Rajasthan (Day 4) - TrustVishwas
Day 4 : 8.4.2012 : Sunday : Jaipur to Jaisalmer Via Bikaner – 660 km
Today, we were supposed to cover large distance of 660+ km in a day and that too in scorching heat. So we both had decided to start early. There is no question of any hotel in Rajasthan serving you tea/coffee so early in the morning so we were quite used to riding couple of hundred km before having first cup of coffee.
We both got up at 4.30 am. Lugged our entire luggage down from the first floor. Found out that iIt is extremely difficult to walk without making noise if you are wearing riding shoes especially if it is 5 am. Tying up luggage, wearing riding gear and getting ready for riding usually took us 20 odd minutes. So finally left around 5.45 am for Jaisalmer.
In the beginning, road was usual fantastic 4 lane highway which was reduced to undivided 2 lane highway. Still we were able to cruise effortlessly. Surprisingly it was quite chilly in the morning and I was happy to be wearing balaclava.
We had covered around 110 km by 7.40 am when . . . .
First sound was me and Amit braking hard to avoid a pothole.
Second was our bikes going through the pothole at speeds above 110 kmph with full load of luggage.
The third was braking effort by a Karizma rider who was trying to follow us.
Me and Amit had somehow managed to find the only two potholes present in the whole Jaipur – Sikhar Stretch of more than 110 km.
We both stopped. I first inspected Amit’s bike. Nothing wrong. He was checking my bike when he started shaking his head. I saw that my bike’s rear rim was bent.
We took a 10 minute break to discuss what to do. We were on 4th day of our ride which was supposed to last for 9-10 days. We were supposed to ride for 2,250 km more on this ride. We were 110 km away from nearest PBK i.e. Jaipur. It was early morning on a Sunday. We were hungry and the rear tyre had already lost considerable air pressure.
As it is, we were helpless to do anything to repair the rim on the spot so we both decided to ride till next town which was Laxmangarh about 30 km away. I was riding slow imagining that the rim would give way any moment. Amit was following me closely looking for the first sign of rim breaking up or tyre coming off the rim.
In this fashion, we reached Laxmangarh. Ordered tea / coffee from a chai tapari. Started thinking about what steps I needed to take to get correct guidance. Shot photos of bent alloy, mailed it to ‘PFOCHL’. Then called up my Personal FOC HelpLine (FOC = Free of Cost, Helpline = Niranjan Vaidya). The specialty of this FOC Helpline is that its availability is only before or after office hours.
Niranjan told me 3 options. They were :-
1. Replace the rim with a new rim
2. If point 1 is not possible, see whether this rim can be repaired
3. If both point 1 & 2 are not possible, put in tube and ride.
1. Replacing the rim meant that I had to either return to Jaipur or ask Jaipur PBK to courier it to Jaisalmer / Bikaner. (Since Bajaj has only one PBK in Rajasthan; Jaipur) Also Ninja rear rim costs . . . . . hold your breath . . . . . 26,000/- (No it is not a typo, it actually costs so much)
2. Alloy repair is a specialized job and not many can actually repair it without damaging it. Niranjan was not optimistic about getting it repaired anywhere in Rajasthan.
3. Putting in a tube on a tyre has its own hazards while touring. Even a small nail can render you helpless on the road. I thought this was the easiest option to follow but Niranjan told me to keep this as the last resort. Not following this course and listening to advice of Niranjan helped us immensely on later days. . . details later.
After getting his detailed opinion, called up Bajaj Service head for Rajasthan. After speaking with him, found out that actually we had met earlier. He told me that he was in Pune and I need to bring bike back to Jaipur. However, today being Sunday, the service centre would not be open and bike can be inspected only on next day.
I asked him for contact details of workshop in-charge of Jaipur PBK. Got in touch with him. As expected, he was enjoying his holiday on this early Sunday morning. He was not sure whether he has replacement rim in stock. I had my own doubts about rim availability. Even in Pune, you need to place order and wait for couple of weeks to get parts. Asked him about possibility of getting rim repaired. He told me bring bike in and in the mean time he would try to find out whether rim repair is done anywhere in Jaipur.
I was in two minds about whether to go back to Jaipur or to continue riding towards Jaisalmer. There was no guarantee about getting rim repaired / replaced in Jaipur. Then Amit convinced me by saying that if the bike can go back 150 km, it can go forward 150 km as well. Let us go to Bikaner and search around for options available with us. If no option presented itself, I can always ship bike back to Pune. If I went back to Jaipur, there was no way to see Jaisalmer (which I always wanted to see) in our tight schedule. I listened to his suggestion and we decided to ride towards Bikaner, get bike repaired somehow and then either take a night halt at Bikaner or ride towards Jaisalmer.
I got some air filled in the rear rim from a small tapari with his air pressure guage stuck at 20 psi.
