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Old 12th April 2016, 15:14   #16
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Default Re: The book of Ellie – A couple’s motorcycle tour of Gujarat

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At the hotel, there were two friendly Dalmatian dogs with a fresh litter. I gained trust of the mom and dad first, and then played with the soft & warm puppies. It was a cuteness overload to be surrounded by Dalmatian puppies.
How cute are those puppies! I am dog lover myself but have never seen or held a dalmatian puppy. They look adorable!

Also, can you please share the details of performance of Ellie. The community would love to know
- what was the top speed that you gained
- what was your general cruising speed
- what precautions did you take considering Ellie was in the run-in period? Or were you crazy enough to run her in even before you started for Ahemdabad?
- What was the Fuel efficiency that you got?
- Were the tires adequate for high speed cruising?

Apologies for asking so many question but I am a motorcycle enthusiast and loved your Travelogue to the core.

Safe Riding!
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Old 12th April 2016, 15:42   #17
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Default Re: The book of Ellie – A couple’s motorcycle tour of Gujarat

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Also, can you please share the details of performance of Ellie. The community would love to know
- what was the top speed that you gained
- what was your general cruising speed
- what precautions did you take considering Ellie was in the run-in period? Or were you crazy enough to run her in even before you started for Ahemdabad?
- What was the Fuel efficiency that you got?
- Were the tires adequate for high speed cruising?
People want to know!

Answers to your questions:
- Top speed: I held back at 120 kmph at the best of stretches, and generally 90-100. Bike could have gone even faster, but that much speed was enough for me, especially two up. Rather than top speed, I enjoyed the acceleration!
- Run-in: Ride of Mumbai - Pune I don't believe in babying the vehicles, and I ride / drive them as I normally would from day 1. No RPM limits etc. Only thing is, I made sure no long journeys with extended constant RPMS (like in this Gujarat journey)
- Fuel efficiency- 25-28KMPL.
- I found tires were adequate. Never felt the need for more grip etc, but the roads are super smooth so may not be a good testing platform for the tires.

Last edited by Aditya : 13th April 2016 at 07:31. Reason: Editing out mention of high speeds
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Old 12th April 2016, 15:55   #18
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Default Re: The book of Ellie – A couple’s motorcycle tour of Gujarat

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Chapter 3: Little Rann and small minds
Day 2

Today’s destination was Little Rann of Kutchh.

The road to Little Rann goes through a village called Sanand – famous for Tata Nano factory. We had to cross Ahmedabad first. I noticed that for every intersection of roads, the authorities had preferred to put up speed breakers, rather than signals. And they had made sure that speed breakers didn’t feel alone. Every time, you would get 3 combined ones that would make sure you are thoroughly shaken (not stirred ) at the end of it. Perhaps this was their way to make sure there were no dozing drivers on road.

Also, I noticed a trend: using a two wheeler for only two people was perhaps perceived as a crime. About 80-90% of the two wheelers that I saw were carrying at least 3 persons. There was no ‘upper limit’ to this number, as I once saw a family of 5 happily riding on a two wheeler, perhaps musing why they didn’t carry grandma and grandpa as well.
Ah, I use this very same road everyday to commute to office - tell me about it. But if you had ventured into Ahmedabad, you will see that signals are actually coloured street lights at most junctions, so for a sub-urban Sanand, I agree that speed breakers like these are the only way to let the Sanand people cross the road.

Agree with your 3 or more on two wheeler observation and had a good laugh while reading about it too! Heck - even the auto rickshaws here have 2 or more people in the front seat, which is intended for one person.

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I asked Nandinee to get on the bike, to get the hell out of there before one of them figures that things could easily be turned against us. When I put my leg on Ellie, one of them sheepishly said:
‘No, no. Don’t bother. We are leaving. We had just come here to see whether it was a runaway couple.’

‘What? We are married.’ I blurted out.

‘Oh. Good’. He responded.

Slowly the pack moved away, leaving us alone.
That is a really scary moment, glad that nothing bad happened. Maybe you should carry the RC book, License and then your Marriage certificate the next time!

Me not knowing Hindi or Gujarati, would have been in deep trouble in such a situation.

