It all started when I was in the 10th standard. It was 2012 and KTM launched the orange hooligan Duke 200. Reviews started pouring in, and I was bowled over by them. The first video review I saw was of Duke 200 by PowerToTheRider (now PowerDrift) I fell in love, it became my obsession, my lust. I just wanted this orange thing between my legs, anyhow. But I was way too young and I didn’t know how to ride a bike. Read each and every page of xbhp’s Duke 200 ownership thread. Dreamt about taking it to the himalayas, attacking the gata loops and feel the maniac acceleration of the orange beast!
There’s this temple situated at 110 kms from Jodhpur. My family is devoted to this temple. Took this vow in 10th standard that I’d visit the temple on my bike once I get one.
Then came 2016, and I still didn’t know how to ride a bike. Except the basics, I knew nothing. (Hey, Jon Snow!) Somehow convinced my parents that it was the right time to buy a bike. Buying a 200 cc naked beast as your first bike wouldn’t have been wise, so I considered the other options and got myself a blue Suzuki Gixxer naked. Mini Duke, I call her sometimes, because of the sharp handling, all digital instrument cluster and the naked looks. Learned how to ride it and started commuting to the college with it. Once I knew that now I can attempt long rides, it was about time that I paid the promised visit to that temple.
1. The Plan :
By calculating the total distance, the numbers added up to 650 kms both ways. I was a bit skeptical of taking this trip all alone. Then my cousin brother came to my rescue. He agreed to go with me as a pillion. Once taking the permissions from our home ministries, we decided that we should go on the ride on 20th August, the day being a Saturday.
2. Preparations :
Bike recently got its second service, and I lubed the chain at home. So the bike was asking for a long ride! With just a single day in between, I couldn’t arrange a puncture repair kit. But packed everything which I thought was important. Allen keys, manual, helmet lock, tool kit, first aid kit, medicines, a bottle, some biscuits, clothes and some other things I can’t remember now. Fuck you concentration. The backpack was ready, bike was ready but I wasn’t. Couldn’t get enough sleep the night before the ride. I sincerely thank my asshole neighbor who was blasting his speakers at 11 in the night. And then, icing on the cake? It started raining. I couldn’t sleep until 11:45.Woke up at around 5, ran to the terrace to look around for the weather. There were clouds, yes, but thankfully, no rain. Got ready, let the bike warm up a bit and took off to pick my brother.
3. The ride :
Pushkar – Merta – Daangiyawaas – Jodhpur – Balotara – Jodhpur
Kilometers covered : 410
Left at around 7:45, we were already running late by around an hour. The 65 km stretch between Pushkar and merta consists of 60 kms of smooth road, and 5 kms of spine breaking roads. Took first fuel stop between pushkar and merta.
The speedometer was hovering between 85-95 an hour. After riding on the sexy stretch, the broken roads of Merta greeted us with a grin. How I wish I had a Himalayan that time! The broken roads resulted in hunger and we had a kachori and chai at the Merta Bus stand.
After leaving merta at around 9:20 AM, we hit the road again! But there was a looooooonnnng traffic jam which consisted of only trucks. Zigzagged through them like I was a snake and then we had to stop again. Because half the road (read road only, no highway) was submerged under water and on the other side, a mammoth truck was stuck in the mud. I couldn’t see the depth of the water. So I waited for a vehicle to pass through it so I get a brief idea of the depth. Then came an uncle, riding on his splendor from the other side. I watched him, he watched us and shiooon, he was on our side without any trouble. And there we were, on the best 150 cc bike, fully loaded with gears. Took a deep breath, accepted our defeat, and then rode to the other side. The water was around 10 inches deep and it was full of pebbles and stones. Don’t know how that uncle got across it with so much ease. Elder version of CS Santosh maybe, I joked.
And then the nice roads welcomed us, the bike begged to get revved a bit, after sputtering around in the lower revs. Clocked another 100 kms without any stop. The bike was performing flawlessly. I even reached 106 km/h on an empty stretch. And there were no vibrations at all.
The roads were mostly good but extremely nasty at some points. Umm, Imagine this, you’ve settled at an average cruising speed of 90 km/h, you’re munching miles and bike’s exhaust is creating a perfect background score and there it comes! 6 feet wide, and a feet in depth. One nasty motherfucker pothole. You either have to slam the brakes hard, or ride through that pothole praying that your rims and shockers would absorb the bump.
And yes, the weather was extremely pleasant! Unlike the name of the town in which we stopped for a short break. Daangiyawaas. Okay, you guys can have your share of laugh. With 167 kms on the trip meter and 11:30 on the clock, we had chai and then took off again. We decided to ditch the main road which would lead us into jodhpur city and rode to the bypass which would connect us on the Jodhpur-Balotara route. The bypass was great again! Had another fuel stop on the bypass. We needed fuel too, so we stopped just before the Jodhpur-Balotara route began. Had one mirchi bada and a can of red bull because we needed wings, and caffeine.
A few months ago, the Jodhpur-Balotara route was totally damaged, it was around 110 kms long and broken at most places. But now, it can put even the Ajmer-Jaipur highway to shame! It’s still under construction at 3-4 places though. Just a month or two, and I can vouch that it can become one of the smoothest highways in India.
Reached the Temple at around 2:45 while the trip meter read 301 kms. After staying there for a while, we left at around 3:30. This is the thing with humans, their average is much less than their bikes. Falcon (My gixxer) didn’t need any fuel, but we did. Stopped after getting out of Balotara city. Had a aaloo and Paneer ka parantha (read masala kulccha) because the paranthas were made of maida. And they took around 45 minutes to prepare our order. I had already murdered the staff of the dhaba several times in my head for taking so long! Left the dhaba at 4:30 pm. We were tired so thought of checking the top whack of the bike, instead of cruising at a constant speed. Brother wanted to ride too, so we stopped to click some pictures and then he rode from then on.