Niranjan had also advised us to ride slowly and to take halts every half hour or so to reduce heat buildup in tyres. So we decided that -
1. We should ride slowly and not exceed 70-80 kmph in any case
2. Amit should follow me closely looking for sign of trouble &
3. We should stop every half an hour / 50 kms for 5 minutes to reduce heat buildup in tyre
Riding slow on those deserted roads was really a pain in backside. However, we had no option. We thus started riding towards Bikaner around 9.15am. Before leaving, I requested Jaipur service centre guy to find out whether getting alloy rim repaired in Bikaner is a possibility and also asked him the contact details of Bajaj dealer in Bikaner. (Bajaj has PBK only in Jaipur).
We started riding slowly. Bikaner was still 190 km away. From Fatepur onwards, the road was amazingly smooth, free of traffic and all that and here I was riding a Ninja at 80 kmph with Amit stuck behind me. Towns like Ratangarh, Bigga, Benisar slowly rolled away.
On the way, had to stop for a railway crossing.
I was exchanging sms with Jaipur service guy and he informed me that I should go to Bharat Bajaj, Bajaj dealer in Bikaner. He also gave me number of the dealership. I thanked him and continued our slow speed riding towards Bikaner.
By the time, we had covered 100 odd km, my confidence level had increased and I slowly started riding around 100 kmph. However, we kept stopping every 50-60 km. Each stop was just for 5 min.
Some photos from one such stop –
See the empty road and imagine riding at 80 kmph with bent rear alloy while being more than 1300 km away from your home. I was supremely pissed off.
First sand dunes encountered in Rajasthan
Spoke with Bikaner dealer. He said that he does not repair bent alloys but to come in and he will see what he can do. I asked him about Sunday working. He said “No issue. Just come down.” Now we had a definite direction and started riding with zeal but still at 100 kmph.
See the height of overloading – shot during one of our many half hourly breaks –
Finally reached Bikaner and searched around for the Dealership. Found out that it is out of town a bit. Reached the dealership where a surprise awaited us.
The service centre was closed.
Found back entrance to the service centre. Only couple of guys were loitering around. They informed us the dealership is closed as some political party had called for Rajasthan Bandh.
We both were absolutely pissed off. We had called earlier and confirmed that they would help us out and now the guys were not even interested in listening to us. I called up Bajaj Service Head for Rajasthan and complained loudly. If I had spoken a bit louder, I wouldn’t have required a mobile to speak with him. :)
He immediately called up dealership service head and told him to help me out whatever way he can. The dealership service head had never even seen a Ninja so he was unable to understand my basic problem of removing rear wheel without a paddock stand.
After some heated discussion, he finally told me to go to a nearby MRF showroom and also passed on number of his mechanic (who by the way was at home due to bandh). Reached MRF showroom to find that it is closed. Now we both were extremely unhappy. It was nearly noon, we were roasting in sun with no help in sight.
Called up Dealership mechanic. He reached the closed MRF showroom. He finally understood my problem that whatever I wish to do with the rim, it first needs to come off and as Ninja does not bless its bike with a main stand, the only option is a paddock stand. (Other option is to balance the bike on a jack, which I try to avoid)
He called up various shops and then took us to another tyre shop which was open. Unfortunately, proper sized tube was not available with the shopkeeper. Then the mechanic took us to a workshop who assured me that he can get the bent rim repaired. When asked, he said that he will be slowly hammering the rim to get it in shape. I had ominous vision of having the rim cracked while hammering.
Again spoke with Niranjan who told me that if the rim had survived 190 km till Bikaner, it should hold up and I should not in any case try to get it repaired. He advised to buy a tube and keep it with me just as a safety precaution.
I then told Amit to sit in an A/c. restaurant and order food. Parked in front of the restaurant with all luggage loaded on it. Me and mechanic went on his motorcycle to the tyre shop again and bought a FZ tube. . . . mechanic’s bike decided to close down its operations. Amit was calling me repeatedly because food had arrived. While the mechanic was kicking his bike to life for 50th time, I said my thanks to all his effort and walked to the restaurant- Joshi’s.
The restaurant was quite good, chilled and food was good. We decided to sit there for at least half an hour to cool down and then push off.
Chatted with restaurant manager while gearing up. He was standing outside keeping watch on our bikes and luggage. A group of 15-20 spectators was present to see us gear up. We felt like mini celebrities. Once we started our bikes, all of them waved us bye :)
We had lost couple of hours trying to find a solution for bent rim without any success. Now we were on the way to Jaisalmer with a bent rim riding in fear of alloy cracking up, in scorching heat and we still had to cover 330 km more to reach Jaisalmer.
We had covered around 30-35 km and taken a fuel stop when Amit complained that he was absolutely unable to ride further in this heat. He was feeling heat even inside his shoes. However, there was no shade to even stand so asked couple of truck drivers who directed us to the nearest dhaba located around 20 km ahead.
Reached a dhaba near Kolayat around 4 pm. Parked bikes and both of us actually ran inside the daba. Even left our luggage on the bikes. Took off shoes and relaxed in the shade.
