Saturday, 17 March 2018

Golden Quadrilateral Ride with Benu - the Planning

Golden Quadrilateral Ride with Benu - the Planning
Covering 6,261 kilometres solo in 13 days at a relaxed pace, certainly deserved good hours of planning and preparation. Yes, planning plays a significant role in smooth execution of any trip, and it becomes an absolute necessity when you're rolling on two wheels under a long itinerary. We riders admit it or not, long distance motorcycling in a country like India is a bigger gamble than other modes of transport. Reason is definitely multi-factorial. Being avid motorcycle lovers we can spend hours defending all arguments against motorcycle touring, but that doesn't change the fact that it is relatively riskier. Motorbiking has a tremendous addictive potential. Once your genes express their love towards two wheels it's very unlikely that any word of caution can hold you back. From my personal experience I can vouch, nothing pisses off a rider more than unsolicited advice like- "You should have planned such a long journey on your car". It is perfectly okay if you don't give a shit to voices who fail to fathom your passion, but don't let carelessness get over your head while planning your motorcycle trip.

Sincere planning coupled with basic preparation can drastically mitigate uncertainties associated with motorcycling on Indian highways and help coping up with most least expected situations. Hope you've spent your few minutes in scrolling down my last article on #GQRideWithBenu, where I had narrated about the conception of this Golden Quadrilateral ride. After reading whatever I've penned so far you must be curious to know the meticulous planning I did undertake before executing this great Indian road trip. Would you pardon the procrastinator if I confess- I barely did any homework before executing the #GQRideWithBenu? Ah hold on, this article was not meant to inject you with silly dose of Saturday humour. Despite my apparent indolence in planning, there were few ideas, principles and minor initiatives which I had compiled before the trip and remained rigid to. Those proved to be beneficial and certainly aided in successful completion of the GQ circuit.

Golden Quadrilateral Ride with Benu - the Planning
Golden Quadrilateral Map, prepared by Information Technology and Planning Division of NHAI.
I was quite particular with sticking to:

* No riding after the dusk- I've always been against the idea of night-riding on highways. I can not see what's in front of me once the high beam of a vehicle coming from the opposite end strikes my eyes. Helmet visor (many times coated with a layer of dead sticky insects) worsens the visibility further. Stock headlights are no good once you cross the 60 km/hr mark and I am too orthodox to accessorise Benu (Benelli TNT 600 GT) with auxiliary lights. Unpredictable grooves and potholes are abundant in most of our Indian toll roads which are likely to get missed by your fatigued eyes struggling continuously to maintain their fast auto-focus in dark. So, what's the point of riding post dusk?

* Drafting a feasible itinerary- Average daylight hours in the middle of February was roughly eleven. So, I had to plan my night halts accordingly. Despite good road updates and Benu's ample mile munching capacity I did the right thing by relying on time estimates provided by Google Maps. Trust me, when you're covering 500-800 kilometres everyday you have to come out of your house of cards and embrace the Google's dexterity. If G-Maps is saying you need 11 hours to cover a meagre distance of 500 kilometres then have faith on it. Remember, aching bums, smoke breaks, endless diversions due to never-ending construction works eat away your vehicle's average speed more than you can foresee. Unless you take it as a bloody challenge and boil your blood for the entire day, every time you'll find Google's forecast to be pretty accurate. I had drafted about seven #GQRideWithBenu itineraries before finalising on the one which was published in the official announcement post.

Golden Quadrilateral Ride with Benu - the Planning
Sending the motorcycle to authorised service centre for a thorough check up.
* Carrying only the bare essentials- Although I was travelling solo and had a graveyard of space lurking at my back to accommodate everything I wanted to, it was very important to curb the desire of adding "might come handy" stuffs. Benu is heavier than most of the motorcycles of her category and boasts of a good mass centralisation. Even a pillion weighing hundred kg doesn't make me feel any difference. Tying few kilograms of extra luggage wouldn't have tricked with the riding comfort for sure. Yet, I chose not to carry the world with me. The main luggage comprised a pair of self-made saddle bags (Approx. 30 lit each) which contained bare necessities for the trip- 6 tees, 2 trousers, half dozen of socks, hankies, underwear, a bathing towel ('Gamcha' to be precise), extra pair of riding gloves, few plastic packets, 3 bungee cords with hooks, tubeless tyre repairing kit, a plastic tumbler, spoon, lots of ORS (oral rehydration solution) sachets, Snickers bars, 2 lit of bottled water, a soap, shampoo, deodorant, mosquito repellent, power bank, chargers, my old compact camera (Nikon L120), a mobile phone tripod and the small medicine kit bag. I think nothing got missed out.

