Magical Journey as Bullet Riders come to life

Bullet Riders !!
4:15 a.m. – the alarm rings and 7 people get out of their beds in different parts of Bangalore. 5 a.m. one group meets at Adiga’s on Bannerghatta road, and at 6 a.m. the bunch gathers outside Orion Mall on Raj Kumar road, Malleshwaram. 6 Bullets, 1 Harley make up the group called Bullet Riders.
Anand’s Desert Storm in the foreground
This ride started out because Anand had recently got delivery of his Desert Storm after waiting for nearly a year. The idea of the ride was picked up by others and we ended up with a group of 7.
From there we head out on Tumkur road just as the Sun peeps out. The toll road is quite quiet. We get a decent run up to the turn off for Nelamangala. As we turn off the Tumkur road we see that we have lost a few of our fellow riders. In spite of monitoring headlights in my rear-view mirror, I did not realize when I missed them. As it turns out they were a little way behind and had missed the first turn to get on to Tumkur road itself. The whole underpass thing near Metro Cash and Carry is a little tricky, which led to the missed turn.
Nevertheless we regrouped there and were on our way on to the magical road so innocuously called SH74. For us it is now the equivalent of the Yellow Brick Road, a magical route.
The Ride starts in earnest once we leave Nelamangala
Nelamangala was just waking up and we helped them shake their stupor by roaring through the little town. Shortly out of the town you need to turn right and that’s where the magic begins. It was the same road I had been on before but having 6 headlights in my rear-view mirror accompanying me all the way, completely transformed the road ahead as well.

Some pointers for riding in a group (not that we followed it all the way of course  ) 

  • A group ride has a ride captain who leads the group but also needs to clear the way (In India we mostly do this by honking loudly at errant traffic!) 
  • The ride needs to have a designated sweeper/ tail, who ensures that no one gets left behind. 
  • Ride as a group, so in case of any problems or any other reason to stop you can all stop without leaving someone behind.
  • Use hand signals whether to ride in twos formation or to ride one behind the other while weaving through traffic 
  • Keep your lights on, it helps to communicate with each other and  to distinguish group bikes in the rear-view mirror from other bikes 
  • Lights are kept on in high beam not only to inform other riders but also to warn oncoming traffic that there is group of fast and powerful motorcycles coming their way and that they need to clear the way. 
  • Ride safe, always 

    I will make a separate post using a group riding tips by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation – thanks again to Atul for sharing that.

    It also takes time for a group to get comfortable with each other and to begin relying on each other. I thought we were getting there towards the end of our first ride together.

    The early morning light, sleepy villages and a lovely undulating road made for a fantastic ride. Among our
    Riding through sleepy villages

    group was Atul an ardent photographer who rides with his camera slung around his neck and takes photos on the move. He took some awesome pictures of the ride, some of which are used here, all credit to him for the photography of course.

    We rode through the fantastic curves that the road has to offer, all 7 of us moving in synch with the curves of the road. It is something else to be riding in a group of bikers, beats the solo or even the 2-3 people rides anytime.
    Nandi Hills Line up !
    We reached the Nandi Hills climb and took a break there to pose for some photos. We then rode up to the top of the Hill and took another short break before heading right back down. It was all about the journey and not the destination for us. We were least interested in the hill, which already had a lot of people on it. We were most interested in the road that got us there and would get us back.
    On the slope we also came across a number of cyclists and runners who were also up at the crack of dawn to pursue their passions much like the Bullet riders.  
    === 

    About the bikes and riders – 
    Atul’s straight handle bar
    There were 3 black classic 500s in the group (Atul, Shalin and mine) and each of them was made different by the respective owners. You have seen a description of mine on the other pages here. A quick description of the other two. Atul’s bike had a modified silencer, which he got from a garage in Koramangala. The silencer not only gave the bike an amazing roar, it also gave some serious power boost to the bike. He has also got a straight and raised handlebar. This makes the bike more stable and significantly improves the riding posture. He has also changed the front wheel to get greater stability. I rode his bike briefly and it felt like a different bike to the 500.
    Shalin, the other 500 classic in the group, has changed the front seat, replacing the original with a custom made seat he got in Delhi, this makes the riding position about 5 inches lower than the standard one. He also has raised handlebars. This makes the overall riding posture very good by automatically making the back straight.
    Shalin’s low seating
    Both of these are options to consider, will be implementing some of it on my bike shortly too.
    Other than these there was the Bullet 500 ER (Robert), a classic 350 (Bipin -another ardent photographer in the group) and a desert storm (Anand). These three were left un-tampered by their owners unlike the above three. 🙂

    Besides these we had one super low Harley (Amit) in the group while going and on the way back we had an Iron 883 (Nikhil) join us as well. These Harleys are now integrated in to the Bullet riders group. 
    === 

    On the way back from the top of the hill we stopped over at a local restaurant for some good old bread omelet. We met with Nikhil (the Iron 883 mentioned above) here; he was keen on joining a group which would go for short rides around Bangalore. So he (and his friend) joined our little motley crew which made us a team of 9 people.
    The Brotherhood of Bikers
    We took the same route back; it was such a lovely road with green tree cover most of the way and very little big vehicle traffic that we had just fallen for it. There is one spot on the road where it splits in to two for a bit to make space for a temple and then curves around what looks like an artificial lake. Magical. On the way back there were more snaps and stops as we neared Tumkur road.
    The NICE Run
    Most of us were returning to south Bangalore and took the NICE expressway. It was a very good run on the NICE with the Harleys and the Bullets all clocking between 100 to 120 kph for most of the way. We did not keep formation after the first few minutes of course and the group got a bit strung out, but the run was fantastic, it felt very good to keep at a good pace for a longish stretch of time.
    At the Bannerghatta turn off, it was time to say bye to the others and head home after having completed a relatively short by extremely memorable ride!
    200 Kms in all starting at 5 am and back home before 11 am – we had a super kick-start for the weekend and did not steal too much time from the family !

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