Revv up for the Himalayan Odyssey

It was a shared passion for motorbikes and adventure that drew 50 people from diverse professions, places and age groups to the Himalayan Odyssey – a 15-day road journey on tough and tortuous mountain tracks that is about to begin.

Former army officer J.S. Mann purchased a new Machismo 500 specially for the trip, an event Royal Enfield has organised every year since 2005 for those who want to do something different to satiate their spirit of adventure.

“I love adventure and am an automobile person. When I was serving in the army, I always had a bike, but now it’s after a long time that I will be riding one,” said Mann, 45, who lives in the capital. He is participating in the Odyssey for the first time.

The journey will begin June 12 when the 50 riders set off from Delhi for Ladakh via Chandigarh, Manali and Keylong, covering a distance of approximately 2,500 km.

Kolkata-based Mriganka Sarkar, 29, is a professional diver. On the seas at the time of registration, he depended on his mother and friends to fill the necessary forms for him.

“My mother and friends chipped in for me because I was on a ship. They did their best because they knew I was excited about this trip,” said Sarkar, another first-time participant.

Sarkar learnt riding a bike earlier this year and he is treating his trip as a challenge.

“I learnt to ride a bike in just two days and after that I travelled on my bike from Chennai to Kolkata. This trip is a challenge for me because all I want is to be able to ride my bike safely and have a good time as well,” he said.

Though taking 15 days off from work is very difficult, Vishnu Vardhan Kuna, a programme manager with Intel in Bangalore, has done so, having planned this trip a year in advance.

“I wanted to go for this trip (earlier) but for some reason it just never happened. Hence last year I informed my bosses and my team in advance that I would be going for this trip; so it was no hassle,” 30-year-old Kuna said, not forgetting to mention the support of his wife for his trip.

“As you get married, your responsibilities double. Then you have to think about your mate also. I was about to cancel the trip this time as well but I must admit that my wife supported me and she encouraged me to go ahead,” he added.

Darjeeling resident Shaibal Dutt, participating for the second time, described the journey as “the ride of a lifetime” and for him the perfect getaway from a monotonous lifestyle.

“I guess I am facing a mid-life crisis and this trip allows me to do what I always wanted to do. Work has taken priority in everyone’s life; so we need to take out some time and enjoy. This trip was the next logical step for adventure and fun; hence I am here,” said Dutta, 37, who works in a tea plantation.

Frenchman Fredric Girot, who has been in Chennai for 18 months, made sure he registered on time this year after being unable to do so last year.

“I have been riding bikes for almost 25 years. I am a complete bike person and through this trip I want to enjoy the ride through a picturesque environment,” 47-year-old Girot said.

The youngest person in this group, 22-year-old Shanky Sadana, is looking forward to get a good experience and beautiful pictures from this trip.

Kanwardeep Singh Dhaliwal, assistant manager for product management at Royal Enfield, termed the response to the Himalayan Odyssey from bike lovers all over India as “overwhelming”.

“I used to get calls at any time of the day for various things. People wanted to make sure that nothing went wrong in their application so that they didn’t miss out on this trip,” he said.

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