Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Before You Go On a Bike Trip

Lord Rama once took a trip on foot without a travel itinerary and hotel bookings and it led to a full fledged war between India and Sri Lanka. And the Sri Lankans had to wait till 2014 to avenge that defeat in a T20 World Cup. We Indians were never good travellers. May be that is why, even with the intellectual and economic prowess we couldn’t colonise any part of the world. We book trains, hotels, trip advisors and pack 108 bags containing parathas, just so that if someone feels hungry in the middle of the trip. How about going on a trip without any of the prejudices or the baggage we carry? But the trip can only happen if the people you are going with get the requisite leaves in the same timeline. For an aam aadmi it’s not God but the manager who sits snooping besides our cubicle who sanctions our wish to take leaves. I personally had to sign a bonded labour agreement, which stated if I die for some reason and not come back, I will dedicate all my future lives in completing the unfinished tasks assigned to me. So, it was an uphill task to get to a point where 4 friends, could take leaves during the same period and then go on a trip. A bike trip. It was a pact we made in college. No, we don’t break pacts. We are not in Pakistan.

The guys who made the pact
We had the best time of our lives in those 6 days we were on the road. Travel is a great teacher. It is just that we need to be receptive when it takes us to newer places each day and surprises us. This is an attempt to list down 10 most important things you should do if you plan to go on a bike trip. Remember don’t carry parathas. Carry underwear.

Q: I’m riding my bike 40 kilo meters in the city to meet a friend. Does it count as a bike trip?

A: Hahaha. ROFL.

Coming back to the 10 points I wanted to share. In no particular order since all of them are important for your bike trip to succeed.

1 1. Do not take a short ride before you begin your trip- This is to give your body proper rest before you begin. We did this mistake and had to suffer backaches which were from another world. Manthara, the evil woman with a hunch back who made Lord Rama go on an unplanned vacation must have cursed us too. But we forgive her. She must be really old by now any ways.

2 2. Pillion Riding- If you are riding pillion, sit with your body retracted and head slightly bent downwards. This would allow you to cruise through the gutsy air. The feeling is best expressed when experienced. Carry a helmet which is meant for the main rider and not just for the pillion because you never know which stone on the road is waiting to take your life away.

3 3. Riding the bike- This is the thrill part. This is why you have risked it all and chose to go on a 1500 kilo meter trip on your 220 cc bike. Enjoy it. Enjoy the thrust of air hitting your face. Enjoy you cutting through the air like a sharp knife. Enjoy the thought that you are the fastest guy in this universe. Ok, just enjoy that thought. Don’t bring it to life on an Indian highway. There is always a Punjabi truck driver out there watching you. Take breaks at regular intervals. We took a break of half an hour every 100 kilo meters which really helped us recharge. Keep switching positions on the bike with your pillion rider. Don’t allow that guy to fall asleep, come what may. Also, note we did not take any revital supplements. None of us were Salman Khan fans anyway.

4 4. Talk to the Villagers on the way-   What is the use of going on a bike trip if you do not do it? Travel by itself does not teach. There are new people whom you meet and learn new things. Travel is the best way to do it. We met a driver near Haveri, enroute our journey who told me- “Saar, you can either take this way or that way. Both will not take you there. Follow Google maps.”  That was some kickass advise which really helped us. There was another time when it was getting too dark in the night in the jungles of Western Ghats, an entire village or so it appeared, came out to support us and give us the directions ahead. Google maps is only as powerful as your phone’s battery life. Keep an eye out for the names of the villages you cross by. We came across villages named Pradhani and Sonia. It makes for interesting anecdotes.

5 5. Service your bike a week before leaving- Highly obvious. A week’s time after servicing is a must. You get to know if the bike can take the pressure you are ready to take. If the bike is happy then your trip is going to be happy. Talk to your bike. It sure talks back. If you don’t hear what its telling you, then don’t, I repeat don’t go on a bike trip.

And you asked me how can one possibly talk to a bike? 
6 6. Drink Water- Lots of it. If your bike needs petrol, you need water. Nothing better than a hydrated body to carry on a trip. We went during the break of summer. Summers in northern Karnataka are known to produce omelettes from broken eggs. We scraped through it, thanks to a lot of water.

7 7. The best time to take that trip- is now. When you are ready. By that I mean when your manager is ready to give you your earned leaves. There is no best time. A lot of people advised us not to take this trip during the summer. But they din’t know the manager story. Now that you know it, you shouldn’t ask the best time to take the trip you have been waiting for. Just choose the right places.

8 8. Protective Gear- This should be chosen with caution. When you have decided to splurge money on petrol, spend some here too. Identify the right helmet that suits you, which your head loves. Pick the right jacket before leaving. Nothing protects you against winds fury like a good helmet and a comfortable jacket. Buy hand gloves if your palms are watery. Pick the right shoes which don’t become a burden on your legs. They are going to stay on for the entire duration. Remember only Milkha Singh can be comfortable without shoes.

Protective gear gives you confidence to do dare devilry like this
9 9. Riding in the night- Avoidable. Totally. A night is to rest. That is how our body metabolism is built. We aren’t truck drivers delivering consignments. So rest properly in the night. If you have to make that journey in the dark on the highway, keep calm and follow a car or a taxi. Keep following. Anyways, the visibility is poor from your helmet, you can’t yell at truck drivers cruising with high beams on. So keep calm and keep following until you reach your destination.

1 10. Enjoy the journey. The destination shall follow- “It is better to travel well than to arrive” says The Buddha. The whole point of writing this post is to say this loud and clear. People travel to reach a place X or a city Y. Travel to enjoy the journey. Travel with a curios eye. During the 6 days on the road we visited at least 20 odd towns, 4 cities in 2 states and a numerous villages. We travelled just because we wanted to. We never set out to reach a place X. We reached eventually when we were done with the road. That is what will make this trip stay with us forever. Try it. Thank me later.

All roads lead to happiness, when you want it. 
Bangalore-Dandeli-Ulavi-Ponda-Panjim-Hubli-Chitradurga-Bangalore was the route we happened to take for our bike trip. At the end of it the meter reading showed 1558 kilo meters. And it sure din't feel that long. T.S Eliot, one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century once said- “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time”. 

How true?!