No matter how many times you see something as pics or on TV, nothing beats being there. On 23-25th nov'-07, we had one of those moments. Around 40 people from around India met up at Hampi for the bikenomads meet (see pic above). 40 people !
When I had started BN around 5 years back, I had no idea we would be doing these meets kind of things. No idea that we would have people who were in college to people who were grand parents coming and riding. No idea that with the guys, there will also be girls riding. No idea at all. But it all happened, and its a feeling which is not describeable.
Links to pics etc on the website : www.bikenomads.com
Now for the trip log (somewhat of a trip log as i dont have exact times/distances)
5th year anniversary for BN. Never in my dreams had i thought that I would create a group which would grow this big that we start having annual meets. AFAIK, apart from bullet groups under the patronage of Royal Enfield company, there is no other group in India which does annual meets where people from different cities ride up to some place and meet people. Sure, lots of bike clubs exist, but they have city meets, not inter city meets.
Which kind of makes it a challenge to get the people from different cities to one place, without any outside resources. No big entity with a big wallet. All you have is yours and other peoples wallet, which they are kinda not in a hurry to empty. Add to it, we have people of all spectrums, those still in college ( with pocket money) and those who are grand parents.
Initial plan was to figure out where to have the meet. Last year was Goa, so we wanted to do it
someplace else. A quick poll on the group, and Hampi seemed to be a good 2nd destination ( kind of a partial poll, as most people are down south). So, Hampi it was.
Then another hitch happened. I was shifting jobs right when the meet was being planned. Which meant, i would not be online to take care of co-ordination activities. So asked for volunteers and Vasanth jumped into it. Soon we have Vasanth for Bangalore, Captain Nandu Chitnis for Pune, Hrishikesh for
Mumbai and GR for hyderabad as the co-ordinators.
As the days went by, the people confirming started to swell - more than the people who were dropping out, and soon we had 30+ people all confirmed for the meet. With a few more people jumping in at the last minute, we had 40 people in all. 40 Nomads riding from various cities to Hampi.
My side of the journey concerns pune to hampi.
23rd November 2007 : Starting out.
6am we were to meet up at CC (chandni chowk - yup its there in Pune also). But as usual got delayed. Also had to pick up Medini, Captain Nandu Chitnis's ( capt. from now on) wife. So, by the time we got to CC, it was pushing near 7am. Met the guys and started off, but stopped a bit away to sync up with Harshad and the Mumbai cagers.
The route was Pune - Peth - Sangli - Bijapur - Hospet - Hampi. I guestimated at reaching by 6-7pm ... but how wrong I was. With 5 bikes and 2 cages, we rolled off. There were 2 more bikes of Praveen and Nalin who were escorting us only part of the way, and then back ( i guess they are cursing themselves now for not making it to the meet! ).
We planned to have meeting points, where we can group up while moving on. The group of riders were mostly people who had not toured much on bikes (apart from navendu), and I guess the idea of the distance was not very firmly etched in their minds, cause we started having a lot of breaks.
Everytime someone would stop for whatever reason, off would come everyone and start smoking. That would eat up around 15-20 mins each stop.
Stopped for breakfast around 9am, where we were caught up with Dr Arnob and Prasad , who had started off from Mumbai around 6:30pm. While we were still sipping tea, they headed off. They were taking the route from Hubli to Hampi, and wanted to ride all out.
We turned off Peth towards sangli around lunch time. Till now everyone had a good time riding on the 4 laned highway , with capt. first on his 220 and then on a karizma. Nehal, the only woman rider, also had a stint of riding the Karizma of MV for sometime on the highway, and was unwilling to give it back to MV !
Around 12 we reached Peth and turned off towards Sangli. We were guests of Mayank at Sangli for Lunch, and he caught up with us some way off from Sangli, and then guided us into the town - straight to his garage with 3 shining bikes lovingly worked on (see pic). I have seen a few people having their workplaces for their bikes, but I have not yet seen one like this. Spic and span, and everything shining.
Lunch was at a temple adjacent to his house, which his grand father had helped build. Typical south indian ( or was it marathi ?) fare, which was quite fulfilling. Around 2pm we starte off, and then everyone got lost in the city traffic ! It took another 30-40 mins for everyone to regroup and move off.
Around 4:30pm we hit Bijapur. We were running very very late. Last time I had been here, we had reached bijapur by 12 and had spent around 2 hours at the gol gumbaz. But this time we just had to ride on. Suddenly we realized that capt. was missing. Called him up to find he had stopped to fill in fuel into his 220.
