How Pramod traveled from Kakadbhitta to Mahendranagar in less than one day.
Pramod Shrestha: a simple -looking man in his pinned leather jacket, black specs, and jeans, who completed the Mechi- Mahakali ride in under 23 hours. Famously known as “Goofy”, he is an adventurous man. He happily admits, “I am an adrenaline junky.” He has been riding since he was twelve. In the early 80s, he used to watch his cousin brothers and seniors ride bikes, which inspired him to do the same. Goofy is in his mid-40s, but still has the same energy level as that of a teenage boy, and is involved in many bike clubs. He looks for any little excuse to ride.
Back in those days, he used to borrow his cousin brother’s bike, and as he went on, he perfected his skills on his journeys on the road. He recalls his first journey, which was in his college days and was very spontaneous, “A friend of mine was going to Biratnagar and I went to drop him off at the Thankot bus stand, and spontaneously, we decided to ride off from there. With nothing on us, we rode on the Honda bike; it was my first long journey, and it was a lot of fun.” From that day on, he went on many journeys and started having a deep sense of bliss while riding.
He recalls the most memorable ride he has had till now, which was the 2003 ride to Tibet, where he had a group and eight bikes along. He explains, “It was a crazy ride, the road was not that good, we almost got in a fight. Riding on the high altitude, the condition was not so good, but regardless of all the hassle, when I look back now I feel really good about it. Those were some good times.”
Goofy is recognized for his thrilling ride from Mechil to Mahakali, which he completed in under 23 hours. Wanting to do something out of his comfort zone, he decided to take on this challenge; after doing a lot of guided tours, he decided to do something for himself. He heard about something called the Iron Butt Association, where they had to cover 1600 km in 24 hours, for which they get a certificate. Goofy says, “In our country, there is nothing like that, but I wanted to do something similar. So, I approached some government officials, letting them know of my plan, because anyone can do that ride, but I wanted it to be recognized and have authenticity to it.”
In the beginning, he was scared to do it, as he had never done something like it before. “I wanted to set a benchmark and it was more of a challenge to myself,” he says. He started his journey at around eight in the morning, with that adrenaline rush inside and a slight fear of whether he would complete it or how the road was going to be, which kept him alert, and he tuned his body according to the approaching obstacles he was going to face ahead.
He shared his experience of the toughest time of the journey: “The toughest time was at around 2:00 p.m., when I was around western Nepal, in the Bardiya side, where the road was covered with jungle trees at that time. I almost gave up, it was really tough, but I took a quick fifteen-minute nap, had some tea, and continued with my journey. Other than that, there weren’t any difficulties; the adrenalin rush was pushing me forward all way.” He completed the journey in 22 hours 8 minutes, with six breaks along the way. Before going on the journey, he took his bike to the mechanic and actually sat with him to know about what was going on with his machine so as to be more connected to it and prepared for the big thing.
After completing the journey, he described it to be the most amazing feeling in the world—a complete sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. “It was like climbing a mountain, and the moment you set your foot on the top and there is no higher place to go, all the hard work and effort seem worth it. When I reached the final point, there was the Tourism Board guy with the timer in his hand, and when I knew that I had beaten the time, it was amazing! I was emotional and truly happy. It was a top-of-the-world feeling.”
Goofy didn’t do the challenge just because he loves to ride, but there is a really positive social cause behind it, too. He came to know about a person with Parkinson’s disease, and in our society, a lot of people have no idea about it, so he wanted to raise awareness. Collaborating with an organization called Parkinson Nepal, he took up the tag line and made it the purpose behind the journey. He says, “I could have done the journey on my own, but if you have a more meaningful purpose, it makes things more worthwhile.”
He said he wanted to set a benchmark so that more people try to take on the challenge and beat his time. Completing the challenge was very encouraging for him and he speaks about his achievement with a great sense of pride. He is still up for challenges like these in the future days, and says, “I always look forward to new challenges. I wanna go till I can, and luckily, my family has been very supportive and understood my passion. Even though I have obligatory things to do, they accept my adventurous spirit.”
