Monday, October 14, 2013

K2K - Soul of Solo Riding

In September 2013, I did the Kashmir to Kanyakumari (K2K) SOLO motorcycle road trip. A journey from Himalayas to the Indian Ocean all by myself on a RE Thunderbird covering 5,043 kms in 14 days. (read more)

Most people are convinced that long distance SOLO biking is a colossal-bore and that such an endeavor interests only the lonely souls. They say, “Why would anyone go out ALL ALONE while you can go out with family and/or friends”.

But, very little do they know of finding peace in silence or the bliss in discovering oneself. Far less do they understand that biking is a two way journey; you’re traveling further along the road and at the same time delving deeper into yourself. People whose sense of SELF is defined by materialistic things and other people do not very well comprehend the metaphysics of biking.

So, this post is not for them but for you.
Here are some of my learning along the long road.


1. THE virtue

If I were allowed to pursue one and only one virtue of biking, it’d be this.
“Ride slow. For faster you ride, less you witness and lesser you’ll experience”.

Let me highlight the technicality; the bliss of self-actualization trumps the fun in burning adrenaline any day. Hands down!

Now, let me elucidate the same in layman’s tongue.

If you’re riding too fast, all your attention & energy is spent on NOT falling down than on actually enjoying the ride. You’re gripping the handle too tight, you’re pressing your legs into the fuel tank; you’ve lowered your head and forced yourself to see nowhere else but the road ahead. So, instead of a fulfilling and enriching experience, you’ve merely managed to come out alive from a self imposed risk.

I’m told that there is a certain degree of sportsmanship, competitiveness, discipline and focus required in motorcycle racing. Well, I say that this situation is akin to drowning oneself in alcohol and then competing to remain focused. There are competitions that drunkards play and there is motorcycle racing. They are guilty pleasures in self inflicted chaos. I ride my bike for another thing altogether.

I seek an endearing & liberating experience. I ride for a blissful journey through clarity & awareness; not a survival mission through danger and chaos.

Also, think about it. Faster one rides, sooner he gets tired and distracted too. If you’re riding at 120 kmph, you’ll hardly notice the paddy fields along the road. However, if you’re riding at 80 kmph, there’s a good chance you’ll smell the moist air, notice the different shades of green and even spot a farmer or two aging about their chores.

Needless to remind, if you ride responsibly; you’ll live longer and actually get to ride lot more.


2. Absolute reality; the here-now


 For long man has been a confused creature. Every single one of us has a mistaken identity. We form a complex idea of who we are based on what we were yesterday and what we dream of being tomorrow. We’re struck too badly in the unforgiving past of the dreamy future. Little do we realize that both of them don’t matter and ruin our present with the burdens of the past and the uncertainties of the future.

The faculty of living in the absolute reality; the here-now eludes most of us.

However, I think there is a close approximation to this absolute reality. There is one thing in life that treats you to your face value. It does not care who you are, what you did, or where you’re headed. It’s the open highway.

On an open highway, you’re judged not by your past and weighed not by your intentions. The open highway does not discriminate; you’re handed just as much luck as the other guy. Nothing less, nothing more! You’re tested for awareness & responsiveness every moment. It’s funny that the punishment and reward is the same – life!
Couldn’t it be that one lives in the here-now on an open highway?


3. Reset your senses
K2K ride helps you discover the multitude shades of green and blue that you did not know existed. It’s a full blown awareness of the entire color spectrum. The interplay of colors is so amazing that it’ll make your 1080p television look like pencil sketch.
Keep your eyes open, ears attentive and smell the fragrance of the fresh air. Lose those goggles and iPods. You have something more majestic to experience here. It’s the ultimate reset option for the five senses.

Did you know that the air smells differently while you ride along the sugar cane fields and paddy fields? The air always smells of dampness over the paddy fields. Did you know why? Or more importantly have you ever cared to notice?


4. TRUCKS

One more thing that you can’t miss on K2K ride is the TRUCKS. In a matter of 10 days or so, you’ll see more trucks than you’d have seen in the last 10 years. Trucks in India transport everything and/or anything than needs transportation gets dumped on a truck. While you’re struck with the great Indian truck rally, might as well get some laughs out of it.
Tractors on truck
Trucks on truck
140 feet truck. Notice my bike in the pic?
Railways on Roadways
Thoda kam pee meri rani, Mehanga hai Iraq ka paani


I wouldn’t comment on their driving sense, but truck drivers surely do have a good sense of humor. Next time you’re bored, try reading the quotes inscribed on them. You’ll sure in for some enlightenment and entertainment.










5. Nostalgic Moments

Well, what’s wrong with indulging in a little bit of humor coupled with Bollywood stardom? Here’s some to get started.

Rajesh Khanna Moment: I was riding along Malegaon-Shirdi highway chasing a goods train all along. I couldn’t help humming, ‘Meri sapnon ki rani kab aayegi tu’. 

SRK moment: The sunflower fields were in full bloom. But then, Simran was missing. So were the cows and the bell. 


Sunny Deol moment: That is a fine handpump along the Indo-Pak border. I wasn't Bollywood-enough for uprooting it with my bare hands. But, I did stare at that innocent structure laughing for a while. 









Dhoom Moment: A Govt of India safe was being carried with minimum security. I was on my bike, tempted, followed it for quite some distance. In the end, I told myself, "Sour Grapes" and moved on. Maybe another day, a fancy mask and a faster bike; things could've been different. Dhoom..Dhoom..






Don Quixote moment: I am not Quixote-enough to charge windmills. But yes, did manage to see a lot of them along the ride.










6. Be spontaneous


If you come across a river bed like this; don’t be a douchebag and ride along. Get down, do some dirt/sand biking and convince yourself for some cleansing. In scenarios like these, people don’t really care for the right costume.

Once you get past the customary broken beer bottles, you’ll actually realize that the water is lot cleaner than you thought and definitely more rejuvenating than your swimming pool. Spend some more time. Try swimming against the current. There’s a good chance, you’ll find some kids playing in the vicinity. Teach them a trick or two of yours. Learn one of their own.

I’ll assure you, by the time you get out, you’d have lost whatever little back and neck ache. You’ll even come out with a big grin plastered over your face.

 
7. Discovery of India

Nothing can be more boring than being handed out a tourist brochure to explore the place. Pleasant surprises are a better idea. Here's my top 3 discoveries/realizations along my ride. 


  • Cricket bats town: There this little town/village along the Srinagar-Jammu highway. It seemed as though all the shops in the road sell one thing only - Cricket bats.
  • Pathankot, PB (Camo Goods): There's a particular street in Pathankot, where you get plenty of camouflage gears - the whole range. You name it and they have it. All at wholesale prices.
  • Kumarapuram, TN: This little town is located at an hour's distance from Kanyakumari. It seemed as though this is a town of windmills with few humans and not the other way around. It seemed as though there ere more windmills in the town than people and cattle put together. The localities told me that the blades of the wind mills never stop rotating in this town. Quite a place, I tell you.
Wishing you a long and blissful ride. May the force be with you.
Let me know your thoughts about the post and solo riding in the comments section.

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12 comments :

  1. Lovely read.. It's very insightful.. well thought and nicely articulated :) It's good to know you in person Jay bhai

    Regards
    Dhiraj

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  2. Great experiences maga .. admire u for taking such a adventure .. gr8

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  3. Nice adventure....thanks for sharing the story...It inspired me.

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  4. Beautiful journey and very well articulated your journey experience gives gossebumps

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Rahul.
      Almost all roadtrips are that way. Happy riding.

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