Royal Enfield, as a model, holds fairly a giant worth within the Indian motorcycling neighborhood and has been an important a part of our automotive historical past. Regardless of a number of fashionable and technologically superior choices current in the present day, one motive why many purchasers nonetheless go for a Royal Enfield motorbike is solely due to the love and camaraderie its homeowners share for the model. The corporate is aware of this very nicely, which is why Royal Enfield has been internet hosting a number of the hottest customer-driven driving occasions. One such occasion is the Royal Enfield Scramble, a specifically designed journey driving competitors that assessments your driving skill, navigation abilities, and teamwork. Fortunately, this yr, Royal Enfield invited us to be part of the fourth season of this aggressive driving occasion, which was held in Gurugram.
Organised by Himalayan Motorsport, the 2018 Royal Enfield Scramble presents three days of hard-core off-road driving, aggressive journey sports activities occasions, and extra. A complete of 10 groups participated, principally from Delhi and NCR, and every workforce consisted of two riders, which incorporates the media workforce that I used to be a part of. Whereas the occasion is especially suited to the Royal Enfield Himalayan, it didn’t cease many individuals from coming into the competitors with bikes just like the 350 Electra (now Bullet ES), Basic 350, Thunderbird 350, Basic 500, and even a Bullet 500. The truth is, one of many riders from the profitable workforce rode the Basic 350. I, however, was given the brand new BS-IV compliant, gasoline injected, non-ABS 2018 Royal Enfield Himalayan. I used to be paired with a fellow journalist from AutoX journal.
The bottom, the start line, and the off-road enviornment, for all three days, was going to be the Off-Street Journey Zone (ORAZ) in Gurugram. The primary day or ‘Day zero’ primarily concerned briefing for the principle occasion and some small technical driving duties within the off-road enviornment. Earlier than I get into the small print, let me simply inform you the one off-road driving expertise I’ve had earlier than this, other than driving on the pothole infested roads of Mumbai, was a Three-hour journey and off-road coaching session I received on the Triumph Journey Coaching Academy. Little did I do know that all the pieces I realized there, have been simply child steps in comparison with what I used to be going to expertise right here.
So, coming again to the technical duties of Day Zero, it concerned driving on this meticulously designed off-road observe which included steep climbs up embankments, and downhill sections, sand tracks, gravel, and small ditches, and a bunch of different obstacles. Every participant was timed for every one in every of these duties, and it was throughout one in every of these ranges that my bike received caught in a subject of tyres, and I misplaced an enormous period of time, placing my workforce on the backside of the scoreboard for the primary day. Nonetheless, I nonetheless had the prospect to redeem myself throughout the principle occasion which was going to happen throughout the next two days.
To offer you a gist of it, the principle occasion was divided into two days and every day the groups have been to be given a set of about 9 GPS coordinates, positioned in and across the Gurugram space, which have been basically ‘waypoints’ to cowl. Every one in every of these coordinates held a specific amount of factors, and all of the groups needed to navigate to each single one in every of them, not essentially within the given order, utilizing Google maps. The primary workforce to cowl all waypoints and attain the ultimate vacation spot, throughout the stipulated time, may have scored the very best factors for that individual day. The checklist additionally included a few dummy waypoints and some bonus duties, which have been to be revealed to us solely at choose coordinates. Moreover, on the finish of every of those two days, the organisers deliberate one other technical process, yet another difficult than the day past.
So, 10 minutes earlier than the flag-off we have been handed out the checklist of coordinates for the day, and that was on a regular basis we have been going to get to formulate a method to cowl all of the waypoints. The primary coordinate on the checklist was a obligatory one, which suggests all of the riders have been heading out for a similar location. As quickly as I hit the street, I observed a peculiar downside with my motorbike, which didn’t permit me to go previous 60 kmph as a result of my clutch cable was getting jammed. Whereas from a sure level on the route the velocity restrict was beneath 60 kmph, it was on the freeway the place all of the riders whizzed previous me, together with my companion, making me the final one to achieve the primary waypoint. Fortunate for me, by the point I reached the primary vacation spot, my teammate had already set an acceptable course for us to cowl the remaining coordinates.
Throughout the first few hours, we had coated round Three to four waypoints, and it was at one in every of these areas that we received an opportunity bag some bonus factors as nicely. It was a easy process that concerned looking and retrieving a blue sash from a close-by coordinate, nevertheless it took us about 10 minutes to finish. The subsequent location on the map was round 32 km away and for essentially the most a part of it we have been on the freeway, which suggests I needed to cruise at 60 kmph. Fortunately it was at this subsequent waypoint that I received some mechanical assist and received my clutch cable mounted and now it was time to make up for the misplaced time. Or so I assumed.
