This was gonna be a big tour. We had planned this long back after our Jodhpur trip in October. After the trip, it was time for the Diwali and hence we decided to plan it in December. We’d even planned for second next year ride in January. It was in the Jodhpur trip that we decided to form our own Royal Enfield group since we were now all set. We thought that 7 of us would be the right figure for the group and adding extra will only make the matters worse. Riding long distances can really be a pain in the ass if there is no proper coordination and communication between the riders, which is what exactly happens when many people riding. Patience is also a key thing. Since you need to ride in a single file considering Indian roads, holding a position during the ride really tests your mettle. I got a taste of this when I did the Jambughoda ride (I have a separate Blog for this) and where I was completely separated from the herd due to the above said points.
Forming the group was my own brain child. I had thought the name of the group long back and even have mentioned in one of my blogs. During my Diwali holidays in Pune, I started to think about the logo of our group. I knew the logo would have to be ‘hatke’ and never kind of seen before. I even learned Adobe Illustrator for the same. Designing the logo took me almost a week and later on when I came back to Ahmedabad, I fine tuned it with the help of my friends. Currently we are yet to launch our group officially and are in a process of it with still some of the things pending. Believe me, it is not an easy task! This took my entire Nov month and our next ride date was approaching fast. As I’d told you before, this ride was going to be bigger in the sense that it was filled with lots of adventure!
The ride date was selected to be 10-11-12 Dec. 12th was Monday and here again I was battling with my Manager to spare me leave. I literally had to beg him for leave even though I had 11 leaves in my pocket. Getting a leave in my company is a tough task and it all depends on your manager. What a day has come, leaves ‘bachi’ hain toh bhi bhik maang na padta hain! I told him that it was for a personal use. Rest of my friends got the leaves easily.
Now was the time of packing things up! The list was going to be big. We had decided take the non-conventional route. Instead of staying and eating in hotel we decided to live in our own tents and prepared our own food! We even planned to do bonfire at the night. What is the meaning of life if there is no ‘masala’ to it. The list was prepared and it went upto 2 back to back A4 sized pages and all of this was planned with ‘Chai pe Charcha’ meetings @ ‘Rajwadi Chai’ near Shivranjni.
Packing list photo.
Everybody bought the tents online as Initially myself and Ganesh were having it. Then came the necessity of having a sleeping bags since a tent was not going to protect us from the winters.We spent 2 days in search of a good sleeping bag for all of us and finally found ourselves rushing into DECATHLON who were offering the best ones at reasonable price. Earlier we scrapped 3-4 shops but were not satisfied with the quality.
Along with purchasing tents there we did some basic shopping like winter gloves and some thermals. I was already having them having purchased during my Ladakh tour. With the main items taken care off it was the time of purchasing the woods for our bonfire. We planned earlier to search for wood once we reach our place but wouldn’t take that much risk. We didn’t want the lack of availability of good wood to ruin our adventure! We found a good place is city, thanks to Nilesh bhai where we purchased 35 kgs of wood. The remaining items required for cooking was bought from DMART adding to it Milk for the morning coffee. Our menu for the dinner was going to be Chicken Barbeque along with Chicken gravy and rice. For the vegans (Bimal bhai and Nilesh bhai) it was Paneer and Capsicum barbeque. Nilesh and Sagar were having coal barbecue. The rest of the utensils were to be taken from my house. Coal to be purchased by Sagar. Nityunjay and Anis bhai couldn’t able to join the meetings since they were not in the city.
The shopping went on till the last day before our ride. Sagar came to my house that night to drop of main items which were going into my saddle bags. Myself and Ganesh packed all the luggage onto respective bikes and were ready. Rest of them were to arrive early at 3am on the day of the ride to my house since we were leaving from my place. After all packing onto mine and Ganesh’s bike there was still that 30kgs of wood left to pack which was going onto other 5 bikes. We decided to share the load by dividing equally onto other 5 bikes. Each got 4-5 big log. I was bit worried about the others since there were many things that were going to be placed on the bike and since others except me and Ganesh had no experience of it. Basically, tying things was going to be a big issue. You don’t want to drop your things off in the middle of the road while riding.
