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Old 17th January 2019, 14:08   #61
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Default Re: Ka goes to Bhutan with a pack of wolves - On a KTM Duke 390

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Guys, here I dedicate this travelogue to my team of buddies, family and friends who encouraged and supported me for the ride. And people whom I did not even know and who came to my rescue whenever I pushed the panic button, Santhosh aka black12rr, Sebastian, Sheel, Rahul, Bishnu Banerjee, Vijay Rana, Parag Sachania, Ambarish, Feroz, Arif and lot more who directed us to the right way and tried their best to see we run on schedule with minimum hiccups.

And lastly and not the least, Ka, my slithering snake for taking me to the distant world and bringing back safely and in one piece while taking up all the beatings.
Congratulations to the team on an epic ride and as usual a wonderful travelogue unk9ja! Thank you for sharing. It took quite a while to read through the entire post and let it sink in.

Looks like Timsun tire is a nice alternative for a good balance between tarmac and off road.

I am glad you and Ka are ok after the fall. Buy hey, even Valentino Rossi crashes

Do please keep us updated about the probable output shaft bearing failure you mentioned.

Wishing you and the team many more rides like these.
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Old 18th January 2019, 09:52   #62
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Default Re: Ka goes to Bhutan with a pack of wolves - On a KTM Duke 390

Pretty comprehensive travelogue there, with all details, photos and having met each of you, this travelogue is special. I am just glad, the ride ended without much issues to the KTM and the last sprint was noteworthy by the KTM.

Hope to meet all of you somewhere soon while traveling, cheers and thanks for sharing .
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Old 18th January 2019, 16:47   #63
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Default Re: Ka goes to Bhutan with a pack of wolves - On a KTM Duke 390

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Pretty comprehensive travelogue there, with all details, photos and having met each of you, this travelogue is special. I am just glad, the ride ended without much issues to the KTM and the last sprint was noteworthy by the KTM.

Hope to meet all of you somewhere soon while traveling, cheers and thanks for sharing .
Thanks for kind words and all the help you offered us on the way Sheel, we are indebted towards you. It would have a turmoil if you had not navigated us through the thick and thin of it.

And what a beauty you have. We were really blown away by that Scorpio of yours. That shine on the vehicle makes it look as though it has rolled off the production line yesterday.

Ka goes to Bhutan with a pack of wolves - On a KTM Duke 390-img_20181211_155916_hdr.jpg

We are also looking forward to meet you again. Hope it materializes soon.

Last edited by unk9ja : 18th January 2019 at 16:49.
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Old 19th January 2019, 16:55   #64
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Default Re: Ka goes to Bhutan with a pack of wolves - On a KTM Duke 390

Trip to Bhutan on a bike!!And that too from Bangalore!!!
It can only be a dream for me. I don't think I can even dare to attempt it. Hats-off to the entire team.
And kudos to the entire family for the support given to you.
Last but not the least, awesome travelogue, worth the 5 stars.
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Old 19th January 2019, 17:19   #65
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Default Re: Ka goes to Bhutan with a pack of wolves - On a KTM Duke 390

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Thanks for kind words and all the help you offered us on the way Sheel, we are indebted towards you.
Please, nothing like that Sir, infact, because I nowadays travel less [3 of my riding buddies have just left for Sikkim], I find solace in helping fellow travellers whenever I can and that too riders, its family then .

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We are also looking forward to meet you again. Hope it materializes soon.
.
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Old 19th January 2019, 20:24   #66
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Default Re: Ka goes to Bhutan with a pack of wolves - On a KTM Duke 390

Excellent travelogue, unk9ja! Awesome pics and wonderfully written. You got a nice group of riders who hung with you patiently and assisted you during those mechanical issues in your bike.

Thanks for the loads of details that you have shared, it will definitely help the fellow travelers.

