Sunday ride’s Rambling

Warning: This is not just another ride log.

This ride was getting delayed due to several reasons, some of them beyond my control. So this Sunday, 11 March 2007, I got a small opportunity to do the ride, I grabbed it with both hands. The main aim of the ride was to get my Fiero’s engine oil, oil filter changed and also try to get the heandlamp’s custom made mounting adjusted to focus the beam. My plan about this ride was to leave Pune early morning and reach Bombay by 10am. 2hours for the bike work and then leave by 12pm towards Mahabaleshwar for a delayed lunch. Satisfy my soul with Pizza and Strawberries at Mapro Garden before heading back to Pune.

I got free by 10am to start the ride so decided to leave the Mahabaleshwar plan for some other ride. This was the first time I was riding out my Fiero with a new’ish 2.75×18 Modi Contenental rear tyre. Cruising at around 80km/hr mark on the great surface of NH4 between Pune and Lonawala was nice and my concerns about straight line stability been compromised were long gone as I was enjoying my ride. On the way I checked the accuracy of the Apache odometer and found it to be around 2-3% optimistic (compared the distance shown on odo against the distance marker on road).

After crossing Lonawala as I approach towards the Khandala ghats, it was time to test the bike handling in twisties. As I enter the expressway section of the road (two wheelers are allowed on some section), I decide to stick to middle lane and let the fast cars enjoy the uninterrupted fast lane to cream a slow bike at will. While I was taking corners I saw that some of the fast driven cars were not able to stick to their lanes, the drivers were going so fast that they were either running wide and hence going from middle to right lane or if they were already in right lane then forced to do correction and land up in middle lane. Basically mid corner lane changing was hapenning, so much for the skills of the person controlling the machine, who was going lightning fast on straights.

This kind of thing I have seen many times in past. Many people who got the money to afford a car often are ill equipped with the skills to handle the machine properly and often land up driving the machine well beyond their capabilities. This sometimes goes un-noticed on straight roads but in twisties they are exposed badly to the hard reality about their poor driving skills. If they are luck to drive on a road like Pune-Bombay Expressway, many times they escape unhurt but in a normal mountain road often they run wide, go into opposite lane and CRASH !!!

PS: Same is also applicable with two wheeler riders as well.

As I was approaching the exit from the expressway, I enter the second last turn before the exit (a long left hander). Was doing some 80 before I slow down to 70 for the turn. Got myself in position to take the turn and vola, taking such a turn was never so much of fun. By the time I exit the turn I was doing in excess of 90.
For the uninitiated, I was just trying out some lessons learned from the book called “Twist of Wrist” by Keith Code.

There is nothing to talk about the route till Panvel, traffic was less and road in great condition. As I reach Panvel I realised that my cell phone’s roaming is once again disabled, not this hasn’t happen for the first time with me :-) . Thankfully I was knowing the route (I thought so) till Goregaon. The moment I crossed Panvel I was greeted with more disciplined (as compared to what we got in Pune) and fast moving traffic. While I was overtaking a couple of trucks, following a car in rightmost lane, I hear someone honking from behind. Having got stuck behind a car and trucks on left and divider on right, coudn’t do anything (can’t use my NOS button and someone disabled the “Take off” button on my bike :( ) but to wait till I get space to allow the GP racer chance to put me a lap down. As I got space I let the racer go by, not surprisingly the car was spotting Pune registration number :D

As I crossed Vashi bridge traffic lights were more frequent and it was nice to see people sticking to their lanes and not jumping the stop line while standing on a red light. This was in a city just under 2hrs drive away from Pune, where such kind of discipline is unheard of. Agreed, I might not have seen even 1% of Bombay traffic but whatever i have seen is not at all visible even at a single traffic light signal in Pune. Why so big difference between two cities which are hardly at any distance from each other? People might say Bombay got wider roads, etc etc but what do jumping traffic lights gotta do with road width?

Enjoying the wide roads with fast moving traffic, I missed the turn off point so pulled over next to RK Studio to call up Arpan to get directions. Now I would be riding till Sion and then take the wide ‘n’ fast NH8. It was fun riding on such roads in middle of a city and soon I was at Goregaon to get the work done. While the bike was worked upon we went to have food.

On the way back meet up with Arnob to see his HID setup on ZMA. It was around 4:30pm when Arnob switches on his HID lamps and man what we saw next was just amazing. The white light was visible on the wall on opposite side of road, must be at a distance of 20 feet or so. Can’t wait to see it function in night and on my bike(s).

