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The fastest biker to cover the Golden Quadrilateral

Last updated on: July 01, 2013 17:37 IST

Image: Mohit Sabnis (inset) holds the record for riding around the Golden Quadrilateral in 116.5 hours. Seen here is the Bengaluru's Hosur Road Elevated Expressway.
Photographs: Courtesy Mohit Sabnis and Vipul/Wikimedia Creative Commons

Meet Mohit Sabnis who holds the record for riding around India's famed Golden Quadrilateral in 116.5 hours on Bajaj Pulsar 220.

If you look up Mohit Sabnis online, chances are you’ll not find any mention of his achievements anywhere on the web. Which is terrible. Because Sabnis currently holds the record for covering India’s Golden Quadrilateral in a record time of 116 hours and 30 minutes beating the earlier record of 118 hours and 40 minutes. He also holds the record for being the fastest biker to cover 2,072 km in 24 hours beating the previous record of 2,021 km.

Setting or breaking records is one thing, documenting it is another thing altogether. The Limca Records-approved GQ route for instance has 17 check points. At each point you are required to get two government officials to attest your presence and note the time at which you checked in. You can check in at a local school or a college or a police station and get your attestation, Sabnis says. “I preferred looking for police stations because they are open 24/7 and it is usually easy to locate one.”

Trying to locate a chowky, talking to the cops and getting the signature usually cost you 30 minutes each on an average, Sabnis says, which means you usually spend about eight-and-a-half hours only trying to get signatures.

Even so, he admits that every cop he met along the road had been helpful, one of them even making an example out of his willpower to his juniors.

In the pages to follow Mohit Sabnis takes you through his gruelling journey and how he finally made it:

The fastest biker to cover the Golden Quadrilateral

Image: The route on which Sabnis broke the record

To set or break a record, Limca Book of Records requires you to first take permission from its editor. For a record of this nature, you have to send in copies of your licence, RC book and inform them of the record you are planning to set or break.

If you are setting a record, you have to get the route map approved. However, if you’re breaking an existing record, they will send you a copy of the route on which it was set and its check points.

You are also required to sign a disclaimer, which absolves Limca Book of Records if any mishap were to occur.

Once this is done, they send you an email approving of you wanting to break the record and send you a log sheet that you are to get attested at each check point. You are now set to start.


March 19, 2012
Thane @ 0540 hrs

I started from Thane, where I live. The evening before, I had approached the local police station informing them that I would need signatures of two of their officers for this record.

There was no reason why I chose this particular day for the ride. I keep a day job at an advertising agency and all my rides are dependant on when I am able to get leave.

There are however two days of the year which I prefer the most -- the day of Laxmi Poojan during Diwali and the day of Holi -- when truckers usually stay off the road and so the traffic is thin. These are the best days to do a record-breaking ride between, say Mumbai and Delhi.

On the morning of March 19, at Thane my trip meter read 0000 and the factory speedometer was 12,200 km. I had begun my ride.

Since I had informed the police officials earlier, it wasn’t very difficult to get signatures from them. In fact, during the entire ride I found police officials to be very helpful.

The fastest biker to cover the Golden Quadrilateral

Image: The certificate that attests Mohit Sabnis' achievement, which has been largely undocumented so far.
Photographs: Courtesy Mohit Sabnis

Over the years, I have done a lot of rides -- from Mumbai to Bengaluru, Kanyakumari to Mumbai and Mumbai to Delhi among others. I’ve also travelled to Ladakh thrice on the bike, once even with my daughter! So the first leg of the ride was really the easiest. I rode up to Baroda non-stop covering a distance of about 400km in about four hours. I refuelled there, took a five-minute break and was off again. My first check point was to be Ahmedabad.

The Ahmedabad Expressway is a great road to drive on and it takes about an hour to reach the city from Baroda. However, since bikes aren’t allowed on it, I was forced to take the old road that passes by Anand, Nadiad etc and takes twice the time.

March 19, 2012
Ahmedabad at 1240 hrs

The police station was close to the highway and it didn’t take me a lot of time to track it down. At first the policemen refused to believe that I took seven hours to reach Ahmedabad. But they had to, after seeing the first attestation I had got at Thane.

