Riding is my passion and I have shown this on the road many times. whether it’s a bike, scooter, car, or Autorickshaw, I like to drive every vehicle. This is the reason why after driving an autorickshaw for few metres, I applied for a valid 3 wheeler driving license and after driving a commercial vehicle I applied driving license for the same.
Still many people know me because of my Saddle Sore ride (1600 km in 24 hrs) on Hero Splendor 97.2 cc bike. I say it was difficult but possible. If I can do it, anyone can do it. There is just the difference between Ideas.
For a long time, I was looking something to do in cars. Being an automobile journalist, I get the chance to drive various segments of cars. Finally, I got to know that what I did on bikes is also possible in cars. India Book of Records was there to validate my drive. 1600 km in 24 hours is my USP and there was a category in IBR, Maximum distance covered by car in 24 hours. I planned to do this. To do an attempt I need a vehicle. I have a wide range of options, but TATA was my priority. I do not hesitate in saying that I have a soft corner for Hero Moto Corp in bikes and Tata motors in cars. Tata because of two reasons, 1. I follow Mr. Rata Tata by heart and appreciate his work towards the country and I did my initial long-distance drive on Tata vehicles. It was Tata Indica, Tata Bolt, and Tata Tigor.
So, my backend work started. I was willing to attempt the drive in 2020. As 2020 has many negative memories, I want to make some positive out of it. For me, 2020 will always be a memorable year as I became the father of twin beautiful daughters this year.
After short planning and homework, I planned to attempt the record on 15-December-2020. My route fixed, ‘Pune-Bangalore-Pune’, the nearby route for me, just 100 meters from my residence. Earlier I did few rides on this route, so I was much confident. I also got to know the condition of the roads is not good. That’s where I can test the actual car.
This drive was not a high-speed drive. My concept was to drive like an average person, with breaks during the drive and not focus on maximum speed. Yet try to cover maximum distance in 24 hours. The selection of vehicle was easy. Tata is known for robust vehicles. All the current vehicles Tiago, Tigor, Nexon, Harrier are very stylish and durable. The latest Altroz looks premium and the NCAP Crash Test gave 5-Star rating making it the safest hatchback car in India. On highways, it’s always recommended to drive safe vehicles. The main reason is on highways there are no small accidents like in the city. It damages the whole vehicle. Life is more important, so if you drive more on highways, do check for NCAP rating before buying any car.
While traveling on the bike I prefer to carry minimum required things but during the drive, I carry maximum things required or might need. As per this concept, I was carrying a bag full of fast foods (chips, chocolates, namkeen, biscuit, energy bar, dry fruits, etc), spare clothes, pair of extra shoes, torch, tubeless tyre puncture repair kit, air filler, Sellotape, knife, power bank, spare cables, chargers, coins, 10/-, 50/- Rs changes, etc. Adding to this, my friend Vedang Ieetkar carried 4 cameras and accessories. He was responsible for video and photographs of the event.
The drive was scheduled for 15th December 2020, but on 14th it was raining in Pune. I was worried. Being in the car rain won’t affect much, but still, if it rains during the drive there will be some difficulty in the visibility, the traffic may slow down, as the roads were not so good, there was a chance for a delay. At night I checked the weather forecast which said there will be no rain for the next few days. This gave a big relief. The next day, 15th December 2020, I started my drive from my regular starting point Shell Petrol pump, Warje at 8 am. But due to some stupid people on the roads, my journey delayed at the first Toll plaza. It took around 30 mins to cross the toll plaza. Apart from this, there was heavy traffic till Satara. So, taking a quick decision, I planned to start the record drive again from Satara. Vedang agreed with me. I started my drive from Chikate Petroleum, Satara at 2 pm on 15-Dec-2020 and ended it on 16-Dec-2020 at Sai Express Way, Pune. I took a total of 6 fuel stops including the start and end. You can watch my video of ‘Tata Altroz 24-Hour Drive’ here. Driving for 24 hours at a stretch looks easy. But there are always certain ‘things’ hidden from commoners. The challenge was not about high speed, it was about the endurance of ‘man and machine’. Driving Tata Altroz for 24 hours gave a close understanding of the vehicle. You can watch me share my wonderful experience of the trip in the video. I really enjoyed driving Tata Altroz and am proud to be in the India Book of Records.
I dedicate this drive to my twin daughters Iniya and Initha Saha. My strength my wife Sonal Saha, my moral support my father Dilip Saha.My team Dibyendu Joardar, Alok Nadem, and Kedar Vaidya. Vedang Ieetkar, my companion during the drive was very helpful. All photographs and videos of this drive go to his credits.
Special Thanks to Shri Sachin Dodke, Smt. Dipali Pradeep Dhumal, Shri Pradeep Dhumal, Shri Ashish Samant, and Shri Jaydeep Bhoite for your motivation. Without the team support of Tata motors, it was not possible and I am highly grateful to the India Book of Records team for the prompt support.