Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s epic journey from Ladakh to the stunning Pangong Lake for his father Rajiv Gandhi’s birthday celebration on August 20 was a massive hit online as the vlog on Youtube has gathered quite a bit of appreciation from viewers all around.
Rahul Gandhi rode with 6 chosen fellow riders from across the country. There were no gimmicks and stunt doubles on this ride as the crew moved around the fabled valleys facing the challenging terrains, altitude and weather together. Riding in the group was the only person representing south India, Murshid Basheer, who is a native of Kerala.
Known as “Murshid Bandidos” on Social Media, he was not picked at random. Rahul’s team scoured the records and social media looking for leaders in their respective field. Murshid is an accomplished rider, race promoter, a social media influencer promoting responsible biking and an entrepreneur. Alongside Murshid, there were other pro riders like Nilesh, a KTM bike instructor, as well as Tenzing, Singe, and Rakesh Bisht. Together, the group rode for more than
1300 kilometres through the breathtaking spots in Leh, Srinagar, Pangong lake, Nubra valley and Lamayuru, ending the ride at Kargil. The group rode on KTM bikes while Rahul rode on his own motorcycle.
It was a dream come true for Murshid as he got to visit one of the destinations on his bucket list. As an avid rider, the Himalayan trails had always been on his radar. With the changing phase of life, he could never find the 7 days required to do justice to the ride. With his busy schedule in multiple roles, it was nearly impossible for him to go the distance. He considers it a blessing that he got to ride with such an imminent personality with the kind of security and ride arrangements that would not have been accessible otherwise.
Murshid spoke about the experience of riding through the terrain. Even at the risk of sounding cliché he could not contain his excitement. Murshid is a firm believer that there is immense potential in the mountains that is untapped in terms of outdoor and adventure. While he chooses to not use the word tourism, you could see he wants more and more people to explore the terrain and the culture. Murshid and the other riders took some time to acclimatise to the altitude, but the riding terrain or lack of it thereof was no stranger to them. They were all connected by Bluetooth enabled headsets through which the group constantly communicated on ride conditions, life experiences and shared a joke or two.
The ride kicked off on August 19 th and finished on the 25 th of August. Even the distance of 200 kms would take close to 7 hours to complete on certain days thanks to the terrain and natural systems at play. In all this, everyone in the crew was surprised with Rahul’s energy and commitment to the craft. They expected a media show and a PR stunt with Rahul riding the comfortable parts, but what it turned out to be was a genuine ride experience as a part of a
crew. Rahul was one of the fastest learners and his discipline and fitness made things easier for him and his fellow riders. He was constantly asking questions and learning more as the ride progressed. During a particulary difficult ride, Rahul was in the recommended standing position for most part of the ride. This came as such a pleasant surprise to the season riders who were in charge of coaching and training Rahul.
“Normally, you’d be exhausted after a full day of riding. But while we took a breather, Rahul would freshen up and meet people outside. The warm welcome he received everywhere was truly impressive,” Murshid shared.
Right from the onset, Rahul made it clear that he was one among the group and he would always listen to the assigned crew leader. Rahul came prepared for the ride with the full-body gear and was focussed and committed to the ride from day 1. The way he could seamlessly engage all the people around him from various communities and every walk of life took the group by surprise. During the late night fire side chats he would engage people in their areas of
interests and made the discussions a great experience for everyone involved.
Murshid and the other riders discussed throughout the ride about the importance of motorcycle culture in India, the need for infrastructure and the changes each of them have gone through in their life’s journey. While it started off as a journey of a lifetime, Murshid came back feeling he had gone for a ride with some friends he had known for a very long time. Murshid swears that this is exactly what a great motorcycle ride is supposed to do; open your
mind, connect you with people and create memories.