Pics by Dayanand Kukkaje and Ganesh S Perla
Mangalore, Oct 26: How would it be to cover the four corners of the seventh largest country in the world, on just bikes? To ride on hills, plains, mountains, snow-clad, freezing places that no human would dare to venture? To ride into dense forests, feel the freedom of the earth and the sky enveloping you.
That is exactly what the members of India's largest biking club xBHP are doing. The club, founded in 2003 by Delhi's Sundeep Gajjar, nicknamed Sunny, has 25,000 registered members all over India and abroad. The name itself is self-explanatory - 'x' (meaning infinity) Break Horse Power.
The Great Indian RoadTrip is a biking tour undertaken by the club. The tour, which was flagged off on August 15 from New Delhi, spans the nook and corner of India, from Leh in the northern tip to Kanyakumari in the South. The tour is slated to end on December 5 where the team will once again reach New Delhi. The team reached Mangalore in the wee hours of Thursday October 26, after visiting xBHP members in Udupi.
The tour has been divided into two legs. Leg 1 of the journey consisted of a tour of the Himalayan region and places like Amritsar, Srinigar, Leh Ladakh, Manali, Spiti, and Shimla. The second leg of the journey, spanning the rest of India, is currently in progress.
Although the team consisted of 6 members riding on powerful bikes in the leg 1 of the journey, the leg 2 has only four members, Sundeep Gajjar, Bunny Punia, Ashish Divakaran and Sunil Gupta.
In an exclusive chat with Daijiworld, the team revealed their purpose, plans, difficulties and excitement of the once-in-a-lifetime experience that brought them together on this unforgettable journey.
The purpose of the trip was to primarily promote the culture of 'bikeism' or the activity of biking among the youth, says Bunny Punia. He further adds, "We want to motivate people to get out of their 9-5 jobs and explore their country on bikes and showcase the beautiful country of India. Bikes can go where cars cannot, and therefore the best way to explore places is by bikes."
The team has been to places one can only dream of. From the highest motorable pass in the world, the Khardung Pass in Leh to the beautiful Pahalgam and the temples of Amritsar to our own city of Mangalore, the team has explored lakes, rivers, mountains and forests. From a chilling weather of minus ten degrees to a scorching 50 degrees temperature, they have seen it all.
“With such a high pressure of riding all day and mercurial weather the tour did take a toll on our health. One of our team members fell very sick once, but all the trouble is worth it, says Punia.
"We are very different," says Sunil Gupta, "Unlike the rest, our purpose is to share our experience with others and tell them how beautiful our country is. Although we have enjoyed every bit of it, that is not our primary goal.
Every day, we upload our photographs on our website www.thegreatindianroadtrip.com and www.xbhp.com and share our experience on its blogs. Our days are spent in riding, while evenings are spent in updating the pictures and blogs. We have almost lost touch with our families and friends." He adds, "Our photographs have a touch of ethnicity in them, and carry the feel of the place. That is what we want to convey about our beautiful country."
The trip is being sponsored by Castrol, which also arranges press conferences in major cities for them; Canon, which has provided them with high quality cameras to take pictures along the way; Kinetic which has provided the bikes, and Dreambikes, which has sponsored the super-bike Honda CBR1000RR, owned and ridden by Sundeep Gajjar and Nokia.
Apart from Honda CBR1000RR, the team is riding Kinetic Jupiter, Kinetic Blaze and Kinetic Comet.
So far the team has covered approximately 10,000 km of distance out of the 20,000 km they plan to cover before the tour comes to an end on December 5.
Speaking about their experiences, their eyes light up with delight. "Each and every moment was memorable," says Ashish Divakaran, "Everywhere we went people welcomed us. Children came running to us and all wanted to know about our tour." Recalls Punia, "When we were in Pune on Diwali, we had celebrated by arranging lighted candles showing an outline of India.
The neighbours looked at it and came to speak to us. They even offered us dinner. In Ahmedabad, a couple travelling in a car stopped by us when we badly need to drink water. They asked about our biking tour and were very warm and friendly. They even offered water and eatables."
The highlight of the tour was when Bollywood heartthrob John Abraham interacted with them at a press conference. "We were surprised that he already knew about xBHP. It was a wonderful moment for us" says Ashish. The team even got the rare opportunity of carrying the Indian flag at the Wagah border.
The members had to temporarily or permanently give up their jobs for the bike tour, but they feel it is worth the experience. They plan to take up their jobs once the tour is over.
The team gets in touch with its members in various places to arrange for accommodation or to act as guides. Mangalore too has xBHP members, led by Meghan Naik, a college student. The Mangalore team assisted the GIR members and even rode with them for a fairly long distance.
The team next heads to Bangalore, where they will stay for three days and hold a press conference, then to Ooty. They will pass through the major cities of eastern India before culminating their tour at New Delhi. Approximately, they will visit 570 cities and 7,500 km of coastline.
“What do you feel about Indian roads? This final question was inevitable.
"They are a mixture of good and bad. In some places like Delhi they are really good, while at other times we feel that the government has not done anything to improve our roads."
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