Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Around the world on a Yezdi with Deepak Kamath and Basavaraj

As we lead up to the 13th International Jawa Day celebrations across the globe, we would like to bring your attention to one of the legendary riders of yesteryear who has seen the world in record time.

Deepak Kamath and his companion G.H Basavaraj created history in 1994/95 by becoming the first Indian's to circumnavigate the globe in record time. They covered 42,038 km over six continents on their Yezdi Roadking (yes, an Indian bike) in an expedition called 'The Yezdi Castrol Continental Raid'. Their journey began on 8th October 1994 and ended on 3rd Feb 1995 with a total of 119 days with the actual riding time of 47 days. Limca Book of Records has honored them with the title as well.
Deepak and Basavaraj in front of the mighty Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

Notes from Deepak: (If you are too lazy to read, then watch this video where Deepak spoke about his experience at this year's Motorcycle Travellers' Meet)

The Yezdi-Castrol Continental Raid... an endeavor to cover the length of the equator, 24901 miles or 40075 kms across all 6 continents with a minimum of 1000 miles in each continent without using the same road twice. Mode of intercontinental transport was optional as long as the start to finish gave the desired miles in the shortest period of time. Log book and photographs would substantiate our claim.

Initially, the plan was to create a Guinness world record based on the car circumnavigation that was being done by Indians (Navin Kapila / Saluddin Choudhury) and the British army, but no talk of anyone even thinking about doing it on a two wheeler. I wanted to be the first. Though Ideal Jawa was in trying times since the onslaught of the 100 cc fast bikes, they decided to support this dream as the primary sponsors. Castrol agreed to be the secondary sponsors and then there was no looking back.  Here is a step by step progression on how this project materialized.

Ideal Jawa: Primary Sponsors: Cash support to a certain extent of the whole project + Totally altered/ as needed bike + breakdown support in any part of the world + express shipping of spare parts to any destination in the world.

Castrol: Cash Sponsorship to the tune of distance covered. We agreed, considering this was way too low, the brand association was enough to get attention.
CEAT Tyres: Specially designed lugs for a 18 inch wheel and tyre support as required + Cash sponsorship AFTER we returned back successfully + advertisement campaign.
- Crompton Batteries + Addon Horns + Yenkay (VDO) Instruments + Timex watches + Rolon Chains + Canara Bank + Friends / Well wishers from India and around the World...the list is exhaustive!!

Route: Asia > Africa > Europe > North America > South America > Australia. (All km is the nearest approximate)
Asia: India: Bangalore - Nagpur > New Delhi (Asia: 2500 Kms).  
Africa: Egypt: Cairo - Luxor - Alexandria - Cairo: 2000 km.  We had to circle within as Sudan refused us a Visa and Libya cancelled our Visa as we were on the motorcycle.
Europe: Landed in Rome, Italy > Austria > Republic of Czech > Germany > France > UK: 5000 odd km
North America: Landed in New York > Philadelphia > Chicago > Oklahoma > San Francisco > San Diego > Dallas > Miami: 21000 kms in 31 days
South America > Buenos Aires ( by the time we reached here, my Brazil visa lapsed and we were not able to get : 3000 kms
Australia: Brisbane > Sydney > Melbourne > Adelaide > Perth > 6000 odd km
Asia: India: Chennai > New Delhi > Jaipur > Mumbai > Bangalore: 3000 kms


That was a total of 42,038 Km in 47 riding days and 119 days in all... why?  We left India when plague hit us (Surat, Gujarat). We were quarantined in Bahrain and subsequently in Cairo. My bike did not get past customs as perishables were prioritized. Gulf Air tickets and cargo that was sponsored by a Rotarian in New Delhi was the only airline flying and by the time we could coordinate the airlift from Egypt, we had lost major number of days.... almost a month....and ALL our Visas had expired.

My thanks to:
Tehmton & Boman Irani: Ideal Jawa India Limited: Without their confidence, there was no project!

Dilnaz Anklesaria: Castrol: Who believed that we could and stuck with us with their sponsorship even though the initial sign off was in 1991 and project materialized only 1994.
Rohinton Commissariat: Ceat... helped us with the special compound tyres and ensured we got the required half page exposure in most of the major newspapers in the world.
P A Nazreth, His Excellency the then Indian Ambassador to Egypt...incidentally, brother of erstwhile Union Minister, Ms. Margaret Alva, from Mangalore, my hometown and the common language helped us in him speaking to his counterparts to get most, if not all the Visa's renewed.  This was one major help, without which we just could not have progressed.
Air India for having included our motorcycle in the passenger baggage compartment as accompanied baggage, and bike being rolled out on the conveyor belt in JFK, NYC. ONLY, we Indians could have done it!!
For the records:
We bought paper maps from the American Automobile Association (AAA), since there was no GPS / Sat phone or any technology around to assist in travel. Internet and mobile phone was yet to kick in and we used a 250 cc bikes and were a object of mockery to many countries.

