Successful Completion of Iron Butt Association's Saddle Sore Ride!
For those who don't know what's Saddle Sore and what is this Iron Butt Association or better known as IBA, here's the link to the website which explains their various rides - IBA - World's Toughest Motorcycle Riders
How It all started -
It was here on xbhp that I came to know about IBA and it's record rides. It was some one from Delhi who was attempting the saddle sore and that was the first time I heard that term. I remember wishing the person good luck and then immediately asking the Mods to explain what's saddle sore all about. I had no clue what it was. One of the mods gave me the link to the website and I spent my next hour or so going through all the pages of the web site. I was quite thrilled to know such associations exit and more than that they are not just limited for US of A but the whole world. Rides completed in India and other countries are also certified and that was it. Right at that moment I had set a target for myself - to complete at least one of those rides if not more. I wasn't sure when I'll do that ride because at that time I was very new to this biking world, had no funds to support the ride nor enough knowledge about the geography and road conditions. But I knew someday I'll do it. Definitely.
Days passed by.. months and years passed by. Meanwhile, I started being a regular member of Mumbai xBhp. Did lots of small and big rides in and around Maharashtra. Sometimes solo sometimes with the group. It wasn't that I was introduced to touring on 2 wheels here on xbhp. Before joining xBhp I had been to Goa from Mumbai on an Activa but that was a different thing as I could take as many breaks and halts as I wished. During all these rides I improved my stamina and strength. I started doing non stop Mumbai - Pune rides several times to check my stamina :P Once I was confident enough that I can take such a challenge I started planning on my ride. That's when during some g2g I came to know that few others from our group are planning something similar. We shared our plans and finally decided to give it a shot together. During the initial stages of planning there were quite a lot of people interested but then some of them had to back up due to their personal responsibilities. Finally it was Darkknight, Spiderweb and me who decided to attempt the Bun Burner. After days of planning and fund raising :P we all were ready to hit the road. The ride could not be completed and we missed our target by some margin. Plenty of reasons behind that and they've been already shared and discussed on the forum. So i wont get into that again. What's there to tell is, I was very, very much upset because of the set back. Infact, Spider could notice that in the hotel itself where we stayed for the night, at Ambur near Chennai, and couldn't resist saying it's ok yaar. Don't be so disheartened!
We reached home safely from Chennai but I was getting restless as days passed by. I somehow wanted to complete at least one of those rides. After some days, I started bugging DK and spider's head by sending them emails and asking any planning going on for next attempt? They both wanted to ride but they were busy with their job and other responsibilities. Understanding the unavoidable reasons I didn't force them but as I said, I was getting restless here. I wanted to attempt it again. Previous ride, though unsuccessful, had taught us a lot. I have mentioned on the forum that it was an eye opening ride. Showed us where we stand and where others do. It gave us idea bout the kinda stamina, mental and physical strength that is needed and road conditions. Keeping all these things in mind, I started planning on my own. I had decided to do the ride in January itself and I was all set to roll. Just couple of days before that I met Razorblades. After knowing my plans he showed some interest and I thought I have some company for my ride But then a series of unforeseen incidences took place which not only delayed my ride but also my finances had taken a hit. My granny fell sick. She had to be hospitalized. Which meant I couldn't go anywhere. She was in ICU for some days and the money I had gathered for the ride was used for the treatment. Sadly she passed away after 4 days. That was a big shock to me. We Marathi people have to do some rituals after a person's death which last for next 13 days(sorry I dont know if such rituals are done in other religions or not). I couldn't think of anything else during those 13-15 days.
But once with that, I was clear with my target. It took me couple of days to recover my funds and I had decided to do the ride on 26th Jan. Once again did my part of asking my friends but DK was in Vizag and Spider had gone to his hometown, Nagpur. I almost had made my mind to do it on 26th and that's when I realized a very big g2g is taking shape in Mumbai thread. Now I was in dilemma once again. Whether to ride or attend the g2g. The sheer number of confirmations made me postpone my ride by couple of days and I attended the g2g on 31st Jan. Had I gone for the ride on 26th I wouldn't have attended the g2g on 31st. And everyone knows what success that g2g was. 52 biker! The biggest ever. End of the day it felt that my decision was correct.
