They say you never forget your first, well, I wanted to make it worth my while to remember. So I decided to make it a little challenging.
At 34 years of age, I was just a biking newbie till I did a solo trip to Leh, on a bike, a Royal Enfield Bullet, which I had just bought 2 months ago. It all started when I started following a travel page on Facebook where people shared their stories and experiences. Every time I stumbled across one of them on my news feed, a feeling of awe filled me and I just wanted to take my bike and go somewhere far.
I started making plans and asked a bunch of my friends to come with me. None of them were sure if they would be able to make it. But I was hell bent on going. One fine day, when my impulsiveness got the better of me, I decided on a date- 15 July. This would be the day I would start my journey to Leh.
With my mind made up, I started with the preparations. First thing on the list was bike servicing. I wanted to make sure my bike was in excellent condition for the tough roads ahead. The next thing I did was to buy all the stuff that I thought might be helpful during my travel. Maybe it was excitement or my lack of knowledge, I started my trip with 40 kgs of luggage! I know any experienced biker might be laughing hard after reading this, but I really had thought all that stuff was necessary. Thankfully, as I reached Manali, my friend asked me to lighten the load I was carrying or I would be a sitting duck in no time. I left half of my things at my friend’s place and rode off early morning the next day.
With the clear roads ahead and the cool wind brushing past my face, there was nothing that could stop me. On reaching Rohtang Pass, a downpour greeted me and I found myself driving for 3 hours, wearing a raincoat till I reached Sarchu. I was instantly reminded of the time when I had covered 300 kilometres in a downpour, while I was coming back from Gangotri and was to reach Delhi without a stop because I had promised someone I would be there in office at 9 am. I still remember the look on my colleagues’ faces as I walked in, drenched to the bone.
But it seemed like the untimely rain wasn’t the only surprise that this trip had in store for me. On two occasions my bike had broken down and thankfully every time I had a fellow passerby help me out. As grateful as I was, I was ashamed of the fact that I knew so little about my bike that I couldn’t even fix it. I was determined to get back and get to know my bike better before I undertook any more road trips.
Unexpectedly, I also got a taste of off-roading, as some on the patches were really hard to ride on because of the all gravel and mud. But the beauty of the surroundings made up for the rough roads. The most amazing stretch was from Pang to Upshi.
As I travelled around, the beauty of the place amazed me. I understood why people love to travel so much.
To explore a completely new world, very different from your own, changes you. The memories that you take along with you are priceless.
Having said that, I think it’s just about time I admit that I was a little rash in planning this trip. Despite my preparations, I was at a great risk, since I had such little knowledge about my bike. But if you don’t take risks, you don’t cross the point where you could have failed, but did not. This entire trip could have been one huge mistake, one that I could have learnt from had things gone wrong. But thankfully lady luck courted me throughout. I only learned more. I grew as a person, richer by an experience.
I am sharing my story in the hope that it inspires someone, in some part of the world – someone who has been putting off a plan and worrying about how he or she might manage to take a trip all on their own… if there is a such a person my story can reach, I want them to know that there is nothing more I would like, than for them to experience what a little bit of grit, determination and an amazing journey can do. It’s a life-altering, mind-altering phenomenon.
Break the shackles that are holding you back and ride out to your dream destination.