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Old 16th October 2008, 00:59   #16
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Very very naish. My mech always regales me with intersting stories. This is a more structured comprehensive perspective. Thanks for sharing - am tuned in fully
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Old 16th October 2008, 17:25   #17
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As phamilyman just said, the bike mechanic (garage owner) Sardar Jitender Singh, will have a bunch of stories when we go for service next (esp. about the bikes he prepared).

But the official's view is something else.... most unique travelogue, this.
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Old 16th October 2008, 18:55   #18
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nice going mate!!
Did you by any chance gave your GV to the Motorcraft Sec 63?? Since i saw a black GV with slight dents in the bonnet and rear smashed!!
And it had the silhouettes of the Raid stickers.
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Old 17th October 2008, 10:58   #19
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@nikoo: yep but it is steel grey and not black. The rear door needs replacement and Maruti has delivered it in 4 days from order I hope the car is back on road equally fast.

@architect: thanks for readership inputs. I am sure Sardar ji would be more informative.

@phamilyman: This is going to be a bit long affair but I hope to present a different perpective to rallying, more so endurance events like the Desert Storm and the Raid.
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Old 17th October 2008, 11:05   #20
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Sudev sir,
Eagerly waiting for the next episode.
Its really interesting to read our side of the story..
Kudos to you...
Cheers
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Old 17th October 2008, 11:49   #21
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Tracking and Safety
This is not about next day yet but a dig in to details of how rally safety is tackled and emergency response (may god that it is not needed) activated.

First the radio communications. Each of the rally official, ambulances and the recovery truck is fitted with a radio set and all are tuned in to the same frequency. So unlike one is to one conversation on your mobile device this is one is to many broadcast communication that is open and heard by all. Geography plays important part as radio communication is limited to - so to say - line of sight. So if you are in one valley you can not communicate to a chap only a few kms away on the other side of the hill. So in this case you relay your message through some one who is may be on the top of the hill. That chap unfortunately gets messages on from both sides and since one or the other side does not know when some on is transmitting the communications can become garbled. In this case both guys on either side of the hill have to be guided by the fellow on the top when to speak. OTOH from top of the hill you may be able to talk to people far away - may be even in the next section. Sounds tedious? Well not really but is one of few things that your learn.

As it is when a section is "live" the radio communications is kept as brief as possible and pared down to essentials. It is more important that you listen to all broad casts and correctly respond to those meant for you ASAP. Also all communications stands down in case of emergency. Each team is also given a cal sign mine was "M7" but it is usually more convenient to use name handles (I know the HAM's here would be aghast at this) as this relates to the location as per day duty chart easily.

Second is safety net. As I mentioned earlier each competitive is covered from start to finish through a series of tracking cars. These teams announce the "competition" number of each vehicles as it passes them and also note down the same on a tracking sheet with the time of passing. So once vehicle #1 starts the start guy, say A, announces "Competitor 1 started" He in fact will keep on relaying this on the radio as each competitor takes a start at one or two minute interval.

At the same time B (and some times C, D..etc who ever is in radio range) notes down this in his tracking sheet. Once #1 crosses him he announce "Competitor #1 through" (or something similar) on the radio. At this time C notes it down in his sheet that #1 is coming his way. Simultaneously A notes down in his tracking sheet that #1 has cleared beyond B. Now B waits for a call from C announcing #1 through him. The call from C is signal to B that this guy is clear between B&C and signal to D that #1 is coming his way. Simple?

A little bit of confusion arises when, say, #7 reaches C before #6. Hopefully #7 was faster and so has overtaken #6. But covering one minute gap is matter of few kilometers is tough. And based on the terrain this is a heads up. If #6 does not appear by the time #8 comes around this become a cause of concern. Now Team C can wave the next guy to a stop and ask if they saw #6 on the way. Usually this is not needed as the competitors themselves would tell the next control. If this is the case then we also try to ascertain that #6 is not blocking the road or parked dangerously etc.

