It all started with my first long ride on my Benelli 600i to India Bike Week- Goa, in February 2016. I was one of the first few Benelli owners in Hyderabad and part of the Hyderabad Benelli Owners Group, called “HBO” for short.
I started off with 16 other fellow bikers and we were accompanied by a mini-truck, which was carrying our luggage and also mechanics to assist bikers in case of any breakdown. We thought this was a foolproof solution and were unmindful that the road ahead had a lot of challenges. We had a Leader who was leading the way and a Sweeper at the back to ensure no rider is missed out.
Despite all these safeguards, it was a big challenge for the Leader and Sweeper to keep the pack together. The first half of the group had to constantly stop to ensure the group is together. To my bad luck, at one junction I was misled to a different road and on seeing an open road, I just sped away thinking the group would catch up. To my surprise, after a few kilometers, I realized there was no one behind me. I turned around and rode a few kilometers only to realise that I was the only one on that road. Even if people were trying to reach me over mobile, I wouldn’t have realized as my phone was tucked away in my backpack, as I did not have the equipment to place my phone on the bike where it would be visible.
After a short while, I could see my gang waiting for me and I breathed a sigh of relief. It took us 18 hours to ride to Goa, which was traumatic considering it was the first long ride for all of us.
This was not the end of our troubles. As the group was returning to Hyderabad, we unfortunately split into two. Both groups were heading in complete opposite directions and unable to connect or place where the other group was and to add to it, one of our fellow bikers who was diabetic had an upset stomach. To our misery, the truck was with the other group and our injured soldier could not rest. Our Leader wanted to take us through another route, but I was hell-bent on getting back to the group, as it was safe for all of us to be together. The leader along with another rider just abandoned six of us and left. This is when I came to the fore and led the pack safely back to our group.
This confusion caused us an additional 5 hours of riding, amounting to 23 hours. Phew! You can imagine what would have happened to us. Exhaustion, sleep riding, riding in the dark on the highway; these are all the ingredients that were taking us on the road to an impending disaster. However, I guess GOD was merciful and we hadn’t encountered a flat tyre or any mishap.
I realised then that we cannot always leave it to fate and this marked the beginning of my riding and stories.