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Thread: Call of Duty : Real Life. Delhi-MP-Nagpur (and back)

  1. #1
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    Default Call of Duty : Real Life. Delhi-MP-Nagpur (and back)

    " When shit hits the fan, some guys run and some guys stay."

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    Before I begin, I have good news to share after a long hiatus due to my finals. I passed the finals of my examination in Pulmonary Medicine. It was about time I headed out to give these old bones a little wake-n-shake. I was relieved from a very hectic ICU post a few days back.

    I remember writing a similar experience here three years back here on xBhp - when I had just cracked the PG entrance examination and had taken a pan-Maharashtra ride to see my friends from medical college scattered all over the place. Boy, time does fly. I had barely time to eat and sleep these three years, let alone being in touch with my ex-roommates. I had a veil of memories lifted before my eyes where we used to live like peas in a pod. A gurgling urge took me over to bite a slice off these memories.

    During residency, one is working a job while gathering pearls. So your co-resident doctors are, by definition colleagues. Agreed - strong (even marital ) bonds can form from time to time, but there is simply an absence of that last layer of professionalism to be dissolved away. Eventually we all go back to where we come from.

    I had rarely been in touch with my buddies in these three years. Two of them were in Nagpur, and it is 1100km from Delhi. My hometown Satara is another 700km from Nagpur.

    The decision was pretty simple. Head towards Nagpur, chill with my friends as much as I could with their schedules. The head on towards home. Drop the bike at home. Fly back to Delhi, serve my remaining 3 weeks and then move back to Maharashtra.

    The chain+sprocket set was well worn at 22000km of touring in various terrains, but otherwise the bike was in agreeable condition.

    and yes,

    I have adopted a very conservative packing policy for motorcycling for the past year. I have stopped using saddle or claw bags. I have been only using a helmet backpack which acts as a tankbag/ tailbag/ backpack/ mars rover/ whatever you want it to be. After a solo expedition to Australia with just a backpack, I have realized that for any trip upto seven days one needs:

    1. Underwear, socks. Three sets.
    2. Two Dri-Fit Tshirts, one Shirt.
    3. One Denim.
    4. Puncture kit, small hand tools
    5. Jacket liners
    6. Personal hygiene kit, bare essentials.
    7. Electronics and chargers. I avoid a proper camera nowadays. Too much bulk and I rarely stop on the way to dismount and whip it out and shoot something.
    8. Snack bars and water bottle.

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    It took 15 minutes for me to assemble these. I then did a basic stretching routine, and left at a lazy 7am.

    Day 1 : Soggy fodder

    I had almost 1100km ahead of me and the longest I had ever done was 945km back in 2017. So, patience was the name of the game. Steadily I passed Noida and paid my first ever toll for a motorcycle of my life to enter the Taj Expressway. Keeping the revs at 5.5k, breathing the morning chill I proceeded walking on the speed limit. I don't rev the bike to death for the first 75km, it is my way to come to terms with the things.I try to gradually build up the revs - it is helpful to dwell on all the rev ranges and feel the bike for any rattles or foreign noises. These are the same principles applied while using a stethoscope, haha.

    Over 7k rpm, I felt a little hiss. The grunt was unmistakably pure, but there was a definite loss of power. I tried this all the way to 9000rpm but the power loss was there, bright as the daylight. With new oil, filters and plugs! The hiss was coming from the left - so only one diagnosis : the chain-sprocket set is seeing its end soon. I quickly stopped at one shoulder and looked for service centres. Agra had the nearest one and after that no Benelli workshops on my route in three states. Perfect.

    I kept the revs at 5.5k rpm and like a good little boy scout, I reached the Benelli workshop in Agra. It was 9am. I waited till 9:45am for the service personnel to come. He was quick and after a test ride he confirmed that the chain set is worn out for a 2500 km ride. He soon got to work.

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    It took them almost 3 hours to replace the whole damn thing because the chain breaker tool was lent to some guy by the engineer and that guy was long gone. They took their sweet time to wait and forced me to drink coffee. Then, I was informed that the front sprocket is not available and they can just do the chain and rear sprocket. I was furious, but I thought 2/3 is better than 0/3. I will absorb the damage and replace the front one in Pune or something. I clenched my teeth, paid up and rolled on.

    The experience was smooth now. No hiss. She was galloping like a hearty mare again! Fun fun fun. To protect the crank assembly from mismatched sprocket, I still kept the revs below 7k.

    I had lost nearly 4 hours, and the Sun was projecting shards of heat all over us. I made a mistake, and rode continuously for two hours.