The month of Feb arrived. I got a custom made tail bag specially for the ride. That took a couple of days and I finally zeroed in on the night of 4th Feb to start my ride. Solo!
I know this is too much I've written but I felt it's necessary to share these things with you. This'll give you the idea of what I had to go through before doing this ride. For those who think I have lot of time in hand to write this much, it's 4.35am of 7th Feb and am typing this in notepad which I'll post on the forum tomorrow morning if my net starts. Fingers crossed! Now finally am feeling sleepy and so hitting the bed. Will continue the rest as I get more time. Sorry for boring you with all this but can't help it I just love writing logs
Take care! Ride Safe!
Last day preparations - -
As I said, I finalized the date as 4th Feb 2010. I had done all the online preparation like, calculating the distances of cities from Panvel using mapsonus.com(which the IBA uses for distance calculation), taking the print outs of witness forms and rules and regulations, comparing the time frames with the last bun burner attempt etc. The only thing that was left was deciding the start time.
We had a very bad experience of the bad patch of road between Hubli and chitradurg during our last attempt. Especially because we had to cover that patch after dark. It's approximately 149 kms of incomplete NH4 and it's a sure shot death trap if ridden after dark. No sign posting, uneven road, at some places no road at all - total off roading, diversions without proper sign posting, rim bending speed breakers, roads full of dust and soil which means if you are stuck behind a heavy vehicle or even if a vehicle crosses you from opposite direction you are sure to be in the middle of a huge cloud of dust where no headlights will help you see the road, no white stripes on the road at all etc. I guess these many reasons are more that enough for someone to avoid night riding on such road.
That's the reason I wanted to plan my ride in a way so that I'll cover that portion of road in day light. Earlier i wanted to start the ride at 1am of 5th Feb 2010 but considering the above facts I altered the time a bit and decided to start the ride 3 hours before that is at 10pm of 4th Feb 2010. Till the time plan was on paper it felt like a wise decision. But no, God was testing my limits. Things wil be clear as I move ahead with the log.
Finally the day arrived. 4th of Feb. I was very excited and scared to be frank. Those who have traveled on this road know how scary that road is. Absolutely no sign of help for more than 15-20kms in some parts. If something goes wrong, you are on your own. Here are the things I packed in my tail bag.
1) Spare t shirt
2) a small towel
3) A powerful torch
4) 1L of plain water
5) 1L of Mangola :P (this would give me the extra sugar in case of fatigue)
6) 3 sandwiches
7) couple of snickers energy bars
8) 2 spare cotton clothes for cleaning the helmet visor
9) a small notebook to make notes and a pen
10) print outs of rules n regulations alongwith witness forms.
11) First aid kit
12) Bike's user manual.
13) and of course all the bike's documents with some cash(because not all petrol bunks accept cards as payement mode)
One thing was missing and that was a small p&s camera for taking photographs as proof. I called a few fellow Mumbai xbhpians for camera but no one had such a camera. finally my friend Ajinkya came to the rescue. He agreed to lend me his bro's Kodak - a very small basic p&s camera.
Time passed away in a jiffy that day and soon it was 7-7.30pm. I had called up DK asking him if he could come to sign the witness form. Also Bibek and Mandar happily agreed to come and see me off. I had decided to be there at Panvel 9.30 pm.
So I left my place at around 8-8.15pm after having a very light dinner as my mom insisted and headed towards Ajinkya's place to collect the cam. He wished me luck, handed over the cam and I hurriedly left for Panvel. I didnt know the tough time will start so soon. Just as I reached Sion I came across the famous and usual peek hour traffic. I started sweating inside the heavy DSG Nero that too with a liner. To add to the frustration super heroes riding their splendors without helmets and their giggles upon seeing someone dressed like NSG commando. It was very frustrating and I somehow managed to hit the butter smooth palm beach road. I reached Panvel McD with 3 mins left for 9.30pm. Bibek and Mandar were already waiting for me there. After greeting each other we left for the petrol pump and called DK to come there.
