January 13, 2011
Is it a bird on its way to a party in Anjuna?
Is it a new age Father Christmas – trim, safety conscious and keen to reduce his carbon footprint by not flying?
No. It’s a glow in the dark Meakin sitting behind a Santa-hatted somewhat-bellied and very jolly would-be member of the Spirited Stallions.
Led by Johnny Depp – but where was Keira Knightley? – five Bullets weaved out of Bangalore through the Christmas morning traffic past the Coffee Days and Baristas, the flashy cars and Harleys of Mysore Road. Rava idlis with five cows – including the wish-fulfilling Kama-dhenu (hidden in the background below – can’t believe none of you photo pros took the cows) –
and several albino rabbits was only slightly marred when the Grinch
realised that their epic ride so far had in fact covered only 40 miles, about 20 minutes on the M3.
A few hours later, we hit The Track. Already legendary in Road Veda history, The Track is a five kilometre stretch of rocks, stone and mud carved up by four wheel drive jeeps and elephants – who, we were later informed, hate bikes and are therefore prone to charge – through the Madumalai tiger reserve to Pradeep and Sonia’s estate. Although it was the dry season, The Track claimed three scalps, including the fluorescent Meakin’s steed plus an indicator and a brake lever. Having been led up and down various tributaries to The Track by the Marga-darshaka (recently promoted from Arambhaka) – who had been there twice before and definitely knew the way – the bikes crawled up to the house and were parked in the veranda (to avoid damage by tuskers Pradeep reassured us).
By the time Father Christmas had been and gone, and after several hours of barbeque followed – to the surprise of some – by supper, the moon began to wobble to the sound of various animal noises, later identified as a platypus and an anteater. Photographical evidence of this (the moon rather than the animals) was unfortunately interrupted by yet another of Sonia’s panicked alarms. “Python, python, quick.” After all running inside – with the Meakin much the fastest to reach safety – we all rushed back outside to see the great snake, only to be confronted with a large cow. The python was in fact a bison.
The Boxing Day Ride proceeded in state up 36 hair pin bends through a landscape more reminiscent of Florence than Tamil Nadu.
But it wasn’t the Ooty hounds, or even the Ooty Club, that was the goal of this climb but chai, muffins and some choice tunes at the well known Scrumptuous Gaiety Café.
Slightly frustrated at the ease with which they had done the climb, the Pirate was delighted to discover that the Lightning 535 had mysteriously packed up at the 36th turn – you can always bank on Bhagath’s bike to break down. Shadows began to lengthen as the crowds gathered to ogle and offer spurious advice in Tamil. Riding along The Track after 5:30 was not advised. At 5:20, the bike suddenly sprang into life and the race began. Speedy Gonzalez on the LB500 easily outpaced a grumpy Grinch but the Meakin remained a distant glow. A herd of elephants greeted the bikes as they bounced into the estate at 5:55 providing plenty more opportunities for arty elephants-at-night shots.
To be continued…
October 3, 2010
Sunrise rides are too early for a few folks…so we decided to ride and let the Sun come up and greet us while we’re on our way to Madhugiri Betta, the second largest monolithic hill in India, some even argue this is the largest in Asia but who are we to know. A trek to the fort up on the hill for those with an itchy wanderer’s foot and back to madness by the afternoon. That’s the plan. Ride free. Pay as you go. Eat as you want. Cannot drink as you want though as Road Veda follows a strict no alcohol on the rides policy.
Departure point: Coffee Day on Mosque Road / Coles road junction in Fraser Town, Bangalore
Meeting time: 0430 hrs
Departure time: 0500hrs
Clothing / gear: Helmets, riding jackets and boots are compulsory. No sandals, flip flops on the bikes please. Save those for Goa. It might be slightly chilly in the morning on the highway but will get hotter as the Sun comes up, so layering is the key word.
Tools / bikes: Riders are advised to fill fuel, air and get their bikes in order before they assemble at Coffee Day. Empty bladders help you go the distance so that’s advisable too. There will be no back up car this time so the riders should assemble a basic first aid kit and carry it on the bike.
