We bikers always push ourselves to do something beyond the ordinary, it not only empowers and strengthen us more, it also helps us explore new destinations and take part in events around the nation. and when you reach the destination, after a lot of learning and happenings along the journey, you have actually earned it, and the trip seems to be worth it.Rann of Kutch - Bikerni's ride to the land of white sands.
Recently we decided to go for an 8 days expedition to Rann of Kutch during the Rann festival in December 2016. The journey was tough, full of events some good some bad, but after all it restored our faith in our own strengths, humanity and above all God the almighty. I am anyway always keenly break my daily chores to try myself beyond the common boundaries, and in Bikerni I have found the same zeal, willpower and motivation. This is a group which is unique as it clubs most unique women together, those who are different from the crowd, doesn't fit in stereotyped definition of women yet this similarity of being unique in ourselves binds us together to respect, support and inspire each other.
I would like to quote here : you learn the best life lessons when you are on a road-trip.
We begin our 8 day long journey on the day of Christmas 25th, from Pune a group of 11 gals and Dnyanda joined us in Mumbai. Few of us had responsibilities divided amongst us, Resha had organized the stay and route, Gargee was leading Gauri was tailing, while I was the sweep in middle to keep check on the two ends.
The journey itself started late due to delays in coordination etc, and though few of us have great riding experience, I would salute the new joiners who dared to join us in this long ride stretch, we had lot of excitement and at the same time 4-5 of us have to be very responsible for group. It was going to be a learning for all of us.
Day1 - Pune to Vadodara : 550 kms : 10hrs (Standard)
(Road is majorly good but heavy traffic at tolls)
This was a very tough day, we were not in synch there were lots of coordination issues and I could identify the difficulties new gals were facing. We reached very late and from there Vadodara was still a long journey to cover. Some of us got frustrated with the low speed and were pushing everyone.
As we say in management terms it was "FORMING" stage of team work, getting familiar with each other, observing and acting.
However destiny had a different plan, the more we pushed to reach the destinations the more bikes broke, we had one battery failure, one puncture, one chain break, and one broke bike, all at different time. We fixed one in 2-3 hours as it was Sunday Gujrat is closed, and as soon as we get some help another failed, it was horrible. We were exhausted, restless , and our morale was low.
However finally our biker community came to rescue us in the hour of need, two people Bhupesh Patel and Vijay arrived, and helped us until things were sorted.
We are grateful to the brotherhood of our community while we are divided by several factors , riding unites us worldwide.
We rode for almost 24 hours. Few of us reached early while most of us have been on road since morning 5:30 to next morning 3:00 am.
Lesson for the day - don't lose patience, don't be overconfident, things can anytime turn wrong, be prepared mentally.
Day 2: Vadodara to Ahemdabad :
110 kms : 2 hrs : Road is awesome
The repercussions of first day also impacted our 2nd day and since we barely slept we were slogging. We spent 3 hours in coordinating for the bike that got broke last night due to miss-communication. We were frustrated and argued with each other, this journey was not getting better.
This was the stage of "Storming" when you find differences and react. But the best part about each of us is, we never keep grudges all were back to normal, as if nothing has happened. When we reached Ahemdabad we were stuck in a core local area, where everyone was staring at us with amazement.
It's a rare sight in India to spot so many women riding bikes in proper gear and wherever we went we were center of attraction, some people clicked some people requested for selfies, while some were shooting us.
We reached late again, and I was greatly disappointed because I had planned to cover all the historical places around Ahemdabad and my itinerary was wasted, two days passed we were riding whole day and sleeping in night. So we all decided to at-least enjoy Sabarmati river front and some local food.
We met a fellow biker through Meenakshi and 12 of us got loaded in his Scorpio to the famous restaurant GOPI, we enjoyed Gujrati thali, finally we had some peace.
Lesson for the day - Respect each other and be an active listener pay attention.
Day 3: Ahemdabad to Bhuj :
335kms : 6 hrs (standard): Road is great
We decided to have local food on the way for breakfast, as today was again a long ride and based on our experience of first day we didn't want to take the risk.
Just to let you know, If you think Maharashtra is worst in following traffic rules, please visit GUJRAT. We were riding through the city, while turning heads around, suddenly out of nowhere one cyclist crossed Anagha and she lost balance on the middle of the road. Fortunately it was morning so traffic was less otherwise it could have been tragic, she was safe due to the safety gears while the gear of the bike broke. This meant , we can't make it again on time, early morning its hard to find any open workshops, also please note roadside assistance is a waste we didn't get any help thru roadside assistance it's a complete waste of money. Luckily she was carrying a spare gear and I tried my hands on it, at first it wasn'tfixed properly but later as I understood I was able to assemble the new gear and we were ready to roll. This was an achievement for me as I had never repaired any bike, I at least know about RE but KTM duke was completely unknown to me, it also added to our confidence to handle situations spontaneously.
