Spiti Valley on a BICYCLE

Full Set of the Photo Album of Spiti Valley bicycle ride uploaded on my Flickr Account.

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When we did the Chandra Tal trek, Jamaica requested me to make a video presentation of it. This is the one I was able to cook up. Dedicated to Jamaica and his service to the people visiting Chandra Tal.

[vsw id=”e7kP66ACgds” source=”youtube” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]

 

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Notes

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“Great Things are achieved Only by Sacrifice”

In life, you don’t feel you have lived until and unless you do something crazy. Something you survive and live to tell the tale. Something that makes your heart warm; Something that burns the incense of passion inside you; your blood turns hotter than lava and the sound of your breath is looking to reach higher decibels.

No matter what logical decision your mind tells you to make, your heart is always ready to sacrifice something to be in that moment which gives you the utmost bliss.

With similar thought process and feelings running inside me I was having these ideas of doing a bicycle trip in the Himalayas. Atleast once in my life I wanted to register this entry in my day log of karma. I’m not sure how, but even the place hovering in my mind was Spiti Valley, specifically. I have seen those mountains over a couple of times and yet my focus was back on the same place.

I didn’t argue with myself; locked the destination and prepped for it in 3 months time. A new bicycle, gear and some practice for the muscles, back at home.

Usually anyone would train for atleast 6 months but I knew my mind and body was ready for it. It was a calling that I couldn’t doubt.

Going solo or not was still a question but sometimes words are released in those moments that you feel the control of external forces. I shared the plan with a friend of mine and he with another; And locked the group to 3. All this happened in a nick of time.

And so it was decided that we 3 will ride together on our bicycles to Spiti Valley this season of 2014.

We all had our frights and fear; but making it through was unquestionable in our hearts. We knew this was it.

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Here I present you 10 notes that took birth in this bicycle ride up in the Himalayas

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Note 1: People Lack Patience to Practice Patience

In today’s time one really needs to be patient. If he or she cannot remain one then during restless times one’s mind becomes annoying as a fly.

We took train from Mumbai to Kalka. Our bicycles were booked in the luggage car and we were rested in the 2AC compartment. Best place to be in the hot summers of Central India.

The train journey was quite long; sitting with hardly any activity to do requires tremendous amount of patience. In the first 6 hours itself my mind was going nuts. And to top it up, the seats occupied by the people opposite our birth were the only noisy ones in the whole compartment.

Jesus, …it was like ‘KILL ME NOW’ moment.

I came pretty close to snapping a few times; but calmed myself and went into deep silence to find peace and perspective in the finding scenario.

You know in difficult times I always remember the teachings of Dalai Lamba; to beat your own misery you need to visualize someone’s greater misery. Someone in this world, your brother, your fellow kind is going through much painful days than yours.

I immediately jump to positive feelings whenever these thoughts I recollect in my head. Today is a gift, it is a present. Perceive it in a way that you cannot see at first sight.

Interacting with the noisy family and neighboring passenger helped calm those annoying hours.

Really I need to start practicing patience to deal with annoying situations; you really don’t want to blow up yourself. Making yourself better and helpful is the sole purpose of one being.

Note 2: Holy Moly – The Reality is Tenfold of What We Thought

We prepared ourselves by cycling regularly couple of months before this main feat. We ate right and we packed right. We had all the things we need and we were high on confidence that we’ll be able to do this with some efforts. Hey! We had the youth on our side; so big deal!

We were foolish.

The moment we pushed that first pedal, the thought of reality kicked us hard. In fact kicked us right from the the south direction straightway up.

Within just 4 kms after embarking from Kalka we were “little” tired and muscles feeling heavy.

Plan was to reach Shimla in next 48 hours; with a night halt at Solan.

Every km being uphill, the climb was a staggering effort. Breathless, tired, exhaustion, thirsty, frustration, annoyance were the only words ringing in our heads. And the last few kms of the attempt were like ‘Forget the ride just bury us here.’

Regardless of how and what we were going through, somewhere in the back of the mind there was always this small candle of hope. Nothing but just desperate and urgent emotions of triumph and victory use to set in at moments.

We made it on time as per itinerary and also feet anchored to the ground. Reality plans now, no cloud 9 display.

Note 3: Reverence to The Body

Just when you think the tough part is over you realize everything was just warming up.

In the hours of our climb to Kufri and following day to Hatu peak, we realized our bodies are truly limitless. But you need to be patient for your physical being to come in terms with performance level. When it’s ready, you’ll know it.

Push it to build, not to destroy. It was the time that at least I started respecting my body on a whole different level. In the scales of physical endurance it was becoming stronger but needed continuous feed of my patience.

You may be last in the race but you are not done yet. Only inside you, you know, and are fully aware that there is so much yet to yield and deliver. It’s the only thing you need to keep in mind to pull such an act of adventure.

And in testing times, you’ll always find a helping hand to cheer you and bless you on your journey. We found this feelings in the lady who fought on behalf of us with the bus driver who almost dashed into us, we found it in the local guy running a adventure shop who saw our parked bicycles and stopped for a chat, we saw it in the local tourists who were cheering us when climbing steep slopes and… we saw it in invincible forces that were flying with us for our protection.

Today we now find ourselves in a position to do the impossible. The spark and potential has been awaken, now its time to move this body to greater heights.

It’s well said that body is the temple of God, adequate care should be taken to maintain its normalcy; carefully careless. Quote, my Guru.

Note 4: A Skill if Unproductive is Never a Waste

Many of us in our lives learn something out of context; we pick up a few skills along the journey of life; Most land up being unproductive. You are a professional banker but you are an awesome gardener too. The latter might not be earning some bucks but it’s the skill you possess, you have been defined by it.

Believe me none will ever go to waste.

In an incident where my bike met with an accident; only the skills never used by my fellow cyclists came to the rescue in the need of hour. None of those skills were put to use in daily routine but today they stood to be heroes. There is a fine line between living and truly living.

Skills are your best weapons to emerge victories in any stage of life; no matter how diminutive they are, each set can be those drops that fill the ocean.

So in life pick up some new set of skills wherever there is an inner calling.

Note 5: True Test of Patience

Losar just 3kms away but why it feels like 300? You are at your full strength but why do you feel weak? You ate well then why are you feeling hungry? You had a good sleep then why so much fatigue? You trained well but why cannot see any results? You carried 4 liters of water then how come only half left when you are not even halfway across? Its downhill then why the cycle is not going fast?

In events like these you only feel, oh God let this moment past asap. But the truth I realized that until one doesn’t start enjoying these moments no matter how much baffling they are, every second passed will feel like endless hour.

Yes I’m in a pickle and I’m not able to figure out some things. But this scenario is just a part of your pursuit to success. It’s what going to make you. One needs to accept it, challenge it and resolve it by keeping self calm and composed. Then every longing second will feel like a fast paced moment.

Being aware and alert is the key of performing a patient activity. You are high on pain and my god, you love it. When finally that particular timeline has passed, your inner self screams in roar of rejoice and victory.

Yes you have made it. And shall do it again…

Note 6: Offcourse an Indian Can Do it

While crossing Pooh, we came across a small army post where the head officer asked in a little strong tone, ‘which country?’
I replied in the same tuning, INDIA.

He was shocked, surprised and later overwhelmed to see Indians on a bicycle in the valley. No backup, no big group… Just 3 people on bicycles.

We were brought inside on orders to have tea and snacks with them. Have a little talk and then carry on ahead with the ride.