* Booking accommodations in advance- Despite my last-minute packing bad habit, I've always been serious with reserving journey tickets and hotel stays in advance. As a backpacker I lookout for budget accommodations and thankfully Booking-dot-com App caters to my need for most of the travel destinations (in India and abroad). In an app you'd end up paying a little more for your stay as the commission amount is added in the hotel tariff, but the relief of getting a comfy room after a tiring day without wastage of further energy in hunting one is way more precious to me. 

Golden Quadrilateral Ride with Benu - the Planning
The main luggage comprised a pair of self-made saddle bags which contained bare necessities for the trip.
Small initiatives taken before commencing the #GQRideWithBenu included:

* Sending the motorcycle to authorised service centre to change the engine oil, replace the oil seals of front suspensions, other routine stuffs and most importantly to ask the service engineer- Is there anything to worry about for the next six thousand kilometres?

* Upgrading from the time-tested crap Vega eclipse open face helmet to the life saving Studds Ninja 3G D2 full face helmet. Wonder why so much praise for the two thousand bucks product of a Desi helmet brand? If you followed my social media updates during the ride you already have the answer. Well, I'll come back to it later.

* The older pair of saddle bags were done with playing their innings fairly well in the past and it was time to stitch a new pair. I took out two identical duffel bags from the storeroom and got them machine-sewed as per my need. Being more compact and robust than the older one, this new pair seemed perfect for my Golden Quadrilateral trip.

* Seeking opinions from fellow travellers regarding my travel plan. Although I'm a bad recipient, there were few travel veterans from various online travel communities who had generously poured their valuable inputs and strengthened my touring flowchart.

Golden Quadrilateral Ride with Benu - the Planning
Upgraded from the crap Vega eclipse open face helmet to the life saving Studds Ninja D2 full face helmet.
Why wasn't I more serious with planning and preparations?

* I was going to cruise through one of the most commercially flourished highway networks of India. My riding route did not contain any remote cold desert or haunted village located faraway from the civilisation. So, what was the point of carrying anxiety giving loads like petrol, shotgun or may be a genie?

* My vehicle is enrolled to the Road Side Assistance. So, even in worst situation I knew there was RSA to watch Benu's back.

* I am blessed to have few amazing friends from various parts of India who had expressed their concerns, good wishes and hospitality throughout my #GQRideWithBenu. Their constant pings and calls never made me feel that I was on a solo ride.  

* I had already been rolling over a pretty rough patch for quite some time. There was nothing (yea, almost) unexpected that could potentially shock me to coma. Travel hiccups were too trivial to get bugged with.

* I am super lazy and this neatly sums up all!

Ah, enough said about the planning, it's time to conclude this post. Next, I'll be briefing you the itinerary, synopsis, experience, Bombay day, Udaipur day, may be a dedicated post on Taj Mahal, and of course the crash. See you soon.


  1. Good one..!! If possible please share me the ITINERARY.. I have been planning the GQ trip for 14 days :D Thanks in advance :)

    1. Hi,
      you may checkout the pre-ride itinerary here:
      I'll publish the actual itinerary (which finally materialised) in the coming blog post. Both are good enough for you to get a preliminary idea how much to space for your 14 days trip.
      Have a blast and share your story after you return :-)

  2. Hi. I am planning GQ in my VW Jetta in 3rd week of April. Is it doable in 9 days. I would be starting from Bangalore. I would be willing to a cut a few stops on the way and deviate from the standard route

    1. Hi Nabil,
      yes, it is very much doable in 9 days with your Jetta.
      Ping me anytime if you have any specific query :-)

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I really appreciate your efforts in exploring my poetry of roads. Thank You!