The journey matters

The journey matters

For long, biking has solely been a male preserve. But not anymore!

No, I don’t ride a bike. Yes, I know women can ride bikes. That’s how most conversations begin when I’m in the august company of motorcycle enthusiasts who are off to adventures that words often fail to do justice to. In all honesty, riding a motorcycle (or any two-wheeler, for that matter) has never been on my bucket list. What I find fascinating is the experience of being on a motorbike, soaking in the sights and sounds of new places, letting my mind disconnect from the chaos of everyday living…

The joys of being a motorcycle pillion are underrated. As a teenager, when I rode pillion with friends, I remember being chirpier than the riders, who had to battle maddening city traffic. However, riding on the highways or through the Himalayas is a completely different experience. As a pillion, you have the luxury to look beyond the road — feast your eyes on the magnificent mountains, sapphire skies, and flowering fields.

From the backseat

There’s only one problem though: you need someone to take you on those rides. I did the sensible thing and got married to a biker. Imagine having a lifetime partner who loves to explore new destinations and revisit old favourites on his mean machine! It’s a match made in heaven.

As much as biking expeditions are about the adrenaline rush and the thrill of being on the road, they are also about the people. The locals you interact with, the bonds you form, the life lessons you learn. On our biking trip to Bhutan last year, I was pleasantly surprised by my female co-traveller. She was a doting Indian grandmother, in her 60s, riding pillion with her 70-year-old husband. The year before that, on our dream ride to Ladakh, it was entertaining to watch a bickering young couple (engaged to be married soon) on their maiden motorcycle journey. Halfway through the ride — the couple had a few falls and minor injuries — most of us were worried that the wedding may be called off!

Memorable moments

While travelling with a group of bikers has its own advantages, especially in the case of emergencies, my fondest biking memories are of the times when the spouse and I were left to our own devices. Often lost, sometimes at our wits’ end trying to fight ill-disposed forces of nature. I’m still amazed by the madness of our maiden Jaisalmer ride a couple of years ago. Pretty much on an impulse, we rode from Mumbai, in the scorching heat, stopping by for delicious roadside treats and making way for peacocks in our path. That trip became my definition of ‘we time’.

So, even though I don’t fancy riding a motorcycle, I never miss an opportunity to be a part of a bike trip. Doesn’t really matter if it’s a suave Harley-Davidson or the desi Bullet. Some of my life’s biggest decisions have been made on the road, on two wheels... as the mind shut out all the noise and listened to the voice that really matters.