My Classic 350 Motorcycle Diaries

Gaurav Chopra

zestbiker-if there is a SPIRIT,I ride it
Seeing the colour difference,it sure must have been a tough ride-so Sach pass cancellation makes sense-Sach is tough on the rider because of bad roads n constant steering and braking


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The first three stays upto Dalhousie were reserved one month before I started my ride. From Dalhousie, as I was not sure of my further ride in J&K due to the situation in Kashmir, I didn't reserve any accommodation at Srinagar, although I had selected a home-stay and saved that place in my navigator. Ultimately, I cancelled any further ride beyond Dalhousie and started returning home. While checking my mails at Jaipur, I was pleasantly surprised to find an exclusive discount coupon from in my inbox, which I immediately utilized to book my next stay at Nagpur, costing just ₹ 313 with a buffet breakfast thrown in!


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During my homeward ride, the LHS LED lamp's clamp got broken a few km before Hyderabad in the evening. I somehow tied it with the available threads and rubber bands and continued my ride to Bangalore with LED lamps switched on, but the broken LHS one was shaking here and there. The same thing happened to the RHS one near Kolhapur during my Golden Quadrilateral ride in February 2016. Today, I removed the clamp, visited the friendly neighbourhood welder, got it welded at a cost of ₹ 40 and fixed it back.


Now, Blue Bird is ready for the final lap of Bangalore-Chennai in another few days.


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Yesterday, Blue Bird reached its official nest amidst torrential rains after completing the ride across India of 6,524 km in 123 hours over 13 days without any problems like puncture/breakdown/accident/falling down/harassment from cops/RTO, etc. :) This time, I didn't do any servicing other than one oil top-up and three chain lubrication during the ride.


Due to tensions at Attibele border due to Cauvery waters issue, I took a different route this time: Kolar>Bethamangala>Venkatagirikota>Guidyatham>Pallikonda, which was supposed to the shortest route to Chennai, but time-consuming as the roads go through the towns and villages in KA, AP and TN. Works were in progress on many stretches from Kolar to Bethamangala. Then onwards, the roads were bad. From Venkatagirikota, the roads were good, but narrow. The Tamil Nadu roads were very good. I enjoyed riding the ghat sections in TN.




After entering TN, a police squad was checking all the vehicles entering TN. I too was stopped and asked to produce the documents. I came to the shoulder, parked the bird, removed my gloves and helmet and took out the document folder from the tank bag. At this time, the constable asked me, where from and where to and I replied. Immediately, he informed his superiors that I had all the documents without seeing them and asked me to proceed!



Torrential rains lashed out at Kolar and Sunguvarchattiram to Chennai, which delayed my ride time, aided and abetted by the notorious Bangalore's traffic jams. I had my dinner at A2B, Arcot bypass before getting caught in the rains, which continued until I reached home.
Ravi Sir,

As I can see there is some oil seepage from engine on your TB500.
Mine has it too.
Is it problematic in the long run? How can this be resolved?

Best Regards,

Blue Bird Goes Off The Road!

Today, I took Blue Bird out for a 75-km ride on the picturesque East Coast Road [ECR], connecting Chennai and Puducherry [Pondy]. The main purpose was to charge Blue Bird's OE factory-fitted battery, which is perfectly alright now. After 35 km or so on ECR, Blue Bird turned to left towards the Bay of Bengal for beach-riding or sand-cruising or off-roading, maiden attempt for Blue Bird in 1.5 years and me in 60 years. :grin:

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I rode on the beach in the first gear without depressing the clutch lever all along. Only once, Blue Bird got stalled, while taking a sharp turn. Apart from that, we enjoyed the beach-riding or sand-cruising or off-roading. Now that we scored well in our maiden attempt, I would like to take Blue Bird closest to the blue waters, the next time. :)