A thought started pondering in my head that why sometimes some people assume Indians cannot be seen doing something like this… or something else; some other adventure feat.

We see many foreigners pedaling across the Himalayas, and I take inspiration from them only to execute on parallel lines. I believe there is nothing an Indian can’t do. And I also say why first of all bring nationality into it. If you are human, then you are limitless. One should learn how high he/she can excel in this God given life.

This was the very moment that gave birth to another ride on my bicycle, in my head —  A K2K : Kashmir to Kanyakumari SOLO 😛

Hopefully in 2015.

Note 7: There is No Harm in Asking for Help

Often I have seen that many of us especially in our youth refrain from taking any help when in trouble. It’s obvious that our pride and ego drives us into this thinking mode.

When climbing up Nako, we were determined to go all the way up pedaling. And honestly we did quite well; pretty impressive for first timers. But just 5kms before the village our body gave up. Physically, mentally and emotionally we were totally drained. There was nothing in us that could boost up our enthusiasm. And it was already past the last evening light.

Thankfully there was a small hotel coming up nearby and the restaurant was already functional. When we got speaking with them we got to know they are just packing up and will be driving to Nako where they stay.

It was a Mahindra Max and enough room at the back for 3 bicycles and 3 guys. We asked if they could drop us up and they casually answered in positive.

On our way up I realized that stubbornness is a quality that needs guidance. Yes I was stubborn. I wanted to go all the way up pedaling. But when I have mentioned before ‘Body is temple of God, Adequate care should be taken to maintain its normalcy. Carefully careless’ I need to know when to stop and give it a break. Who knows, maybe next time I might be able to do it faster than just going all the way up pedaling.

Note 8: And I Thought Downhill Will be The Most Fun

The moment we started pedaling in the mountains, I had a feeling that going downhill must be super fun than the never ending uphill. That slow pace requires tremendous patience, so downhill will be pure compensation — was my belief. But in reality, we did not see this coming…

The first long downhill patch welcomed us post Narkhanda. It’s almost 40kms to the bottom of the hill from the popular hill station.

Within 5 minutes of the start we caught up speed and at the first turn I skidded a little. Almost fell you can say in fact.

Lesson 1 – Bicycles with luggage are not meant for cornering the way I’m imagining.

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On a straight downhill patch almost touched 50 speed and felt a wobble.

Lesson 2 – Going fast downhill with luggage onboard is a stupid idea.

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Already so much weight on bike and the weight of the bicycle pushing downhill in concern to speed, mass and gravity; most likely to get punctured.

Rear tyre gets its first nail on the trip.

Lesson 3 – Best to go fast on smooth surface than otherwise.

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Who said body will be at constant rest when going downhill?! A stupid assumption.

Lesson 4 – Your forearms and palm pain like hell because entire weight is falling on them while descending rapidly. The bigger you are the stronger it’s going to hurt.

“Uphill se darr nahi lagtha hai sab, Downhill se lag tha hai…” Dabbang style 😛

Note 9: Chacha Chachi

I don’t even need to explain this note. Those who have traveled Spiti thoroughly will know who are truly called as Chacha Chachi.

In this bicycle trip to Spiti Valley, 3 days spent in Batal at Chacha Chachi’s Dabha were the blissful moment of this epic feat. Their warm hospitality is unbelievable and immeasurable. Until you meet them you won’t even accept the fact that people like them exist even in today’s time. They have defined how a human being should live and behave. Their life there is also a testimony to the limitless potential two people have when they come together.

The food and talks just made us hung on to the place like bees on honey. We had to push our mind to come out from that comfort zone so we can move ahead in our journey. Otherwise who knows we would have lived there for more time.

Few moments of my life I shall surely dedicate to this beautiful couple living deep in the Himalayas. A gift to them is a must.

God bless them.

Note 10: Hidden Power Wakes Up

You don’t need to be exposed to gamma rays to become Hulk; not get bitten by spider to turn in Spiderman, not take boosters to become like Captain America… or wish you have super powers like Krissh. The Hero is already inside you. Strength and Bravery are already lurking inside you. The capsule of wisdom is too present in your diet; all you need to do is wake the hero, launch your strength and push the bravery sky high; …absorb the knowledge from the surroundings dispassionately. And transform into an ace human.

You’ll then realize you are already capable of performing miracles. The magic was already in your hand, you just have to start swinging the wand for the greater good.

This bicycle ride made me realize what I’m truly capable off and how much there is still inside me that needs an eruption.

All this time I thought I’m just a motorcycle enthusiast and Himalayan lover with a zest for photography. But now I realize there is more ‘stuff’ hiding in this body, soul, mind and heart. I cannot see it immediate but seek it with meditation and faith. I learned to trust my own self in ways I had not seen before.

It’s truly said that humans don’t fully work on their potential; how beautifully true it is, when here it took me 28 years to understand this… how much time it will take for others.

We all have hidden powers in ourselves; each one having a unique strength, a feature… a unique identity — spark. Try to take on something impossible that shall open the gates of that hidden dragon inside you. It’s time to come out of the ashes and take the flight of phoenix.

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Discoveries of Spiti Bicycle Ride

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There is no such thing as ‘Been there Done that’ – Many of us have this tendency to say this statement. It’s a way to make one sound cool. But I now realise the truth is otherwise.
No matter how much time you have been there or done that, every new time will always give a new perception. If you cannot see it then you are not seeking it.

Muscles are your best friends – You strength and muscles are you saviours for any such feat. We don’t take care of them enough; it’s high time we do the needful.
Making them stronger and flexible is more important for this generation than it was for the previous one.

Value water like nothing else – We get it’s regularly uninterrupted supply so we tend to take it for granted.
That feeling of quenching your thirst when you are desperate for some water is unexplainable. Water is life, value it — respect it.

People deserve respect, no matter how small – In today’s time the one who is highly qualified and become a big man gets the most respect. But we forget that by default in our hearts even today we generate respect for those who hit our chords gracefully. Rather than the humble receptionist of Shimla hotel, I felt a warm affectionate feeling towards the house owner of Losar where we stayed one night.
A small man from a small village won our hearts by just few graceful words from his illiterate being.

Skill is your qualification, not graduation – In the era where graduation is very important for teenager, learning few set of skills is getting ignored.
In life some skills that you pick up come to your rescue at desperate times. Its important to learn a thing or two once in a while.
Learn different types of knots, learn how to fish, learn sewing, learn to defend… atleast learn how to fix a puncture. 🙂

A herbal tea can do wonders – Drinking tea and coffee everyday is just useless and waste of money. We already know we get the 7th grade supply down to us and all above are exported; then what’s the point of having poor quality products for living.
Just move to herbal tea; it has so many benefits that you’ll see the results in just few days.
The herbal tea we had at Kye monastery, I felt its benefits in the same hour itself.

Inspiration and motivation are the only thing that drives you; seek it – These two things will always be the driving force behind your living, your activities and your behaviour.
The moment it starts diminishing, you tend to change in unpleasant way.

Burned enough fuel, now it’s time to give back – All these years we have burned enough gas to fuel our passion of automobiles; it’s high time we give something back to the environment.
Start by taking up a bicycle ride. Burn those calories instead of octane. You’ll surely benefit in the long run; and the respect you earn as a residue is an addon.

Abundant energy lies in small moments of joy and happiness; spread it – It’s something we know but always undervalue the concept.
One does not realize the powerful energy hidden in the joy of little things in life.
You get a top job in a big multinational company, you are happy, you are at the top of the world… But it still can’t beat the joy you experience when your baby first time calls you mama, papa.