Today was a great day, we all saddled up for our journey to Bhuj, and D became the road captain, she took charge of discipline on the road and we were in synch, closely following each other and understanding and the speed was more than 80kmph so we reached Bhuj on time.
This was a day of forming, we were understanding each other and adapting. We were a team now, just like McDonalds scene of Chak De India we gals got united.
Just after we had our lunch and left Gargee had a minor accident on bike, due to the terrain the friction couldn't be created and it was very muddy surface, she tilted on 30 degree angles multiple times in both directions before falling and her foot was hurt. After a little massage she was ready to roll again and we headed to Bhuj.
We checked in, with all the exposure we got while riding we realized its very important to have local contacts and D was handling the network, she managed to get contact of Nilesh Goswami who was a crime branch officer and a rider. We planned to visit him next morning before leaving for Kutch.
Road tip: There are limited number of Petrol Pumps across the way and not each of them is capable of card transaction, so keep some cash handy and bike tanks full before hitting the road.
Day 4: Bhuj to Rann of Kutch
Ride from Kutch to Bhuj was our shortest ride of the trip, and already all of us have adapted well on the road. We reached Bhuj in 2 hours and the resort Resha booked for us was really great, however for the first time we reached before our checkin time, so while rooms were getting prepared we headed to the Festival area.
It was a hot afternoon, but compared with the hardships we had during the trip it was an enjoyment for us. We filled the permit forms, and also took permission to take our bikes inside the area. We somehow managed to get the permission to take our bikes inside, for next day early morning. All of us were excited, to see our huts which were completely made traditionally with a private bathroom. we unpacked our saddlebags and had Gujrati thali in lunch. I have not even counted how many Aamras I had.
We got ready for our Salt lake visit this time not dressed as Bikers. In Kutch to visit the salt lake, you need to park your vehicles outside and board the common bus which takes you to another gate from where you can walk or take a camel cart. We took the same, and all of us were excited about the camel cart, as soon as we boarded we started singing, again we were centre of attraction a gang of gals singing and giggling loudly was a sight for many tourists.
We clicked numerous photos in different poses.
While we were chit-chatting someone spotted Anjali sitting with the local folk singers with Dholak and singing along. It was a surprise and all of ran towards her, we all sang Pallo Latke and danced in middle of the crowd without any hesitation the energy produced was filling the area and more and more crowd was joining in. The real fest was in celebrating. It was the most memorable part of the day.
In the night there was an arrangement for traditional folk singing where we again participated and turned it into a party before calling the night off.
Lesson of the day: Alone you can enjoy but together you celebrate, everyone of us was important in the group and made the group complete.
Day 5: Kutch to Bhuj
As usual we left before sunrise to visit Salt lake before leaving, this time we went on bike until the area where bus was parked. Salt lake is a very unique geographic site, the gives an impression of snow, and like a sea you can see what ground until the horizon with golden rays falling it turns in to gold as if the painter is adding a golden light to reflect the canvas. This site was breathtaking vast and wonderful. We were capturing the site in our cameras as well as memory, as rarely one comes again or visits such places.
We left for Narayan Sarovar which is considered a very important landmark, it was burning hot and with all our gears we were even more suffering, first we visited Haji Pir Dargah, than famous Lakhpat fort, at Gurudwara we refreshed us from the scorching heat.
We skipped few more destinations planned due to the heat and reached Narayan sarovar which is in the middle of a small village, again people were amused watching female bikers and while we were clicking photos there was a huge crowd of children surrounding us awestruck, as soon as I asked to join us they came running and we captured some shots.
The Temple was closed in the noon so we were disappointed and the site was not as great as we were told. So we decided to visit Koteshwar which was 1 Km away. This site was worth visiting in our whole day it was the best part. A beautiful Shiva temple built on Sea Bay offering a great view from height, this was certainly a must visit place. Thanks to Anagha and Trupti who insisted to pay a visit here.
We finally left for Bhuj as we had to reach safely before sunset. The road is straight narrow but amazing for rides all of us were nearly flying. In the middle of nowhere, my bike stopped as I had run out of fuel we have been searching for pumps, but there was none for nearly 200kms of our travel, I should have filled, but I had a mis-belief that it will be enough and now I was being punished for casually taking it. We sorted this issue with lots of innovative thinking. But still we were again stuck on the highway a huge trolley has fallen in an accident and had completely blocked the road . It was absolute dark, and the travelers were stuck. All we could do is a lot of off-roading that too without much knowledge of the terrain and absence of light was a problem. People around us were guiding us how to go but none dared to off-road as it was very deep and dark in to the bushes and no idea how much off-roading was to be done, since Kutch is majorly sandy, most of the times tires get stuck and it was a great risk.
