Monday, 2 June 2014

Leh - if wishes were motorcycles..

Hi there,

If wishes were motorcycles, I would be riding one right now around some of the most beautiful and exotic routes of Europe or cruising through the American state-highways or crossing our country border to catch up with our friendly neighbors like Nepal and Bhutan or riding up north to one of the highest motorable roads on this planet. Well may be they(wishes) are (motorcycles), provided we strongly believe in them and we are ready to put in our best and not look back. I am trying to do exactly that and the one wish I am after at this moment is not only to experience the route via Khardung-La, but to enter the beautiful valley of Kashmir on a motorcycle. Well its not the first time, that motorcycle has been a positively dominating factor in my plans of travelling. There was a time when I skipped every single opportunity to visit Goa, especially when it was just not acceptable for a earning youngster like me, who loved beaches, to say no to a place like Goa. But then there was this wish of mine to enter Goa on a bike for the first time. It took me time and quite a bit of effort to make than happen back in 2009. Since then the next item on the list has been Leh. However may be the desire to make it happen wasn't as strong as my reasons (of why I can't do that), that I could never pull it off. The closest I could ever get was in 2013 when I took some steps to en-quire and plan a bit about it. Then before I know it, the whole dream faded in the oblivion of "job switch, leave approvals and not able to put together a team of inspiring/inspired individuals", just not to be brought back to life again. As an individual am quite determined and it was a failure on my part, not being able to keep a promise I made to myself. This realization kicked me hard the day I went ahead and informed my manager that I won't be taking the days off in August. This was sort of an official closure of the possibility of the ride. I felt bad and I knew this ain't it. The possibility of the 2014 ride actually started that very moment. Sometimes one needs a hard kick on the butt to get started. I wish there were better (read milder) alternatives, but am afraid, probably there isn't any:)

I did couple of rides last year, which kept me warmed up to the thought of this big ride. The ride to Leh wasn't only about riding through the exotic locations, it was about capturing the experience in the form of a documentary on camera. My bull is a gift from my dad and I would love to share our trip experiences with him and mom. Why should the thrill and excitement be only with us privileged ones (yes I feel so!) who ride. We earn it anyway, but the joy doubles in sharing and inspiring others. This not only inspires people to ride, but on a broader perspective, it inspires everyone (even me!) to dream big and to make it happen. Really..

"life is too short to play small".

It took me ages, of a certain way being and a lot of friction with the mediocre surroundings to develop a strong belief in my dreams. All I can say to you all who have big dreams, is to start now. Regret of a life half lived is more painful than death any day. So you have a choice now to start living the life of your dreams, where even occasional failure is much more satisfying.

Well.. there I got a bit philosophical (inseparable part of me anyway!). Now lets delve into one of most interesting bit of the ride, yes it's 'the planning' :) I am not opting for any guided tours, it's not for me I feel. I love to try things on my own and setbacks (if any) are just learning experiences which I use to get to the next level. And after all how could I miss out on all the butterflies in the stomach I enjoy when I put together a plan for a ride and be the first one to visualize the whole experience well before it happens. Then of course the responsibility is to pass on the joy to fellow riders. Naah I don't see it's going to change anytime soon. So here I am in the planning stage of this ride.

This time there is this one friend who is as excited and determined as me, Sriki. There was a time we were neighbors and my bullet was the only common topic we used to discuss when we crossed each other in the parking area of the building. Then he had to use a bull as his daily ride and since then we have done quite a bit of trips together. Being a person who is interested in getting into defense services, one can expect a lot of maturity and determination from Sriki, and he is no exception in this regard. That makes me get along with him quite well, as I can be straight (and at times brutally so) with him and he sees the point being made than my way of expression. All these qualities and his passion for riding, made him an obvious choice for such a ride.

Currently bullets (especially older CI bulls) rule my fancy. So the riders am in touch with ride RE bikes. But honestly speaking there are now more bullet owners in my vicinity than any other bike owners, but irony is, still it is rare enough to come across true riders/travelers who are larger than the brand of their bikes. Its actually not RE (the company) which inspired the motorcycling fraternity in India, its those people who chose to use an RE motorcycle for their travel and adventures, are the ones who inspired the next generation of riders (myself included). Hats off to them, and we feel proud as we carry the baton.

Now considering Sriki and myself, its just two of us. One of my original choices were my best bud Abhi, who got married last year and I don't think its a good idea to put him through learning a motorcycle (yes he doesn't ride on a daily basis until last year) and riding to Leh at this point. Initially I was only looking forward to a crew size of 3-4 so that I can manage the group and do the necessary shooting for the documentary. But slowly few good friends wished to join in and now we stand at a group size of 6 and I don't wish for it to grow beyond this (though there is still a pending request from another candidate who is the colleague of one of our riders).

I have the experience of blogging (and not completing it!? Goa trip:P ) for few of my earlier rides. Taking those into consideration today I thought let me just get down into writing about the experience of conceptualizing, planning and causing this ride. For me to go through sometime down the line as well as fellow bikers to plan theirs. Hence this post. Going forward I will (try and) write posts more frequently, sharing as we prepare ourselves in terms of bikes, equipment, accessories and any other preparations. Also may use certain hash tags/labels to categorize them for easy reference.

On my bike there are quite a bit of things to be done. Currently am planning my budget for the most important/necessary fixes/mods. As I have my other financial commitments, its going to take a lot for me to save for this ride. But nobody ever said it was going to be easy, all I know is it's going to be awesome!!

Until my next post, keep riding and stay safe.


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