Some might say it’s pointless. But for some, it is about how much can an individual endure and push personal limits. It’s as simple as making choices which define how we live and tell our stories. On a timeline, it can either be an ordinary straight line, or an eventful journey, full of experiences. Souvig Sarkar wants his life graph to look like the latter. The Mumbai-based engineer has entered the Limca Book Of Records for covering 5962.09 kilometres of the Golden Quadrilateral in a record time of 87 hours and 42 minutes astride his Triumph Street Triple RS. What made him do it? How did he do it? What challenges did he face? Here’s his story, penned in his own words:
What made me attempt the record?
I have been a passionate rider since a very young age. To me, creating a record is not a competition, it is a celebration of pushing human limits and understanding our capabilities. I am always faced by questions like why do you do this? Doesn’t it scare you, especially in India, where road-related incidents are a major cause of death? To which, my answer is, a lot among us follow their calling in life, however, in this world of overwhelming responsibilities, very few can follow it till their heart’s content. I have been one of the lucky few to be able to do so and decided to make the most of it.
My family and friends not only support my passion but also contribute whenever needed. Why an artist paints a portrait and why a singer records his song is the same reason why a biker records his journeys. The answer remains the same to each one of them. When you love something, you want the whole world to know and want to inspire others to recognise their passion and follow it with sincerity. Attempting to ride across the Golden quadrilateral in record time on a motorcycle was a difficult feat to achieve. But difficult does not mean impossible! And like most achievements, this one isn’t about one man alone.
There are many who deserve credit for this achievement. They should not be the unsung heroes and so I decided to put their names on the record too. They were the connecting dots to this beautiful accomplishment. This was my 4th attempt at the golden quadrilateral record. The first time I attempted was in 2016 where my bike broke down at Surat, with just 300 kms left till the finishing point. It was a complete disaster. But as they say, failures don’t define us, we define failures.
I had to pat my own back and try again because every failed attempt was a loss for my whole team. My previous attempts to cover distances in record time pushed me to follow this particular achievement. Riding across the 6,000-kilometre-long Golden Quadrilateral in the least number of hours is one of the most attempted records in the biking community. Before me, the record was held by Balaji Mohan, who covered the distance in a record time of 89 hrs. With that target set, here’s how it all began. Before I tell you more, If my story inspires anyone reading this, a piece of advice to all fellow bikers is that safety is important and unfortunately expensive, but it should not be compromised at any cost.
Day 1 And 2
I started my journey on the 18th of October 2019 from Mumbai at 11 PM. This was a difficult record to accomplish as compared to the previous one (East-west Limca record) the weather forecast predicted rains and thunderstorm for certain parts of the journey. That was topped up with bad roads! I had to ride through pouring rain on Day 1 and 2 of the record run, where the rain gods had opened the gates after I had crossed Panvel, just on the outskirts of Mumbai. It never stopped pouring until the next morning, yet, I rode for 24 hrs without a break on the 1st day and covered 2150 kms.
After that stint, I decided to get some rest at a hotel in Vishakhapatnam and fueled up my body with my favourite meal – Butter chicken and tandoori naan. The break lasted for about 2:30 hrs, which included a nap of 2 hrs. I started to ride on the 2nd day with a new set of dry clothes, but they didn’t stay that way. Within 15 minutes of starting the ride, someone poked the dark clouds, again! I had to ride my bike through waterlogged roads, yet, the Street Triple RS survived those conditions even when the tyres were almost submerged in water.
But what they say about tough times and tough men turned out to be true and just when I was about to enter West Bengal, the Sun came out shining! I had set myself a target to reach Kolkata before 4 pm that day so that I could cross the states of Bihar and Jharkhand during daylight. However, as soon as I crossed Burdwan in West Bengal, it started raining, again! At Burdwan, my friend and brother Shankar Borarker and his team serviced the bike within 10-15 mins, which was really commendable. The quick maintenance job included an engine oil top-up, rear brake pads replacement, chain tightening, cleaning and lubing. Due to unfavourable weather conditions, my Bluetooth communicating device was damaged and I had to look for a quick replacement. Bought a new device in Jharkhand around 8 pm and gunned it towards Varanasi.
The seriously wet and treacherous conditions while riding in the night had resulted in the wheels developing multiple bends. However, thanks to the robust quality of components on the Triumph Street Triple RS, the wheels took the damage, yet, allowed me to continue riding and did not let the spirit of completing the journey sink! I stopped for dinner at a Dhaba somewhere in Bihar around 9 pm and reached Varanasi around 2.30 am, where my partner in crime Rohit Singh and I made quick calculations regarding time constraints and measures to tackle the weather conditions.
Discussions concluded that I could afford a total rest time of 5 hrs in the next 2 days if I managed to maintain an average riding speed of 75-85 km/hr until the end. The rain was not only a challenge for the bike but also for me. I had developed blisters on my hands and feet after riding continuously for 2 days in the pouring rain. To fix that problem, I applied some soothing cream on the blisters and wrapped them with gauze. Followed it up with a quick nap for around 1hr 30minutes and was ready to start the journey again. My mindest was still positive as I told myself that the rains could break the bike and my body but not this spirit to achieve this dream record.
I started the ride early in the morning to find out it was drizzling. By this time, I had realised and prepared myself to the fact that the rest of the journey too, is going to be wet. For my body to keep going, I had my ritualistic breakfast of a multigrain energy bar, dry fruits and a cup of ginger tea around 10 am. The fun part of the ride started when I reached the Taj Expressway at 2 pm on the 21st of October 2019. That stretch allowed me to use the full potential of the Street Triple RS for the next 300 kms. with the rains showing some mercy. Riders from Delhi (Lakshya Singh, Jayad Bhutani and Ansh) helped me to service the clutch cable after it got jammed and things got a little edgy after repeated service stops and taking a wrong route to reach Delhi, added to the time.