By now, they were curious about what I was doing. One of them offered me buttermilk. It was a welcome relief for me from the heat outside. He insisted I stay back for lunch. Obviously, that was out of the question.

When you’re breaking a record like this, time is of utmost importance. Food isn’t of the highest priority; keeping yourself nourished is. Every time I’d stop to refuel, I would have dry fruits and Nutribar. One Nutribar would keep me going for 5-6 hours.

Ten minutes later, I started out again.

The cities of Gandhinagar and Shyamlaji passed by me and soon I found myself crossing the border over to Rajasthan.

My first check point in Rajasthan was supposed to be Udaipur.

March 19, 2012
Udaipur at 1550 hrs

There were only two policemen on duty in Udaipur who readily signed on my log sheet.

Since it was summer, I had to stop for water every hour. The wind, along with the heat can parch your throat and ideally you have to stop every 30 minutes. That isn’t always possible.

I was carrying two bottles of water with me and purchasing mineral water along the way. My luggage was strapped to the back of my bike which also served as a support to my lower back.

The road between Udaipur and Jaipur had been widened the previous year. It goes via Bhilwara and Chittorgarh is well laid out and you can cover the distance of 440 km in about six hours or so.

At Chittorgarh I took a 30-minute break had something to eat and set out towards Jaipur.

The fastest biker to cover the Golden Quadrilateral

Image: Sabnis managed to reach Jaipur faster than the Mumbai-Jaipur Superfast Express. Seen here is the iconic Hawa Mahal. (Picture used here for representational purposes only)
Photographs: Kuwar/Wikimedia Creative Commons

March 19, 2012
Jaipur @ 2220 hrs

By now, I had been riding for a little over 17 hours and had reached Jaipur faster than the Mumbai-Jaipur Superfast Express.

One of the policemen, who signed my log book, took down my number. Five days later, he even called me up to check if I’d managed to break the record!

I had been riding for too long and he let me rest for a bit in the police station. My next stop was New Delhi.

Soon after I got on to the highway, I realised that my bike’s chain sockets had come loose. After every 1,000 km or so, you are supposed tighten the chain. I did that and started on what was probably the worst patch of road on my entire trip.

The distance between Jaipur and New Delhi is about 270 km. So it shouldn’t take more than four hours or so to cover it. But the roads were under construction and there was no way I could have sped. It took me seven hours to reach New Delhi AND it took its toll on my back.

March 20, 2012

New Delhi @ 0515 hrs

I had completed the first 24 hours of my trip. My back hurt. The previous night’s ride wasn’t very pleasant and I had to take rest. I wasn’t worried though. I knew if I could reach Delhi in 24 hours, I was on track… and I’d managed to do it in spite of bad roads.

The rest helped me recover and after a quick chai and breakfast, I was on the road again.

My next stop was Agra.

The journey was uneventful. Because I had taken some time out to rest, I knew I wouldn’t reach Agra very early on in the day even though I’d touched the Capital at 5.15.

March 20, 2012
Agra @ 1040 hrs

I wasn’t very worried about the next 500-odd km because I knew the road was very smooth. However I soon realised that while tightening the chain the previous night, I hadn’t aligned it properly. The bad roads had made it worse. I had to find a Bajaj showroom and ask them to replace the chain.

Luckily I found one on the way itself but the mechanic told me that it would take two to three hours to replace the chain. I just asked him to just align the old one instead, which he did and suggested I grease it each time I tighten it so it doesn’t lose its alignment again.

The road from Agra to Allahabad is fantastic to say the least. However in the UP stretch of the road, people tend to cross indiscriminately and do so with their vehicles sometimes. I knew I had to be careful. Even so, the ride was fantastic, the highlight of it being the 23- km long Kanpur over-bridge bypass that saved me a good couple of hours.

The fastest biker to cover the Golden Quadrilateral

Image: Allahabad was the seventh check point on Sabnis' route. Seen here is the bridge over the River Yamuna in Allahabad. (Picture used here for representational purposes only)
Photographs: Abhijeet Vardhan/Wikimedia Creative Commons

March 20, 2012
Allahabad @ 1800 hrs

After reaching Allahabad, the plan was to ride all the way to Gaya in Bihar and spend the night there. According to my calculations, I should have reached Gaya at a little past midnight. I didn’t want to ride the entire night because it was my second night on the road.

