• Column: Harsh Man Rai EP-8

This month, I tell you what is it about motorcycles that compels me to explore the world on them...

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” So said Friedrich Nietzsche, the man with the bonkers moustache and a brilliant mind. I also know that Nietzsche suffered a mental breakdown, so he may have been sympathetic to individuals who were labelled insane. When I tell people that I gave up plum jobs in two magazines that I founded 21 years ago and started an adventure motorcycling outfit, I get the same vibe: “This guy is completely nuts.”

I’m now 60 years old, thick in the middle and no longer young, yet I am definitely not too old to seek adventure on a motorcycle in body and spirit. With two wheels at my disposal, I have the means to willingly succumb to that mysterious force that draws me away from the comforts of my home and feeds that insatiable desire inside me to unearth the source of the drumbeat only a few of us hear, and even fewer march to. I want to ruminate in the shade of old whitewashed chortens on some ancient trade route and feel the blur and bite of the atmosphere in the way that’s so exclusive to motorcycle riding. I want to point my bike up that trail I spotted last year that people say leads to a place of indescribable beauty 14,000ft high. I want to expand the horizon of my personal geography by riding in the mysterious North-East. I’ve been trying to explore the world on motorcycles and despite being at it for so long, I still feel I’ve just about managed to scratch beneath the surface in terms of everything the world has to offer and everywhere I can go on a motorcycle.

Adventure motorcyclists are a twisted lot who are always craving dirt, dust and rock, extreme temperatures and a gruelling environment, all in the interest of riding on two wheels. This is what riding motorcycles is about, actually being there and doing what can’t be done, then reminiscing about the journey, sharing it with your friends and family, while all the time knowing at the back of your mind that because they weren’t there, they won’t comprehend the scope of your tale. Still, you are compelled to tell it, and still they are compelled to listen.

However, the great truth about adventure rides—indeed, motorcycle rides of any kind—is that there is no single standard for what someone else finds rewarding. If you get on a motorcycle, any motorcycle for that matter, and ride it somewhere, anywhere for that matter, as long as you come back feeling recharged and full of tales you want to share—well, congratulations, you’ve had an adventure!

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