It’s not the tea at Cafe Coffee Day but the cutting at Batal Dabha gives you warm and homely feeling. A feeling that ignites caring thoughts for our brothers and sisters on the planet. And our extended family among the animals.
From these small moments you’ll derive great amount of energy that you’ll never run out of enthusiasm.

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Last Note from My Journal

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The ride ended with some realization of truth and a sense of maturity. I promised myself that hence onwards I’m not gonna stop bicycling.

Be it for health and fitness or just mere commute or even some good long distance touring; bicycling will be an integral part of my lifestyle.

So the story of this ride ends but a whole new chapter in my life opens up.

The Air Up There | Himalayas

36 days in the Himalayas; 1 Man – 1 Machine

(Talking to myself inside the helmet); it’s been 12 hours since I left Kargil and entered Suru – Zanskar Valley. Couldn’t find an ounce of food to eat. Have been just on water… Yeah! This ride is definitely the most testing and challenging one done till date. Common Om focus; one mistake and you gone forever. It will take weeks just to know you are missing.

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I never imagined my life would revolve around Biking. May be it’s a passion or just an addiction but Motorcycles and Biking is now a culture, a family, a place where you make good friends; I’m grateful for this and the fact that it has given me the ability to reach any corner of the country in any environment. Freedom to explore the world on two wheels. Is it possible to push your limits in this world and to know where you stand by? Can two wheels teach you lessons of life? And what happens when you fall! So why not take it to the extremes and test the limits of man and machine, a place like no other, The Himalayas.

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Hi, my name is Om Vaikul and I set on a journey to the mountains for 36 days, covering 8000+ kms through 7 states, 9 valleys, 9 mountain passes and came back in a state of bliss. What makes any of this even more special is that I made this solo on my bike – on a Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500.

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The joy of being in Himalayas for me is unexplainable. We all have one place in our lives where we come to in peace with ourselves. For me Himalayas has always been the answer to the chaos in today’s living. Material, Spiritual and in Superficial terms, being just in Himalayas has become an annual thing. They are not just the youngest mountain range in the world but also the liveliest ones.

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Why Solo?

Till date I have made 6 trips to Himalayas and each time I was fascinated to hear some stories off this and that valley or come to know about some amazing place across a river that is very less explored. Also in each trip some of the places from the plan use to get skipped because of short of time or road block; some reason or the other. So once I had decided that a trip to Himalayas solo is a must. And it’s the only way I could quench my thirst of photography in the mountains fully.

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Why Thunderbird 500?

For the simple reason, I had carried ample luggage on this trip. Something that may or may not come handy was also in the bag. Couple of places was quite off the map, remote and isolated so carrying atleast 10 litres extra fuel was mandatory. And I wanted to enjoy this ride in a cruiser position; also not compromise anywhere in power. I saw Thunderbird 500 has the only option that fit aptly. The 20 litres large fuel tank, tried and tested 500cc engine from the best selling Classic 500 and the many other modern technology incorporated in this bike, made this a feasible choice.

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Priceless Experiences?

From the whole 36 days. I would like to narrate 9 incidents that made me think in a renewed way towards life granted by the almighty one.

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1st Incident | Location: Somewhere on the highway

Just when I had taken a small tea break by the highway, a guy riding a motorcycle came and stopped besides me. He seemed a local fellow and I guess was also stopping for tea. When I turned and looked at him properly, my glass almost fell off after the sight I witnessed. The guy had no left arm; yet he rides a motorcycle properly.

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I exchanged few words with him, took a photograph with his permission and carried on. He was such a casual personality as how we express ‘no big deal’ phrase. The only thing that kept rotating in my mind was ‘Impossible is truly nothing.’

2nd Incident | Location: Chail, Himachal Pradesh

It was past 5 PM and I was coming down on the Chail Kufri road to get back on the main highway and as per my itinerary, today’s halt was in Narkhanda. As I was cruising, calculations were in full flow in my head that in an hour I’ll lose the day light and Narkhanda is still another 2 and a half hours away, max, that too if I rush a little. One thought was, maybe I’ll check in to a hotel nearby. Probably before the sun sets! And just after passing of this thought a hotel kind of thing passed by. I was little fast so couldn’t get the whole glance. I stopped ahead and thought for a second whether it was what I saw or may be try my chance little ahead!

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I don’t know why and how, but the next action came naturally. Without wasting a moment I turned back and went there. Parked my bike, removed my helmet and took in the whole view of the place. It was quite something. A hotel which looked like a home, totally built on a slope with stones and concrete pillars. When I was bargaining for a fair deal, the lady who came at the door told me to go up at the top and her husband is sitting there, please speak with him.

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I met him on the terrace of the hotel and spoke with him for about 10 minutes. You’ll be surprised to know that it was not at all about the rate or tariff to stay here, he was curious to know why I’m traveling alone, who I am and the curious questions usually asked to a solo traveler. After a moment of silence he started praising of what I am on to and wished me the very best for the journey ahead.

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The lady got me some tea and then finally topic came on the price for the accommodation. Rs. 500/- was finalized. I was little tired that day and the owner also insisted to sit and relax for a while before going down again for luggage and stuff. Here is when a new topic got initiated. In that moment I got to know from him, this place is their home and now made into a hotel, their village is close by and this was their parents’ dream. Many other little and big intimate details of the place I was told. I also got to know he had given a job to someone to make a website for his place and the guy never corresponded back. This is when I interrupted and told him it’s not that difficult to make it. It is hardly expensive to make just a simple static website for a place like this on a platform called WordPress. I quoted him a small figure of Rs. 2000/- that is sufficient to create one.

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He asked me do you also make a website. I replied yes. Here are his next words, “Son, please make one for us and don’t pay us anything for the stay here. Enjoy 3-4 days here. Have the best of food that my wife will prepare. My sons will take you around and show you the place.” I don’t know how and why but to this I agreed so spontaneously that I didn’t even understand whether I myself said yes or just my soul was answering. For the first time I felt of higher powers at work.

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I stayed with the family for 3 days. Each meal given to me was king size. I ate with them in the kitchen as well as the dining room. On cold night, food was served to me in my room. Every item consumed is grown there and like he promised, his 2 sons took me on a tour of the whole mountain. Before leaving he even told me, “I have good contacts further ahead in state, if any help needed then do not hesitate to ring me up.”

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When I reached Mumbai after 30 days from their place, exactly on the 35th day I got a call from them to know whether I have reached safe and was my journey a success! I was touched by their approach. I’m still in touch with them and have been invited to come there again in winter months to see a whole different Chail. First time I realised the meaning and got a true experience of the phrase “Guest is God”.

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3rd Incident | Location: Maling near Nako village, Himachal Pradesh

When I was closing in on Nako village I got to know via Bcmtouring.com that the Malling Nallah area has a disastrous drop. The road has totally gone down. And no way will it be ready in the next 15 days, that was the degree of damage. I still took my chances and settled in at a home stay in Nako. It’s a very remote village high in Himalayas so accommodation charges amount to hardly an expensive figure.

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On Day 2, I made reckon of the situation and decided to give 7 days’ wait, for it to improve. But right after passing of the 3rd day I realised this is no way going to get ready even for lighter vehicles like a bike anytime soon. I was discouraged and disheartened. But just when I was getting ready to turn back, an army fellow met me at the village. There was a wedding in the evening so some army guys had come down for some work. He told me that he was observing me since last 3-4 days and inquired about my intentions. The next thing to come from his mouth was, “Sirji you come up tomorrow morning with your bike, with luggage and everything. We have just put a railing on the patch and with some efforts we might be able to get you across.” I was delighted to hear this. Very eagerly I waited for the next morning.