Amit was in considerable discomfort due to heat so nearly slept off on the charpai in Dhaba. I later on went out and got our tank bags inside. We both had cold drink / water and stayed at the dhaba for nearly an hour waiting for heat to reduce.
Some time pass photography -
Around 4.30 pm, I nudged Amit saying that if we want to reach Jaisalmer by decent time (meaning a time when some food may be available), we better move. He agreed. The heat had reduced considerably.
The road was absolutely fantastic with very little traffic. Only constraint we had was my bike’s bent alloy. I could not / did not want to ride much fast. Amit was hampered by my inability to ride fast. He hung around but kept zooming off for 160 kmph dash every now and then.
Then I made a fantastic discovery. We came across an arrow straight road with absolutely no traffic, no villages, no dogs, no trees, no elevation change, no potholes. The length of road is . . . . . . . 23.1 km. Yup. You read that right. It is a 23 km absolutely straight road.
It was a ripper’s absolute wet dream. I kept slowly increasing my speed to 120 kmph. Amit kept zooming off and then waiting for me. How I wish that my bike was in its normal condition. On this sector, our riding speed WAS our average speed. If we rode at 100 kmph, we would arrive at a location 100 km away in 60 minutes.
We covered Kolayat to Phalodi – 107 km distance in 60 min. Had a break for tyres to cool off and for me to eat some biscuits. It was 5.45 pm. Called up Jaisalmer hotel to reconfirm that our room is actually booked. Distance for Phalodi to Jaisalmer is around 170 km. Hotel owner told us that it would take us around 4 hours to reach. Little did he knew the way we rode.
We decided to start riding and stop only at the time of sunset or after covering at least 100 km.
We started riding again at 6.00 pm and reached a village called Lathi which was 102 km. Reached there at 7.00 pm just before sunset. Now Jaisalmer was just 65 km away. Changed the helmet visor from dark to clear and relaxed for the first time today. Met several army personnel from Maharashtra and they did not allow us to pay for tea / coffee saying that we were their guests.
Again the normal scene of 15-20 spectators watching what we are doing. At least they had sense not to follow us while taking pee breaks ;-)
Now the sun had set and we still had some 65 km to cover. Given the condition of roads, we were confident about covering it in max 30-40 minutes. Inspite of riding since 5.30 am, our physical condition was also good. Started riding towards Jaisalmer. Amit wanted to ride alongside me but it did not work out most of the time and was really not necessary.
Road was mostly free of traffic and was absolutely pot hole free. Because of darkness, we reduced our speed to around 80kmph and kept riding.
Around 30 km from Jaisalmer, two guys on a splendor were trying to race with me. Both were wearing t shirts, slippers and were gesturing towards me to stop. I got pissed off and just twisted the right wrist and zoomed off. Again sanity prevailed and I slowed down in couple of km and those guys caught up with me and again gestured to stop. I was not at all interested in stopping on unknown highway in dark. I gestured asking him what he wanted. . . . he wanted to hand over visiting card of his hotel in Jaisalmer. We both were riding at 80kmph at that time. I gestured that I am not stopping. . . . . he offered a brochure and visiting card. Still riding at 80 kmph, I accepted them and stuffed them down my jacket and again zoomed off.
About 10-12 km after this incidence, we were slowed down by an army convoy carrying battle tanks. They had occupied one side of the road and we were riding from right lane (this being 2 lane highway without divider). Another guy saw us . . . . took a U turn . . . . started gesturing for us to stop . . . .we did not . . . . he chased . . . . handed over visiting card. . . . we zoomed off.
This is the first time in my life I have seen ‘Riding salesmanship’.
Finally we reached Jaisalmer at 8 pm. Stopped to call up to enquire exact location of hotel. This second guy caught up with us. He told us that couple of his friends had tried to catch up with us but could not so had called this guy and told him about two bikes riding at high speed towards Jaisalmer so he intercepted us enroute. Their network seems to be far superior and faster than CID.
Reached our hotel in couple of minutes, dumped luggage in the room, went to terrace for well needed dinner. Did some night time photography. This photography was done just to use the tripod I had carried all the way from Pune. It seemed wrong not to use it even once in the ride.
My advice to guys from India – Do not rely on reviews posted on tripadvisor.in or at least check whether those reviews are from Indians. Our hotel was ok. Room was rubbish, not clean, service was non existant, roof top restaurant was just some tables kept at terrace and this hotel had the best reviews in Jaisalmer.
Jaisalmer fort at night -
Jaisalmer city at night -
Moon at night (:)) -
Some kirtan was going full blast on loudspeakers even till 10.45 pm so we finally decided to call it a day and retired to our room.
Flavour of the day
Jaisalmer kid to father : “Papa, what is this moving handle on your bike?”
Father : “ Those idiot mechanics have not been able to fix this for ever since I bought this bike. I don’t understand who employs them? They call this handle bar and when I go to handle it, it moves around. Why do you want a bar that moves left, right and doesn’t stay straight? “
This flavor is carried forward from Jaipur though our whole day was quite flavourful :(
- Author: by PTR