunteer forms had been released a long time before. He still told that he'll try his best to do whatever he can to get me placed as a marshal to assist some official.

Last edited by sudev : 5th November 2011 at 09:19.
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Old 5th November 2011, 12:27   #5
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February 17, 2011: Some one named Bharat, from Delhi, calls me and gives reference of Sudev. He asks me if I can be in Delhi by 20th morning and assist him as he was going alone as an official for the DS. I am all for it and mentally start gearing up but within the next half hour I receive a blow. Bharat turns me down as he has found some one else from Delhi to assist him. This made me want to participate in Desert Storm even more one way or the other.
Marshals are life blood of any and every motor sport. They provide the means to man and run the events. Typically for Desert Storm we have about 80vehicles with two or three man crew doing marshaling duty. It is one of my work area to ensure that we have all the teams - fully crewed - in place. Experience, willingness to drive, a four wheel drive vehicle (not always essential) and time commitments are usual ingredients of being selected as a official/marshal.

Typically there are additions and drop outs till the last day - and even as the rally is on. And it is organizers job to not let this effect the event running. However you cannot keep too many spares - it costs in terms of fuel and stay - but not have any reserve either.

Then there are some crew drop outs. Typically because boss withdrew leave or some urgent project work load came or illness....or ...or...

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As I was driving I asked a friend to text a request to Bharat again saying I wanted to come desperately and would not mind even if it is for two three days. Providentially by accident he texts Sudev Barar. I keep my fingers crossed and hopes alive.
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Old 6th November 2011, 07:40   #6
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February 18 : Late evening Sudev calls me and asks me if I was really serious about being part of Desert Storm. After I affirmed this he tells me if I can be in Ahmadabad by 20th morning then I can be part of the team. I had just a day in between
For few years I have been sending out request for a left side occupant for my car during Desert Storm and have made some great friends out of relative strangers (?) who got to occupy the seat. Last year was same. I sent out a request on Facebook and sure enough was inundated with requests. Many were just that a single line response. But few were more enthusiastic and did more than just reply. Some follow up and some phone contact...showing that they were truly interested and had initiative. Mentally I had zeroed on Harsh from Delhi.

Murphy does not sleep. All of a sudden I had three more people asking for fill in volunteers. Harsh was paired off with Raja, who was going to land at Delhi less than 24 hours before flag off at Ahmadabad. Harsh could do drive duty while they sped off to Bhuj directly from airport. Bharat found some one from his alumni association to accompany him. And I found some one who would drive me instead. Okay all set.

Murphy was still awake. With less than 12 hours to leave Delhi my driver was assigned a new project lead in USofA and with marching orders to fly off next day. Leave be damned. In fact we were loading his car when he got this call from his boss in USofA!! So again I was in a car with left seat empty.

This was when I called Niranjan and asked if would join me. I did not know him from Adam. But having some one in vehicle with you during strenuous drive like Desert Storm as organizer or volunteer is almost a must. Almost.

Quote:
February 19: After a hurried packing I made a plan to go to Mumbai and then from there hitch a ride with Hrishi to Ahmadabad next day. Direct connects from Pune to Ahmadabad are a problem. So made it to Mumbai on 19th evening and bunk with Hrishi. They plan for early morning start and assure me that I would be in Ahmedabad by afternoon.
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Old 6th November 2011, 08:59   #7
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Sudev,
first of all congrats on your and Alka ji's participation in GP and we all would love to hear in detail about the whole experience whenever you get time.

And this thread is equally interesting, great start i must say and please keep the details of marshall duties and tricks and tips flowing as you go on.

cheers
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Old 7th November 2011, 06:42   #8
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November 06: Unlike my usual journey's this was a late start day. We left home only at 1100hrs as we were to meet Raj at Manesar Mc'D at 1300hrs. The idea was to also check out few hotel/motels on the highway as potential start off point for the rally. Over the last few years we hold a ceremonial flag off in the middle of a city but the competition start from re-assembly point. This takes away quibbles and headache for competitors in keeping to schedule due to inevitable traffic chaos and jams.