An hour later we stopped at a BP ghar for tea and filling fuel. Sunset. Now the tough part started. Night riding on a single lane highway. A totally different ball game from the morning ride. And much tougher. This was taking its toll on the riders and more and more brakes were needed. Around 8:00 at a sutta break, we decided to stop for dinner after 9pm. At around 9pm found the bikers (who were usually ahead of us cagers) stopped at a dhaaba , which they were deciding to stop for dinner.
However, it was not suitable for the ladies. Also got a call from Ryan that his car had a puncture. Lots of discussion later, we said we could not really stop at this place - a strick no-no from the ladies and we decided to head on and find another place. A bit later found a sign for "Kamat 20 kms ahead". Another 1/2 an hour and we were at kamat. It was going to be only open till 11pm (just 1/2 an hour more) , and as soon as the bikers rolled in, we gave a bulk order for everyone. Hrishi then called up Dr Arnob to see if he can guide us into the hotel where we were to stay. Arnob said for us to meet him at the hospet bus station. Asking a few passerbys and policemen we were able to finally reach the meeting point, and then followed doc to the Hotel. Thanks to Vasanth's planning, everything was all set up for us to just crash.
24th November : Hampi
We were to get up at 8am and go and sight see hampi at 9am. We finally left around 10:30 am from the hotel to hampi. The plan was to see hampi as much as we can by 3:00pm and be back at the hotel for regrouping for the group pics. With Vasanth as guide we went around hampi, clicking a lot of pics at the famous locations like Queen's bath, Zanana, elephant stables, vrupakshi temple etc.
Around 3pm people began to trickle back into the hotel. We started lining up the bikes. Even with ample parking space we would have run out of places to keep the bikes, so we rearranged into 2 curved lines, and headed out towards Vitthal Temple for the Group Pic session. Harshad and I definitely need megaphones for next time, as it is painfull yelling at a group of 40 people to align themselves.
Again at Vitthal temple we took sometime to line up the bikes. By this time the other contingent of people who were not going to come on this day had arrived - venkat and co from bangalore, Arpan and Alok from mumbai. So , we had a full set of bikes to be photographed. The show of strenght with the new BN Ts was generating a lot of interest in the people around. Hard not to be interested when we have so many bikes !
5 pm, and the photo shoot over we went to the Vitthal temple to look at the temple with musical pillars and the rath. The next regroup time was 7pm at the hotel, and till then we lazed around, a few of us heading to the Tungabhadra river right next to the temple.
7:30pm we finally started to get a semblance of order at the hotel. We had basically taken over an open (but with roof) dining space for our whole group. The plan was to have intro's and discussions. The intro was planned in such a way that the person being introduced would only stand up, say his/her name and his location. It was up to the rest of us to describe about that person. This went on for another 2 hours (in which gr, ashish and Anu also planned the dinner and the bonfire). Unfortunately we did not get much time to discuss other things which had planned like first aid (by arnob) and the discussion for next year's ride.
10:30pm some of us went off to sleep while some still swapped stories over 2kfs. ;)
25th Nov : the ride back
5:00am I got up and started waking the pune guys, when harshad told us, there was a change in plans around 2am or so to move on at 7am ! sigh. if i had known earlier I would have slept more.
7:30am we started to move off. Since the cagers were ready, we started off first, as we know the bikes would catch up. This time we would be going through hubli and then catch the highway to pune.
However the 130km stretch from Hospet - Hubli was not in good condition and we knew we would take some time. We took almost till lunch time to reach Hubli. The bikers had gone to a Kamat restaurant, but we could not figure out the directions, and so we decided to try our luck on the highway. We found a Golden Garden restaurant where we stopped for lunch - and it had really good food.
We then headed to kolhapur where we were to regroup with other as Mayank would be peeling off from us. Juices and teas later, we bid our bye to Mayank and headed towards Pune. By this time we were joined by Praveen Sathye, who rode on from pune and then back.
From Kohlapur the traffic picks up a lot. For bikes its not a problem, as they find gaps and move on, but for a car, it started becoming slower. Ryan had to reach mumbai fast, so he had also said his byes and moved off. Capt. was again on a ZMA, and though he had said he wanted to switch around 6pm, all he did at that time was switch his helmet for one with a clear visor and moved on. I think he found the ZMA much more fun to ride.
Around 7pm we again regrouped with capt. moving into the car. We decided to regroup at Joshi Vada pav before pune. By the time my car would reach there, the bikers would be all ready to move on. Also syncd up with Nalin there. Around 10pm, At katraj, capt got back on his bike as we were leaving Harshad there. That place was jammed with traffic even at this hour and it took us a lot of time to head over to drop Medini. Finally, around 11:30pm, and 1200kms done, we reached my uncle's place.
All in all, an amazing meet. I hope BN has a lot more such meets over the years.