Of the 30 years that I’ve been riding motorcycles, the last 5 years I’ve been riding a BMW GS R1200. Until this point, my riding experience was pretty much limited to streets and highways. I picked the GS because I wanted a motorcycle that was comfortable to tour across India. I wanted a motorcycle to cruise and surf over potholes and no-roads. As much as I loved the travel documentary, “Long Way Around” by the Hollywood actor, Ewan McGregor and his friend, Charley Boorman, the “GS bug” didn’t bite me until I started riding one. I still remember the experience of bliss when I planted myself in my friend’s GS. Just loved the comfortable seat and riding position. Back then, I was riding a Honda Fireblade.
Soon, I bought myself a 2005 model of the GS. This was much before BMW Motorrad was established in India. Prior to that, I’ve never owned a dirt or dual-sport bike. And my reason for picking the GS was for touring.
Slowly, I became truly smitten by the adventure-bug and wanted to conquer one of the greatest motorcycle adventures in the world, the Himalayan range. Please note: I’m a novice-to-intermediate rider with zero experience in riding dirt and I was trying to ride a heavy motorcycle across the Himalayas.
By the time I reached Manali from Chennai, I had killed the entire grip on my knobby tyres (yeah, it was a great idea to ride off-road tyres for 2500+kms of highway!!). Plus, I just started to like dirt-riding and the bike was just too heavy for me. On day one, of the actual dirt riding, I took a fall. Luckily, I escaped unhurt and the damage was limited only to the plastic parts. For the next two weeks, I struggled to get a grip, keep balance and find that confident zone to ride through the slush and dirt roads of the Ladakh region. To be honest, I survived my two weeks because the BMW GS was forgiving and managed to climb over just about anything. It’s a tank! Thus, as the popular saying goes, “I got Leh’d”!
Since then, I attended a little formal training and today, I’m slightly better than what I used to be. I might not know the tricks, but I’m more confident that I will find a way out of the dirt. And based on my limited exposure to off-riding on two wheels, all I can say is that it is the best form of workout. As I ride faster on dirt, inside my helmet, I begin to sweat it out and my body takes a beating while trying to manage the loose soil below me.
The mystery of what lies ahead and the probability of losing balance make it more fun. I guess this is what makes us say: “Fun begins where the pavement ends”.
Get dirty. Ride Safe.