Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Christmas Day Ride to Calabar

Have been riding for few years now. Never wanted to do a write about the trip. Here is my first attempt. With my head trained for Machines, power , torque, engine, emissions not sure if i can still do essay writing!!

Previous day to the ride.

Out of the Forum of 6-7 bikers few could not do the trip! unfortunately Gate "The fast and furious " was injured in the hospital and the other one had bike issues. They had to abort the mission and stay back in Lagos. The long distance lion Y2K and the Adventure rider Jay decided to venture on this journey to the Calabar carnival!

As usual sleep is the rare commodity on the previous day of the trip, checked with many riders most of them had the same symptoms!! Crashed the bed at 10.00 staying just there rolling from left to right and not sleeping!! Still no!! ok ozzzzzz , Could remember well hardly slept for 4-5 hrs. There is ever never a need of alarm before the day of the ride. Eyes are wide open few hours before the alarm starts buzzing.

Venue fixed Total station after Ajah Junction! Time 06.00 hrs.

Day of the ride.

Quick shower, Packed 50 gms of groundnut, 4 dates and coffee poured into the whiskey flask, bottle of water in the backpack. Used to riding with the backpack with two set of spares clothes, go pro! toiletries, towels, Tyre repair kit etc. All the pre-ride checks was complete the previous and the horse is ready to move.

Meeting Y2k near the Lekki toll gate was easy and no stress of waiting or looking for him.Reached Total station 05.59. Remember very well dialogue by Jay "Bros no Nigerian Time please 06.00 hrs means 06.00 hrs. Have had the experience of fellow bikers leaving if one turned very late.

The road captain Jay arrives at 06.04 hrs!! Jay being familiar with the roads decided to lead us! It was still dark and Rocket entered the first pothole, what a good test on the shock absorbers, as the fork seal and oil was changed just before the trip. The pothole in no way can scare the rocket! Was eagerly waiting for the sun and we could see some light nearing Epe! The real work of the KTM starts now! KTM 990 Adventure can ride through the all curves and potholes along the axis with ease and Jay was enjoying the curves and his machine! Caught up with Jay @ Ijebu Ode talking to Cobra who was caged in his van to his village in Anambara state!

Highway filled with cages ( Being an Xmas day) from Ijebu Ode and since it's our very familiar route we did all the filtering to reach Ore before the cars could even sight any of our rear lights. Thanks to the car traffic, it has killed all the sluggishness and made us awake very well and concentrate for the more miles to come.

Reaching Ore is the start of enjoyment as the roads being real sweet!! Was following Jay who was at constant 170 -180 kph, Have always maxed out the Rocket to 230-240 plus on that road after removing the speed limiter! Since the journey was long I decided to stick to the speed to be behind the KTM. Well identified a cute method to know speeding past 200 kmph without looking at the speedo, the fork bags try fly towards the fuel tank exactly at 200kmph!

Headed to Benin for fueling at the highway Conoil stattion. Fuel scarcity has hit Nigeria hard at this times and most stations we went to refill were either not selling or charging us 130 Naira / Liter against the fixed price of 87 Naira / Liter.

Huge queue was spotted at the Conoil station in Benin and we have to skip the queue and enter the filling point. The driver of the car who was queuing at the front was angry , as we jumped the queue in front of him! persuading him that we are on the long ride to Calabar didn't calm him and he hit KTM with his car. The pump attendant quickly jumped in and warned the driver against his harsh behavior. Inspected the KTM, it was just a scratch on the crash guard. The driver now calmed down as he saw the crowd supporting bikers who are on the long ride.

Amidst this chaos , another pump attendant from the opposite side of the dispenser quickly came and said "oga open the tank, make I fill fuel for you, don't mind the fight there" as he was filling the tank, he asked me about my Honda Sabre and I had sold my old bike?? Its more than 3 years I brought fuel at that filling station and still the guy remembers me and my bike precisely even though the balaclava was hiding half of my face. I was surprised and thrilled about the impression and rush we create inside few people's mind that they can remember bikers and their bikes even after few years.

Hit the bypass road to Warri and what we saw was endless tar road with no automobiles. For the next 50 miles only three horses were galloping the highway as we hit Warri! Fueled at Ughelli hitting the road non- stop to PH at 12.45 hrs!! Hurrah! Now Jay says " guys 15 mins rest" After 6 hrs 45 minutes of hard riding. Now to rest and stretch ? Removing the kit and snacking myself with peanuts ,banana and 1-2 dates which was carried along ventured into road again.

It's always been a surprise which species of birds , large in size resembling a hybrid of swan and crow will fly so low to be hit by cars. Viewed a dead one lying on the road smashing the windscreen of the car, had to watch the riding as the bird hit can be dangerous at speeds and also few birds were circling the dead bird. Jay noticed a guy promptly running to collect the bird for his Xmas Barbecue.