If no inputs is coming through the stage commander at the start has his heart beats and blood pressure climbing as he tries to control his panic (that is why he is praying to god from the start that all things should go okay). He has to take decision to stop the entire stage by stopping further starts and maybe also tell all controls to stop all vehicles arriving at their locations and ask the nearest official (B in our hypothetical example and as far as possible and practical this is done in the direction of the rally) to investigate. A ambulance or doctor team is also available and can be pushed in at the same time if estimated distance / time is longer.

At the same time stage commander is in touch with the COC to update. The official who has gone in is looking for any tell tale signs of skids of similar and also local villagers lining the route are very helpful and forth coming on information. Further course of action is decided based on on the spot inputs and further resources are put in according to need.

This year we had three incidents - thankfully all minor - that are worth a mention in the first competitive. The first was Skoda pulling out its CV joint between start and first radio team. Fortunately it was within sight of the radio car and so they were parked to a side so no interruption of proceedings took place.

Second was #22 a Gypsy going off road. Fortunately no one was hurt and they just went down about 10 feet. They were reported by the next competitor and since the crew was safe no interruption to proceedings took place and after the stage was finished the crew got a ride to the end with official vehicle where their service team was awaiting.

The third involved a biker who skidded on a curve and injured himself. The incident was reported and a radio car picked him up and got him to doctors who further checked him up. He was also moved to hospital for a xray and his bike picked up by the recovery vehicle.

Hopefully this would have conveyed what a live stage atmosphere is like. This is followed by the feeling of task well done when all vehicles clear the stage and the local traffic is allowed in. There after all start moving so as to cover vast distances towards their next duty spot. Interestingly many of the rally officials have to double back and take longer detours to get to the night halts and end up clocking more kilometers than the competitors!

Last edited by sudev : 17th October 2008 at 11:58.
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Old 17th October 2008, 12:42   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sudev View Post
Hopefully this would have conveyed what a live stage atmosphere is like. This is followed by the feeling of task well done when all vehicles clear the stage and the local traffic is allowed in. There after all start moving so as to cover vast distances towards their next duty spot. Interestingly many of the rally officials have to double back and take longer detours to get to the night halts and end up clocking more kilometers than the competitors!
I am in awe of the effort that goes in .. and yes your experinces are really insightful and give a good fell of the things that happen in the background ..
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Old 17th October 2008, 20:38   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gotzuk View Post
Eagerly waiting for the next episode.
Its really interesting to read our side of the story..
I hope by end of all this there would be many more on "our" side
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Old 17th October 2008, 20:52   #24
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sudev, great post. You have me all enthused. Count me in as a volunteer for the desert storm in Feb 2009. Am shooting an email right away.

You have my word for it. I want tpo experience the 'madness' from the 'other side'

Cheers,
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Old 18th October 2008, 08:47   #25
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The Cold Water Challenge - 03rd October 2008
So on the day one of Raid we ended up at Manali and after a sumptuous dinner at Johnson's of clay oven cooked pizza and pasta (and rainbow trout for non-veggies) chased with a beer or two, we tucked in for night at almost midnight with alarms set for 0400hrs. Boy what a luxury.

Now on the first day this other team had woken up late and as a offshoot of that one of them had taken a totally cold water shower. One thing lead to another and a bet was on between the two that Dhruvan would be eschewing hot water throughout the trip and use only cold water every morning. So the score at start of the day when we assembled in the parking, stuffing our luggage in to the vehicle, was 2/2 - two days of Raid and two cold baths.

We quickly switched on the radio and announced "Good morning Raid. Sudev moving off from Manali" (This is done as much to get response from others on quality of transmission as it is done to tell everyone that you are on road giving other idea of your location). Prompt came the reply from Manjeev, who was leading the 0200hrs convoy and getting near Rohtang Top almost 50kms by road, "Good morning Sudev, there was a jam at Gulaba and we were caught up in that. We have cleared it but watch out! Take stock of situation and tell Shakes and Vijay at the start if he needs to do anything". Hmmm. Gulaba, for those who do not know, is a series of loops that climb up a mountain quick enough but at the same time this area is prone to landslides and is under constant repair and clearing operations.

