'I like to call India's traffic 'creative driving''

Motorcyclist Karolis Mieliauskas was in India as part of his tour across the coastline of south India

Karolis Mieliauskas travelled to nine countries as a part of his ‘Around the world in 40 days’ tour.

Karolis Mieliauskas is an adventure motorcycle rider from Lithuania. Earlier this month he toured pockets of south India as a part of his ‘Spice India Ride’. He started his journey from Goa, riding 3,000 kilometres along the west coast of the country. Metrolife caught up with him during his pitstop in Bengaluru and spoke to him about his love for riding and his experience in India:

How old were you when you started riding?

I had been wanting to travel on a motorcycle since I was six years old. I managed to convince my father to get me a scooter when I was 12. I think, the dreams you have as a kid, are powerful, which is why I am here today. It has been 12 years since I started travelling the world. The first country that I travelled to was Belarus, a neighbouring country which is about 12 kilometres from my hometown.

Do you still live in Lithuania?

I grew up there and I still live there. I grew up surrounded by nature, and I can’t give that up. I now live in Vilnius, which is the capital. But, I go back to my hometown whenever I get the chance.

You rode across the frozen lake Baikal. What inspired you?

Generally, no one rides during winter, because it gets so cold. But I didn’t want to wait till April. I had my bike shipped to Morocco. I travelled across the Sahara desert, which was great. But, I wanted to be able to experience winter. That is how I ended up riding on the frozen lake Baikal in Siberia, which is the deepest lake in the world. The ice there was one mile deep. I rode for one week, covering 800 kilometres, with no support, or camping gear.

Was that your most challenging trip?

Earlier this year in winter, I went to the coldest inhabited place on earth called Oymyakon in Sakha Republic, Russia. The temperature can be anywhere between -44°C and −67°C. It took a lot of preparation. As a rule, I meditate for my mental health, and I rely on food supplements, I swim in cold water, spontaneously, to reboot my immune system. But, in the end, all the clothes I took with me to keep me warm, didn’t seem enough. I did not drink or eat during the day because peeing when it is that cold and you are wearing all those layers is challenging.

Tell us about your ‘Around the world in 40 days’ trip. 

I covered Latvia, Russia, the United States, England, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Germany and Poland. Due to different logistical issues, I was unable to ride for 15 days out of those 40 days. I covered 19,000 kilometres in 25 days. I made it a point to meet people from Lithuanian communities wherever I stopped. I would ride 1,000 kilometres per day which would take me around 15 hours; it is quite challenging because the weather can be unpredictable. I would get some work done afterwards, eat and then go to sleep at around 3 am. My day starts at six in the morning. mind you. During the whole journey, I might have got more than four hours of sleep only on three nights.

Tells us about your ‘Spice India Ride’. Which parts will you be covering?

I started off in Goa, where I meditated. I then came to Bengaluru. From here, I will head to Wayanad, Kochi, Kanyakumari, Pondicherry and then Chennai. I am covering around 3,000 kilometres in south India. I wanted to travel along the coastline, so I curated the trip accordingly.

How has your experience in India been so far?

I have visited India about six times before, but this is the first time I’m riding a bike here. The traffic, on first sight, can look disorganised and intimidating. But, I have realised it is very organic; I like to call it ‘creative driving’. I like how colourful India is. This country is a drop of water. It has a little bit of everything, but it is still so clear. It is very intense, on the surface, but very calm inside.

Which of the countries you have visited, is your favourite?

This might sound cheesy, but there is the only country that I have returned to six times. I am planning to come back again next year.

What is next on your agenda?

I am going with five other riders to set the Guinness Book of World record for the longest ride on ice. We will be accompanied by filmmaker Simas Suminskas from Switzerland, so we can make a movie on our journey. We hope to have it screened on Netflix or BBC.

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