How is the road/traffic condition on the Siliguri - Gorakhpur - Lucknow - Jhansi stretch?
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Old 20th January 2019, 11:13   #67
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Excellent travelogue, unk9ja! Awesome pics and wonderfully written.
How is the road/traffic condition on the Siliguri - Gorakhpur - Lucknow - Jhansi stretch?
Thanks for the kind words, arun_josie.
We had to drop Sandhya at Bagdogra airport and start to Gorakhpur. From the airport, G maps took us on a SH which was a nightmare. There was construction going on, some parts were excellent, many villages in between and a petrol pump where the card swipe was not working. After hitting the highway, it was great and we could manage to pull back the lost time. We managed to hit Gorakhpur bypass piggybacking a private bus who was doing good speeds. That helped us to ride at good pace in the dark.
Gorakhpur to Lucknow was again an excellent stretch. We managed to hit traffic as we neared the Lucknow city. The elevated road towards Jhansi was blocked due to an accident, but we managed to get through. There was moderate amount of traffic between Lucknow and Jhansi but manageable. Jhansi bypass was a bit iffy in terms of tarmac and the slow moving traffic.
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Old 9th February 2019, 18:53   #68
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Default Re: Ka goes to Bhutan with a pack of wolves - On a KTM Duke 390

I should start this post with an apology. While Unk9ja selflessly applied himself in creating this travelogue immediately after returning from Bhutan and my co-riders pitched in quickly with posts & information, I buried myself in tons of work to catch up on the "lost 2 weeks" that the Bhutan ride caused at work. It turned out to be a quicksand trap as I ended up being barely able to keep my head above the water in Jan. It's only now that I could write this post & apologize sincerely to my friends on the timing.

I am the least experienced wolf amongst Unk9ja 's Ka & pack of wolves that rode to Bhutan. So I am not going to write about technical stuff on motorcycles, the routes, the riding techniques etc. My co-riders specially Unk9ja & Added_flavor are significantly qualified than me to talk about that. Instead I am going to share an amateur's perspective & I am going to talk about conquering the fear, the way you can perhaps compensate the lack of experience or relatively low skill & yet go on a big ride. My purpose is not to oversimplify riding, nor is it to mock experienced riders or their steeds and definitely not to preach. I just want to connect with the beginners, the amateurs who have big riding plans in the making or those whose ambitions cannot take flight due to reasons that I will attempt to tackle in this post.

Based on my experience of riding to Bhutan with the very seasoned company of Unk9ja, Added_flavor and Dilip, here is my take on some key parameters that stop you from going on a big ride or from having a good big ride if you are actually in middle of planning one.

There will never be the perfect time : Life is made of finite moments. This is philosophical yet the most profound of all realities. There is never going to be a good time to go on a big ride. By time I don't mean seasons or weather as you need to factor that in. I am referring to the countless reasons why we put off getting out of our comfort zone and not hitting the road. I will go on a big one after "something" or once this "something" is sorted. Perhaps this "something" is just our sub-conscious mind trying to be nice and avoiding to label "something" for what it really is. It is fear. No one wants to know that they fear something and definitely no one wants to admit that they fear something. So the mind simply finds the one "something" from tons of examples out of our less than perfect lives to hide behind. Unless the big ride is going to land you in monetary debt, or your family really needs you at this time or the ride is going to cause great harm to your health, there isn't a great reason to keep your riding plan or ambition for another time. The best time is now. We are not getting younger, there will never be a situation when all is sorted. Even in olden days where elders used to leave for pilgrimage, they never finished all their duties or sorted all their stuff out. They passed it on to the next generation and went on their pilgrimages. My point is there is never a good time , there will never be a good time, there will only be good opportunities. And you need to take that opportunity when it presents itself. Things will fall in place once you overcome the fear and take the decision to hit the road. In early 2018, Uday mentioned about his intention to ride to Bhutan among mouthfuls of pakoras at my place and I saw my opportunity. I knew this was now or perhaps never. You need to find your opportunity and take action. I had a knee injury later & that cast a big shadow on my plans. I was doubtful, skeptical even angry. But then my co-riders pitched in with words of encouragement & this brings me to my next point.