Confirmation: Please mail your name, bike no, contact no, emergency contact no and blood group, in that order to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 14, 2010
In England rain is one of life’s necessary evils. In India, a wet, cold (ok 22 degrees plus but chilly by Indian standards) morning is a cause for celebration. Nevertheless, even Indian enthusiasm for the rain takes a bit of a beating when you’re caught on a bike in the stuff. Within a few seconds of a sudden, fierce shower, city roads are emptied of all two wheeled traffic; riders and pillions either abandon their bikes for the relative shelter of a shop front, tree or bus stop or cram, bike and all, into the few dry metres of road under a bridge. They’re missing out.
Riding through a monsoon storm is not so far removed from sailing through a fierce squall – minus the salt and plus the odd tree branch, complete with electricity line. Not safe, but definitely fun. And the monsoon is the best time to see India, tumultuous but shining new. Poets have always celebrated the rains – varsha – for their drama as well as the generative surge they bring to the land. And of course the passion and romance of storm outside, couple inside – even Buddhists monks several hundreds years again were singing the same thing. Any respectable Bollywood film has at least one soaked-through-in-the-rain scene. This is the land of the wet sari after all, and standing in the rain can be sexy even in London (think Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and A Funeral…)
Road Veda chose Kukke Subrahmanya for its latest monsoon trip, a jungle pilgrim spot in the Western Ghats dripping with green even in high summer. Kukke is the home of Subrahmanya, Shiva’s first son born, after several hundreds of years of lovemaking, to help the gods defeat a particularly troublesome anti-god. Here he reigns amidst a glorious mix of other, local traditions; it is to this temple that you come to rid yourself of the snake curse. Despite a visit a couple of years ago by India’s number one cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar (who had the snake curse and wasn’t playing very well as a result), Kukke Subrahmanya is still almost unknown to all except those who make the pilgrimage to its temples.
The one-street town sits at the bottom of a valley down which thunders the Kumaradhara river. Once you hit Sakleshpur, a hill station high above Kukke, there are 50 glorious kilometres of steep and treacherous ghats that follow the river down to its base. This is a notoriously bad road. It used to be so broken that everyone was forced to go slowly. A recent resurfacing job – which is already beginning to come apart, no Indian road survives more than one monsoon – means that cars now career round the corners in order to overtake the rumbling trucks. When the road is running with water, the stakes become even higher. Glorious nonetheless for the road is also inhabited by the huge clouds that sit in the valley. As you ride, you first hit a slow, slight rain, then the belly of the cloud – where your vision reduces to about 20 metres – followed by heavy rain. Finally the mists start to thin, the rain peters out and the wet road glints in the sun.
When you turn off to Kukke, you have the road to yourself; the trunks trundle, and the flashy cars zoom, on to Mangalore and the coast. Here the road takes you through the bottom of the valley, across bridges and past the luminous orange of temples. And then the pilgrim-covered banks of the Kumaradhara and Subrahmanya temple itself, its towering gokula set off by the soaring Parvata mountain behind, bare feet, dhotis and cows before. All oblivious to the rain that descends in straight lines, softly and silently.
March 5, 2010
The Baale Mane charity ride was for us a riding high of a different
nature. It was less about the freedom of hitting the road than the feel
good factor that overflowed from the 70 plus bikes that day. We came
away from the ride buoyed up by the sheer enthusiasm of each rider and
the excitement of the girls.
On 20th February, many of us were brought face to face with the darkest
side of biking. Naveen Jangid, a professional Bullet dirt track racer
who had ridden with us at a far more sedate pace than usual that day,
is no more with us. He died on Mysore highway as he headed back into Bangalore. Another victim on the (not so) great Indian highways.
Road Veda would like to dedicate the Baale Mane charity ride to Naveen’s
memory. Let that happy Sunday morning eclipse the terrible darkness of
February 4, 2010
Seventy two classic bikes – and one not so classic shiny red superbike which seemed to have come along for the ride – lined up in the grey light just before the sun rose on 31st January. The riders were a mixed bunch of grizzly bikers – Bulleteers and RTMC boys, rally riders and solo speeders – and wet-behind-the-ears firangs, girls and the odd guy who had swapped his regular bike for the bullet thump. But this heterogenous crowd was there for one reason: to bring a fantastic array of donations, from toothbrushes to self-defence lessons to a month’s supply of tomatoes, to the girls at Baale Mane.
