For The Record

Today someone planning to break the record for riding along the Golden Quadrilateral asked for advice on a Facebook group. Since I had ridden this network of highways I offered this piece of advice.

“I rode the GQ on my Harley-Davidson Fat Boy in Jan 2015. Not to break any record. Did it nice and easy in 14 days. Took the time out to experience the states I was riding through and spend time with people.

First off, I think you are doing this at the worst possible time of the year. Winter is the best time for long distance travel in India.

But if you must do this now then I recommend you pay very close attention to the highways on NH 2 (Delhi to Kolkata). Due to the high temperatures that this region faces the tar on the road melts and heavy trucks end up creating ruts in the right lane. These ruts can be quite deep, about 4 inches from the trough to the crest. They appear and disappear abruptly. If you are tailing a bus or a truck you can suddenly find your self in them without prior warning because you can’t see ahead.

If you do land in a rut you need to make a clean break. Keep both tyres in the rut till you find a point where the rut lessens in depth and then take a sharp exit to come out completely. Otherwise your bike with slide back into the rut and may go out of control.

Often you need to do this at 80+ kmph because there is fast moving traffic tailing you.

Whatever you do, remember that there are people waiting for you at home. All the best.”

After I hit the post button, I started thinking about these motorcycle endurance records and challenges like Iron Butt. The current record for the Golden Quadrilateral is held by a dentist called Arnob Gupta who rode close to 6,000 kms in 92 hours and 30 mins. That’s less than four days. I took fourteen. Read this article to know what he went through to break the previous record.

Here is what I think. I like it when people push themselves to do something challenging. As they say, get out of their comfort zone. Some also put their lives in danger to achieve something that they will feel proud of till the day they die. I have done my fair share of mildly stupid things as well.

People die trying to finish the Dakar rally. People die trying to scale mountains and stuff. While it’s sad for their families, these people know what they signed up for. They and their families understood that disaster could be a possible outcome. So I’m actually ok with all this. I often hit the like button on Facebook posts showing videos of these people doing stuff I would never dare to even if someone put a gun to my head.

What I don’t like is people doing stupid stuff that involves others who didn’t sign up for their nonsense. A good example would be riding the Golden Quadrilateral in 92 hours and 30 minutes. Another would be trying to beat that record. I have ridden that route and I know exactly the kind of mayhem that goes on those highways. There are hardly any pedestrian crossings with signs and signals. People and cattle walk across at will. There is no way you can ride a motorcycle for that long a distance, for that less a time and not put other people’s lives in danger. I’m really not bothered about your life. You have put it on the line anyways. I’m worried that some poor Indian family will lose their only bread earner because you broke all speed limits and a bunch of safety laws all because you wanted your name on a record.

If you really want to be famous or challenge yourself, go take part in a rally. Take your bike on a track and twist the throttle to your heart’s content. Ride your motorcycle through a jungle on a difficult trail. But whatever you do, do it away from the general population. You have no right to ruin someone else’s family. Just for a record.