Poker Run: Less about the poker, more about the run

A poker run. 

Think of it as a regular game of poker, but with the roar of over 200 engines in the open-road with bikes, beers and unrivaled bonding. Celebrating 10 years since its inception in 2009, Rabi Thapa sat with us to reminisce how it all began. 

The idea was born where most great ideas are generally born, two long-time friends talking over a couple of drinks. Rabi Thapa and Stewart Mclean sat exchanging memories of their dear friend Binod Chhetri, who himself was an avid Enfield rider. It was his dream to see the international event ‘Poker run’ being conducted in Nepal. 

Their light-hearted conversations began turning into discussions of what steps it would actually take to bring this idea to fruition. Before they knew it, a resolution had taken root. 

Once the planning began, this previously insurmountable idea started to seem attainable. Having been in the travel business for nearly a decade before this, they could utilize their multitude of contacts for sponsors, gift vouchers as well as hotels. 

In 2009, they set off with 22 participants towards the Last Resort in Tatopani, Sindhupalchowk. Back then not all of them were on Enfields. They had beers sponsored by Carlsberg and Gorkha, food vouchers from infamous restaurants like Soaltee, Yak & Yeti and much more. It was set to be a roaring success, quite literally. 

The next year, the number doubled to 50 riders and the program expanded from a one night event to a two night celebration. Their venture started gaining traction as bikers started to come in from all over the world to be a part of this journey. In 2011, the incline continued with 125 riders joining the convoy and by 2015, they had crossed 400 riders. 

In its latest run, it has now become grander in its execution. They offer a two-night stay in a five-star hotel, covering barbeques as well as booze. Looking at it now, it is easy to think that these ventures have always run smoothly like a well-oiled engine. 

But Rabi Thapa shares his memories on the challenges faced back in the day. How they had to manage accommodation for over 200 people in various hotels, how there 

were a myriad of problems surrounding facilities or parking or how they had to consistently convince the local police to allow bike modification. 

Yet, year after year they had the loyal riders return. Not just participating but also working tirelessly on their bikes all year for the title of “Best Modified Bike”. The brands too, began recognizing this unique event as the gifts for the best poker hand became grander. This is the only event where the entire horde rides together, engulfing the roads with their metal blanket. The excitement is not only limited to the riders but also extends to the pedestrians who get to watch in awe as this swarm of riders bring about their symphony of camaraderie and devotion. 

However, at the end of the day, it has never been about the fancy hotels or exciting locations. It truly has never even been about poker, which has mostly served as a quirky excuse for people to band together in this expedition. What Poker Run has always stood for is a brotherhood. Every rider involved comes for the thrill of that first rev, where the thunder of hundreds of Enfields overtakes the thumping of your heart. 

It all began in the memory of a dearly departed friend, and with every rev that gets added to this group, we hope the roar echoes to wherever he may be.

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