Feb 23

Toot, toot

by in India

Removing the tusks from elephants & rhinos is pretty distasteful but there’s  one type of horn I’d like to see eradicated completely and that’s the one blasting from every Indian vehicle on the road. Earsplitting sounds emit constantly from an array of horns. If I wake in the middle of the night and for a few minutes I don’t hear them going I start wondering where I am. Trains, trucks, buses, taxis, rickshaws, you name it, they blast it, and the louder the better it seems. Not that it makes any difference to the way the traffic moves, but constantly beeping seems to be an art form in India.

Once I crossed the state line into Rajasthan some things definitely improved. Restaurants & hotels appeared regularly, even with public toilets and signs advertising fresh drinking water. The four laned highway was clean & easy to travel, that was until entering towns where rows of judder bars appeared without warning and threatened to shake the bike apart. Lots of tolls but bikes pass through for free which has been great. The hose extension I picked up in Agra barely last 5 kms before a hole appeared. The grade of rubber wasn’t able to stand up to the pressure.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, with oil spewing all over my pants again, the mudguard stay broke completely and required welding in Jaipur. I’ve had to put strong rubber bands on the brake levers to stop them from being knocked as this locks up the back wheel if the bike is reversed. Unfortunately they’ve also perished which means scouting round for substitutes. Amazingly I covered 245kms in one day – a record for the bike. My ride from Jaipur to Jodhpur lasted 110kms before a rear tyre blew out the side and I had to fit the 19” tube. Fingers crossed it lasts til I can find a correct sized one. I got all excited when I saw an advertisement for offroad KTMs in Jaipur, but that proved premature as the guy in the showroom said they plan on only bringing in KTM road bikes so that avenue for tubes isn’t available. Now if only the guy in the picture had a tyre in my size!

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30 Responses to “Toot, toot”

  1. From John G:

    Halloo Ron! My hat’s off to you, fella! This is a fantastic thing you’re doing and I wish you all the best. Someone kindly put your blog address on the “Rider Tales” page of the Horizons Unlimited webpage known as “the HUBB” and that’s how I found you. Before reading your blog I would have bet dollars to doughnuts that those two mad Norwegians who rode round the globe on 2 Nimbuses from the 30’s (the King Croesus Contempt for Death Tour) represented the most adventurous of motorcycle adventurers, but I was wrong. I think you have them beaten all hollow. You show the rest of us what is possible if we just keep at a thing and not give up (or in). I’ve not any connections in the world of antique motorcycles so I’m afraid all the help I can give is to keep cheering from the sidelines, but cheer I shall. Thanks for letting us go along on your ride!

    Posted on March 19, 2012 at 3:53 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi John

      Good to have you on-board even if you don’t ride anything old, tho I guess you do ride if you’re following Horizons? I didn’t know anything about the King Croesus Contempt for Death Tour so am checking that out – sounds a great ride! Unfortunately I’ve got plenty of time on my hands at the moment as you’ll see on the next blog update. Here’s hoping I’ll be back in the saddle soon.
      Hang in there with us.

      Cheers, Ron

      Posted on March 21, 2012 at 4:49 am #
  2. From Bob Agombar:

    Hi Ron regards your enquirey of my sunbeam. no mine is a thoroughbred Sunbeam model nine born in Wolverhampton in 1936.Long before the BSA co. bought the name and applied it to the post war S7.regards Bob.

    Posted on March 9, 2012 at 9:53 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Bob

      That’s a very desirable machine you have there! Hope we get to meet up somewhere at the end of this ride. Would be good to admire your thoroughbred in person. I’m amazed at how many other riders are following the blog and it makes it seem less like I’m alone, even with the crowds.
      Cheers Ron

      Posted on March 12, 2012 at 5:22 am #
  3. From Bob Agombar:

    Hi Ron Just joined your fantastic journey. I am 86 and still ride my 1936 500cc SUNBEAM.Your stupendous undertaking is flabbergasting.More power to your elbow, as the old saying goes.Good luck ,and stay healthy and upright. all the best from another old bloke on a bike.Bob.

    Posted on March 2, 2012 at 12:28 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Bob
      Great to have another old bloke along for the ride! The fact that you’re still riding at 86 is fantastic and I hope I’ll be doing the same. I may get over to the UK at the end of the trip if it hasn’t got too cold. Is your Sunbeam an S7? I hope to meet some other motorcycle travelers one of these days – haven’t seen any as yet. Also looking forward to getting to ride with fellow vintage enthusiasts in Europe – should be fun. All the best, Ron

      Posted on March 5, 2012 at 12:26 am #
  4. From John Galvin:

    Hi Ron, just started following your blog…facinating…full of admiration..you deserve a medal the size of a dinner plate. you may remember me..I met you in Castlemaine Vic, mid december 2011. you were making some roadside adjustments to the FN whilst test running the machine as I drove bye. I’m the pom who was on holiday in Vic and now live in Germany. Will most certainly meet up with you when you arrive in Europe. Safe riding…John Galvin

    Posted on February 29, 2012 at 10:39 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi John
      Yes, of course I remember you. Castlemaine seems so long ago now! I’m still making roadside adjustments. LOL, but they’re alot more basic these days. You wouldn’t recognise the FN with all the bodgie parts on it, but as long as it’s maintained daily it seems to manage. Would love to meet up in Germany – we can celebrate. Where are you located?
      keep in touch and enjoy riding along.

