True Wanderer 3 – Talks at India Bike Week 2015

My brothers and sisters from the biking fraternity, before I give my presentation let me first explain what true wanderers ride is about;

Every year Wrangler launches the TW platform where motorcycle travel enthusiasts like you and me can submit a travel story; a story which you think has been most exceptional in your life. Nothing less than a thrilling saga of adventure.

Hundreds of entries pour in and after the deadline; only 10 best stories make it to the top ten. Most people assume the judgment is based on popularity and voting but truly it’s on how you write, what you write, the photos and videos, the aesthetic feel and the inspiration factor …and the overall presentation.

I too submitted my entry and found myself among the top 10 travelogues.

The next stage comes in. We 10 are then required to ride anywhere we like, any destination of our choice and route we want to undertake and live blog for 7 days a fresh story. Main rules remain the same best photos, videos, inspiration and motivation factors but above all the best write up, the story.

Only 1 winner will emerge and he or she will be awarded a grand motorcycle. (In my case the Kawasaki Z800 )

Allow me to share a fun fact, on a different contrast. In my schooling days my English teacher used to get very angry with me. Would always shout, “Mr. Vaikul you’ll never be able to write a proper essay. Your stories are non-sense. ” And she use to throw my paper in the dustbin. I felt very bad at times. 🙂

Here I stand today because the motorcycle travelogue I wrote in 2014 stood first among hundreds of entries. If only my English teacher could see this.

So here is,

LESSON 1 of Life – In your quest for success and learning, there are going to be obstacles and challenges only. Some situations are going to stop you and beat you down. But the only thing that can truly stop you is your conscious itself. Your will is the only thing you need to hold on to, to keep moving forward. By your dedication, your fate is compelled to open the doors of success in your life.

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When I earlier mentioned that one has to submit a motorcycle travel story to participate in the contest, it’s obvious I also submitted an entry. But the story that I submitted, I had no intention of writing it down in the first place. I left my job and undertook a 36 days trip in the Himalayas on my motorcycle and it was purely for my pleasure. A much needed break.

A friend of mine, Anahita Pagdiwalla, knows me by the skin, insisted to write down this story and submit in the True Wanderers 3rd edition. I was not keen, least interested. But knowing her its best to do what she says than face her fury.

I did what she asked me to do and here I stand today as the winner of TW 3 and proud owner of a 4 cylinder motorcycle.

So LESSON number 2 of Life – Behind the success of EVERY man there’s always a woman. She can make you, she can break you. Please be nice to her; she will stand by you through thick and thin.

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Coming back to my ride story;

The first thing I did was checked who are the other 9 finalists. And to my disbelief, 7 out of the 9 guys I knew well. By well, I mean they are excellent photographers, good in writing, creative in video shoot… basically serious competition.

I felt discouraged, the final ride had not even begun and I already had my hopes killed. Beating these guys was like going after Osama Bin Laden with an air gun.

But then again I remembered how a small candle can brighten the darkest room. And every champion was a rookie at one time.

The 3rd LESSON – The world fears a rookie, for they know what new will be unleashed and nervousness kicks in among the champions. For the rookie, he has to focus only on giving his best. Concentrate only on the bulls eye. (Those who follow MotoGP, you know what Marc Marquez did.)

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So now when the stage was set and I had a fair understanding of my competition, it was time to chart out a route. When readers come on my blog I wanted them to be amazed from my act. This was the opportunity of a lifetime for me and I wanted it to have a grand opening.

Hence I picked a route that would endure my mind and body to a level further. I chose to ride from my home in Mumbai to a place called Chandrashila in the Himalayas. Its at a distance of 1800kms from my residence, going over 4 lane highways, few cities enroute, mountain roads and a trek of few kms.

On paper it’s not quite practical but to do something extraordinary was my determination.

For the first time in my life I prayed to God in desperation to bring me back alive and safe from this one.

And yes he did, on the night of the 7th day I came home; tired, exhausted …but at peace.

route map

The 4th LESSON – To taste success hardship is the only way. Shortcut will only give you temporary boost, but to experience heavenly glory, your metal has to go through the process of seasoning and sacrifice. No other way.

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What happened in those 7 days, time is too short for me to narrate the true episodes and experiences. I’ll share the ones that are very dear to me and I hope you find them inspiring.

This ride started when the summer was at its peak. On day 1 itself the wind was warm and the temperature was close to 45 degrees Celsius. Not quite a pleasant day to ride and a mammoth of 1000kms I had to cover to keep with the schedule.

