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Response Feature

Team South: Benelli coastal challenge

By Team Evo India

Published on :

Words: Benjamin Gracias

Photography: Sathya M

As you might have guessed the South leg of the DSK-Benelli Coastal Challenge is going to be a tough nut to crack. A combined distance of over 1800km in 24 hours will need average speeds in excess of 75kmph which might not
sound like much but if you take into account the number of fuel stops, food and loo breaks and factor in night riding, you’re looking at a very different ballgame.

Team South: Benelli coastal challenge


The route takes us from the zero milestone towards Hyderabad and onwards to Bangalore and thereon towards Madurai for the final home stretch of Kanyakumari. The ride out of Nagpur is a single carriageway riddled with potholes and continues to be so, right up to the Maharashtra – Andhra Pradesh border. Nature decided to throw a curveball at us with a wall of mist covering more than 10km of our way and with visibility of only 20 feet, leaving us no choice but to drop speeds to 30kmph. Still we are able to cover more than 300km by 9.30am.

Team South: Benelli coastal challenge


Once we cross the state border into Andhra Pradesh, the road conditions vastly improve. Fourlaned arrow straight highways that go on endlessly have us devour miles at quite a rapid clip. And then the rain hits us. Torrential, stop-you-dead-in your-tracks, kind of rain. Oh and did I mention gale force winds? Roshan decides to brave these
conditions, gets his rain gear on and rides out into the storm. Confidence or hopeless bravado, I can’t fathom but I can make out from the way he is keeping up the speed that he trusts the capabilities of the 600GT.

Team South: Benelli coastal challenge



A rider change after Hyderabad and Sampat gets in the saddle. And he’s off, tearing down the ruler-straight highway that connects the city. Again we hit rain and again the DSKBenelli rider soldiers on. We reach Bangalore by 10 in the night and it’s time for me to get in to the saddle.

Team South: Benelli coastal challenge


Google Maps shows Kanyakumari beach some 600km away with the estimated time of arrival at 8am, well past our target of 6am. I am instantly at home on the 600GT thanks to its accessible and upright riding position and a smooth linear motor that you are instantly at sync with. It’s time to push the envelope and here is where a large capacity bike shines – the ability to cruise at triple digit speeds all night long. I am able to keep up speeds of 120- 140kmph and that’s only because the support car can’t push any harder. By the time we reach the first toll booth, Google Maps puts our estimated time of arrival at 7.30am. With more than 500km to go, we need to make a decision; count our losses and complete the ride or trust in the 600 GT’s capability and leave the support car behind, just me and the bike. I decide to follow Dipayan’s advice, “Always take the decision that would make for the best story.” Heck, you only live once.

Team South: Benelli coastal challenge



So I set off. Helmet tucked into the fairing, throttle nailed to the stop, edging speeds of … erm I can’t tell you. The brilliant roads are infested with truckers but the main beam of the GT is so bright that the truckies notice me
and pull over, as they would for any car. I’m also relieved the GT handles well as I attack corners at speeds in excess
of 120kmph. The support car is way behind now.

Team South: Benelli coastal challenge


And then rain drops appear on my helmet visor. I say a silent prayer for no rains as it will delay my progress and
all hope will be lost. It works and I just have to contend with wet roads. Soon enough, I reach the next toll. Madurai is 120km away and after that the roads are mostly clear. The estimated time of arrival has dropped to 7am.
The roads after Madurai are devoid of traffic but the wind has picked up and at 150kmph you are fighting a gale force. Riding for a long period of time, in such conditions, takes its toll and the back and neck start to ache as
you’re constantly resisting the side winds. It’s four in the morning and we still have 200km to go when Roshan takes the saddle. Will he make it? He leaves us behind and takes off. At 5.57am we receive a call from Kanyakumari.
Roshan and the 600GT have done it. We have completed the epic challenge with three minutes to spare. Half an hour later, hot filter coffee in our hands, we catch a spectacular sunrise at the southernmost tip of India. The
tough nut has been cracked.

Team South: Benelli coastal challenge