Roy and I had been riding non-stop for 5 and a half hours. I was finding it impossible to keep my eyes open with the sun blazing overhead, heating up my helmet.
Travelling northwards, from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, NH8 was playing tricks on my eyes. The heat rising from the tarmac travelled like fume waves before me and the horizon seemed to liquefy. We hadn’t even hit Gujarat yet for our bike ride across the state, and I was already wondering how we were going to pull this one off..I had ridden in extreme conditions before, but I had underestimated the dry state’s heat, thinking of it more as exciting, than dangerous. Just a few hours into the ride, we were several litres of water down, and still wilted and withered.
The stretch between Dahisar and Talasari had been beautiful. We were cruising with ease at 80 kph on the 6-lane road as the sun climbed higher in the sky. Now, almost six hours later, my tank was still one-thirds full, but my body was sapped out of all its energy. By the time we made our way through the Vapi-Valsad-Navsari stretch dotted with industries and towns lining both sides of the highway, we were desperately looking for a place to stop for lunch and cool-off.
As we hit the Surat bypass, I had started to feel a little faint. So we finally decided to stop for lunch on a roadside dhaba. Apart from this one dhaba, there was nothing for kilometres on this road. To the right of the food joint, there was a massive blue tank of water. All I wanted to do at this point was pour the water all over me. That’s what I told Roy.
Before I knew it, Roy was asking the dhaba guy if we could take a quick bath with the water. Taking it somewhat as a joke, or perhaps amused with our desperation, the dhaba guy chuckled and agreed.
Now, what had been an unlikely musing had suddenly become an irresistible urge – to get some of that water on myself. I stripped off my jacket and t-shirt, filled an empty bottle, and poured it on my head. The hot liquid made its way down my neck. ‘Damn, it is hot!’ I yelped.
But Roy was busy digging through his bag. He pulled out his menthol Cool soap, and handed it to me. I thought the idea of having a soap bath in the middle of nowhere was somewhat bizarre. But as I dipped it in the water and washed my face, it felt like a block of ice against my skin. Before we knew it, both of us had taken a quick Cinthol bath next to this random tank, out in the open, right on the highway!
After that, the dhaba food was simply heavenly. I would’ve binged on that delicious cashew curry and the hot chicken masala. But Roy warned me to take it easy as I reached for my 5th roti. This time we hit the road, the wind that had felt like a blow-drier on my face, now made me feel like I was flying.
There were still several more hours of riding in the sun ahead of me. But as we branched off the highway at Bharuch to ride through Jambusar, Bamamgam, Borsad, Vataman and Rajkot, and weaved through the smaller, more interesting roads, I didn’t mind the sun even a bit. After having ridden for over 500km, we decided to call it a night.
That day, I had learnt never to underestimate the heat when riding. I did my research, and realized there are a few things that one must especially keep in mind. For one, always watch out for signs of heat strokes or sun strokes. Second, to carry extra water, more than what you think you’ll need. From now, I also carry Cinthol Cool soap, for whenever I need to stop for a quick bath. I’ve discovered it can make all the difference in the world. Make sure you’re properly covered, especially when riding in the sun. You also get these special cooling vests online that keep you cool in the heat. They have tiny beads full that retain water, and keep a check on your body temperature. I also sprinkle some water in my helmet, every once in a while, to keep my head cool.
The heat could’ve ruined my ride to Gujarat. I remember at one point wanting to turn back, from this ride that was to become the most memorable ones I’ve ever had.
So, I’ve put together these tips that I hope you guys find useful.
So you can ride safe, and let nothing come between you and the road.