Can guided motorcycle journeys give you the ultimate two-wheeled experience?
Anyone who has ever wanted to venture out and understand the world around them will attest that there is no better companion for such an undertaking than a motorcycle. Che Guevara traversed most of South America on his beloved 1939 Norton 500cc, way back in 1952, while actor Ewan McGregor circumnavigated the Tropic of Cancer with his buddy Charlie Boorman on a pair of BMW R1150GS Adventure bikes in their extensively documented series ‘Long Way Round’. So what happens if you want to ride across India, but with fewer days and fewer bucks to spare? If you and your group are in the market for a customised, guided motorcycle tour, there are a couple of outfits which offer you what you might need.
“Motorcycles break barriers,” says Anand Dharmaraj of Indimotard Adventures. The co-founder of the group, Dharmaraj also trains motorcyclists in the art of track riding, when he’s not accompanying groups on custom motorcycle tours. Sure, they know their mountains pretty well. “I’m personally present on all tours,” confirms Anand, who takes the groups through some of the highest motorable passes in the world, all of which lie up in the Himalayas. Indimotard also specialises in conducting tours outside India, in countries like Sri Lanka, Cambodia or a destination of your choice given adequate resources and a feasible budget. All you have to do is pick a destination and Indimotard maps out a route with the best possible arrangements for food and lodging, within your given budget. After that, it’s a good three to five days of exhilarating bike rides through some of the most stunning patches in Southeast Asia.
Helmet Stories was born when journalists Harsh Man Rai and Vir Nakai combined their collective knowledge about India and their passion for spontaneous motorcycle travel, to create an outfit that facilitates the kind of experiences both Harsh and Vir sought during their travels — journeys which intimate the traveller with the inhabitants, customs and cuisines of places which, according to Vir, “you won’t be able to find on a map”.
Vir and Harsh are strong advocates for touring the country on a motorcycle. “A journey is not just the distance covered, it’s the smell of the earth, the local flavours and conversations,” says Vir. “All these things change completely every 200 km in India. You just don’t get to experience this through any other mode of travel,” He adds. So does guided travel take the element of exploration and discovery out of the journey? “It takes the hassle out of the journey, that’s all. Once you land at a particular spot, we take care of everything, all you have to do is ride, contemplate and absorb this incredible experience.” Since the Himalayas have been their personal playground for years, Helmet Stories has an extensive network of people who can help out with tricky situations at any time of the day. Whether you need a roadblock removed, or a place to spend the night — they have it all covered.