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At the first light I was full ready to roll. Even before breakfast I was ready up there. The same army fellow met me and gave me 2 helpers to assist me out. And with some daring efforts, me and my bike were taken across. I could not express the joy of the current happening. Some other labour or person would have asked for money or some compensation. But the moment I went across and looked back, the 2 people immediately went back to their camps without showing any expectation. I whistled and waved to show my gratitude. I experienced the phrase, “Yes, even today there are people who will help you whole heartedly.”

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4th Incident | Location: Chandra Tal

During my 7 days stay in Nako, via a working cyber café I was communicating and updating on BCMT forum about the road status here. I didn’t realise who all were reading or following it. After my departure from Kaza in Spiti valley I arrived at Chandra Tal. Kept my stuff in a camp and headed towards the lake. I met a guy over there ‘Jamaica’ and with just some talks exchanged he recognized me the one who was in Nako for 7 days. He was overwhelmed to meet me and I was taken away by his hospitably.

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So many mutual friends and topics opened up that an amazing bond got created with the man. He made an amazing food for me that night. It’s not easy to cook non-veg items at that altitude in severe cold weather. Also insisted to come and have breakfast with him next day morning. He prepared everything by himself. At the end of our meeting it happened so that he didn’t take a single rupee from me for his services offered. People ask me; tell me a person who will work not for money? Today I can proudly say, come with me and I’ll not just tell but show HIM to you.

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5th Incident | Location: Keylong

I had plans to explore the hike route to Keylong monastery before I set riding for the day. I started at 6 in the morning and since there was nothing open at that hour, I just grabbed couple of bananas for the trek. Within 40 minutes of climb I was lost and the 2 bananas disappeared in my stomach. I didn’t want to go back, was totally determined to make it to the top of the monastery. So finally after zig zag climb I was inside the main building. Totally drained, hungry, thirsty and exhausted enough to fall down. Over the top I got to know that all monks have left for the Hemis festival.

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Just when hope was dying out, I was greeted by 2 little monks (kids) who took me in the kitchen. I think they noticed me tired and exhausted because the next thing I see is hot herbal tea and a jar full of biscuits kept in front of me. I was trying my level best to control the tears that were trying to burst out. Both of them gave me a tour of the place before I started downhill back to the hotel. Quote, “God walks with you. He takes care of you. His love can take you across the universe.”

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6th Incident | Location: Leh

When I reached Leh I was looking for the cheapest possible accommodation and close to the main market as much as it can get. After some snooping around I finally found a homey stay that fit my budget. My very thought before closing my eyes was that after 5 days I’m gonna have a royal English breakfast at German Bakery. A must do for bikers coming to Leh. Next morning, excited, ready and just when I was about to exit the room, the house lady grabs me, “Hello ji good morning, where are you going in such a hurry, come have breakfast first.” I couldn’t say no and sound rude. So I agreed. When I went in the kitchen I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, a royal Ladakhi breakfast, homemade, just for me.

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Here is my point, for the 4 days I stayed in Leh home stay; the house lady didn’t let me leave the house without having breakfast with them. I was given variety each time the morsel was presented to me. What makes this special? On the 4th day when I was clearing the payments for accommodation and food, the house lady refused to take money for the food. I couldn’t do anything but bow in front of them. The only line that kept going in my head that day, “Who are these wonderful people, I know nothing about the real Indian.”

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7th Incident | Location: Rangdum village

Deep inside the Suru – Zanskar Valley is the village called Rangdum. It consists of just 4-5 houses and 1-2 hotels (namesake). Before reaching Padum, one night has to be spent here. It’s the only feasible halt in between the journey of 300 kms off-road stretch.

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I stayed in one such home stay and didn’t dismount much luggage from the bike; just got the camera bag with me up in my room. There was a hotel at walking distance on the other side of the village and I had inquired that dinner will be available but served after 7-8 PM. So till then I rested for some time in my room. By night it was so cold that even stepping out of the room was discouraging. And yes I was hungry enough; since morning I had nothing but a cup of Maggi noodles.

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Just when I couldn’t make up my mind, the man of the house arrived. He looked very aged but strong in stance. The first thing he said was let’s get your luggage inside. Since you are traveling alone, you don’t want to risk your luggage here at this place. Surely nothing will happen but theft doesn’t come in definite conditions. I was speechless. I agreed to him quickly. The next thing he asked me was whether I have eaten? My expression was enough to speak out the answer. He immediately tells his wife, please serve him too, with the food prepared today. I did mention to him that don’t take any trouble as I was about to go to that hotel, he replied, they serve only junk food. No taste, no nutrition. Eat here at home.

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I was presented with rotis, vegetable, curd and Tibetan bread. Prepared exactly how they eat and quantity that will suffice 2 people. I ate and never in my life slept so peacefully. I realised, “Food is truly Brahman; and Vishnu can get him to you in any form, any way and any manner. And Allah blesses the Family who treats the guest as their own.”

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8th Incident | Location: Pensi La

A very small incident took place at Pensi La that left a big impact on my thinking and approach towards life. I closed in on Pensi La pass and took a break near a view point. I noticed a man standing there and staring at me. It didn’t bother me at all. I even exchanged pleasantries with him.

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Just when I was about to pack and move ahead, he stops me and gives me black tea. For a moment I assumed it’s a stall kind of thing he is running under the shed at the corner of the view point structure. When we were talking, the next thing he serves was hot fresh puris. I was totally taken back at the availability of this delicacy at this altitude and weather. I enjoyed every bite of it.

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So what was the big impact? The moment I asked him how much do I owe him for the tea and snacks, he was shocked. In a very heart touching tone he said humbly, “What Sir, you are guest in the Himalayas. To serve you is to serve our father.” (Pointing to the Himalayas). I later got to know that the man was just up there to collect some dry grass for his village. It will take him the entire day to do so; hence he carried materials to make his own meals till sundown. On seeing me, he shared what he had made and forever changed my perspective towards life.

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Values of Being Human are deep rooted in us. We have forgotten them, but somehow our soul still knows it. Only incidents like this, it takes, to re-activate them. No education, no money, nothing but just a humble gesture.

9th Incident | Location: Karsha Monastery

When exploring the monastery on foot, I reached to the top and was busy in photography. A very old monk came by and asked me something. I could not figure a single word that he was uttering. But I figured this much that he is asking to stay for some time. I gladly obliged. I had all the time to give. In about 20 minutes, many little monks came running and this old monk grabbed my hand and made me sit next to him. The next thing I know I’m having my lunch with them – white rice and a boiled egg.

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Food has never been so tasty. Not my stomach but my soul was fed by the Lord himself.

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The 36 days on the highway has taught me lessons of life. Lessons you can’t read about or see on TV. I rode and lived my life in a perspective not seen by many, to a place where you can’t afford any mishaps of judgment.

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I conquered my fear, received the love of my people and country, driven by willpower at times, composed myself in situations of threat and got in touch with my true self.

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This journey made me a better man and I feel privileged to come back alive.

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Checkout all the 600 pictures from the ride HERE.

– Om Vaikul

The story was also published in MotorBeam mag; you can checkout the link Here.

10 Kinds of Bikers I Have Met Till Date

The social media has really made new speed records in connecting people. I started motorcycling 3 years prior to the time when social media kicked in.

Platforms like Facebook and Online Forums has connected us with like minded people around the country; for some even around the globe. With its help I too was able to get in touch with so many bikers than I ever could have.