PS: Inspired by your trip, I have placed an order for the ViaTerra saddle bags you have, hope to start my two-wheeled trip soon.
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Old 12th April 2016, 16:16   #19
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Default Re: The book of Ellie – A couple’s motorcycle tour of Gujarat

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Originally Posted by ani_meher View Post
People want to know!

Answers to your questions:
- Top speed: I held back at 120 - 130kmph at the best of stretches, and generally 90-100. Bike could have gone even faster, but that much speed was enough for me, especially two up. Rather than top speed, I enjoyed the acceleration!
- Run-in: Ride of Mumbai - Pune I don't believe in babying the vehicles, and I ride / drive them as I normally would from day 1. No RPM limits etc. Only thing is, I made sure no long journeys with extended constant RPMS (like in this Gujarat journey)
- Fuel efficiency- 25-28KMPL.
- I found tires were adequate. Never felt the need for more grip etc, but the roads are super smooth so may not be a good testing platform for the tires.
Thanks Ani_meher for feeding me answers to the questions. I have a very old bullet 350 and though it has 50cc more than more bike on papers, I can never think of going beyond 75-80 kmph. If Ninja can go to 130 Kmph with 2 people onboard and still have the grunt to go beyond, I can only stand and applaud for the beast! I also love doing travel on bikes and have done several 1200+ kms run on my bullet sometimes travelling 18+ hours straight. The long travelling hours were mainly attributed to me sticking at below 80 Kmph speed.

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That is a really scary moment, glad that nothing bad happened. Maybe you should carry the RC book, License and then your Marriage certificate the next time!
Aravind.anana - to tell you the truth, I always carry my marriage certificate with me because I did 'Love Marriage' and my wife hasn't changed her name on any of her IDs. So, many hoteliers raise their eyebrows seeing one Mr. Sinha bringing one Ms. Chaudhary in a hotel for a night!
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Old 12th April 2016, 18:55   #20
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I take shelter under the reason of artistic expression
When you said this, this image came to my mind. Upside down again

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Old 12th April 2016, 22:55   #21
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Default Re: The book of Ellie – A couple’s motorcycle tour of Gujarat

This is one epic travelogue and three cheers to your wife for accompanying you. I enjoyed the subtle sense of humor strewn throughout .

we had planned a road trip last year ( Mumbai-Gujarat-Mumbai), but it never took place because of various reasons ( three working men in three different organizations at two different cities, all married and with kids - hope you get an idea why we didn't make it). Reading your travelogue reminded me of that and i made to note to self to start the plan for it again. Thanks a lot.

I wish you undertake many such trips and we get to enjoy the travelogues.

Drive safe

Last edited by lalgudi : 12th April 2016 at 23:00.
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Old 13th April 2016, 00:58   #22
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Default Re: The book of Ellie – A couple’s motorcycle tour of Gujarat

First kudos to your wife for accompanying you on a memorable trip. It takes a lot of courage, perseverance and unconditional love to accompany. Hats of to her.

The pictures and travelogue are superb. Eagerly looking forward to the remaining details.
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Old 13th April 2016, 01:53   #23
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Default Re: The book of Ellie – A couple’s motorcycle tour of Gujarat

Excellent travelogue and an interesting mix of the 'white desert' combined with wildlife sanctuary. Also hats off to your better half for joining a multi-city bike trip. My own actually refuses short trips even within city limits now (Royal Enfield TB 350) - even though I say the bike is super comfortable for a pillion. I'm surprised though to know it took more than 14 hrs for a 700km trip, Pune-Ahmedabad. Apart from the Bharuch traffic jam were there any other major impediments which accounted for such a long journey time. I mean I've done a day long best of 813 kms in 13 hours over state and national highways on my TB350, Jhansi-Dhule.
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Old 13th April 2016, 05:46   #24
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Default Re: The book of Ellie – A couple’s motorcycle tour of Gujarat

Great read....till now. Waiting and wanting more.

