“What the….! Now where am I supposed to park?” I exclaimed aloud inside my helmet. Now this, mind you, would be a common grouse in Bengaluru (or any other city for that matter) on any given day at any point of time. Of all places and situations, this was least expected on a Road Thrill Night Out
Road Thrill’s Night Out – I Was There 🙂
An hour or two earlier I was cursing aloud equally fluently, after having crossed a particularly nasty stretch of traffic. Gokool (my riding buddy) and I were on our way to the starting point of Road Thrill’s first Night Out of the year. “Don’t worry machaaa, I will take you through all the shortcuts, we won’t face any traffic at all” he smiled like someone who knew how exactly to emerge victorious through Saturday night vehicular warfare. And here this was a mockery of all our plans. “No traffic at all!” I sniggered.
Riding through the city involves a fair bit of off-roading in certain stretches. It was during one of these particularly nasty service roads that I felt my rear wheel wriggle. Puncture; I knew instantly. Luckily Gokool and I found a repair shop almost immediately and had the tube replaced in a matter of minutes; while I updated the crew in the WhatsApp group about my situation. We were not the only ones affected, our ride captain Arun Hilson bhai himself was stuck for over 15 minutes in traffic. “At least we are not starting without us,” I was relieved.
Having ridden with Road Thrill on a few Night Outs last year, I was expecting a participation of 15-20 motorcycles at the very most. And here I was, struggling to find a parking spot on the NH4 service road. The place was teeming with motorcycles and people, and I let out a sharp whistle. “Where do all these bikes come from, and where do they go?” I overheard a passer-by muse aloud, and I grinned. This was going to be one crazy night-out.
I made my way towards the centre of the gathering, past familiar faces and familiar motorcycles, people and machines with whom I have ridden thousands of kilometres through sun, rain, fog and cold; exchanging greetings. The atmosphere was alive with the air of excitement of something big happening. Sandy, our ride coordinator beckoned me to the side, to where the Road Thrill crew were huddled in discussion. “Anirban, you and Gokool are the sweeps for today,” Arun Hilson bhai, told me. A few minutes later we were joined by the rest of our group who had been stuck in traffic. The customary ride briefing on the route, destination, leads, marshals, sweeps, hand signals and safety precautions later, it was time to rev up those engines and hit the highway. The original plan was to bond over good food under the open skies on cots at one of the numerous truckers’ dhabas that abound NH4, but seeing as the participation was way more than expected, it was decided we would be heading to Café Rauchen instead, which was better equipped to accommodate us all.
Donning a reflective vest over my riding jacket, which a friend says makes me look like a Metro Rail construction worker, Gokool and I started helping the riders join the formation and start riding. As we were the sweeps, the two of us would be riding at the tail of the pack, making sure no one got left behind as well as assisting anyone who might face any issue. And then it was time to join in the ride ourselves. There was a lot of traffic and it was getting difficult to pass speeding buses and trucks. After the toll plaza on Tumkur Road, the pack stopped and regrouped. Making sure no one was left behind, the ride started again. The traffic was quite bad but being an open highway the bikes were able to weave through the trucks, buses and cars easily. Along with our able marshals, we helped faster traffic overtake us safely. The safety of any riding group depends on the coordination and response of the crew and we were taking our roles very seriously.
A few kilometres ahead, the group had stopped again. Traffic was less from this point onwards, and the group rode in formation to Café Rauchen. Only when all the bikes had been parked did I actually count them. Fifty. Yes, you read that right. Fifty bikes under the sky. Whoa!
Café’ Rauchen was a spacious place and we settled down, sharing ride stories and catching up with the friends we made on the open road.
At every ride, we try and have a short talk and the introduction of new members to the community. There were a number of new faces joining us for the ride and after their introductions, it was time to celebrate Kamal Sir’s birthday, albeit belated. Kamal Sir has always been an active participant in Road Thrill Bangalore, and having relocated to Pune recently, now moderates the Pune chapter of Road Thrill. He was in town on business but still spared time to join us for the ride, even though he had a 5 AM flight to Pune the very next morning.
Cake and confetti later, it was time for the distribution of the first batch of Road Thrill t-shirts. The music was groovy and soon our folks broke into a dance. With so many people around, there was bound to be a kitchen raid. I’ll leave you all to guess what happens when there are dozens of hungry people around!
It was past 1 AM when we finally started our return leg of the ride; some of us who were really hungry had ridden further to a dhaba to satiate those growling stomachs. Splitting into smaller batches, we rode back to the city maintaining good speeds. It was past 3 AM when I finally made it home and crashed into bed, a wide smile plastered all over my face. What a Night Out it was!
I was tired, I was sleepy, I was quite hungry and my back had a nasty sprain. I am sure my pillion had an equally uncomfortable time on the rear seat of my Classic. Yet, would I do it again, all this “craziness”? Of course, I would! And so would you! Thank you, Road Thrill, for the most amazing Night Out yet! Here’s to much more awesomeness in the coming year! Cheers!
Guest Blog by our Dear RT Crew, Anirban Nandi,