I slept around 12am and woke up at 3:30am when Sagar called me on the phone. Soon other people followed Bimal, Anis bhai and finally Nilesh bhai. They just had to pack the wood logs onto their back and rest of the luggage was already packed by themselves while coming. The night before only we had bought sleeping bags for all of us. It was kept at my house and I gave one each to all of them. I even distributed the coffee mugs which I had custom-made with our club logo on it.
We’d decided earlier during our meetings to sip our morning coffee from that mug only! Finally, we mounted 4 empty cans of 10 ltrs each to carry water for general purpose. After confirming that everything was set up and ready to go we left my house around 5:30am. Everyone was buzzing with excitement!
We decided to have a tea before marching ahead so we stopped after few kms to get that heat inside the body in cold morning winter. Along with tea we had ‘poha’ too.
Soon we started again. It sky was lighting up. This time ‘Ganesh’ was leading the team and we were following him. It was decided that the next stop would be in Dhrangadhra which was on the route planned. The riding was comfortable and without any issues we stopped for tea as planned in Dhrangadhra. Though, Nilesh bhai had some problems with his luggage getting shifted from time to time during the ride, one fix from me and it wasn’t moving anywhere now. Sagar was feeling cold on his legs as he had not wore a thermal inside. That was making him uncomfortable along with other riders where their hands were complete numb. The stop was very much required as it gave relief from the cold. We took some photos and started again.
We then started riding towards ‘Maliya’. After reaching there we took right towards ‘Bhachau’. We had planned the end the in Mandvi as planned. Just before ‘Shikarpur’ we stopped to for photos. The time was around 10am. The place was a salt producing area with hectares of land radiating in white color. A perfect place for some individual and group photos!
Nilesh bhai trying to get all bikes captured in his ‘selfie’..
We continued further and then soon stopped for lunch around noon time. Everyone was hungry to the core. During winters, we tend to eat more and since we were only living on the poha which we had early morning it was really time that some decent amount of food went inside. We had a good ‘Punjabi’ food. Now that we had a good amount of energy back again we started riding towards our destination. We did not stop again till we reached the Mandvi except 1 fuel pit stop. After lunch, nilesh bhai were constantly engaged in phone talk as a result he was stopping more frequently, which really made me mad. I too had to stop behind him as cannot leave him alone hoping that he will catch himself up. It was really frustrating. When you’re riding, phones are the least you should bother. Even I don’t pick up calls during riding as its disturbs you and tend to lose focus and what going on the road. Either you utilize the break time for calling some or you don’t use at all. This happened even during our Jodhpur trip. Sincere request to all, not to use phone while driving and also during the ride, you are not driving solo other members care for you. And since 5 mins on the road matters a lot, it is really a time waster just to pull off the road to pick up the call, especially when you are on long journeys and during winters where days are shorter.
We’d reach our destination and were finding a place to rest for the night. We opened up the map started looking for a place out of city limits and also near to the beach, since this was our only motive to reside. A true ‘ one of the things to do bucket list’ experience. We found one and headed that way, hoping that it would be free from other people and distractions. We marked the area on the map and headed straight for the marker. The route took us from the small lanes and streets of the town amidst the on looking curious people. When we reached the place, it was not we expected, the beach was still few hundred mtrs away. We decided to ditch the map and headed along a small road which we thought was heading towards the beach. The road was running parallel to the beach. We could now see the beach but were not able to go since there were barbed wires along the road which prevented us. Loosing no hope we continued further down only to see a wide opening towards our heaven. Without wasting much time we all dragged our bike from few hundred mtrs to only few feet from the beach. All the day’s hard work had paid off. We could now see the waters in front of our eyes. Everyone just went mad and could not think anything. There was not person there. It was a completely ‘Virgin’ beach, completely untouched no wonder why it was difficult to find that patch of the beach. It was as big as ‘Juhu’ beach in Mumbai. Just a few kms away we’d spotted an Army base camp and being a good citizen we felt the need to take permission before we pitch our tents. We didn’t want someone to wake us up in the middle of night to vacate the place.
Anis bhai and Nilesh, the two powerful people (Police + media power) went back again to take the permission. We utilized that time to take some photos and really prayed that we’d get that grant.
When both came back, they told that it was prohibited here to do any such thing citing ‘INTERNATION MARINE BORDER’ and that they might shoot if found. We were jolted, but we could some fakeness on their faces. With a huge laugh they told us the there was no any objection from them to stay here and they even shared their contact no in case of emergency. Here again, the selfless attitude of Army people, serving the nation/ people before themselves.