Falcon reached 113 km/h with ease. Then we had to slow down a bit because of the oncoming traffic.
And then there were they! Clouds darker than my future! There was stark sunlight behind us, and dark, scary clouds ahead of us. I thought of that Karizma tvc, in which Hrithik rides the bike into the storm. But we weren’t Hrithik nor this was any TVC. This was happening for real!
And then it started raining. Not cats and dogs, no. It was raining dragons and monsters! We HAD to stop. Parked the bike far from the road and got under a chhappar. Waited for the rain to stop.
But it didn’t, it grew even more monstrous. We decided to put our rain gears on and take off again, because it wouldn’t be wise to stay as the water started getting under the chhappar too. It was no less than an adventure! And we were just 30-40 kms away from jodhpur, so that was a relief because we had to stay the night at Jodhpur only, at our bhua’s place. That’s when we got to know about the grip of the tyres! The grip offered by the 140 section MRF Revz-m was great! No matter how hard we had to brake under those unfavourable conditions, the tyre just didn’t give up. It’d have been a shame if suzuki applied the cost cutting measures to the tyres. After riding in the rain for a while, we reached our destination and called the day off. The trip meter read 410 kms and the clock was showing 6:45 PM.
Changed, talked about the ride so far and then had our dinner. The plan was to crash on the bed at around 11. But 11 became 2 and we finally slept. Bakchodis can keep you awake even after riding the whole day.
Day 2 :
Jodhpur – Daangiyawaas – Bilara – Barr – Beawar – Ajmer – Pushkar
Kilometres covered : 235 kms.
After a tiring day and a night full of bakchodis, you just can’t wake up early in the morning, right? You can. Well, I can. And I had to. Fuck you birds, fuck you big time. The window of our room was the hub for the aerial creatures. It was 6:30 in the morning, and I had to shut the damn window. Though I got up from the bed at around 8, but couldn’t sleep after 6:30. After having our lunch and taking our bath and shit, left bhua’s place at around 11:15. Decided to take the other route to our home because of the scenic view and better roads. Views were mesmerizing, roads weren’t (more on this, later). We swapped our seats after 35 kilometers.
Now I was the pillion and brother was riding the bike.
If you’re planning on taking long tours on a gixxer, I’d suggest you to get an extra layer of foam for the seats. They aren’t slippery, but are anti-ass. If you do care about your trunk, get a ride on air seat or something.
During the ride we came across many travellers who were going to Ramdevra temple. It’s around 190 kms from Jodhpur. And guess what? They travel either on foot, or on their commuter bikes. Hundreds of kilometers, hundreds of commuter bikes and thousands of people! I salute their faith!
After covering 78 kms till Bilara on nice roads, broken roads (read almost no roads) welcomed us with open arms. Hugged us tight, so tight that it broke our spines. The slightly stiff suspension of the bike wasn’t helping either.
After crossing the nasty stretch, we reached Barr and stopped at khakhi resort to fill ourselves up. Had chai and cheese toast. It was around 2:30 PM when we left the restaurant. Filled Falcon too and then I took over the pilot’s seat because I knew that one of the best roads were awaiting us! And there it was! 4 lane road, with sweeping curves. We were attacking corners with the speedo just above the 100 mark.
Getting an idea of how awesome the roads were? That’s when we got to know the true potential of the bike! The performance and handling were just marvellous! Dc-lous too. (don’t worry dc fans, I got you!) It can do 90’s and attack corners whole day long! Recorded a video and clicked some pictures while on the move.
The only regret I’ve from this trip is that we couldn’t record a video of us taking an almost semicircle curve on the highway while doing speeds above 90!
I found heaven when I was in that turn. The feedback from the beefy 41mm front shockers, the bark from the exhaust, the chassis complimenting the huge level of grip from the tyres! And the bike leaning and leaning and leaning at 95 km/h! It was the closest I’ve been to nirvana! I wish I could do it whole day whole night whole life long!
The highway then merged with the Beawar’s 6 lane expressway. Once again, the roads didn’t disappoint.
Two Duke 390’s overtook us and they were just gone, disappeared! That was the moment I knew I have to upgrade to this bike only!
The highway was so smooth that it begged us to check the top speed again, this time the speedo showed 114 km/h. There weren’t any vibrations, except for the mild ones on the footpegs. There’s a trait I got to know about the bike, it vibrates a bit in the 5th gear at 81 km/h, the tachometer showing 5600 rpm. This was the only drawback I can remember. And oh, the windblast, which comes complimentary with all the naked bikes.
It was time to enter the city, our city! We were sleepy and tired and our ass was paining and our spine was shattered but there was this satisfaction which outshined all the pain. Reached home and everyone welcomed us as if we had come after winning a battle.
Took a picture of the trip meter the next day and calculated the mileage.
Total distance covered : 645.7 kms.
Fuel efficiency : 41 km/l.
4. The feelings which followed :
I was back to home. But, gradually I realised it was just the aching body left with me. My soul was somewhere else. Detached from this flesh. Lost! Or maybe at it’s place. ❤ Wandering amidst those seducing highways! Enlivening every dream of mine! As I jot down the travelogue, there's this never ending thirst to stay on the tarmac whole day long… ride on the highways, snake through the traffic jams, slay the corners, ride in the rain and through the water filled potholes. Wanderlust would be an understatement, I'm sick of wanderlove. I kissed Falcon when I reached home for her reliability and the way she performed. Hugged my brother for sharing the saddle with me. I just can't wait to get on the highways again. This thirst will never end, neither will my rides!