Heading out on a road trip? Here's some advice from seasoned bikers on how to travel safe
The new year has begun and travellers who had missed going on trips in 2020 due to the pandemic are looking forward to ticking their bucket list. However, travelling protocols and etiquette too have seen a change ever since the “new normal” came into practice. But this shouldn’t stop you from getting back on the road again. If you have been planning to go on a long bike trip, either solo or with a group, then we discuss a few things that you need to keep in mind. We speak to three seasoned bikers from Bengaluru – Sarath Shenoy (36), Kalyan Keerthi KJ (39) and Zouhan KP (29) - who have been on road trips ever since the lockdown eased. They tell us what’s different and share tips on safety during such long trips.
Which places did you visit recently during your biking trips and how different has it been?
Kalyan Keerthi: I went to Nijagal Betta in August, Mullayanagiri in November and to Hampi in December. It suddenly felt like being free again but most places were more crowded than the usual. It was quite shocking to see more than 500 vehicles at 7.30 am at Mullayanagiri. Despite the fog and poor visibility people were flocking the place. So we didn’t go to the top, and spent time at a local shop on the roadside.
Sarath Shenoy: My friends and I have been going on short breakfast rides, usually within 100 kms. Most people in towns and cities don’t care much. But once you are off the grid and in less populated villages, people are slightly worried. But then I usually speak to them in the local language and they let us go around.
Zouhan: I did off-road trail rides in Wayanad, Attapadi in Pallakad, a road ride to Cochin, then I rode to Kannur district, then I attended the Royal Enfield trail attack event ride in Bengaluru and also did the Nandi Hills ride. In fact, I rode nearly 8,000 km during COVID times. The trips are very different now because of COVID protocols like social distancing, sanitising, and limit on number of bikers and riders.
What are the challenges/limitations now of going on a road trip?
Sarath: Travelling in a group is a worry, as many are still not sure about safety. Hotels and restaurants are ensuring that safety protocols are in place but the fear is still very real.
How do you ensure safety from the virus during your rides?
Kalyan: Sticking to smaller groups of five to six riders, visiting lesser crowded places is one way of staying safe.
Sarath: We ensure to carry sanitizers, masks and follow social distancing. I have a bottle of sanitizer in my bag and ensure to spray before and after I reach a place.
Zouhan: We follow all COVID precautions and even carry extra masks and sanitisers. We avoid eating food from outside when we go on one-day rides. We use our own things and don’t share. We also carry our own food when on off-road rides.
What items are a must-carry for road trips in today’s time?
Sarath: Sanitiser, Dettol soap, face mask, wet wipes and tissues.
Kalyan: Puncher kit, cables, chain link lock and tools, personal care and riding gear that includes shoes, thick pants, rain gear, riding jacket, gloves, helmet and a clean visor.
Zouhan: Masks, sanitiser, and in case of short rides, you can also carry some food.
Places you would recommend for bike trips?
Kalyan: Pune, Gokarna, Karwar, Pondicherry and Dhanushkodi.
Zouhan: Avoid city rides, head out for off-road trails where crowds are lesser.