The journey began from riding with a close group of college friends to big group rides, rallies and festivals. I realized we are so many in numbers.

As years went past, so did my liking for keen observation; I kind off figured that we have a breed among ourselves in this two wheeler world.

Based on my observation, here are 10 kinds of Bikers I have met till date.

1.) The Obvious Showoff

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Somewhere in our time all of us have been in this category for a span. Showing off intentionally or unintentionally was the first days of our biking. Be thankful if you exited this category sooner than ever.

These kind just love showing off, forever. They are into biking for nothing more than seeking attention. The word ‘Showoff’ is enough to give you the whole picture.

You can spot these guys easily when they are in front of you and usually are dum dum.

2.) The Wrong Company

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Pure criminals; they ride Motorcycle for the only purpose of theft. They even steal them and participate in petty to moderate crimes in the neighborhood. A shame and nuisance to the society and give a bad name to the ideology of Bikers.

Beware of these kind. Don’t get yourself in trouble.

3.) Know it All

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These kind have done some biking. By ‘some’ I mean a 2-3 years of active riding. They are in the primary standard but act like they have PH.D; they love to project that they know it all. They dwell on half knowledge and try to act winners by demotivating the fellow rider. They only make wrong decisions and justify why it was right thing to do. Never a team player and insecure riders. Very weak and jealous emotionally. Pure backbiters.

Beware and don’t bother to argue with them. Otherwise the idiot will bring you down to his level.

4.) Fame Gamer

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They have nothing much on biking, but they know all on how to stay in the limelight and be the most talked person. These kind have huge fan following and you wonder how the hell that happen. Rarely you’ll see them riding but find them very active on social media.

Riders love them, hate them and can’t ignore them.

5.) Dhoom Effect

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These guys are purely into biking because of Dhoom movie. John Abraham is their ideal or Aamir Khan off lately. The character which these actors portray becomes their role model. They know shit about motorcycling and most of the time land up crashing.

You’ll find them after dark, indulged in some illegal street racing activities. A menace to pedestrians, society and to the men of law enforcements.

6.) Newbie Rookie

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These have just started biking and have great potential. World is often unkind to them and don’t welcome in the group easily. Some are even ragged by elder riders and most of them are treated with the kids attitude. ‘Bacha hai woh’; Let me rephrase, ‘Naya hai woh’.

But these are the ones who turn out to be great leaders and trend setters. They surprise everyone with their performance and make the competition worry about.

They enjoy what they do and don’t get bothered by what the world thinks of them.

7.) The Professional

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The fastest of the lot. These guys are here purely for the sport. They have enrolled in racing schools, learned from the best and practiced on the track to be the awesome in racing.

Motorcycling is passion, motorcycling is their profession. They are the real celebrities of the two wheel world.

8.) The Stunter

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Each one from this category have weird looking motorcycles; but that’s because they have done exclusive mods for pure stunting. Believe me when I say, this is a tough category. Each one of them has fallen, broken, hurt themselves and risen from the ground to get back at it again… and again.

The best ones practice daily and are creative in making something new happen on two wheels. They have no interest in any other kind of Biking.

9.) Adventure Junky

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These kind are the coolest. Motorcycle means adventure to them. Finding new routes, exploring new trails; traversing across the land is their only Mojo. They respect everyone around and expect nothing back. They are strongest when it comes to endurance and are quite seasoned.

You see them walking or taking public transport when heading to work and going to local places around; the bike only comes out when it’s the weekend and time for some adventure ride on the offbeat track.

10.) The Real Deal

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The hardcore and the elite group. These guys have seen it all and done it all; they have even been to the dark side and returned to tell the tale. Their lives are legend and their lifestyle a reason of inspiration and envy for the others. They are often great role models and guide a fellow rider aptly.

The average people refuse to believe such personalities exist in today’s time. These guys have a genuine fan following and are often soft spoken. Modesty and kindness are their natural traits.

Not all of us who began our two wheel endeavor, reach this position.

P.S. You’ll definitely meet many assholes who declare they are at this level. 😛 — Beware… 🙂

10 Things from Outdoor Travel Gear that I Always Carry on My Rides

When motorcycling became a habit, I started checking out for motorcycle products, accessories and other adventure items that can compliment my long rides.

Back then in 2003 there were not many stores as you see today. It was just a handful of lot.. and in this narrow options, one name was prominent — ‘Outdoor Travel Gear‘.

OTG is located in Mumbai and delivers products all over the country. There are many products I have bought from here that have aided my motorcycle rides and mountain expeditions. The store has a special place in my memory lane.

Here I’m listing 10 products that I have bought from Outdoor Travel Gear that you’ll always find in my bag.

1. Waterproof Dry Bags –

Even when its summer or winter season, I expect the rains to bestow upon you anytime and anywhere. No matter if you intend to stay dry, you’ll encounter water someway or the other. Light rains, dew, slush, water crossing, bikes on boat, … there are so many scenarios and unimaginable circumstances where you’ll come close to water.

To protect my gear, I always carry a 10 liter and a couple of 5 liter waterproof bags of BOLL in my luggage. They fold up so thin that hardly any exclusive place it required for it.

Everything that I want to keep dry and moist free, I put it in the dry bag first and then the whole thing goes in the backpack. These bags also have variation and types in size and functionality. You can checkout which suits you the best.

2. Premium Quality Bungee Cords and Net:

There was a ride where I was carrying premium quality bungee cords and a net which cost me around 1000 bucks; where the same number of items my fellow riders bought for just 50 bucks. Now that’s a mountain difference when it comes to pricing. But see the results, the local bungee gear of my fellow riders didn’t even last for 500kms. At the end of the ride the hooks were snapping or getting straight, losing its curve grip; where mine! well now its been over 6 years and it still rocks. More practical way to say it, the life of the gear lasted through 5 big rides.

(The fact is that these expensive cords have sturdy hooks and strong locks attached to the bungee. No doubt that the cord itself is of good quality but the hooks play a vital role, hence they are expensive)

3. Hydra Pack:

Buying a simple mineral water at places sounds more convenient, but honestly you land up with lot of plastic along. You really don’t want to throw those empty plastic bottles just anywhere. And if you are at a location like the Himalayas, you really don’t want to leave a mess behind, specially plastic. Surely you can be responsible about it but otherwise I have found carrying a hydra pack is more convenient. When the bottle gets empty, the first thought that comes in mind is to get rid of it. At halts whenever there is some water left in the mineral bottle, I just pour it in the pack. Water also remains cool during hot days and can sip some even while riding the bike.

Hydra pack can be easily stored in your gear. I use a backpack which has a compartment exclusively for it. This gear has come to my rescue at many places; especially during solo treks. I tend to use it as that ‘extra supply’ or ‘reserve’.

4. iPhone Rainproof Cover:

Never ever I can do a ride without my iPhone. Be it going to even a local market place I need this gadget with me. Like I said above, in India you can expect rains to fall upon you anytime anywhere. In any season, the rain Gods may have a jump on you.

I always have been cautious in securing my gadgets against weather; definitely I won’t leave the phone out of it. An iPhone rainproof case comes to my rescue. This cover is always in my bag and it does the job fine.

5. Inner Glove:

I love to shoot photos throughout the ride. But when I wear my biking gloves it becomes difficult to handle the camera swiftly. The only solution I figured to this dilemma was combing two gloves. What I basically did was bought a simple thin mesh gloves which has the protective guard on knuckles; ideal for summer. During the winter I just wear the cold killer inner glove and put on the mesh one over it. So at least for two seasons — summer and winter, I have a solution where I can ride with gloves on, and use the camera conveniently.

