Reshad Mohd is a videographer who has a huge passion for travel. He used to go on trips from a young age. He has completed an all-India trip and is now looking to go on a longer trip. Reshad always finds time to sate his appetite for travel amidst his busy schedule in the visual media industry.
Which was your first ever long ride?
I used to go on trips on rented-out motorbikes when I was in school. But I went only to nearby locations. I absolutely loved to ride. It was when I saw the Malayalam movie Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi (Eng: Blue Skies, Green Waters, Red Earth) my passion for travel got ignited. I felt like I had to go on a motorcycle ride. I went to Goa for my very first long ride. My best friend Nahas joined me on this journey. We borrowed a Yamaha FZ from my cousin. Our plan was to travel together taking turns along the way. It was a really enjoyable trip given that it was our first and the fact that we didn’t do any kinds of preparation before hitting the road. No plans, no route map, no budget calculations. Just two of us and our FZ.
You didn’t have any riding kit or gear with you?
No! We didn’t “waste” any time researching. laughs We had seen people wearing jackets while riding long distance. So we got ourselves some cheap jackets with the money we had with us. Later we realized our mistake when the temperature got dropped to single digits on the way to Goa. The Weather became unbearable. But we did push forward and complete the trip. We travelled more than 1000 kms and had a great time in Goa. The return was by train. We went on this trip in 2012. On returning I had determined that I will go on another trip that spans all over India.
When did you realize that dream?
In 2016, I went to Ladakh. My trusty old friend Nahas had accompanied me. Both of us had rented two Royal Enfield Classic 350s. We covered more than 11,000 kms in 36 days. It was a real test of our endurance.
Did you learn from the mistakes of the Goa trip and prepared well this time?
Actually, no. laughs We had carried thermal jackets and boots. But we didn’t have any plans about the route or the spots to visit. It proved to be a mistake later when we were locked out of Ladakh due to closed roads. If we took our time to plan thoroughly we could have explored Ladakh a bit more. I want to stress this point to aspiring new riders. If you are going to locations like Ladakh, don’t forget to check the updates about roads getting closed. This is especially rampant in winter. So do your research and don’t miss out on the experience after travelling thousands of kilometers. Online rider groups and communities can help you a lot.
If you are going to locations like Ladakh, don’t forget to check the updates about roads getting closed. This is especially rampant in winter.
Did you have any specific end goal, like Khardung La? A lot of riders set it as their destination.
Yes, a lot of riders these days set off to reach Khardung La as if it is some kind of milestone. I have to agree that it is one of the best places to visit as a rider. But my focus is purely on the riding experience. Travelling and seeing different people and cultures. Enjoying the diverse sights and sounds India has to offer. Everything else is secondary, the travel itself is the goal.
Which do you prefer - riding solo or with co-riders?
I love riding solo. As mentioned earlier, the riding experience itself is what thrills me the most. This experience is enjoyed the most when travelling alone. But having the company of a best friend as co-rider is also really good. A companion can prove helpful on the highways of Ladakh and some remote locations. I don’t like the idea of travelling in a group of more than three people. I think it can hamper the experience as we need to adjust to the preferences of others too much. It also causes too many unnecessary delays and nuisances.
Did you have any daily target distance or time to cover?
We covered about 800 kms daily. We didn’t have any fixed target distance or time. Our aim was to cover as much distance as we can before getting tired. But we tried to stop and take rest as soon as we felt fatigued. It’s not a good idea to ride while tired. The lack of mental focus can be deadly on such long rider. There was a time when our lack of preparation gave us a hard time. We got stranded in Bihar as we couldn’t get a place to stay at night. We had to push forward so much distance until we found an inn to rest our bodies which were already too tired by that time. Even though it’s a thrill to ride aimlessly without a fixed schedule, never take chances. Try to stop riding and find a place to rest before it’s too late. We learned this the hard way on our trip to Goa. I was riding with my friend Nahas when we both fell asleep. My grasp from the accelerator got loose and the bike slowly came to a halt before both of us toppled onto the ground. Thinking back, we got extremely lucky that nothing serious happened that night.
Did you have the support of rider friends on the way?
We had contacted several rider friends even before we started our trip, mainly from the cities Pune, Kolkata and Ahmedabad. We had told them about our trip and the estimated time when we would reach their place. It is a great tip for new riders - try to develop a good network among other riders, especially experienced ones. Contact them before starting your journey. They can be really helpful when you reach their city. They can give you good recommendations on food, stay and sights to see. Some even offer a place to stay if you are in need of it. I was particularly amazed by a rider couple in Maharashtra. Husband and wife - both were passionate riders. They have made several pan-India trips. We had never met them in person before. But that didn’t stop them from taking us to their home and treating us with home-made food. They even provided us with a cozy place to spend the night. I was really overwhelmed with their compassionate courtesy.