Anyway as we rolled out of Manali we were a convoy of four five vehicles spread out over few kilometers out of sight of each other but very much in each others cabin as radio chatter kept up. Me, Anmol, Avishkar, Sameer, dr. Caprihans, Dr. Raina and Kan with his recovery made it to the Gulaba in short time without any opposing traffic. Omnious sign this last. Normally I would have stood at the end of queue but here a rally was to be run so we all bye-passed the line of trucks and buses to get to the head. On a steep switchback one track had broken down and was parked at the outer edge. Another truck heading up hill had to take the switch back in series of forward backward thrusts (being fully loaded) and space being less he was not able to build momentum and was cause of line up. A bit dark but you can see the shining reflectors of the truck in the background.

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For doing this the truck guy and his two helpers - and lots of other drivers and helpers - were orchestrating a ballet. The driver would build up engine rpm's and then let go of the clutch and truck would jerk forward a few feet. Helpers would instantly put blocks under the rear tires and so on..till he reached the wall on the other side of switch back. Now he would daintily reverse with full brakes every centimeter to halt the sliding momentum and again the forward moment would start. When we reached there it was all dark and slowly the tips of peaks around us started getting lit from sunrise. The second picture is of when we cleared the area. In between we were in touch with the start line at Manali to see if we needed to delay the start in view of this situation.

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Then the truck broke its steering knuckel when he hit a rock with his front left tire while fully extended. Fortunately now there was just enough room for small vehicles to still squeeze through between the mountain wall and the truck, albit with two or three back and forth line ups.
So now emergency plan was hatched that Anmol and Avishkar will remain here and a dead time control would be established by them so that if any competitor gets struck for more than normal time he would be given IN and OUT time that would not impact there section timings. Also they would be able to establish some discipline on all the traffic because fortunately a bus of CRPF jawans was also struck and the In-charge agreed to help us maintain this discipline.

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This done we told Manali, in nick of time, to continue asper schedule and that advise all competitors of possible dead time control at Gulaba. Now the race started in earnest for me and Sameer to reach our control at Gramphoo in time to seal off traffic and keep the section on time. Fortunately one team, who were actually going to be our first radio hop, was in position at Grapmhoo alread making sure that no traffic goes up that raod towards Kaza.
Roads - if you can really must call them that - up and down Rohtang La this time were really bad as there was lots of rain and also the whole road is beig iwdened to become a two lane balck top (that will be a day!). And we pushed our vehicle hard to get across. The Gramphoo control was up in time and radio contacts down the line established and ensured that there was no oncoming traffic or the traffic which had been released coming our way had all cleared the section.
Almost as soon the first of bikes and cars started landing up outside our control waiting for their time to check in. While on day one of the Raid cars and bikes are started off separately but from day two onwards the start order is mixed based on the timings. Add the fact that dead time control meant that they all landed up bunched up. There was a chaos and a traffic jam of our own!! Add to this was confusion in minds of lots of competitors on what to do with dead time calculatins and many walked up to seek advice. And did I tell you that a team of press guys were also in all that simmering pot trying to interview competitors? And adding fuel to fire some local / tourist traffic who wanted to know when they will be allowed on the road? And....
Well the good news was that our team worked as a team and each kept on doing his bit of duty admist all and kept on dispatching vehicles in to the competitive at the rate of one every two minutes. And made sure that the simmering pot never boiled over. Tracking guy was on radio, the start guy was on the dot with his GOS clock, the control in guy walked up as each competitor joined the que - stretched beyond the control zone - and noted their time and calmed the nerves of competitors ensuring them that they would not get penalised. And also keeping media happy and answering competitors - clamly most of the time but yelling my top off at few hard nuts.
And before we knew it the whirl wind came to an end and it was 1100hrs. Six hours since we moved and so much had happened that virtually not a second was available to think anything. Normally we would have been on time and after establishing our control would have had a cup of tea and paratha's at the Gramphoo dhabha. But today at this time we were totally worn out. Whew, who said officials enjoy!!??
After we collected our breath back we wre now faced with a line of media, service, trucks and busses all wanting the road to open and eager to start off towrads Kaza. And here we were blocking their road, which apparantly was empty, for our pleasure. We knew how far the rally was due to radio comm, but they did not, and now we had to plead, cajole, threaten and use our cheerful attitude to hold them back for another half hour giving the laggards on the rally enough time and distance lead. Finally this period was also over and we could finally finally grab our much awaited tea and paratha's slumped out in chairs sunning oursleves. And once in a while giving a shout on radio to Anmol and Avishkar, who were now struck in traffic jam before Rohtang due to combination of another broken truck plus road works plus hordes of tourists wanting to get day at Rohtang top, it was Gandhi jayanti + Dusshera holiday weekend after all.
Bye the bye the two made it by 1400hrs - we had had our snooze by this time - and we started moving towards Koksar, Keylong and Jispa - our night halt for today. We made it to Jispa, after a leisurely drive, by evening. A nice stroll on banks of Bhaga river ended up in a water splashing session.

