Monday, October 9, 2017

Interview: Abijith Rao

Who are you ?
I'm Abijith and I’m a fanatic motorcycle traveler, a musician and an audio engineer. 

When did you first get interested in bikes?
It can goes back 15 years ago, Where I was allowed to just park my Dad's Bajaj Chetak in and out of the Garage and to just drool looking at my Uncle's old Bullet 350cc. One ride being Pillion on the Yezdi with my Uncle I think triggered it all.

What was the first bike you ever owned?
My first motorcycle was a Honda Unicorn back in 2005, I was just in college and ever since then I've been inclined and bitten by the travelbug, especially exploring the trails and B-roads on the motorcycle.



What was the first motorcycle trip you ever took?
Just before I bought my first motorcycle, me and a couple of friends were riding 2 up on Bajaj Pulsar and RX 135. Coming from an orthodox family, I used to just take off saying I had to do combined studies and just hit to places like Coorg and the likes also in and around Bangalore. From that time on, I've never stopped.




Overland on a Himalayan. How? What? Why?
It all started with mainly MTM becoming the vital plug to ‘travel’ across borders for me. Meeting so many humble and great travellers inspired me a lot and I started dreaming about experiencing different culture and meet new people. Mainly it was, Hubert Kreigel, his stories and one phrase “Take that risk!” did it all for me. I always wanted to travel in the heart of Mongolia for some reason, It was just hooked on to my head. I thought I’ll do this trip in 2015, I didn’t pay much attention and just waved it away and I wasn’t that serious about it initially as this idea seemed impossible to me. After several days, it came back to me again, and this time it was more persistent. But I decided to suspend it as I was about to leave for one month trip to the Himalayas. I will have enough time to think about possible trip across border later, I told to myself. And it really happened this way. 

Preparation took me more than 15 months. During this period of time I went through the moments of doubts, hopes and disappointments, rises and falls. It was very difficult to find support and understanding, I was going in circles. By this time, I got invited by Castrol as one of their influencers the brand’s new product launch. I proposed this ride’s plan with them, after few negotiations they were willing to fund a part of my trip. There I was all set with the foundation with Castrol on board and all my savings ready to travel to Stans and Mongolia. 

Later the plan progressed onward to EU as China/Tibet was really expensive.
Himalayan - Everyone were kinda baffled, when I said I was taking the Himalayan. It was a fairly new bike in the market with a lot of initial issues. For us Indians, there are no options for a good adventure bikes, with the ergonomics of this motorcycle, I really felt comfortable and prepped it up for this journey. 

Always, There's a fine line between Reliability Vs. Repairability. I opted for Himalayan as it was a repairable bike and my plan was it to put it through some extreme terrains through this journey.  






How did you ship the bike to the starting point?  
India is pretty much landlocked right now, With all the bureacracy, Pakistan is a no-go and Burma is expensive needs a tour guide and same goes with exiting through Nepal/China. I had to fly/ship it out of the country. I’ve spent over 6 months working on Visas, documentation and all other paperwork. India is considered as a risk-immigrant country to apply for Visas in Central Asia. Dealing with paperwork has always been a drag for me. But 4 months of dealing with various embassies & regulations has taken patience to a completely new level. Particularly if you're planning to travel through Central Asia, do yourself a favour and ask a visa-agency to do the visa-runs for you, You might save a little time and avoid, running around in Delhi. 

Disaster struck, when I received the quotation for my Air freight charges. My expenses went up by almost 40pc. Then I started my crowd-funding campaign and I’ve received so much of support and people now are a part of my journey and I’m really grateful. Finally on April 15th 2017, I set off on this journey, arrived in Tashkent. I was also supported by 'Big Bad Bikes' who suited me up with Klim gear, Which is probably the best one out there.





I spent close to 2 months working on the motorcycle with my mechanic and made it ready for this big adventure. I even ran it 15,000 kms before the trip to see what problems i might encounter and be prepared for it.

Till now what was the best and the worst part of the ride you have encountered?
I wouldn’t say there’s any least favourite part as once you start a journey, ups and down are a part of it. It teaches you how you can adapt to a situation and how you’ll tackle it. It just makes you stronger. Riding through the Wakhan corridor of Tajikistan, Trans European Trail, Balkans Trails, Mongolia and even the Trans - Siberian across Russia have been just amazing and I'm in total loss of words as to how spectacular the ride was.




What's in your garage back home?
I have my 'Old Lady' which is a 1970 STD 350 G2 Bullet and the 2016 RE Himalayan

What advice do you have for other motorcycle nomads?
All of us dream and very few chase your dreams and go for it. We often keep pushing the ideas of our dreams for ‘Tomorrow’. We fail to realise at one point we will have way to many ‘tomorrows’ piled up and those tomorrows have become ‘Yesterdays’. For many, a job is some unpleasant work you do, in order to make money, with the sole purpose of making money. It’s absurd to take up a job for the sole purpose of making money. If money becomes the only goal and it does. If you work that way, you begin to lose out on your life. We live by media feeding us a lot these days, we are pointed a lot of unnecessary bullshit, with just negative and unwanted stuff to the mass. We are so hooked on to the monotonous routine that it’s really hard to get out of the ‘Autopilot’ mode. As long as you love what you do, find it soon and just go for it. Work will always fill a large part of your life, The only way to be truly satisfied is by doing what you love.

So remeber, One 'No' is say is one less ride taken. Just go!


Now what is your dream ride? 
Following the Sibersky Extreme Trail . The marked roads of ‘Walter Clebatch’ who is a legend in lesser explored sides of Siberia and Mongolia and South America with a lot of time in hand. 

Where are you riding next?
Mostly TAT ( Trans American Trail) and South America is on the charts. Hopefully, 2019. 






Where can we check you out on the interwebs and see whats next?
Facebook: @trailbugadv
Twitter: @trailbugadv | @abijithmrao
Instagram: @trailbugadv | @abijithmrao

I'm currently updating the website, it's should up and running soon  www.trailbugadventures.com