    At the end of these two hours and possibly 180km, a sense of all encompassing fatigue set on me. I was dehydrated, hungry and tired. I had entered MP, and then started looking for a dhaba. I found a truck dhaba. my always favourite. Parked my bike in a hurry (mistake no 2) and ordered some food. Delicious and filling! I ordered more helpings against my good judgement.

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    It was 3:30pm and I was feeling tired, sore and unpleasantly full in my belly. I needed to lie down. I regretted my binge riding and binge eating as a revenge against wasting time at Agra. I have had done these things back in the time, but it was planned and not plain dumb like this. Anyway, I asked the owner to let me lie down and he agreed. I lied down on a cot and slept for like 40 minutes.

    After waking up, I ordered a chai and then I heard a loud screech. *krrrrrrrrrrrrr*

    I saw a truck was taking a reverse and its multiple tonnes was pushing my beloved helpless little bike with all its might. The side stand was getting deeper with every passing inch into the soft wet sand. I shouted loudly ad ran towards the truck to make him stop, my heart was pounding and there was a lot of panic sweat ion my brow. I inspected the bike, and there was just one little scratch mark on the nose (guarded by PPF) where the truck had touched. The side stand and the soft sand had saved the day. No damage whatsoever. After a thorough check, we had a bit of an heated conversation but the elders intervened and after a hearty session I took off again, towards Nagpur through Sagar.

    I realized that whatever I do, i could not do it in one go. Fortunately, I remembered I had a senior at Bundelkhand Medical College, Sagar as a lecturer. I called him and asked him to let me stay, he welcomed me.

    Endless plains, amber from the setting Sun. A backdrop of perfectly cool breeze and the hum of cylinder twins to complete the picture. I felt alive again. The straight roads and negligible traffic! I loved all of it and doing peaceful 80s through the Chambal river area, I kept going on.

    Darkness showed its presence, and like a cat, I switched from the slouched carefree posture to a more alert stance grabbing the tank with my thighs. As if the bike is my only place to feel secure with.

    I had to take a pee break somewhere around 9pm, my ETA was 10:30pm. I parked the bike on the shoulder, and did my deed. It was pitch black, and I switched off the flashers for a minute to see the plethora of stars gleaming their age-old photons upon the tired and imperfect me. I felt like a little spot among them. With a little smile developing on my face, I had some water and took the bike off her stand.

    I push the starter, she comes to life. I press down the lever. Nothing happens. No click. I press again. harder. None. I try up-shifting. No result. The bike was frozen in neutral.

    A cold shiver ran through my spine. I had heard about Bundelkhand being a not particularly safe area, and I knew only one person 120km away. I was in the middle of nowhere.I checked my cellphone. No signal.

    I took off my helmet, jacket, gloves and sat down in the sand. Freed the tank of the bag and took the toolkit out. Then I sat quietly, eyes closed for a minute to gather my senses. Worse things happen to people, so nothing to worry. We take things as they come, okay?

    I switched the torch on and the finger-in-the-eye darkness was stung with its tiny beam. I went to the gear lever. I soon realized that the frikkin' behemoth mammoth of a truck who reversed itself on my bike had partially sheared off the bolt holding the side stand to the chassis. So the side stand was literally bent out of its senses and it was BETWEEN the Engine block and the gear lever!

    There are no manuals teaching you how to do this thing. I worked carefully with the torch in my mouth to let it free but I could not yank it away without the bike falling all over me. I then threw the bike on the right side with no assurance of being able to pull it up again, and started fiddling.

    Art one position, I could use the lever and I could zip-tie it secure but the side stand sensor would be pressed and the bike won't accept the gear. This was a new pain in the hind-parts. I had a Eureka moment and soon, a side stand sensor crapped over it.

    I did not have an Allen key that big to take the whole assembly off. I did not have a socket adapter either.

    It was time to survive, to take some calls. I figured, riding and reaching civilization is more important than parking the bike. So with a soft resolve, I assessed where the bolt was weak, and with all my might mustered at that particular instance, I kicked the side stand in the other direction till it came off. Yes, I kicked the living starlights off the stand till it broke free. I threw away the broken bolt. I tied the loosely hanging sensor and wire assembly with a ziptie and got the bike on her feet.

    I then ziptied the remnants of the side stand system again, twice, and sat on the bike. I was blank for a minute there, thanking my legs for existing and my brain for working in such times. Then I screamed "HELL YEAH" and rode off in the darkness with the laugh of the devil!