People matter the most : Group riding is about people. Sure it is also about the motorcycle, the feeling of sun on your face and the liberation. But on a big ride specially as a less experienced rider, you may not go solo and so you will be out for days together with a bunch of people. You ride together, eat together and stay together. Now this has tremendous importance on a motorcycle trip because you also got to watch each other's back. You have to depend on and also help the people you are riding with for everyone's safety & security. It is not just about having bonfires and drinks together, it is about being on the road. Most likely you are going to follow a bike at 100 kmph all day or go on a blind turn behind one. So it is very important as a less experienced rider to decide whom are you going to do your big ride with. You and the people whom you are riding with got to feel safe and more importantly feel harmonious with each other. Unfortunately people apply some weird rules about choosing whom they are going to do a big ride with. Like people who have the same bike go on a big ride together, people whom you chatted with on one of the dozens of WhatsApp groups that you are part of or some gang you did few breakfast rides with or people who wear helmets of same colour !!. More often that not, it is a recipe for disaster. So whom do you ride with on a big ride? How about riders who you will invite into your house, riders with whom you will leave your family if need be, riders who know how shitty you are and still want to hang out with you, riders who cover your weakness with their encouragement and experience, riders who understand your comfort zone and yet know how to get you out of it for your own betterment & growth as a motorcyclist. However I want to clarify that there has to be mutual contribution for a harmonious ride. Your lack of experience is not an excuse to cling on to someone or not take up any duty on the ride. That would be selfish & detrimental to getting exposure and becoming a seasoned tourer. I have known Added_flavor & Unk9ja over a few years, we have ridden together, done some overnighter trips, met each other's families, broken bread together (Added_flavor doesn't like me talking about bread or hotel rooms for that matter) and consulted each other on some decisions. Both are highly experienced riders and understand my skill and capabilities for what they are. We share a common passion for touring even if their touring credentials are gigantic for me. There is a mutual trust and bond of friendship. I couldn't think of a better bunch of guys to do this ride with. I guess I was fortunate to ride with them to Bhutan. I learnt greatly by just watching them go about the day They ensured I grow by asking me to do stuff. Even Dilip whom I met just before the ride is Added_flavor's childhood friend and a very experienced rider & an easy going guy. San (Added_flavor better half) was a cheerful delight & a beacon of sweetness with humour on difficult days. Does that mean that you will never have arguments or quarrels? I had a very hard day while riding through Bagalpur, perhaps the hardest day of my riding career, I was way out of my riding capacity, the weather & environment didn't help and I erupted like a volcano. But then I realised that others are having a hard day too . So I shut my mouth to avoid saying anything that may further hurt anyone till we crossed the difficult terrain. Imagine you going out with your family for 15 days on the road. If you do not have a single argument or heated exchange, you deserve the noble peace prize. So yes, we did have very few low moments like any family. But just like family, we never abandoned each other, we always had each other's backs. That's what good friends and decent people do. So decide whom you are going to ride with very carefully.

