Part 2: 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: Have you encountered any terrorist or dacoits during the rides? How did you managed to ride in dangerous areas?
Mark: Insurgency and terrorists in the North East were evident many times I rode; I had several police and military escorts in dangerous areas and have had to stay somewhere on route, with protection, because of shootings and bomb blasts, Assam in particular…too many incidents to explain to you all but hell I was lucky many times. In Kashmir no problem; stuff going on of course but I rode like the wind and always kept one wheel ahead!
tnw: What is your next plan?
Mark Due to some health issues I have stopped riding for now. I continue to travel all over the world and this year as far I have been in 22 countries on 5 continents…65 countries and territories on 6 continents so far since my global travels began at 18 years old. I fly then I walk, I learn even more.
tnw: How was the hospitality at each location?
Mark: So many trips and so many places and so many times…people are almost always good and welcoming. People love a story as well and when I tell them I have seen all states of India their eyes light up with astonishment and praise. And riding the finest home grown Indian built Enfield motorcycles as well… Many people are perhaps jealous that I have managed to do all this. Reminds me of how lucky I really am.
tnw: Issues with the motorcycles (Royal Enfields) you rode?
Mark: First bike was the Standard 350 (ex military) had a few issues but the ride was okay in the North East…second bike was the new Electra…good bike and sold in Darjeeling; got struck by lightning on that one in Dhubri along the Assma Bangladesh border; 54 died in that storm but I was riding and survived. Had some internal bleeding and was hospitalized for few days in Siliguri.Third bike was a beauty ..the first of the T Birds (Thunderbird), did not give a problem at all…4th bike the 50th anniversary T-Bird AVL engine, took it Shillong to Srinigar and Zanskar but upon returning to Shillong blew some white smoke and the bike needed some attention. Still did 40k on that one…5th one was a TBTS and a good ride, did 40k on that too..6th was a TB5 and a much better bike, safe and faster for overtaking…good brakes…a few niggles were there in all of my Enfields but time in the workshop like therapy for me…no sweat dude.
tnw: What about motorcycle repairs/ maintenance during the ride? Any back up assistance from Royal Enfield ?
Mark: RE at the factory loved me and many dealerships and workshops and mechanics knew of me and my riding all over…almost always great prompt service; a couple of bad dealers were reported to head office for insubordination and dumb ass service…also fixed ’em myself on many occasions and always kept the bike perfect and safe for my rides…especially when my wife was on board and in dangerous risky parts of the country…think I had 6 flats in total…all rear tyres…one time had to push the bike 7 kms in super-hot sun in the terai of Nepal to get a repair…fully loaded!!
From the Siliguri dealership yes after an accident with a blind Bengali cyclist in Bagdogra…damaged the front end on that new TBTS riding in from Nepal to India and they picked it up and fixed it…guy just did not look and rode straight into us while we were doing 60kmph…we hit the road hard and i had a minor heart attack; my wife landed on me so she was fine apart from a grazed left elbow; my foot was banged up also because the left footpeg sheared clean off…3 months recovery in a nice hotel and then we rode to Delhi and Rishikesh and back to Kathmandu.
tnw: How many countries you have covered in this ride? How long it took to complete?
Mark: Three countries of ALL India, Nepal and Bhutan riding Royal Enfields 130,000 over a period of 17 years in and out of the region and on 6 different self-owned bikes
tnw: Have you thought of giving any name or a tag line for this ride?
Mark: The dream-time…
Unedited and as told to Team TNW
Posted by: Megha Madhavan