Good thing about NH8 was that the two major jam points - Behror and Kotputli - have now the road over bridges partially operational. This meant much smoother flow of traffic.

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Februay 20: Moving off on schedule I leave Mumbai on 20th morning hoping to make it to Ahemdabad by the afternoon. But I am let down by the traffic. Plus I had to make it to Ahemdabad sitting on a sleeping bag instead of a rear seat as this was part of rally preparation. By removing the seat he was able to fit in extra tyre and some other things so that they were easily reachable.
On the way we meet two gypsy's all geared up whooshing past us. Hrish recognizes them to be some friends participating in the Xtreme category of Desert Storm. The gypsy's are specially modified and loaded with auxiliary fuel tanks, internal roll cages, new sets of high traction wheels, all important spares, extra lights. One of them also had a service van accompanying them.
The thump in my heart increased and I was desperate by now to reach Ahmadabad. For two reasons, first being I was already late to meet up with Sudev and the second being the enthusiasm to see the other cars that would be in the rally and the kind of modifications made in the cars.
We keep moving according to the GPS navigation and hit the main roads of Ahemdabad. The next challenge was to find Hotel Cambay Grand. Even with six GPS in the car we managed to get lost in the city and finally reach the hotel by 2130hrs. I was prepared for a huge lecture or even being asked to return home as I was around 12 hours late. But thankfully Sudev had a cool head. He asked me to meet him besides his Grand Vitara by 4:00 am the next morning.
Quote:
Fortunately for Niranjan I had run late in completing the tracking system set up and had decided to stay extra night in Ahmadabad and leave only at 0400 next morning for Bhuj. I highly doubted he would be on board and was prepared mentally to leave him if he did not turn up in time. I went off to catch some sleep as I had hardly got any sleep during past few days of preparations and task list completion.
Hrishi checked in at the hotel since he got free accommodation from this day onwards as participant. But I did not have any place to stay in Ahmedabad and was too scared to ask Sudev. Fortunately Hrishi agreed to sneek me in to the room. After some dinner I went to sleep setting up three alarms to make sure I wake up in time.
After stopping and checking out many places on the way as possible re-assembly point for Desert Storm 2012 we touched Jaipur at 2100hrs and promptly got lost.

I had been to the particular hotel about six years back and it was simple matter taking a left at a particular showroom on MI/MG road. Now however there was a problem as the stretch of MI road is one way and so I had to run on some road parallel to this making me loose my bearings.
She: Rok kar puchch kyoon nahin lete
Me: No problem I know where I am. Just have turn left at next...
She: Left? Paar tum to right signal de rahe ho
Me: I over shot, it was the last left. Just taking a U turn here....oh **** this is one way.

No matter we did find the place after only a few more missed turns. I wonder why she thinks I need to stop and ask some one the way?
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Old 7th November 2011, 12:30   #9
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Sudevji, this is fun to read. i must confess, i take inspiration from you. After spending months on F1 planning and execution, you leave the next day for this !!!.

Hope to participate in DS this time, AND i am just a call away if you need my help with marshalling as well.

Abbas.
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Old 8th November 2011, 07:02   #10
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November 07

The task for the day was to explore some jeep trails around Jaipur that were to be used in an upcoming off-road event. Strictly speaking this was not Desert Storm work but I had come along as it could lead to discovering a new section or extending the existing river bed section that has been used in the past. River beds are almost always dry in this area and see water only during monsoon period and at that time they are prone to flash floods and can be very dangerous. From rally view point they offer interesting variation of surface.

Instead of sand we found rocky hilly terrain that had challenges of totally different kind. Not suitable for rallying but very interesting for off roading. A disused trail washed away in parts by rains going over a steep hill was explored and then we did hill climbs.

