Photos by Matt Rabbidge, Adrian Price and Chris McKeown (in order of appearance).
Words by Matt Rabbidge.
The idea to ride motorbikes around north-west India came to fruition over a couple of beers one afternoon at our local pub with my brother Locky and two good mates.
We were looking at photos from a trip Chris and Aido had taken the summer prior in Tasmania with pushies they’d bought at the Hobart tip shop. Rusted bikes and an astounding lack of fitness meant they didn’t do much more than a glorified pub crawl around the island for a good month, all sponsored by centrelink. We got talking about other trips to tick off the list and before long, the four of us were on a trip headed to Delhi with plans to find Royal Enfields and head north into the Himalayas.
From the minute we landed on the sub-continent it was action, our cab driver from the airport; blatantly drunk, came close on several occasions to steering us into oncoming traffic. Thankfully for us time in Delhi was brief, once we’d organised our bikes and made some last minute equipment purchases we were on the road north.
We had our fair share of mechanical failures on the trip, we’d rarely do a days riding without something faulting on one of the four bikes. If you were lucky it’d happen close enough to the next town, where a nominal fee that most Australian mechanics wouldn’t even take smoko for, would have the bike back on the road in no time. Where possible, we did however manage to do the repairs ourselves, a simple parts kit and zip ties did the trick on most occasions.
For the next six weeks, we rode just under 5000 kilometres over some of the most mind-blowing landscapes you could imagine. The further north we ventured, the better it was, up there seemed like the India we’d set out to see; wild terrain, raw rocky mountains and pot hole ridden roads that rattled your bones when a delivery truck convoy would roll recklessly around a tight corner.
We crossed some of the highest road passes in the world, camped alongside mountain lakes, in old army bunkers, outside mechanics and in dodgy truck stop accommodation.
Daily life in India could well be one of the most hectic experiences you can imagine, the billion or so people calling the place home means that no matter where you get to, or how remote it is, you’re still likely to have someone watching you take a piss.
Regardless of breakdowns, a bit of altitude sickness and the odd bout of a shaky stomach (never-ending amazingly while sitting on a motorbike when eating three square meals a day of dhal, rice and charas), the trip was amazing. The country, its people and the places we saw were second to none. Having the freedom to stop and go as we pleased on bikes and exploring a quieter corner of India is something we’ll all remember for a lifetime.