Twenty-two days. 6,200 kilometers. A Royal Enfield Electra. Life is a bike for Sameer Lodhi. On December 1, 2012 Sameer biked to create history on his faithful mate, the Royal Enfield, of six years. Travelling from the Eastern-most point in the country – Kibitoo in Arunachal Pradesh to the Western-most point – Koteshwar in Gujarat, this 30-year-old HR executive from Bangalore has traversed roads without complain. And when Sameer completes his ride, he will become the first person to have travelled this stretch on a two-wheeler.
For someone who has already biked all the way to the first, second and third highest motorable roads in the world, he says, “After my biking to Ladakh in 2009 which was a 17-day trip, I had only two landmark rides left on my agenda - the North-South (Kargil to Kanyakumari) and East-West (Kibitoo to Koteshwar) trips. The North-South has been done by many bikers and there is enough information and data available on this route. But the East-West is something not many have done. And if I do this, I will become the first person to have done so. And this factor makes it a desirable challenge.”
A quick search on Kibitoo will reveal that it is disputed territory and this aspect is hindering Sameer from becoming a Limca Book record holder. “The Limca Book of records does not recognise Kibitoo to be within India. According to them it is a place called Tezu which is about 200 km ahead of Kibitoo. Owing to this, they will not be recognising my attempt,” he shares.
Earlier Dr Arnob Gupta covered 3,766 km from Tezu to Koteshwar and completed the expedition in four days and 23 hours in 2004. He now holds the record for the fastest East-West expedition. Sameer is not keen on setting a time record; he is instead doing a distance record. He says, “I will be crossing unexplored tribal territory in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and then pass through West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan before reaching Gujarat.” The only person to have travelled the same route as Sameer is H V Kumar in 2009, the difference being that he did it in a car. “I am nervous and excited about this trip. The Army has presence there, but beyond that there is no data I can refer to,” says the first-timer.
Of the 22-days that Sameer will be travelling, he will be spending ten days in places that are not connected by mobile networks. Despite the extremeness of his expedition, Sameer enjoys the support of his wife, who believes that apart from work one needs to have a passion to live. And if Sameer’s passion keeps him out of touch for ten days, she is game. In order to document his journey, Sameer has fixed a video camera to his helmet. But what happens when charge runs out? “Well, I have to wait for the next village with electricity,” he says with a grin.
Sameer will be joined by a co-biker, Pradeep Sarkar in Kolkata and the two will begin their ride from Guwahati towards Kibitoo and then begin the East-West expedition. Pradeep has accompanied Sameer on the Ladakh trip as well. This trip will cost Sameer close to `30,000 with fuel being the biggest component he will spend on. Sameer’s journey will at times be harsh on him with regard to weather, food and shelter, but he is prepared to bear it all. And what will he eat for these 20-odd days? “Dal and roti whenever I find it,” he says.