A trip on the Silk Route, to Kerala, and through Sri Lanka. Biker groups are planning to head out in a hopefully calmer 2021
“Just can’t wait to get on the road again” sang American country music singer Willie Nelson in 1980. Bikers around the world are itching to do just so in 2020. Shuttered indoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the community connected virtually and offered moral and mental support to each other. With a vaccine in sight and hopes of a return to normalcy in the new year, the free spirits are once again yearning to head out.
Buddhi Singh, founder of Motorcycle Expeditions, says, “Our fleet of 100 bikes is sitting in garages across the world, desperate to come out and ride.” As Buddhi’s clients are mainly foreign travellers, his Manali-based business came to a virtual standstill. Except for a few fun rides to Shimla, Dharmashala and to closer getaways from Manali, his team stayed put. He is looking forward to restart trips that were shelved in 2020: an India to Burma ride and the Silk Route via Kashgar.
Their most popular rides of late had been ones to Kerala. “Those will be done at the end of the year, which is season time,” says Buddhi who has operations in Germany, Australia, the US and Mongolia. Most of the trips curated by his company are two weeks long and the bikes they commonly use are BMW GS 800 cc (in Europe), KTM 500 EXE (in Mongolia), and Royal Enfield in India.
“We are looking at 2021 with great hopes of normalcy to put us back on track,” says Buddhi.
“Normally, we have an ‘annual rides’ calendar planned in advance and it is announced well before the year ends. This helps riders plan the trip, but there’s no such calendar yet for 2021. I guess we will be doing many ad hoc rides,” says Jayant Chitale, founder of Mumbai-based motorcycle group Road Stallions.
But the one big ride scheduled for November 2021 that seems highly plausible is the cross country ride through Sri Lanka. “We plan a 10- to 12-day trip across Sri Lanka, visiting the country from end to end, stopping at the tourist attractions and driving through its interiors too,”says Jayant.
Their first international outing was Bhutan in 2018. This will be their second and they hope the pandemic will subside by the end of 2021.
“We are purely a Bullet club and ride only that brand of the Royal Enfield,” says Jayant, adding that the club was founded in 2008 and has a strength of 160. As the pandemic eased towards the end of 2020 the bikers undertook small rides to Hampi, Gokarana and Mudeshwar. “We were just four riders on that trip,” says Jayant. Their second trip of coastal Maharasthra had nine bikers.
They were conscious of the social health protocols to be followed on their outings and took all precautions to reduce contact with locals. “We did a lot of research before we began the rides,” says Jayant.
The beaches of Kerala are the destination for the riders of Bullet Crusaders in January 2021. This Mysore-based club was founded in 2017 by Satish Narasimhan, who works for a German firm. Once the restrictions on travel were relaxed in 2020, 16 riders of the group took to the road to visit Gandikota, in Andhra Pradesh.
“It is the Grand Canyon of the South ,” says Sathish. The club’s 75 members consider themselves as one big family. In 2019, they did a three-country ride that included Bhutan and Nepal. “During COVID-19 times, we just rode to places close by. But 2021 awaits us with much hope. The bikers are interested in doing a Leh Ladakh trip too, if the situation gets better,” he says.