It only took the highway patrol an hour to spot this small army of two wheelers. The first patrol vehicle was shortly followed by a second and then a third, all of them armed with a loud speaker and several tummy-proud officers. Barrage after barrage of Kannada commands finally precipitated a fast start, and the ride had begun.
After a good stretch of Magadi Road’s glorious bends, twists and curves the group stopped for breakfast en masse at the foot of a hill. The carefully placed route markers had been equally carefully harvested – all those precious steel rods or perhaps they just fancied the brightly coloured branded flags – by the villagers almost as soon as they were laid out, so the ride relied on strategically placed bikes to prevent wrong turns.
Empty roads soon gave way to the under-construction diversion-pocked Bangalore-Mangalore highway where the two lanes of traffic rubbed shoulders and at times confronted one another, and finally the madness of Nelamangala town. A police escort having been promised – after several meetings with the Nelamangala circle inspector– and guaranteed in writing, a solitary rather overweight officer on a clapped out bike emerged from the chaos to attempt to forge a path for the lead rider. After several ill fated attempts to clear the traffic with the flaccid peep peeps of his horn, he was summarily demoted to route marker – at least he couldn’t be nicked – and the cohort sailed through the town and down village roads to Baale Mane.
Drumming girls heralded the bikes’ arrival at Baale Mane and were soon treating the riders to a dramatic performance of Dhollu Kunitha.
The younger girls had to choose the best looking bikes and loyally picked those that belonged to the Road Veda team and Anoop Ravi, a long time supporter of the girls’ home, ignoring the lovingly modified old school Bullets for shiny new models, and even a Thunderbird.
After several requests by the inhabitants of Gopalapura, a nearby village, the bikes filed out to strut their stuff through the village, a beaming girl behind each jacketed and booted rider.
And then it was back to town and Opus.
With only one breakdown – quickly rectified by Mubarak, Bangalore’s ever smiling Bullet saviour – the group pitched up at Opus, announced by the roar of their engines which was reportedly audible for a full minute before the first rider came into view.
Solder injected fresh energy into the crowd as they strummed their way through the Beatles, Elvis and several of their own numbers. Only Yeh Dosti, which won the vote for best riding song, could beat them. Amitabh Bacchan in a tight white suit riding in a side car and swinging on trees with Dharmendra in tow – bikes don’t get much better than that.
A fierce arm wrestling competition and some near head banging gave the group a bit of authentic biker flavour among the mohitos and flavoured yoghurt of Opus. Murtu, tool king and the chief fixer-onner of bike flags, won the day with Rishabh, the burly Delhiite with a moustache to die for, a close second.
We’ve also collected Rs 103,985 in cash towards vegetables, milk, eggs, education and other earmarked purposes.
A link to the video of the ride
A link to the story done by Chris, Chairman of the Baale Mane:
We’d like to say a huge thank you to those who went to extraordinary lengths to make this ride a success:
Kabir Bhasin for driving just about everything
Varun Sharma for his all-round marketing/PR/sponsorship brilliance
Bella Hodgkinson for being wonderfully English and efficient always
Krunal Varma for countless ideas and endless publicity
Murtu Lokhandwala for his flag-assembling and photographic skills
Arjun Singh for creative genius
Danish Aziz for Bullet solidarity and support
Amirtharaj Stephen for persuading us to aim for 100 bikes
Rishabh Malhotra and Priyanshu Painyuli for an injection of last-minute, much-needed energy
And in addition our small army of helpers on the day including the ride marshals and Mubarak and his team of star mechanics
And finally thank you to those organisations who sponsored or contributed to the ride: Yogesh Bhandari; Nike; Alpha Relations; Masters Management Consultants; Kurl On; Islamic Relief Fund; Gayatri International, Vaman Pai of Mass Marketing Corporation for giving all the girls 7 sets of tailored clothes and last but very much not least Ashwin Mohan from Independent Shoot Fighters for giving up 52 Sunday evenings to give the girls’ a whole year of self-defence classes.