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After reaching Dalhousie at 1 am on 10 Sep 2016 [Saturday], I took complete rest and didn't visit any places nearby as I had visited them twice a coupla year ago. In the evening, I came down, visited the parking lot at the nearby Dalhousie Club, where my Thunderbird 500 was parked, checked its health and found to be okay. Then, walked to the bus stand in front and enquired with a driver of a HPRTC bus about the running of Killar-Chamba bus service. He replied in negative and informed me that due to bad road conditions, the bus service was stopped since a few days. Only some two-wheelers, LMV and LCV were going on that road. That was the first negative news I received. My tiredness and fatigue did not go away even after a day's complete rest. So, I asked at the hotel reception, whether I could extend my stay by one more day for Sunday. But, I was told that due to weekend rush, they were full. The Kashmir situation also did not improve. With all the negatives surrounding me, I decided to play safe by cancelling any further ride beyond Dalhousie. So, Sach Pass, Cliffhanger Road, Srinagar and Leh were cancelled.


After sumptuous and delicious buffet breakfast on 11 Sep 2016 [Sunday], I left Dalhousie at 10:45 am to Jaipur via Hussainiwala Border near Ferozepur, PB. The ghat road was bad and rough until I reached Pathankot, after which, it was an excellent 4-lane NH upto Amritsar bypass, then onwards, good 2-lane NH with heavy traffic with works in progress on many stretches until I reached Ferozepur.



The heat was unbearable after Pathankot. My lunch comprised 2 glasses of sweet lassi only! When I reached Hussainiwala Border, it was almost 6 pm in the evening after riding 335 km. I parked Thunderbird 500 at the dedicated parking lot, slightly away from the security gate. The parking attendants became curious after seeing the registration number plate of my bird. They volunteered and suggested that I leave all the luggage on the bike itself and they would take care of them since it was already late. With half mind, I left the place after paying the parking fee of ₹ 10, collected the ticket, went to the security gate, entered all my personal details on a register, collected a chit bearing the serial number of my personal details in the register, which I had to hand over when returning and started walking towards the viewers gallery, which was about 1 km from the security gate.







I did not avail of the battery-operated vehicle that transported the needy persons to and fro the viewers gallery. When I arrived at the viewers gallery, the parade just then started. In the confusion, I left my Sony Cybershot camera in the tank bag, which was kept on my bird at the parking lot! :Frustrati So, I clicked the photographs using my phone only.

The Indian viewers gallery was full and jam-packed contrary to the Pakistani side. The India Army personnel controlled the crowd and the over-enthusiastic persons. Any anti-Pak slogan-shouting was immediately put down. An Indian soldier lowered our Tricolour by standing on the Pakistan soil and the Pakistan soldier lowered their national flag by standing on Indian soil! :thumbs up




When I walked back to the parking lot after handing over the chit at the security gate, the attendants came to me and asked to check my belongings kept inside the luggage, which I didn't. I thanked them all and left the place by 7 pm for Jaipur, which was still 500+ km away! I could not visit the nearby National Martyrs Memorial, which marks the location where Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were cremated on 23 March 1931 as it was closed.
Is it problematic in the long run?
No. Not at all. During the servicing, they will seal it.


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I left the parking lot of Hussainiwala Border at 7 pm on 11 Sep 2016 [Sunday]. I had originally planned to stay at Ferozepur, but changed my plans at the parking lot and started riding to Jaipur. My phone-navigator suggested to take the route via GT Road and Rohtak in HR. But, I overruled it and decided to go via Hanumangarh>Sardarshahar>Ratangarh>Sikar. I had driven on the beautiful RIDCOR 2-lane highway earlier from Kishangarh to Hanumangarh. But this time, I will take left turn at Ratangarh and ride via Sikar to Jaipur. The Ratangarh>Sikar>Jaipur section was an excellent 4-lane highway maintained by NHAI. So, I set my phone-navigator with Hanumangarh as the destination and started riding.


