This is the journey of the grand tourer, Deepak Kamath, on his Grand Tourer (DSK-Benelli 600 GT). For those who don’t know Deepak, he is the guy who circumnavigated the world on his Yezdi back in the 90s. We had a small conversation with him some time ago about his world tour some time ago, which you can read here . This article starts from the point where we left that conversation – the moment he bought a Benelli 600GT. Read on..
“I travel because I’d rather look back at my life saying “I can’t believe I did that” instead of “If only I had”: Florine Bos
Desire is the starting point of all achievements. I couldn’t get a better punch line to convince myself that the DSK Benelli TNT 600 GTS was the bike I was looking for. To add to this, the “Thank You” ride by the xBhp Team gave me the hands on touch and feel of a bike that I would eventually own. Thanks to my wife, who really understood my penchant for travels, supported me with the initial down payment by saying, “if not now, then when?”
17 June 2015, the most beautiful bike that I can think of, a definite showstopper, the DSK Benelli TNT 600 GTS was delivered. For me, it was a direct upgrade from a commuter bike to a missile! With great power comes greater responsibilities! This was the beginning of going back to hitting the road and I was extremely excited! Two decades away from travels, was definitely a LONG time!
My pictures speak for themselves, my journey of Armstrong (the inspiration comes from none other than Lance Armstrong!), a journey from a 9 km odometer reading to the current 22000 km in just a year. The eyes have seen so much, the mind has registered so many things, made loads of new friends all over the route and I cannot be grateful enough for such support from the sales and service teams of DSK Benelli.
I was keen to have my preferred registration number, the same registration number that circumnavigated the world in 47 days. “3442”. Sufiyan Syed from Vinayak Cars and Bikes helped in getting this sorted.
Armed with a Temp Registration number, my first experience was to Mysore through some longer routes of tarmac and village landscape. This was my way of silently thanking this city for bringing me into the limelight of few travellers who have circumnavigated the world, and also an opportunity of meeting people who were instrumental in making that trip happen, amongst many others. Somender Singh (the biking fraternity needs no introduction to this legend) and Ravi Kumar, who toiled selflessly in preparation of the project bike. Unfortunately, it has been two decades, and I am yet to network the earlier contacts. I am connected with 3 of my sponsors, Boman Irani, the then Director at Ideal Jawa India Ltd., Dilip Chandak, Managing Director of Vega Auto Accessories, and Rolon Chains.
My next ride was to Melkote, a small hillock near Mysore, famous for the temple of Lord Narayanaswamy which is built on the hillock, surrounded by a fort and is 3589 feet above sea level. The ruins have stood the test of times since the 12th century. This was my first experience of taking my bike out with my wife and this will remain a memorable ride. My preferred registration number was still due.
No sooner were we back from this ride, the next was Lepakshi with fellow Benellians in Bangalore. Lepakshi is culturally and archaeologically significant as it is the location of shrines dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Veerabhadra which were built during the Vijayanagara Kings’ period (1336–1646). The temples are the location of mural paintings of the Vijayanagar Kings and Kannada inscriptions. This is about 120 km from Bangalore and you get to experience some beautiful tarmac and trails.
Then a ride to Shettihalli. Built in the 1860s by the French missionaries, the church is a magnificent structure of Gothic Architecture. After the construction of the Hemavati Dam and Reservoir in 1960 the church was abandoned. It has since then become a famous tourist spot where people flock to see the half submerged church during monsoon.
There were few “breakfast rides” with more proud owners of the Benellis. I lost interest as these rides ended even before it began! No offence to anyone. So I did something different. Breakfast in Ooty? About 350 km from Bangalore and return home for lunch! Now, isn’t that interesting. This ride gave me immense confidence of mastering the manoeuvres of the GT through the most beautiful hairpin bends on the Kalhatti Ghats.
Then came the Independence Day celebrations and Vinayak Bikes and Cars celebrated it in style.
Then the Bangalore Benelli group did a long day ride to Kolli Hills. Kolli Hills has been the top choice for nature lovers, hiking enthusiasts, trekking clubs and meditation practitioners among hill stations in Tamil Nadu. In comparison to other hill stations in Tamil Nadu, Kolli Hills is not commercialized, is less polluted and offers unique mountain ranges. The most interesting part is the 70 hairpin bends, which is a rider’s paradise amidst hardly any traffic! My registration number had finally come in!
