Monsoon off-road riding tips
The monsoons are here. For most motorcycle owners the rainy season means packing away their motorcycles for a few months. Little do they know what they are missing out on. When the rains come, it brings out the best in some of the off-road trails in the countryside. We got a chance to experience this first-hand one rainy weekend as we headed off to Rajmachi for a short weekend ride.
The key is to look where you want to go. The moment you look at an obstacle instead of around it, you will go right into it
The roads up until just before Lonavla are in pretty good shape and are all well-surfaced national highways. Of course, with the rain coming in, it does call for more caution when riding. You need to especially take care not to get too enthusiastic in corners and not lean the bike over so much that you lose traction. The trick is to hang off more and keep the bike as close to vertical as possible.
But that is for tarmac. All that went out the window the moment we took the turn towards Rajmachi. Within just a few kilometers, the tarmac disappeared and the dirt began.
If you thought riding on gravel was hard, try riding on wet, slimy dirt. If you're running road tires, you can forget about riding on such surfaces. Thank god then that the Hero Impulse I was riding was running CEAT semi off-road tyres. This means that it is the best compromise between on- and off-road performance.
The road to Rajmachi is just a trail. There are several water crossing and sections where you have to actually get off your motorcycle and physically push it up inclines. The trail is filled with large stones and boulders and you need to keep your eyes open for obstacles.
The key is to look where you want to go. The moment you look at an obstacle instead of around it, you will go right into it. Avoid using the clutch, keep your bike running at high revs in low gears and you will be able to go over almost anything. But when it's time to come down the other side, things can get a little tricky.
When coming down an incline, it is imperative that you not use the clutch at all. The moment you pull the clutch in, your motorcycle will start to roll free. And once it starts free-rolling, chances are you won't be able to stop and you will end up on the ground. So zero clutch, first gear and rear brake all the way down.
At the end of it however, all that hard work is worth it because the views you get on the way to Rajmachi are mind-blowing. So for all you people sitting under the blanket over the weekend, maybe it's time to get out and get wet.
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