Motorcycle truths : My bike was the lowest capacity at 250cc, there was the crazy Duke 390 and the mighty in-line 4 CBR 650s. So how does this pan out ? Touring is about average speeds (I am sure Added_flavor nodded his head vigorously when he read this). As long as you are able to do anywhere between 100-130 kmph all day on a motorcycle together as a group, your bikes are well matched. Sure the big bikes are going to reach average speeds faster, the riders would be less strained but all in all, you can stick together as a group. So that settles the Cubic capacity equation. But how do you know if you can keep up with the group? Definitely not by watching YouTube videos or being key board warriors on WhatsApp or forums. There is no substitute for getting the rubber on the tarmac by yourself. You need to ride like the way you would with the group and see how it spans out. I have some experience in long distance riding but was never on the road for days together. So before the ride, I went on a 3 day solo trip to coastal Karnataka to get into the mindset. So getting hands-on experience is very important. If you are good on highways, ride in the hills, if you are good on the twisties in the cool mountains then ride on the sweltering coastal line, try riding longer & faster to build the confidence. Next is about reliability of the motorcycle itself. Reliability is a factor of how well you keep your bike, how well your manufacturer decided to build it and a potentially lethal combination of both. I had a RE TB500 before this which never gave me trouble and yet I wouldn't do Bhutan on it but that is not my point here. Get your bike in good shape, carry some commonly needed spares even if you don't know how to fix them. No one can guarantee 100% reliability on even the best bikes but the point is to prepare as well as you can. This preparation is not for you. Getting your bike in good shape before the big ride and preparing for contingencies is a sign of respect & courtesy to your co-riders. On a big ride, the combined reliability of the motorcycles in the group is as good as the most unreliable bike in the group. So your preparation is a way of telling your co-riders that you value their time and have done everything to prevent any unpleasant experience for everyone on the ride. Even after that, there will be a breakdown so don't loose it. Learn as everything is an experience. I learnt from breakdown of one of the bikes that the humble duct tape is the most powerful tool that any tourer can carry in his tool bag.

Ask & Observe -Road trip is not an ego trip:Motorcyclists specially the ones in mid 30s & beyond are usually decently settled in life and work. We are taking decisions in our daily lives that impact our families, our opinions are valued and weighed in at our work place and basically we are mature members of the household & seasoned pros at work. Then we take up motorcycle touring and we enter a world where all our knowledge & status becomes redundant, where experience is measured not in in terms of age but in terms of touring know-how. There are two ways here. One is to sit tight on our might horses and display an aura of invincibility; ask nothing and learn nothing. The other is to respect other riders and learn from them. Learn by asking and observation. While the latter is possible for most, the asking part would need getting used to. Be like a child, ask, be curious, your questions may be basic yet important. If you have the right people as mentioned above, it would be relatively easy. Sure they will pull your leg but will answer your queries patiently. Before the ride, I asked questions on packing, on carrying spares, riding gear etc. Some questions were very trivial but necessary for me. During the ride, I observed my seasoned fellow riders & tried to replicate. Learnt to hydrate myself, learnt to install my luggage quickly and securely, learnt to look after my bike, learnt to read the road, learnt to ride better on different terrains, learnt to ride in the dark, learnt to ride faster. All this by just observing what they were doing. My point is let go of your insecurities & ask. Most likely your question is answered by a guy 6 years your junior in age and 12 years senior in terms of riding experience. So be it, friendships don't have place for egos. Added_flavor is perhaps a naturally gifted rider & add on to it the years of experience. So just by watching him organise everyone, his movement for tackling the terrain two-up, I improved my riding. Unk9ja is tremendously disciplined on the road and very hands-on with the bike, I learnt to be ride safer and be confident with the bike mechanicals in his company. Lastly it is important to thank these riders for their help. They had no necessity to support you and yet they do. So be thankful. Humility & gratitude never go out of fashion.

So as I mentioned in the beginning that my perspective is going to be of an amateur rider who wanted to go on a big ride and I hope the common sensical yet elusive understanding that I have tried to communicate helps people with lesser experience who want to do big rides. A special thanks to Porschefire for helping me prepare for the ride, I really wish you could make it with us. Mashblue has been a pillar of support in the preparation for this ride & a great friend always. I don't think I would have ever ridden to Bhutan if not for the awesome friendship and encouragement of my co-riders Added_flavor, Unk9ja and Dilip. I will be always in their debt for the wonderful learning experience and memories of this ride. And now that the threshold of riding boundaries has further expanded I hope to take on bigger adventures from the confidence that this ride has given me.
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Old 4th March 2019, 00:06   #69
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Default Re: Ka goes to Bhutan with a pack of wolves - On a KTM Duke 390

Congratulations team for the successful trip. Great write up Uday sir and hats off to your grit in managing the situations and still covering up the days lost. Need not say anything about the super duper couple Suhas and Sandhya, very eager and enthusiast to in doing long trips. They have become a pro riding couples with back to back long rides.
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