We all woke up around 7 am. We’d slept for very few hours compared to what we were supposed to, considering the distance we’d rode the previous day.
The distance for today was somewhere close to 450 kms and we were going to take the east coast now and ride towards Vijaywada, the victory capital of Andhra Pradesh.
As soon as each person was ready, went down and started packing the luggage onto the bike. Just then, when we thought that all the luggage had been setup and we were ready to move, tragedy struck.
During routine inspection of the bike, we found that the fuel from the Kartik’s bike was leaking from the fuel pump connector and the hose which fit into it. First, we thought that the connector might have come loose due to extensive traveling till now. We tried removing and refixing it around for 2-3 times but, still the leak wont stop.
After the initial trials, we were convinced that something had cracked and through that the fuel was leaking out. The area too was such that it was hard to find the location of the crack but, all we could see was fuel oozing out when we started the vehicle.
We tried mending the issue with ‘M-Seal’ which we had with ourselves but after trying with that fix also, the leak wouldn’t stop. We all were wondering as to how this issue appeared all of a sudden.
The bikes had been parked safely inside the gated compound all night and they were barely without us only for 5-6 hrs. We strongly suspected that someone tried to remove the petrol from the bike and in the process damaged the connector. Also, we didn’t had any alternate hypothesis with us but we still didn’t quite believe that such thing would happen at so late in the night. It wouldn’t have been from the start since Kartik would have smelled the leaking petrol during driving.
Kartik and My bike have the same capacity of 500cc but his one is BS-IV and mine one is BS-III. The only difference is that his fuel pump is plastic and mine one is metallic!
I was supposed to meet my ex-Ford friends the night before when we reached Chennai. But it got so late that we shifted the program to morning. It was decided to meetup with everyone at the Ford’s campus itself. But now we were really in a fix with Kartik’s bike. All were new to this city except for me as I has stayed in Chennai for around 8 months back in 2012 but, I was really far away from the city.
I called up my friends working in Royal Enfield Chennai and they suggested us to visit the service centre ASAP after we told what was the issue. The thing was, we were ready quite early in the day as compared to the opening timings of the Royal Enfield service showroom. The centre was going to open around 9:30 am and right now the time was around 8 am.
Kartik dialed in the nearest service centre available to him and we told him to take the head start and leave while me and CSK sir joining afterwards after meeting with my friends.
Just then, what we were fearing the most since the morning, happened. Since the dawn, the dark clouds had been gathered in huge numbers and we knew that it was going to rain anytime soon. And, as this thought exited our mind, it started to drizzle and it continued for quite some time. It really tested our patience and we were not really in a position to start our day’s journey by getting soaked. Kartik had left before this all drama started.
It continued for around 15-20 minutes without stopping and then the intensity drastically came down. Myself and CSK Sir took the call and head off. The time was around 8:15 am.
I was also going to meet my college junior, Pavan, working here in Chennai. I told him to directly meet me at the Ford’s campus so that I could meet all at one place itself. The campus was not far away from our hotel. The distance was something around 5-6 kms.
I was following the live location sent to me by my friend the night before and surprisingly, Google took me towards the back side of the campus from where entry was prohibited and so I had to take the same route back from where I had come and detour almost half the distance I had traveled from my hotel. It was a weekday and the area being an IT hub, there was huge crowd of people rushing to their offices and hence it was difficult to maneuver the bike in the traffic. On top of that, the humidity was to the extreme. We were really sweating from the inside.
Finally, we entered from the right gate and went straight to where the Ford building was present. I had to wait from quite some time as all my friends were busy with meeting. Meantime, I met my other friend whom I had called at the same place.
Finally, after around 15 min, all of my Ford memories came back when the whole team came down to meet me. And luckily, I was able to meet Mr. VAN too!
Kartik, by that time, time had reached the service centre but he was facing some problems. The fuel pump, the part which was to be replaced was not available at the centre and somehow they also were not able to bring the part from other service centre to due to manpower issue as well as system issue. The part could not be issues on another dealer’s name. I immediately rang Bala from Royal Enfield and sought his help.
With much trying, it was going to be difficult for the other service centre guy to bring the fuel pump to where Kartik’s bike was standing due to manpower issues. I was still at Ford, meeting up with people and knew something need to be done quickly.
So we all decided to leave from the campus and went straight to the nearest Service centre (OMR Road) from our location. Bala sent me the OMR Service centre guy’s (Shankar) number and within no time I received his call.
I told him over phone that we were on our way to service centre to collect the part and that he be keeping the part ready. Two things had to be replaced in the bike, one was the Fuel Pump and the other one was the Fuel hose with connector. The later one was available at the service centre (Chrompet )where Kartik’s bike was standing.
I met Shankar at the OMR service centre and he had already kept the part ready for us. In the meantime, I also got my chain tightened. Special thanks to Sumit Swamy and the OMR team, to quickly take in my bike and do the necessary. Within no time the bike was ready and the part was billed. Bala also came at the service centre to meet us as agreed before we left to Chrompet service centre.
Myself and CSK Sir then headed straight to Kartik’ location. It was a good 14-15 km drive in the afternoon heat and humidity. The time was around 11:45 am.
We reached the service station in around 20 mins and gave the part to the service guy and he was on the job immediately. The job was not going to be a much of a hassle.
In the meantime, when the bike was getting repaired, we ate something from a nearby shop as we were very hungry. Hadn’t eaten since morning. The humidity forced us to have something cold forced down our throats! We were in a constant hydrating mode.
The work had stalled since it was lunch time for the service people by then. But, we requested the service manager to not stop the work. He obliged.