The excitement was such that we did not know what to do for a moment. Since it was already 5pm and darkness about to descend. We decided to share the work content so that the place would be ready in no time. 4 people went to the city to fetch water and chicken and paneer. We decided a good places to pitch our tent and till the time they came back we were ready with all the seven tents pitched.
We had brought 3kgs chicken from the market along with 500gms of paneer. The work content of the dinner was shared. 2 people lighting up the barbecue, 2 people gearing up for the essential items for dinner, 2 people lighting up the bonfire and last one to shoo away the dogs which were encroaching our place. Dew started to make the matters worse. The barbecue wasn’t lighting up even though we were pouring kerosene. The wood just was not ready to catch fire. This made the vegans nervous as this was their only source for dinner. We knew that our chicken and paneer barbecue plan was going down the drain. No problem, we still had the stove with us to cook some awesome food. Meanwhile, when the barbecue drama was going on I marinated the chicken.
Without wasting further time, we started the stove and first cooked rice in one vessel. Meantime, sagar was offering his half-cooked paneer barbecue made over ‘just’ hot coal. The rice was done in few minutes, it was too much for 7 of us! Then we kept the Chicken on the stove. The heat was perfect and the chicken started to boil. Everyone was dying of hunger. For the vegans, Bimal bhai had brought home-made ‘Thelas’, we enjoyed it along with the Chicken gravy and the rice. Apart from the home-made ‘theplas’ I had packed in 10 packets of ‘Theplas’ bought from a shop in Ahmedabad. Along with that I had bought the famous ‘Choonda’ which is best savored with it. In the heat of the moment, I was unable to find ‘Choonda’ and the vegans had to be content with only dry theplas! The bonfire was burning while we were busy enjoying the dinner. It took hell lot of effort to make a dinner for 7 people in the dew winter night. We could see a lot of dogs approaching us with the intent of getting some ‘bones’. After the dinner we could not hold ourselves around the bonfire as we were all tired. Within half hour of dinner, we went sleeping inside our tents hoping for a good nights sleep. The day had ended quite well for us with a rewarding tension free sleep with stars above us and we all comfy sleeping in our tents. What more can you ask from life. Again, one of the bucket list item got checked off my list which was to sleep inside a ‘5 Billion Star’ hotel!
We all woke up around 7:30am and the view outside our tents was just awesome. It demanded photos to be clicked immediately. We did all the daily chores which we normally do when we get up. Finding a place was not that difficult as we were taking turns and lot of tree cover was present!
It was time for coffee now. We poured the 2 ltr tetra pack into the vessel and started boiling the milk. Meantime all of us removed the mugs which we’d brought. Our mission was to drink coffee by the beach sitting comfortably with waves lashing onto our feet with no other people disturbing us.To top it off we utilized the packed ‘theplas’ along with the ‘Choondo’ to complete our breakfast.
We spent some good time over the beach thinking about the future trips and general gupshup. Everyone was sharing their experiences and general things abt their life. The sun really started to get strong and we could feel the heat. Our skin was burning and it was time to say goodbye to the most beautiful beach ever. We really had enjoyed the place and would want to come here again more often. It was time to pack all the things together and move towards our next destination.
The packing was done and it was time to leave for our next destination, Rann of Kutch! The time was 12:30pm and all were really dehydrated as our water had finished and doing all the packing with scorching heat above, it was tiring. As soon as we hit the tar road, we stopped aside a road shop to hydrate ourselves. We filled all the water we could carry and also had ‘Chass’ to cool our body. Then we left straight for ‘Kutch’. We had to bid goodbye to our rider friend ‘Nityunjay’ who was travelling back to Ahmedabad the same day due to some family problems. We 6 of us headed toward Bhuj.
The roads were quite good with only 1 lane highway. There was not much traffic and along the way we could see the ‘Rann of Kutch’ festival banners being put up. It was just the start of the ‘Rann Festival’. We crossed Bhuj and halted some 20kms ahead of it for a break. You can call it lunch. The time was around 3pm. Sagar, Bimal bhai and Anis bhai stopped at Bhuj to Nilesh bhai a cake as we had planned to give them surprise on their wedding anniversary today. Myself, Ganesh and Nilesh bhai waited for them near a road side dhaba. When we inquired at the dhaba regarding the food they said that only ‘light’ snacks were available and it was difficult to find a good food since most of the ‘dhabas’ served only snacks. There was no good hotel to be found up ahead until the ‘Rann’ comes.
