- Tell us a little bit about yourself Nittin?
I was born & brought up in Sonipat, Haryana and pursued my B.E. (Bachelors in Engineering) in Electronics & Telecommunications. My father is a retired service man (Chief Manager in Bank of India) based in Sonipat and mother, a housewife. I am currently working as a software professional in Noida.
An avid traveller and biker, I have travelled and explored most places in North India, Nepal and Maharashtra. I love to live and interact with the local community, try different cuisines and get to know about their local culture.
I am actively involved in social work for my organisation SOPRA India Pvt Ltd in the areas of cleanliness, sanitation, education, tree plantations etc.
- When did you start going on bike trips?
It started from March 2010, when I went on my first ever bike trip from Mathura to Bharatpur, covering a distance of 500 km on my Pulsar bike. Later, when I got my Royal Enfield Electra 350 in December 2010, it became a routine affair starting from trips to places in Himachal, Uttranchal and Leh. I began solo rides and later did the Golden Quardrilateral ride.
- You are supporting the cause of road safety and clean India with the Golden Quardrilateral (GQ) ride of yours. Tell us more about it.
People driving recklessly, littering all around the roads are common scenarios that we witness daily on the Indian roads. To work with people individually on these topics didn’t work out well for me as everyone came out with lame excuses rather than improving their habits.
This made me think what could I do to make them aware about these basic social issues and thus focussed on the below ideas for my GQ trip:
- Clean India Green India – Do not litter
- Obey Traffic Rules – No mobile while driving, use of helmets, Don’t Drink and Drive
The only thing I could use to spread the awareness was my prowess to ride. Hence I took my Bullet and rode 6404 kms across the “Golden Quadrilateral” passing through 13 states and 80 cities including Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai and others. The idea was to promote my two-fold thought amongst everyone I meet in person or on social media during my journey on the GQ.
The journey was a thought, a passion and a motivation before it actually materialized on road. Most important part was to prepare myself, physically and mentally, for riding alone on such a long stretch. As I put forward the causes for which I was about to ride, the anxiety of “Solo Biking” faded away with patriotism occupying the frontal lobe.
Before I hit the road, there was a lot of ground work, planning and preparation involved. I took support from my mentor Mr. Biswajit Bharali from ‘Biker by Choice’ to guide me for this expedition.
But due to time constraints, all our efforts were directed majorly towards getting the bike ready which included maintenance, spare parts arrangement, flags, relevant banners, etc.
Finally, the D-day of 19th December 2014 arrived, and I reached for the flag off organized by my colleagues and with the blessings of my parents, best wishes and applause of my friends, I started my journey to the unknown.
- What was the support like from strangers for the cause of safety and cleanliness?
The support was unexpectedly overwhelming as I was appreciated for my efforts by the strangers I met on the road.
My belief in the theory of karma became more firm i.e. if you do good, it comes back to you in one form or the other and vice versa. I met a lot of people during this long journey; some became friends some became acquaintances and we are still in touch.
I was offered discounts for my stay at Fatehpur, Ahmedabad, Srikakulam etc; petrol for my bike, shelter & food at times; no service charge at the bike service centres and loads of good wishes from unknown lovely commuters on the roads.
The best experience was from the ‘Riding Brotherhood’ – Riders from almost 8-10 major cities had contacted me through social media, remained in touch with me throughout the journey, offered me stay and food at their homes. In spite of their busy schedules they were waiting to meet me as long lost friends and folks.
I believe that I was wandering for a cause and that is why I got this respect and compassion from everyone. I could never think of this before that I may touch upon so many lives in such a short span of time.
- Three essentials that you always carry for your Royal Enfield.
- Some important tools and spare parts
- Photocopies of bike documents
- Riding Gears – jacket, gloves, buffs, helmet, padding
- Where next are you headed on you RE?
I have already done two trips over the last 6 months; one solo ride to Himachal Pradesh in Kangra region and the other with two friends to Lansdowne – Tarkeshwar in Uttranchal.
Other than these, I have in mind a Pan-India solo bike ride through which I will again be promoting some social causes. How amazing it could be if a solo rider or any biking group is on a ‘Cause Ride’, spreading awareness on any social issues depending on the local needs and utilizing their passion for the betterment of India.
An ‘idea’ is very much possible and all it requires is the support and the belief that riding is not only about ‘Adventure’ but it’s also about ‘Responsibility’.
- What have you achieved from travelling?
I feel traveling and that too solo is the finest way to realize oneself, to be at terms with oneself where we learn to manage life efficiently in scarce resources and be happy and proud about it. It’s like meditation, a spiritual experience, a feeling and assurance that someone is there to take care of you. Travelling is a way of life.
When I’m traveling, I romance the nature; the trees, lakes, rivers, landscapes, hills, sky, sun, moon, stars, roads, seas, snow, wind, mud, birds, animals i.e. all elements of nature. I love, admire, and respect them. It is an amazing relationship with no boundaries, limitations and also the best teacher.