While DK and gang were busy checking out the new custom made tail bag, I went ahead and checked the time and address on the EDC machine of the pump. Everything was perfect. I wanted to start the ride at 10 but by mistake the attendant swiped the card 10 mins before at exactly 9.52pm of 4th Feb 2010. That was it! The race against time had started.
I quickly geared up, wore the brand new cotton BALACLAVA
inside the helmet(there's a reason why am mentioning this, that too in bold letters
) and off I was bidding good bye to friends.
The Actual Ride --
I started my actual ride by 10 pm and immediately hit the JNPT road. I was aware that this aint an easy ride and problems may arise any time any where. But never expected them to come that soon. Before I continue with the ride part, let me tell you one thing that I had installed Philips crystal vision bulbs on both my headlamps. No doubt they are brilliant but they are only effective where there are white stripes on the road. Crystal visions illuminate the white paint stripes better than the stock bulbs hence giving better idea of the road. BUT where there are no white strips, THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY USELESS! The white light gets scattered and you dont see the road that well.
I cruised on the familiar JNPT road in triple digit speeds and reached NH4 junction. Hit the NH4 without wasting any time and just as I moved ahead a few kilometers, the white stripes suddenly disappeared and a pitch black brand new tarmac road was in front of me. Ohh Shit! I was like. Then I remembered someone mentioning on the forum that the road between Panvel and Khopoli is undergoing resurfacing. Damn! What's the use of super slick road if you aren't getting any idea where the edge of the road is and where the divider starts. Also no point in pushing beyond the limit that'll only end up in a crash and ending the ride there itself. My speed came down and I was cruising at relatively slow speeds to avoid any crash. what this means - I lost some valuable time right at the start of the journey.!
Somehow I managed to reach Khopoli and started climbing the Lonavala ghat. Just as I was approaching Mumbai Pune Expressway I remembered the traffic jams on it and started praying for a free road ahead. But heck, there was some traffic due to slow moving container carriers. Riding in a zig zag manner I found my way past the traffic and just as I exited the expressway I blasted the throttle and was riding like crazy. The road was familiar and more importantly empty. I was checking my tyres at regular intervals for air pressure. Reached the Dehu Road junction in no time and started riding towards Chandni Chowk.
Crossed the Pashan sus road phata and reached Chandni Chowk. My girl friend's building quite is close to the highway and she can see vehicles on the NH4 from her bedroom balcony :P Am sure she was aware that time. Without stopping there I continued riding and reached Katraj.
I had mentioned in the preparations part that I had bought a brand new Balaclava for this ride. A white cotton balaclava. I had never used a balaclava earlier. I was wearing the balaclava inside the lid. My lid's inner lining is already tight and this thick cotton balaclava made matters worst. The helmet was too too tight for me but I thought it's better that way. Also the balaclava was giving me better protection for my nose from cold wind. The only problem was my ears were cramped too hard. It was feeling weird but I didn't pay attention to it in the beginning.
By the time I reached Katraj and was moving towards Satara, my right ear started paining a bit. But I thought that's ok. It must be because am using the balaclava for the first time and the pain will disappear after some time. I kept riding while diverting my mind from the pain. I was maintaining a healthy speed and was on schedule but the pain was not stopping and was affecting my concentration. I was crossing the huge ghat after Katraj and it was pretty scary. Not many vehicles around and thick forest surrounding you. At one point I even felt like I have lost my way and am riding in wrong direction. But I kept riding and finally saw some familiar road to understand that am not lost.
Pain was still there and NOW to add to it my right eye had started paining. It was quite late night and I thought may be it's because am stretching my sleep the eye is paining. I neglected it and continued the ride. I was closing in on my first pit stop where I had decided to stop - for a butt break and refueling - Satara. I was riding non stop for some 180 kms with severe pain in my right ear and eye.
As I got closer to Satara, I faced the same problem of road resurfacing. No white striped meant I had to stretch my sore eyes even more to look deep through the light.
I reached a place called Bhuinj which is approximately 25 kms before Satara and stopped for refueling. It was 12.45am. Cold was immense and I couldn't think of getting the balaclava off. I only took my helmet off while the bike was being refueled. That relieved some pain. I sent an sms to DK, Bibek, Mandar and Amruta bout my status. I was happy that I was in time despite losing some time in beginning. I put the helmet on and hit the road again. Even harder this time. Where ever there were white striped on the road, I was riding in triple digit speeds and the speed used to come down to 80-85 kmph on resurfaced roads with no stripes.