Photos courtesy of Murtu Lokhandwala, Phil Clevenger, Deepa Shastry and anyone else whose photos we nicked from Facebook
January 11, 2010
To register email email@example.com – registration closes at 100 bikes
Capture Crew are making a film of this ride. Send us your song suggestions for the soundtrack and everyone will vote on the day of the ride.
Pre-ride drop in for all riders – hand over your donation and we’ll give you a flag, a briefing and possibly a beer in return. 7-10pm Friday 29th at 14 Naina Terraces, 159 Richmond Road – behind Kids Kemp on MG Road
Article in the Deccan Chronicle – DC article
Fastrack confirm sponsorship
Opus agrees to a special price of Rs. 550 plus tax (instead of Rs.888 plus tax)
Masters Management Consultants pledge a year’s worth of educational materials for girls in 8th-10th standard
Yogesh Bhandari and Rotract team up to provide an annual supply of sanitary napkins to the orphanage
Nike agrees to donate basket balls
Economic Transport Organisation will be sending their trucks to collect and deliver donations and gifts to Baale Mane
Metro Monkey, Road Veda’s online partner, features the ride: http://metromonkey.in/riding-for-a-cause/
Alpha Relations has pledged 10,000 for two months worth of vegetables
The New Indian Express features the ride: http://bit.ly/6hwdk2
Gayatri International donates educational materials for a year for girls in 1st-7th standards – thank you Alpesh and colleagues
Road Veda is organising a charity ride for a girls’ orphanage on Sunday January 31st. This ride will give you a chance to improve a girl’s life, by applying your mind and heart to her cause. Donations are welcome in kind (and can be selected from the list given below) – they will go a long way to making this orphanage a more livable space. There is no minimum and certainly no maximum. From a single spoon to a whole wardrobe, anything that will help us improve how the girls live is very welcome. Please note that the amount listed beside each item is the total number required; you may want to give two of the 50 light bulbs needed or one mattress from the 12 on the list. Riders can also give specific cash amounts for particular expenses – such as a month’s vegetable supply – as listed below the ‘donations in kind’ list.
It will be a fun ride of almost 100kms outbound, through big highways, narrow country lanes and well paved and winding state highways. The return journey will be just 30kms, to Opus where beers and mojitos flow freely and a sumptuous brunch awaits us.
Once an item has been selected by a rider or group it will be marked as such on the list so we don’t end up with 500 plates and no mattresses…. All gifts/donations can be handed over to the Road Veda truck which will come to fetch them at a time and place convenient to you or dropped off on 29th Jan as above in red. All contributions in cash will be exempt from income tax up to 50% of the value of the donation or as specified in the IT act, section 80G.
The aim is to get 100 bikes, both Royal Enfields and other classic bikes. Please do join us.
To register: Venetia (+91 99723 05440) or Gautam (+91 99455 33440)
For donations (both selecting and the Road Veda truck): Krunal (+91 97399 77379)
If you’re a corporate/group: Kabir (+91 93425 34027) or Puja (+91 90083 16820)
For logistics: Gaurav (+91 99012 22077)
For more about Baalemane: Bella (+91 95386 91370) www.baalemane.org
List of items for donations in kind:
|DONATION||SIZE / STYLE||QUANTITY|
|Kitchen Equipment||Plates with a thick lip||Steel thali with rim||70|
|Pressure Cooker||5 litres||3 1 remaining|
|Sambar Vessels||10 kgs||1|
|Plastic Storage Drum||400 kgs||1|
|Chombu (water jugs)||Steel||5|
|Storage Boxes for grains||Steel 10 kgs||10|
|Vessels for tea Preparation||3 litres and 2 litres||2
|Plastic Storage Drum||100 kgs||1|
|Plastic Storage Drum||50 kgs||1|
|Banali / kadai – vessel for frying items such as bonda and palya.||3 litres||3|
|Plastic Drums||30 kgs||5|
|Tiffin Boxes||big enough for lunch||52|
|Big stirring spoons||3 feet||3|
|Mixer for chutney||1|
|Strainer for tea aluminium||small||2|
|Community Rice Preparing Vessel (donga)||15 kg||2|
|Trays||4 2 remaining|