Most of them were not very comfortable to offroad in night also, nobody wanted to get any bike problems or injuries due to mishandling which was a high probability. However somehow gals trusted me, I started with Prerna's bike Classic 350, offroaded down the slope and handed over to her and went to pick the next one. However we were not aware that the slope was not end of it, there was a big sandy area to be covered after that where she lost balance and bike could not work so we had to manually drag it for around 800 meters across the sand and we parked to a place so that other bikes can be brought here. D had suffered a major hand injury so she suggested to take her bike, one by one me and Pooja pushed 10 bikes down the slope and than through that tough sandy area where Ashiwini and Trupti helped to push us through the sand, we parked the bikes to a point came back walking rode another and repeated this several times, wearing all the gears and helmet. I had soaked in my own sweat multiple times and my shoulders were begging to remove my arms they were so exhausted. It took us more than 100 mins to complete this whole offroad activity, but we finally made it. Prerna had a broken chain and some kind people on the road helped us to fix that. We paid them our regards and started our journey again, it seemed our adventures were endless in this trip.
Lesson of the Day: Mutual trust and harmony can make you overcome any hurdle, team work pays and if people trust you can do, it works. Also world is full of kind people we just have to look for them.
Day 6: Bhuj
Today was the only rest day in our whole trip, we were exhausted our bikes needed services. Body was completely aching and we were looking dull and rusted which is a side effect of being a biker :). After bath while I was coming downstairs for breakfast, I spotted a tall and athletic man dressed in formals wearing aviator, as soon as I glanced I understood he must be Nilesh from crime branch, these cops have some air about them which you can detect. He was very friendly and approachable unlike others I have met so far and he actively came to meet us out of his busy schedule, which was very thoughtful. Also he arranged for a mechanic to service our bikes.
He offered us two scorpio with one driver to explore Bhuj and that was another exciting part. This means I could drive the other scorpio which he offered without hesitation, I drive a safari and I rarely trust anyone else with it. It seems he had full confidence.
The other Scorpio had driver, but Pooja chose to drive while he guided. This was an interesting turn of events you are at an unfamiliar place and you have got SUVs to drive. what more could we ask for it was nothing less than a blessing.
All of us admired Nilesh for being such a great host while we drove around Bhuj. It was again too hot, we visited Bhujwadi where the site is built with mini- prototypes of famous Indian landmarks, like Parliament house, India gate etc. Then we visited Chatri which was like an open air museum, the site was a photography pleasure, Parag Mahal, Aaina Mahal than Birla temple.
We returned around 3:30 for some rest and planned for evening shopping.
Travel Tip: Bhuj has many amazing sites to offer but weather is crucial, since it becomes very hot in the afternoon, either plan morning or evening visit. Plan some extra money on your trip for shopping, this place is a pleasure for shoppers if you are a female you can't resist and you will end up buying more than you planned. Many of us literally bought bags to carry our stuff. If you are a male don't forget to buy something for your Mother, Sister or Spouse. The rates and variety are unmatched.
Places to Visit: Bhujwadi, Aaina Mahal, Parag Mahal, Chatri, Birla temple, market.
Day 7: Bhuj to Vadodara
We started before sunrise and reached by sunset, whole day we were riding we took very less brakes as we had to cover more distance today. We reached around 8, some of our Bikernis were driving from Pune to Vadodara just to cheer us up on New year eve, yes it was 31st while people were partying and dancing drunk we were lying half dead in our beds completely detached from the celebration, we had already accomplished what we set for. Next day we were stepping in to 2017.
Day 8: Vadodara to Pune
Today was the day of Performing, there were no instructions and guidelines like the final match in Chake de India we conveyed the message to ride our best so that unlike our first day from Pune to Vadodara, we don't suffer again. We started before sunrise as usual, and then it looked like a race and we stopped for each other at every Toll. Gauri wished it would be miracle if we all reach Mumbai by 4:00 until that time it looked impossible. But it seems when you set your mind for something universe is bound to treat you with that. All of us ignored our fatigue and conditions of our bikes and rode like professionals. We reached Mumbai by 3:45 which was indeed a miracle. Finally we were at our home in Pune by 7:00 after few small brakes. We bid each other goodbye and were loaded with the tales of our journey. Each of us has grown in their own way. Rann of Kutch ride was completed and we covered around 3000 kms which was an achievement in itself.
Lesson: The hurdles and obstacles thrown are opportunities so you either give up or grow with them it's your choice. The challenges we had throughout our journey made us better humans and better riders.