Last edited by sudev : 18th October 2008 at 08:52.
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Old 18th October 2008, 10:12   #26
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@All: One of the few compensations officials got this time were nice warm jackets with Raid logo. See Abhinav and Sameer wearing them in the post above. Collector items or whatever but it was indeed a proud guy wearing this sign of being an "official"
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Old 20th October 2008, 12:05   #27
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Luxury of late start - 04th October 2008

This is more of description of the road rather than official work. A late - by normal standards - start was in cards the this day. While the main body of the Raid was going to do a Kaza-Kaza loop, we were headed for Leh. This leap frogging advance is used for organizing night halts, which was our next duty - to be ready for incoming Raid on 6th October and the attendant work load of coordinating with the Army/Police/Civil administration and hotel accommodations.

We, a convoy of three vehicle. were rolling by 0600hrs and first item on agenda was a brief stop at Patseo Army camp where Sameer and Chauhan were stationed in preparation of of Raid's arrival on 5th. Having hot tea in a cold tin shed while catching up on exploits and anecdotes of previous events is a nice way to start the day. Next was the mighty Baralacha La. Lovely tarmac road leading up to this fickle minded pass was heaped with snow on sides clearly showing work done by snow clearing machines used by BRO. In the past few visits I have never seen so much snow and ice but surprisingly the overall it was warmer than previous year, when the Raid had been terminated at Patseo due to snow blockage at Baralach La.

During the third Raid I was made to duty as radio car stationed on top of Baralacha La. Stationary for five odd hours on top, at altitude beyond 15000 feet with howling and freezing winds that one way or the other find their way in to the car cabin, is not my idea of fun at all. Freeing feet were accompanied by breathlessness at slightest effort and all this topped by having to constantly track competitors plus monitor, relay and moderate radio traffic from both sides (I was the hill top here - from previous posts example). When we crossed Baralacha La - posing for the pictures - I was reminded that on 6th morning some one else would be doing this duty (and even worse at top of Tanglang La at 17500ft).

After the top we descend to Sarchu plains and a long level stretch of excellent driving interspread with sudden "yumps" and stream crossing followed. By now some sun burns were being felt on our noses, cheeks and back of hands, so we stopped at Sarchu for a tea break and applied vigorous coatings of sun blocks. After this was interesting climb of Gata loops and on to Pang, for another break for lunch.

Having a comparatively relaxed travel schedule allowed us to have fair bit of enjoyment driving across More plains and at Tanglang La. At the right top of the latter we noticed that Abhinav was suffering from headaches and generally not feeling too well. Could this be AMS? We qucikly went down to Rumtse on the other side of Tanglang La and just short of tht he puked to his hearts content and started feeling better - thereby proving that it was not AMS but just some simple exposure to cold and upset stomach. Keeping warm and rest would cure that.

By the time we started from Rumtse it was dark and speeds picked up as there was nothing visible to distract. A quick run in to Leh to our night halt was uneventful.