This time I was not using my own Grand Vitara but we had couple of Mahindra Thar's and we used the trails to extensively test the 4x4 capabilities. Impressive power available in low gear but the suspension could not always put that power to use properly. Or may be it was the tyres. A sidewall puncture in one of the vehicles was promptly fixed in situ thanks to technique learned from another thread here on TBHP. It was then we discovered that the vehicle I was driving did not have air nozzle in the spare wheel!! Anyways carried on without any problems...aur kaar bhi kya sakte the?? More about Thar and pictures later.

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February 21st:I was up at 0315hrs. Got ready and was out of hotel and by the side of Sudev's car by 0400hrs while he came in at 4:05 am and I am sure he was happy to see me on time. Immediately we left for Bhuj from Ahmadabad. While driving he started asking me lots of random questions most of which I failed to answer fully. While doing so he then explained to me how to read Tulip Road Books to navigate through the course. And then he immediately put me through practical test of using road book since we were following the same road that was to be followed by the rally next day based on tulip road book to be issued to everyone. The efforts taken by the core team of the Northern Motorsports (NMS) is unquestionable. They actually had to do all the routes themselves before road book is printed. The tracks went off road through all types of terrains challenging the driver as well his navigator and their skills.
Quote:
I was impressed that Nranjan was standing by the car all ready and eager to join. Just as we were getting out of Ahmadabad I started asking him about his background and what field of study he is pursuing at college and in general test his skills that would come in handy soon.
N: I am doing BTech Mechanical
M: And what sort of grades you get?
N: Reasonable. Not top pf class but 60~70%
M: Not good if you want to do higher studies or MBA
N: All are based on first division and entrance exams. Which I am confidant I will do well.
M: How come?
N: Standard course at college is not challenging I am already doing lot more courses online.
M: Do you have semester system?
N: Yes
M: When are your exams?
N: Actually this week
M: WHAT!!!...
Soon he handed over a thick log book to me which said on the cover "DCOC Manual" and asked me to turn to page that listed all the volunteer officials who would be involved in Desert Storm. And using his phone we started calling each and every one of them to check their position. All of them, but few in Ahmadabad, were supposed to meet up at Bhuj. On the way Sudev explained various other intricacies which I would have to know if I wanted to be an official. Finally we reached Bhuj by 1000hrs.
In Bhuj we went to the Hotel Seven Sky where we were suppose to meet up with many other officials who were traveling there from places like Chandigarh, Delhi, Jaipur etc. The vehicles they had awed me : Two Pajero's, three Fortuners, one Land Cruiser, one Thar and four Gypsy's is what I precisely saw.
Quote:
This was orientation day for all the teams and so we were all meeting ahead of the rally at Bhuj. At this time all teams meet each other and specific duties are assigned. Also new comer officials are told about procedures and do's dont;s etc.
People from various backgrounds and professions were there all joined by a common passion about motor sport. But a solution architect working with Accenture in Germany was one who caught my eye, Raja Chatterjee. Turned out to be a very down to earth intellectual person.
Soon we refueled the cars, picked up stuff we would need to use in Rann. Beyond Bhuj there is no shop and even simplest things have to be carried with you. Then in a convoy fashion we moved to the Camp at White Rann. As the terrain changed the machine in my body prepared to pump out a huge awe. Slowly the small hills around Bhuj gave way to scrub jungle and the just a vast empty flat land. When we reached the camp, Sudev took us a little further off the road. The place was different. The land was white. It seemed to be dry but was a little damp. It stretched from horizon to horizon. Soon after a bit of fun we came back to the base. Sudev called for a meeting of the officials where he distributed the DCOC Manual and Official Road Books. This was followed by a briefing to all the officials for the event and days to come.
I could only figure out a few terms. FZ- Free zone etc. The meeting soon turned into a discussion and people started debating. It was a healthy debate. Many problems from the last Rally were covered and efficient solutions were given. Today being not a very hectic day was fairly good. The evening was pretty pleasant and the dinner unlike the last Rally (that is what people said) was pretty good. We were all to stay in tents pitched at edge of white rann.
I was looking forward to see a lot of action tomorrow.
Today's original target was to stay at Bikaner or near abouts, But by the time we did river bed exploration beyond the hills it was late. Raj took off towards Delhi and I started the recce trip in earnest. First night halt was further complicated by the fact that it was Eid day and hardly any tyre repair shop was open. So the night was spent on highway motel near Laxmangarh.
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Old 8th November 2011, 13:21   #11
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Sudev, what an interesting travelogue. Did not take a few important calls as I wanted to finish reading this. Tremendously enjoyed the "nok-jhonk" between you and the "significant other". Me too should use the politically correct term - would bhabhiji be good enough?

