Bisons Ride To Silvassa

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After an uphill love affair with the Kumbharli ghat in November, it was announced that December would be a more leisurely journey for some much needed rest and recuperation (who would have thought ‘rest and recuperation’ meant riding some more?). The captain assigned to steer us on our journey was Pratik Motta, a.k.a. Toons, and details of what he had planned for us trickled in during the first week of December.

The destination, he announced, would be a town the Portuguese called Vila de Paço d’Arcos (now more commonly known as Silvassa, capital of the Indian Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli). The cause, a voluntary organisation called Shramik Naari Sangh (Sa-Ni-Sa) working for the empowerment of underprivileged women in India. For the uninitiated, every ride by Bisons Ride Hard is mandatorily associated with a cause chosen by the captain of that ride. Members are invited to raise awareness through the simple act of sharing posts on their social networks. Any additional support, financial or otherwise, is purely voluntary.

The itinerary was as follows:
Location: Silvassa, Lotus Resort
Ride Captain: Pratik Motta a.k.a. Toons
Dates: 14th and 15th December 2013
Approximate ride cost per person: 2000 / – (includes Rs.100 as contribution towards club development, stay and all meals)
Assembly: 6:30am at Hotel Fountain, Ghodbandar road.
Activities planned: Lion Safari, Deer Park, Butterfly Park and Paddle Boating.
Distance: Approximately 140kms one-way.

Route Map

The response was unprecedented, with registrations for the ride closing in just 48 hours. Fifty-five people had signed up, the largest yet for any ride so far. It was a healthy mix of old and new riders, guaranteeing that there would be plenty of new faces to meet and enough old hands to ensure things go like clockwork.

Time flew by and the day of the ride was swiftly upon us, a mail having gone out the previous night containing a set of pre-ride guidelines and a reminder to carry swimming trunks. The temperature in Mumbai had dipped over the past few days, something every rider was made amply aware of as they made their way towards the starting point. Thankfully, cups of piping hot tea awaited us as we assembled. The pre-ride briefing was given and numbers assigned to each rider, a system devised to ensure that the pace is set by the new riders while the experienced ones can keep a watchful eye.

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Alas, no sooner were we lining up to leave that one of the bikes refused to start. A quick inspection revealed that the spark plug was malfunctioning and a spare wasn’t on-hand for that particular model. Paaji reiterated the importance of carrying spares and being personally present when the bike is being serviced before a ride, a message that was directed at all who were present to heed and obey. The matter was quickly resolved, with a repair being unfeasible (and the location safe to leave a bike behind) the biker in question would ride pillion on another bike, and we were all set to depart once again.

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NH8 proved to be a brilliant, four-lane, highway that both new and experienced riders found easy to handle and a pleasure to cruise on. The unendingly straight stretches of tarmac were a welcome break from the winding ghats that the Bisons normally loved to tackle – a leisure ride indeed.

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After about an hour we approached our halfway point, Hotel Mastan located on NH8 at the Manor underpass.

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We were served up a delicious breakfast of kheema / omelette with pav or puri bhaji for the vegetarians. The food proved to be lip-smacking and rare was the rider who did not take a second (or third!) helping.

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A short rest break was in order so the food could happily settle, during which Paaji and Toons finished collecting money from members who were yet to pay.

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Soon the highway was once again filled with the thumping sounds of the Bisons as we sped swiftly towards our final destination, Lotus Resorts. The journey was largely uneventful, with only a small patch of bad road to deal with as we entered Silvassa. By noon, we were there.

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The rooms were quickly allocated by Paaji and Toons so we could freshen up before lunch.

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Once everyone came back down, two surprises were in order. The first being, absolutely wonderful, boxes of chocolates courtesy the amazing women over at Shramik Naari Sangh (Sa-Ni-Sa). Every piece was unabashedly relished and a promise made to order more for future occasions. The second surprise was a bottle of beer for each member to go with the lunch that awaited.

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During lunch, Paaji announced a new format by which new members would be welcomed. He invited the old members to talk about their experiences and life in the club. The stories shared were quite enlightening, giving aspiring Bisons a glimpse of the club DNA and what would be expected of them if they decided to join.

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Post-lunch, everyone was left to their own devices. Some chose to take a swim in the pool, while others had a quick nap or joined an impromptu singing session.

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As night approached, tables and chairs were set out on a lawn for the club and aspiring Bisons were invited to introduce themselves (and share their zodiac signs).

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And, as is custom, there was cake for Bisons who had birthdays coming up/that had just gone by.

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Paaji then gave his feedback on what he felt went wrong during the ride, an exercise which people are asked to take in good spirit and try to improve upon their mistakes. The feedback primarily dealt which the need to stay in formation, not hindering other motorists on the road and rider etiquette (never pass other vehicles from the left).
The rest of the night was spent merrymaking and getting to know one another, many a song was sung to the tune of a guitar till the wee hours of the next morning.

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A small number of bikes left for Mumbai at the crack of dawn owing to personal commitments that had to be met. The rest of us check-out by 8:30am and got ready for the activities Toons had planned for the day.

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Our first stop was a deer park, where the Bisons had to disembark from their bulls and board two Jeeps in batches of 16.

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Sighting these majestic creatures up close was well worth the visit and wait.

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The next stop for the day was a Lion Safari. Albeit, we were informed there was only one lioness to see as the lion had passed away recently. Nonetheless, the sight of her lazing under the shade of a tree was still quite awe-inspiring. The park authorities are supposedly working on getting her another mate from the Gir wildlife sanctuary.

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Factoring in the time taken, it was decided to stop for a quick tea-break and then head back to Mumbai. We encountered a lot more traffic on our return journey as it was Sunday and we weren’t the only ones heading back to home. Still, there were no issues and everyone made it back to Hotel Fountain on schedule.

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Awaiting us at the end of our journey were more lessons to be learnt, as many a mistake was made on the return journey. Paaji explained the need for discipline and following the rules of the road to ensure that everyone reaches their destination. Post-which came the celebrations, each one of us received a sticker to proudly display on our helmets as a mark of achievement. Many thanks were extended to Toons, who worked hard to make sure the ride would be perfect from the word go. Indeed, it was the first time that anyone had organized activities at the destination – when normally it’s the journey that a bike remembers.

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Once again, thanks Toons for the incredible weekend. I’m sure I can speak for all of us when I say this was a ride we will never forget.

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GhostAdityaBison

Aditya is a left-field thinking, motorcycle tinkering, eater of everything, copywriter. His Royal Enfield Classic 500 UCE has seen over 22,000kms of tarmac as of December 2013, and he has loved every bit of the journey so far.