A Publicist by profession, Gurugram resident Indranil Roy, 31, is a traveller at heart. A decade ago, he turned into a solo backpacker, travelling to the remote corners of India and South East Asia, on buses, trains and at times on foot. Last year, he developed a love for cycling.
Then, in October 2020, while he was at Almora on a work-cum-leisure trip, he decided to take a cycling trip in the hills and covered a distance of 500km loop on an impulse. And since then, Roy has been cycling across the length and breadth of India on his Rockrider ST100 Mountain Bike.
Born in Kolkata and raised in Delhi, Roy currently lives in Gurugram with his mother and elder sister, but is mostly found in Himalayas, balancing his work from the jungles there. Excerpts from an interview:
Do you make any special preparations before embarking on a trip?
My journeys are always unplanned, so much so that on my first trip I carried my clothes and gadgets in a regular bag, and had to readjust the straps every few kilometres so they don’t fall away (laughs). I hardly research about the place I am visiting; at times I don’t even know where I am going to stop the next day. I always believe in meeting the unknown and surprising myself.
What are your learnings on these trips?
The challenges are usually extreme weather and dilapidated, steep roads. A solo biker like me has to keep patience, stay calm, and adapt to situations quickly as there could be so many adversities lurking around the corner about which you may not have any clue.
Any anecdotes you would like to share?
My chain broke at a remote place (Quiti) in Pithoragarh. In the next few hours, I was in a pick-up truck with locals and had to stay at Birthi Falls for the next two days as the chain had to be brought all the way from Haldwani. To experience the place, I trekked to the uppermost part of the waterfall braving treacherous trails, soaking in the mesmerising natural beauty. But soon I noticed a small herd of cows stuck here. Upon enquiring I found out that some villagers had deliberately left them there to die. Determined to save them, I used all my contacts in Delhi and Almora, and finally managed to get them transported to a shelter in Pithoragarh.
How cooperative are the people you meet enroute?
People have gone out of their way to help me. Near Chaukori, it was late at night and I had to cross a 6-km stretch of forest, infested by leopards. But the locals guided me through. Ahead, when my headlights conked off, a man guided me all the way with his SUV’s headlight. I believe it’s the people on the road who make a traveller go on and on.