|Others||Floor mat (Chatai,) for children (individual)||70|
|Warm bed blankets||Single beds||70|
|Single Mattresses||Cotton (6ft x 3ft)||12|
|Bed sheets||Single beds||70 50 remaining|
|Bicycles with inner tubes||20|
|Light Bulbs||CFL bulbs 60Volts||100|
|Music Player with CD and cassette||1|
|UPS system with battery for computer room||1|
|Girls clothes||Ages 6 – 17yrs|
|Soap||Lifebouy||580 473 remaining|
|Soap Boxes||52 37 remaining|
List for donations in cash
|DONATION||AMOUNT OF TIME||QUANTITY||TOTAL COST (Rs.)|
|EDUCATION||8th – 10th Standard Educational Materials||1 year||20 19 remaining||4602|
|5th – 7th Standard Educational Materials||1 year||25 13 remaining||2404|
|1st – 4th Standard Educational Materials||1 year||15 11 remaining||1989|
|OTHER||Cooking Gas||1 month||2800|
December 16, 2009
Kai landed in Bangalore from LA on a chilly December evening. By 6 o’clock the next morning – his first morning ever in India – he was riding a Royal Enfield Thunderbird, a bike he had never ridden before, through Bangalore and out onto the Mysore Highway on roads he had most certainly never ridden before and which were possibly quite different from the German autobahns he’s used to.
Kai and the seven other bikes were en route to Kutta, a tiny Coorg hamlet balanced precariously on the border of Kerala and Karnataka. Not to be outdone by a newby from America, Kartik, a seasoned Road Veda rider, decided to part ways with his bike in mid-air just beyond the sugarcane kingdom of Mandya. Like a true Bullet rider, he got himself stitched up and refused a lift in the support car or as pillion, resolutely continuing to ride bandages-and-all.
The group was by now quite a spectacle – two white girls riding, one dachshund-beagle puppy (Kali) squeezed between two riders and one bandaged Kartik. The scenery intensified as the road deteriorated, to the extent that even the pillions found it difficult to drink it all in because of the continuously oscillating view. Mr Aiyappa’s estate boasts a dark hill-station-green canopy of pepper creepers, date palms, silver oak and of course coffee by the acre. Kali, who as well as being Pam and Phil’s dog is also the consort of Shiva in his cosmos-destroying form and tends to be depicted with a necklace of human heads, was soon best friends with the Aiyappas’ dog Devil.
The evening brought charades – the highlight undoubtedly Tyrannasaurus Rex and a seeming platypus for Oedipus the King (rex in Latin…) – and star gazing through the piercingly clear night.
The return ride wound its way through Kerala’s Wayanad forest and then the Rajiv Gandhi national park – where a couple of riders spotted elephants from the road – and then through the fields above Mysore on a narrow strip of dusty road just a little wider than a Bullet tyre in places.
Ravenous after a long stretch on challenging roads a bakery provided just what was needed for negotiating Mysore highway on a Sunday evening: hot dil pasand and aloo bun – the bhel puri of Bangalore’s bakery-centred snacks.
Photos courtesy of Phil Clevenger and Joel John
December 5, 2009
For once in my life, I was in no hurry to land up in Goa, courtesy Road Veda. I joined a Bullet bike ride from Bangalore to Goa and as the only pillion rider amongst the bunch I was by default the official photographer for the trip.
I could go on endlessly about the trip, so to save everyone from my level of enthusiasm, I’ll just share some ‘bullets’ from the trip:
– We landed at a hotel at 11 pm on the first night to just crash for a few hours and take off again. We must have presented quite a sight to the staff of the hotel. With bikes, luggage, jackets and helmets they thought they were being attacked by naxalites!! We were wondering why they were being hesitant to open the gates for us. We found out the reason the next morning…. wow!!!
– The yum! Breakfast with poori aloo and umpteen glasses of coffees at Woodways, a quaint getaway in the midst of a coffee plantation estate in Chikmaglur
– We caught a nice sunny afternoon to pelt the ghats. It was the best part of the ride. We were doing the curves of the ghats, with the sun streaming through the tall trees, crossing small villages, happy breeze.