They were going to take atleast half n hour to reach us. Meanwhile we planned to rest on the ‘cot’ placed outside. While Ganesh and Nilesh bhai were chatting, I gazed around the service shop which was just opposite to our ‘dhaba’. I saw a man sitting on what was looking like a ‘Diesel Bullet’. With curiosity I ran towards him to know more. He was a modest guy affected with polio. He was the owner of the garage and was replacing the handle on his ‘bullet’. He was really a genius after I came to know what had he done on his bike. Or rather, I would say innovation at the grass root level. You will find true innovators not only in cities but their population is more in villages where necessities drives them to innovate. He had converted his 650cc diesel bullet to 850cc all by himself! Next, he had converted his gearbox from foot operated to hand-operated since he was affected with polio. Next, he was fond of having big rear tires, hence he used a swift rear tyre and did some modifications on to the wheel so that he could fit it in his bullet.
He told me many things about his bullet. He too like me was an avid ‘Bullet’ lover and fascinated for old bullets. His average was 80kmpl compared to 30kmpl of mine. He was also dealing with sale of ‘Diesel’ bullets and for the same reason I took his contact no and informed him to contact me if any such deal comes.
The other 3 soon arrived and then we decided to have tea and snacks as we had skipped our lunch. We had samosas along with tea. We also had famous Bhuj ‘Dabeli’ which Anis bhai had brought from the city while they were shopping for the cake.
It was time to get back on as sun was setting quickly and just as ‘Mandvi’ we had to find a place suitable for us to pitch our tents and spend the night. We reached around 5pm near the checkpost where we had to purchase the entry tickets for visiting ‘Rann’. It was 125 Rs/ person including the vehicle. Only after reaching the site we came to know that it was utter useless to purchase the tickets and we were not allowed to enter the site with our bikes. Because the CM of Gujarat was coming the next day to inaugurate the ‘Rann’ festival they disallowed the bikes into the ‘Rann’. The BSF people were telling you can go with the shuttle buses till the ‘Rann’ but we were not risking our luggage which had to be kept along with the bikes in the parking area. See no possibility we spoke with the BSF people for a suitable place where we can pitch the tent and they only told with one answer, you cannot pitch the tent in our area. It was dark by now and we did not know till where we were not allowed. We had seen some beautiful places to pitch the tent on our way to ‘Rann’ but it was risky there citing ‘Wildlife’ movement.
Instead we decided to move further up hoping to get some good area to pitch our tents. The day was just before the full moon and there was sufficient light covering the ‘Rann’. It was really a wonderful experience driving on a straight road while moon over our head above. We reached the ‘Khavda’ village and decided to break for dinner since we skipped our lunch and everyone was feeling that hunger. During the time, after inquiring with local people they told that there was suitable place for camping ahead where ‘Datta’ temple was situated. He told that it was not far away and was within 7-8 kms. Later on we came to know that the temple they were referring was none other than the famous ‘Kalo Dungar’ atop which sits the ‘Datta’ mandir. It was almost 15-20kms long route and we had to climb the mountain for that. The road was not friendly and was mostly broken pieces of tar. To our dismay we could not find a suitable place for rest as the temple people were gearing up for the ‘Datta’ jayanti which was on the day of full moon. We had found a parking space along our way up but since it was ‘Jayanti’ the next day we thought it would be fruitless to pitch the tent there as we would get disturbed by the oncoming devotees and we would lose that privacy. It could have hampered even our morning chores. Also, it didn’t quite looked the place for camping. On top of that Bimal bhai was scaring us citing ‘Fox’ presence over there. Sagar got scared the moment the word ‘Fox’ was spoken.
Seeing no possibilities, we descended down and were going back towards the ‘Rann’ hoping to get a good place along the way from the BSF area to pitch our tents. We were tired and were desperate. Night darkness was adding to our nightmare as we were not able to see the area clearly. When we thought that this would be a good area to pitch in we were using the lights from our headlights to focus. After sometime we did manage to find a ‘descent’ place and for that I would like to thank bimal bhai for finding it. It was not on the main road but there was a small road diverting from the course and he had to go inside and confirm it that it was safe and sound. We all were desperate to go there. It was a normal desert ‘rann’. It was little damp so we could not take our bike down onto it. We tried initially getting the bike onto the ground but the wheels were sinking into the mud and hence we had to pull the bike off to the tar road above.