In our society, people, when they get older, are not seen doing adventurous things, It is supposedly “too late” for them to do something away from their regular lives, but Goofy is one of those few people who still follows his passion for riding bikes and taking on adventurous challenges. He says, “People find it hard to accept things like these, but there is no age limit for an individual to follow their passion. You don’t always have to be physically young to do things; following your passion can keep you young. When I took a group of bikers on a journey, there was a 75-year-old man with us who was still willing to do an adventurous bike trip. One just needs to have the spirit.”
Goofy has been riding since the 80s, and comparing the scenario then and now, things have changed quite a lot. He says, “A lot of things have changed, mainly in terms of quality of the bikes. Before, there were bikes, but they were mainly for daily work use. However, now there are all kinds of bikes as demanded by the people. There are bikes for adventurous journeys, fast track, off road, etc. Today’s bikers are lucky to have such a large variety that they can choose from, because in our time we did not have it.”
Before, bikers were not considered decent members of society, there was a stigma attached to it. But now, there are girls and guys coming forward with their biking talents, and people’s perception is also changing. Someone like Goofy, who has been riding for over thirty years, knows it the best. He says, “Biking is becoming a big thing today, people are developing their riding skills, for which they also have opportunities with all the different types of competitions being held. But, my utmost concern is the safety aspect. I suggest to the young riders not to bring the racing style on the streets, because the streets of Kathmandu are very busy 24/7, so you need to be really careful for yourself and for others. So, riding safe is very much necessary.”
The young riders of today are full of energy, and the young blood gives them enough courage to take over the world, or in this case, the streets. Goofy’s number one advice for them is to ride safe, because all it takes is one bad day for something unfortunate to occur. One needs to be a responsible rider. He emphasizes, “Biking definitely gives you the thrills, but it kills, too.”
Having a deep admiration for bikes and love for riding, he explained about his Himalayan Enfielder Club established by him and a group of friends in the 1990s, where the bikers used to come together and go on rides. It was one of the first biker clubs in Nepal. He says, “With time, many other people started their own clubs, and this has been growing with time. All these clubs provide riders with a comfort factor, I see many youngsters getting involved in these clubs, which is really good. At the time of the earthquake, many bikers from different clubs went to the villages to help people.”
All these biking clubs that are there forms a kind of close knit community—riding together, traveling to places along the tough roads, and helping each other really creates a bond among them. “Biking really does create bonding. Some might have ego clashes, but in general, with riding together and working for a cause, it really brings them together.” says goofy.
With the Vatvatey event approaching—Goofy himself is one of the organizing members of the team—he says. “Vatvatey Reunion is a great platform for all the bike brands and the bikers; it is a unique event that is especially for the bikers. For every individual who shares a similar love for bikes, Vatvatey Reunion is for them. It is for the sake of two-wheelers and the spirit of riding.” There are bike events that are held by a particular brand, like KTM or Pulsar, but this event is bringing together all of them not as a brands, but as a biker family. Goofy further adds, “With events like these, the perception of the older generation might change; their perspective of labeling the bikers as “bad” or “inappropriate”, and become more accepting towards them.”
According to the experienced Goofy, the most important things for bikers to realize are—to be in tune with your bike, be physically fit, and ride safe. He himself loves bikes, but he is not brand conscious or has any sort of dream bike. “I don’t really care about the brand, just give me a sturdy two-wheeler and I will hit the road. If I feel connected with my bike that is enough for me,” he says.
He also proves how age does not constraint you to follow your passion. He is in his mid-40s and still doing the adventurous challenges that even young people haven’t done. So, aging should not stop anyone from doing what they want if it truly makes you happy. Goofy says, “You should not let your spirit die, one might have problems when they cross a certain age. The obligatory responsibilities and physical issues, but your adventurous spirit is yours and it’s always there, and it should always be kept alive.”