      Caio, Ron

      Posted on March 1, 2012 at 11:09 am #
      • From John Galvin:

        Hi Ron, we are located near the town of Bruchsal (north of the Black Forrest and south of Heidelburg.) We are actually on the Bertha Benz memorial route…The route that Bertha Benz took when she made the first trial run with Carl Benz’s prototype car in 1888, some 22 years before your FN was built. Wouldn’t it be nostalgic if you could include just some of this route in your journey ? You would be more than welcome to make an overnight stop with us if you wish. Its just a thought for a few months ahead…I’m sure there are more ungent concerns to deal with before you arrive in Europe. Ron, I am in total admiration of your courage and sense of adventure. Not only have you taken on an enormous challenge but with todays technology, you have enabled so many others to share your unique journey…Ron you are a STAR.
        stay safe

        Posted on March 1, 2012 at 1:41 pm #
        • From The Old Bloke:

          Hi again John. I agree – doing the Bertha Benz memorial route sounds terrific. It’s great you brought it to my attention. I’ve checked out the story & found it fascinating, so definitely plan to include the route in my schedule. I understand there’s a museum in Mannheim really worth visiting also. Thanks for the invite John and I look forward to meeting up with you sometime in September. I’m crossing the border into Pakistan in a few days and expect that to be a great experience. Glad to hear you’re enjoying sharing in the ride. All the best, Ron

          Posted on March 4, 2012 at 11:47 pm #
  5. From Paula:

    Hey, Ronnie.
    Kunal was a guy I found surfing around the web who owned a bike workshop in India specialising in Royal Enfields – thought he may have the contacts to help with your tyre issues.
    Admit I’ve sent out quite a lot of exploratory emails to people I’ve just found by following threads as you never know who may have the answer.
    Stay safe in Pakistan.

    Posted on February 28, 2012 at 10:09 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Thanks sis. None of the right tyres available in India, but do have some arranged from Europe. Lots of Royal Enfields here but no real contact for anything this old – mainly 30’s stuff and recent Enfields. No worries – I seem to be sorted now. Thanks for looking out for me.
      Enjoyed India, now looking forward to something different – Pakistan should prove interesting.

      Cheers, Ron

      Posted on March 1, 2012 at 11:01 am #
  6. From Thomas:

    Ps: will also repeat fm my companies email address.

    Posted on February 28, 2012 at 7:12 am #
  7. From Thomas:

    Ron, the Email address I’ve used was correct. Check your spam. Maybe it landed up there. Asked Jacques and Geert to repeat fm their email acct. As soon as you hv finished yr today’s trip, drop me an email to see if my mail has reached you. Owise I will call you.
    In short: seems dunlops are not produced any more, at least not available. Only Ensigns 26 x 1/12 x 1/4 (same size as the dunlops) plus extra strong tubes (2-3 times more). Importing into India is possible, we can handle thru our Delhi office. Also delivery to the place where you will be at that time. But realisticly the tires cannot reach you before beg/ middle of next week.
    Good luck

    Posted on February 28, 2012 at 7:10 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Managed to locate the problem with the emails Thomas and they seem to be coming through now. Thanks for all the tire info and your great support. It’s much appreciated.

      Caio, Ron

      Posted on March 1, 2012 at 10:54 am #
  8. From Di:

    Hi Ron, its so great to read your blog and see that you are receiving such wonderful help along the way. Spoke to Lynne and she seems to be having the best time at the markets. Am planning to visit India myself in September so finding all this very interesting, though I won’t be doing it on an old bike!.

    Posted on February 28, 2012 at 2:02 am #
  9. From FN oldtimers Jacques Maertens:

    The “Oldblokeonabike” journey is to see at http://www.fnoldtimers.be

    We are crossing daily our fingers to meet “Ron” at the finish at the “FN meeting” in Germany 14-16/09/2012 is there 10 the international FN meeting.

    Today I send a entry to magazine Het Motorrijwiel Dutch oldtimer magazine http://www.motorrijwiel.nu


    Posted on February 27, 2012 at 8:24 pm #
  10. From Thomas:

    Hi Ron,
    check your e-mail. Need your opinion reg the tires.