It seems Niranjan will get topclass grooming under your tutelege. Glued. Waitng for more.
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Old 9th November 2011, 07:33   #12
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November 08:

Days travel plan was simple go from Laxmangarh to Bikaner. Just follow NH11 and you are done. But recce's are never that simple. We touched the following places (apart from many more in between) Fatehgarh, Churu, Malsisar, Alsisar, Malsisar, Bissau, Churu, Bhaleri, many villages in between, Jhumpa, Rajgarh, Bhaleri, Sardarshahr, Dungargarh & Bikaner. During the day we consumed two things in plenty apart from water from our ice box : Diesel (two tankfuls) & Dust (no measure).

The day started at 0700hrs and ended at 2000hrs. Fortunately we decided to have tea and toast for breakfast at Laxmangarh itself since we did not get to see any decent place for lunch post 1200hrs. The main highways have many "dhaba" serving food but not the smaller state highways and do not even think of getting anything, and even tea on lesser roads. The price of tea tells a story about inflation. When, in 2006, we first started using the area around Bikaner for Desert Storm the standard rate for tea at any "dhaba" or tea stall was Rs2. Today it is Rs7

Quote:
February 22nd: With the advent of day it was obvious that this Storm thing was going to be big. They even had a water closet and shower in a TENT!!!!!!!!
Soon the roars of the Thar, and Gypsy's were heard even around 4 km away as they enjoyed driving over the marshy expanse of White Rann. Later after breakfast 31 convoy vehicles started off for the placements. Having given the lead to one of the experienced official with GPS, Sudev took the tail end of the convoy. We further got delayed as in the meanwhile one car got stuck in the slush which had to be pulled out. The basic reason for the convoy movement was not only the locate hop placement points but also repair the track which was slushy / washed away in sections as the region had been hit by rains a few days back. When the convoy would go over such a track, the wheel trails of 31 cars would level the track in a better fashion.
The track went quite near to army firing range where we were stopped by some army officials who wanted us to produce the permission letter. They said that firing practice was on and so for safety reasons they wanted us to reroute the track. While we were waiting we could see the plumes of smoke and sound of thunder from mortar shells being used in target practice. But since the official permission was already given, by the army and government, the matter was sorted out. The army people agreed not to do practice during the timing of the Storm.
Quote:
Apart from route logistics applying for, and securing, many permissions is a major headache. But for event of such size and magnitude many volunteers work round the year to make sure this is done in time. The Army, and BSF, were very co-operative and switched to night practice for the duration. The official was right in the sense that the actual rally was to run the next day and so they were still practicing. For the officials who were placed near that area during the night run it was fascinating display of fire power and star shells that quite literally light up the entire area..
So we continued on the same track right through the Rann area. The track came out and joined the Bhuj highway. It was way beyond lunch time and every one was hungry so we had lunch at some highway dhaba. By this time it was getting time for actual deployment of officials as the first stage of Desert Storm was to run through the same track at night. While all the officials were placed by placers (senior officials) our job was to make sure that this is done in time. So we took off for a hill top that overlooks the Rann and from that height were able to monitor wireless traffic. We reached there after half an hour and a stiff climb up a track.
Quote:
Radio communication works on line of sight in the UHF band that is allowed / allocated to us. So it was fortunate that this one particular hill by edge of Rann was high enough for us to receive communication from all posts enroute. Normally we use hop to hop communication in flat terrain
Now the next job was to establish radio communication with all the officials at the stage. One by one everyone was placed and was on the radio with the A.C.O.C of the storm. The stage was ready for the rally just as the darkness was descending on the entire area....