Only as evening and the clouds approached, we had to make a quick run to finish the ghats and catch the sunset.
– Venetia spotting a big black snake somewhere in the ghats. All the rest of us missed it.
– We wanted to catch the sunset on Kundapura beach. We had to zip through the last stretch of
– The night dip at the almost private beach at the Kundapura beach house where we stayed for the night.
– The next morning, the highway ride along the coastline with the sea on one side and the lake on the other.
– The first glimpse of Karwar – the blue sea and all the boats/ships stationed there.
– Our innumerable stops for chai, biscuits, smokes and pee breaks.
One of the best trips I’ve had. Every time Road Veda announces the next ride all I can think is – damn!! I’m missing this one !!!!!!
Sarika Grover – Delhi
November 20, 2009
An eclectic group that included two personal trainers and an author braved weeks of incessant London-style drizzle and the kind of storm-laden sky that horror films thrive on to ride the 120km to Galibore, on the banks of the Kaveri.
A little after Horahalli the group of five bikes encountered a lone and rather forlorn Bulleteer climbing out of the Kaveri valley. Joel it turned out had in a spout of enthusiasm arrived at the start point an hour before the group was due to meet and, thinking he was late, had set off to catch up but had just turned back having found no trace of Road Veda or indeed any Bullets. The fortuitous meeting was celebrated with breakfast at Chunchi falls before the descent down the Galibore ghat. “Slow down”, “Change gear” and finally “You have been warned” greeted riders on each hairpin bend.
The rain started at twilight just as the Abhi and Anand, the brothers with matching muscles, as Pam noted, were wowing everybody with long jumps of well over four metres and happily swimming in the crocodile infested river despite the protestations of the camp staff. After a game of Scrabble that commenced with throb and ended with on, supper and several hours of incessant rain, Gautam in true filmi style declared that he was going to collect the final rider, Chandan, who was joining the group late after giving a talk at IIMB. The 10 kilometres of dirt track that leads up to the fishing camp through the reserve forest was by now thick mud and slush and with no signs, no light and no mobile signal Chandan would need to be guided into the camp. Two hours later the two riders emerged, one caked boot to helmet in mud. Only the Dhoom soundtrack was missing.
Sunshine, cricket and research into Sanskrit plant names were followed by lunch and a comparatively peaceful ride back to the city across the lotus-strewn lakes of Kanakapura Road.
Photos by Ankit Singh and Phil Clevenger
October 30, 2009
4am on a Sunday morning. With only the coffee-wallas for company, 36 Bullets assemble on Bangalore’s MG Road for the launch of Road Veda. By the time the sky is beginning to turn a slightly lighter shade of black, the bikes are zooming down the highway, engines a-thump and headlights ablaze. After a right hand turn onto a small village road, the red-glowing sun appears just at the edge of the horizon and suddenly it is light and it is morning.
At the top of the huge boulder that is Ramadevarabetta – Ramadevara hill – the sun glances off the pockets of mist that shroud the jungle-boulder landscape below.
In the early morning sun the riders cross over to the curving lanes that encircle Kanva Reservoir, drinking in the scenery as the road crosses over rivers, through banana plantations and up and down lanes arched with bright green palm trees.
Emerging out of the lush greens of the reservoir, another huge boulder appears up ahead guiding the riders through a maze of criss-crossing paths.
Past the silk cocoon screens
and perigrine sheep
and finally onto Magadi Road and back to Bangalore.
A long lazy brunch at Opus brings the ride and the day to a close.
To check when the next ride is and to find out more about Road Veda, go to www.roadveda.com
Road Veda would like to thank:
Ramanan Subramani – Jaalasthaana-chitrakaara
Murtu Lokhandwala – Bhaachitraka and Caturcakra-sampaadaka
Varun Sharma – Prasiddhi-aakhyaayaka
Meghna Khanna – Prasiddhi-sahaayaa
Kabir and Puja Bhasin – Dvichakra-sampaadakau
Chandan Chandrashekhar – Dvichakra-sampaadaka