Next stop Uyo. Uyo has not changed since my previous ride in 2012. Sweet endless roads greenery everywhere. Fueling at Uyo filling station! A guy in Tundra shouts " who owns this machine, oga make we swap our machines" Replied promptly " oya add 2 million Naira, can swap it for you. He laughs and leaves. Toyota Tundra is lovely & rugged of the all the machines one can spot in the Nigerian roads but it's still a cage.

Uyo - Calabar was easy with sweet curves and we passed Tinapa to enter the city and snapping our arrival at the entrance of the city!! What next, we park the bikes and head to the reception for our reservation! Jay was still refusing to remove his kit! says he still feels like riding more.

At the carnival

Riding behind the Governor was a real pure pleasure with thousands of people cheering us. Was amazed when a Biker (Ex Governor) riding a Black Spyder stopped near Rocket to greet nice bike. With 7-8 guards surrounding the rider was quick enough to shake hands with Ex - Governor with a "Thank You Sir".

It was fun to see the performers bands practicing for the carnival and loved to watch their rehearsals. Stayed back at the hotel to avoid the crowd and rested for the long ride back.

Ride back
Jay and Y2k decided to stay back to extend their vacation in Calabar (family call). Sama, me and Afro decided to do it back to Lagos! With intermittent power cut at the hotel, decided to sleep early @ 22.00 hrs! sleep no way again. Eyes wide open @ 01.00hrs! slept again @ 03.30hrs just to wake at 05.15 for the alarm. Power cut!!! Called fellow bikers to check if we need shower because of no water supply. Power was back at 05.30 hrs shower and headed to coffee! surprised to see Breakfast that early decided to eat oats and fruits!

Ride back again started @ 06.30 hrs, missed the curve to the entrance of Tinapa turned back and headed to the highway! Afro was trailing behind and couldn't be spotted! took a rough slow ride to Uyo together! Sama was doing a great job of accompanying Afro through the rough roads! with my heavy machine slowing down is always a issue and can start feeling the weight of the machine, so was leading in the front!

It's the case of Rocket leading two sports bikes now! Arriving at PH was easy and curves close to Aba was very sweet! Afro lion started roaring now and was close catching up with the other two horses!

PH- Warri- Benin was sweet as usual and all the three stopping at all major junction to head next! Refueled in Benin NNPC station and Afro was busy taking selfies.

What next is the Benin Ore fast ride. Sama decided to show his racing skills and his tail lights could be spotted even though he was doing 200kmph non - stop! As usual with the fuel scarcity and no fuel at Ore Junction, didn't want to cross to the other side of the road to fuel! Roads are still good after a few km from Ore to Ijebu Ode. Didn't spot Sama at Ore as he was diverting to Ibadan from there! Rode past ore to refuel! At that junction ,Afro was yet to be spotted and decided to leave a message in the Whatsapp forum to wait for him @ Ijebu Ode junction.

With clear daylight filtering the potholes had always been a great pleasure and reached Ijebu-ode @ 15.30 hrs.

Parked at the filling station! a 3-4 year old girl greeted " welcome" Saw the girl holding few bananas in her hand and requested her for one. The baby girl promptly gave the banana! Not all children give easily. Started snacking the peanuts the ones collected from the bar @ Hotel , Banana and did a cold coffee with Maltina (Just mixed a sachet of Nescafe into the Maltina, shaken not stirred). Now seeing the Afro lion roar past Ijedu ode was real relief.

Decided to saddle up and hit Epe. Was lucky not to see traffic @ Ajah roundabout and hit the road hard to find traffic in Eko bridge! Well it's really a painful pleasure to filter traffic after riding hard for 10 hours. Was quickly doing the extreme right of the road and speed past by mistake to enter the road leading to Marina.Taking one way will be harsh and was not easy as noticed a BRT bus from behind. Rode again to Bonny camp to do U turn and Eko bridge again (The height of endurance).

Reaching home @ Apapa was a really wonderful as there was no traffic due to the long holidays! the guards opening the gate who were praying hard for my return and shouting with joy saying " oga welcome ooh, u don try well". Checking the forum and reporting attendance was promptly answered by Sama and Afro as they too reached their final destination!

What you find on return from a ride is dirt, dust ,sand, grease, bird shit , insects and of course wonderful memories for years to share with many.

Thank God and the fellow bikers for the ride well done.All this is not possible without the love and affection of my late mom for her love and caring nourishment.

Dedicating this whole ride to my riding buddy Gate and wishing him a speedy recovery.

Return journey well done.

By Heramba Prasad (Zen)

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