Oh and before I close the score was 3/3 - three days of Raid and three cold baths. Now we could see Anmol trying to wriggle out of the bet. His hope was that Leh would be too cold for Dhruvan to carry out cold bath threat.

Last edited by sudev : 20th October 2008 at 12:13.
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Old 20th October 2008, 12:23   #28
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A unintended rest day - 05th October 2008

Normally one day is used up for visiting all the administration offices and re-confirming their readiness for the Raid, which includes closing of the Leh-Manali route for almost a full day. This speaks volumes of support by the army and government to run the Raid year after year. Also in the loop of things is the Broder Roads Organization which has first priority on the roads. Also added is important duty of inviting some diginitary to do flag in of the Raid and its coveragein the local channles and radio stations.
But we all goofed up as 5th was a Sunday and none of this could be done! So the alternatve was relax and enjoy the town and worry about everthing else on the morrow. No use worrying. Fortunately Adil, another senior official who had missed joining at start due to work, has flown in and so betweenthe two of us we could handle evrything. Anmol, Abhinav and Dhruvan, the firt timers to Leh, took off for a day of sight seeing in and around Leh while we, adil and me, relaxed.

This day the Raid would be running from Kaza to Patseo. And the score was - what else with an easy start and breakfast at 1000hrs - 4/4. Anmol was getting worried as next day also did not need an early morning wake up!
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Old 20th October 2008, 12:34   #29
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Strictly OT about the best.
Did you guys verify that he actually took a bath. I mean its easy to dip hands in water and dab your body with it?
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Old 20th October 2008, 12:53   #30
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Raid is coming today! - 06th October 2008

Leh town wakes up to business in rather liesurely fashion and no work gets done if you try and visit government offices earlier than 1100hrs. With Raid scheduled to be trickling in starting 1330hrs we had very little time to organise things. The Raid was to terminate for the day at J&K Tourism office, who were one of the sponsors.

After a kick off meeting with the Director J&K Tourism (Leh area) Adil, as planned, took of for meeting with DC/SSP/CMO/CEO-Hill Council. I and my team took on the task of preparing the parking lot of this center in to Parc-Ferme. Further fortune smiled on us and we had two more visitors Gaurav and Faraz from Delhi and they also pitched in to help set up the area and festoon the walls with the Raid posters and sponsor banners. Unfortunately I do not have a single picture of this.

In between I was able to raise Indeeep - doing duty on top of Tanglang La - on radio and got confirmation that everything was running on schedule and precise number of vehicles and bikes headed our way, having crossed him mid-way in the last competitive for the day.

We were ready to receive Suresh Rana in time and thereafter there was a steady flow of Extreme cars and bikes followed by adventure cars till almost 1700hrs. All participants were given a traditional welcome by "khadaks" (sacred scarves) by tourism staff at the IN time control.

Also making a "chief gust" appearance at this time was the DC of Leh. And so did local and rally media people. The competitors were then directed to collect their acco slips and guide map to their hotels. Easy as this sounds it is a logistic exercise in itself as there is no large hotel and competitors get dispersed in many hotels all over the city. At the same time we need to know where everyone is as many friends and relatives call in to find out about their well being (many of them had no contact ever since they left Manali) and sometime we need to confer with them on results and requests.

Could be breath a sigh of relief now? No. Now the officials start arriving, trailing the rally and they also need to be handed out their acco slips. With sun having set the parking lot started becoming chilly and windy. Finally at about 2000hrs all have arrived and settled in their hotels. And we could move but not to our hotel yet. More work is to be done.

We went to the meet with COC and results guys who have been busy punching in data and have print out of the starting order and results. Plus some bulletin needs to be put up. So we picked these and again went round to all th ehotels and the Tourist center pasting these at all the places.

Finally at 2130hrs we were able to call it a dy and went to our hotel for a dinner and hittng the sack. Year before last we could do the same only at 0030hrs so things are looking up. Oh joy!

Score was 5/5 and Anmol was banking on early kick out of the room to work in his favour as tomorrow we have to establish parc-ferme at 0400hrs.

Last edited by sudev : 20th October 2008 at 12:59.
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