April 4th, 2008 was the 150th Anniversary of Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi’s famous daring escape from Jhansi fort under cannon fire from General Sir Hugh Rose of the East India Company on 4th April 1858. This is an act of bravery un-paralleled in the annals of history. With her adopted infant son Damodar Rao strapped to her back, Rani Laxmibai jumped her horse over the fort wall and rode 100 miles from Jhansi to Kalpi in 24 hours.
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of this event, bikeguru Dilip Bam of Pune decided to organize a Ladies only scooter rally from Jhansi to Kalpi on 4th April 2008. The scooter chosen was Kinetic Flyte and M/s Kinetic Motor Co. of Pune agreed to sponsor this rally. I was fully involved in conducting this rally along with bikeguru.
Jhansi is in the Bundelkhand region of central India, which is quite backward. The distance from Jhansi to Kalpi is 156 km and the road is quite bad. Large parts of it are kuccha, other parts are littered with building materials. Potholes and pits abound, obstacles have to be overcome, and passage through narrow lanes of towns & villages en-route is dangerous because the truck and dumper traffic is heavy and unregulated.
I assisted bike guru in evaluating the riding skills of the hundreds of ladies who applied to participate. The ladies ranged in age from 17-year-old college girls to 52-year-old grandmothers and weighed between 35 kg to 120 kg. The traffic handling capability of each lady was evaluated by me by riding with each aspirant, one-by-one, on Senapati Bapat Road in Pune. This took a lot of time.
We selected 36 of them for the rally. Next, they were given riding training for one full day on Kinetics test track, which has all kinds of terrain and surface quality including rumblers, U-turns on loose gravel, panic braking on loose gravel, giving hand signals, getting used to the Kinetic Flyte un-geared scooter controls, road-holding, and braking characteristics and gaining confidence in covering long distance on unfamiliar the terrain in the hot Bundelkhand sun.
The whole team, consisting of the 36 selected ladies plus myself & bikeguru and a few officers from Kinetic, arrived at Jhansi by train from Pune on 3rd April 2008. Over 50 Kinetic FLYTE scooters were already waiting for us at Jhansi. Early morning 06:00 am on 4th April, the rally was flagged off from Jhansi fort by Mr. Newalkar, direct descendant of Rani Laxmibai, from exactly the same spot where Rani Laxmibai started exactly 150 years ago. It was quite a ride and went off perfectly. All the girls/women/ladies reached the destination at 13:30 pm.
The rally was led by bike guru, while I brought up the rear. Since I was behind everybody, I could see how the ladies were faring and it was my job to co-ordinate the en-route fuel filling, the photographers, mishaps, and other logistics. Organizing this rally has given me much knowledge and experience of organizing rallies.