last Friday evening, my friend martin called me asking the directions to nashik.
6 hours later, I was on my way there.
in the 3 years that I've been riding, I guess I've always had my fear of riding in the rain. I used to also have a slight fear of night riding, but that was right at the very start of my riding life.
at 5:30 am that Saturday morning, the sun was far from making its appearance. nor were the rains (it had been pouring for atleast 8 straight hours around home) any nearer from going anywhere.
so I got on the road, armed with my now-aging helmet (that let's rain in from the gap between it and the visor), and my windcheater that was never intended to be waterproof.
5 minutes later, I realized how freaky a task I had set for myself. and so I said to myself, while squinting through starbursts of oncoming high-beams through a rain-streaked visor: night-riding is fun, rain-riding is okay...but night-riding in the rain? never again!
little did I know.
the ride to nashik was fun (martin was late, so I spent 45 minutes standing at the highwayside, soaking my already-soaked bones - and he arrived right after the sun, but that's another story). chai and a breakfast of super-fresh jalebis (so fresh that they were crunchy!) primed us, and the next bite we had was lunch in nashik.
the plan was to ride to bhandardhara on our way from nashik, but post-lunch laziness got the better of us and we decided to drop that leg of the itinerary.
so finally, we set off homeward from nashik at 5:30 pm.
a 4-5 hour ride with an hour left for twilight.
and so, the inevitable happened: it started raining right after the sun set.
in fact it was hard to tell if the sun had set, riding as we were, through clouds inside kasara ghat with barely 10 metres visibility (and by visibility I mean being able to determine the presence of a vehicle ahead by its tail-lights).
right as we set off from nashik, I felt the urge to pee, but kept myself going, chasing the sunset.
by the time the sun set, I was so firmly planted on my trusty bike's seat, that I didn't even feel the need to push myself to keep going.
and as dusk faded into darkness, I was gradually brought face-to-face with my recently declared enemy.
I wouldn't say that I've conquered it completely, but I've realized that I'm at the point where night-riding in heavy rain is fun.
it's an amazing feeling, when your senses are so tuned that in the haze of rain-occluded headlights and oncoming high-beams, you can still see a tiny frog jumping across the road.
that was the beauty of the ride. and it was an awesome feeling.
oh and some interesting things I learned on the ride:
the best way to use the helmet visor is half-down: it protects your eyes from rain, and still gives you a dipper-style field of view.
watch your rearview: vehicles overtaking are my biggest fear. I think I focused more on my rearview than the road! especially because you've slowed down, and 4 wheelers on the road somehow get a kick out of speeding even more. scary.
beware of the blind spot: don't know about other bikes, but my bike's rearview mirrors have a blind spot on either side...and the blind spot is dangerously nearby. what I do is, wait atleast 10 seconds after signaling a lane change, and slow down a bit before switching lanes.
follow a big vehicle: pick a decently fast-moving bus that can be recognized from far away, and stay near it. don't tail it (I've had way too many near-misses to even consider it!), but stay in the same lane. you don't have to worry much about fast vehicles cutting you off when you're behind a big bus :)
don't bother overtaking: seriously. don't even bother. just keep your eyes on the rearview.
anyway, it was the ride of a lifetime. looking forward to doing many, many, more!