However, when I reached Mohania I saw a huge pile up of vehicles. On enquiring, I was told that the belt ahead was a Naxal-hit area and the police advised against riding in the night.

Since I didn’t want to take chances, I decided to spend the night in Mohania itself and start out at 4am when the first lot of vehicles would leave. As a protocol of sorts, two police cars also go along with them. That was reassuring.

March 21, 2012
Durgapur @ 1100 hrs

Durgapur is a small town but an important road junction for vehicles travelling towards north Bengal and the northeast Indian states. My next stop was Kolkata -- the midpoint of my journey. I knew I would be on time if I managed to reach Kolkata in less than 60 hours. And I did.

March 21, 2012
Kolkata @ 1450 hrs

Finding a police station to get attestation here was the tricky part. Over tea, a local biker told me I should avoid going into the city and rather just head to Howrah and get it from Sankrail Police Station in Howrah.

It is located on the banks of the Ganga and has one of the most scenic locations for a police station. However it took me a good 90 minutes to find it, get attestation and get back on the road to Bhuvaneshwar.

I wasn’t sure whether I should spend the night there and thought I’d decide when I get there (though I was tempted to rest).

The fastest biker to cover the Golden Quadrilateral

Image: Bhubaneswar's Rajpath (Picture used here for representational purposes only)
Photographs: Wikimedia Creative Commons

March 21, 2012
Bhubaneswar @ 1030 hrs

This stop was the turning point of my journey. It was to be the third night of my trip and I really wanted to sleep. As I rode into a local police station premises, I noticed a jeep with beacon and realised there was a high-ranking official present. So I sat down and waited. I was looking terrible; my clothes had turned black and I was exhausted.

It turned out that the senior cop who was visiting was an ACP. He called me in. I explained what I was doing to him. After hearing my story, he turned to his juniors and fired the daylights out of them. I didn’t understand anything he was saying in Oriya except one word -- ‘monobal’. And each time he said that, he’d point to me.

After he was done, he explained that he was telling his officers of my willpower, monobal. He congratulated me. I felt really inspired. I knew I wasn’t going to spend the night there. In any case, I asked for his advice and he promptly told me I should leave as soon as possible rather than in the morning. I did just that.

At around 1am I realised I needed to rest desperately. So I slept for an hour at a local restaurant and then once again at a forest check point on the border of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, I slept for about 30 minutes.

At 4.30am I left for my next stop.

March 22, 2012
Vishakhapatnam @ 840 hrs

When one of the policemen learnt I had been travelling all night, he looked at me with horror! “Pagal hai kya?” he asked me incredulously. Jungle se aaya? Loot maar hota hai udhar!

Apparently the forest I had passed through was a Naxal area too where people are regularly looted. Then again, I was told they usually target passenger cars and bikes are spared.

It was only then that I realised that I had barely passed any vehicles along the way! There were two railway crossings I had seen but they were unmanned too! In any case, I had come out of it safely.

The fastest biker to cover the Golden Quadrilateral

Image: The city of Vijayawada at night. (Picture used here for representational purposes only)
Photographs: Gautam Sanka/Wikimedia Creative Commons

About 50 km before Rajahmundry, one of my sparkplugs gave way and my bike came to a halt. As luck would have it, I managed to find an automobile shop very close by, changed it and was on my way again.

All the while, I was thanking my stars that it didn’t happen in the night in the forest. It was a smooth road ahead and I had a very good ride.

March 22, 2012
Vijayawada @ 1620 hrs

By now I was in the fourth day of my journey and had been practically surviving on power naps. I’d managed to catch an hour of another nap and reached Vijaywada safely. My next stop would be Chennai.

Exhaustion was getting to me now and the ride from Vijayawada to Chennai was possibly the most tiring but I had completed 3/4th of my journey.

March 23, 2012
Chennai @ 0045 hrs

Chennai was the first place where I had trouble communicating. I didn’t speak Tamil and the cop didn’t speak English or Hindi. I had anticipated this and was carrying a letter explaining my mission in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada which my colleagues had drafted. I never had to use the other two letters because the cops there spoke English.