Just covered roughly around 300kms and stopped to capture the sunset. The theme of TW 3 was ‘chase the sun’. So I took some pictures of the sunset but the next thing I remember is I’m lying down on the side of the road. Out of fear I got up and realized that I think I fainted a while back. Is it that Hot! Or Am I not feeling well? Many questions hit me hard. And the most important of all, should I continue to ride on? (If this would have happened while riding then I was a goner!)

5th LESSON – Body is the temple of God. Adequate care should be taken to maintain its normalcy; Be carefully careless.

So did I ride on? Of course I did.

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Another episode.

Many of us have heard this, ‘Lord works in mysterious ways.’ In this episode I actually got to live it.

I was fixed on my route and had no intentions of altering it midway. But when I took a random halt to relax my muscles, just in the middle of nowhere, I read a sign board saying picnic spot and view point 6kms left. Since I was seeking interesting stories, I took the chance and went ahead to see what’s this place about.

Upon reaching the site I realized that it truly was a scenic place, very pleasant and peaceful; and I met a guy there who takes care of the tourists who visit the place. Cooks food, makes camping arrangements, looks after the plants and trees around.

When he got to know why I was there and what I was doing, he took me to his house, gave me food and told me some interesting facts about the trees around the place.

I’m glad that I met him and today I have shared his name and contact details on many travel forums. Some of my friends from north have made a visit to this place after reading my story.

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LESSON number 6 – ‘Lord truly works in mysterious ways. When two souls come together there’s always some purpose to it and when two souls are brought together against all odds, there’s always a divine purpose at play. What is the finest education in life? Is to understand how nature serves its own purposed through you. Our lord has written the play, your job is to act well and retire.’

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Here’s one short episode,

One of the places I visited on this ride was Lansdowne. It’s the home of Garhwal rifles — Finest soldiers of India and expert in mountain warfare. There is museum maintained by the army and I went in to check out the place. No camera is allowed inside so left my pack with the guard outside.

The place is filled with mountains of information, stories and artifacts. I really wish I could photograph some.

And just when I was pondering over the letters and documents kept for viewing, this one line I read that really brought tears in my eyes. My feeling of empathy was quite shaken.

Let me read out, ‘‘To those who read this scroll, ………….for he left his loved and dear ones by the call of king and country, to face hardship and danger and later pass out of sight of men. He sacrificed so his people can live. May his name not be forgotten by the time ahead. For we breath in freedom and price was paid by his blood.’

The 7th LESSON – A soldier fights for the people he doesn’t know, he dies for the people he doesn’t know; all he knows is that he gave up his today so we can have a better tomorrow. The freedom we enjoy today must not be taken for granted, for someone is paying the price by his blood.

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Moving on to another short episode,

What does an old lady do? Nothing but cares for the young ones.

On the narrow lanes of Lansdowne an old lady spotted me strolling up and down many times and finally stopped me to ask if I was looking for someone. I explained her why I was here and what I was doing. She was glad to hear me out. She gave me a cup of tea and told me to be careful on the road ahead from the town. It’s all downhill and steep. Don’t ride after dark and stay alert. For someone who had met a stranger, all she showed me was care and guidance.

The only frightening thing to come from her mouth was a blessing that I get married soon. 😛

Old Lady

My LESSON number 8 – Our elders want only the best for us. Though we may disagree with them on certain times, but their care and love for us is immeasurable. In their old age, our unconditional support acts as boon their life and living. When you go home tomorrow show some love to your elders.

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Coming to my most favourite episode,

Chandrashila is a beautiful peak high in the Himalayas. The trek of 3kms looks small but takes some effort to reach the top. And the last 500 meters steep slope is always covered with snow.

At that altitude, I was told that it’s easy to spot a Himalayan Mongal. It’s the state bird of Uttarkhand. And while going up the trail, I met many enthusiasts who were able to capture some photos of this bird.

Here I was, reached at the summit, took some photos and videos but no bird. I was happy with what I experienced till that time but was hoping to photograph the bird for good finish.

First time in my life I prayed in desperation and cry; gave myself a silent 2 minutes… and voila, a bird just ran in front of me and went behind some rocks. I got to see it for split second but realized that it was surely a mongal, its outline is distinctive. Slowly I went closer to the rock and in that 3 second moment I was able to capture 1 photo of this beautiful bird.

Himalayan Mongal

So here is the LESSON 9th – A true prayer can bring magic in your life. Keep praying with faith and gratitude. A prayer can get you long way.

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The last one,

On the 6th day while returning from the Himalayas, coming back into the plains it was past midnight. Since I had only 1 day to reach back home I had to reach the mainland anyhow before I start my final run.

At 3.am when finally my body was giving up, I felt it’s time to check into a hotel but what will I find open at 3 in the morning.

3 hours prior, at midnight when there was a chance I didn’t take it.