Having travelled in that region alone and with spouse and at all odd hours I found it a bit of a shock that you found local people aggressive. I always found people in Gujrat in general and Kuttch in particular very easy going and friendly. I have always stopped and talked to locals in remotest of places and even though I do not know Gujrati but had managed to find routes that do not exist on paper - especially through Greater Rann. Most of the time the locals are only curious about visitors and are more than happy to talk to you about local animals and crops and life styles and their food. Politics to be avoided unless you are totally comfortable.

Be careful - yes, but never show fear.
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Old 13th April 2016, 10:09   #25
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Default Re: The book of Ellie – A couple’s motorcycle tour of Gujarat

Thanks for reading so far. I hope you guys enjoy the next series in this blog even more!

Quote:
Originally Posted by lalgudi View Post
Reading your travelogue reminded me of that and i made to note to self to start the plan for it again.
Hope we get to read your story soon!

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Originally Posted by Chillout View Post
Eagerly looking forward to the remaining details.
Thanks.

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Originally Posted by jd10ent View Post
Apart from the Bharuch traffic jam were there any other major impediments which accounted for such a long journey time.
The under construction route from Vadodara to Ahmedabad ate up a lot of time. I think we spent about 3-4 hours because of road constructions + traffic + bad headlights. Otherwise, with HIDs that I have now, I am sure we would have reached much sooner.

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...I found it a bit of a shock that you found local people aggressive...
I bear no ill feelings about the Gujarat local people at all. This particular group of gents that I encountered was unwelcoming, but everyone that I interacted later on was a gem. So this was only an isolated incidence and in no way a representative of the friendly Gujaratis that I had the pleasure to interact with.
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Old 13th April 2016, 10:40   #26
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Chapter 6 - the lion sleeps tonight
Day 5


Our destination for tonight was Sasan Gir, the natural habitat of Asiatic Lions. These lions were almost extinct a century ago because of extensive hunting. When the Nawabs of Junagadh realized the threat of extinction, they protected the lions in private hunting grounds. Today more than five hundred lions call Sasan Gir their home, and we were eager to be their guests for a day.

We left Rajkot after breakfast. Rajkot being mainly a business city, it had little to offer tourists, except perhaps nice hotels to stay. We tried asking our way out of the town, and got many inputs that effectively nullified each other. Frustrated, we fired up the GPS in the phone, and it worked amazingly well. From that time onwards, we started using GPS in the rides. It proved very useful, especially in towns where each person seemed to have a separate view of shortest routes.

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The highway was totally dry now. The rain clouds too had gone home in the night, and a gleaming Sun welcomed us on the road. Ellie started galloping, and in no time we were at the boundary of Junagadh.

The entrance to the city is an impressive old gate, which lies neglected with plants growing on its old façade. The road is wide, and the gate is only one lane big, but luckily it is still standing, and not removed for road widening.

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The roads in town are small, and have a lot of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, with lots of speed breakers sprinkled around. While going slowly on yet another speed breaker, I spotted an impressive structure at our right, lying vacant. Wondering what that was, I took Ellie inside the gates. It was Mahabat Maqbara.

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The premises were clean, but there was hardly a soul in there. There were two buildings, but we were not sure whether we were allowed to go in. So we took a few snaps here and there and moved on. It was a beautiful and delicate structure, I hope to see it in detail in my next trip.

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Soon we were knocking on the gate of Sasan Gir.

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The roads were in tattered conditions for about 30 kms till the Sasan village, but after the village they were in good form.

After you cross the entry gate to the Gir sanctuary area, the road becomes very narrow. But soon it is changed to two lanes, and we rode with ease. There were many speed breakers here for safety of wild animals that might cross the road at night – or perhaps so that they could comfortably see the world passing by.

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We reached our hotel of tonight: Sawaj Resort.

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It was a good property, with tasty food and evening entertainment. The whole premises were nicely done, and we spent the evening roaming around the neatly designed campus.

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They had placed cycles and carom boards for patrons to try their hands on. After riding Ellie for all day, the bicycle felt severely underpowered, because of the vast difference of horse power!

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The evening entertainment was an African dance troupe.

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After dancing to the tunes of African tribes, their last song was Gujarati Garba song, and they pulled members from the audience to join.