    I didn't stop till I reached Sagar, because, well, I could not. There was no side stand. I had to wait till my gem of a senior showed up.

    I was spent like a shotgun shell. It was a day of 793km and bad decisions.

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    I told him that I needed something vertical to lean the bike against it. He referred me to an old electric box and I gently leaned the bike against it at a very delicate angle supported by the left mirror and handlebar. The skills from the old bicycle days were to the rescue. After a successful feat, I cheered to myself again : "HELL YEAH!" and went on to his room for a lovely chat, warm food and the deepest sleep.

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    Rest after approval. Stay vigilant everyone, and don't leave the house so that we can help those who need it the most. Cheers!
    Last edited by DocOnTwoWheels; 03-26-2020 at 01:30 PM.

  2. #2
    Moderator Samarth 619's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Re: Call of Duty : Real Life. Delhi-MP-Nagpur (and back)

    Tourlogue approved.

    Nice tourlogue there bro. Athough, I would suggest you keep patience with people, specially truck drivers and all, we know how the situation with road rage is.
    But yes, clearly its their mistake. Whether its a sleeping dog, a cow or a person or a motorcycle, the truck driver is supposed to check before reversing.

    And nice pics.
    DocOnTwoWheels likes this.
    Brotherhood, Rules, Freedom. Xbhp.
    Indian riding = Alertness, Anticipation and Adjustment.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Call of Duty : Real Life. Delhi-MP-Nagpur (and back)

    Quote Originally Posted by Samarth 619 View Post
    Tourlogue approved.

    the truck driver is supposed to check before reversing.

    And nice pics.
    Thank you for the approval, mate. I was supported by the dhaba owners, and their argument was the same - it may have been a person or an animal. The driver was quickly apologetic after the elders scolded him.

    ----consecutive posts auto-merged-----

    Day 2 : Sagar to Nagpur - Reconnect

    I got up to the sounds of chirping and a loud thud. I feared that in my dreams the bike had toppled down and thus the thud. I hurriedly ran three floors downstairs to witness the bike still standing tall by its virtual tether to the red box. Sighing of relief, I whistled my flight up. Got ready and thanked my senior to help me coop up on short notice.

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    There was still the side stand business. I went down geared up and discovered that there was no practical way to make her stand on a side without the missing bolt. I asked a passerby to come take a look and fetch me a similarly sized twig to try on. Stupid, but fun. I was feeling experimental. Experi-mental. Yes.

    I bolted (?) the twig in and gently tried to use the side stand. Two twigs were sacrificed but the third one struck gold with a particular angle and handle tilted waaaaaay rightwards. She stood tall, hanging by a twig. If it works, it works. I was good to continue.

    “Jugaad is somehow the only constant happening in your life”, I told myself.

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    With these thoughts, I proceeded to leave the lovely lake city of Sagar and tried on some poha for breakfast (and also my twig-stand.) It was 9ish and no mechs with possible stashes of bolts were up and about.

    The ride to Nagpur was uneventful. I managed to find a spares shop who had a bolt. The bike’s stance was still very fragile but it was acceptable as long as I could dismount without throwing a seizure.

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    This time, I made sure I drank enough water and made it to GMC Nagpur by 4:30pm.

    My ex-roommate was waiting for me. He called up a few other people from our batch for a smallish get-together and we hit it off to a highway dhaba in a car. We had laughter and long nostalgic talk over alcohol till 3am. Being the only teetotaler I drove us back and I slept.

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    Before collapsing on the floor, I checked the bike in the doctors’ parking. She was standing tall. No worries. A busted mismatched front sprocket and a shot up side stand, meh. We are still in business, I said. Slept like a beached whale for 14 hours. Probably the longest sleep I have had in 2020.

    Day 3 and 4 : Friends and News

    It was a jolly good afternoon to start, my friend had a 24 hour on call. I therefore went to another friend of mine and spent the day with him. We roamed around and had a few snacks and then a hearty lunch.

    There is no absolute declarable amount of time one needs to spend in order to fill his heart out with good company. Us friends, we are glued to each other with innominate bonds of affection and togetherness. The fabric is spun very tough and yet invisible. We never call each other, not even on birthdays. But once we see each other, it is like just an extension of yesterday after three years.

    Day 5 : Panic.

    I got up early, and went out for breakfast with my friend. After my return, I packed my bag. Contemplating the moment of departure, I slowly staggered out.

