Riding through the pandemic: Shubham Saini
Travel enthusiast and entrepreneur Shubham Saini predicts some operational changes to ride formats to ensure distancing and safety for the riders.
How often does one truly make a living out of their passion. I often say, people earn to travel and I travel to earn experiences. For as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated with clicking pictures and as I grew older, I was drawn to exploring new places. I decided to blend both my passions and founded Photographers of India - a community for passionate travellers and photographers.
In a span of 4 years, the community grew to being over half-a-million strong. We have taken over 1000 travellers on off-beat escapades, photography trips and motorcycle expeditions. Traveling has always been very close to my heart. Having worked tirelessly since the age of 19, I developed a passion for traveling whilst I was working at a travel agency. With budgets being a hindrance, I started discovering local places on my motorcycle, and from then on, there has been no stopping for me!
Motorcycling as a genre has strong synergy with travelling and exploration. It’s the ultimate thrill; the feeling of total freedom, of immersing yourself in the scenery around you, and the cool breeze rushing through your hair. It is one of the best ways to explore, and the buzz it offers is indescribable. The motorcycling scenario has dramatically changed over the past decade. Motorcycles have evolved from something for mere commuting to an exploration companion. Be it a breakfast or a weekend ride or an off-road adventure, motorcycles are now considered an ideal travel buddy by many. Well, for now the rides are halted, and while the world sits at home, I can’t help but reminisce my best riding experiences, and my trip to Spiti Valley in 2017 is the first one that comes to my mind. It was in extreme weather, with temperatures dropping as low as -26 Degrees Celsius during the month of February and I rode alongside three of my friends on our Royal Enfields. It was such an amazing and adventurous ride, though we couldn’t make it to Kaza, but we saw everything from huge vultures to the mesmerizing cliffs while we were riding through the winding roads of the valley- nothing was planned on the trip and we were taking one day at a time. It is truly an unforgettable experience.
Now we can just relive our adventures and travels through memories while we wait for the situation to normalise. All of us want to travel and the big question is how and where. With the unlock phase kicking in and with ease of travel across borders, the task for fellow travellers would be to plan their upcoming adventures in a safer way. The current situation is concerning and it is difficult to predict how and when the situation will become conducive to riding again. But when it will, there will be some operational changes to certain ride formats to ensure distancing and safety for the riders. The rider should assess key risk factors such as the level of community spread in their destination, availability of basic amenities within the norms of social distancing. The best plan for riding right now is to go out, ride solo, enjoy the outdoor areas, and try timing the rides when the routes will be less crowded. At the most, riding with a partner or a small group of two to three people that one can trust is likely safe.
Indeed, in these unprecedented times, everyone has to be extra careful including motorcyclists, but I am sure as soon as the situation normalises, riders will once again throng the motorcycling trails in India. Until then, stay safe.
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