What a Weekend !

At chakan with the BAL team

So, what did you do on the weekend ? Movie ? Slept ? Shopping ?

Nah.

We were riding the new Pulsar 200 at Bajaj's Chakan Plant. 29 of us rode/drove/bussed/flew from across the places to meet up the teams developing Bajaj's latest power horses and then got to ride the 200 in their test track.

And as a perfect finalee to the weekend, Rossi won in the Spanish GP.

The buildup

The planning for the weekend was started a few months in advance. Pestering Venkat in Bangalore to float to the BAL guys the plan for a Chakan visit from end of last year. With the upcoming news of the launch of new bikes, it was a good chance of getting a visit to the manufacturing plant.

After much cajoling and talks, finally Venkat called me up to say that we have a go ! Unfortunately we got a very short notice - of about 2 weeks to set up everything. Another problem was that we could take only 30 people to the track as that was the max number that Bajaj authorities were comfortable with accomodating for the visit. Understandably this caused a lot of heartburn on the groups, as lots of people hopeful of joining got left out.

So, what is Chakan ?

Bajaj Auto Limited has a R&D division, where they design and manufacture the Pulsar bikes. This plant is located at Chakan in Maharashtra , near Pune. That was the place where we were to go to.

In nov 2003, we had our first meet there. This was our 2nd one and we named it Chakan07.

The weekend begins

I took a flight to Pune from hyd. There was no time for me to get away from office and ride up. There is only one flight which is between Hyd and Pune - Deccan Airways. The first problem i faced was that the DA people said i could not take my helmet in the plane ! I had to go and talk to the security chaps to get the helmet through - and fyi - helmets are allowed as hand baggage. I checked in my shoulder bag.

My cousin Nalin was waiting for me at Pune airport for the ride back to CRPF camp. We decided to just ride all the way to Toni da Dhabba where the others were having dinner first.


Arriving at Toni Dhaaba

The guys from Bangalore, Pune and a few from Mumbai were already there. I run the BN group, but it was a first meeting for many of us. Over dinner we swapped lots of bike stories.


Dinner with BNers and BPers

The next day we all met at Joshi dhaba on the Pune bypass for breakfast and pre-ride briefing. Sid came on his new pulsar 200 ! Was the first time we saw the 200 and I wanted to check it out. Took it out for a short spin.

Riding Sid's 200
The bike feels higher because of the changed riding posture - more like the CBZ . I did not really test out the top end as it was a new bike, but it manages to reach 60 easy - but more noise than the zma.

Lining up.

Breakfast over we had a 1/2 an hour pre-ride briefing on the dos and donts and how we were going to ride to chakan. I was the point, and then numbered all the people behind me. Explained the staggered riding formation we were to follow and off we went.

Group riding - Staggered formation

Riding in formation.

Bajaj chakan plant

We reached the Bajaj plant and met Sudhir Kamat who was in charge of the rowdy group of riders who had just come in ;-) . Started off with lunch and then a factory tour. This was followed by a Q&A session with the BAL Marketting and R&D teams. A lot of heated discussions followed.

Then we went on the test track.

There were 4 beauties lined up - one of each colour. Gleaming, waiting to glide on the tracks. The bikes are already on the road, so you would know what they look like by now. We got a big disappointment that there was no 220. Nav was ready with a cheque in his pocket that if he liked the 220, he would ride out of the plant on it - but he never got his wish :(

Initially it was decided to have 2 riders on the track for 3 rounds each. But with a big group of riders, and the steadily approaching evening, we had to shorten it to 2 rounds each from the 3rd batch ( which was me and kedar :( ). The first round also had a bad incident with Hrishi going off the track. On my rounds I saw that the track had not been swept clean and there was a lot of sand and rubble on the tracks which probably caused the issue. The offroading experience of Hrishi also meant that everyone after that were going slower than what they would have been planning to go at.

Group pics.

The last rider was Venkat on his ride on the 200, and then a picture session with the BAL guys and the bikes. We gave a rousing 'Hip Hip Hurrah' to the BAL team to give us this opportunity . Then we left for Panchsheel club for dinner hosted by BAL. All done. Time to leave.


Riders in the night.


Chilling out at Panchsheel club

The evening plans finished by 10:30pm or so. It was too early to sleep, so a few of us decided to go to Lonavala for tea :)

Rocking weekend I must say ! Thanks to all the guys who made this possible , and the guys who came and made the meet a success !

4 comments:

  1. A good weekend for you guys. It was nice reading about it !!

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  2. well written vibhu....Looks like you folks had a blast

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  3. Pretty informative n interesting read Vibhu.

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  4. Vibhu: Very informative write up. Enjoyed reading this piece.

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