    Posted on February 27, 2012 at 3:30 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Thomas

      I didn’t receive any emails. My email address is ronfellowes@gmail.com and phone number in India is +91 71 698 935
      Heading towards Amritsar today. Will only get about 150 kms or so, near Nagaur. It will probably take me 6 days to reach Amritsar. If you have any problems reaching me, my wife’s # in India is: +91 98 105 89570 She’s in Udaipur today.

      Looking forward to hearing from you.


      Posted on February 28, 2012 at 3:19 am #
  11. From Sambit Mohanty:

    Hi Ron,

    I came to know abt your tyre debacle from a friend (Kunal Bhaskaran) who has recently migrated to Australia.

    I have already tweeted you regarding the same. Please share your contact number in India and I can check if I can arrange for a tyre as per your requirement from Delhi, which as per me will be your best bet to source the tyre.

    Its really heartwarming to see you take on the biking world with such dedication. Would love to do something of the sort myself someday.


    Posted on February 27, 2012 at 8:03 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Sambit

      Great to hear from you and know you are following my travels. I don’t think you can buy a good quality tyre in India in the right size, only the 2 ply ones from China or Thailand. There is a guy Thomas in India who is looking into receiving the tyres from overseas as well. His email is americancycles.blogspot.com
      My phone number is: +91 71 698 935 I’m heading from Jodphur today and will get about 150kms around a place called Nagaur. It will probably take me about 6 days to reach Amritsar. If you cant reach me by phone, my email address is ronfellowes@gmail.com and my wife’s ph # in India is +91 98 105 89570

      Any help is warmly appreciated, but please let me know before arranging anything.

      Regards Ron

      Posted on February 28, 2012 at 3:28 am #
  12. From Thomas:

    following yr fantastic trip thru yr blog. I am the “Shipping Thomas” ;-)) Together with Jaques + Geert we are trying to organize the tires. We will hopefully know by tomorrow, what tires are available in the requested size. (pls also check yr mail) Shipping is the easy part, importing (customs) and collecting/bringing it to the right place within india will be the porb. We will check and one of us will rvt tomorrow by mail. all the best and hope to see you, when you cross Germany…(then it more or less done…)

    Posted on February 26, 2012 at 6:35 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Thomas

      Thanks so much for your kind assistance. I had a feeling importing into India might be tricky but will wait until we know from you what is involved. I’ll keep an eye on my mail to see what you are able to find out. I’ve been told the road north from Jodhpur to Amritsar is pretty good, (just sandy) so as long as i take it easy things should be okay, but I really would prefer to have good quality tires onboard just in case as I have no idea what to expect in Pakistan.
      I look forward very much to meeting up with you, Geert & Jacques in Germany. Fantastic to have such great support from fellow enthusiasts. I look forward to hearing from you soon.



      Posted on February 27, 2012 at 4:50 am #
  13. From wally jay:

    good to see your doing well didnt realize you had A tow-bar to pull A trailer with your very larg spare tyres

    Posted on February 26, 2012 at 10:33 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      LOL, Just one of the many great sights I see on the road! Ron

      Posted on February 26, 2012 at 1:57 pm #
  14. From FN oldtimers Jacques Maertens:

    Hi Ron,

    The search for tires has started,I give your e-mailso they could directly write to you and even if found someone who could ship to India;owns there a contact men in India :his name is Mister “Thomas”.
    You see it is a very small oldtimer motorcycle world, with help worldwide.


    Posted on February 26, 2012 at 9:16 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Jacques – You’re a gem! Look forward to hearing from the person you think might be able to send some tyres to India and the contact man Mr Thomas. Where is he located in India?
      I’m spending Monday fixing the broken spokes and a guy is making me a padded seat cover which might help my sore bum!

      Cheers, Ron

      Posted on February 26, 2012 at 2:00 pm #
  15. From Ben:

    Hi. Met you briefly at front of hotel in Jodhpur. You’re clearly mad but good on you. Couldn’t agree more about the beeping. Just can’t get used to it. Can’t believe you’ve had quite a few problems already and you’ve got a long way to go. Hope the luck of the kiwi rides with you and they can still recognise your bike when you get to Belgium. If you want to see our blog http://www.reapdesigns.co.uk/india/

    Posted on February 25, 2012 at 8:57 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Ben

      Yep, I’ve definitely spent too much time in the sun and it’s affected the brain, but there you go. There have been a few problems since I began but nothing that can’t be overcome and given the bike’s age, nothing that was unexpected. Wouldn’t be an adventure if it was all easy. Only another day or two here to fix the spokes then I’ll be heading north to Pakistan.
      Great blogsite you have! Hope you & your wife continue to enjoy your travels and keep watching this space.

      Caio, Ron

      Posted on February 26, 2012 at 2:28 am #
  16. From Chris:

    Respect! From NZ and watching your travels!

    Posted on February 23, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

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