Doing things that have never been done before has always been the way we roll at evo India. Which explains what we were doing with three bikes at the zero stone in Nagpur at half past four in the morning . It is the geographic centre of India and it’s marked by the zero stone. The idea of the Coastal Challenge is that three teams start at the centre and make their way to the extremities of peninsular India; trick is, each team has to finish their respective legs in under 24 hours. Team West will be heading to the coastline at Daman, team East to Mandarmani and team South to Kanyakumari – the latter nearly 1800 km away. And we were doing this to celebrate not just evo India’s second anniversary but the first anniversary of Benelli in India. Our mission: to see how well three different bikes from Benelli’s range – the TNT 300, 600i and 600 GT – would fare against the best and worst India could throw at it. Armed with support cars and back up riders our teams set off for the ride of a lifetime, against the clock.
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.
I had to say it. I had to be my old self. 1200 clicks 24 hours, “piece of cake, Sirish”. Or so I thought. The task at hand was to complete the eastern leg of the DSK-Benelli Coastal Challenge, from the zero stone at Nagpur to Mandarmani which is a beach on the east coast near Kolkata. On paper it sounded easy enough, having done a similar ride from Kolkata to Pune only a few months ago. That was 3200km, without a backup rider, without a support car. In comparison this sounded like a Sunday morning ride.
As you mite 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.