(I’m yet to figure out a thing for the wet season.)

6. Quechua Winter Jacket:

I have said it before I will say it again. The is one thing I never underestimate is the weather of our country. How unexpectedly it can change no one can tell. And most of the time I have landed myself in a pickle because of underestimating the climatic condition. I just leave thinking I’ll manage but I land up with teeth chattering situation inside my helmet.

Now on I have started keeping a winter jacket to protect myself from the cold climate if extreme situation arises. And my favorite one is of Quencha, for simply because, its not thick as a fleece jacket, takes very less space in the bag and can take on little water splash too. Plus its a great alternate walk around jacket.

7. Set of Keychain Carabiners:

Long or short ride, I carry them as many as possible. Till date they have come in use in so many unthinkable ways.

Very recently we were coming back from Goa, and a fellow rider wanted to mount his backpack on the rear seat, as it was getting uncomfortable to ride with. The last bungee rope had snapped and was of no use. What we did now is use the straps of the bag to tie it on the rear seat. Followed by locking and fastening it to the bike using these carabiners. It held the luggage on to the seat firmly. And the ride was also comfortable all the way to the destination.

You’ll always see a few carabiners hanging from by belt loop of the jeans.

8. Buff:

This was never in my wishlist; I bought it in the first place on advise of OTG team. They had mentioned, it has multipurpose use and it will be very handy on my kind of rides.

Right from first day of a ride after buying this, it has been my most favored gear for bike rides — right from using it as a face mark to wearing it on my hand to protect the tattoo from the sun. Be be short or long ride, I never leave without my buff. For the record, it can be worn in 12 different ways.

9. Dry Inside Base Layer:

Once I had got this idea of wearing two layers for a ride to Himalayas. The intention was to avoid wearing anything thick. The fleece jacket takes too much important space in the bag. Since my threshold of winter is quite high, I decided to get myself a base layer which I can wear inside and put the bike jacket over it while riding or a t-shirt when walking. (Two layer clothing worn this way, is ideal for winter and cold mornings)

The Dry inside base layer of Knox is the best one I felt. It throws out the sweat and keeps you dry inside, just like how the name suggests. The product is also antibacterial and odour resistant, so it can be worn a few times before sent for washing.

10. Headlamp:

Carrying a source of light is a must for any ride. There are so many good torches and light devices available in the market. But I always thought of one scenario, where your bike tyre is punctured in the middle of night, on a solo ride.. How the hell you’re gonna hold the torch when you need both hands to fix the problem!

Headlamp is the best way around this; just wear it on your head and find light in any direction you look. Petzl is the current brand I use. This items is always in my bag.

5 Things to Learn from the Movie ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’

Critics will view this Ben Stiller movie, ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty‘ from various angles and present you with deep analysis on the theme, subject, performances and I don’t know what all they bring in to make their piece long and meaty.

I on the other hand would just like to mention 5 things we all should learn from this movie. Most of us are well aware of these 5 things, but from time to time we tend to forget them or ignore them. So here is something to refresh and remind us of life’s oldest formula to success and happiness.

1. Dreaming is Important

I have attended many personality development sessions, speech improving classes, participated in leadership programs and various other seminars that teaches us to be a better human being. Of all the wisdom given to us, the one thing common in everyone’s curriculum is the concept of ‘Dreaming’. They all say, dreaming is important, dreaming gives you a vision of your future. You have to see yourself in a picture 10 years from now.

It all sounds dramatic but honestly it takes quite a significant about of time to realize the Dreaming part of those teachings. Initially we all take such guiding lessons as entertainment. Only in time we realize the importance of Dream — A Vision.

Ben Stiller’s character, Walter Mitty, dreams of many things he wants to do in his life. He got the first gear right and it acts as an invitation to our destiny to bring on the next… This is how our Almighty works.

2. Chasing Dreams is Even More Important

You are the person who is dreaming day and night. You are seeing a vision of betterment for yourself and the society. Well you are no different; we all are on the same track. What sets you apart is when you begin the pursuit of your dream — the pursuit of happiness. One has to go through hell in chasing the dream — trying to make the vision a reality.

Takes a second to have a dream and years to realize it. The race has begun. Chase your dream and beat it at the finish line.

To find that one negative Ben Stiller goes through an epic journey of a lifetime. He is not ready to stop until he accomplishes his mission. All this time what dreams and visions he was imagining, he is now turning them into reality.

3. Adventure is a Must

Adventure is embedded in our DNA. There is no soul in the world who is afraid of a little adventure. Even the people who say they are not adrenaline junky, are dying from inside to do something adventurous. Its the logic of mind that they don’t let go… and bow down to the fear the heart stimulates.

In life, adventure is must. Its the most effective way that brings the best in you. Makes you realize the unseen value of life — that higher level you didn’t know existed…

What Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) keeps dreaming about something awesome, truly goes after it and lives an adventurous thrilling expedition. His personality blooms up and he becomes the phrase, ‘Just be yourself’.. ‘Your True Self’.

4. Why Not to Give Up

In the lost scriptures of ancient India, there is a simple saying about the human mind and body. A person will excel in any task he undertakes for all the right reasons instantly, over the wrong ones. Let me illustrate with an anecdote. There is a guy I know who use to like a girl in his college. He had sweet feelings for her but never took a moment to express his fondness for her. It was not that he was afraid but he felt he was not suitable for her. The only cause for him to think so was his over weight built. He gave a shot at working out and getting back in shape. In a year, there was no significant improvement. Years passed; this chapter was closed. And one day I met him near my residence. I could hardly recognize him. He had lost tremendous weight and was lean now. When we got talking, he narrated me what he felt all this time. He said that in a bid to woe her, he was trying to get in shape. But when that phase passed, he started working out only to make himself happy; to make himself proud of what he has created. He attained the results in just 6 months.

There is a fine line between the right and wrong reasons. The moment you hit a wall and lean on the feeling of giving up, you need to push through that wall; for success lies just beyond it. Its the only fastest way to reach for the heavenly glory.

We all start from the level zero and ascent slowly up the ladder. To reach the top level, it takes time, patience and a pinch of faith.

In the chase to find Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn), Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) comes across many difficult situations. Some even gigantic enough to make him turn back. But his determination to find Sean is so unshakable, he dives through all the challenges and only keeps moving forward.

5. The Answer Lies Just Under the Nose

The game play of karma is a funny one. Many a time the answer to our problem is right under our nose. Just because our eyes cannot see that area we tend to ramble here and there in search of solution. Call it God’s ingenuity or his miracle, its the mystery in finding these answers that takes us on life altering endeavors. Teaches us about the higher value of life and fellowship; and brings us back home right where the answer always was. Only the journey we set on to seek, makes us wise enough to understand these answers.

Walter Mitty finds the film negative right at home, in the gift he was presented with; the message had mentioned look inside (for the negative) but Walter mistook it to be some quote related to the motto of Life magazine. His mistake takes him on a ride of his lifetime. Makes him a better human being and life brings him back home to the one thing he was looking for (negative). Only this time, he is a New Man.

Passion to Ride: Dadasaheb Shankar Bote

In today’s time, people complain and keep whining about how social media has made you a slave of technology; I tell them, ‘Always see the brighter side of everything, not just social media’. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter have made speed records in passing on message to a large audience, over the conventional methods.

