I recently completed 1 year of ownership of RnineT and I figured what better way to commemorate the event than by talking about riding, how I met the nineT and why I’m so passionate about it. This is a topic I have been meaning to write about for some time now and the idea started over a lunch conversation with a friend about our experiences with motorcycles and generally why we ride. Hopefully, you find the post motivating and interesting and maybe relate to it in your own way.
“Riding a bike is like an art.
Something you do because you feel something inside”Valentine Rossi
This is a post about riding. This is a story of our relationship, the good, the bad and how riding has shaped my lifestyle and choices I made, and how I came to enjoy traveling. And to answer one the most asked questions – “Now that you have a car and a motorcycle, which would you rather travel on?”
But to start with I suppose we should look back to how it all began. With the Royal Enfield. It was back in 2012 that my brother’s black Royal Enfield Classic 500 was handed over to me when he moved out of the country. At the time, I had no interest in motorcycles. Photography yes, but travel not so much. The main purpose of travel at the time was to take pictures. I was someone who was interested in only the destination, and never the route. I preferred to reach the destination as soon as possible and never took the long way home.
In fact, at the time I did not even have a driving license. I was perfectly content with cycling and commuting by public transport. Why bother with owning something while there are more reasonable ways to travel. Even after I got the keys to my brother’s Royal Enfield, It took quite a bit of convincing to get me off my back and get a license. In fact for almost 6 or 7 months, I delayed and I remember I got my license only at the end of my learners permit duration because it would have been more troublesome to redo it if learning permit expired..
Eventually, I started meeting more people who are into riding and we started forming small riding groups and riding around Bangalore. These were mostly friends who also enjoyed riding and going around with them was fun. I was slowly getting drawn towards motorcycle riding. But it was more of a social thing and I rarely if ever ventured out on my own. One of my favorite memories from the time is from when few of us friends rode out of Bangalore for about 350 kms just to see the sunset and have ice cream.
Back in 2014, my brother showed me the promo video which BMW had released for RnineT. It was a new bike at the time and it looked beautiful. I remember watching this video over and over again. It was called Soul fuel and I was in love with this bike. The heritage look, the power and just how beautiful it looked and I thought at the time, if I can at least get to try her at least once, that would be so insane! It would be a dream come true. But the RnineT was only a dream at the time. Not only would owning such a bike in India be not very practical, but there was no way I could justify it – and forget about the financial implications it has. RnineT was to be a dream, something to long for.
In 2015, I got my 2nd motorcycle – Benelli 300 or bn302 and this changed a lot of things. This was a modern motorcycle and a lot more reliable than Royal Enfield. This gave me the confidence to travel further and alone. This was probably the time I started doing solo trips of the scale I’m doing now. 250kms to 300 kms in one day. The trip that really hammered in the feeling of riding a motorcycle was the trip to Leh, Ladakh with my brothers in the summer of 2016. It was a grueling trip, but one filled with adventure and memories. I would dare say that the Leh trip was the first real taste of motorcycle touring I had and to this day remains one of the best trips ever.
Soon work caught up to me and there was not much time for adventures and riding. Weeks and months passed by without any big trips. A lot of trips were planned, but they remained as plans on a worksheet and never came to reality. Now that I think about it, life then seemed to have become a rat race running behind promotion and I forgot to even think about what I wanted. I enjoyed work, but at that time that was all that life had become. Working day and night.
I moved to the US in 2018. I had plans to get a motorcycle when I moved here. But I was persuaded not to by friends and family considering the risks involved with it. Also, a car made more sense. So I left the idea of getting a motorcycle and got a good car I can rely on instead (Enter the A3). A car made all practical sense and it would still let me travel and take pictures. It’s safer, much more comfortable and easier to carry the camera gear. Riding had officially ended for me as I eased on to the comfort of exploring by car.