I am proud, very proud of having accomplished this and it makes me hold my head in pride that I did it as an Indian when there were many countries with more luxuries than us, who did not dream of achieving this.

The total cost of this whole project then was not more than INR 12 lakhs. Can we do it now?? Maybe yes.. Maybe no. But, definitely no at that cost. However, with so much of technological aid available at your finger tips, this adventure then may not be an adventure now!, but certainly if we are to target tight scheduled days, it will be something that I would be keenly wanting to achieve, one more time.


Here is a collection of some articles and photos of their exciting journey through the 6 continents back in 1994/95. And if you are not satisfied, attend this year's Jawa Day on the 12th of July to meet the man himself at National College Grounds, Basavangudi, Bangalore between 8 - 10am.

Btw, we are also going to attempt to set our very own record.. so get your bikes up and running to be a part of yet another biking history.

Here are scans of Auto India magazine from May 1995 detailing out the entire journey:

This is what Deepak has to say to all biking enthusiasts, "I would like to highlight the fact that we did this in 1994... When India was just about opening up to technology. The fact that we did this circumnavigation purely with paper maps and what little communication connectivity we could muster up in those days, reinforces our commitment to the spirit of adventure in its true glory."

He adds, "The youth today is in a hurry. I see a lot of riders who don't care about fellow riders on the road. This should stop. My exposure to many countries has taught me abundance of discipline in using the road. Also, I noted that there are many forums now where enthusiastic youngsters and old alike share their commendable achievements. I feel proud. As Indians, when we accomplished this circumnavigation in those days, we felt very proud. The support and encouragement we received from many Indians living in the countries we visited is highly appreciated. I take this opportunity to thank one and all in this community for the support and interest in our project. Happy to share my experience and guide the youngsters to achieve historical milestones."

Sharing a few photographs and statistics from their journey and after...
Flight schedules and costs across sectors (Note: Air India carried their bike free of cost)
Total budget and expenses
Overall Statistics
In front of the Tower Bridge in London with another biker

At the Vatican, Rome
The team at Eiffel Towers, Paris
Deepak with his RK during the Leh ride

Update: Listen to Deepak speak at MTM 2015 on all his adventures - Youtube Link

Written with inputs from Mr Deepak Kamath
email: deekam_99@yahoo.com

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Books To No Books

Long Post Alert: This is the second guest post from one of our members - Mahidhar

Warangal to Hyderabad on a JAWA – RECW days - 2006

When the whole world disagreed with me, when studies became wars, when teachers became demons, when books became weapons of mass destruction, when booze was not enough; that’s when I needed peace. I searched for it like a nomad and found my Jawa lying in corner of my hostel room (I used to park inside my room) with an emotional face suggesting me that it was also in the same situation; it was neglected and leaking oil like blood. Emotions took over partiality, that’s when I realized we both needed to break free.

It was Friday evening around 5pm when I took my Jawa to the mechanic and got the clutch cover gasket changed to stop bleeding oil and also got the air filter cleaned. My Jawa was breathing fresh air and was ready to take on the world. Next morning, I decided to have a meditation session on Jawa, I mean to have a small ride of around 300km (Up and Down) from Warangal (books) to Hyderabad (no more books).

It was around 8:20am when I went to my friend Ajay’s room and told him about the plan (with the motive of sharing the fuel cost, as I was still living in economy mode) and asked him whether he was interested in coming along with me. I was amazed seeing his enthusiasm and just found out he was as interested in bikes and bike rides as I was. I took out the Jawa from my hostel room and started cleaning the tank and its fenders. As I was wiping its front fender and facing the head light I suddenly felt that she was staring at me with a unique smile as if she knew in advance what my plans were.
At 9:30am, Ajay with his backpack and me with my helmet headed towards my Jawa. As I was walking towards the bike, I prayed to god hoping for the bike to start since the weather was cold. I unlocked the huge godrej lock (neck lock) pushed in the ignition key, turned the fuel cook to reserve and with two compressions and a mild kick it fired, I was truly amazed!!! I thought, maybe it was preparing the whole night to welcome me in the morning in this way, regardless, I was honored. After two quick throttles twists slowly she started settling down in its own thump which was nothing less than Metallica.