I must have travelled some 50 odd kms and I felt something trickled down my eyes and onto my cheeks. Like tears. I couldn't understand what it was and I had no choice of stopping either. Because there was no shop, petrol pump nothing near by. And without light I wont be able to understand what it is. I kept riding with the fluid tricking down my eyes and pulled over at a petrol pump some 5 kms away. The attendants there were dead shocked as I took my helmet off. The right side of my white balaclava had turned red. Blood red. Blood was trickling down from my right eye and the balaclava was wet with it. My eye had become completely red from the inside. When I saw it in the RVM I was scared. Shit scared.
I got off my bike. Parked it safely. Took off the gloves and the balaclava and slept on the marble platform of the petrol pump. The attendants rushed into the office and got some water. I washed my eye clean but the blood wasn't stopping. I kept on washing and meanwhile another attendant rushed through the bushes to a near by home to get some rose water. I was losing time badly but had no choice. I slept there for some half n hour and only then I could open my eyes. They were paining badly and also had become sticky. Later I realized the reason behind the mishap. The balaclava had made the helmet too tight for my ear and the vein must have got hurt because of that. Also I kept neglecting it and stretched my eyes even more to see through the resurfaced road. All this added to the blood flow through the eye.
I had lost so much of time, valuable time because that bloody balaclava. Fcuk! After some 45 mins I got up and started gearing up. My eye was still red and the attendants were insisting me to stay back. But I couldn't afford to lose anymore time. The efforts, the money was at stake. I had no words no gestures that could thank them for their help. I literally touched one of the attendants feet and got back on the machine. They were shocked at my determination and decision.
This time I wasn't wearing the balaclava. I had tied my hanky to my nose to protect it from cold wind. Without the balaclava my ears and eyes were feeling much much much comfortable and I could cruise at triple digit speeds non stop. The road was good as well. It was so much fun riding that fast at night and overtaking the fast moving volvos.
Am sure they must have got shocked seeing a two wheeler whizzing past them at insane speeds at 2am and 3 am at night.
I was a bit happy seeing the good roads but also worried because of the lost time. To cope up with that I was riding right at the margin of sanity. Cruising at 120 kmph at night. With one refueling stop at Kolhapur I crossed the border after Nipani. The roads got even better in Karnataka. I could maintain a healthy speed and recoverd some of the lost time.
Sorry for the break again. I'll continue it after some time. I know it's getting too lengthy but I felt sharing with you all I went through during the ride. So thank you very much to those who went through the entire part
I'll back soon.
Once I entered Karnataka, the roads were better and I could cruise at triple digit speeds comfortably. Eyes and ears were feeling better but due to the loss of blood I was feeling dizzy. I don't exactly remember which toll post is this but when I reached here I stopped for a quick pic and that's when I started vomiting. The loss of blood started acting upon me. The toll post building started looking cylindrical and revolving.
First thing I wanted to do was to increase the sugar level in the blood. I opened the bag and pulled out one energy bar and Mangola bottle. Even eating a cadbury had become difficult that time. I ate only half of it and threw away the rest in frustration. The bloody dizzy feeling wasn't just going. Drank some mangola and got back on the bike ignoring the dizzy feeling.
Fortunately, the little amount of food and drink helped me and the dizzy feeling was gone after some time. I was again riding at good speeds heading towards Hubli.
I was anxiously waiting for Hubli because the bad patch of road was gonna start from Hubli. But I didn't want to reach Hubli before the day break because that again would have meant riding in dark on the riskiest part of the entire trip.
Exactly 25 kms before Hubli, the road becomes two lane with no divider in between. Unfortunately I reached there when it was still dark. The tourist buses with 6 headlights were blasting their full glory on me showing no respect at all to the two wheelers. Many times I was forced to go off the shoulder by the tourist buses. I was riding carefully and at slow speeds. Which means loss of some more time.
