The Astral Riders


I am fond of meeting people, observe them, and to understand the unsaid part of their persona. I know it’s something weird, but then this is how I am. I meet many but I remember a few, a few with some unique traits. Recently, I was on a ride in Laddakh, The Astral Ride to Chumathang. I met some of the amazing guys.

"People take home the photographs of the places, I take the feel of a persona." 

The Roller Coaster Guy– He came to enjoy himself by rolling here and there in all parts of Laddakh. He never had a bias for any terrain. May it be sandy, rocky or waters, he enjoyed his rolls everywhere equally. One day he was so much elated that he rolled his bike around 8 times. On every fall when you ask him, Are you okay? He will always smile and say”Yes”. As if he ready for the next!

The Roller Coster

The Aflatoon Rider – I never understood what his ride plans were. In-fact nobody did. He was quite an adult, but still in his teenage mindset. He was an engine with explosion of energy, and he had no idea where to dissipate. On the very first ride I understood his tactics and framed mine according to him. If you love yourself, all you need to do is to keep a huge gap with him.

He used to stay behind and let others pass in a ride trails, Okay fine. At this point you will think how calm he is. Now, all of a sudden, a jet inside him explodes and he didn’t have any idea how to control it. And you can imagine a jet running on an offroad. Lethal!

The Aflatoon Rider

The Airforce Guy– I met him in the very beginning of the ride at Delhi Airport. He inspired me with his persona, his fitness and his dare. We became roomies and this is where I started to know him further. He use to wake up early and follow a schedule. Not like me, who never woke up same time twice in his life. The mornings were fun. He used to do his warm-up drills before excretion and micturition. And there I was waiting it to end. He was quite observing. Like he had a list of “Smarts” and “Not So Smart” of the group. The later was his “To Ignore” list. Surprisingly, I qualified in the first, As he told me!

He had clear fundamentals, he decided to ride second in the lane and he followed it seriously till the end. Anyone coming in midst would face a tough resistance. He had a bad time at high altitudes, but he coped up well. I tried to ease him. As I wanted to sustain in the first list.

The Airforce Guy

The Reporter cum Vlogger– I first saw him sitting next to me during the first day briefings. I first thought he is from TOI media team. The way he was reporting the scene seems like I was watching Aajtak.

Vloggers have their own issues, when they travel with non-vloggers. He always looked incidents as a scene while the rest were actually into it. He was quite an experienced rider and with such experiences comes information. That information is actually a volcano trying to erupt every now and then. But I found his knowledge to be pinpoint and accurate on many occasions.

Vlogging is a very tough job. You need to wake up early to witness an ordinary sunrise and to present it as the best ever seen by this world. You cannot abuse a moron overtaking you from wrong side, as you are telling your audience how cool a mountain ride is. You wait for a water crossing, want riders to feel the heat. And, if someone falls, aha! That’s the thumbnail for the vlog. And yeah, the drone! That’s a must for you to be a pro.

But thanks to this guy we visited a hidden place near Leh, which we wouldn’t have ever figured out.

The Vlogger

The Skinny Cool Dude– Long haired Skinny dude from Mumbai, which was evident from his cool slangy language. He was an entrepreneur from the dreamlands we all imagined at-least once. Someone who has retired at 26, with hell lot of money. A character from Zoya Akhtar Movies, following his dreams with money being no bars. I hope all his stories were true.

He had an amazing taste in music, with a wide spectrum of genres. I remember him playing some Hollywood hip-hop, cut to, playing Mehadi Hasan.

The Skinny Cool Dude

The Ride Lead– He was a cool chap, Short heighted, passionate rider, yet down to earth. You know some guys who never shed their baby fat. Bad ass when it comes to bullying. Though he was an ace rider but he also had a fall during our ride to Mahe-Bridge, nobody knows that.

Till Now, ha ha ha.

Very Co-operative, a good leader for a team with such a blend of human diversity.

The Ride Lead

The Lady Rider– I saw her on the first briefing, she introduced herself as a TOI journalist. My perception of a journalist was quite different. I thought they travel in media van.

But on the first ride to Confluence a bike vroomed from my right. I could only read the number patch on the rider’s helmet. I tried to catch up with the rider. Failed to do so. Later I figured it was her. A swift rider and an avid moto enthusiast. In the evening sessions she told how she got into riding. I was quite amazed to see a girl riding better than many of the male riders. She was even better doing saddling on off-roads.

She had several falls, I could see threaded jacket on her elbow. She faced AMS as well. But her will was commendable.

The Lady Rider

The ACE Rider– He was the most amazing talent of the entire group. An amazing photographer and even better rider.

You might have remembered a fun video where a videographer filming a marathon race, overtakes the runner. Meeting the Ace Rider, I understood what the runner might be feeling.

He was taking images on the go. He use to overtake the entire ride, use to fix a suitable angle, take out his DSLR, Click Click Click. Pack and go!

You can find him again overtaking all the so called pro-riders. It is rare in my experience to find such a expertise in two domains.

The Ace Rider

The Bachelor– I met this guy from Delhi while sipping tea in the hotel lawn. He appeared and sounded like any other guy. Co-incidentally me and this guy were the only ones having intercoms. So it was obvious that we connected it. And then started the conversations. All the “Gyan” I had, I puked and he did the same. We both sounded Okay, receiving the Gyan. This is how the things worked.

We shared common interests.

We planned Rider Mania, didn’t work. We planned a booz, worked just fine. So things got more clear between us.

This was the guy I think I will be long in touch. May be we will be riding soon.

The Bachelor

I will keep on adding names as I recall. Stay tuned.

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