Had dinner at around 8:20 pm at a local Dhaba as it’s important to feed the stomach and the soul if one needs to carry on! Rode for some 30 odd kms and the temperature started to drop drastically – the digital display read 16-18 degrees. Made it to Jaipur by 11 pm to realise that all the cold-weather lining underneath was of no use as it was already moist and I could feel the cold air seeping inside the jacket. Although the temperature was just 15-degree celsius, it felt colder than that due to the wind. By this time, I also realised that my riding jacket was torn in various places.
The dilemma required me to stop and communicate with the supporting team, which included riders from all over India. Kudos to Praveen Bist from Jaipur, who provided help in no time with woollen clothes, foil paper and woollen gloves. Not just him. Had it not been for the support from the riding community all over India, attempting this record ride would never have been possible. I then realised that I had made it until that part of the ride, where my body was beginning to give up and hopes of setting the record were fading away, but I had to give it everything for this last leg.
Allowed my brain to take over the body and fed it with 5-6 cups of tea at various roadside stalls. The brew allowed me to run calculations in the head and dismiss the ample number of self-doubts which had begun to creep in. I somehow managed to dodge the cold night with multiple tea breaks and constant communication with my father and close friends (Viral, Pritesh, Rohit and Krishna). Their words kept me awake and motivated. Weariness finally got the better of me and I finally dozed off near a tea stall for 30 minutes.
The difficult part was waking up after that, as my body was sleep-deprived and the cold weather only made things worse. It was a complete do or die situation and simple math told me that I had to cover approximately 1,100 kilometres in 11 hours and 30 minutes! Chanting the name of the almighty, I started again at around 3 am, knowing that I could not afford to take a break in the next 12 hours. My family and close friends were in constant touch and kept motivating me to do the impossible.
Reached Vadodara at about 11 am and my adrenaline rush was at its peak. Without any breaks for the next 500 kilometres, reached the starting point at 2.42 pm. After signing the documents and with the record sealed, greeted my family and friends, who were waiting with garlands and sweets to greet me on my birthday. It was the 22nd of October and I had turned a year older and a year stronger!
Preparing the Bike
Being the founder of Bikers Billet, a bike accessory manufacturing company, it was easy for me to design the products that were necessary for my bike. Fitted a specially-designed radiator guard for the Street Triple RS, as the idea was to cover various parts of the radiator and protect it from flying debris, mud, etc, without making any compromise on the airflow. The design was conceptualised by my AutoCAD designer Vijay and his team and the final product took the test of endurance and survived. To protect the bike in the event of a fall, frame sliders were designed in such a way that they could withstand a high-speed crash. Also, 3M reflective tapes were pasted on the sliders to increase night visibility. These were designed by Mr Surendra Sharma and his team, who tested various designs to conclude that the simple ones were the most durable and functional.
Bikers Billet’s Version 2.0 front fork sliders were used on the bike to protect the front forks, our saddle support system was converted into jerry can holders to reduce time consumed at fuel bunks to refill and the cans ensured I could cover around 450 kms with a single refill. The angle in which the holders could be mounted safely was a major challenge. However, Anand, who is a technical associate at Bikers Billet found the right solution. A customised mobile holder was designed with features like display angle adjustment, quick release and the ability to replace the base plate, which made it easy to view both the vehicle display and the GPS display with a mere glance.
The Street Triple RS’ Front and Rear Tyres were changed to Pirelli Angel GTs for the endurance ride and a ‘Let’s Track’ GPS monitoring system was fitted inside the bike to track the whole journey. Mr Suri from Viaterra helped to design a tail bag which would fit perfectly and special compartments were made inside the bag to carry ride-specific items. A specially-designed mobile charging socket from Bikers Billet was installed, where the chargers could be interchanged as required. Chargers used were Aukey 3.0, MI Car charger, and a Meowz car charger with Voltage indicator.
Since I also had to ride during the night, a provision to mount auxiliary lights was made, but never used as the dual headlights spread on the road was more than sufficient. Tested the bike for about 1,600 kms under hard conditions with all the above accessories just to check its sustainability. I need to thank the folks at Riya Triumph Ahmedabad and Jamshed for helping me to purchase the bike and also the guys at the Triumph Service centre in Mumbai (Atul and his team), who helped me a lot to prepare the vehicle for this Golden Quadrilateral Expedition
Riding Gear and Luggage used
- Via Terra Riding Gloves
- Via terra Tail Bag
- Zeus Riding Shoes
- Cramster Riding Jacket
- Axor Helmet with Clear and Black Visor
Took about a month to prepare for the ride, both physically and mentally. Physical training included cardio for 30-40 mins, followed by weight training. My gym trainer Mayur would mix various workouts to cover all the body parts and to make the sessions enjoyable. Most importantly, stretching exercises were scheduled before the actual workout sessions to avoid any injury. Body Weight training was also added along with Weight training and a strict diet chart was prepared, which included consumption of high protein, low fat and carbs.
Before The Ride
I would take the Street Triple RS for long solo rides, which helped me test its capabilities. Since I was already aware of how the bike performs when the weather isn’t right for riding, it helped me a lot when I faced similar conditions during the actual ride. During the pre-record riding phase, the Triumph Mumbai Service Centre Team provided me with their full support by replacing a few parts with those which helped the bike to perform better. New ECU maps were loaded by Parag at Triumph to help the engine tackle the endurance of the record attempt. I had also tested my physical state, where I would sleep for 2-3 hrs at night and continue my daily routine. This went on for 4-5 consecutive days and perhaps, was the most difficult part of the training. At the end of it all though, I managed to achieve what I had set out for and there’s no better feeling than the satisfaction I now feel.