For those who don’t know, Saddle Sore is an endurance rally kind of competition that includes completing 1000 miles in 24 hours on your bike. You can get more details of this ride over here.
I always wanted to do the Saddle Sore ride since I had bought my first bike i.e Hero Honda ZMR , but I never got a chance to do that due to some or the other reason. I always use to see people posting about their successful Saddle Sore rides. This started the bug in me to go nuts and over the time I saw the time favourable for me to do the ride. This ride needs some immense riding skills and moreover needs brilliant focus and ability to ride without even flicking your eye-lashes. After I completed my Darjeeling and Puri ride, I was confident enough to take on this ride as I was a bit familiar with the NH roads in West Bengal.
Most of the successful Saddle Sore rides were recorded on the path Pune-Bengaluru- Pune route. But that wasn’t possible for me as I was miles away from Pune. And I couldn’t wait that long for going back to Pune. So, I decided to take up the least hoped route that somebody has ever recorded the S.S on, the Kolkata-Allahabad-Kolkata route. I think only a couple of S.S rides have been recorded for this route.
I started planning for it since January as I didn’t have much office load that time. But this month of the year was strictly a No No for saddle sore as crazy-shit fog blankets up the road for most of the day and it will be fucking difficult to traverse on a completely new road with a white washed eye sight. After talking to few people from my club(Eastern Bulls) I got to know that the perfect month to do so will be March as its neither so cold to get trapped into the fog nor to hot to get your pants sweat wet and the engine strained. I was very restless but had to wait till the weather clears up. As soon as March started ,I started searching for tag alongs who can join me for this ride. Anirban dada, one of the club(Eastern Bulls) member was on the same enthusiastic level as I was and thus it was decided that we both will be doing this crazy Man v/s Time war. We started planning for an alternate route. One of the routes that we came forward with was the Kolkata-Pari chowk (End of Yamuna Express Highway)-Etawah as it completes 1700 kms approx.. The main reason for choosing this stretch was the Tarmac Porn that we would get on Yamuna Express Highway. 400 kms of to and fro extacy .
Unfortunately , we had to drop this route as we both weren’t getting any additional holidays except the weekend. So we decided to stick to the challenging Kolkata-Allahabad-Kolkata. The dates came near and the counter of sleepless nights started incrementing everyday. People who ride often might know how it feels a night before the kick-ass butt-numbing ride. One word “SLEEPLESS”. Probably the only ride till now for which I was thinking and planning continuously even when my eyes were asleep. The milestone figures were streaming through my brain like that thing in the type-writer.
I had faked a sick leave just a day before and planned to sleep the whole day. I was pretty successful in doing that for which I had to face some adverse effects . Well, what happens when you sleep the whole day ? SLEEPLESS NIGHT. After I woke up in the evening I couldn’t fucking sleep. The ride was going to start at 4 am next morning ,so now I had 8 hours before I could start getting saddle sores. These 8 hours were the most difficult ones than the riding hours. I could neither sleep nor my eyes could stay open. I was like, FUCKK , *rubbing my eyes and dragging down my hand on the face*. I planned to distract myself and started watching ‘Friends’ series. After few episodes I realized that it was 1 am in the morning and I was quite happy that I could kill these hours. I started getting ready with the stuff I wanted to carry and had some talks with Rover that how much I trust her and how we can make this ride a pretty one.
I stuffed 3 cans of Monster Energy and 2 cans of Red Bull in my bag along with few Snickers and Perks. Guys, these energy drinks work like a charm. The word SLEEPING didn’t even knock on my brain an eyes. Anirban and I along with few Eastern Bulls members gathered at the starting point ,Dankuni. We were ready to kick start this epic ride. We took a petrol bunk receipt from the starting point at 4:45 am according to our watch, but to our surprise the timing on the receipt read 4:30 am . We knew it didn’t matter as it was the starting point but then we lost the sync with our watch. We couldn’t adjust the time in our watch according to the receipt as we would be in a fix at the next checkpoint because of some other time setting in their watch ( If any).
The Dankuni- Panagarh patch is beautiful ! we were clocking around 125kmph in the wet mist of the morning . We couldn’t see anything at all. The road was full of fog and it was damn dark. Anirban was leading the way. Believe me , he is one of the best leads I have ever seen. He knows the riding signals as properly as Sachin Tendulkar knows his strokes. We stopped for a pee break and noticed that we had covered 91kms in the last 60 mins ! we were like what in the world just we did ? 91 kms ! We were damn happy as we were thinking that if we could cover so much distance in dark and fog then we might cover a good patch in daylight.
As the saying goes, ”Expect the Unexpected”, we reached Panagarh which is a fucking Truck country. What happens when trucks decide to have their meetings like the cars in Tokyo Drift ? well then Panagarh happens. All we could see was bad roads-trucks-trucks-more trucks and a shity single lane highway. Our speed got reduced drastically from 120+kmph to 60 kmph. This was the first factor that caused the delay.
