2400 Kilometers in 36 hours!

To many, my ride in March 2018 seemed like the ultimate ride. I don't blame them! On 17th March 2018, 09:30 am, me and another friend of mine set out from Navale bridge, Pune, only to come back 24 hrs later. What happened in between? Two guys, two bikes:1623 kms, touching Bengaluru (Neelamangalam) and back, non-stop, without sleep. It was one hell of an experience! I had done such a thing before, double seat on a thudder! That was tough! But this? This was quite easy actually! Apart from a good bike (Dominar 400) it's about being mentally prepared.

You see, at first I was to go along with my friend (on another bike) for a night ride. We were thinking of covering 1000 kms. Then I suggested we just go and get the SaddleSore done instead. He obliged, and rest is history. A lot of this 'ease' was down to the bike - smooth, fast, effortless, comfortable & efficient! Now, to the ride that has affected me in ways that I can not imagine. Believe it or not, the Saddlesore was just a preparation for this ride - 2400 kms in less than 36 hours, that means non-stop 36 hours riding without any sleep.

At first I was confident about the Pune-Bengaluru-Hyderabad-Bengaluru-Pune route, since I know most of the route. Then a friend of mine asked me why i took the same route every time. Obviously he wasn't a rider, but what he said made sense. Then another friend suggested the eventual route! Leave Pune, travel to Nashik, bypass Indore to Ratlam, bypassing Ajmer, Udaipur making my way to Jaipur before turning around for my journey back to Pune. I found this intriguing and made my choice! It was to be this very route. Another difference, my partner in crime for the saddlesore wasn't available anymore! Yup, I was going solo on this. After all, the date was special - Friday, the 13th!

12th April 2018: My House in Pune: I had gotten up late, but I didn't mind the 5 hour sleep rather than the 4 hour one. Afterall sleep was one thing, I wasn't getting for the next 36 hrs! 07:20 am, I had reached the MegaMart at Dapodi, topped up my tank and swiped at the ATM to mark the beginning of what could be an epic journey. I was quite in the mood and was racing through the somewhat open roads. I had been till Nashik before and was quite familiar with the routes. At one point in the morning near Narayangaon, I saw my power bank fly past me and fall on the ground to screech between 3 oncoming bikes before settling on the side of the road. Yeah, the tank bag mounted on my back seat was left open. I checked and found to have lost my water bottle, my Motul Chain Lube, and whooo, almost my Power bank. Minor setback but a big reality check - it's a long ride and the small things always, always matter! On we go. I was in uncharted territory now. Nashik had taken way too much time, and I was intuiting and asking my way through it to reach Indore. Yup, no maps, that's how I rode. Especially knowing I was familiar with only 10% of the route! Smart eh? Just before Indore there's a small left to bypass Indore and take you to Ratlam. The route didn't feel right at first but then it rained, I assumed I'm on the right track coz If it ain't tough, it ain't right.

Just before Ratlam is where I had my lunch. It was almost tea time (03:40 pm). I had packed simple jaggery and ghee rolled up in wheat rotis. Along with this, crushed peanut ladoos, also filled with ghee. Add to it some dry fruits and electrol. That's it, I really didn't need anything more! This itself is all the stuff I ate throughout the trip, you don't need to feel full on such rides. I used to buy a new water bottle at every stop ensuring I always had at least half a bottle on board! This, to ensure I get clean water every time and I don't end up carrying too much weight. Whenever I could, I drank sugarcane juice or fresh lime juice for effective hydration.

Riding ahead, I crossed all the cities that I had only heard in movies - Ratlam, Mandsaur, Chittorgarh.. It was quite funny cause I remembered all their filmy references. Helped pass the time. It was my first time in Madhya Pradesh as well as Rajasthan. The roads were alright! I say alright, cause they were arrow straight indeed, but those speed breakers came at a moments notice. And they don't just have one big breaker or a rumble strip. The entire highway ahead of Maharashtra is filled with these 4-5-6-7,God knows how many ever they wanted number of bumps, that were stuck together to thrash your private parts, if you didn't stop on time! Effective Madness. These things keep playing behind your head you know, and you still HAVE to keep moving at pace.

It was almost nighttime and I was approaching Rajasthan. I had learned from my Saddlesore ride and had bought a clear visor for night riding rather than using that dumb motocross styled goggles. It was a big relief. But, by this time I was going way too slow, and my morale was really down. The traffic - too many heavy vehicles, blaring horns, blind overtakes, dust, bumpy roads and those speed breakers. I reached Bhilwara and felt broken down. I gathered my thoughts and started again. To my pleasure soon enough, I hit a beautiful patch of highway that's reminiscent of the Pune-Mumbai Expressway. Decently lit, wide, fast and clean and flat surface.

