We reached Rome pretty late in the evening, got the bike cleared out of customs, started riding out on the third of November. We passed Coliseum that night. I was sure that we would not have time to come back to this place, took some pictures documented our entry into Italy, went by the Vatican pictures, pictures all along the way documenting the way Guinness would ideally would want. keeping tabs of fuel bills, keeping tabs of the road signs, keeping tab of anything that can document that we were riding from point A to point B and beyond. We reached Rome and rode through Austria republic of Czech Germany, France and UK
In Prague, we went into the Java factory and visited their museum that houses some classic legendary bikes that they had prepared over the years. And also met Mr. Stanley Wallace who who’s the brain behind having created the Yezdi road King back in 1979. The minute he saw our motorcycle he said, Oh, nothing’s much has changed now. I could read the sarcasm in his tone because nothing much was done since the bike was born in 1979. Till the day the bike company eventually shut down. A little disappointment but yes, but the bike was holding on great. We had absolute fun riding across some of the most beautiful expressways and autobahns in Europe before riding through Paris And eventually reaching London
Canara Bank were my official bankers, they had to sign off a bank guarantee for having taken the motorcycle out of the country. They had encouraged us to stay with their guesthouse in Wembley and we did use that facility as a base to connect with the Indian community and who really came up to help and supported us generate funds. Because we were kind of hitting the red and that’s when I sensitized a few of the friends saying that it would be great if there is a fundraising initiative that can be done. So in no time people got connected. We were hosted, we were told to share our experiences the families then got together, pulling a lot of money and started supporting us. Few people even spoke to their connects in the USA and helped us and advised us to reach out to them when we reach that place. The most interesting thing and, it is a challenge that came upon myself to look at how the bike got shipped out from London. It so happened that having flown Gulf Air and Alitalia, the time came for us to fly between London, New York, and we were as usual looking for support. And that’s when the Indian community came up and said, let me get you some good tickets from Air India and we’ll pick up the cost. And they spoke to Air India, they fixed up our tickets and they said these guys are riding a bike, and we were told to come by at least four hours before the normal check in begins to deposit the bike with the porters who will load the bike.. So we reached the Heathrow airport about four or five hours before the boarding time and at a cargo parking area we drained the oil we emptied the fuel tank, we disconnected the batteries, we drained the water from the battery and then pushed the half inflated bike to be loaded. And Basavaraj would stand by the bike anytime I would go into for logistics. And when I went in, I ended up meeting a gentleman called Sunil Vishwanath , he is the brother of one of our karnataka cricket team players,Sadanand Vishwanath,a wicket keeper he ended up being on the national team as well. So he asked me where my bike was. I said bike is outside and I told him the tires are deflated. The oil is taken out the petrol is drained and he was like we were told about a bike, not a motorcycle. I said, Yeah, it’s a bike. So the confusion escalated and he had to reach out to one Miss Aarthi was the airport lobby manager, who took it up with the guys in the management of Air India, in London and all got into huddle as to how to address the situation. Now, this goes back to 1989 when the Pan Am aircraft was bombed across the Atlantic and there were certain definite protocols to be followed. When dangerous goods are loaded on the flight and bike being a dangerous cargo it had to have a cooling off period of at least 24 hours before It got airborne. Now, this was a situation that I was not ready to leave the bike behind and fly on this aircraft. So finally, they conceded and they said okay. And since we came highly recommended from the Indian community and we had ridden and all the way from India and probably certainly internal protocols where permissible deviations were put into place and we were told to go ahead and load the bike. So you could see my bike standing in the check in counter which is again an impossible task for anybody to have done. In those days forget today. Nothing’s happening today at all. This MEY 3442 was standing at the Air India check-in counter where you would usually go ahead and get your boarding pass.