On the go
From the Travel Bag of a Solo Biker
SUHAS RAMAKRISHNAN is a quintessential biker, who loves to venture on his beloved Harley. In one of his recent expeditions, he finds inspiration at the famous Uluru in Central Australia. Through one of the most punishing deserts on Earth, this expedition is as much about courage as it is about perseverance and unwavering self-belief. Suhas also shares some valuable tips, especially for those bitten by the solo travel bug.
More often than not, we tend to forget that we need to venture out into the open, which helps us have a different perspective to life!
Mid last year, while I was flying out of Australia, I looked down from my window and saw this glorious red rock glowing in the late afternoon light. It planted the seed in my head of traveling to Uluru on my Harley. In my last solo expedition from Sydney to Perth, between the East and West Coasts of Australia, I had covered a distance of approximately 7,000 kms. But this time it was going to
be over 8,000 kms of the unforgiving Australian desert. I slowly started working towards it, as each and every detail of my journey needed to be laid out and meticulously planned.
I wanted to do a round trip from Sydney, covering the legendary Australian outback and seeing the World Heritage site of Uluru and the Kata Tjuta National Park. I wanted to push my boundaries, ensuring that this trip was more challenging than my previous one. And what better way to do it than being alone on the road, with my bike, in the middle of nowhere!
Life according to me is a celebration: the more you celebrate, the more there is in life to celebrate. So I decided to “celebrate life” under the stars, close to one of Australia’s most recognizable landmarks – Uluru.
I have always enjoyed the mental focus and solitude of riding a motorcycle. You have no distractions and can really enjoy the moment, and be in tune with nature with the pleasure of living in the here and now. Riding a motorcycle enables the perfect relationship between rhythmic movement and internal stillness, drawing out the physical force like no other.
I had named this trip “The Mile Muncher” from the day I started working on it, as I was going to have to travel an average of 500 kilometers on a daily basis. In my previous ride, I only had to ride from east to west, but this trip covered all four directions, starting west from Sydney, going north from Port Augusta in South Australia, traveling east from Tennent Creek in the Northern Territory, and south from Rockhampton in Queensland back to Sydney. The total distance was 8,312 kms (5,165 miles) spanning 17 days.
I was told before I embarked on the expedition, by a few seasoned travelers, that some stretches were really dangerous owing to the cross winds that are a normal occurrence in the deserts of central Australian. Along with the winds were the ever-present and iconic road trains, without which the roads are pretty much empty. I also geared up for the frequent sand storms, thanks to the mining that happens all through the desert. Along the track were the usual mix of kangaroos, emus, camels, livestock and birds of prey, especially the famous wedge-tailed eagle, which has an approximate wing span of 9 metres when in flight.
Every single ride that I’ve completed till now has taught me some important life lessons, the most important one being that not everything goes according to plan, and how ever much you plan, things happen which are outside your control and comfort zone. The only way to get out of sticky situations is to fall back on those lessons that are forcibly taught. Like they say “Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.” So there is always something to celebrate in every situation, as it teaches us to reach new heights in whatever we are trying to accomplish.
Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere,
and sometimes in the middle of nowhere you find yourself!
I didn’t do too many things different this time around, just kept it simple. Laying out all the particulars and planning the travel to the finest detail provided the foundation on which the broader aspects of my ride were built. Once the route was finalized, I started planning accommodation and also making sure there were enough places to see nearby after each day’s ride.
More than the physical effort that it takes on these kinds of expeditions, I would say the effort is psychological, as the mind tends to always look for negatives in every situ-ation. This particular phase during my preparation was more challenging. Staying positive through the days of build-up and focusing only on one goal, which was to come back home safe and sound with a lifetime’s worth of memories, was among the things I did before embarking on my ride.
Here are some tips that may come handy while solo traveling:
Always keep an open mind for whatever situation you might get into.
Never lose focus of the goal, no matter the adversity. Even if you lose a couple of battles in between, make sure the war is won at the end, because when you are on the road not everything goes according to plan and you need to be very flexible and do whatever it takes to reach the next milestone.
Set yourself a target or an assignment each day, as this keeps every single day interesting. After the completion of that task, the sense of accomplishment will make you feel more connected and fulfilled, and you will be more motivated for the subsequent day’s travel. This is a very important mental exercise, especially while traveling solo, as you are likely to lack motivation as a result of missing human connection.
Last but not least, solo travel gives you the space to think and deal with stuff like self-doubt and emotional baggage, that you inadvertently tend to push to the back seat while trying to get on with your normal life. I think it is a great catch-up time with your own self, which invariably results in more clarity in your life.
Nonetheless, travelling is like a drug: sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes in the middle of nowhere you find yourself!
Adapted from an interview originally published at http://www.bohotraveller.com.
Read the full interview at https://www.bohotraveller.com/blog-global/insanity-revisited-solo-biking-expedition-on-the-worlds-harshest-desert-australia
Article by SUHAS RAMAKRISHNAN
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