On that note, let me show you a video I stumbled upon today morning. A biker from Bangalore (Nagendra Surya) was passing from Satara and stopped at a wielding shop. What happened next, he could have never ever guessed.

Go through the 8 minutes to know about a good man’s potential, his passion for riding and exhibiting ‘Impossible is Nothing’.

There are many senior riders who have done similar feat but what inspired me the most from Dadasaheb Shankar Bote is the bike he chose, the knowledge of places, the fact of riding all the way from here, returning via a different route and making it sound so Casual.

He explored quite a chunk of India. People don’t expect such endeavors from small town guys. Its how cynical we get sometimes. None the less I felt worthy to mention him, so other senior riders get inspired and motivated to do the impossible.

The expression ‘Passion to Ride‘ can generate enormous will power at times. It becomes the driving force for our Mind and Heart — Body and Soul.

5 Reasons Why You Should Attend India Bike Week

India Bike Week has been promoted as the biggest biking event to ever happen in India. Riders arrive from all parts of the country to experience the grand event in Goa. Over two days there is a wide range of activities that takes place throughout the day. A biker group or a solo seeker will find his plate full and ample things to do here. And if nothing works out? Hey! You are in Goa. Even the loneliest of all souls can find solace here… 😉

Although like any other event, this one too has its flaws and setbacks. The first edition was even criticized a lot on various issues. However, based on my experience at India Bike Week, going once solo and another time in a group, I would like to give you 5 reasons why you should attend the IBW fest.

1. Knowledge –

We always see the entertainment part of such events but what you should try and perceive is how much knowledge unknowingly comes by your side for your benefit. Let me share a few instances; at the IBW 2013 edition, many great biking personalities were invited to be honored for their work in the two wheeler industry. One such personality was Subhash Chandra Bose a.k.a. Bullet Bose. Of the 5 minutes he spoke on stage before accepting an award, each and every single word from his mouth was inspiring. His quote, “Accidents don’t just happen, you are always at fault. Work on your errors and misjudgments.’, still remains my motto on the highway.

Hidden under the coat of entertainment, many such knowledge and wisdom is present at the venue, all you need to do is become a keen observant and sharp on ears.

For 2nd instance, at IBW 2014 edition, I went in the big cinemas section where Bharadwaj Dayala was giving a speech on his solo ride across the world. The very next program was First Aid on the Highway by Dr. Arnob Gupta. I was not knowing this and since it was something that I always ignored, I decided to sit through the session to gain some first hand knowledge.

Some educative info I received about first aid. Some important facts that I was not aware of, while some tips and techniques that can be applied on, in case of emergency. A safety protocol and experiences shared by others from the audience — Totally worth it.

It’s said so, ‘Knowledge is power, knowledge is golden.’ Then why not gather as much as you can to master yourself in the biking arena.

2. Contacts –

If you are coming from business point of view then surely you’ll make lot of contacts here. It’s believed, no matter how educated and rich you are, without the right contacts it’s next to hell working up the ladder. One phone call from the right person can do wonders for your business.

IBW is attended my many media groups as well as known personalities and your competition. So it’s an ideal ground for building contacts that will come to use may be later. Get acquainted with important people, share your ideas with like minded enthusiasts, grab hold of one PR representative to keep you updated on further events.

Idea is to be mutually beneficial to both parties.

3. Brotherhood –

There was a time when people use to call me crazy for what I was doing. And I thought I was alone in it. When social media kicked in, I got connected with infinite networks and so many of you bikers got linked. IBW is a cool place for all of us from far corners of the country to gather at one place for meet up, quick ride or just talks. Many a times we have so many in our network that with most we only have corresponded on the social media platform. Meeting up in person is a whole different emotion. A feeling of brotherhood naturally emerges. There is more respect and gratitude for the person, for the biker.

(One can always ring for help or assistance. When you are far from home, you know there is a rider at the closest town who can back you up.)

P.S. You also get a reality check on things that I’ll not mention. 🙂

4. The Other Side –

Here is my favorite part. An observation I have in my head which I’m gonna name it ‘The Other Side’.

You see be it biking or any other sport, there is always the other side. In this case, I’m referring to the show off image. Now many of you might feel offended but I suggest to take it sportingly.

At events like IBW, you get to see the real biker and the biker inspired from reel. There are so many wannabes nowadays that it has become difficult to come in touch with the right group. Many appear giant, smart and full of advices, turn out to be the other guys. You will be disappointment to find out that your hero is actually a comedian or a sidekick. 😛

But when you meet these ‘other guys’, you get a testimony on how good you have become yourself, how well you are on the correct path. Be proud.

Besides it’s just plain entertainment to observe the wannabes. You will definitely have something to laugh about at dinner.

5. Goa –

If I can not give you a reason then hey! Come down for Goa.

You work very hard, you slog it out. Give yourself a break at the beginning of the year and ride down to Goa. Celebrate your biking life on the land of beaches and enjoy your time here. There is plenty to do and experience. Just catch few hours of IBW and then head out to enjoy yourself.

Group, solo, whatever… Goa is the sin city of India. 😛

Bikers for Good: Respect Your Freedom – Real Bikers Respect Laws

Very recently, I along with my group, were invited to the press launch — announcement of Bike Festival of India, the very first of its kind in the country. (More on it you’ll know soon)

During the event in Mumbai, I met many fellow bikers and biking groups who had arrived from far distances. Its always a good feeling when you meet someone similar to you. Gives you a feeling of union and brotherhood.

One group I would like to mention specifically, who are not just riding but have taken up the responsibility of spreading  social message in the society. Educating people, the true meaning of ‘Bikers’.

One such club, the only club to ride for Social Cause is Bikers for Good.

Mohit Ahuja from the team shared this video with me which I was very happy to see. It was a delight and a proud feeling that someone has taken an initiative in this segment, and done very well.

Sharing here the video, for inspiration, appreciation and education.

P.S. Do share the link among like minded enthusiasts…

Review: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About The ViaTerra Fly Camera DSLR Tankbag

I recently came back from my longest solo ride to the Himalayas, Jammu Kashmir State and the journey has been a Bliss.

An experience to cherish.

I believe many factors of a good and successful ride, has some relation with the gear, luggage and things you carry on the trip.

When I listed out the things I want on this ride (Clothes, Writing Material, Bike Spares), I found that a standard Cramster Saddle Bag will do fine. But the very purpose of this ride was to quench my thirst of ‘Photography Full Time’ in the Himalayas. So I wanted the camera gear to be at quick access throughout the trip.

And after putting some thought on my options, I decided to get myself the ViaTerra Fly Camera DSLR Tankbag.

I had my eyes on it since the day it was launched. Just it was a new product in the market so was not sure whether it will do right or not! — Should I take a chance or not?

But the advantage to me was that all products of ViaTerra are designed by avid bikers themselves. And FLY comes from the artist who created Bike Chronicles of India.

So using their product eyes closed, was a safe bet.

