There is something about bikes, miles of wilderness and harsh terrains that we at Bohotraveller, have been going back to them almost every other month. The verdict? Bikers are sort of a crazy breed.....but in a nice way! It has been a pleasure every time we have spoken to these people, featured their crazy stunts or interviews, whether it was Mihai traveling across 41 countries in Europe with his 4 year old son or Asmita making that all-women bike trip to stunning Leh. Well, keeping up with what is now almost a tradition, we are bringing you yet another dude, Suhas Ramakrishnan, who covered Australia from East to West Coast on a bike. Doing it all solo is just one crazy part, being new to Australia is yet another and then comparing his Harley with wife....we are hoping the wifey took it well!! Read on as the fun has just started!
1. 6927 Kilometers (4304 miles) covering Australia from East to West Coast in just over 2 weeks, where did this idea come from?
Well, the funny thing is even I keep asking the same question to myself. It just occurred to me sometime mid last year to do a motorbike trip, but obviously not of this magnitude. I started off small, like exploring the state of NSW or Victoria (state), but never till Western Australia. I literally laughed at first when my mind prompted the idea of doing Sydney to Perth as no sane person who had just entered a new country would entertain this idea. I quite frankly didn’t pay much attention to that idea & also didn’t bother weeding it out completely. It kept on growing until it started bothering me & that was when I made up my mind to conquer one of the toughest terrains in the world. And then I went ten (100, to be precise) steps further & decided to do it all alone. To challenge myself & push myself to my limits – both physical and mental. This was it!
2. What was the most difficult part of the trip?
Obviously not being able to hold my 3 year old daughter for more than 2 weeks, hahahaa. But crossing the Nullarbor for days together seemed to take its toll as its 2000 kilometers (1242 miles) of sheer nothingness – no tress, no houses, not many vehicles passing by and, more or less a straight road all the way. It was always getting a bit difficult to concentrate towards the end of each day. Other than that, everything else was pretty smooth.
3. How many hours in a day did you usually ride and what were your stay arrangements?
I used to start my day early & made sure I was all saddled up and on the road by max 8 in the morning across all the 4 time-zones in this trip. I usually rode for about 7-8 hours a day as I had to cover a lot of sight-seeing as well as put kilometers under my belt. It wasn’t safe to be on road after dusk and that too on a motorcycle owing to the ‘roos menace' (kangaroos are affectionately called ‘roos here). I had a few narrow escapes from ‘roos especially when I left Halls Gap (Grampians) pretty early in the morning and a couple of times with Emu’s during my journey from Wilpena Pound.
All the accommodations were booked in advance in hotels/resorts as I clearly wanted to take it easy at the end of each day without worrying about camping et al.
4. This adventure must have given you valuable opportunity to get glimpses of the lesser known and remote Australia. Tell us about these hidden away gems.
Absolutely, I have seen some very intriguing places here like a rainforest called Mait’s rest(Victoria) hidden along the Great Ocean Road where after entering, you feel like you are on a different planet altogether with towering fern trees with Koalas up on them. Also, a quiet little German town called Hahndorf outside Adelaide which is Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement. The fabulous lonely beaches neatly tucked in the Esperance (Western Australia) coastline boasting of having the best beaches in the whole of Australia. I could go on & on but for now, I remember these places that are still relatively unknown.
5. Tell us about the vehicle you chose to drive for this one. Any special tips to keep that beast roaring at its best during the drive?
It had to be a Harley Davidson for me. So I had to select the bike best suited for this trip & also on my pocket. Switchback (a 6 speed, 1700 cc beast) ticked all the options on my checklist & I bought one last year for this ride as I wanted to ride this bike for a few thousand kilometers and get acquainted with the traffic rules and importantly get myself acclimatized with the beast itself as its really important to establish the connection between a man and his machine.
‘You never select a bike, it selects you!’ – you would’ve heard this cliché a million times, but that’s exactly what happened to me when I went to the Harley showroom just to ‘see’ some for the ride sometime in the mid of 2015. I sat on one, took a test ride & paid the advance for the booking. It was like she had hypnotized me into doing everything so suddenly that I took a few weeks to realize that I had a Harley parked in my garage waiting for her to be unleashed on the roads.
In my opinion, there are no special tips on keeping it at its best. It’s pretty similar to a wife – listen to the sound that she makes, figure out if she is angry & do the needful to make sure it never happens again. Fortunately, I was able to do that during the ride and we never fought!
6. You rode alone through the wilderness. How did you ensure your safety and kept your loved ones updated about your route and progress throughout?