THAR
Thar has speed to delight the driver. From standing start it can reach 140kmph in pretty good time. Some thing to delight the driver along with is light touch power steering. On smooth roads it is fun but gets eerie if you hit any undulating patch of road. The suspension set up makes the vehicle jump around. In my opinion the spring rates have not been tuned to the speed this vehicle can achieve. Maybe it is designed for fully loaded vehicle like I saw many Boleros and Scorpios running with eight to ten passengers.
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Old 9th November 2011, 09:07   #13
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Thanks Sudev for what is turning out to be a wonderful write-up.

Still unable to make up my mind, whether to spend the time and money in gearing up my vehicle for the DS 2012.
I have owned the Gurkha for only 3 months now, and I don't yet have full confidence in it's Reliability aspects, although I am beginning to appreciate the Performance aspects better with each passing day.
In any case, would you have an opinion on whether, mostly a Stock Gurkha should participate in the DS, and if so, in which category.
Thanks...
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Old 10th November 2011, 05:43   #14
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Quote:
February 22: ...continued
Sudev now asked me to do the tracking which was irritating as well as tiring. Tracking is to basically account for each through the stage. This is done by noting the position reported over wireless by each hop point.
All the hop officials kept shouting in their radios about the car passing them. Some were audible some weren't, some were caught up in the radio cross-talk. This went on non stop for almost three hours. After this tiring three hours of tracking Sudev called the officials to sweep the section and help out the stranded competitors. Sweep means the hop officials keeping coming down the track and check for the breakdowns or the cars which lose their way off the track. The sweep was completed by 2330hrs and we left the hill top location to come back to the camp.
But on the way Sir had to collect all the documents from the officials and they were staying at Bhuj. So we took a halt at the Seven Sky Hotel and waited for all the officials to come. Luckily for us the food was still being served and so attended to our stomachs while we waited. A fabulous display of the impeccable organizing skills of NMS. I wish to join them asap.
Later we drove another 80kms to reach the camp. We caught around 1hour45minutes of sleep that night (or morning since it was way past midnight) and I had been up since 0700hrs the previous day!
THAR
Thar feels fast but is it? I was curious and checked speedo with GPS. At 80kmph on speedo GPS showed true speed of 70kmph. With speedo climbing to 120kmph the true speed as per GPS was 102kmph. At 140kmph on speedo the GPS showed us moving at 116kmph!! I probably should have done a check at speeds less than 80kmph to see the complete trend. Definitely at "0" both GPS and speedo match
;-0

November 09:
What a fascinating day it was. Although we drove just about 250 kms but ended up finding 90kms of absolutely new section with range of surfaces. And it took almost the whole of the day. Starting off at 0800hrs I was able to return 12 hours later only. And no scope of lunch. First there was nothing in site remotely even resembling a tea shop or better and finally when we did find one "dhaba" around 1700hrs, he refused to serve lunch or anything more substantial than biscuits or bekaneri bhjia with chai.

For last few days I had been using my cell phone to capture pictures but there is some problem with blue-tooth transfers and I am not carrying the cursed cable. But today was able to dig out small camera and so got some pictures. First the steed for the journey:
Desert Storm Travels (Travails?)-100_4500.jpg

Birbal, our guide for the day. We were equipped with a 4x4 Thar and he was showing us the way using a simple 2x4 Bolero. He was very confident of not getting stuck but in the end we ended up parking his vehicle at a village enroute and proceeded in the Thar.
Desert Storm Travels (Travails?)-100_4502.jpg