After a small chit chat session at CCD next to IIT, we split and I head back to Pune via the route I was supposed to take while coming. Having already experienced the fast moving, somewhat disciplined traffic of Bombay I was feeling sad to return the chaotic traffic of Pune. As I was climbing up the Khandala ghats (which are one way only), the whole fun factor was spoiled by few smarties who were coming down the ghat in wrong direction forcing me to drop pace to avoid running into one such joker.

By the time I reach Lonawala it was getting dark and time to test the well focused new headlamp of my bike. It was still some time to put the lights on but then I saw three monkeys who happen to have escaped from a zoo riding bikes wearing dark glasses and black color wisor and have possibly forgot to take them off and hence riding bikes with headlights on and that too in high beam mode.

Once it got really dark I put my headlight on and it didn’t dissapoint me. Ofcourse its not the best of lights but can’t expect anything more than this from a 35W headlamp.

As I was riding back home one more thing I observed. It is possible for one to ride/drive in night in low beam as long as the person is willing to ride/drive within the limits, which means slower pace than what is possible in daylight. Once a person decides that he/she is taking park in a 24hr race and hence want to go as fast as possible lands up switching to high beam. Now to me it has two affects, one you are illuminating your path but at the same time you are also blinding other people and the second is that you are not leaving any scope for mistakes, what if there is a section of road which you want to lightup more due to oncoming vehicles headlight is stronger, since you are already in highbeam you have no options left but to just go on and hope the road ahead is clear or drop speed.

Finally by the time I reached home i was richer in riding experience and poorer in my pocket :-)

In end my favourite part – the statistics.

10:15 0km Home
10:53 53km Lonawala
11:20 71km Khopoli
11:53 112km Panvel
12:20 138km RK Studio

13:30 166km Goregaon

Trip Up: 166km, 3hrs 15min

17:05 14km CCD next to IIT
17:53 54km Panvel
18:17 94km Khopoli
18:36 111km Lonawala, a 5 min break to shop Chikki
19:40 165km Home

Return Trip: 151km, 2hrs 35min

Total Trip: 331km

Mileage: ~43km/lt.


Broken Fairing

If the post topic was not enough, I assume the picture would have given you a complete idea, what this post is about. Now you must be wondering what kind of a person would like to write a blog entry for a crash of his. By God’s grace I’m not a fast rider and hence don’t tend to fall too often (Remember the saying, “If you aren’t crashing, you aren’t riding fast enough”? – Though I don’t belive but many “fast” riders do belive in it).

Like all my falls in this one also I coudn’t have done much to avoid it, except for not riding in the first place, and this was probably the fastest off all my falls.

Today morning I leave my house on my Fiero for office. Its 7:30am, roads are almost empty and fresh after a small ride on Sunday I was keeping the needle between 60-80 as I approach my favourite section of ‘S’ curve. After negotiating it safely at 80+, I start to slow down as I’m approaching a bit bumpy section of road which also happen to have some human population near by. Speed must be around 60 when all of a sudden I see a dog coming on the road few feets ahead of me. For no reason we call those creatures dog, instead of walking across he decides to stop in middle of road leaving me with no choice but to brake as hard as I can, as it was too late to dodge him (with no guarantee that the smart boy will not start to move into my path again forcing me to crash in a leaned position).

Next thing I remember is that my front wheel has gone over him and the bike has lost its balance. First I almost flies off the bike over the tank, landing on the road on my stomach with my face, inside helmet, hitting ground. I slide for a feet or so before the back side of bike falls on my legs. What happen to bike during this time, I had no idea. A few seconds later when i gain senses, I see people running towards me and lifts off the bike off my legs. Dog has ran to roadside and is joined by his friends, as I limp to road side.

Time to inspect the damage. My right knee is paining but the pant hasn’t got torn. My right elbow is also hurting but the leather jacket is all well at that place as well. The right shoe has lost a layer or so of leather at my toes position, trying to protect them successfully. About bike, the brand new fairing is cracked and badly scratched (as you can see in the picture), handle is bend but a few hits and it gets back to normal.

