Published: 06th January 2021
This couple from Bengaluru rode their Dukes across India during the COVID pandemic. This is why
Sameera Dahiya and Praveen Ramakrishnanjust rode across 28 states and 6 union territories in India on their bikes during the COVID pandemic and they did it ridiculously fast
Twenty-eight states, six union territories, 24 days and 16,300 kilometres — this is what Sameera Dahiya (33) and Praveen Ramakrishnan (40) has achieved in December 2020. The husband-wife duo have been bikers for a long time and recently they attempted to create a record by riding across India on their KTM bikes.
But, hang on, why ride around India especially when there is a pandemic spreading fast? When we asked them, they said, "The message that we carried while riding was 'Heal The World'. We wanted to tell people that no matter what, one should never fail to have a sense of humanity. From helping an injured animal on the road to the poor, the world only needs some love and humanity. Only then it can be healed from all kinds of sufferings and move forward."
This is not the first time that the husband-wife duo have undertaken a massive ride. In 2016, the duo rode from Bengaluru to Rajasthan and back on their bike. Later it was followed by several rides across South India, North East and many other parts of India. Sameera says, "We never thought of attempting a record. Initially, my husband and I just thought of touring across India on the bike. But as we researched more about solo riders or bikers, we felt that taking up this challenge would make a lot of difference in our lives. That's when we started working on this thought seriously and attempted to create a record under the fastest category."
Both Sameera and her husband rode individual KTM 390 Dukes and they love it. She says, "We have ridden almost all the bikes and have been part of several races. Since this was an endurance ride, we thought it was important to ride the bikes that we are used to. We always check our bikes, engine, breaks and other parts almost every day to keep them ready for the toughest road journey we were taking up."
Praveen, who has been a bike riding enthusiast believes that two riders riding similar motorcycles is an advantage when attempting records. "Starting from the initial understanding of the machine helps in saving time on rectifying issues. It helps in keeping the required pace throughout and maintain a good wavelength," he adds. Apart from keeping the bike ready, Sameera and Praveen felt it was important to remain mentally and physically fit.
A matter of weight
Being professional bikers, they know that they couldn't take off on a ride across India overnight. They had to prepare themselves both mentally and physically. Sameera, who then weighed more than 90 kg, felt that it was necessary for her to lose weight which otherwise would pose a huge challenge during long rides. She explains, "If you are on the heavier side, then you get exhausted easily during the ride. Hence it is important for riders to remain fit in terms of weight and strength. Though I have been a Yoga instructor for a long time, I had not lost weight. I decided to eat right and healthy, therefore, I cut down on eating a lot of carbohydrates and sugar. I was able to lose 28 kgs from June to November."
So what did they eat on the bike ride? According to Sameera and Praveen, bikers cannot eat all three meals when they are on a long journey. She tells us how disciplined riders need to be in terms of eating the right food, "If your stomach remains full, then your body starts responding weirdly during the ride. And the most common response is sleep. If you are eating a lot of carbohydrates and fatty food, then it gets tough to ride. Therefore, we followed a snack diet and it included a lot of protein bars and local snacks available in different states including samosas, idlis and vadas. We used to eat one meal a day and these heavy meals were divided between breakfast and dinner. Whenever we rode through mountains, we consumed a heavier dinner as the speed of our bike would be slow. Whenever we felt that we were losing energy, we would snack on some local food every 100 kilometres."
No compromise with COVID-19 guidelines
What makes the couple's journey more unique is that they didn't step back despite the protocols they had to follow at state borders due to COVID-19. Sameera says, "We did our COVID tests prior to our journey and it came back negative. We wore balaclavas all the time and carried sanitisers for the bikes and gears, which we would spray at every refuelling break that we took. We also had to undergo tests at state borders where it was mandatory. Since we were riding for 12 to 14 hours a day we were able to maintain all the COVID norms."
Strangers turned friends on the ride
The duo firmly believes that the journey would not have been easy without meeting good human beings along the way. Sameera shares a real-life incident when she says, "When we were riding from Bhubaneswar to Raipur, Praveen's bike literally broke in six different parts including the handlebar and chassis. While we were above to enter the thick forest, we were lucky to come across a small village that hardly had 10-15 houses. There was only one mechanic, a grocery shop and a welding shop. We both had almost lost hope that it would be impossible to complete our ride and it was these villagers who helped us complete the ride. Praveen has 25 years of experience with bikes and he guided the mechanic step-by-step to separate the parts of the bike. As the process started, all the villagers gathered and they were trying to tell us different ways to rectify the bike. It took us eight hours to bring the bike back to shape and we were able to leave around 7.30 pm. They hugged us and wished us luck for our adventure."
Some of the cities the couple covered on their ride
Sameera and Praveen covered more than 30 cities of their ride across India including Bengaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, Chennai, Pondicherry, Coimbatore, Kanniyakumari, Hyderabad, Amaravathi, Panjim, Mumbai, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Ranchi, Patna, Kolkata, Gandhinagar, Jaipur, Pune, Silvassa, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Delhi, Chandigarh, Jammu-Kashmir, Srinagar, Kargil, Shimla, Dehradun, Agra, Lucknow, Siliguri, Gangtok, Shillong, Itanagar, Kohima, Aizawl, Imphal, Dispur, Agartala and Raipur
Toured around India. What next?
If you think that Sameera and Praveen's adventure trips have come to an end then you couldn't be more wrong. Even before they could enter the Karnataka border, they began discussing their next adventure of covering more than 14,000 miles from South Africa to Russia — a road that is considered one of the longest walking routes in the world. Sameera says, "We have already included this on our list but the preparations are yet to begin. We will not only go through harsh weather on this route but also go across 17 different countries. It is believed that a person walking with a sustainable pace will need at least three years to complete the journey. If everything goes well, then we hope to prep soon and begin this journey."
Some of their best moments in the ride
On Day 1, Sameera rode 1,300 kilometres in 22 hours
She is the first female to be on the ZoJila Pass in winter on her bike
Sameera is also the first female rider to complete the fastest all-India record ride
You can follow them on Instagram @sameeradahiya and @insortediabole