I took close to 20 minutes every day in the mornings just to ‘saddle up’ as I had to wear a few safety clothing items. Starting with Kevlar trousers, a T-shirt, a jumper and a 4.5 kilograms of leather jacket with 2 elbow, 2 shoulder and spine armor along with a dedicated full back support belt to keep me upright during all times. It was cold & sometimes freezing, so I had 3 different pairs of gloves depending on the climate.
I and my wife had an app installed that keeps track of where you are depending on the GPS signal from the cell. Whenever I used to get GSM reception, I made sure my location would get updated appropriately & in reception-less areas I used to call my family from any of the telephone booths available around.
7. What was the best thing about this trip? That one thing, which will remain with you for life.
This is a very very tough question for me to answer because the whole trip & it’s experiences is in itself the best thing and will be with me forever. But if you ask me THE one thing that I really enjoyed was MY company during those 16 days and I never felt lonely, not even once. I believe it’s not necessary to be strong or to show that you are strong but to feel strong from the inside and that I was able to feel during this trip!
8. When did your fascination with the greatness of bike trips start? Tell us about the first time, you tasted blood?
I have always been fascinated with bikes, not the loud, super-fast, fancy ones but ones which does the job without much fuss. I’ll tell you one incident that happened when I was 16 years old. I met with an accident while riding my moped and it was a pretty bad one. I had to be admitted to the hospital and had fractured multiple bones and was in coma. You might find this a bit weird, but that was when I decided that I need to buy a motorbike and even more surprising was my parents never once did oppose this idea.
My first ‘Solo Road Trip’ was when I was 21 years old and decided to ride from my hometown Bengaluru to Hyderabad where I was working. A 620 kilometres ride in cold conditions. I took 13 hours to complete & I was TIRED. My whole body was aching and I took a few days to recover. But it had its own charm to it, a sweet pain!
9. How many other bike odysseys have you been on since then? And which one has been the best till date and why?
I have been on numerous road trips on my RE Bullet CI 350 for the past decade covering almost the whole country (India), the latest one being Leh & Ladakh. It was fun and equally scary owing to the relentless rains and the subsequent flash floods that followed. The group in which I was traveling was in a complete disarray with few of my friends missing and some unable to take their bikes out due to rain water clogging their bikes’ engine. Luckily, I was able to keep going in spite of the incessant rains. It was getting rather riskier by the day as the water levels rose and there was knee-deep water on most of the roads. My bike would start acting a bit funny at times with a couple of breakdowns but fortunately I was able to always find a ‘mechanic’ near me.
Riding through the floods is what I call a ‘nightmarish’ experience as I was drenched to the bone, no cell reception, freezing conditions, unknown roads filled with ½ feet potholes covered with water and lastly my bullet stopping randomly due to water entering through the exhaust pipe!
But I am proud to say that it was this ride (especially riding through floods) that gave me the confidence for embarking on even more strenuous rides alone in the future.
10. Our last question and this is the one we saw you asking yourself- what is next? What is your bucket list?
Hahahaa, no more solo bike rides for the next few months at least, need to give my back some rest as it had taken quite a beating. Also have to regain my fitness back as I ate and drank with gay abandon for close to a month without worrying about calories etc.
The next trip of course needs to be with my wife and kid probably to Tasmania and this time on four wheels as I have promised the wife.
But I am really excited at the thought of a road trip to all the Scandinavian countries. I would absolutely love to sleep under the ‘Aurora Borealis’ (northern lights) and be in tune with the nature’s very own light spectacle.
What can we say, the wife does deserve a trip to Tasmania after the boy's adventure alone! We wish Suhas all the luck for his next bike trip and would love to cover that as well right here on boho as and when it happens! Before it is ciao time, here is a little something Suhas tells us about himself.......
I am originally from Bengaluru, India. I moved to Australia in May 2015 and currently working as a Technical Architect in Sydney. Software guy by profession and guy gone wild-wild west by passion- that's me!
I have always been "meticulous with a dash of impulsiveness" sort of guy. This impulsiveness is what made me buy a Harley within 3 months of moving here. The meticulous part of me executed the actual trip with over 12 months of planning.My journey till date in Australia has been a bumpy one, but my family has been one of my biggest support systems that made me stick to my dream in the face of adversity.
So, this was Suhas and his trip extraordinaire'! If this interview inspired you to take that next bike trip, do tell us. And if you are somebody who got as crazy on bike as Suhas, tell us DEFINITELY! Yours could be the next story we feature on Bohotraveller, after all it is about inspiring the best of travel!