We reached Dhanbad and found that it was time to collect the second receipt of the ride as we had covered 250 kms. We took a receipt from the petrol pump and noticed that we were running late. We had covered 250 kms in 3hrs and 45 min. Now we decided that we won’t stop in between and will ride a straight patch of 250kms and then stop for the receipt. This was my longest stretch that I rode till now. 250 kms non stop! My butt went numb and my eyes were never ever so thirsty for my odo to read 250 kms .
We completed the 250 kms after crossing town named Aurangabad (Not the Maharashtra one 😛 ) in Bihar. We were pretty much by the clock this time. We went to the petrol pump (As there are no ATMs on the Highway :|) The guy said that the pump didn’t have the printed receipt system. We inquired for any other one ahead. He said “I don’t think so ”. Well , *Doomed*. We stopped at each and every petrol pump for the receipt ,but didn’t find one. Even the Space Scientist found Pluto faster than we found a petrol pump with a printed receipt system. We lost our most valuable time in searching a daamn petrol pump. Finally after the long search we found one. After getting the receipt we rode like mad men ! Before crossing Aurangabad we were in Jharkand. I was a bit nervous and scared to cross this patch as I had heard a lot of stories of Naxal activities(and also because I had seen Gangs of Wasseypur a couple of days ago). But there was nothing like that , the roads were freaking scenic and were butter smooth. Clocked 145 kmph on this highway with not even a single vehicle on the road. Beautiful leaves having shades of autumn among the hills, Ahh ,what a sight
So ,now we had started from our second check point. The worst patch of our ride ! We had a 1 hr lead . The patch from here till Varanasi was shit. It looked like the teeth line up of a kid with braces and few teeth missing. The roads were as if having huge pimples of tar on them . There were people crossing like blind ones on the road without even looking at the vehicles coming . The main disadvantage of this patch is that it doesn’t by-pass the small yet densely populated villages on the way. By this time we realized that it will be close to impossible to ride this patch even at 60 kmph at night.
After few kms we reached the third checkpoint which was some 50 odd kms ahead Varanasi. I was thirsty not for water but for that sexy Allahabad highway that i had heard a lot from Anirban while planning this ride.The moment Rover and I touched our shoes down on that tarmac it was pure speed porn ! The engine by this time was totally free (“Engine khul gaya tha” as we say) on the strike of 3rd gear itself it use to clock 100 kmph. The bike was vibrating like a maniac and my fog lamp fell off,but i have no complaints. Sheer pleasure riding this bull . But light vehicles like duke would be easier to manoeuvre on this route for saddle sore .
We tried finding a petrol pump as our odo read 810 kms of trip and thus it was time to take a U-turn. We finally found a petrol pump after 30kms and before we started filling it i thought of taking a look in google maps and shockingly it showed that we had just covered 776kms . We were really surprised by such a huge gap in odo and the google maps . We again started on the path where we had taken the U-turn to find the next petrol pump. The next petrol pump was some 40kms ahead and thus we started riding like raging bulls(I am serious when i say that !). We covered this 40 kms in about 20 min and we finally found the bunker. It was 5 pm according to our watch and we had completed almost 820kms in 11 hrs. We filled up the tank and took the receipt. To add to our misery the receipt read 5:30 pm. That means we just got short fucking 30mins just like that. This is the biggest problem on this route.
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1. You wont get any ATM on the highway.
2. You will have to search for a petrol bunk that gives you a printed receipt .
3. The petrol pumps follow some other timezone in the parallel universe.
Our morale was literally chopped off by this time issue. we had more 820 kms to cover in 11 hrs. That too on that shity highway patch between Allahabad and Varanasi. We took almost 4 hrs to cover 200kms with random people flying across the road and the trucks were trolling on the road like the tanks do in Russia . By this time we knew that covering 620 kms in 7 hrs is possible if only it was day as the road was full of trucks and our average speed dropped down to 30–40 kmph. Anirban da and I decided to call the ride off as the Jharkand area was a No No at night because its kinda barren and there was no one to help at night if something happened to our bikes or us.
We stayed that night at a village called Mohaniya in Bihar and covered the remaining 600kms next day. I was so disappointed that we couldn’t complete the Saddle Sore . But i was equally proud of what we did cover in such fucked up conditions. There is always a next time ! As a wise man has said “Jaan hai to jahan hai ” . Next time we will surely come up with a great timing.
P.S : We never speeded up on the roads having traffic and those going through the villages as we were aware of the consequences.
Route followed : Kolkata-Allahabad-Kolkata
Distance Covered: 1850 kms approx
A suggestion for all the riders who are planning to do it on this route is : If you want to complete the Saddle Sore successfully and safely then do the following route instead of this :
Kolkata(Dankuni) — Pari chowk- Etawah and leave early morning (around 3 am)