Saturday, December 15, 2012

Riding Life, Mile by Mile

Hello World,

I have been planning quite a few things to share with you recently but before I could get a clear scope of those, I got an amazing opportunity to venture into a new-found hobby which I would like to share with you...

I recently bought a Royal Enfield Thunderbird and have been planning long rides since I got my ride. Leisure Riding is something I always prefer but Long Rides were not exactly on my mind when I decided to buy my ride but as I started using it, I got addicted to the comfort and feel it offered me every time I rode it. This led to me wanting to stay on my ride as long as possible at every given opportunity.

Having decided to venture into this hobby, I started reading about riding, over the internet and came across tons of information from different corners of the world. Riders have dedicated time out of their life to share their piece of knowledge and wisdom about riding with their fellow riders and newbies like me. I would like to thank all the riders who have documented their riding experiences on the internet. I learned a lot and am sure my learning will never cease. 

Apparently all the articles I read pointed to riding safety and responsible motorcycle operation. I am new to motorcycle riding itself and so it was an enriching experience learning the different aspects of riding motorcycles, especially because, I come from a culture where carefree riding and little traffic violation is considered sane and safe. The safety tips advocated appropriate riding gear and I started looking for my riding gear. 

I bought a Nolan N-90S modular helmet, Tork X-Pro Helmet Speakers and Ipod Shuffle-4th Gen for my head gear. I installed the helmet speakers inside my helmet which was a simple task as Nolan helmets came with the provision for N-Com System that  included slots for speakers and related wiring. I had the chin-guard of my helmet and Ipod  Shuffle layered with standard hook and loop fastener (velcro stickers). So my helmet became my head's protection with built-in entertainment system!!!! 

I bought a leather riding vest from I wanted to have a customized vest and so I went ahead and bought patches of my choice from I traveled to Periyamedu, leather-hub of my city, where most businesses revolve around leather products, and had the patches sewn by an amazing leather technician who is famously known as Mary Amma among the Periyamedu leather-stitching fraternity. She was very kind and agreed to finish my vest-customization even after her usual hours of operation and invited me to her home to pick it up. When I went to her humble residence, she invited me in and offered me coffee which  made me feel I will never understand "Customer-Service" as Mary Amma had installed in her professional practice. That experience just made my leather riding vest all the more special. 

The next was the guards and gloves. My college buddy helped me get my first pair of fingerless riding gloves for which I am very thankful. I wanted fingerless gloves as I foresaw a lot of button-pressing (ipod volume/song change) and scratching during my rides. For the guards, I was quite confused as to what kind to go for as I already had a rather uncomfortable and cracking experience of using elbow and knee guards during the very short stint of skateboarding I got to do a few years back. It was an empty parking lot and i could hardly do an Ollie with my board but when I fell, my guards cracked and I was not entirely comfortable wearing them either. Then came the ebay listing that said US-Army issue knee and elbow guards are on sale. What more do I need? I ordered a pair of elbow and knee guards from a retired military guy who now specializes in procuring army-surplus items and selling them on ebay. With very little use, those guards are a perfect fit for me and needless to say incredibly comfortable. American soldiers would rather be troubled with bad intel than with bad gear. Everyone who remembers Vietnam knows that for sure.

For my boots, I chose the13-inch Xelement Harness Riding Boots as they are not very pricey and had received some good reviews with mentions of good comfortable fit and durability. I did have to read a bunch of reviews to filter out all the fake reviews written by internet marketing professionals in the name of SEO/Custom Review Writing Service. The boots turned out to be more comfy than what I expected. The breaking period was less than a week or so and I had them on for a few times during that period. The boots did leave some black dye smudges but I guess products like these always come with a dirt-property that we just have to deal with. The riding comfort is jsut beyond imagination for these though. i dont have to feel a strained shin/ankle while operating my Thunderbird and that's exactly what I intended to have for my Long Rides.

Having done quite an effort to accessorize myself for my new-found hobby, I made my first trial Long Ride from Chennai to Pondicherry and met my college buddy Pondy Balaji. I had told him a few months back that I would meet him, when I come riding my Thunderbird. The ride was a 350 kilometers (roundtrip) expedition that formally inducted me into the world of Leisure Long Riding, teaching me the essentials of Highway Riding. 

Now I was all the more enthusiastic about venturing into actual Long Rides that was longer than my trial ride to Pondicherry. I scheduled a meet with my roomie at Pondicherry and I had to attend another roomie's wedding at Trichy, a city that is approximately 320 kilometers from Chennai. So my first official long Ride Itinerary became Chennai-Pondicherry-Trichy-Chennai. The map below shows it all.

The ride to Pondicherry was quite tiresome as it was a night ride and I wasn't used to Highways with heavy traffic (not on a motorcycle). But I did enjoy every bit of it. I had an awesome time hanging out with my friends at Pondy. The pic below of me was taken by my buddy. 

At Pondy, a friendly ATM Security Officer suggested me an alternate route to Trichy, touching villages Panruti and Ulunthoorpettai before catching up with the target NH 45S. A million thanks to the friendly Security Officer. I got an awesome opportunity of riding through a long stretch of paddy fields, glowing green on either side of the road, the view of which reminded me of movie scenes I grew up watching. 

At Trichy, I stayed at my relatives home, enjoyed their awesome hospitality, and attended my roomie's wedding. I also met some of my best friends I met at Mississippi State University. So after catching up with my buddies, I set off for the ultimate leg of my expedition, the return. It was a straight road zip all the way on NH 45N, which by the way offers some awesome scenery. I loved the stretch until Ulunthoorpettai, which offers a few ups and downs, small hilltops on either side and some of the warmest Tender-Coconut Vendors of Tamilnadu. They took special care to ensure I got the right hydration and served me with a smile. I had a little chat with them regarding other look-able/ride-able areas in and around that stretch and they suggested more than I could remember. I felt humbled. I made another stop a little later and had tender coconuts of three different colors, each one having a distinct flavor (based on their ageing).

Just before reaching Dindivanam, I took another break where a local resident walked up to me and started a conversation on Highway Riding risks and how long rides should be planned. It was an interesting conversation, the highlight of which is the way the guy cursed heavy bikes for bad fuel economy. The kind lady at the shop advised me to be extra-cautious on the highway. 

The finishing stretch had considerable traffic as I moved towards the city. When I reached home, I felt a sense of satisfaction, gratitude and excitement. I had a sense of fulfillment and was all pumped up for the next few hours. I was recalling my experience, the people I met, the conversations I had, the riding nuances I learned, the warnings and advises I got from total strangers and more than anything, the memory of the long roads I cruised. Overall my expedition was 699 kilometers long, filled with experiences, accompanied by Indie Rock/Folk Songs and the long roads. 

I have picked up a new hobby, a passion that calls for raising the dust, praising the dirt and falling in love with the road, all with the company of my choice of iron, Royal Enfield Thunderbird. I am happy I bought this ride and I am happy that it dragged me into such an amazing hobby that will give me a truckload of memories to recall and recount to myself, until the end of my life. So summing up, Live Free, Ride Safe, Ride Long, for it is the road that can teach the untold lessons of Riding Life, Mile by Mile.

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  1. Good article.Got me interested in "Leisure Long Riding" as you put it even though I don't own a bike.Keep churning out these articles and drive safe.Peace!

  2. Good writing, the info regarding the leather jacket and patch stuff was really helpful. Keep up the good work!!

    1. Thanks Joy!!! Glad that my blog could help you.


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