Last week, I decided to go on a bike ride with the ENFIELD Riders from Kathmandu to Pokhara and back. Over two glasses of beer, high on turning 34, I decided. I decided to do the 11th ENFIELD Rendezvous and Poker Run sponsored by Khukri Rum.
As planned, early morning on April 13th, I was there at the Nepal Tourism Board, all ready to be on the road. I had no expectations, I had no clue. They said the best journeys are the ones where you don’t know what it has in store for you.
MY FIRST FEELING: NERVOUS. I was extremely nervous. I had never in person seen so many men revving their engines, in leather jackets all ready to bolt on the road. There were few women too. They put my mind at ease. These women were strong, all suited up to bolt with the others on the road. So much masculine energy. Every feminist bone in me was challenged for the display of power, strength, and everything in between. And, among the revving engine, puffs of smoke, I was there. A nervous girl in denim, non leather jacket; a non-rider. An absolute misfit. I felt confronted.
Then it was time to ride.
THE CONVERSATION: I had my first in-person conversation with the rider with whom I was going to ride for the next 250Kms at the registration desk. Yes, I had never seen him in person before that. He gave me four-pointers as a “tip” for the trip:
- Don’t move
- If you do, communicate
- We are a team
THE JOURNEY: As I mounted nervously on the KTM Adventure 390, I did not know what to expect. Politely I asked him where can I hold him. Yes, consent is important! And, cordially he showed. The road was long and we were strangers up until then. Either we could have long conversations or nothing at all. We settled for the former. I realized that one can share so much when there are just the two on the road, where the road is long, and when the other person is a stranger. We talked about our upbringings, our passion, our lovers, and everything in between. By the time we reached Pokhara, the stranger started feeling like a friend.
The group rode together and stopped at preassigned points for food, bio breaks, stretches. The most fascinating thing was no one was in a rush. The speed or the lack of it was all settled. They waited for each other, checked in, ensured everyone was okay and plowing together, had cigarettes and tea or water, and then carried on.
So much compassion and care. So much love and spirit of community. I fell in love.
THE VOID: I longed to see such a camaraderie: collaborations and the oneness of a team. Their interactions and conversations filled my heart. The way they waited, conversed, encouraged each other was amazing. If someone’s bike broke the support team would hang out until it was on the road. They waited until they all had eaten, and stretched. The conversations were even better. Some see each other just on this trip, so they had longed to have conversations, share their stories, and tell where they had been all year. They would high five and low five, hug and pounce, and just be. So much compassion and care. So much love and spirit of community. I fell in love.
THE COMMUNITY: As I walked through the Nepal Tourism Board gate, a big banner read: “THE THUMP THAT BINDS”. At the end of the trip, I am bound!
There were 150 riders, the smallest crowd in the recent years due to the COVID pandemic. But their spirits were enormous. The entire trip was for three days, with events organized in between. On the way, there was a tragic incident, where we lost a rider. Everything was somber, hurting, and aching. It was late, and everyone was tired: it had been a long day on the road. Despite their aching hearts, they came together, shared conversations, grieved together, remembered together, and celebrated the lost one. They immediately set up charity funds, channelized resources to help the rider’s family. They auctioned a signed helmet, a thing supposed to be done more in the spirit of fun but now for a friend, and raised funds among themselves with all their hearts and love. It was a painful joy to see the spirit of community, fraternity, and belonging. They comforted where they could and leaned on to others for comfort when they could not. While their spirit was a little dampened their hearts to LIVE was not.
The second day was the community service day at a marginalized school on the outskirts of Pokhara. They gave their hearts to the community and volunteered at a school, a pre-planned event. Throughout the day they did what they could to keep moving, to help others do the same, leaning in and out, grieving when they can; and while feeling the loss not losing it.
THE LOVE: I fell in love with the trip. The tresses and curves of the road, the men and women who rode. The excited kids on the street waving eagerly as the bikes passed by, the didis and dais who served lunch, water, tea. The team that beautifully led all this. The bike that rode me, the biker that I rode with, the conversations, the waves of laughter, the angst, the fear, the tiredness, the stories, and everything.
I fell in love with my “wanna be braveheart” that makes these impulsive decisions to learn and come out of my comfort zone. I fell in love with the sense of community and the longing to belong. I fell in love with my audacity to trust, be vulnerable, more than everything LIVE!
THE THUMP THAT BOUND!