This time in Rider’s Diaries we are happy to introduce Dr. Haroon Rafiq and Dr. Farzana. The rider couple who is creating an example with the amount of traveling and their unique style of exploring different countries…yes you guessed it right. on a motorcycle.
Lets just dive right into it.
Tell us something about yourself.
I am a Businessman and my wife is a Dentist by profession. Otherwise, we are two humble souls that believe – Have a Dream, Live it! So we have combined- my infinite love for biking and our joint passion for travel into our bike trips exploring the world on 2-wheels, little at a time. Follow us and our rides at http://www.rideforpassion.com
That is amazing! Please tell us more about how you started riding ?
Was fascinated by 2-wheeler as a toddler itself, but later got heavily influenced by a cousin who used to restore old British bikes and then learnt riding on my dad’s Lambretta scooter in 1984 and have not looked back ever since. The engines have changed, the CC has increased, technologies have progressed, but the deep passion still remains undiluted and the ride continues.
How many motorbikes have you owned/ridden ?
Presently I own 4 bikes- BMW R1200GS, Kawasaki Concours 14, Triumph Bonneville and Harley Davidson Iron 883. Previously owned Yamaha RD350, Yamaha Virago XV750, Harley Sportster Custom 883, BMW R1100RT, Kawasaki Z1000
Wow! That is an amazing collection of motorcycles. We are eager to know how you plan for rides and the essentials that you carry with you.
Since all of our rides include 2-up riding on rented bikes in different parts of the world, here is our list -Passport, International Driving Permit & Indian license (Bike & car), Medical Insurance policy Mobile phone, the entire riding gear, Light packing rain gear, clothes. Thermal wear, Pullover jacket & track pants (for evening strolls on foot), Eyeglasses (extra pair also), sunglasses, contact lenses Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Shaving gel, Blade Tablets for Vomitting, Lose-motion, Gastric probs Creams for Itching, Cuts & Dry skin Small pack of wet-tissues, Preventive Homeopathic medicines (against common Flu, Swine flu…)Puncture Kit, Mini-air compressor, masking tape, Maps & GPS, Laptop, Charger, External Drive, Pendrive camera gear, Tea-bag, sugar, milk powder sachet, spoon, dry fruits, Bike Intercom, charger & attachments Notepad & pen Mini-Electric Kettle & pocket-hair dryer (for fast drying of rain soaked clothes)Electrical extension cord (suitable for Euro or US plugs). Empty small plastic water bottle no 1- For fill-up and drinking Empty small plastic water bottle no 2- (if Indians ask me why? well toilets in the west only have tissue paper…!)
That’s an exhaustive list but very useful indeed.
How do you plan the route? What are your criteria for a good stay?
We normally do a circular loop ride. We fly to a certain city. Pick up the bike and go around that country or a few more countries on a circular loop. So start and finish in the same city and we mostly don’t backtrack on any leg of the journey. We normally include scenic roads with lots of twists and turns etc, some mountain regions, coastal regions, some history, some specialty attractions of that country, taste different local cuisines etc. We also check the climates depending on North or South Hemisphere etc. We stay mostly with locals in simple Homestays rather than hotel chains. Interact as much as possible with locals and exchange our stories, cultures, traditions etc and act as ambassadors of our country.
What is so empowering about riding a motorcycle?
The freedom to be one with nature is the biggest attraction. You can feel the air in your face, the heat, the cold, the rain, the snow, the smell of freshly cut grass, animal scents, flowers and other bounties of nature etc. Besides, travelling with my wife on a motorcycle, there is a greater possibility that people you meet on the road are more forthcoming to meet and talk to you rather than when travelling as a group in a bus or as family in a car…
Rightly said. Any takeaways from your motorbike riding experience?
Its one among the greatest stress busters in my life. Through my biking passion, my wife & I have been able to travel to so many countries, make tons of new friends and in general get a much more deeper and wider perspective on life in general that has helped us understand ourselves better and most importantly helped us remain grounded in life. Especially, our absolutely fascinating ride in New Zealand also influenced us to take up farming and go back to nature, consequently we have now set up our own small farm outside Bangalore and hope to retire there!
Motorbiking is considered a dangerous hobby. What to look out for on the road? How to stay protected?
Yes, its a dangerous hobby. Hence, I pursue the following mantras: Most important- ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time) for my wife and me. No compromise or skimping on either of our riding gear. Think in your mind you are invisible to all other road users and accordingly ride the bike. Keep your bike in good running condition with all lights and mirrors etc fully functional so you see others and others see you. Irrespective of the size of my engine or the speeds my bike can attain, I am still on 2 wheels and a driver in a car or bus has 2 more extra set of wheels for stability and I am at a disadvantageous position on the road. Its not how fast you can go, but how fast you can stop or better handle the bike that defines how good a rider you are. Most accident statistics say majority of motorcycle accidents involve only the motorcycle that crashed and hence its important to ride within your capabilities and limitations and avoid blaming others. When in foreign countries, don’t try to emulate or race the local riders as they know roads and conditions better than you. Avoid as much as possible night riding in foreign countries as its a lot more dangerous after sunset with possible bad road conditions, breakdowns, crime, wildlife crossing, other inattentive road users etc