For the first time I thought Himalayas are divine, people of the mountain treat it as their father. So let’s leave it to him; he shall take care of me.

In the next 20 mins just upon a turn I was surprised to see a lodge open. I immediately checked in; they also gave me some food and nourishment. And I learned that due to election campaign going on; they have been told to keep the lodge open till late hours.

Most important LESSON – Sometimes in Life you have to take a LEAP of Faith. Then rest everything falls at the right place automatically.

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Thank you MTM and IBW for giving me this platform today; my utmost respect to my parents for supporting me always in this journey. I would like to conclude with this small video I made during this ride.

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10 Interesting, Surprising or Shocking things from my True Wanderers Saga

The best day of the year 2014 — the day I was announced winner of wrangler’s True Wanderers ride.

From a thousand plus participants I emerged at the top. And the trophy was boy oh boy, what a beautiful machine — The Z800 by Kawasaki.

A brand new superbike and the recognition that followed, is the ultimate achievement of my life. I don’t know what can come close to beat this.

For those who have not read the winning story yet, here is the LINK. Give it a read and come back here for some more bonus stories.

For those who have read my blog, here are few addons that you won’t find there or anywhere else.

Presenting 5 interesting — surprising — shocking things that are products of my True Wanderers Ride timeline.

1.) Did you know I won this contest because of Royal Enfield –

Sounds surprising? but its true. You see much before True Wanderers 3.0 revealed itself, I had bought a Thunderbird 500 for my solo 36 days ride in the Himalayas. It was a long pending dream and since I was about to take a sabbatical from work, I thought this is a perfect window to fit this ride plan in. And so I left for the longest ride of my life on the Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500.

It was a good trip. Regardless of how people keep talking about mechanical issues the brand faces, I had no single problem with the bike. Covered 5000+ kms and came home safe and at peace.

Just a week past by and I penned the travelogue of this ride. It was not easy to find the right words. And the write up, edit, rewrite and proof read… all went on for couple of weeks. When finally it was ready, I shared it here and in few forums for my friends and readers.

To qualify for the final round of True Wanderers, participants had to submit a travel story of any of their past rides. And when my friend insisted to participate, I submitted this 36 days Himalayas entry for the competition. You all know what happened next. So if Himalayas on Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 did not happen, Z800 wouldn’t have happened.

2.) Did you know half of the photos of this ride was shot on iPhone 5 –

I was carrying 2 DSLRs on this ride. One for the wide and the other for telephoto shots. Carrying 1 DSLR and interchanging two lenses would have become a bit of a time wastage. And time was very precious for this ride.

Removing the big cameras from the bag also takes a minute, so I had every intention of using the iPhone too, quite frequently, where I cannot lose any important moment. And it’s the moments timely captured that make amazing and winning photographs.

So at the end of the day when I use to select the best pics from the lot to upload on the blog, I realized most were from my iPhone.

3.) Did you know for the first time in my life I was frighten to get on the motorcycle –

What I planned for those 7 days was something stupid in theory. Right from the first twist of the throttle it was a drag all the way to the end. I was aware that every time I ride the bike I’ll have to push my limits to save time, which was very precious for this feat to complete successfully. And over that, the WTF incident right on day 1 near Surat brought all my confidence to almost zero level.

Thinking of all this was only making me afraid of going ahead in full surety. For the first time I felt an emotion that I thought I was immune to when it comes to motorcycling, …Fear.

4.) Did you know this ride gave me a serious injury on my shoulder –

In this mad rush type of ride, I had to also make myself aware to be careful about the damages physically I may incur. Not that I intend to hurt myself but its my theory that such rides always tend to give you some kind of injury. Mostly a minor one. Least I was expecting that I might get a serious shoulder injury.

This so happened that while coming down from Chopta, one corner had little black ice and slush. I couldn’t spot it from far and the rear tyre went in on the curve; this slid the bike against the hill side of the road and my shoulder brushed against the hard surface at a little high speed. The pain was there just for few immediate hours and gone; but upon returning home and checking up with the doctor I got to know that few tendons have been snapped. I’m still in recovery mode and it hurts when I raise the shoulder back and up. But hey, no pain no gain… I have a 10 lakh rupees supersport bike parked in my garage as my winning. Covers up much of the pain. 🙂

5.) Did you know I almost faced an unrecoverable breakdown of the bike on day 2 itself –

The packing for this ride went almost till the flag off time. Everything was done in so much of hurry that I had a feeling I forgot something important to carry. When I was reaching the flag off point, in my mind I was going over the checklist and wondering whether I forgot, or what I forgot that’s bothering me right now…!

