Sorry for the long delay to continue. I really did not intend to keep you all waiting. I was a little busy on the farm. Guess I'll continue then.
I go for another practice session after that. I was told to change the factory headlight unit and fairing of the Shogun to a Yezdi Roadking unit as it is more sturdy as its all metal except for the beam and that you could get an H4 60/55W Halogen bulb to go along with it. It was an easy task and no upgrade was required for the lighting coil or regulator as the Shogun had 60watts output on tap.
Another month goes by and then I get informed that the Cotton city Rally is coming up at Coimbatore and I was to join in the service crew. I was happy to be on the insides of a Rally service. Usually I used to stand outside as a spectator and spectators are not allowed to go anywhere near the service area or parc ferme.
Well I was told to be at Cochin ready to go at 4:00 A.M,I dont remember the date,but it was a Friday. Cochin was a good 75kms from where I live,so I leave the day before and stay at a team mates home. We wake up early, I get my bike ready along with my adjustable wrench set,tools and back pack. We reach the club office and there I see the service vehicle,it was a 1985 model 800,the very first one and it was pretty run down even for a 11 year old car. The tyres were also like slicks. Well anyways,the service car will be at the service park and dont need to be running the course so no problem I figure. We were entering two Group D bikes and four participants,two riders and their navigators. They had left the day before and were already there at Coimbatore with their bikes. The bikes were Shoguns. We leave Cochin at 4:30 A.M consisting of a team of two bikes and the car. Its my first ride on such a long trip and that too in a group. We are told to keep going on the bikes after we hit traffic in a town and the car gets slowed.
It was a real nice experience as there was literally almost no vehicles on the highways back in those days and you could enjoy the ride with no instances of Road rage.
We have food on the way,That was also something new for me,I had never went outside the state and the food was also something new for me. We cruise at moderate speeds never exceeding 70kmph. It was a relaxed ride.
We reach Coimbatore around afternoon and wait at the Hotel where our Team mates,the competitors were staying. They were to take their bikes for scrutiny.Scrutiny is where the bikes get checked throughly by the F.M.S.C.I officials and the scrutineers to ensure that the vehicles,both cars and bikes are in accordance with and comply with regulations. They identify the cylinder head block and affix a wire seal to the cylinder head and block to ensure that the participants dont change them after scrutiny. They also check all the papers,licence particulars,insurance policies,etc.
After some time we get a call at the hotel that one of our bikes has failed scrutiny and has got 30minutes to comply or else they will be excluded. The reason was that the bike was missing the tail pieces.You know,the ones around the brake light and seat. It was the stock class that our bikes were running and no weight reduction is allowed. So what do we do now,there is almost no time. I get an idea,I tell my team mates to get my bike's parts removed to be fitted on the rally bike. We rush to the start venue and quickly remove my bike's tail pieces and fit it onto the competing bike. We had just a minute left for exclusion. And we just managed to avoid it. You must know that rules and regulations are strictly enforced in rallies and races and there will be no exceptions.
We return back to the hotel. Another new problem comes up,our service car and the rest of the crew has not yet arrrived. We wonder whats wrong? Its the time when cell-phones were virtually non-existent and we had no means to communicate. Some well-off teams used Ham radio. But we were well-out! So we wait. At around 7:00 P.m,the car comes. Guess what,the slicks burst,two of them and they got stranded after the second one went bust and they were left with no spare. They manage to get the tyre to repair guy on the highway after hitching a ride with the wheel on a truck. The tyre repair guy said that there is no place near where they could get a new one(They were also running on a shoe string budget,so a new tyre was off the menu) and that he'll try to fix it,but no guarantee for anything as its that bad. He sew the tyre as best as he could and somehow patched the tube and the whole thing now looked like a cottage industry product. We have food and wait for Race day.
Hey very interesting to read please continue Jalex!!
Very shocked to know that vehicles had a good re-sale value in those periods and that is mainly because of the long waiting periods i guess!! Do you have any pictures of the Shogun , upload them here!!
I was looking for my Good old Shogun's Picture for a long time. Here are the ones (A little damaged after being lost and found after 10 years.) George Francis of Scorp News,Chennai shot while I was doing the super special stage at the Popular Rally 99'.
(I regret the state of the photos,I had to take a snap of the photos themselves,cause I dont have any negatives.)
This was the picture of the Shogun in 2002,with a secod makeover paint job and modifications,this was after it was again crashed(real bad this time) by a friend of mine. He was unhurt except for some band-aid sized bruises. I really was bankrupt after the bike was done. The repairs and works came to around 15,000. After the crash,the bike was literally left with the engine and rear tyre. The speedometer got saved as I had it removed cause I had just run in a Mud-race two days back.
P.S:As before I again regret the pathetic condition of the photograph.Please bear with me.It too got damaged with all the weather conditions we have.