We settled, and with an up shift of gear lever (you can also call it as kick lever –patented technology of Jawa) the monster jerked as if someone tinkled her all of sudden and she started rolling living behind two thin and parallel lines of blue smoke like a rocket on fire. As I approached the Main gate of RECW the watchmen were alert all of the sudden because of the exhaust note.

We began cursing at 60km/hr and looking at the Rocky Mountains around me, the greenery of farms was a treat to watch. The most interesting thing to notice here was the lush green cultivating lands end with rocky grey mountains, a rare combo. I could make out that Ajay was struggling for grip as the seat was too small in length for two. We had done around 30km now and time was around 11:10 am, Ajay told me to stop for a tea break. I found one small shack kind of shop were tea and Kallu (Telugu name for toddy) was served. The white bottles tempted us but we were not ready to take risk as we had to ride a long distance. After a refreshing cup of tea, we rolled again. Now I was in a mood to ride fast. I twisted the throttle slowly and with a lazy ease the Jawa picked up and before we could realize it was on steroids, zooming past Pulsars. The handling and the stability was so amazing that it could make all the modern India bikes look like snakes. The front breaks were so sharp and in great shape the same can’t be said for the rear ones though. I got the whole experience of what young Indians riding Jawas in 60s and 70s really felt. Since the road condition was also of 70s my experience was more realistic, well that’s what I call icing on cake.

Now it was 1 pm, and Ajay was feeling hungry. Even I was, but I was lost in the charm of my bike and was really not felling my own stomach’s request. We pulled in to a dabba which had no name but, had most of the curries. We ordered palak panner and dal fry with some rotis. As I noticed the jawa’s exhaust pipes were still smoking like old man smoking cigar slowly, it was even blowing out smoke rings. Made me think how my friends would try to make rings out of ciggy’s smoke and were mostly unsuccessful.

When were around 30km from Hyderabad, all of sudden, the bike started jerking as if it was choking; she turned off, she ran out of gas. I was clue less really; didn’t know what to do now, Ajay gave me an idea to bend her to left, I told him ‘dude, this is not Bajaj Chetak’, he replied ‘just try out man.’ With great difficulty I bent the bike and for the first time experienced how bending this bike can actually build your biceps. I held her for 15 seconds I could feel my biceps stiff and nerves of my forearms having blood rush. She quickly came back to life. After riding about 2km, I found an Indian oil station and asked for five liters of petrol and oil. The guy at the bunk enquired if we still get spares for this bike, this is one question that most often people ask me and I am sick of answering. I told him ‘Yes, but second hand’. While he was fueling the bike, he slowly began running his hand on the head light and the speedometer as if he was experiencing an Italian female sculpture. Ajay told me that I should ride a bit fast from here on. As I picked up my speed, Ajay started recording the ride and the road on his soap box (actually Nokia 6600, that’s what he calls it as).

As I got a first glimpse of so called ‘posh apartments’, I knew that we had arrived. We had to go to Banjara Hills, one of the posh localities in Hyderabad where Ajay’s friend stays. With lot of gear changes we finally reached Banjara Hills. Believe me, the place was treat for sore eyes. I started searching for a Maruthi 800 here because all I could find were Toyota Camry or Mercedes belonging to ever class including A class and a red SL 500 convertible within half an hour. But between all these German, Japanese mob my little Czech beauty was also getting attention of some of the people, it made me proud. Suddenly I hear a real load and roaring sound approaching me from behind. They were two Italian beauties, a black Ducati Monster and a red and silver combo M V Agusta. The whole crowd in front of Hyderabad Central were trying to have glimpse of those super bikes but sudden the Ducati guy who was in his mid 40’s slows down and says ‘good bike man’ and zooms off. I felt happy and jealous of thir bikes and then compromised due to my present economic condition (student you see). Then I told to myself ‘What the hell, I own a legend, I own a Jawa man.’ It’s the bike that always made me proud, always taught me how to gain attention and respect, a legend that always made its own road and it’s the bike that never moved my body, it moved my soul.

Now this Jawa 353 shares her place with my grandfather’s model B along with my CBZ and kinetic Honda in our house in Malleshwaram.

I want to conclude by telling what Ajay said to me once we reached his friend’s house in Hyderabad, ‘Kay bike hai Yaar, kay bike hai.’

Author: Mahidhar M V
Email: mahidhar16@gmail.com  

Monday, June 22, 2015

13th International Jawa Day celebrations on 12th July 2015

Are you a proud owner of a rare Jawa or a Yezdi?? Are you looking to connect with biking enthusiasts and also show off your prized possession??

Well, here is an opportunity for you to bring out your 2-stroke, double barrel beasts and proudly showcase it to hundreds of like minded youngsters and biking addicts at the 13th International Jawa Day to be held on the second Sunday of July (12th July) at National College Grounds in Basavangudi, South Bangalore.