Now, this is where it gets interesting. I was doing 100-110 when a red/orange 2018 RJ passing Duster overtook me. That guy was fast. I happened to pass him a little further in traffic. We exchanged places a couple of times before an all out ride-along started and soon enough we were high speed crushing this highway. I wouldn't call it racing. We were properly indicating while sifting through the traffic, keeping it clean and I got motivated to a different level. My average began to grow and all of a sudden I found myself with tremendous energy. It lasted all the way till Jaipur. All my thoughts of ditching the ride and exploring Jaipur for a day, before returning home were re-focused on the challenge at hand. The bike kept up and at times left the Duster in dust (no pun intended). I really need to thank that person - Thanks (if you ever read this). I crossed Jaipur's Decathlon store and happened to see an ATM just at the side of the highway right next to a U-Turn opening! (yup, I was on a roll). It was just past midnight (01:30 am), Friday the 13th, 17 hrs 30 mins and 1210 kms into the ride. I was just 3-4 kms before Jaipur. This was my half way mark! 18 hrs 30 mins and 1200+ kms more to go. The calculation was all over the place. It just seemed impossible. But, but my energies were on a high and I knew the next patch was going to be fast. So they were, I raced back to Kishangarh. And things just went South from here. I missed a left.

I should have trusted my intuition but the momentum kept me moving forward before I stopped at a hotel for some coffee and directions. I was 17 kms off-course and heading towards Ahmedabad via Ajmer. Damn it! Some brainstorming and I found a way to get back to Chittorgarh via a route after Ajmer. It was dark, lonely and through a forest. I was scared. I soon reached a highway construction patch. A bump on the road and I felt a thud on the right side of my bike! One of the two bungee cords has snapped off. The hook had broken and fallen off and my luggage was hanging from one side of the bike. Agh! I was so mad. I took a deep breath, gathered my thoughts and used the single bungee cord to somehow wrap my tank bag on my rear seat. I knew if this breaks, it's the end of my ride. No way, I could place that bag anywhere else. It was around 04:00-04:30 am I think. I was feeling so sleepy, so tired and yet so angry. I took out my headphones and my iPod. Turned on 'Imagine Dragons' at a volume I would dare play again when riding! "I'm bleeding out and if it's the last thing that I do, I'll take you down with me" went the lyrics. My god, did that instill energy of unknown proportions in me. I was charged up and I rushed the next two hours beating out with the morale boosting tracks one after the other. It was like my trusted iPod knew what I wanted! I was back on track to Chittorgarh and was consistently averaging in high 90's and sometimes even 100's. This is a big deal considering to do it, you have to constantly be doing 120-130 kmph!

The Bajaj Dominar 400, my less than 2 month old bike was doing wonders! No squeaks, no malfunctions, no nothing. The engine was smooth and sounding so sweet, power delivery ever so energetic, vibrations at a minimum, breaks with a good bite, a super awesome and efficient slipper clutch that helped me engine break for all those crazy bumps, headlights that were so powerful. I mean there's very little wrong with the bike. It cools down nicely too. The only beef was the 13 litre tank. I wish a 16-18 liter tank for a tourer (range of 350-400 kms). Apart from that the buffeting. The air was putting so much pressure on my shoulders, it was extremely painful, and to push through that was even tougher. All in all at 1.80 lakhs this is absolutely amazing value for money! It was around 07:00 am. The sun had broken out. In all the night frenzy, I forgot to have dinner and stopped to refuel and was munching on the remainder of my stock. I changed the bug filled clear visor for a bug filled tinted visor! Drank a full bottle of water and replaced it with a new one. A long break. This was it! The last 12 hour stint! Over 900 kms to go. Seems relatively easy now, but I had been riding continuously for 24 hours. The music was still on, Imagine Dragons, Amit Trivedi, Coldplay, Swedish House Mafia - they were all with me to push me on to complete this seemingly impossible task.

I was now relentlessly pursuing a minimum of 100kmph average as I knew nashik and Narayangaon stood in front of me as my nemesis! Soon enough it was Nashik, in sheer daylight! I was trying to maintain at least 70 kmph. Just out of nowhere, I felt the urge to ask a rickshaw uncle for directions. I had not trusted my instincts before, and I wasn't going to let that ruin my ride this time. And it worked! I was right at the crossing where I would be able to take a shortcut out of Nashik. Woo-hoo, Nashik lasted far lesser than the way to Jaipur and I was flying again. This is the time I appreciate the Pune-Nashik highway. It is absolutely beautifully made. Smooth surface, no pesky interferences, good visibility and I was on my way to what seemed to be a successfully completed BunBurner in India.

