The Thump that Binds
by Jackie Taylor
Nepal’s adventure tourism market is growing, and along with it, the market for motorbike tours. With better bikes being available in Nepal, and a growing number of people who can afford such trips, the trend is to get out of the city and on to the open road. In fact, “The number of biking clubs has increased 10 fold over the past few years,” says Tuladhar.
Now, motorbikes have never been my thing ever since a friend had a fatal accident when he, his wife, and I were all eighteen. But, one April I found myself on the back of another friend’s Enfield heading down to the Tattoo Convention at the Yak and Yeti Hotel. She had arranged to meet other Enfielders, and as we turned along the Nag Pokhari road, we met about six other bikes. Then, we simply stole the road—roaring down the empty Saturday streets. So, this is what it feels like to ride one of these heavy, noisy beasts, I said to myself!
Several years later, I met Rewat Bir Tuladhar, a special projects consultant with Sacred Summits Pvt. Ltd., who among other things organizes motorcycle tours in Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, and India. In fact, they were the pioneers, in 2003, of motorbike tours to Everest Base Camp on the Tibet side. In those days, it was hard to get 500 cc Enfields in Nepal, so they were hired out of Delhi. But, probably the most famous run that they organize is the Poker Run, which takes place every year from Kathmandu and Pokhara. I asked Tuladhar how he got involved with biking runs in Nepal. “I wanted to do a bit of biking here, hence a friend of mine (Ashim Dai) introduced me to Rabi Dai (Rabi Thapa, owner of Sacred Summits). A few weeks later, his office team was going to Mustang for a trip and he suggested I go along. After that, we took a trip to Bardia and the far-west to attend Nepal Riders Meet, first edition. Then I was hooked, and became involved in a dozen or so rides.”
And how did he become interested in long distance motorbike adventure rides in the first place?
“I was previously a member of the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Club in Bangalore, where I got a taste for long distance riding. My longest trip was a 3,500 km ride around the southern coast of India. That was quite an adventure, especially since I did it on a 1984 Enfield! My friends and I did that trip without back-up and were completely free to take our time and do what we wanted…that’s the benefit of the freedom of the road. So we enjoyed surfing, scuba diving, paragliding, snorkelling, and canoeing on the ocean as well as being on the road.”
Within Nepal, Tuladhar has ridden to Lumbini, Bardia, Pokhara, and Mustang, so I asked him what has been his favorite trip so far in Nepal. “My best tour was on the 9th Enfield Rendezvous and Poker Run. Hitting the road with over 250 riders from Nepal, India, and around the world, is amazing. Actually, for this event, I was one of the organizers, so it was quite intense as well as adventurous.”
Now gearing up for the 10th Enfield Rendezvous and Poker Run taking place from April 13 to 15, I wondered what it actually feels like to take part in such an established run. I was told the freedom of driving on two, rather than four wheels, is what attracts most riders, “especially in Nepal which has barely enough motorable roads (where you don’t need a 4 WD), two wheels give you access to all sorts of exciting places. The tarmac (or what passes for it) is barely one foot below you and whizzing along at speed, the wind on your face and being exposed to the elements is something you don’t get behind a windscreen.”
Interested in feeling the wind in your hair yet? Maybe a good way to start would be on the Poker Run. Established in 2009 with 22 riders, the event now regularly attracts 300 to 400 people. A completely catered event, you can even hire a motorbike through Sacred Summits if you don’t have your own. There are back-up vehicles and mechanics on hand in case of problems. Five-star accommodation in Pokhara is provided, as is all the food, live music, and DJ. There is also an open bar on the first evening of the event, which I am told, is always drunk dry! Prizes are given for the best poker hand, best Enfield, longest distance rider, most supportive female rider, youngest female rider, and an award is given for best senior citizen rider. A ‘hard luck’ prize is given to the person who broke down most often on the run. Don’t let it be you! Additionally, there is a ‘charity ride’, which donates to an underprivileged school. Since this event is always held over the Nepali New Year, what better way to start the new year than by taking books, stationery, and sports equipment to a local school? I’m sure the children’s eyes light up when they see dozens of bikes pulling up at their school gate!
I wanted to know what others felt about these rides too. “The weather, the lake side gathering, the live shows, almost everything made it special. None of us riders found any major problems, and brotherhood from different clubs around left no place to be worried. Keep thumping,” says Vicky Tamang, India, rider in the 9th Poker Run.
It seems it’s all about the camaraderie of the road and the brotherhood. “If I ride to any part of the country, there’ll be someone who I know from these rides, or someone will know someone in that area to help me out if I’m in trouble or just come and join me for a drink or a meal. When we meet, we act like we are long-lost friends. It’s like we are one big family,” says Tuladhar.
One final question, as a non-biker, I wanted to ask. He used the phrase, “the thump that binds”— what does ‘thump’ mean in this context? Simply, ‘thump’ is the sound a bullet bike makes. Brothers bound together by the sound of bikes. Happy thumping!
For further information about runs in Nepal, contact Rewat Bir Tuladhar on firstname.lastname@example.org