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The food was great. A scrumptious buffet of Gujarathi Thali:

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We slept early tonight, for tomorrow we were going on an early morning Safari.
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Old 13th April 2016, 11:13   #27
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Chapter 6 – The morning hunt
Day 6


It was the day where we might see the king of the jungle in his royal seat! The extremely chilly morning woke us up at 4.30 a.m. Struggling against the cold weather, we sat in an open jeep, all set with a hope to spot a lion and witness the wonders of the jungle. I highly recommend hiring the jeep from the hotel itself, because the extra charge is totally worth the added convenience of being picked up from the hotel; I couldn’t imagine riding in that extreme chill.

Our first halt was the permit counter, which was surrounded by happy and disappointed faces alike. To manage the number of vehicles visiting the sanctuary, Government has kept a reservation system, which can be used to book your slot online as well as standing in the line. However, the last minute bookings are limited, and one may return empty handed from the counter. I had booked our permits two months in advance, so our visit was fixed. There are fixed routes in the sanctuary, and each vehicle is assigned a randomly selected route.

After getting a random route assigned to our vehicle, a government appointed guide jumped in the jeep, and we stood outside the gates to the sanctuary, idling the cold engine.

The gates open at sharp 6.30, where the jeeps enter and disperse on their allotted routes. The jungle was waking up around us. Birds and creatures were calling their mates, to hurry the heck up and head out for breakfast. Not much unlike us humans. We sat hurdled together, minds filled with curiosity and wondering whether the king of the jungle would brave this cold and come out of his sleep in our path.

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The gates opened, and we were beckoned upon our designated route. The jeep soon was travelling on rougher roads, with the jungle slowly waking up around us. A hyena stretching its paws into the light of dawn, a bird taking the first flight of the day, the 3D discovery channel was around us in Dolby surround sound.

And then we saw a number of people standing in the roads. I was startled to see them on the road, given that this was a sanctuary, that too of lions nonetheless. But I remembered that these people, the Maldharis have been living with the lions in these jungles for hundreds of years. I wondered what made them come out of their warm beds so early this morning. And then I saw the reason sprawled on the road.

A buffalo was lying at the side of the road with its guts opened. A ghastly sight.

‘Look Sir, the lion!’ The guide pointed towards a line of trees. There it was, the king!

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A lion was sitting nearby with an innocent face, as if it too had chanced upon the buffalo that happened to be cut open. Such a big kill for a single lion! It was news for me that lions too believed in taking a heavy breakfast.

The lion was very nearby to us, about a few meters. I had read and heard many accounts where people had not sighted the lion in their trips. Some made repeated voyages for this view. In fact, the guide too had made it clear at the start of the trip that a lion sighting is only dependent on luck, and people generally took two or more such safaris to maximize their chance of spotting a lion. And here it was; our first major sight of the day. The Sun was barely getting up and the day had already begun on a great note.

The big cat sat at a distance, scratching its ears by the hind legs and yawning loudly showing its Colgate white teeth, not unlike a domestic animal.

The people on road were joined by another small group that came on a motorcycle! I was perplexed! How come these people were walking around so calmly, whereas the buffalo murderer was still on the scene?

‘He is not a man eater, Sir!’, the driver defended the lion. It didn’t help my apprehension, and we stuck to the seat while the guide merrily joined the group to update on the latest gossip.

After a session of jee bhar ke dekhna, or observing till we were satisfied, we moved ahead heavy footedly from the sight. The lion sneaked a peek at us, and continued his sun bath while watching us leave him from the corner of his eye.

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The path ahead was neatly laid and well-trodden. We spotted a lot of deer and peacocks around. I even saw a camel trying to hide in a group of grazing buffaloes.

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I wished it could talk, and could answer my question: ‘What the heck are you doing so far away from the Rann?!’

The red headed baldy bird was positively annoyed by us disturbing his first meal of the day.

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Unfortunately the guide had not christened them yet, so no idea about their names.

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A mean looking pig little far from his herd

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Various animals and birds called the sanctuary their home, and everyone was in the morning rush to get to work. Everywhere we looked there were some herd or some birds hurrying their way to their day’s tasks.