Sangamner passed as the wind and sun were really testing me mentally. The last 3 hours had been manic. I was racing, fighting the pain, the voice to give up, the math that said I couldn't do it, everything negative. This was 'Mind over Matter' like nothing I had experienced before. I was extremely optimistic, it was the last hour now and I hardly had 50 kms to go. Considering my average was beyond 100kmph, I thought this was going to be a breeze and I had aimed to stop at 2450 kms or 07:10 pm, whichever was earlier. But the ride was far from over. Right after Sangamwadi came the torturous Narayangaon to Manchar stretch. Bumper to bumper traffic! Leave 4 wheelers, it was difficult even for two wheelers to overtake. The highway was reduced to 2 lanes due to ongoing construction work. The road was dusty, filled with potholes, unruly traffic and no room for even off-roading. To top it off, the sunlight had gone down and I was wearing a tinted visor, hampering my visibility. I had to lift up the visor to see the hazards clearly. An insect in one eye and and piece of wood in another. It was a nightmare. My, eyes, nose, mouth, everything was uncontrollably oozing liquid. I was anxiously checking the clock and odometer to try and make some sense of the Math. The clock was moving fast, the Odo wasn't. In this chaos the bike was still doing so damn good. I was very heavy on the clutch in this stretch. So much so, that I really feel bad for putting her through this. But the Dominar 400 persevered.

It was 07:15 pm on Friday the 13th, April 2018. I had pushed the time too far. I decided to look for ATMs as the ODO said it was just shy of 2400 kms. To my luck, no ATM. I asked an uncle who said I'll get one in Chakan directly. I had no idea how far that was. Next idea - swipe the card at a hotel. Hotel 1 - no luck. Hotel 2 - JackPot. "Give me whatever you want, just swipe the card for some money, urgently" I hurriedly requested as the staff had no idea what they were doing. Finally, 07:24 pm - the swipe for a 50 rupees lassi marked the end of my 2404 kms journey. It had been 36 hours I was riding on this incredible machine! What a feeling. There was joy, excitement, extreme pain and a sense of relief. I limped my way back to Pune, as I thought my clutch had given way in the horrendous riding that I put the bike through in the last hour (later turned out, the cable was loose). I had a few people waiting at the office. It was almost 09:00 pm on Friday the 13th! There were some burgers, some champagne and a cake to go through. It felt the most content cake cutting in my life. It was my birthday after all!

I was dropped home as I left the bike at office for the clutch issue. I had a warm water shower (very important after any heavy physical outing), re-hydrated myself, replied to a few wishes, applied pain relief spray as if it was a deodorant and was out cold for the next 14 hours! It was an exhilarating experience, an example of what we can actually pursue if we put our heart and soul into it, something I will cherish for a lifetime.

I cannot speak anything less of the Bajaj Dominar 400. It was a completely stock bike with just the engine oil replaced to that fantastic Motul 7100 10W50 Fully synthetic oil that made the bike so smooth and efficient. Apart from that, nitrogen in the tires for a balanced and unhindered ride. The folks at Sai Service Bajaj at Balgandharva were so helpful before and after the ride, I can't thank them enough!

To anyone who undertakes this kind of a ride, remember -

  • It's all about you, understand why you want to do it and always do something like this for the right reasons, not for social media or fame or gratification.
  • It's not the end of the world if you can't do it. Be it Saddlesore or the BunBurner, in India these are incredibly tough.
  • Know yourself well, your limits, your body signs to understand what your body is talking to you and respect it!
  • It's not a race at all. It requires an average of just under 70 kmph. It all boils down to your breaks, the smaller they are, the more time you get.
  • Wear all the safety gear, carry minimal spares, carry food and some cash, travel light and keep your loved ones informed.
PS: I checked AFTER the ride that the BunBurner is actually 2500 kms in 36 hrs outside USA. Looks like another challenge awaits ;)

Fuel Stops: 3382 kms Express Pet, Dapodi BP - Before Start Point (06:23 am, 12th Apr 2018)
3384 kms Opp Mega Mart Dapodi, Pune - Start Point (07:23 am, 12th Apr 2018)
3622 kms Maharashtra BP 10.88 lits INR 890.31 (10:20 am)
3871 kms Maabijasan, Mumbai Agra Rd 10.53 lits INR 877.35 (01:54 pm)
4120 kms Ratlam Road, Jaora 10.68 lits INR 849.48 (05:15 pm)
4372 kms Bhilwara, Reliance 9.99 lits INR 770.50 (09:20 pm)
4594 kms ICICI ATM, outside Jaipur - Turnaround Point (01:44 pm 13th April 2018)
4667 kms Pedibhata, Kishangar, BP 10.43 lits INR 800.39 (02:15 am)
4921 kms Shubham Petroleum, Jalampura, Indian Oil - 9.15 lits INR 700 (06:49 am)
5179 kms Rahul Fuels 10.07 lits INR 806.30 (11:02 am)
5441 kms RR Petroleum, Sarwad Phata BP, Dhule 9.80 lits INR 801.05 (02:40 pm)
5624 kms Paalsse, Nashik HP 7.67 lits INR 629.86 (05:13 pm)
5788 kms Hotel New Mahabaleshwar - End Point (07:21 pm, 13th April 2018)
Total Odo Distance: 2404 kms | Total Fuel: 89.20 lits | Fuel Efficiency: 27 kmpl | Total Cost: INR 6405.24/- (without F&B)
Tanmay Wakankar (MotorHeads India)