No way I could ride ahead so I ride back home where my little daughter is similing as she finds her dad back at home. Too young to realise that her dad has just come down after kissing mother earth. Well the right knee and right elbow is bruised a little bit, thanks to the jacket. Helmet has got a deep scratch at the forehead position and the air vent switch in front of mouth is broken. Right leg from back side is burned a little bit due to hot silencer. Neck is strained at left side and upper side of back is also paining.

On giving it more thought I realised, had I was not wearing my leather jacket (wearing it in Summer many people find it odd) my stomach would have got hurt, as there are lot of visible scratches on the leather jacket. Also if I was wearing anything less than a full face helmet, from mouth to full face would have badly got hurt, as I landed on my face. Had it was not the shoes I would have lost a few nails in my right foot. Had it were not my pathetic gloves, my hands would have also dripped some blood.

Buying knee and elbow guard is a long pending item on my list. Well I’m buying it this weekend, no matter what. Time to buy a new helmet as well as its already over 3 years I’m using this helmet.

One thing I would like to thank God is that it was a dog that came in front of bike and not a object of a superior species called “Human”. My past experience has taught me that there are lots of people who can give such dogs a hard time when it comes to score the lowest of IQ points. Had it was a human instead of dog to come in front of my bike, it would have been difficult for me to escape the accident scene. As opposite to all friends of dog who gathered for him and then walked away peacefully, few well wishers of that human would have beaten me down trying to teach me how to ride on road, instead of teaching their dumb friend how to walk on road.

So a small request to God, if I have to go down in future. God, I’ll prefer a dog over a human because though low on intelligence, animals do accept when they are wrong, unlike humans who will fight till the end trying to prove that they are not wrong.

Now let me just take this as an oportunity to list down all those instances when I went ahead and kissed mother earth.

  • In 1999 I was riding back to Pune from Pirangut on my LML NvSpl. I was very new to the world of two wheels and hence was wearing only the helmet and a thin wind cheater for protection. While I was negotiating twisties of Pirangut ghat, right after a bend, I see this dog in the middle of road. In panic I pressed the front brake before the rear brake and doing this on scooter was sure enough to call for trouble so there I goes down for the first time in my life. Result was damage to scooter body and bruises on my knee and hand. Since I was climbing the ghat the speed was thankfully under 40km/hr.
  • In 2000 on a Monday morning, I was riding down to office after watching MotoGP the previous night. I decide to lean harder into one of my favourite curve I take daily on my way. I forgot that it had rained last night and hence there was a small puddle of water right in the middle of curve. Too late to do anything and I goes down in a slow motion. Speed was under 20km/hr and hence no injury to me but a minor scratch to the bike fairing.
  • In 2002, on the ocassion of Holi, I’m riding down to my friends place when I find myself on the edge of road as a six seater is racing with a Honda City on a empty road, coming from opposite direction. With no space left for me, I had to get off the road but it was all loose surface there and hence me and my bike goes few feets down the slope. Front fairing of bike is damaged beyond repair and I’m covered all over in mud, no physical damamge to my body. Again the speed was under 20km/hr.
  • In 2003 the rains have just arrived. I was riding down to meet some friends on FC Road in Pune on my Fiero with worn out tyres. Knowing the tyres need replacement I was riding really slow, in 3rd gear at 20km/hr as the road surface was a bit slippery. Next moment I find myself down with no one near me to knock me down nor have I applied brakes. After I get off the road, I see traffic coming and next moment few more riders go down. First round of showers combined with oil + mud has made a nice slippery paste over the road.
  • In 2004 on my way back from Rohtang Pass, I’m crawling through frozen water on road. Speed is under 5km/hr and trying to balance my bike. I loose the balance and go down on frozen ice.
  • In 2005 on the way to home in night, I’m blinded by the powerful headlight of a car standing on the signal in the opposite side. I was not able to see that a old lady is crossing the road, ofcourse thinking that she is walking in her private park and hence not thinking about the traffic on road. By the time she and me get out of car’s headlight focus, its too close. With worn out drums to stop the bike, it didn’t happen in time and we all three go down. Bike handle, levers, fairing suffered damages with me and lady some minor bruises.
  • In 2006, as I come out of my house a car which was parked on the other side of lane suddenly takes off for a ‘U’ turn and comes and hits me from side taking me and my bike down. After the crash I land up on a layer of bricks, thanks to the leather jacket not much damage is done. Bike’s fuel tank is dented and mounting of side pannels are broken.

I know its already said many times but let me still say it one more time, “Ride Safe” :-)