This year's celebration is going to be bigger than ever as Bangalore Jawa Yezdi Motorcycle Club (BJYMC) along with Jawa Nanna Jeeva (JNJ) will together host this mega carnival.

Feast yourself with over 500 rare and beautifully kept Jawas, Yezdi Classics, Roadkings, 350 Twins along with some rare, imported CZs and mopeds. Get to meet senior employees of the Ideal Jawa factory, talk to mechanics from your locality and visit stalls to pick up valuable spares for your bikes. This is expected to be the largest gathering of Jawa and Yezdi's on this side of the globe.

We also have a surprise this year with one lucky person walking away as a proud owner of a 1990 model Yezdi Roadking. Visit the registration desk at the venue on 12th to know more. Entry is free for all.

BJYMC (Bangalore Jawa Yezdi Motorcycle Club) has been in existence since 2007 and constantly strives to revive these bikes and bring them back on the road. Today, there are over 700+ Jawa and Yezdi motorcycles on the streets of Bangalore which have been completely restored by passionate mechanics. To know more about the club, you can call Lokesh JM – 9880033994 or Amrit Appaiah – 9880105455
You can also follow us on Facebook to get regular updates; BJYMC on Facebook

Facebook page for event: 13th International Jawa Day


Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Real Face

Yes, we all have different faces. We put each one on according to the situation or circumstance. But I must say, when I am riding my Yezdi Roadking, it’s the real face that’s on me. The face that’s relaxed, leaving behind the struggles of life, the face that loves the wind, the rain and everything that mother nature has provided us.

My obsession for this breed of bike started with my dad. I was a nine year old kid when he used to make me sit in front on his Roadking and take me to various places around the city. I used to wait every evening for that sound ‘dung dung drrrr’, an indication that my dad is coming home from office. This would mean that I would get to go for a ride on the bike in our locality. I used to love it. When no one was around, I used to touch the bike, sit on it and fantasize riding it.

One evening, when dad got home, I didn’t hear the sound of his bike!!! I run outside to search for the bike but it wasn’t there. A financial crunch had made him sell the bike. I cried that night. My dad silently whispered into my ears - Don’t worry son, it’s my duty to see that you are educated first, you will one day start earning and buy the bike of your dreams. These lines somehow stayed with me.

To my bad luck, the Ideal Jawa factory closed down in 1996. But, since it was reliable and easy to maintain bike, it somehow remained in the market well beyond the factory closure.

The day finally came when I got my job and started earning. Having saved up some money, I went to the infamous JC road in Bangalore to find my dream Roadking. After asking a couple of shops, I finally landed up in a small shop where the dealer had a Roadking. He made a few calls and after couple of minutes, I heard the familiar sound “dung dung drrr.” I came running out of the shop to see the bike but it was badly bruised. The engine was making weird noises, the gears were not shifting properly etc. 
The day I got this black beauty

This might sound crazy, but it looked like it was talking to me, asking me to take it home. I decided to go with my gut feeI and took it straight to a mechanic. It stayed with the mechie for a week undergoing essential repairs and was finally was ready to hit the streets in style.
At the mechanic getting an overhaul

This is to those who are not familiar with the Yezdi’s. The Roadking is an all-metal bike. Other than the indicators, there’s no plastic or fibreglass anywhere in the body. If today’s tin, plastic, fiberglass & coat hanger assembled bikes can be termed as “Definitely Male”, then the Yezdi Roadking is “Definitely The Beast”! It commands attention. Very reliable, low on maintenance and a super handler. When u sit on this bike and open up the throttle, your animal instincts take over and you are transformed.

Coming back to my story, I called dad and told him that I had brought a bike. I did not reveal anything about the bike but asked him to wait outside the house. I rode my RK and stopped right in front of him, got down and handed him the keys. He was in a state of shock and couldn’t believe his own eyes. He walked around the bike touching it like a little kid. He saw me in the eye and I could see him being nostalgic. I could see tears roll down his eyes that day and reminded me of those lines he had whispered into my ears years ago.
With my proud Dad

A few years later, I got introduced to a group called Bangalore Jawa Yezdi Motorcycle Club. I felt great to know there are likeminded people around. The brotherhood and the passion for these bikes is simply amazing in the club. I have been to many rides with the brotherhood and each ride is a story of its own. Everyone in this brotherhood are of different professions but, we ride together with one passion - Riding. Yes, we all have different faces and we put them on according to the situation and circumstance. But I must say, when I am riding my Roadking, it’s the real face that’s on me.
The Beast

Author: Krishna Narasipura
email: nskris@gmail.com