On the subsequent waypoint, which was virtually inside a forest, we got the choice to attain some bonus factors once more, contemplating we had misplaced few factors already, we determined to make up for it right here. As we had no community connection to seek out out the place precisely the coordinates led us, we determined to maintain following the path until we reached the waypoint or the closest community tower. Apparently sufficient the path had course markers alongside the trail and assuming it was made by the organisers in order that we don’t get misplaced, I and my teammate determined it will be ultimate for us to comply with the markers. Seems it wasn’t, and if you happen to nonetheless have not guessed it but, sure, we have been misplaced! Sadly sufficient, we realised this after virtually an hour of going deep contained in the path. The route itself, nonetheless, was probably the most difficult off-road trails ever, stuffed with lengthy patches of crimson soil, sand, gravel, stone paths, steep uphill climbs and downhill sections and far more. The truth is, it took us virtually an hour and a half to return out of the path and into civilisation, and by that point we had already reached our deadline, lacking out on about 4 extra waypoints.
With no time in hand, we determined to go on to the final coordinate, which was OTR Filth Park, near ORAZ, and it was right here that we needed to do full Day zero’s most important technical process. The specifically laid out observe was geared up with patches of onerous soil, unfastened soil, sand, ditches and far more, fortunately for me, after spending most a part of the day on a a lot more durable pure off-road path, this one didn’t really feel all that tough, and I completed it in 1 minute and 44 seconds, not the most effective however at the very least higher than at the very least Three different individuals.
After an eventful Day 1, I used to be hell-bent on making up for all of the factors our workforce had misplaced the day past. However, it was simpler mentioned than completed. As I walked as much as my motorbike within the resort car parking zone I observed that the entrance tyre was flat, seems my off-road fiasco from the day past had left a sluggish puncture within the bike’s entrance tyre. To make issues worse, it was a Sunday and there’s no puncture man to repair the tyre for me at 7:30 am close by. By the point I received it mounted and reached the start line, I used to be already over an hour late, which was the most important setback for the ultimate day. Or so I assumed.
Whereas the rostrum was nowhere on the horizon for us, we have been wanting to correctly end the race, and obtain all of the waypoint. Making the most effective of the misplaced time my teammate had already devised the whole route primarily based on the brand new coordinates, as quickly as I punched in my begin time on the flag-off level we sped to the primary waypoint, which was solely about 15 minutes away. From there, the following waypoint was about 7 km away however the whole stretch was an off-road path, the identical part the place we have been misplaced the day past. So, as I rigorously manoeuvred my motorbike to keep away from one other puncture, we got here throughout a nasty patch of rocks and at one level I might actually hear the tube in my entrance tyre burst and the air gushing out. So, right here I used to be once more, in the identical forest we received misplaced the day earlier than, and with over 6 km of off-road path to cowl with a punctured tyre.
The one choice for me at that second was to trip the bike as slowly and punctiliously as doable and attain civilisation and get a brand new tube for the tyre. So, after losing over an hour or extra, we lastly reached a puncture store and put in a brand new tube. At this level, I and my teammate have been so exhausted that we have been prepared to go again to the bottom and be completed with it. However the aggressive spirit in us had not died, and as we simply had a few hours extra earlier than the deadline, we determined to achieve as many waypoints as doable. The closest waypoint was about 11 km away and in the wrong way, so we skipped lunch, received again on the bike and headed out in the direction of it, earlier than heading again to ORAZ.
Lastly, it was time for the ultimate technical process of the occasion, which was presumably essentially the most tough one to this point. This time round along with gravel, sand and dust, we additionally needed to undergo heavy muck and slush that was virtually over a foot deep, together with many extra obstacles. Fortunate for me I used to be on a Himalayan and issues have been a bit simple for me, in comparison with different riders who have been on their Classics, or Bullets, or Electras. The truth is, I accomplished a course of the observe in 5 minutes and 28 seconds, on the eleventh place. To place issues into perspective, the longest it took somebody to finish a lap of this off-road observe was 12 minutes and 31 seconds.
Even supposing we weren’t in a position to full the race on each days, there isn’t any doubt that the expertise was not like some other. After three days of hardcode journey and off-road driving absolutely my physique was aching in locations I by no means thought I might really feel ache in however all mentioned and completed, it was all price it. So, Royal Enfield, don’t forget to ask me once more for the following season of the Scramble. It is going to be time for redemption!