    A call from the hospital. A concerned colleague asked me about my air travel plans. Apparently, flights were being cancelled and mass quarantines were starting at airports due to rapid spread of the SARS-CoV-2. Many were escaping quarantine, and sanitizers were being sold out.

    “ This is going to get pretty worse, “ I said to myself. A pandemic when it hits a boiling cauldron of a billion plus overcrowded people - it never stops without taking its due diligence. All we need in such times is a capable healthcare system acting as shock absorbers of the impact of the pandemic. We are too weak to stop a pandemic, we can just palliate its impact onto our lives.

    There was no way now, I was getting on an uncertain flight after a week and back to Delhi. Possibility was high of me being unable to fly altogether in the coming future, or worse - board a train.

    I sat on the bed there, thinking. I had to make a judgement call. Go home, and possibly miss out on all the action where I was needed. I still had three weeks left in my tenure.

    I decided to return to Delhi..

    I informed my colleagues, I am coming back on the front-line.

    So many mistakes I had made on my ride to Nagpur, by wasting time at Agra followed by panic riding and wasting more time at food stops and never feeling refreshed.

    I know about how muscles work, and how to make them feel at home. Sometimes medical training when paired with commonsense can get you through 1175km of riding in a stretch.

    1175km. On a bike with a slight handicap.

    I set some rules to myself. I am sharing them here to give a refresher to the veterans and pearls to the newbies.

    • Rule 1 : Discipline is the name of the game. Ride 100km in a stretch, then stop. Even if you are feeling fresher than a spring chicken, just stop. Use your watch to set the timer to 10 minutes. When it beeps, you should be hitting the starter. No exceptions, no excuses.

    • Rule 2 : How to use 10 minutes : First five minutes - Removing the gear, Let your skin breathe. Drink 250ml water, and a bite of a protein bar. Massage your head gently. Click pictures.

    Next five minutes : Three minutes for stretching. Touch your toes for a minute, do a little jog and do five pushups. Let that blood flow. Let some adrenaline wash the old sailcloths.

    Last two minutes to wear the gear, inspect the tyres and press the starter when the wristwatch beeps.

    • Rule 3 : Never ever feel the pressure of time. If you feel you can’t make it in one go, just stop. Don’t act rash. There are no trophies for going the extra mile. A sleepover is better than perpetual sleep. This was a rule in my book even before there was a rulebook.

    • Rule 4 : Stop for a light lunch after covering half the distance. Only two rotis, and no extra helpings. No sugary chai. Only plenty of water to stock up. Lube the chain. Take 20 minutes for this break.

    Here I also made a mental note to invest in a hydration pack next time.

    I set a course towards Delhi, and I stuck by these rules. I stopped rigorously at every 100th kilometer, hydrated myself and followed the self-guidance to the very letter. I did stop at a truckers’ dhaba at 550 km - halfway. This regimen is very very useful and I could markedly see the difference in my energy levels.

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    *The 10 minute timer*

    The mistake I have always made was to ride a lot and then stop a lot in between. It is not a good approach when covering 700+ km distances in my opinion. A ride that takes 12+ hours, I think this military routine is the safest and most comfortable way to go.

    No sore ass, no crampy wrists, no shoulder aches, no lower back pain. 600km passed like a breeze. The roads were empty pretty much and I was enjoying the late afternoon air and singing Audioslave songs loudly.

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    As darkness approached, I changed the timer settings on my watch to 5 minutes of break every 100km. I followed that one too, very strictly. However I was feeling so fresh I had to battle the urge of evading the mandatory break and riding straight home the remaining 300km. I did not yield. I stopped, stretched, had water, did pushups and carried on.

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    *Bug Spray*

    I reached Delhi through Taj Expressway in 17 hours 40 minutes. I reached my hospital in exactly 18 hours. Google had speculated 20 hours for this trip.

    Usually, I roll my eyes deep backwards when someone starts talking about distances covered in a day and whatnot. I too, am of the opinion that riding motorcycles should be filled with impromptu detours, visitations, long breaks and food runs. It should be as imperfect as it possibly could be. However, life does throw a curveball at you at times - making you ride approx. 1200km in one go. When such a call of duty comes, it needs to be answered.

    Stay safe, everyone and stay indoors. Keep yourselves confined, so that we can serve the really needy - one at a time. Cheers!

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  4. #4
    Still Learning© sajalsheth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Call of Duty : Real Life. Delhi-MP-Nagpur (and back)

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    Nice Ride @DocOnTwoWheels ji

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Call of Duty : Real Life. Delhi-MP-Nagpur (and back)

    Nicely put brother!

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