Sometimes, travelling is an escape, from this daily routine, whereby you will be coming out of your comfort zones and pushing yourself mentally and physically. While travelling you will be managing the resources like money and time all by yourself and taking instant decisions wherein your mind will be working overtime. You will face all sorts of situations and all kinds of weather, meet people from all religions and faiths and communicate with them in a diverse country such as ours. You will be living as per local traditions which might be tough to adjust at times.
Internal Awakening – Due to all these factors, you will face lots of tricky situations, difficulties, where there may be no one to guide and help you, motivate you and at this very moment, once you push your limits and come out of it, you will discover new things about yourself and have many experiences, learnings and awakenings.
External Learning – As mentioned in a country like India, meeting new people, visiting new places, unfamiliar terrains, you will get a different exposure of how someone living in harsh conditions manage their daily needs and how everyone is facing tough times in their lives but yet they are hopeful
Solo riding is among the toughest forms of travel and to be on roads in a random way as I was, to confidently manage worst case scenarios, to keep my mental strength intact and to complete this ride successfully is my biggest accomplishment.
- You must have had your difficult moments. Which were those?
- 70% of the route was unknown to me as I was to visit it for the first time.
- I had no fix itinerary, no stay arrangements, no GPS/trackers, no info about local places in terms of safety, food etc.
- I had to ride solo on monotonous national highways on a daily basis without any specific plans, with limited contacts, manage food, stay, bike parking safely, changing weather conditions, health issues and bike maintenance issues, all on my own.
In a vast country with different cultures and climatic conditions you need to tackle varied conditions both mentally and physically, be it a 6 long hour drive in the rains, extreme cold winds, or humid climate.
There were difficulties but then things somehow worked and helped me maintain my will to complete the journey and fulfil the purpose.
- Who were you inspired from?
There was not a single person that made this journey possible, rather it was a thought, a passion and a motivation due to the support system that I had around me which ultimately inspired me to first take up the challenge and then to keep going for those 22 days.
The support system includes –
- First and foremost support are my parents and family. They were worried but still allowed me to go on unknown roads all alone. It wouldn’t have been possible without them.
- My mentor Mr. Biswajit Bharali and my fellow group mates at ‘Biker By Choice’ who helped with the planning and guiding, from the basics to nuisances of biking.
- My passion for riding
- The purpose related to the social causes
- The feeling to be among those very few who rode on this stretch solo and promoting the cause with limited resources
- The experience from life and from the previous rides of managing all sorts of issues that may arise
- The support and encouragement from friends, fellow riders and the unknown people I met on my journey
- Any unpleasant experience while you were riding on the Golden Quardilateral?
There were tough moments, which ultimately were learning experiences. I won’t say there was any unpleasant experience rather the whole journey turned out to be a surprise package for me as everything was unexpected, random, unplanned and I was just going with the flow and enjoying every moment
- Share stories from different cities that you were in?
You can refer the stories on my FB page – www.facebook.com/RideForNation
- Which is your favourite travel quote?
“To Awaken Quite Alone in a Strange Town is one of the Pleasantest Sensations in the World”
– Freya Stark
- One memory that you will cherish forever?
On 25th December when I left Kolkata I was sad, angry, frustrated and a few questions were bothering me like ‘What am I doing?’, ‘What I am expecting from all this?’, ‘Will this ride in any case bring a change to anyone’s life?’, ‘How much impact can I make and how much distance can I cover in such limited time with limited resources?’
I was in a sombre mood for the whole day. The next morning, just to keep doing whatever I can, I was discussing the need for clean surroundings with the hotel staff & later a young guy while serving me breakfast shared his story as below:
A 22 year old, he had studied till 9th grade from Kolkata and knew a bit of English. He loved bikes and biking stunts in specific. He told about how some areas of his home town are among the dirtiest places and how he makes sure NOT TO LITTER and promised to keep doing the same. He congratulated me on my decision of riding through the GQ with the key messages to be spread.
I looked at him and thought that at least someone is inspired by what I am doing. I smiled, thanked him and left.
It made me wonder; we, the urban Indians, corporate honchos, intellectuals; do we seriously care for our Mother Earth as this child does? While travelling, riding, walking, standing, do we make sure not to litter toffee and chips wrappers, cups, tissues, plastic bottles, cans on the roads? Even If there is no dustbin around, does such stuff weigh so much that we can’t even keep them in our bags/pockets for some time and dump them later? As a traveller, biker and an Indian, I make sure to follow this ALWAYS. Shall I expect the same from others?
Talks, discussions, banners, flags, rides, social media likes & shares won’t help but IF WE CHANGE SOME BASIC HABITS OF OURS, IT WILL DEFINITELY HELP. We need to BE THE CHANGE. We need to learn from this guy.
Check his blog page on – www.ridefornation.quora.com