I was praying to god for day break. Thank god after some time I could see the sky turning red at the horizon on my left hand side. I tell you I had never felt so happiness seeing the sunlight before
Sun rays spread over the sky in sometime and I could see the road clearer now.
Finding my way through the endless bad patch of the road, through potholes, bike breakers err speed-breakers and diversions I reached Haveri at 7.05am and stopped for refueling.
At every refueling stop, I used to make note of odometer reading, amount of fuel, time and location. After doing all the notes and acquiring the receipt I parked my bike under the shade of a tree and had one of the sandwiches.
I hit the road once again and was riding hard. Shifting the gears at red line and standing on the foot rest to jump over the speed breakers. Crazy stuff. The bad patch of road wasn't just ending. 149 kms of hell of a road.
Right after Chitradurg the road becomes good and one can rip at high speeds. To cope up with the lost time I was cruising at speeds close to 120 mark.
There's a small portion of road near Tumkur where you have to do some off roading. After crossing that I reached Tumkur and started searching for a good petrol pump which will accept card payment and give me dated receipt. But no, not a single petrol pump on the highway accepting card payment. I ended up riding all the way till the toll post ahead of Tumkur. Bloody Hell! I was furious because riding those extra kms meant loss of even more time.
I turned around started riding towards Tumkur once again. Pulled over to a shady petrol pump. Refueled the bike with Rs 200 petrol and got a hand written receipt. But I wasn't satisfied with it. Besides it's am important receipt. The turn about receipt.
So I decided to enter the Tumkur village to find an ATM. After searching for some time found Syndicate bank's ATM. At first the machine didn't accept the card but after repeated trials it finally accepted and I got a digitally printed receipt with date, time and location. I was a happy boy then
but had to lose lot of time for that.
Finally I was ready to start the return journey and after drinking some water I was on the bike once again heading towards Panvel this time. I was behind the schedule and I had only 11 hours to cover the distance which took me 13 hours to reach the turn about point.
Ripping the bike like crazy I was eating the kms after kms. Somewhere I was stuck in a traffic jam for 15 mins. Why? because they were building a new speed-breaker
After some time, I had to stop for 10 mins at a railway crossing. Gossh I can't tell you in that situation even a single minute feels like an hour. The body was giving away. After all I was riding for more than 12 hours.
At the back of my mind I was calculating the distance to be covered and the hours remaining and every time the equation was out of reach. I was worried and I had decided to skip all my butt breaks and to take break only while the bike gets refueled. That was a tough decision especially when your body is screaming for relief. But as I said, the efforts and the money was at stake.
Riding non stop brought me to a place called Gunnur(am not sure if the name of the place is correct) at 1.02pm where I stopped for refueling. That was the most needed break for my body and I literally sat down on the ground while the bike was refueled. The attendant was amazed to see a rider full of dust and dead insects on jacket and helmet and in dire state.
The tension was so much that I used to forget to drink water during the breaks. Because most of the refueling breaks used to get over making notes and taking photographs of the odometer, paying and collecting receipts.
Once I left that place, I was again ripping the bike at it's full potential and was constantly cruising at close to 120-125 mark. Bike felt butter smooth. No problems at all.
By the time I reached Belgaum, it was 4.15pm and I took my next refueling stop. Another problem had cropped up.
I had very little time left in hand. The road condition was fantastic. Which means I HAVE to rip the bike hard. But I was falling short on the hard cash. I had money on my card but there weren't any pumps accepting cards
After refueling at Belgaum I had only Rs.350 left in my wallet. That means if I can't rip the bike hard till I find a petrol pump with card payment. Because constantly cruising at 120 kmph will drink up the petrol very fast. Man.. I was shivering and getting desperate to find a good petrol pump.
My cruising speed had come down to 110 kmph. After riding for an hour and 5 mins I pulled over to a pump in Kolhapur at 5.20 pm which accepted card payments. whewww.. Sigh of relief.
I filled the bike to it's brim and hit the road fast. But now the equation was looking even worst. Very little time left and lot of kilometers to cover. To add to it, entering cities like Satara and pune in evening means traveling through dense traffic.
And that's what happened. By the time I reached Satara, the roads were fine but once in Satara I came across lot of traffic. Too many slow moving vehicles, people crossing the roads like crazy, cattle on the road and what not.
