the late night ride to bangalore ... or something like that

It was late April. My cramster colt was packed with all necessary clothes, tools, spares, food and lots of other junk not worth talking about. What can you expect in a 20 minute timeframe. I had a blown low-beam from my last ride back from Mahabaleshwar. I pretty much rode back to Pune with no light and in two minds whether to use the high-beam before it blows off too. All this courtesy the modded lighting coil, a screwed battery and effects thereof. Anyway, back to the main story ..

A few days had passed. I hadn't got my bike fixed yet. It was an outrageous plan .. The destination was Bangalore. The ETD was well.. 1am. The plan was to ride a few hours in the dark and continue through the day, early enough not to risk riding around the evening after 12 odd hours on the road with a filament that could give way any moment. Wicked! .. The only risk was of the filament getting blown off at the start of the ride. The risk factor was comparatively less as it was just a matter of a few hours in the dark. A chance worth taking, .. an adventure worth riding for...

It was 1am. I spent sometime fiddling around with the headlight to get the high-beam to illuminate the road better. Now that it was the only filament left in my headlight, all I could do was pray and hope that it lasted till daylight, .. my lightbringer till I got to see the early rays of the sun.

So, I set off. I reached Katraj Ghat. I was stopped by the cops (regular stuff) but after a few smiles and words I was on my way. There are times where you must be the 'good boy' that you are. Once I was on NH4, it was time to open the throttle. A few kilometers down .. it happened. The high-beam was blown ... gone in a flash .. poof..

What could be more adventurous than being stranded on a wide 4 lane open highway all alone at 2am with a vehicle having no headlights. That apart from the fact that you are riding in a region which you are new to and you just happened to forget your cellphone on the bed as you left home. I had a charged Eveready Commander somewhere deep among the myraid items in my cramster, but I decided to keep moving and not hang around too long at one place (not something you'd want to do in such a situation). I was cruising along at around 25 kmph under a cresent moon and a starlight sky.

Things weren't too pleasing. The boredom of having to ride on a butter-smooth four lane piece of tarmac at speeds you could rather jog at. The frustration of not being able to stop by and spend the night gazing at the stars. The agony of being behind scheduled within the first ten percent of the ride. It was time to tail a vehicle, .. sadly there weren't many passing by in the 10 odd minutes.

The lack of light made the simplest of things feel horrid. I couldn't manage to risk following cars who were going slow (under 3 digit) speeds. I lost their tail many times and decided to chase a slower vehicle. To my (mis)fortune it was a guy on a two wheeler.

So this guy (henceforth referred to as 'mr.saviour') was doing a comfortable 50-60 kmph, riding a Passion Plus, with no riding gear, no helmet, wearing floaters and braving the cold weather. I was riding on the left most lane trying to spot anything moving, so I could get a tail. As dangerous as it may sound, I had a very small reflector and no lights what so ever on my bike. I was pretty much invisible. As I looked around, our saviour here happened to look at me. I have no idea what crossed his mind at that moment, but he didn't seem interested and hurried past me. Here begins the adventure..

After having tried my best to follow many a vehicle, I found one which I felt quite comfortable tailing. I kept my distance however. After a few minutes I noticed that mr.saviour felt uneasy having me on his tail. I could see him trying to glance at me through his rear-view-mirror. He slowed down at various points probably hoping that I would overtake him, but soon he would try to speed up again. He seemed all confused. I however decided to keep my distance and stay behind him. Having failed at getting me to pass him, he decided to speed up consistently so that I could lose his tail. Little might he have realised that I was riding a Pulsar 180 that could comfortably keep pace with his every move. He tried his best to get away from me. He even topped at around 90 kmph. I kept a constant distance behind him without scaring him too much. But none of that helped. The mr.saviour I pinned my hopes on was scared of me. I had sensed it all through but was helplessly relying on him to take me forward. However, things didn't seem to go in the right direction and I had just about decided to break the tail myself.

We were nearing the toll plaza at Khambatki. Now mr.saviour felt he could do something about the problem he faced all through. It was his turn to get some help for himself. As he was busy trying to get the attention of the people around, I decided to park my bike at the side and speak to him. All this while he didn't have a full picture of what I looked like and what I was riding. He probably didn't feel as scared after seeing my in riding gear with luggage all over my bike. I approached him and decided to have a friendly chat ..

So as the conversation continued mr.saviour's worries went away. We explained our problems to each other and things were finally sorted out to common ground. I apologised to him for having scared him and he apologised for not having co-operated much. Not his fault though. No sane person would probably do as much as he did. After a nice chat, we decided to head our ways. Mr.saviour stayed close-by, so he left. I had to make a choice whether to carry forward or to head back home.

While I sat along the divider thinking of my next move, I decided to use the ambience of the street lights to dig through my luggage to see if I threw in something that would come in handy. I did pull out the Commander, but to my surprise I found my leather belt along with a pant I had packed. Mr.Improviser wore his thinking cap.

I placed the Commander over my Cramster magnetic tankbag and fastened it with the belt. I used some news paper to angle the light onto the road. Not wanting to have more adventures that night I decided to head back to Pune. The Commander is a weak spotlight and has no spread on the road. However, the quality roads brought in some confidence to keep pace. I did face trouble through Katraj ghats as that's one place where you'll need all the light possible. The katraj tunnel was a nightmare. The torch was on the tank bag and the beam pointed straight regardless of the direction i steered. After a frustrating set of turns I managed to reach the bypass highway, and then reached home by around 4:30 am.

The incidents played like a movie in my head as I tried to get some sleep. I finally slept at around 5:15am and woke up at 9:30. It was finally time to get my bike fixed and book an evening flight to Bangalore ..

So much for a foolish (mis)adventure ...