“A two-month-long ride from South India, all the way to the East, Bhutan, and beyond? I fail to comprehend what this craze is about,” I hear Mum say. I get it. Anyone would be worried when their 53-year-old spouse’s passion includes riding for hours or even days, to offbeat locations on a bike.
“Well, you’re not entirely wrong; passion does ride on the edge of craze,” my dad replies. They both smile.
From an Ind-Suzuki in 1985 to the “Bullet” in 2020, not much has changed. Biking had always symbolized freedom, insanity, and adventure to this crazy old traveler – the freedom to explore the adventures that lay ahead. Having spent over two decades as an officer in the Army, travel is intrinsic to his nature, and extreme comfort is never his top priority. His age is the last thing to curb him from continuing to pursue his heart’s calling. This is why, when a trip covering 15,000 km was proposed over a casual conversation, he didn’t have to think twice before he knew what his answer would be.
In August of 2019, the Biking Community of India, which my dad is a part of, organized a tree plantation ride. All over India, over one lakh saplings were planted – the bikers rode for a cause. This year my dad wanted to expand the brotherhood. This is when you keep in mind the short exchange of words between my parents at the beginning of this article. In March this year, my dad and a few of his friends decided to set off on a trip to meet and get to know more passionate and like-minded people – because text messages and phone calls are such a thing of the past, right? While they had to put brakes on their ride due to health concerns caused by the pandemic, the engines of their spirit are still running strong! They left their bikes at their last stop, which was at Dimapur, and flew back home to Bangalore, intending to resume their journey when things return to normalcy.
“But Dad, what about your safety? And isn’t it so uncomfortable to ride for long hours?” I ask. Though he’s the best rider I know, I do find myself feeling concerned.
“There’s no denying that it’s risky, but we ensure that we’re always protecting ourselves with appropriate safety gear – helmets, jackets, gloves, protective pants – you name it. We get a good night’s sleep before we set off and take breaks every two hours to rest our bodies. But honestly, the feeling of being one with nature – cruising along the never-ending roads – is inexplicable. That feeling reduces the discomfort of the protective gear and lack of backrest to nothing more than a routine headache – you don’t even notice it. It’s just you, your bike, and the skies. I can’t explain it in mere words; it has to be experienced,” he explains, his eyes gleaming.
“However,” he goes on, “it isn’t something everyone is necessarily capable of. There is a certain level of physical fitness that needs to be maintained to handle these long hours of riding. You need to accept that you’re going to be sitting on the bike for hours, make peace with the not-so-comfortable protective gear, and be willing to withstand heat, rain, winds, and the cold. If any of these don’t sound like they’re your cup of tea, then the experience in its entirety is probably not going to be the best one for you.”
I’ve always heard Dad talking about what biking means to him. It gives a sense of fulfillment – of having done something other than working and living a routine life. You’re always connecting with and meeting people who want to travel the way you do, and it keeps you young at heart! There’s so much in life that we don’t end up experiencing because instead of living in the present, we’re always worried about tomorrow. Most people live a regular life revolving around work, such that once they’re done working, all they want to do is relax. A sedentary lifestyle may look appealing post-retirement, but complacency never helped anyone. Go on that trip you’ve always wanted to go on and rekindle that hobby you’ve meant to – you’ll love every second of it, said the crazy old traveler.
So I’d now like to humbly ask you, the reader, that if his age doesn’t stop this crazy old traveler from pursuing his passion, what could stop you?
Check out other stories that might interest you:
The 62-year old who changed my perspective of life
A senior citizen guide to fitness at home