Only when I covered 100kms it hit me that I forgot to carry the chain lubricant. It was very important for the ride. Already I was running on the last setting and lubricating the chain every 500kms was a must. The moment I reached Jaipur the inevitable took place. The chain started making hell of a noise and I couldn’t find a dam shop of motorcycle accessories on my route. Over that my preference was to buy a spray bottle so I can carry it on the ride ahead. Just lubricating with those local oil sprays won’t be enough. They barely stick on the chain (gets thrown off at high speeds.)

With that cranking noise I rode from Jaipur to Meerut and wondered that if I don’t find anything here then I’m officially thrown off my schedule. Staying exact on time with my itinerary was very necessary to work everything out for my story.

One, two times I event felt that the chain might snap or jump off from the sprocket. It was now totally dry. And just when my mind was preparing to face the breakdown; …spotted a good shop which sells exactly what I was looking for. A big can of chain lube; not Motul though but as if I was in a situation to complain.

In fact I almost came at a point where I was considering to apply my hair oil on the chain 🙂

6.) Did you know mosquitoes are responsible for the write up of day 0 and 1 –

If I have to win this thing then surely right from word 1 everything has to be awesome. Bullshit has no room in the story.

Day 1 & 2 involved in me covering far distances in short time so I kept the writing for last on day 2. After almost 48 hours I reached close to Lansdowne, found a hotel, checked in and thought of taking a nap first before I start writing the blog in the wee hours of morning. Just when I was tucking myself in, I realized the room is fully invested with mosquitoes. Not even half an hour I was able to sleep at peace.

These rascals were even coming under the bed sheet and tearing into my flesh. (I was just wishing for the mosquito bat over here.) Fuck the sleep I decided to start writing now itself. And decided to put whatever words that come out immediately from my heart and mind. I didn’t even proof read and straightaway published it.

I now realize that if there had been no mosquitoes, what content that arose from me that day would have been different. And that different would have not been the winning one because the winning one was from the mosquitoes incident.

Sounds so stupid but that’s what the chain of events show.

7.) Did you know on the last day I slept on the bus stop for an hour, only to be awakened with the title ‘Ghost’-

On Day 7 I had to ride from Meerut to Mumbai in less then 24 hours to complete my 7 days circuit. Meerut to Mumbai in 24 hours is pure stupidity. Even with my pushing endurance level, I was sure somewhere close to home I might snap. My sleep will take over my mind. But I decided to worry about it when the event nears. And so after 18 hours of rigorous riding, finally somewhere ahead of Modassa I was not able to hold on to. Physically I was so tired that I close my eyes and I would fall asleep.

I decided to give myself few mins break or atleast an hour’s sleep. So like how Dr. Arnob Gupta does, I found the perfect bus stop, parked the bike close to me and slept on the bench. Idea was to refresh myself with a power nap but I opened my eyes to something weird and funny. You see there was a marriage happening close by and the “Baarat” was going from the road where I was sleeping. They saw my bike and me lying on the bench, wearing all these weird things (gears), so they stopped to check this curious sight.

Just when they came close (within a feet) my eyes opened and I got up suddenly. In that dark ambiance I don’t know what happened but I clearly heard someone shouting ‘bhoot bhoot’ and they started running away. It was a LOL moment for me; I quickly spoke and calmed them down. Once relaxed they seem pretty annoyed with what happened and started telling me ‘Aisa koi kidhar sota hai kya…’ Once the show was over I hit the road once again, but this episode didn’t get out of my head till I reached home. Whenever I felt sleepy I thought of this scene, giggled and paced myself.

8.) Did you know I’m struggling to reach the ground when sitting on this bike (Z800) –

This is a funny one. I was not totally aware that this machine is so tall. I’m a good 5.8″ but despite, when I sit on the motorcycle, my feet struggle to reach the ground. So now I cannot move the bike if it’s stationary position and off. It’s heavy and massive.

And me regardless of being a huge person, have to be careful with this mean machine.

9.) Did you know as a prayer to almighty I rode on my bicycle from Mumbai to Shirdi –

I’m not very much in religion but my perspective of prayers and connection with Baba have always had a unique identity.

For some reason I felt a strong urge to be in Shirdi on the day of the announcement. I was already anxious and nervous.

For me riding to Shirdi from home is not a difficult task on my motorcycle. It’s just 3 hours ride from Mumbai. But again for some reason I had this feeling of putting my mind and body through rigorous levels to understand this unfamiliar urge I was experiencing.

So I decided to pedal my way to Shirdi this time. I anyways had a bicycle expedition in the Himalayas coming up, so pedaling to Shirdi will just become a perfect training thing for me.
What happen next, you all know. 🙂

10.) Did you know I cried like a baby when I saw this video –

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