2019 was a year of change. A lot of things changed around me and everything I knew and planned for fell apart. I felt lost at one point and completely drained and without motivation. I slowly started easing into traveling more to take my mind off things. The car became my favorite place to spend time in. But there was still something missing. It was not the same as a motorcycle. In the middle of all the confusion I was clear about one thing. I wanted to ride again. But I was still not completely sure about getting a motorcycle. It made no sense practically or financially.
Around this time I went back home to India and I was playing with this idea of getting a motorcycle in my head. I talked to my family about it and they were surprisingly supportive. Me and my brother visited the BMW Motorrad dealer in Bangalore to inquire about it. It was here that I saw her in person for the first time and I was in love. But she was not a practical choice. A GS1250 or R1250R made more sense. When I came back to the US, I was still lost about what to get. But the excitement was back and there was something new to look forward to.
The NineT was a long time crush. I had to choose between practical and what I liked. In the end, I decided it is about freedom. It doesn’t have to be practical. I just want to be able to look at her and be able to not hold back a smile. I felt the RnineT is a bike like that for me. This was about a dream, to be free and see the world on the back of a motorcycle. And I wanted to pursue this dream. Whatever happened because of me choosing to follow this dream was fine.
On June 22nd, 2019, she came home. And I had the biggest smile on my face that day. But I realized one thing when bringing her home. I was not in shape to ride her.
Years of junk food and unhealthy habits had taken a toll on the body. It took me getting back on a motorcycle to realize or rather accept that. I was not flexible, felt sluggish and more importantly I didn’t have the kind of stamina I needed for some of the rides I wanted to do. Heck, even riding it to home from the dealership made me feel tired. I felt weak and for the first time and felt apprehensive getting on a motorcycle. I started doubting whether I would be able to do all the trips I wanted considering the shape I was in. I looked at myself and felt it was time for a change. I wanted to be able to do what I wanted. I wanted my body to be able to keep up. With these thoughts, I looked into what I can do.
Working out was not something that I was into at that time and I knew even if I started I would not be able to stay motivated. So I looked into other options, At last I zeroed in on hiking. I used to go for long walks before I had a motorcycle. When visiting my mother’s town, walking 10 – 20 kms in a day with my phone to take pictures was a norm. And in Washington where we are littered with beautiful trails, it felt like the perfect match
Sometime in July 2019, I started my hikes. The very first one was to Rattlesnake view point. It was tough, painful and I wanted to give up many times but pushed forward. With every hike I completed, the next became easier. In a couple of months the changes were more visible. I had more stamina. I could walk more, ride more. Felt more flexible, lighter and I felt like I had so much energy. And I could manage the NineT better.
And then the Ride to Mt Hood Happened. 3 Days spent on the motorcycle. It was like a meditation. Whatever problems or doubts I had before starting this ride. It was cleared. I knew what I wanted and what I had to do and I was ready to commit to do it. I wanted to see the world, travel whenever possible on the back of the motorcycle. I want to experience the roads and see what the world has to offer.
And that brings us to the present. This is when I started being more active on social media and eventually led to the creation of the-lone-traveler.com – a place to share my experiences. A lot of people when they read this might wonder – “what is he talking about, why would riding a bike be a big deal?”. And that is perfectly fine. I’m sure there are a few others out there who can relate to this feeling, maybe linked to a motorcycle or any other interest they have. How a passion helped them get back on the feet and look forward to every day, how life felt so different and worthwhile all of a sudden just because you chose to do something that you are passionate about.
For me, that was my decision to take my long time crush home. The emotion that the RnineT evokes in me is that of trust, a friendship and adventure. There is a certain romance in taking her out. To lean into the curves while trusting that I will come out at the other end. To feel that connection between man and machine. Even now, when I feel down, confused or lost, a long ride on the motorcycle is all it takes to reset my mind. It is a meditation, a therapy that has been able to bring peace to my mind many times, a friend that has helped me accept losses and look forward to whatever it is to come.
And so yes, now if you ask me would I choose a motorcycle over a car, now you know the answer. To experience a journey on the back of a motorcycle, to meet other riders who share the passion, sharing a bow or a sign with other riders on the road, to feel alive. For all these feelings that feed my passion, this is why I ride…