The thought behind riding to the land of the Royals was a humble visit to the holy city of Ajmer. This was the first time we were targeting a 1000kms+ journey from Mumbai with high hopes of completing it successfully.
So after a bit of planning, lots of discussion, we put our plan into motion. We completed the whole to-do list of requisites faster than Shankar Mahadevan’s “Breathless.”
High Speed Excitement
We set out before dawn and covered 70kms approx even before sunrise, roaring down the silky smooth NH8. Then catastrophe struck as we blew an engine. The hurried pre-ride check had already begun to take its toll. The only course: tow the bike to the nearest service centre, where a lengthy, time-consuming repair job was on the cards. No alternative but to stay the night at a friend’s place, somehow slept amidst anxiety gnawing at us from inside. Hardly an auspicious start, if one may put it that way.
Hardcore Hard Ride
As the saying goes, a new morning always comes with new hope. But we were already a day late, having covered just 150 km till then, which meant we had to cover about 900 km today on an engine which just come out of the ICU!
The run down engine felt like it was a puppy trying to catch a butterfly, and the highway felt like we were stranded inside a hot oven. But periodic sips of mint tea kept us going right through the afternoon. Having covered 500 km by the end of the day, and feeling quite satisfied with ourselves, we now turned to servicing of the bike.
That done, we were ready to fuel up and “Ride like the wind”. Past sundown, headlights flashing along the highway, our steed ate up the miles. The blacktop was clearer at night ,because of which we covered more ground.
Welcome to Rajasthan
Our eyes popped when we saw the tiny sign board. Following a very narrow line on the wide corners was something new; later we realised that those corners were designed to provide traction to the heavy haulers. Along with the narrow corner lines, we faced one more hurdle – the temperature dropped, in sharp contrast to the scorching day but we soldiered on. We reached Udaipur at almost 2 am and our bodies were asking for a break.
Dal Baati Frenzy
A light breakfast and a strong cup of coffee set our pace for the upcoming madness. The ride was smooth and uneventful till we stopped for lunch. Now, we were really, really hungry, so lunch was perhaps heavier than we should have allowed ourselves. We were not to blame, the delicious #DaalBaatiChurma was. To settle our loaded bellies, we danced on the highway, jogged a bit, and even climbed a parked trailer two stories high. Lucky, the driver didn’t mind.
Finally back on to our mounts, and barrelling along at triple digit speeds, on the Chittorgarh highway, as we closed in on Ajmer. The sun had set and we finally reached our destination. That night we had a contented smile on our face, like a baby when snuggled in its mother’s arms.
The day had finally arrived and we were at Ajmer. We left our hotel room early, first went to the Ajmer Sharif Dargah, took a quick tour of the city and then returned to the Dargah for the evening Qawwali. The city offered its own form of hospitality — the soothing ambience of the Dargah, the mesmerising beauty of the nearby lake, the sweetness of the roadside rabdi, the amazing light show at Ajmer fort ,all priceless.
Time to get insane, once again! Located 30kms away from Ajmer is Pushkar – another holy destination that attracts a huge number of tourists. The crowded streets or the long line of devotees at the temple was nothing compared to riding the Pushkar desert. We did about two hours of our own desert safari, up and down the sand dunes, lined up against the camels. From the sand dunes, back onto the tarmac. We started the return journey and headed to Udaipur. With all the positivity of Ajmer and the madness of Pushkar, we reached Udaipur in time for dinner. The plan for the next day was to explore the Royalty of Rajasthan.
Udaipur had a different feel altogether, more about heritage and history. The combination of the serene landscapes of the city, the tour of the city palace and the beautiful canvas of the adjoining lake felt like a beautiful medley by Kishore Kumar. After touring the city we were hungry; for most of the past week, we had “authentic” meals and hence we decided to have our normal junk food. Though we were Dominos devotees, we had to settle for Pizza Hut.
Riding with the baggers
The last day of our trip was upon us; we decided to head for home directly from Udaipur. Packing our bags with great experiences and lovely memories, we saddled up and got started. Before long, we joined up with a Harley-Davidson group, also riding to Mumbai. Obviously, our ponies were no match for their stallions but we had the huge benefit of better fuel efficiency and therefore range — 600kms, reserve to reserve. Back and forth we went, struggling to measure up with the biggies – the whole bunch was heading down the smooth state highways of Gujarat, wolf-pack style.
The Slog Overs
Having started the ride at 7am from Udaipur, we were in Surat by about 5 pm. Then the laziness kicked-in. Throttles were twisted a little less, the genre changed from rock to rhythm and blues but finally reached home just in time for dinner.
The Full Stop to an Exclamation!
At last, our first big ride was successfully done. Two bikes, four friends returned with a treasure of experience and memories. This was by far the best rides
which we had. Its a goodbye for now, but we do look forward to our next crazy venture.