Bullet riding is not for everyone.

Trip Start Dec 21, 2009
1
8
20
Trip End Mar 29, 2010


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Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Third time lucky, right?  That is what they say, anyway.  Finally Tom and I got out of Delhi in the morning, going along just fine, and about 40 clicks out of town in Guragon, his clutch started to make a nice knocking noise.  Stopping near a mechanic and a chai walla, he started it up and we both felt the plates knocking in a wrong-sounding way.  It appears that the child mechanics that Didi employs at the former bullet walla headquarters are not all that after all.  Tom had just had it, and started storming, the way I am sure I must have looked to the natives when I had had it also many times with the tempermental bullet.
After a bit, a couple of cigarettes, and a chai, two men on a bike approached--traffic police! 
The thing about the police in India when you are touring on a motorcycle is that they consider you to be a guest in their country, and generally are not out for "baksheesh."  All the stories people told me on my first ride some years ago are really bullshit stories invented by those without the balls to ride themselves.  Don't worry about the police, in other words.
Two polite gentlemen got off the bike, obviously freezing in the cold morning fog, and asked what is the trouble.. . Between the sargeant's scant english, and my scant hindi, (also with the storming angry man about to kick the bike, it was discerned that there was a mechanical problem. 
Calmly suggesting that he knew a good enfield mechanic (the cops drove one themselves) did not help.  Tom just could not deal with the stress of unknown problems arising with a cobbled together bike from a smooth talking indian whose father used to be a great mechanic.  A substandard bike.  And to think I almost bought that very one!   Tom called the old man who assured him that he would receive a full refund of his purchase price, and all would be well.  (They did make good on that part, but I am quite sure they will just jury-rig the bike and sell it to some other Gora sucker looking for adventure).  My trust in these guys has been shaken.  At least they gave me (after giving me a lemon as well and suggesting that I did not know how to ride enfields!!?!?) a silver, 2000 model, which seems to be running quite well, despite minor problems which I will fix soon enough.
A Trishaw lorry later, with Tom's bike loaded, I was faced with a choice--To Ride or Not To Ride?
I could have gone back with my friend to Delhi, gotten the same deal, and decided to do something else, but with 40 kilometers of cold wind in my hair, the prospect of being the Solo Rider once again on a bike with an obvious name (The Silver Bullet, of course), really seemed like the thing to do.
So, I decided the way I always make major life decisions ---(i.e. to drop out of uni, to get a vasectomy, to drive to the west with no money and an empty gas tank, etc. etc.)--- I flipped a coin.
I will have to explain that the 5 rupee coin is about the same size and weight as an english pound and is perfect for flipping.  The question being which should be counted as heads, which as tails.  One side has a big "5" on it, and the other depicts the symbol of the Indian republic--the three headed lion.  Three heads I suppose are better than one, so I chose one.  Heads to go back, tails to go on.  Flipped twice.  Tails.
Bidding a fond farewell to my brother in arms, I hit the road.  It was now about noon with some 250 km to go, but I figured with the decent motorway I should make good time.
Maximum speed for one of these cycles of the more ancient variety is about 80 km per hour, that is if you want your engine to not blow a piston through the petrol tank,  up through the frame and into your jaw, splitting your lip in the process.
Easily did I fall back into the familiar rhythmic arrhythmia of Indian driving, and so by the time I settled into my first dhaba for a plate of jeera and some butter roti I was halfway there.
I know though, not to count my sacred cows before they hatch, however, and sure enough, a half hour later, traffic came to a standstill. 
All traffic, of course except for motorcycles.  Advantage:  two-wheeler.  Again.  Following the lead of many other bikers, we cruised the narrow sandy edge over huge craters, sharp rocks and along the sides of crumbly 3-meter deep trenches to make a good 10 km in about an hour.  Not bad.  But traffic was still at a standstill.  I don't know if you can imagine trying to control a 400 pound motorbike with saddlebags and highway bars in soft sand and just a scant inch or two from the sides of cars full of angry indians without even touching one side mirror, but that is aobut the size of the situation. 
Finally we reached an impasse.  Somebody in a car had decided that there was enough room on the side where we bikes were passing to squeeze in his vehicle.  This did not work at all, only making it virtually closed off to all.  The skinniest baba could not have gone by without going over the hood of the car.  Thinking quickly (and also following the lead of some other riders, we all cut through a tiny lot between two houses, where a small path led.  At the end of the path I had to stop.  Now a small scooter or hero honda does not weigh that much, but an Enfield does, and there was, at the top of a berm of dirt, a small brick wall, maybe two bricks high.   I decided I had to go over the top. . .
Revving the Silver Bullet as high as I could and dumping the clutch, I went for it.  Also I found out that it is indeed quite impossible to pull anything approaching a wheelie (or anything approaching "off the ground")  with one of these beasts.  There is just too much weight and not enough power, so while the front wheel went over satisfactorily, when the lower engine guard's turn to mount the obstacle came, it just went "clunk" and stuck there. 
The man next to me and another one of those old strong men who just seem to crawl out of the woodwork in India rushed to my aid, and with a bit of straining, we got her over.   Denyevad, Baba! 
Another 10 clicks and the two-wheelers got by all the traffic, with a road of our own.  At last I could make some time!  Soon I was approaching Jaipur with about an hour and a half of daylight left.  Surely I could find a cheap hotel for the night with all that time!  Surely. . . . . surely?
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