I Celebrate My Change
(My True Story Of Motorcycle Riding Experiences)
"Invest in Experience, not in things", this is what I believe in. In our lives, we want to do things that are different; things that not every others do. I do a lot of adventure and travelling for refreshing my mind, to explore new things, new places and new culture.
Long distance Motorcycle riding is one of those exciting things I do, to know the unknowns and to know my inner-self better. I regularly go for 300-500 KM single day rides on weekends. Multiple-day rides like, 800-1000 KM rides and even rides beyond 1500 KM also occur frequently my list. Every time I start my motorcycle, my heart starts pumping faster. I may not be aware of the road ahead, but the challenges motivates me more, and makes me a stronger ‘me’. The riding adventure really gives me greater knowledge, learning, and most above immense pleasure.
Every time when I start the ride, the feeling of fresh morning air on my face, empty roads, and the beckoning of the unexplored destination, fills my heart with such a joy that I never wish to ask for the day to end. I just want to ride non-stop until the fuel tank gets empty. As my tires hit the tarmac, I embrace the freedom to go my speed, take the turns I please, push limits on my terms, and focus on nothing but the trail ahead of me. It is addicting, especially when I mix in empty trails, soft light, and perfectly moistened dirt from the morning's dew.
It is an awesome feeling that only the bikers would understand. I often feel I want a space of my own where my mind is peaceful and not worrying about anything. I have been experiencing such feelings whenever I am just cruising on a lonely highway without any time target or sometimes destination also. I stop whenever I want to, feel the environment around me and then continue with my ride towards the unknown. The fascination of the long roads, the noisy localities, the colourful people, the rivers, the jungles, the woods, the mountains, and the companionship with my bike is not just fantastic but colossal too. I feel so romantic about my riding.
I often meet up with other riders (strangers) cruising for far destinations, alone or in groups. We share our passion for the open road and I feel honoured to share my experiences with and learn new experiences from some of the great pro Indian or International riders. I often help inspire new enthusiasts to get started on their riding journeys.
I mostly go for solo riding. It is not easy to describe how it feels actually; however, I can assure that, it is always a wonderful experience to cross an unknown journey all alone. It is a mixture of excitement, fear, happiness, curiosity, adventure and many more emotions altogether thrown into the sphere. I think it is not for me only, if asked to any biker most of them probably would tell the same story.
Humming my favourite songs, enjoying the changing terrains, admiring the nature, watching other vehicles pass by, sometimes I like to just gear up and ride with full speed, sometimes I just like to ride slow and smooth.
Riding alone is not just strictly monitoring the hand on the clutch, the foot on the break, and eyes on the road. Riding alone is like leaving all the worries and problem behind with the road we pass by and moving ahead continuously, which is exactly what we should do in life - keep moving because life goes on.
While on solo riding, the challenges crossed are always achievements and learning are always lifelong useful.
At times, solo long rides tend to become monotonous and after some time, riding itself starts challenging my focus, my courage and motivation level. The conscious mind tends to be engaged in daydreaming and the sub-conscious mind with the help of my body (muscle memory) takes care of the ride. However, panic braking, or lane changes cannot be done in that scenario. Again, physical fatigue is a big enemy of riding. Keeping my body agreed for the ongoing and for the next piece of riding-time is not an easy thing. Altogether, it takes a lot to complete a long ride safely. Those moments are intimidating, as I fight with my own self only.
As a long distance rider, along with excellent driving skills, I need higher fitness level with strong legs, strong but flexible back muscle, ability to sit continuously for hours, ability of quick responding and decision-making. However, psychological ability is the most required trait for solo riding. I always need to keep my courage and motivation level high. I always need to keep my constant focus on the road. Riding at the speed of 110-140 KM per hour - that I generally ride in- is not child playing after all.
At the same time, however well-equipped I am with the best necessary gears - wide tubeless tyre with better grips, wide well-cushioned gel sit, Riding Jacket, Pant, Boot and Glove and a trusted Helmet with Bluetooth, GPS mounted on the bike and whatever more I wish to have - riding always brings in new challenges for me and some are really unexpected. This kind of situation makes it tougher for riders.
Until now, the challenges I mentioned are never ignorable issues, not even by a minor percentage. But, the biggest challenges are offered by the roads. The issues with my own equipment or my ability are always known to me; but, the challenges offered by the road are mostly unpredictable. Horrific road conditions like, under construction roads and diversions, muddy roads, potholes, unexpected narrow turns, unexpected speed-breakers (without signage), signal less crossings, construction materials lying on the roads etc., just compounds the challenges for me.
Dealing with environment always been the leading challenge for riders. Heat, dust, wind, rain, these all are part of the journeys, and they all never forget to contribute their part in making the riders life more miserable. In addition, often scarce of proper food takes the game to the next level.
While I deal with such unwarranted things, the road challenges that I hate most during my trips are truly Indian. Cows and dogs running rampant on the roads is a major nuisance to bikers. Worsening the conditions, we Indians love to do nonsense on the roads. Some people think they are just moving in their own courtyard, some find breaking traffic rule is fun, and some people think that rush & rough driving is the ultimate objective of them being on the roads.
Gradually with the crossing of distance and passing of time, all the excitement of ‘honeymoon with my bike’ gets ‘wiped-away’ and my mind and body both start reacting to situations. Conditions like, water coming out of eyes, knee pain, back pain, increased heartbeat, headache, disturbed vision, vomiting tendency etc., are common body reactions.
However, the thing I have been worrying most are my psychological reactions to conditions. My negative emotions often have been alarming. The nonsenses of the road were dictating my behaviour and choice. Getting irritated easily, losing my temper, arguing with people, using bad words etc., have been a natural reaction from me. The result of all these were an overstressed mind and body.
These negative behavioural issues always lessened my riding pleasure. In the past for this same reason, I have taken many wrong decisions and had to pay for the same. I truly feel that, those negative behaviours had been a real threat to my road-safety too. I can recall many scary incidents; those were results of my negative behaviour on the roads.
In the recent times, luckily, the organization I work for, offered me a multi-phased training program called ‘g2G’ on improving behavioural traits. The program either reminded me or exposed me to some valuable behaviour attributes that can really change one’s life if practised with complete dedication and sincerity. The contents like, ‘how to maintain my Poise’, ‘how to compose my behaviour’, ‘how to properly listen to others’ and ‘how to make better decisions with good analysis of the situation from all perspectives’, and many more, have brought-in real good changes in my behaviour. I am now calmer on the roads, rarely react to any nonsensical situation and can enjoy my ride with lesser stress and greater pleasure.
I would like to share a recent instance. My last long distance ride was in October 2018, to Sikkim from Guwahati. During the 1400KM 3 days ride, I covered some good plain highways, annoying bad roads, narrow mountain curves, irritating traffic jams, countered rain and wind. But, surprising myself, it was a complete different experience for me. I was calm like never before, I was happy like never before. I did not react badly to anyone even for a single instance. That was something incredible happened to me.
Until the last ride, I have completed dozens of long distance rides and the end-experience (psychologically) were almost the same due to higher stress level. I always felt ‘something missing’ out of my rides. Earlier finishing the ride always has been only an achievement to add to the list and may be an event of triumph stories to tell people about. However, now finishing the rides has become a source of pure happiness along with achievement. The changes in my behaviour have given me a lot to experience the “Joy of Riding”.