When everything was set and we about to unload the luggage to rest for the day, suddenly something happened to Nilesh bhai and he was not happy on the place we’d found out. As per his ‘thinking’ the place not up to the mark of living. In this, we almost debated for an hour or so and he was planning to return to Ahmedabad solo instead of sleeping in such conditions. We were hopeless and sat on the road thinking what to do next. How could we convince Nilesh bhai that this is what rider has to go through. You have to practice to live anywhere and any conditions. Life is not a cakewalk, there will be some days where you need to compromise the comfort and just pass the day. I think, it is this period that tests you, how hard you are and what are you made up of. You don’t call it adventure if you are sleeping in an AC tent! I gave them my example of sleeping in bus floor when I went on a trip from Chennai to Coimbatore where all the seats were full and there was no option but to only sleep on the floor! Some of the riders gave a suggestion to go back to Bhuj for staying, but at that time even that option was not feasible as everyone was tired. Riding in a group is not an easy task. You cannot think of only yourself, you have to think more of others than yourself. I think that is what riding brotherhood is all about. You need to take care of each other, you need to back each other. If there is a majority, no matter what you think you need to accept and let go the moment. You don’t know, what good things are in the way when you go through non-conventional routes. Finally the miracle happened and Nilesh bhai were ready to sleep at the located place.
We had planned for a good bonfire before sleep but all went in vain due to the commotion which happened. What it did was that it drained all the remaining energy that was left of each one of us.
Within no time the setup was ready. This time we decided to ditch tents and sleep with just our sleeping bags. Only Nilesh bhai were sleeping inside the tent. I guess, they wanted a more secure feel of the place!
We woke up the next day with a nice cool breeze blowing. This time there was no fog but the weather made the situation beautiful. There was lot of cover for doing our morning chores which we did without any much trouble. The ‘feeling’ of doing it in open on such a cold morning was once in a lifetime experience. To shave off the cold we lit the bonfire and over that we took some photos and had our breakfast of ‘theplas’ and ‘Choondo’. I really like the word ‘Choondo’ and it became a common word to be used for future dialogue interactions. Time went by as we discussed the no non-sense things and how to make the group better and stronger. There are still somethings left to do before we launch it officially!
The sun has really started to grow on us and we decided to leave the place and march ahead. Bimal bhai was ready in no time and he went further towards north to explore the road which seemed like never-ending. To our wonder, he returned exclaiming that he went to the white ‘rann’ which was visible from the place where the road ended and that no one was available to stop us from going ahead. What we had missed last night, came back to us and this time it was free with no one to stop us. Last night we’d thought that another trip would be required to see the white rann but just like the Jodhpur trip, this time god again helped us in letting us see the white rann. We packed ourselves in no time and headed straight in that direction. Thanks to Bimal bhai for finding the place for us!
We walked down to the white ‘rann’ on foot as taking the bike was next to impossible. We clicked some selfies and group photos and planned to start our return journey back home.
The time was already past 1 pm and we still had to cover the return journey of 450kms. Earlier we had planned to visit the India Bridge but seeing the time we decided to ditch and make it some another day. There is also chance to visit the border, but for that you need to take permission from the collector in ‘Bhuj’ which we completely missed since we were unaware of the process. Those of you who want to visit the border, be watchful that you take prior permission from ‘Bhuj’ otherwise India bridge is the last point where you can go without any permission. We had our lunch in ‘Khavada’ and started our return journey.
We left for Ahmedabad around 3pm and reached home around midnight. There were no problems faced with individuals as well as the bikes. All went smooth and without any trouble. There was night driving involved to considerable amount of time but the riders pulled it off without any hassle! There came a time where the herd position got disturbed as the riding positions were not maintained properly but later on it was sorted out and everyone understood the importance. Also one important thing from this trip was that sometimes rider was overtaking from the left side which is very dangerous considering the highway conditions. I hope next time this things won’t happen and it will be a learning for all of us so that in the end all of us be safe.
Overall, all the riders enjoyed to the core, especially the camping thing added flavor to the trip. From now-onwards, the level will only rise as we will add more masala to it. Till then, thanks for you wishes and stay safe.
Next Ride, Jaisalmer’17.