Saturday, 16 August 2014

My Hyderabad and me — riding solo

What happens when you start your bike and go on a long ride alone? You come back with lots of memories! A few Hyderabad solo riders share their biking tales

Bhanu Prakash (Businessman)

Age: 29

Year: 2013

3,500km over 10 days

Route map: Hyderabad Chennai Pudducherry Dhanuskodi Kodaikanal Coimbatore Ooty Bangalore Hyderabad

Bhanu Prakash, riding alone has changed him in many ways — especially in his confidence.

"My confidence has gone up notches. I feel so much more in command," says Bhanu.

His South India ride was a completely unplanned one. Wanting to explore the southern beauty of the country, he hopped on a bike and went alone. On the way, he met riders in Chennai and Pudducherry, who were riding in groups.

Taking about the kind of affection unknown people shower, Bhanu says, "Many curiously asked me what I was doing and where was I heading. When I told them about my ride, many chaiwalas and dhaba guys refused to take money!" The startling discovery for Bhanu, however, was in Dhanushkodi. "I met an ancient man there and locals told me that he is the only survivor of the cyclone that ravaged the area and killed more than 5,000 people. He spoke in Tamil, so I didn't understand much. The locals told me that now, he takes water out of a well and give it to others."

Aditya Narayan Sarangi (IT professional)

Age: 29 Year: 2010,

2,000km over 10 days

Route map: Hyderabad Delhi (By Train) Mahendra Nagar Butwal Kathmandu Gorakhpur Varanasi Hyderabad (By train)

Aditya, an ardent biker, thought of challenging himself. So he decided to ride alone. And as soon as he started his journey from Delhi, rain accompanied him everywhere he went.

"There was torrential rain all the way and I was drenched to the bones," recalls Aditya. But a lot of people came to his rescue during his journey. "When I reached the India-Nepal border, I had nowhere to stay. So, a Nepalese person let me stay at his place and also gave me food to eat."

Not just this — while he was on his way back, Aditya decided to book his bike on train and when he reached the Varanasi station, he found help there too! "The station master named Lallan Singh saw me drenched and unshaven. He immediately came to my rescue and booked my bike on the next train itself. If it wasn't for him, I would have waited there for at least another day."

Puneet Singh (It Consultant)

Age: 29

Year: 2013,

3,200km over 10 days

Route map: Hyderabad Delhi (by air) Manali Rohtang Pass Sarchu Leh Khardung La Pangong Lake Manali Delhi Hyderabad (by air)

Whenever Puneet goes on a long ride alone, he always meets people who want to know the reason behind his 'solo riding'. Questions like 'What's his problem in life? Doesn't he love his work and his family? Doesn't he have a girlfriend?' etc., are common. But Puneet's reasons are quite different.

"Riding alone doesn't mean I'm lonely. It just says that I love spending time alone. Isn't it simple for people to understand?" asks Puneet, who ventured out on his third solo visit to Ladakh in June last year on a bike. He met a lot of interesting people on the way and is still in touch with some of them.

"I met this guy from Bangalore who had come to Ladakh on a bicycle! It may sound unbelievable, but it's true."

Since the area is cordoned off by the Army, Puneet has stories to share about them too.

"Once, I lost my way, so the Army guided me back to track. But the best moment was when a subedaar took me for a meal to an Army mess, and I had chole bhature," smiles Puneet.

Travelling across India would also mean coming faceto-face with our ancient culture. He shares the story of a district called Kinnaur in the Himalayas, where the people still follow the Pandavas of Mahabharata when it comes to marriage! "I came across a show on TV about this place. And when I went there, I actually saw that polygamy existed here! Five men marry one woman in Kinnaur," he shares.

Every ride is a memory in itself, feels Puneet, adding, "Every time I go for a ride, I get to know my country better -through local perspective and that's what gives me a kick."

Suraj Subramanian (Businessman)

Age: 38

Year: 2009

4,700km over 12 days

Route map: Hyderabad Palakkad Trivandrum Kanyakumari Ernakulam Kozhikode Udupi Shimoga Bangalore Hyderabad

In 2009, Suraj was all set for his maiden bike ride to I Ladakh, but because of some personal emergency, he had to cancel his plans. That's when he decided to explore the coastal areas of the South. Spread over 12 days, he covered all the beaches and cities of the coastal stretch on his bike. Talking about his ride, he says, "All I did was feel the road, smell the air and see every beach possible."

Meeting interesting people is something all bikers cherish.

Suraj says, "I met this biker on my way and we rode along for sometime. We got so friendly that he even invited me for his wedding!" While on the road, rain accompanied Suraj wherever he went. And it was a challenging experience.

"Riding in the rain isn't easy. You have to cut down the speed to stay safe and that increases the duration of the ride." Explaining why he enjoys riding so much, Suraj says, "I love exploring new places and clicking lots of pictures. It gives me a sense of elation."

Devadatta Das (Businessman)

Age: 30

Year: 2011

4,500km over 10 days

Route map: Hyderabad Vizag Bhubaneswar Kolkata Siliguri Gangtok Balurghat Kolkata Bhubaneswar Hyderabad (By Train)

Devadatta often rides to his hometown in Odisha on a bike. But his longest was in 2011, when he decided to ride to Sikkim all by himself.

"Lots of things have to be packed, like bedding, spare parts of the bike, tube for puncture, basic tools, and more. One should also know the basics of repairing a bike before embarking on a solo trip," explains Devadatta.

But riding alone isn't always easy.

You camp on the roads, eat whatever is available and sometimes, run out of fuel in the middle of nowhere. "Once, while riding through the hills, I ran out of petrol. When I asked someone, I got to know that the nearest petrol pump was about 60km away! After waiting incessantly, I found a person driving past in a gypsy. He gave me five litres of petrol. Thanks to him, I could continue my ride," he recalls.

While riding alone in difficult and unknown terrains, there are chances of getting lost too.

"On my way back from Gurudongmar, in Sikkim (one of the highest lakes in the world), I lost my way on the plateau. After roughing it out for more than two hours, I started searching for jeep trails of the tourist jeep and found my way back." solo,Hyderabad solo riders



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