In conversation with Mark R. Ward from Melbourne, Australia. He is an adventure traveler and a motorcycle rider. Mark started his global travel at the age of 18 and has traveled 65 countries in 6 continents. Mark also shares his riding experiences on how he covered 130,000 kms on 6 Royal Enfields to ride 29 states of India !!
tnw: When did you start riding motorcycles? Which was your first ride?
Mark: I started riding motorcycles in 1969 at 6 years old on a ZA50 cc Honda…frog green
tnw: What was the aim of this long ride and what did you achieve?
Mark: This was one of the many long rides and it was all about initially self-reflection and dream-time on the many forms of road here in South Asia; a learning and an immersion into Indian culture…a greater freedom. Then riding with my wife it was to show her these amazing diverse incredible countries, long haul and with great challenge and pushing the limits.
I achieved a wonderful wisdom of the region and its people.
tnw: How was your ride experience on Indian roads? Any new thing you learnt?
Mark: Riding long distance in India and Nepal was the greatest thrill for me. I learnt to never lapse in concentration whilst riding, but at the same time take in and digest all that I could with gusto.
Riding on Indian roads is going to test one no doubt…what one learns is hopefully some better form of lateral thinking and riding skill…patience especially in the bigger cities in traffic…how to dodge man, machine and animal at higher speeds CONSTANTLY…how to prepare for riding conditions that can present terrible roads, freezing cold, intense dehydrating heat, incredible long distances in wet and heavy and humid monsoons, and putting up with myself for such long periods riding on two wheels…my wife Nanu juste xtraordinary during her 70,000 odd kms riding shotgun behind me in Nepal, India and Bhutan.
tnw: What about your family..support from them?
Mark: My family in Australia thought I was mad of course to ride all India so many times and all year round, but in the end they realized I had to do this; it took me 6 Royal Enfields and 130,000 kms in all 29 states of India to clear my head they think!
tnw: How do you manage finances during the ride?
Mark: My money carried me through, and still does, in all circumstances as I travel by motorcycle or in a conventional manner; I am very privileged in that respect. No credit whatsoever and my golden rule is ‘Can’t afford it, can’t have it’. Be humble at times, but in relation to my bikes they are again very privileged also! I have visited scores of RE dealerships all over these countries and they have, as the RE factory as well has, always looked after me; and still I pay my way all the way. The bikes must be spot on! Never a sponsorship, instead a self-funded Indian motorcycle odyssey of vastness and discovery.
tnw: Was it easier for you to trace the roads of India?
Mark: At times I had the Indian road map book you would buy from the stationers and at time I would check google maps in the evening and get an idea of where we might want to go…more often than not it was just a whim and a prayer on the some of highways and byways across the country…from Kohima to the Rann of Kutch or Kanyakumari to Kargil, Karkavitta to Mahendranagar or LhamoyZingkha to Bylakuppe…asking people along the way at times was helpful and at other times ended up shit creek; and road signs in a dozen scripts was confusing but added to the challenge of at all…All my/our riding in South Asia was just amazing.
tnw: What about the paper works / documentations?
Mark: Visas always up to date and valid and always my own drivers licence from Meghalaya state on me as well as ownership papers for my bikes and insurance that covered all the countries we rode into…marriage certificate to boot as some more conservative establishments one would want to check into, in India that is, were adverse to allowing a ‘foreigner’ and a local woman into staying; most folks though very cool at hotels, guest houses, dhaba’s and temples right across the land.
Unedited and as told to Team TNW
Posted by: Megha Madhavan