Trust me, I was literally on the verge of crying thinking that it's close to impossible now to maintain high speeds through such traffic and reaching in time. In Pune the traffic was gonna get only worst.
I was constantly praying and keeping the highest speed possible. Those last 300 kms I've ridden is the worst riding I've ever done in my life. I was riding in 3 digit speeds through thick traffic. Over taking vehicles like crazy. One truck is overtaking the other and am squeezing my bike through them with centimeters to spare between my RVMs and the trucks. God! That was insane.
The sun was setting fast and I knew after dark the speed will decrease even further. Also there were lot of insects in the air which were spoiling the visor of my helmet. God had not left a single stone unturned to make my ride difficult.
Fighting my way through all these hurdles I reached Karad. I pulled over and set an alarm for 8.45pm and hit the road once again. I had decided to cover as much distance as possible till 8.45 pm and once the alarm rings, find the nearest petrol pump and get the end receipt.
I pushed and pushed hard. My helmet visor had become grave yard of dead insects and was useless. So I was ripping the bike with visor open. Insects, dust, small stones were hitting my already sore eyes. I realized I had completed the 1600 km mark before Pune itself buy I kept riding till the alarm rang.
By the time it was 8.45pm I had crossed Chandni chowk and was on my way to Dehu road. That's when the alarm rang and I pulled over to an HP petrol pump and got the end receipt.
It was 8.47pm. I had completed the Saddle Sore with 1 Hour 5 Mins left for 24 hours. I was literally in tears - coz of the joy, the efforts and the fatigue. I checked and rechecked the receipt, the time and the location.
Next thing I did was drink some water and call Amruta to inform her that I've finally did it. I've achieved my goal and apologized for not informing bout my safety for so many hours. I asked her to give my mom the news and tell her that now I'll ride slow and will reach home in next 3 hours or so.
DK had called me up couple of times. So I called him up to inform him bout the completion. I was surprised to see plenty of people had smsed me asking bout my status. It felt really good.
I left the place with a mind full of peace and satisfaction. The body was literally in pieces. Each and every joint of my body was paining. I couldn't even hold the throttle properly and I had another 150 kms to cross to reach home and crash on the bed.
It was really really tough riding those last few kms especially the ones after entering the city. Silly two strokers wanted to race with me on Palm beach road seeing me fully geared up. Arre bhai..kuch idea hai kaha kaha fat fata ke aa raha hoo main? I was saying to myself.
After literally dragging my bike for those last 50 odd kms I finally made it safe to my place - after 26 hours of non stop riding and covering more than 1700 kms in total. My mom was so happy to see me back she literally cried in front of me.
IBA Saddle Sore achieved..! A dream come true after a painful defeat! But as they say, Failure is the first step to success, I got my target finally. I will NEVER EVER forget those 26 hours of my life. These rides really separate the toughest riders from the riders. Thank you IBA for giving us such challenging rides. They give you a whole new perspective for life. I now know what's the true meaning of the words Strength, Stamina, Fatigue, Pain, Endurance, Importance of Rest, crazy riding, happiness, satisfaction and many more. It's truly a one of kind experience and one has to go through it to feel it to believe it.
All these things may sound exaggeration to many people but for a noob rider like me such a ride means a lot. The efforts mean a lot. People out there have achieved even tougher targets but am happy with what I have achieved. I am a person of the opinion "Something is anyday better than Nothing!"
Thank you very much for going through this long long log but these are feelings and experiences straight from the heart. I am yet to scan or photograph all the receipts. Once done with that I'll post the pics here. Meanwhile I'll post the pics taken by camera tomorrow. Thanks to all those who supported me through the ride. Kudos to my mean machine
I love her even more now. She behaved flawlessly through out the journey!
Some pics of the journey!
The odometer pics!
Somewhere on the way: Time- 1.42am
At Bhuinj Petrol Pump: Time- 2.56am
Karnataka State toll Post: Time- 6.23am
Petrol Pump at Haveri: Time- 7.17am
Somewhere before Chitradurg: Time- 8.24am
Petrol Pump at Belgaum: Time- 4.26pm