A constant hunger of doing a solo journey lingered in my mind for months. Never had the courage to take that plunge and feel the essence of it. There were days, people around me used to ask or say “you are crazy”, “are you serious?”, “why can’t you go in group?”, just get married and forget all such crazy ideas, why wasting money?, whats there in Rann of Kutch?, etc., whenever i thought of doing such. But i always had my parents encouragement, without their support, this memoir wouldn’t have happened. While i was planning to do Sandakphu trek along with Sikkim visit during September-October months of 2016, i also had a vague idea about visiting Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. Having read few articles about it on internet, my attention was slowly dragged towards it by the vast beautiful landscape.
I always wanted to do Bike ride on a cross-country. Yet, my unpreparedness also made me to take back foot on such plans all the while. With Sikkim bike ride plans almost going down the drain due to fellow riders not available and me not so daring enough to take up such a remote landscape exploration, i started to concentrate on the west india – Gujarat. Discussed with manager about the leave plans and getting it approved was not a very difficult task, thanks to him. Thus, i started to book the flight and train tickets.
The initial draft version of my itinerary was decided to do only White Rann, bhuj, mandvi, Lakhpat, Ahmedabad places. Upon further research, Lilltle Rann of Kutch, Dolaviria also came into picture, later dropped dolaviria due to no interest in archeological places. Hence the second draft was also prepared in no time, yet i was skeptical about doing little ROK as it’s a wild ass sanctuary desert and few articles claimed that a small mistake, one can go missing deep into desert. However, I confronted myself that i can entrust upon me and with gods grace to do and face whatever may come. With that in mind, i started to read alot of articles about solo motorcycle diaries and preparation related to it. With youtubes help, watched alot of videos about puncher repairs, wheel removal, clutch/throttle cable replacement, fuse changes, carburetor cleanup, etc.
At the same time, i also got an inspirational idea from FB friends: Nittin Kattar and Praveena, about presenting a Thankyou-Respect-Gratitude artwork card to our BSF/Army soldiers. While, i never had any idea about how to use Gimp (Linux version of Photoshop) tool for such major task, yet i did not give up on this. For almost 1 month of constant trial and errors, with various ideas, with many drafts, i finally completed the art work.
My first preparation and foremost important task towards this ride, was shipping bike to Gujarat. I began searching alot of vendors who could do the job with utmost care, time bound and little bit cost effective. I began sending emails and calling the vendors for the job. With all possible discussions and multiple rounds of phone calls for negotiation, i narrowed down to 3 vendors for the job viz. Leo Packers, Transit packers and Sainik packers. Then i began reading customer reviews about these vendor services. Almost all 3 of them had their own share of good and bad reviews. Over all, Leo had bad, Sainik and Transit was on a better side. Hence i further narrowed down to 2. At this stage, i had around a month time before i had to fix the shipping date.
It was just a week before the shipping date, i.e 3rd Feb, as the vendors require atleast 7 days, being on a safer side. A final check on the latest customer reviews on these 2, revealed that Transit had 2 more terrible reviews from customers. So keeping the safety of the bike as major concern, i finally decided Sainik. With final discussions done, this vendor agreed to ship my bike for both directions at cost of 13.5K INR with promised door to door service at both ends ensuring timely delivery.
On Feb 3rd evening, Sainik guys came over in their truck to my place for picking up the bike. Initially i had planned to send saddle bag having some bike related parts viz. tubes, tools, engine oil, etc. along with the bike. However, the packer did not agree to this by stating that the packing would not fit properly and weight is more. Thus he asked me to pay 1000 INR more for the luggage separately. I decided to not opt and carry those myself instead. So with just bike and helmet along, the packing was done in next 20 minutes. The packing was done in 2 layer. Base layer was with bubble wrap. I forced them to add more bubble wrap around tank, headlights, etc. sensitive areas. The second layer is of paper material. This does not much add protection to the body of vehicle. The third layer is of a tight plastic sheet which binds every other layer strongly.
The big part of my onward journey headache was completed by sending the bike off. Now its all in the game of wait and watch. Next my focus shifted in fine tuning my travel itinerary to the nitty-gritty part of it. I began further exploring about all the places, stay options, to do, not to do, etc. for next 8 days. Till the last moment, i had a doubt, if i could do the Little ROK journey as almost all articles i referred gave me worries about: no help, getting lost, etc. I checked with my FB travel friends Nittin khattar, Praveena, DK chauhan, Kushagra, Crazy Rider, for their valuable suggestions about my ride and particularly about Little ROK. Not only they gave some points regarding the Lilttle ROK, but also took time in analyzing my drafted itinerary and suggested few changes with more information. At last, i found a hand sketched road map of crossing Little ROK in one of the forum which also boosted my moral. With all their suggestions, i finally decided to do Little ROK just 4 days before my ride.