Narender Kumar Gautam is a primary school teacher in Delhi with a passion to take his Bajaj Bravo 2 Strokes Scooter to rides unimaginable. A scooter gifted by his father which is now 17 years old, Delhi is his home.
Narender Kumar Gautam
Narender first got hooked on taking his scooter on rides when he came across a travelogue on a travel forum where 2-3 guys were riding scooters in the remote and rugged valley of Spiti in Himachal Pradesh with a Mahindra Scorpio as their back up vehicle. ‘I was very thrilled to see scooters in the tough terrain of Spiti. That scooter travelogue encouraged and inspired me to travel on my two wheels’, he says. Within five minutes of reading the travelogue, Gautum decided to ride his Bajaj to the high mountains and use it for long-term touring. Since then, he has never looked back!
The scooter rider prefers to travel solo but also travels in groups sometimes. Narender Kumar Gautam shares his 3 most memorable scooter rides, starting with his very first ride when he scaled 18,953 feet altitude on a mountain pass – Marsimik La in Ladakh in June 2016. No scooter had ever reached such heights, he says. Riding his scooter to this high pass was his long pending dream which he realized in June of 2016. Marsimik La pass, located very near to the border of China, it is only 42 km away from Pangong Lake in Ladakh. A very steep road, totally broken and unmarked, he finally reached the pass, alone. ‘Fast cold winds were blowing and it was goosebumps moment for me. I offered my prayers in a small temple at the pass and thanked God for this’, he reminisces. It is also his best memory so far!
The second ride was in September of 2014 when he crossed the treacherous and remote Umba La Pass which connects Drass to Suru valley bypassing Kargil. A very remote area, very few people have been there he mentions.
Last but not the least, the third memorable ride was when he rode his scooter along the China border via Chushul. He reached Hanle from Pangong Lake in Ladakh, a very thrilling ride experience. The road was sandy and there were no milestone or signboards. ‘I was riding between the Indian and Chinese army bunkers as told by locals’, says Narender.
The rider makes a brief plan in his head in advance before he commences his travels. Generally, he includes new places on earth and brings forth places for other riders so they can explore as well.
5 must-visit destinations according to him are- Mustang Valley in Nepal, Ladakh, Mana Pass in Uttrakhand, Nepal-Lahsa Friendship Highway in Tibet and Karakoram Highway in Pakistan.
Not to forget, his 5 must haves on a journey of exploring this wonderful planet, number one would be passion! Knowledge about routes and places, sound knowledge of the vehicle, to be aware of basic amenities and hardships on the road and to carry spare essentials.
Scooters are disappearing very fast and there are difficulties in finding spare parts in case of a breakdown admits the rider. ‘Its a very grave concern for a scooterist’, he says when it comes to the difficulty faced when touring on a scooter in India. Also, the best part is that scootering makes one a unique rider among majority bikers. There is a level of respect one receives from people when one travels on a scooter. Such appreciation is the best reward for a scooterist according to Narender.
Photos by Narender Kumar Gautam
Narender has also ridden to Sach Pass and Ladakh via Pangi Valley, both dangerous roads to be on. What makes him get away with that on a scooter? He says, he rides sensibly and prepares his scooter well. ‘My scooter broke down in Pangi valley but I managed to get it repaired and continue my ride and complete it’, he adds. Sach Pass and Pangi are treacherous roads, no doubt, but a very safe and slow ride will surely overcome the tough terrain he believes.
The one of a kind scooter rider shall never run out of stories, one such interesting excerpt from his rides is when he was travelling solo to Suru and Zanskar Valley in Ladakh. The bad weather and snowfall did not go hand in hand with his scooter’s performance. Suddenly, he saw a pack of three wolves staring at him. The cold weather and fright shivers made him sweat. Alone for 50-60 km, there was no one. He stayed put and after a few moments later, the wolves went away. He breathed a sigh of relief!
One lesson the rider has learnt from his years of touring on the scooter is ‘Patience’! Narender Kumar also adds, his rides happen to give him a sense of content and peace.
Words by Harpreet
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