And so, we steeled our will and headed for Mumbai. We reached Mumbai on March 2. The first 20 days were a flurry of visiting folks and friends across the country. This was not an easy decision. As a couple we have always planned our moves for the future. Putting a pause to my 20 year career for a 100 day ride, complete uncertainty about what was to happen thereafter was not typical of our behaviour; nor was it typical for us to push-in such a huge lot of our hard earned savings for a 100 day adventure. But we were committed – we had to do this no matter what. Sometimes the toughest battles are fought within – and it is during this period that Anu and I realised what it actually meant.
“I have never had a penchant for jewellery or other expensive things”, Anu said,” let’s assume this would have been an amount we spent over the 16 years of our marriage towards such whims”, she rationalized. Yet, it was one of our hardest decisions – to embrace the uncertainty and trust that things will work out right eventually.
It was now the third week of March when we could finally focus solely on the ride project – and we began in real earnest. We had to start from scratch: defining the motorbike that would be our steed for the long journey. We camped at Mumbai, focused on research and burnt the figurative midnight oil trying to compare reviews, specifications and pricing. This was interspersed by multiple visits to motorbike showrooms across the city. Finally, a picture emerged. After multiple test rides and lots of soul-searching, there emerged two options – the Triumph Boneville and the Ducati scrambler.
Both were light, powerful and reliable. Being European brands, they had a strong network of aftersales service but by nature they were very different. The Bonnie was suave, predictable, well balanced and just right for a long ride. It had enough reserves to power us both along with our luggage through the long distance. It sounded sweet, was well behaved and looked stable and comfortable.
The Ducati Scrambler was raw, edgy and temperamental. Twist the throttle a notch over and not only does she scream back, she also bucks like a bronc. It looked sporty, mean and yet it was this slight hint of madness that appealed to us both. On March 31 we brought her home; the next day she was registered at the Pune RTO; a special bike deserves a special number… ours proudly bore MH12 NY 1001.
It took us a week to get to the 1000 km mark and the first servicing. Meanwhile, there was much to be done to prep up the bike for the long road ahead – right from the fabrication of the luggage carrier system for carrying our saddlebags and a rear extension for an additional clawbag down to the bash plates, fork protection oil guard as well as axle guards.
While the bike was getting ready, we were working hard on several other areas: the route research, planning the luggage strategy for the long trip ahead as well managing the necessary documentation for the trip. We worked 16-18 hour days at a stretch continuously for weeks. Slowly but surely the project took shape.
The motorbike registration papers came through sooner than expected; this was followed by the Carnet document from the Western India Automobile Association (WIAA) and then followed the documentation and export clearances from the port and shipping authorities and coordination with the clearing agents for the bike export. It was on May 2 – exactly 2 months from the day we touched down into India – that the motorbike was crated and put into the container now headed for its 25 day long journey to Valencia, Spain. We heaved a sigh of relief and dug our heels to push harder for research and route finalization as well as the final touches to our journey plan.
The anxiety finally subsided as we heard the pilot announce – “Ladies and gentlemen welcome to Valencia”. It was replaced by the exhilaration of a long pending dream finally coming to life, to reality. We looked at each other, a sense of accomplishment and content radiated from our faces. We stepped out to a beautiful sunny day; Spain is on! Dosti on Wheels is ready to roll.