After experiencing village life for a day, I thought of heading straight to Kutch On the 3rd of October without wasting more time. Bhuj was roughly 350 kms away and I was glad to be doing that distance after long time. Major towns in Gujarat are closely connected hence no ride really seems like a long one.
With the aim to leave by 7 AM, I left the small village of Bhadthar at 8 AM and sped towards Jamnagar. My speed faced hurdles due to poorly maintained roads but fortunately, the people of Jamnagar are used to waking up late so the rush hour traffic wasn’t really bothersome. The aim was to make it out of Jamnagar on before 9.30 and then have breakfast- which was slightly difficult to find that early 😛
By 10.30, breakfast was done and then arrived a couple of deviations ahead. Despite having GPS routed to Bhuj, I took a wrong turn and found myself on a muddy trail that lasted for about half an hour. Under the scorching Gujarat heat, I felt like riding in an oven and my sport suspension setup made things worse. The sigh of smooth tarmac was a glorious one where I maintained three digit speeds to keep my body cool.
The roads got better and I maintained consistency until I crossed Malia and the Loo caught on. With plains on either side I had to maintain speed to stay dry and cool and as the clock struck one, the heat was at its peak. Global Warming was doing its job as I didn’t expect mercury to hit 37 Degrees Celcius on the third day of October.
I stopped at a restaurant for some dal chawal and 2 glasses of buttermilk. Fortunately, the restaurant was air conditioned so I took a good one hour to chill before continuing the ride. 80 kms before Bhuj, I was crossing the town of Bhachau where I encountered the most annoying railway crossing ever witnessed by me. With no wind blowing through my riding gear, I sat there on my hot motorcycle in traffic at 39 degrees centigrade, waiting for a goods train to pass. The radiator fan on my Duke remained on all the time with 95 degrees celcius of heat under the seat, all trickling through the gaps and onto my thighs. Fearing a high coolant temperature warning, I switched the motorcycle off and found some peace.
It took about 10 minutes since the train was extremely slow due to a signal ahead. I breathed a sigh of relief when it had passed and put my helmet back on again, ready for those gates to open. But they didn’t. I was made to wait for another seven minutes after which another goods train passed by, slowly. The water I kept drinking from my hydration bladder didn’t help. It was as if some one was immersing me in a vaccum chamber. All I wanted was the air to whoosh at my body and face. A lot of my energy had drained in that 25 minute stop in the heat.
Once the gates had opened, I got aggressive with the throttle in a busy town and covered many, many miles until reaching the town of Bhuj by 5 PM. I was slightly relieved because a cold shower could have been minutes away but the big task of finding a good hotel with suitable parking was pending. A hotel room was arranged by my policeman friend Foga Bhai but parking was an issue there. Some calls were made and after roaming about almost aimlessly in the city- I found a hotel called Prince Residency with GOOD parking for my motorcycle, great ambience, decent location as it was on the highway to the white desert and most importantly- a room that looked cozy and cool!
The price was a little on the higher side but on that day, that extra bit of comfort was needed. This heat was different unlike anything I had experienced before. My desert ride to Rajasthan in June 2015 too was much more bearable and fun. The Gujarat heat was more humid and intense though and it felt like I shouldn’t be taking it too lightly. I planned my travels accordingly in the region for the next two days after standing under the cold shower for half an hour.
The ride to the white desert the next day was unlike anything I had imagined before.
P.S. Speaking of this hot experience, though I found it to be annoying and extremely uncomfortable, not once did I think of backing out and heading back. Whatever it was, I wanted to do it. There are bad days and there are good days. Motorcycle travels are not always nice and social and enlightening as it is portrayed usually. There are boring moments, hot moments, annoying moments and many other unpleasant moments you didn’t sign up for. It is definitely different from the common notion of a Utopian escapade that a lot of people think it is. If you’re doing it for yourself, you’ll continue to do it no matter what.