My daughter experienced the ride when we were invited by Pratima Hebbar from the HopOnGurls team. A bunch of lady riders headed for an overnight stay and we met up for a short introduction before returning to Bangalore.
Then came MTM 2015. Motorcycle Travellers Meet under the able guidance of Santosh Kumar, who found me apt to be a Rare Breed Speaker. This has been the most memorable stage of having shared my experience of circumnavigating the world and is currently on YouTube.
And in a tribute to the Legendary Mohammed Ali, his Golden Words will continue to inspire “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing”
The itch to explore longer routes was definitely there and about the same time, Sarath Shenoy, who was riding the then recently launched Mahindra Mojo triggered an interest to ride to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. Logistically, I had to stretch it, but that is the kind of support I got from my organization where I work, with whom I have been for the last 12 years! Leave sorted, my wife and I were ready to hit the road by 6 December. Bangalore to Guwahati was in 3 days after which we slowed down to explore the most mesmerizing and awesome landscapes.
A detour to Bhutan was encouraged by riders we met along the road, headed by Manish Gurung and coaxed by Marcian Joshi, Deep Chettri, Kishan, and Paul Gurung, all residents of Darjeeling. This was a beautiful detour and we look forward to riding with these guys again.
The next destination was tricky Tawang through the Mighty Sela Pass. I may not do enough justice mentioning anything in print about the route, the landscape during this ride and I will let my pictures take you along our journey. The Northeast has got plenty to offer and one or two, or even three trips for that matter may not be sufficient to complete the exploration.
Then came the India Bike Week (IBW) 2016 for which Rishad Bhumgara encouraged me to share the platform with him during the Big Trip Speaker sessions. Rishad, a very young rider who had the guts to take a 30 year old Jawa all the way from Mumbai to Myanmar.
I got an invite to ride to Madurai and share my experience during the 1st anniversary of the Freedom Riders Unite for road safety and both the way up to Madurai and back to Bangalore was a night ride. My daughter accompanied me on this ride and she was equally excited to hear me share my experiences.
The hairpins at Kolli are a lure if you have done it once and the uncontrollable lure made me pull along a couple of riders and head there again. Joining me this time was Shreyansh Lathe, a finalist and the first runner up during the True Wanderers 2016 contest. It was a fantastic feeling to ride with someone of that calibre.
Riders Diary is a brainchild of Raghavendra Yaraganal and his team. And when he called me for a Cliffhanger Ride I just couldn’t resist myself. The very name sounded challenging and true to its name, the ride made me sweat at less than 18 degrees centigrade! I almost experienced Tawang terrain again! I look forward to riding with this crazy bunch again!
There was another ride planned to Coonoor/ Ooty. For the thrill of it, we decided to ask the locals to advise us with some off-road. Were they off-roads? There were no roads! We rode on boulder terrain inside tea gardens and these roads strengthened my confidence in the GT.
Riding to the Grand Canyon of India, Gandikota located about 300 km from Bangalore. The fort of Gandikota acquired its name due to the gorge formed between the Erramala range of hills, also known as Gandikota Hills and the River Pennar that flows at its foot. Situated amidst beautiful landscape and wild forests, this will give you a feeling of oneness with yourself for the sheer vastness of the terrain. Gandikota was one of the greatest forts of South India in its heydays and so were the kings who ruled the region.
Riding to Chennai and Pondicherry has been the most recent ones at the time of me sharing this update with you all and I always take a quick moment to capture something really nice and feel the urge to share these pictures, possibly to encourage youngsters and old alike to hit the road to explore Incredible India!
It has been one of the most beautiful years in my life after a very long time, and I will continue to make sure that I will make most of this and travel as much as I can.
As I sign off this small encapsulation of my year long ride, I wish to share a very inspirational quote from Ayrton Senna and he could not have said it better, “If a person has no dreams, they no longer have a reason to live. Dreaming is necessary, although in the dream, reality should be glimpsed. For me, this is a principle of life”.
God Speed! Ride Hard Ride Safe.