The time the bike was getting ready, CSK Sir went to nearby Mojo service centre to get his chain tightened. He said he would join us on time before Kartik’s bike was up and running. After some time, the bike was ready and was being tested by the service technician by taking it for a ride. CSK Sir also returned in the meantime saying that he could not do the tightening process since it was not open.
After the technician gave the final call saying that the bike was up and ready to roll, it was time to leave the metro city and head towards our destination. Within no time, we all got ready and marked our places on Google maps and left.
We had to face heavy traffic till we exited Chennai and re-entered the highway. The roads were good but there were frequent diversions owing to fly over bridge work going on. Our first halt after the city was at a petrol station where we refueled quickly and also hydrated ourselves. CSK Sir were still trailing us due to genuine reason.
We were now riding very closely to the coast now and we could really feel the beach air and the vibes which everyone experiences once near the beach.
CSK Sir got left behind since he had a member from one of the Chennai Mahindra Mojo owners to meet. The guy intended to meet Sir and so there was not option than to wait. He said, he would catch us up. After some 50-60 kms the roads eased up and also the quality. We had by now almost entered Andhra Pradesh and we could see the drastic improvement in the highway conditions. With this, our confidence increased and we gained momentum. Still, it was going to be tough to cover a day’s journey and squeeze it in half.
We were constantly riding upwards of 80 kms and had decided that we would take less number of breaks.
At our second break, Vijaywada was still 357 kms to go. We decided to take snap of the kilometer board and also feasted upon some dry fruits which Kartik had brought. CSK sir were still trailing behind us. I was monitoring his location since we both were sharing each other’s location via Google Maps. And particularly, we had been doing this since the Day 1. The location remains ON for max up to 3 days (there is also another option for continuous sharing until you stop it manually) following which you have to resend the location. I found this to be very useful, particularly for this ride, where the distance to be covered was large. Whats App has limitation up to 8 hrs only!
The next break came exactly after another 100 kms. It was sunset time and the sun was going to disappear any time soon below the horizon. We attended nature’s call and thought of relishing on tender coconut which a lady was selling nearby. By the time we were finished and ready to move on, CSK sir caught up with us. And, from now on, we were all riding together. The time was around 6 pm.
Thereafter, it was again a 1.5 hrs non-stop drive after which we halted again. We decided to have dinner at this moment of time before continuing further. Since, we had eaten almost nothing from morning and we were trying to save the hassle of finding a place to eat once we checked into the hotel. This was all coming from the previous night experience.
The time was somewhere around 7:30 pm and we checked into a typical Andhra style restaurant. We ate roti along with mixed vegetable ‘subji’ alongside cottage cheese ‘subji’. We were lucky to find a decent made roti. In fact, we were struggling to find one since we had entered the southern part of India. Along with that, we ordered fried rice and egg fried rice and an omelette. There were just many things on our table. I particularly liked the pickles which were kept on the table and it really went with menu.
We still had a long way to go and hence we took a judicious call to skip Vijaywada and instead stay the night at Ongole which was 120 kms before Vijaywada. It would have been too much tiring for us if we would have decided to stretch till Vijaywada. It was too late for us in the day. We decided to start early the next morning. With this thought and after a good heavy dinner, we were back on the roads. It was going to be a tough time keeping ourselves awake till the destination after having such a meal. Red Bull soon followed and which was again followed by a chewing gun. That was enough to take care of us of not falling asleep.
Since Nellore, we were driving on the newly laid 4 lane cement based highway. It was a superb highway with almost ZERO potholes. It ran till Vijaywada. This was good morale booster since we were riding in the dark which comes with very poor visibility. On top of that, the traffic was almost thin which also made the riding smooth. The good thing about the highway was that the street lights were placed at regular intervals at the divider which really helped a lot illuminating the area nearby. Riding in night has its own set of risks associated with it, specifically, people and cattle crossing the roads. I felt like I was riding on the Ahmedabad-Baroda stretch of the highway which had a similar resemblance to the one on which we were riding. I felt very happy as to way the highway was designed. It was something unique I had seen till now with everything manged and planned very well. The markings on the road, the signboards, the entry and exit points, barricading, rest and lay-bye areas, no cuts etc. Thanks to AP government!
Our final break was at the N5 Food Plaza, which was a restaurant situated on top of the toll plaza. This was something new and unique which I had seen in my riding journey. Never saw anything like this in our Maharashtra or other state I’ve been so far. We were just 20kms short of Ongole. The time was around 9 pm.
We reached around the outskirts of Ongole around 9:20 pm and stopped there to check online the hotels available. This was done by CSK sir on his Goibibo app. After scrolling through many pages, we found what we thought was a good one. It had it’s own parking space and the rooms looked quite comfy. This filter was mandatory in our hotel searching. It was located in the heart of the city and was something around 7-8 kms from our current place. The hotel name was ‘Maurya Inn’. It was a decent 3 star hotel.
Without wasting much time, we headed in that direction. We reached the place in around 15 minutes and checked in to the hotel. The hotel staff were very friendly and assisted us in moving our luggage into the room. There were no any language barriers. The time was around 10 pm when we were all comfortably checked in. We had taken 2 rooms and the occupancy was same like the one done in Davangere.
Before sleeping, I had a good hot shower bath to remove all the day’s tiredness and also it was a sweaty day today. Dinner had already been done and so it was direct sleep. We had really loved this idea of having dinner before checking into the hotel to save time and also it was hassle free. After a long and tiring day, you only want to get crashed into the hotel and not again go outside looking for food especially, if the hotel menu does not suit you or if it’s over.
It was right time for us going to bed knowing to that we would get decent number of hours to sleep since the journey had been started.
We decided to rise early the next day and move ahead to our next destination, but not without having breakfast, since it was complimentary (evil smile)!