At Muktsar, PB, although bypass was available, my phone-navigator guided me through the town for the reasons best known to itself. It was a blessing in disguise. I had my dinner inside the town consisting of plain dosa washed down by masala tea from a road-side vendor and continued my ride. After exiting Muktsar, my bird had a tankful from a Reliance Petro outlet on the the highway. There, I felt sleepy. I told the pump attendants that I would sleep for an hour or so and continue my ride. They suggested that I sleep inside their office, where they had a cot. But, I declined. I parked the bird near their office, spread newspapers on the smooth floor and slept for an hour or so. When I woke up, it was around 10 pm and I was feeling fresh for another stretch of ride.

I rode via Abohar bypass and crossed Hanumangarh, RJ by midnight. From there, the beautiful RIDCOR highway started. Blue Bird had a tankful at Rawatsar, RJ at 1 am, after which, I had a glass of sweet lassi at a dhaba, where some TN truck drivers came to me and started chatting in Tamil after seeing the registration number of my bird! One curious PB LCV driver evinced keen interest on my phone-navigator and asked me to give a demo, which I did by explaining the route as guided by my phone-navigator to Hotel Kalyan, Jaipur from there. He was very happy.

At Ratangarh, I took left turn and rode on the excellent NHAI 4-lane highway to Jaipur. At the early hours of the day, my bird had another tankful at Reliance Petro, Laxmangarh, where I completed my morning ablution in their clean toilet. I was in front of Hotel Kalyan, Jaipur at 7 am. After completing the checking in formalities, unpacking and a shower, I had my breakfast in the hotel and crashed to the bed only to get up in the evening! In the evening, walked to the railway station junction and dined at a bhojanalaya.








3 Sep 2016 [Tuesday], I had to check out at 12 noon. I was in dilemma: how to use the half-day I had before checking out? Servicing the bird or riding to Old City? I decided in favour of the latter and rode out of the hotel by 9 am in the morning to the Old City. I had poori, bhaji costing just ₹ 20 and a glass of lassi for ₹ 20 and visited Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal under scorching sun.





I returned to the hotel, checked out and started my ride to Nagpur at 12:45 pm via Tonk>Kota>Shivpuri>Jhansi>Sagar>Narsinghpur>Chhindwara. I selected this route as it is fully 4-laned NH and I wanted to avoid the notorious Gwalior-Jhansi stretch. En route, I had two glasses of lassi for my lunch. before Tonk, had tea at Kota, got recognized by the petrol pump attendants at BP COCOO, Lalitpur, UP, where the bird had tankful in the up journey, had marie biscuits and nuts for the dinner, rode throughout the night and reached Haldiram's, Shankar Nagar square, Nagpur at 9:45 am. As I reached Nagpur too early to check in, I decided to have my breakfast first and then go to the hotel. I ate idlies and dosa, washed down by sweet lassi and reached The Nagpur Ashok, where I had stayed during my up journey too, at 11 am. This time, I did not remove the luggage from the bird. I took out my tank bag only, which had my undergarments set. I checked in without any problem and after a hot shower, crashed to the bed. In the evening, rode to the same Haldiram's and had my favourite chole bhature and sweet lassi.



On 15 Sep 2016 [Thursday], after a sumptuous and delicious buffet breakfast, started riding out of the hotel at 10:35 am to Bangalore. Rain accompanied us from Adilabad with varying intensity. I passed through Hyderabad between 6:30 and 7:30 pm without any rain directly under the PV Narasimha Rao Expressway as two-wheelers were neither allowed on it nor on the ORR. At Kurnool, it rained cats and dogs for more than an hour. From Anantapur, biting cold greeted us. The attendants at Adilabad Reliance Petroleum outlet recognized me and my bird and enquired about the trip. :thumbs up Blue Bird brought me safely and comfortably to Bangalore Basaveswara Nagar home at 4:25 am on 16 Sep 2016 [Friday].