Try to develop a good network among other riders, especially experienced ones. Contact them before starting your journey.
That’s really nice. Do you like to try out various local foods and cuisines on the way?
We wanted to try out local cuisines of the places on the way. But to stay safe from risks like food poisoning, we stuck to vegetarian food. But that changed soon as we found out that our palate fell in love with the non-vegetarian dishes offered in several places on the way. We particularly liked the mutton dishes from Ladakh - mutton momos, mutton noodles, mutton kebabs, mutton meatballs. There is mutton in everything! We are not complaining, we loved it! Also, the prices were affordable. Plus, enjoying a warm plate of mutton in the chilling cold climate of Ladakh is an experience like no other.
Did you face any problems in Ladakh, like Mountain Sickness?
We didn’t research much about AMS before our trip. We came to know about it after reaching Ladakh. We bought Diamox tablets from there. During our ride through Ladakh, I felt some difficulties in breathing, but nothing serious. I’m glad that I had taken the tablets. It is literally a life-saver! We also had bought an oxygen canister from Ladakh itself. But luckily we didn’t face any worse effects of AMS. So the oxygen canister went unused, which is a good thing.
Any places you still remember vividly from your pan-India trip?
Yes, Dharavi in Mumbai. I had heard a lot about the place before the trip, from movies mainly. But it was a rare experience to actually ride through the claustrophobic slums. It was not a ride per se, but we were like wading through the busy street with our bikes barely going over the first gear. There are so many fantastic places we really enjoyed. But I feel like I still prefer my own home state Kerala. Maybe I’m a bit biased, but the different sights and sounds of India made me long, even more, to reach back home.
Did you face any bitter experiences while on the trip?
We had heard news about the conflicts going on in Jammu and Kashmir. But we never expected to experience it on our trip. We got some stones hurled towards us on our way to Srinagar. One of the stones even hit our vehicles. Luckily, we didn’t suffer any injuries or vehicle damage. But we didn’t stay long to enjoy the sights there as we quickly moved away from that place. We were warned by the police in that region and they asked us to stick near police vehicles while on road. One more incident coming to my mind is the small accident we faced upon reaching Ladakh. We had bought gumboots and decided to wear them. In such cold places, gumboots can provide you with the best protection without spending much money. It costs just under Rs.500 a pair. So we tied our other pairs of shoes to the bike along with our baggage. But soon the shoes got stuck on the wheel and the chain got broken. We narrowly avoided the accident and learned a valuable lesson about how even small things can potentially harm you badly.
A pair of gumboots can provide you with the best protection without spending much money. It costs just under Rs.500 a pair.
How did you manage to fix your vehicle? Did you have a repair kit with you?
No, we didn’t have any kits or tools with us. We waited for some time until some other riders arrived. We asked them for nearby workshops. With their help, we could take away the damaged bike and get it repaired. Actually, we had paid and registered for Roadside Assistance from Udaipur. We contacted them as soon as we faced trouble. Their promise was to offer service anywhere in India, but when we called them, they were reluctant to help. They kept on going about how their promise is applicable only within a particular distance. We were scammed! I mean, getting stuck on unknown places is really risky and that is the very reason why we opt in for such services. Getting such a negative response like this is literally the worst.
Where are you planning to go on your next long trip?
I’m really glad that I could cover almost all of the Indian mainland on my very first long ride. But due to the lack of planning and budget, we had to skip the North-East entirely. But I’m planning to make that up in a future trip. North-East is one of the locations in India that truly amazes me. I will surely visit the place soon.
How did you friends respond after you successfully came back from the trip?
A lot of our friends were truly amazed by our trip. They began asking us so many questions, mostly about how to go on such a trip - like how to estimate the budget and which items to carry while on the journey. We are really happy and proud that we became their inspiration to go on long rides.
Do you have any dream destination?
My dream is to travel around the world on a bike. It might seem impossible when I say it, but there are a lot of people who have done it. Even people who are younger than me. So, I don’t think that’s an unrealistic expectation.
It’s nice to estimate your budget beforehand and keep a bit more than that amount.
Carry only the clothes you need.
Save on food by going to inexpensive restaurants. But order only from menu card. Otherwise, they simply inflate the prices, especially since you are travellers.
Buy gumboots from Manali, no need to carry it from the get-go.
Also, buy Diamox tablets and a small oxygen canister when you reach Manali.
When going to places like Ladakh, don’t forget to enquire about the condition of the roads.
Make your own travelogues
Article Info & Credits
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- Interview byCharles Andrews