Day 35 : 25th October 2019
Happy Dhanteras to all of you and your family. Let this dhanteras bring you happiness/healthy life and make you smile all the time and Enjoy every moment of this beautiful life.Thinking about riding alone was not a great feeling and it’s not new to me. But after spending a good month with the best team (being together and helping each other during critical times), riding alone is not giving me a comfort feeling. Going to miss Manish (shouting all the time “Sundar Bhai, speed badhao na”) and Rohit (trying to overtake us when the day’s ride is going to be over or taking the lead and misleading us to the wrong place) and Naren (always watchful and helpful) from now.Got up and packed the bags and ready to ride.
It was around 6 am and didn’t want to disturb Rohit & Naren. They don’t have to ride and their flight is in the evening. But both the guys came out after hearing me getting ready and helped me with the loading. I know them for a few months (Naren) or a few weeks (Rohit) only but the bonding became so strong in the last 25 days. Saying goodbye to both of them was really emotional and it was there till Google maps played its trick again. Set Siliguri as the destination and started the ride. It was still raining and looks like another rain riding day. The Brahmaputra was calm but can feel the vastness.
Lots of great personalities remain calm and you don’t realize their greatness and I got the same feeling when I crossed the Brahmaputra. Need to visit Assam for many reasons and sitting on the banks of this great river is one among them (and Kaziranga national park was just 20 km from our hotel). Definitely a visit in the near future is going to happen. Google maps asked me to take a left (adjacent to a flyover) and I missed it. It is always persistent and showed me another left immediately after the flyover. In spite of many such experiences, I still went by Google maps and it landed me on the banks of Brahmaputra and the leading mud path is meant for humans on their feet.
Love Google maps for making this journey more adventurous as if the entire journey was boring. But I wanted straight and smooth road and came back to the point where I took the turn. Asked a person about the route to Siliguri and it was the same straight road to be taken and no need to take any turns. No idea why Google map asked me to take the turns and it looks like “I will be harassed by Google map many more times in the next 5 days”. Look forward to the mis-guidance but determined not to be misled by it. Let’s see who wins this time and “game on Google map”.
Super roads (except for the hundreds of rumble strips for the first 50 kms and I would have enjoyed it if it had been some other time and settings) and the rain made sure I was not speeding. Still covered close to 200 kms in the morning and I was happy with the progress. Continued to rain and went through the same feeling (shivering and trembling) and reached a dhaba. Thought of having a tea but after seeing some guys eating, I went for brunch. Excellent food (any spicy food tastes good during rains) and started taking to the dhaba owner.
He saw my condition and realized that I don’t have anything thick inside the jacket. He went back to the kitchen and brought some sheets of the cardboard box and made me insert it between my t-shirt and jacket. What a brilliant idea it was and I felt a lot better after that. These guys are masters of lateral thinking and hope they nurture and use it in the best possible manner. Thanked and took a selfie before starting again. Lovely surroundings all along the route and it stopped raining once I crossed the border of Assam and entered West Bengal.
The route took me through a dense forest and my wet gear started drying except for the floating boots (rather call it boats). It was 2 pm and around 100 km to Siliguri and Google maps said I would be reaching the destination by 4:30 pm. Initially, I thought of checking in to some Siliguri hotel and sleep early and start day 36 around 5 am. But given the favorable time, I set Kishanganj (Bihar) as the destination and expected to take 4.5 hours. I hoped it won’t be dark in Bihar and thought of reaching before sunset. Continued enjoying the lovely roads of West Bengal and heard some noise coming out of the bike.
Also, felt some additional vibration when using the low gears and not sure about the issue. Called Naren and he couldn’t identify the issue remotely(video call and this chap is full on to provide support. Already missing his presence). He felt that the issue is not that serious and I should continue. I went by his word and felt the vibration/noise continue to happen. Still have to ride for 5 more days and not sure how would I manage if something goes wrong in the middle of Bihar. Changed my plan again and set “Royal Enfield Service Centre, Siliguri” as the destination.
Even Naren recommended (on second thought) and stating “it would enhance my confidence level and eliminate my worries about the issue”. No ghat happened today but the sudden change of destination took me into the Siliguri Ghats (narrow and heavy traffic). Another serene (Mahananda wildlife sanctuary and teesta river accompanying the road) and beautiful Ghat section. I used to be worried and cautious while riding the Ghat but the last 35 days has helped in improving the handling skills and confidence level for sure.
I felt my handling of Ghats on Day 33,34 and today was elegant and easy…even though it was bumper to bumper traffic (but steadily moving), I still managed to overtake and get out of the 35 Km Ghat section quickly. Reached the service centre and they took my vehicle straight in. Believe Eicher Motors has given standing instructions to service “Riders” first and without any delay and thanks to them. The guys at the service centre smilingly took note of my issues and got into it immediately. They found few more issues (my break pads were about to die) and got those rectified as well.
No major issues and got all the issues attended (I thought of resolving on reaching Mumbai most of these issues). Finished writing this (majorly) while waiting for the bike for 4 hours. Spoke to the owner of the service centre and thanked him for the swift handling and getting the spare parts from the Godown quickly as well. He referred a nearby hotel and I managed to check in to it. Reached the hotel, had food and thinking about leaving Siliguri around 6 am (enough sun light happens by that time) . I have another agenda to be completed and hope I make it in time for that (will disclose if it happens).
Sharing some “different shades of Sundar” as clicked by Rohit and don’t even try to comment after seeing some of them. It happens on such a long ride and nobody can be in their best attire or posture all the time. Enjoy the pictures and let’s talk about it when we meet. Another 2,300 kms to be done in the next 5 days.