What Munching Miles With A Group Of Dominar Riders Helped Me Learn

  • Mar 7, 2023
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In retrospect, the spellbinding experience of The Rajasthan Tour organised by Bajaj, and the different kinds of riders in the tour gave me quite a few life lessons

Bajaj Dominar 400 Rajasthan Ride 2023

Bajaj recently organised The Rajasthan Tour exclusively for owners of the Bajaj Dominar 400 and the Dominar 250. I got to explore the ‘Land of Kings’ basked in the full glory of its rich heritage, and more importantly, experience the journey with a bunch of interesting personalities with even more intriguing stories to tell. In retrospect, I realised they have helped me learn important life lessons that I will remember for years to come.

The ride started from Jaipur, where we had a day to get acquainted with the riders and, of course, explore the city. There were people of all ages and professions -- all united together by the passion of riding, the zest to explore what this country has to offer, on two wheels. A nomad on two wheels with over three lakh kilometres under his belt, Sarath Shenoy led the ride. From Jaipur, we devoured miles of highway tarmac on our way to Pushkar, Jodhpur, and then long, straight blacktop spanning all the way to Jaisalmer via Pokhran.

Dominar Tour Desert

The surroundings turned even more desolate as we traversed through the desert sections to Sam dunes, via Tannot. We then got to immerse ourselves in serpentine roads surrounded by lush greenery on our way to Bikaner, and then go flat out in the salt flats of Sambhar lake before returning to Jaipur. So, meet the 2023 cohort of riders of the Rajasthan Tour:

The seasoned rider

Rohit Giri

As we entered a staggered formation, I got into a comfortable pace with Rohit Giri, a fellow rider from Pune. The tall gentleman had ridden all the way from Pune for this ride, and had absolutely zero signs of fatigue on the day he reached Jaipur. 

Things started making sense when he revealed that he’s been riding since the late 90s starting off with the humble Hero Splendor and ending up with the Dominar. The insurance-IT professional has covered over five lakh kilometres in India, exploring all the States in the south, some in the west and the east, with only a handful of States left unexplored, Rajasthan being one of them. So, when he came across the advert, he immediately signed up for the ride. He’s tricked up his second generation Dominar 400 with a few crucial addons like a wider handlebar, aluminium handguards, crash guard and saddle stays. Rohit is very happy with the bike too, as he quoted, “...the machine is so smooth, it actually gives you a blissful experience.”

Bajaj Dominar Tour Rohit

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Exploring city after city, day after day, we got into a neat rhythm with him at the front and me always within the sights of his left rear view mirror. Being not as experienced as him, it was this rhythm that helped me minimise quite a bit of fatigue. Having ridden for so long, alerting other riders of the dangers ahead of him was like his second nature. In a way, this also helped me take in the sights of my peripheral vision a little more as I instinctively knew how to navigate through tricky situations with absolute ease. Sarath told us that once you rack up enough miles, you learn to focus more on your peripheral vision. It was exactly this that Rohit had mastered, and as I was learning to do that, I managed to catch a glimpse of the famed Sambar deer about a hundred yards off the road, all the while barrelling down the highway at triple-digit speeds. Riding rewards keen-eyed folks indeed! Riding with a companion with the right pace may not sound like much but when you’re riding over multiple days, its effects really compound, leaving you much less exhausted at the end of the day.

The rider couple 

Bajaj Dominar Tour Rider Couple

At times, life can quickly become a vortex of commitments, work, sleep and more work. It’s important to take a break every once in a while, take a good look at one’s surroundings and appreciate the good things in life. That’s exactly what Arun Kumar and his wife Banu Kulal, who participated in the tour, do. The two IT professionals had made a pact right from the beginning of their relationship that they should plan at least one long ride in a year, and more importantly, they will never stop each other from travelling anywhere (depending on who gets the leaves approved). 

Arun quips, “They say once you get married, all these rides will come down, but actually, the year I married, that was the hardest I rode. I think I covered more than 30-40,000 km in a year.” They have been able to manage well, making use of most of the weekends to travel, covering around one lakh km together.

Bajaj Dominar Rider Couple 2

Travelling with a pillion also made me realise the rider has to be more considerate as the bumps on the road are much harder to manage for the pillion. It has also taught Arun (and consequently, me) how to travel light. Arun says that both he and his wife are not that interested in food or clothing, so they spend all their time and money on travelling. This, consequently, has also helped Arun pack light. “Now we can manage luggage so well that actually we can even go with just one pair of saddlebags.”

 
 
 
 
 
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Sarath said, “After riding for a couple of days, see what all items in your backpack/ luggage that you have never used, and get rid of them.” This was an excellent, practical tip to weed out the non-essentials. It also helped me ride lighter, with only the bare necessities with me.

Bajaj Dominar Tour Rider Couple 3

Another interesting story that deserves to be told is that apart from Arun’s own KTM 390 Adventure, he has a rally-spec Hero Karizma that was gifted to him by one of his YouTube channel subscribers. Raj, the previous owner of the Karizma, whom Arun has never met, was a keen follower of Arun’s vlogs. When Arun was looking for an Impulse for his trail rides, he simply gifted his modded Karizma as he had upgraded to a Suzuki V-Strom 650XT. He didn’t want his old bike to rot away, so he gave it away to someone who would make good use of it. Sting was right when he sang “If you love somebody, set them free!”

The senior riders

Dominar Tour Senior Riders

When you have the determination, and the zeal to ride, age doesn’t really matter. Sexagenarian cardiology specialist Dr. Kirit Parikh started doing long distance rides from around 2018. He was bitten by the biking bug thanks to his mentor and friend (and businessman), Firdaus Irani. In fact, when Firdaus had a heart attack in 2014, it was Dr Kirit, who saved his life, and they have been the best of friends ever since. He initially started off with the Bajaj Avenger 220, and purchased the Dominar 400 about five months ago. 

He was keen on experiencing the Rajasthan tour, and to accompany him, Firdaus in fact purchased a pre-owned Dominar just for this ride! Away from the main group, the duo reached the daily destinations at their own pace. They had each other, and that’s what counted the most. Real friends always have your back, and friendships like these are a standing testament to that. In fact, both got lost a couple of times but managed to get back on track. Once when Dr Kirit got lost, Firdaus took a detour about 100km and managed to catch up with him.

Dominar Tour Conclusion

Like Rohit, Dr Kirit is also quite satisfied with the bike’s performance. He said “On good terrains and good roads, this is definitely a good bike. (It has got) good road grip, quite manoeuvrable, quite safe, and you can negotiate the turns also very easily, comfortably, without any risk.”

Looking at the duo inspired not only me, but also fellow riders. “If they can do it, so can I” was the mentality that was forged amongst the riders, many of whom happily egged themselves to push a little further out of their comfort zone. 

Dominar 400 Tour Conclusion

The Rajasthan tour has been my first long-distance ride since the pandemic. Apart from learning a thing or two about history, experiencing enough highways to last a lifetime, and falling in love with touring all over again, it was really the people who made the ride even more memorable. To more such experiences!

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