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When we joined the route that headed out of the sanctuary, we met a number of other vehicles full of disappointed faces of sleepy tourists. There we realized that we were indeed very lucky, and ours was the only route that morning that sighted a lion.

Tourists from the passing jeeps would raise eyebrows and ask ‘Dikha kya?’ (‘Did you see it?’) When we replied in positive, the disappointment on their faces would multiply. The scene was straight of the movie ‘three idiots’; while it sucked that one didn’t spot a lion on a cold morning safari while losing precious sleep, it sucked even more if others got to see it!

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We returned to the hotel at 10.30. Our package included the breakfast and lunch, but since there was nothing left to do in Sasan Gir, except perhaps catching up on lost sleep, we decided to move out post breakfast.

Ellie got a nice bath, and shining her flashy greens, we rode out of the sanctuary.

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Tonight we would halt at Bhavnagar, another stop over that connected two distant spots – Sasan Gir and Ahmedabad. Even though our first night in Gujarat was at Ahmedabad, we hadn’t really seen the city. So the next destination was to explore Ahmedabad before we had packed this tour and headed back home.

The road that connected to Bhavnagar was mainly a state highway, with fields accompanying us for good amount of time.

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Today, GPS helped us a lot. We had to take a lot of intersections, and had it not been for the GPS, the travel time would have increased at least by an hour because of stopping and asking around for directions.

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A well tarred two lane state highway brought us to Bhavnagar, and we check in our hotel of tonight, the GenX Hotel. Our luck had smiled upon us today, first with the spotting of lion, and then we were upgraded to the suite room in the hotel.

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It was a comfortable stay, and we caught up on all the lost sleep, wondering what that lion would be doing at this hour, after munching on the buffalo.

Last edited by ani_meher : 13th April 2016 at 11:20.
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Old 13th April 2016, 11:33   #28
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Lovely travelogue Ani and some super photographs too. Thank you for sharing Gujarat through your lens. Must have been fascinating riding through Guj roads.

Wonder how you managed to ride with the tank bag of that size. Kudos to you for that.

The Kwacker looks haute. The IRC's are good in dry conditions but gets pretty bad riding in rain/wet conditions. Be a little careful.
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Old 13th April 2016, 11:54   #29
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Default Re: The book of Ellie – A couple’s motorcycle tour of Gujarat

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‘Look Sir, the lion!’ The guide pointed towards a line of trees. There it was, the king!
How I wish I could write this sentence in My Gujarat travelogue. You were indeed lucky to have spotted the Lion.

One good thing you had done was booking the safari online and that too the 6:30 slot. Or else it is really tough to spot the big cat.

With lot of struggle, we had got the 9:30 slot and our faces were similar to the many disappointed faces that you would've seen

So we had to visit the Devaliya interpretation zone for consolation.
Good that you didn't need to do that.

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Bhavnagar, and we check in our hotel of tonight, the GenX Hotel.
Saavaj in Sasan Gir and GenX in Bhavnagar. These were the same hotels we stayed during that trip. Very good hotels indeed.
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Old 13th April 2016, 12:25   #30
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Default Re: The book of Ellie – A couple’s motorcycle tour of Gujarat

Many Congratulations on the Kwaker Anirudhha!

And your travelogues are brilliant as ever, haven't lost your touch, though its nice to see a more apt bike for the occasion. Doesn't the Ninja's non-touring seat bother the pillion? It certainly will take its toll in the long run because the stock seat looks like it is more for a track day than a long tour.

A few pointers and a request -
* Please do not travel more than 500kms in a day. Though people have easily done double of what you did and there are bum burners a plenty, after yesterday's Veenu Paliwal incident, it is just a friendly request from a fellow biker. Do read this - https://www.facebook.com/notes/ambik...53557337153603
* The Book of Indian Birds by Salim Ali will be a great help on such trips. It has helped me many a times.
* One of my fellow HOGs got killed by that chinese manjha and that too while travelling through Gujrat only. Do take care.

Keep Riding, keep clicking and keep posting for us to enjoy.

Cheers...

Last edited by dkaile : 13th April 2016 at 12:27.
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