For 36 days this bag accompanied me on the trip and there are few things I learned about it on the go. Not even ViaTerra guys are aware of its Full Potential 🙂

Here I present you 5 things you didn’t know about the ViaTerra Fly Camera DSLR Tankbag

  1. Clothes: In the default features of the bag its a clear mention that its a camera tankbag. So its pretty much given, that its not to store spare clothes. Just your photography gear. Although you can squeeze something in if its a challenge. But they will create obstruction when accessing the camera. Solution! You see, at the bottom of the bag, a compartment opens up where the mounting and fastening straps are stored. You’ll be surprised to know what else it can take in. I managed to put in 1 thin towel, 2 Tshirts, 1 undergarment and few smaller items. Now that’s the luggage of a weekend trip on bike.
  2. Mount on Tank using Carabiners!  Now this one doesn’t applies to all bikes, but goes for most. There are some bikes available here in India, where you can mount a bungee net on their fuel tank. On the Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 I used a bungee net on its enormous tank, with offcourse a cloth in between for protecting the tank from scratches. And I affixed the FLY on the net using carabiner keychains. Now the advantage? You can mount and dismount the bag quickly as compared to the bags default mounting system. The net also becomes a great utility.
  3. 1 DSLR and 1 lens? As per the specs the bag can accommodate 1 DSLR and 1 telephoto lens. But if just look inside and you’ll immediately hunch that FLY can accommodate 2 DSLRs, even if both have telephoto lens affix on them. Assuming you have nothing bigger than 50mm prime in the lens pocket. Only an experienced photographer knows that if you want to enjoy travel photography at the fullest then its best to have 2 DSLRs along; one for telephoto shots and the other for wide angle. In the process of changing lens constantly, you lose the moment.
  4. Mount Over Saddle Bag: Be it any company saddle bag, they always have a handle on the top to help you lift the bag while mounting or dismounting from the bike. Now if you see, the two handles perfectly line up along the rear seat of the bike. I kept the Fly on the rear seat and locked it down using the same carabiner key-chains on to those handles. In my personal opinion, I liked it more on the rear seat than on the tank. I’m not sure but I think this feeling is because I was riding a cruiser!
  5. For Motorcyclist – Hikers: There are hikers who use a typical trekking backpack for mountain/hill trips. There are Bikers who prefer a tank bag for short rides. And then there are some photo enthusiasts who along with a backpack or tank bag, carry one more small bag for the camera gear. FLY, just combines the 2 scenarios into 1. I’m not saying its go anywhere bag, but for the simple cool weekend rides/trips, this just fits the script.

Many of you must have read some of its reviews and user feedback online.But for those who don’t want to go through all the research and feedback, I’m summing it in just one sentence — FLY is a great product; your money is well spent.

Next I’m trying out this tank bag on my Ninja 250R. Whether it will hold steady! or create obstruction? Find out in my next post.

Fly tank bag
FLY in Zanskar

 

Fly tank bag
FLY in Spiti

 

Fly tank bag
FLY in Himachal

 

Fly tank bag
FLY in Ladakh

 

Fly tank bag
ViaTerra Fly Camera Tank Bag

 

Fly Tank Bag
Mounted and Fasten on Rear Seat using Carabiners

 

Fly Tank Bag
Fly with and without Rain Cover

 

Suggestions to ViaTerra Team –

– The strap for the backpack mode can be a little longer. May be 6 inches more.

– Just above the pocket of additional lens, one more fastening strip can be affixed to hold one more DSLR (when the lens pouch is empty.) So basically the bag can hold 2 DSLRs.

KTM Duke 390: Second Wave Begins…

KTM Duke 390 press launch finally took place today at a posh hotel in Pune city.

The excitement and anxiety outside the lounge was like how it is outside the notice hall when your exam results are announced. Just eagerly waiting to get a glimpse and wondering whether it has met the expectation or not.

The 390 is truly the elder sibling of the Duke 200. The bike is going down the success road; just inevitable to go anywhere else.

Is it value for money? Yes, very much.

In the Duke 200, the speed and performance were limited to a certain point. It was satisfying but suppressed beyond a particular mark.

The 390 just blasted off that suppression.

A beautiful machine is now available in India and its not just a head turner but also the tongue is gonna come out drooling.

KTM Duke 390

5 Important things you would want to know about the KTM Duke 390

  1. Price: Rs. 1.80 lacs Ex-Showroom (New Delhi) and booking commences on 26th June, 2013 at Probiking
  2. Top Speed: 160 kmph (Surely riders will find ways to get pass this mark)
  3. Economy: Expected to be around 40kmpl (Will lot depend on how you handle this rocket)
  4. Colours: The only bike which you can customize to suit yourself. Ample decalcomanias available. From KTM it comes in a colour scheme of Black, Orange and White combo.
  5. Addons: Plentiful touring and lifestyle accessories available from KTM.

Earlier I had mentioned 5 Things You’ll Love About the KTM Duke 390.

Duke 390

Traits of a KTM Duke

– Naked Minimalistic Design

– Aggressive Stance

– Highest Power in class

– Lowest Weight in class

– Agile & Maneuverable

Come on, give a reason why you wouldn’t love this beauty….

The KTM Duke 390 in Touring mode

What’s new about the KTM Duke 390?

Since the first ever news broke out of the Duke 390, there were strong speculations that the bike will have lot of similarity and rhyming components with the 200. But Mr. Amit Nandi, Vice President Bajaj Probiking cleared the air about this and presented the truth.

– The Duke 390 has 95% new components

– Taller Gearing for high speed long rides

– Low Friction Nikasil Coated cyclinder

– Forged Piston

– Two Overhead camshafts, four vales actuated by DLC (diamond link carbon) coated finger followers

– Whooping top speed of 160kmph

All-in-All, a bike for everyday purpose, a bike for touring long distance, a bike for performing daring stunts and a bike for rallies/racing. Thumbs up to KTM.

KTM Duke 390 Touring Accessories

KTM PowerParts and Accessories

Original KTM powerparts will be available to boost up this big Duke. Also with the 390, you have the option to fully convert the bike in touring mode. KTM has provided a list of accessories that will cater your touring needs. To name a few —

– Windshield

– Tank Bag

-Fuel Cap Stickers

– Tank Pad

– Bike Cover

– Front & Rear Crash Pads

– Carrier plate

– Rear Top Case

KTM Power Parts

KTM Duke 390 Target

We always say that this bike is not my type or that bike doesn’t works for me; but Bajaj has set this KTM big Duke to target riders from almost all segments. The bike is apt for those who are looking to upgrade from Mass Sport bikes, then those who are looking at alternate options to Super Premium Bikes, the all time tourers and those who wish to upgrade from the Duke 200 itself.

Frankly speaking, its really have put riders in thinking mode and you’ll surely see a lot of 390 on Indian roads.

KTM Duke 390 Technical Specifications

ENGINE

Type – 373.2 CC single cylinder, 4-stroke, liquid cooled

Power – 43.5 PS @ 9000 RPM

Torque – 35 NM @ 7000 RPM

Fuel Intake – Bosch Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI)

Transmission – 6 Speed

CHASSIS

Frame – Steel Trellis frame

Fork – WP Suspension – Up Side Down

Shock absorber – WP Monoshock

Brake system Front – 300 mm Disc brake with four-pot brake caliper

Brake system Rear – 230 mm Disc brake with one-pot brake caliper, floating brake discs

Chain – 5/8 X 1/4″ (520) X-Ring

Steering head angle – 65 degrees

Wheel base – 1,367 +- 15mm

Ground clearance (unloaded) – 165 mm

Seat height (unloaded) – 800 mm

Total fuel tank capacity approx. – 10.2 litres

Weight without fuel approx. – 145 kgs

KTM Accessories
KTM Accessories

 

KTM Lifestyle products
KTM Lifestyle products

 

KTM Apparels
KTM Apparels

 

Rajiv Bajaj - The Man who changed the face of motorcycling in India
Rajiv Bajaj – The Man who changed the face of motorcycling in India

 

SuperDuke-R 1290 launch in 2013
SuperDuke-R 1290 launch in 2013

 

KTM PowerWear and Accessories
KTM Power Wear and Accessories