A start and STOP within 100 kms!
6th Oct was the planned departure for the ride that would take us to exotic locations across Sikkim and Nepal! The bike was prepped at the dealer, Vinayak Cars and Bikes, very thoroughly looking at every aspect that could potentially lead to a breakdown.
The amount of attention and pampering that #Armstrong got was simply fabulous. Needless to mention, the CEO, Mr. Suresh Kumar Bafna, personally ensured his team gave all the required attention.
While the mechanicals were addressed at the service station, I was on the lookout for Pirelli Scorpion Trail II for the rear tire and even went about announcing this request on my Facebook Page. I got quite a few friends reverting their acceptance to my request, but the catch was that they all will come after the 8th October!
I almost lost hope and reached out to the Michelin Team to check if Michelin Pilot Road 4 GT was available. The answer was a No.. they just have the Michelin Pilot Road 4 … Unwillingly, I stuck a deal, got a super price and placed my order.
Hardly, had I committed to buying this one, Varun Agarwal from Transformerz, New Delhi, came back on Messenger, profusely apologizing for missing my post and updated me that he indeed had my requirement. At this stage, I did not tell him that I had closed in on Michelin Pilot Road 4, but carried out my negotiations to get a good price.
Price acceptance was done by the following evening and I requested him to send across the tire.
Armstrong was almost ready, and till 4th Oct, the surface courier had failed to deliver the Scorpion.
That day, I advised the Service Center to proceed mounting the Michelin Pilot Road 4 and I took delivery. Oct 5th, Scorpion was delivered after Varun meticulously chased it with the courier guys. I still did not tell him that I was on the Michelin Pilot Road 4!
6 Oct: Morning 5:00 am, we ride out. 100 Kms through Hoskote, Mulbagal…. And I have a rear flat tire!
The lane divider Cat eyes, possibly had a bolt jutting out… at speeds about 120 kmph (the Old Madras Road is awesome to cruise at such speeds) the tire should have sunk in into one such jutting bolt and given away… Can you sense the disappointment that I would be reeling under?
One text to Michelin on this incident and four phone calls later, the below was arranged.
Calls to 2 friends did not materialize…working day, prior commitments.
Call to Sufiyan Syed, Sales Manager with Vinayak Cars and Bikes.. @7:00 am, who took absolute responsibility to coordinate with Service Team, arranged Shekar, the senior technician to carry the Scorpion, paddock and the required tools to the place of breakdown… 100 + kms away!
4th call was to Jayanth Kolla.. never did it strike me to call me, as he is a working professional, calls himself a Analyses Mason and has his own consultancy firm by the name of Convergence Catalyst. He did not think for even 5 seconds.. asked me who, where, what and he was on his way!
4 hours later… Jayanth drives in Shekar with Scorpion + all required tools to the roadside tire repair shop, Shekar helps getting the tire replaced, does the fine checks and off we are on our way!
While the wait was in progress, the locals out there lent us their bike to ride over 3 kms on their LML Motorcycle and have breakfast at a good new restaurant… a hotel owned by a Malayalee, a cook from Shimoga and a service guy from Mangalore!
Over the last many months, I have had Armstrong talk to me … be it the spin and fall in Sela pass, refusing to ride down in the thick layer of snow, which could have been nothing short of devastation to this tire getting flat that necessitated the replacement to Scorpion…and what a paramount choice it was!
Upon reaching Sikkim and hitting the trails of slush, river crossings and Level 3 broken trails, for over 200 kms of such roads, standing on the foot pegs and accelerating through, I could feel and sense the Scorpion screaming deep into the slush, but holding Armstrong, rock steady! And when I mean rock steady… no feeling of rolling over or slip.
What a fantastic tire and a timely help that came our way from Varun, Jayanth and the Team at Vinayak!!