Monday, September 4, 2017

Last Thoughts Before We Ride

With 48 hours before we set out on our epic 30-day motorcycle trip to the Himalayas and beyond, with all the scheduling and procurement behind me, I'm left with a moment of calm to reflect.

As I sit in my flat with a soft breeze of about  75 degrees (23% C) wafting in through the open windows, I'm anxious but calm. The sounds of kids chattering out on the street remind me of days gone by when I was a kid in Brooklyn; the bustle of energy just outside my window.

We've outfitted our bikes with racks and saddlebags, gathered all our supplies, from winter coats, gloves and boots, upgraded our helmets, secured our video equipment, first aid kit and anything else we could foresee needing. No doubt we've forgotten something, but I guess they'll be an adventure in that too if and when we need it.

They say that riding to Khardung La, the highest motor-able road in the world at 18,380 feet, is to bikers what climbing Everest is to mountaineers. The idea of that only makes this adventure more epic for me.

When I arrived in India in 2012 I only had plans to be here for 90 days, and then move on to Thailand. I'm a vagabonder and tend to arrive, stay and absorb the local culture and then move on to the next adventure. But it was a fun place so I've been here for 5 years.
Friends and family think I'm a bit off; I should be setting roots and securing my wealth for retirement. Yet, for me, these adventures are wealth. Life is an experience that I don't wish to sleepwalk through.

I've been wanting to take this ride for three years. The pass is only open 3-4 months a year because of the extreme winters, with snow that shuts it down for most of the year. In each of the last three years however, I found myself back in the states for business, always returning to India weeks, sometimes days, to late to undertake the trip.

This year I was determined: I pushed off business deals, even a partnership offer back in New York to make the trip this year a reality; I couldn't endure another year of wishful thinking.

So here I am ready to go. Juggling the logistics and prep has been daunting while also keeping my business affairs running at the same time. But I'm ready to leap and see where I land.

There are many that venture to Ladakh by motorcycle each year; many do it in large groups, with support vehicles.

We're going solo. Nihanth and I shall leave from Bangalore and ride for about a week to Delhi, and then on to Manali where Kiran will join us for the final leg of the trip onward to Leh, through the Khardung La pass and into the Nubra valley.

Like I said, there are many motorcyclists that ride from Delhi to Khardung La each year. Most, however, are not 60 years of age like me. So my thoughts are filled with trepidation as to whether I have the physical ability and mental endurance to still challenge the elements. They'll be areas of extreme cold, random water hazards -- makeshift rivers flowing across the road --, and we'll have to camp out many nights.

I'm ready. Mentally and emotionally anyway.

When we're young men in our 20s and 30s, for me even in my 40s, there is a sense of invincibility. 10 years ago however I came to the realization of my own mortality. So that fallacy of invincibility no longer clouds my view.

But I see this ride as a challenge to overcome the elements and my own physical endurance -- as well as a relentless mountain road to conquer.

So sitting here in the quiet, the first quiet moments I've had since returning here from New York City in early August, I feel calm. Relaxed. Inspired. Ready for an adventure.

You can follow along vicariously on this journey I'll be posting to this blog, social media, our website 

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