He seemed pleased and signed almost immediately and was more than eager to help me find my way towards the Bengaluru bypass -- he even drew out the directions for me! I would have been lost without them!

Even though their road signs may only be in the local language, Tamil Nadu has some of the best roads in the country!

My next stop was Vellore.

March 23, 2012

Vellore @ 0425 hrs

Chennai-Bengaluru is about 330 km. Vellore is somewhere in the middle. It was really early in the morning and I had been on the road for about 95 hours or so. I thought I deserved some rest and so I slept at a local tyre shop for about 30 minutes, had coffee and left. I thought I’d make it to Bengaluru sooner but I was more tired than I had imagined so a little after Hosur, I took refuge in a restaurant that was yet to open for business and slept for another half hour. I woke up, had fresh idlies, a cup of coffee and started out again.

The fastest biker to cover the Golden Quadrilateral

Image: Mohit Sabnis' passion for two wheelers goes back to his college days when he was a long-distance cyclist
Photographs: Courtesy Mohit Sabnis

March 23, 2012
Bengaluru @ 830 hrs

After getting my attestation, I managed to miss a turn and found myself in the city. It took me 45 minutes to find my way out and get on to the famed Elevated Expressway where I also paid the only toll during my entire journey. The well-maintained road however more than made up for the measly Rs 30.

This was my fifth day on the road and it was beginning to get more and more difficult to keep awake. So every three to four hours, I would take a power nap. My next stop was the city of Davangere, about 265 km away from the state capital.

March 23, 2012
Davangere @ 1330 hrs

I had to ride about 10 km off the highway to get my attestation and turn back. All of this cost me at least couple of hours. The fact that it was one of the hottest days in Karnataka didn’t make things any better.

I always knew, the final day of my journey would be the most difficult but I never knew just how much.

March 23, 2012

Hubli @ 1545 hrs

The scene repeated at Hubli where I had to ride 8 km one way to find a police station. Yet again, another 90 minutes wasted!

Since it was so hot, I had to keep stopping to hydrate myself. I’d purchased some 15 packets of buttermilk and kept drinking from them. It was possibly the slowest I was going. 

March 23, 2012
Kolhapur @ 1910 hrs

This was the last of my check points. From here, I would only have to stop if I wanted to, not because I had to. In the past, I have travelled from Mumbai to Kolhapur in about 4.5 hours. However by now, I had been riding for over 110 hours and I knew I couldn’t have kept that pace.

I showered myself with soda water. What I didn’t realise that even though they refresh you at the time, you feel sleepy soon after.

The fastest biker to cover the Golden Quadrilateral

Image: Mohit Sabnis concluded his journey in Thane, the satellite town of Mumbai also known for its numerous lakes
Photographs: Mandar Dewalkar/Wikimedia Creative Commons

Kolhapur and Satara are about 130 km apart but it took me 2.5 hours to cover the distance that day. The road was under construction; there were a lot of buses plying at the time and most importantly, I was really sleepy.

At Satara, I took a 30-minute break. I was in no hurry. To break the record safely, I was hoping to reach Thane around 2am. So I had time.

Meanwhile, I called up a friend and requested him to meet me along the highway at Pune, which I reached a little before midnight. The idea was to take my mind away from the ride. It helped and I didn’t feel sleepy anymore.

Around midnight I left Pune for the final leg of my journey. I was really excited and by now I knew I would make it.

At Panvel, I pulled over to call up my family and tell them I’d be at the police station soon. All my close friends had gathered at my home and were waiting to welcome me back.

But just as I put down the phone, a policeman came over. I looked suspiciously like a terrorist what with being on the road for over 110 hours and a backpack tied up to the seat of the bike!

It took me good ten minutes to explain what I was doing and prove my identity. Finally, I pulled out my log sheet, which convinced them. Then they wanted to chat with me! I excused myself and rode away.

On March 24, 2012 at 210 hrs Mohit Sabnis received a hero’s welcome at Thane’s Vartak Nagar police station. He had covered the Golden Quadrilateral, a distance of 6,350 km in a record time of 116 hours and 30 minutes.

As told to Abhishek Mande