A railway crossing is becoming a rarity. I know lots of you will yawn at the next couple of pictures depicting the unhurried way of life in villages across India with traffic waiting patiently at the closed gate while the train was still standing at the railway station half a km away (picture shot with full 16x zoom).
Desert Storm Travels (Travails?)-100_4499.jpg
Desert Storm Travels (Travails?)-100_4501.jpg

Arvind, my companion for the day, from Bikaner, I know him mainly through T-BHP but we have met at last Desert Storm, and exchanged our phone numbers. My better half thought it better to rest the day in comforts of hotel and not taste the dust the whole day in open Thar.
We did have lots of conversations today but the best was yesterday when he called me:
Arvind: Sudev how are you? Are you coming to Bikaner? WHere are you going to stay?
Sudev: I was trying your number for last few days before coming to Bikaner but it was coming switched off.
Arvind: Oh that number was off for few days since I was traveling.
Sudev (curiously) : Then how come you know that I am coming to Bikaner?
Arvind: I just read your travelogue on T-BHP!!
Desert Storm Travels (Travails?)-100_4503.jpg

Birbal, the Bolero driver, Finding a "local" guide and bringing him up to us for finer guidance:
Desert Storm Travels (Travails?)-100_4504.jpg

Lovely sand track stretching away in to horizon. Right now its just after monsoon season so the sand retains its firmness. By the time DS'12 rolls around in February the same track would become lot more sandy:
Desert Storm Travels (Travails?)-100_4505.jpg

What is not seen in the picture or rather what does not come out clearly is the elevation changes. The picture is taken from a high point from where the track drops down and again climbs the next crest of smallish "dhora" - dune. The single crop, that is sown during monsoon, has been now almost cut and piled up in farms for removal (see the mound near the center of the picture). Now the farm will see action next monsoon:
Desert Storm Travels (Travails?)-100_4506.jpg
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Old 10th November 2011, 05:46   #15
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Default Re: Desert Storm Travels (Travails?)

THAR
Thar engine has two belts. A toothed belt that runs off engine pulley and drives the radiator fan and perhaps the water pump. The second is a long grooved belt that runs the alternator, power steering hydraulic pump and the air-conditioner compressor. Although the vehicle is relatively new - 11k on odometer - there was sound of belt "slippage" which got progressively worse. And almost continuous. I was worried that the belt may be gone as it was already at full extension setting of the belt tensioner.
Birbal came to rescue yesterday with local "juggaad". He said that this is a common problem with grooved belts and all you need to do is apply a bit of grease. This sounded illogical - the belt is slipping and we apply grease on the friction surface!! But having no choice we did just that and boy did it work!!! Any tech explanation for this?? Now the slippage sound occurs only when the compressor comes on and that too only for a moment.

Quote:
February 23:
The day's movement as to start at 0500hrs. Due to very delayed schedule of yesterday we, sleep deprived ME and Sudev, left the camp almost an hour late for the placements as he asked some of the other senior officials to go ahead and do part placements and we will do only ten odd placements today.
I was still taking 2 min power naps in the process, but Sudev was driving constantly and also coordinating on wireless radio. I wonder how can he put up with such a tight schedule and still be calm. Plus hats off to his driving. Too good! You see someone taking a turn at around 120 kmph, you cant help having a cold shiver. But I can bet my life on this that when he drives even your *** wont shift an inch. Anyways more on that later. After the placements we went to hop position #37 and had a little time for packed breakfast that was handed out to all officials when they left the camp.

Quote:
...if Niranjan was cribbing about not getting sleep imagine the time being put in through the two days at Bhuj by camp coordinator. Dinner over by 2300hrs and packed breakfast for all by 0500hrs.....
For the first time in my life I was to see the rally in action as the cars were to cross the hop point at their extreme speeds. We saw dust in the air around a kilometer far. Everyone got ready. Gypsy number 21 came rumbling down the track. He came to a screeching halt at the S&G and accelerated further beyond the tarmac. Similarly the rest of the Xterme competitors passed us. But by this timeI was fast asleep in the car.....
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