I dont know whether you can make out anything from what's remaining of the picture
....Continued from post#17
We wake up early and I was briefed on my job. It was to take one of our team-members pillion (He's a a mechanic as well.) and to carry a bottle of petrol,2T oil and engine oil.(Our bike was topped to the lid with petrol as well just in case any of the bikes in our team needed more fuel.)and tools and act as a support vehicle to the lead bike in our team along the route.(Now let me tell you this,our bike was not officially registered in as a support vehicle and so we are not authorized to support,but it was the teams decision,our service car was running on cottage products for tyres and no one was sure whether it would be there at the service park without breaking down. I still dont believe it was proper,the fact being that the competing bikes would have been disqualified if we were caught giving assistance with an unauthorized service vehicle.The rule being that no competing vehicle shall use outside help or use assistance from any vehicle other than the service vehicle at the service park.)
We follow the bikes through the course and wait nearby the Time controls. (A time control is the place where the bikes and cars halt before and after the start of a stage.) The mechanic goes with a bottle of petrol and sneaks it into the tank of our bikes one at a time while I wait at a distance. The bikes were running on low fuel to get a lower weight ratio. The stages range from 10-25 kilometers if I remember correct. And the bikes both Group D were giving around 25kmpl. We move on through the stage and when we reach one such stage we see one of our bikes has crashed twice in a special stage(otherwise known as speed sector.) A special stage is the performance stage in a Rally where the cars and bikes participating go full blast and the bikes and cars covering the special stage in the least amount of time takes the stage lead. These times are the ones that matter on winning or losing the most.
Our bike which crashed was overtaken by three bikes on stage and they had taken the most time on that stage. Also on crashing the bike's headlight was busted.(This was also a night run rally so you can't ride without a light.) We had no spares left and no way to cannibalize my bikes headlight unit as we could not help to that extent and if we did the bike would be caught for receiving outside assistance. So that bike carries on through the stage till nightfall. Now our other bike's rider was none other than Abdul Salam.(He was the guy who made Kerala's bike scene to get noticed on the Motorsports map,C.D Jinan the best in Kerala till date came afterwards and at a time Jinan and Salam were neck to neck on the scene.)
He was doing very fast times for a Group D bike and was beating many seasoned riders in most of the stages. It began to get dark later and our other bike called it a day with no lights. Salam carried on good till he had a flat on the rear wheel,he lost some places after that on that stage. Rally bikes used to carry a foot pump in order to fill air in the event of a puncture. Punctures were common in the old days since there were two people, both the rider and navigator for the bike to carry resulting in heavy stress and strain on the tyres. Now many of you might wonder how can you fix a puncture on a wheel at a rally on a stage where there is almost no time on offer. Well we rallyists improvised a system(I dont know who invented it) where you put two tubes in one wheel and inflate both in part and make the pressure to read normal when both are inflated together. Still dont get me? Its like this we take a standard motorcycle rim, Drill a hole just opposite the one already there on the rim and then fit both the tubes inside the rim and fill them both somewhat equally to get the required pressure when added together. Now when there is a puncture,One of the tubes remain inflated with around half the normal pressure required and it enables the rider to nurse the bike to the end of the stage to fill the needed air into that tube and continue. But are some catches here and it is that the tyre becomes a little hard on the road resulting in a little less grip then normal and you only have one shot to go before bust.
There is also another device what we call a tyre catcher. This is nothing but a device that holds the tyre in place on the rim should it have a blow out. This was mostly used on the front tyre of the bikes. It was also used alone and not with the multi-tube system. I have posted a picture too of the tyre catcher. See the attachment.
Our remaining bike carried on and after they filling air into the rear tyre,they started to go up the leader boards. Now Salam had a problem,he had a bit of ego and he and another bike was competing among themselves for a better place on the charts. The other guy (He was from a team called Capitol Racing based in Cochin) was closing in bit by bit and he challenged Salam saying that he's gonna get him in the last two stages and seize the lead over him. Salam got a little nervous and he too said that the other guy can dream on. After that talk Salam started to push it. He did a good time in the second last stage ,but come the last stage he overcooked it and crashed on a guard wall on a hairpin and wrecking the front end of the bike. The Inner tubes,both of the shock absorbers got bent badly and the shocks got stuck,the handle bar was bent(Not a huge issue),The T-fork-bent. front mud guard scraping the front wheel and the wheel was barely moving. The headlight also got busted. So we lost both the bikes. We were in good spirits that Salam was doing great,but now its all gone down the drain. Also we were hoping that Salam could ride Group C next if he finished this event. Now the conditions for running Group C is that the rider and navigator both should have competed and completed three national rallies.
Salam and his navigator had completed two rallies till then and this event's completion could land him in the Group C class. He was also doing great in the open class events where modifications were almost unlimited. And we all hoped he could burn the tracks with a Group C Yamaha RX-100.
We tell the marshalls that our last bike too is crashed and so both our bikes were put in the DNF list.(DNF means Did Not Finish)
We fix the bike and depart for for Kerala early morning the next day.
......will be continued
Reading your report is like almost visualized every part of it. & like watching it live in front of the eyes. Everything was detailed. Its like reading a Don Brown's Novel. when i was reading your report i feel the adrinalin rushing in my vains. Good report buddy. hats off.