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Response Feature

Team West: Benelli coastal challenge

By Team Evo India

Published on :

Words: Aatish Mishra

Photography: Vikrant Date

I’ll be honest with you. Our leg of the journey was never going to be difficult. 875km in 24 hours? We’d complete it if we averaged 36kmph! We knew we had a relatively easy ride ahead of us (compared to team South and team East, at least) and could maintain a healthy speed without compromising on food, photographs or sleep.

Team West: Benelli coastal challenge


So we cheated slightly. It was exactly 6am when we flagged off at the zero mile marker at Nagpur. Off went Dipayan, hurtling towards Mandarmani on the 600i. Roshan from DSK-Benelli wasn’t wasting any time either. Hopping on to the 600GT, he and the rest of team South ploughed down the road towards Hyderabad. They needed to make as much time as they could before the day’s traffic slowed them down. Meanwhile, team West went back to the hotel and took a little nap (we didn’t tell the other teams, of course). It was half past seven when we left the hotel and made our way out of Nagpur.

Team West: Benelli coastal challenge


The roads between Nagpur and Amravati are absolutely glorious— four lanes of buttery smooth tarmac specked with long sweeping bends that you don’t need to roll off the throttle for. Traffic was light and we managed to cover ground rather quickly, giving Vikrant plenty of time to work his magic with his camera, and giving me plenty of time to enjoy some chai and poha. We were on the TNT300, the smallest bike of the lot, but by no means less engaging. Perfectly at home on the highway, the in-line twin making 37.7bhp feel the most comfortable when it’s being revved hard. I was having a ball of a time but Nikhil and Sandeep, my fellow riders, were itching to have a go as well.

Nikhil took over at around 10:30am, a few kilometres after Amravati and as soon as he got on to the bike, the road narrowed down to a single-carriageway with heavy truck traffic to boot. He wasn’t happy at all and progress had slowed down considerably. While the bike was nimble enough to weave through the traffic, it had to halt at regular intervals and wait for the support car to catch up. And things were about to get much worse. Just after Akola, we hit a massive traffic jam and there was a pile-up of trucks which stretched for miles. Nikhil went ahead on the bike to see what had happened. Turns out, a tanker filled with fuel had turned turtle and had blocked the road – that’s the thing with India, everything is just so unpredictable. It was 12:30pm when we got through but progress was still slow owing to the narrow roads.

Team West: Benelli coastal challenge


It was around 3pm when Sandeep took over from Nikhil. With more than 470km to go and the roads not getting any better, we were getting worried. This was taking much longer than we expected. When we stopped for a late meal (you can’t really call it lunch) somewhere after Jalgaon, it was already 5pm. A meal of dal and bhakris had to suffice
and we were back on the road. The sun was setting now and we wanted to cover as much ground as we could before darkness set in but the conditions wouldn’t permit it and by the time we hit Dhule, it was dark.

Team West: Benelli coastal challenge

Sandeep had been riding for a while now, and even though he wanted to carry on, I took over. I don’t know if it was just sheer luck or whether the riding gods were being extra kind to me, but as soon as we passed Dhule and got on to the road to Malegaon, it widened up into a beautiful four-lane highway. Throttle to the stop we put in a solid 150km without a break and by 10:30pm crossed the tiny gate that separates Gujarat and Maharashtra. Nikhil took over here and immediately we hit thick fog. Visibility was so poor that we were driving blind, using only the car’s navigation
system to predict the road ahead. The bike was forced to trail the car, just to be safe. Sitting in the back of the car, speeds having dropped to a crawl, lulled me to sleep.

Team West: Benelli coastal challenge


Next thing I know, we are in Daman! Vikrant is setting up his tripod and the boys are lounging around on a jetty. I glance at my watch and it is 2am! We had made it, with four hours to spare. It had taken much longer than anticipated thanks to poor roads and expectedly, unexpected traffic congestion. But team West had the DSK Benelli Coastal Challenge under its belt and the TNT 300 had come through with shining colours.