Herald: The hundred-thousand-kilometre journey

The hundred-thousand-kilometre journey

03 Mar 2019 06:50am IST

Report by
Karsten Miranda

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03 Mar 2019 06:50am IST

Report by
Karsten Miranda

Leave a comment

48-year-old Karl Coelho is known for his awe-inspiring road trips across countries on his bike and now has become the part of an elite club with his latest achievement. Karl who has ridden to every state in the country, has recently completed a mammoth 100,000kms, making him the first Goan to have reached this milestone on his Harley-Davidson

It all began in February 2014, when Karl Coelho got his brand new Harley-Davidson (H-D) motorcycle from the newly opened showroom in Goa. Little did he know that these two wheels were going to take him to every corner of India and across international borders to other exotic countries. But that’s what happened. Five years later and in January 2019 Karl completed a mammoth 100,000kms on Mr. Bob (his H-D motorcycle).

He is the first and only Goan to have reached this milestone on his Harley-Davidson and has been inducted into CLUB100 which is an elite club of only 35 motorcycle riders in the country who have achieved this feat. He is one of only a very few in this club who have done this on a single motorcycle.  He was felicitated for this achievement at the recently concluded India HOG rally which was held in Goa.  

“Ever since I can remember I wanted a motorcycle and a Harley-Davidson is every young college kid’s dream. Ofcourse I could never afford one back then but I had the next best thing, a two stroke Yamaha RX-100! Even then I had modified my bike to run faster and be louder. So, when Harley-Davidson came to Goa and I could finally own my dream monster it was a no-brainer, “said Karl. 

Karl is also the first rider in Goa to reach the 21/365 target which is riding to 21 H-D dealers across India in one calendar year; and also completed the Big5 challenge twice in a row – an award given to riders who attend 5 major H-D bike rallies in different parts of India in a year. 

“I suffer from an acute case of Wanderlust and travel is my addiction. And there is no better way of traveling then on a big touring motorcycle...you experience all the sounds, sights and smells that your surroundings have to offer as you cruise by. It’s a rush like no other. For me the opportunity to go touring long distances on my motorcycle is a blessing and I'm very grateful for it. I'm always planning the next big ride while I'm on the road. I truly believe in the saying ‘Adventure may hurt you but Monotony will kill you”, says Karl.

Being able to ride across the country and across international borders into other countries has given him the opportunity to experience how people of different communities live.

“You’re no longer a tourist gaping at the sights but a student of how the world breathes and lives. You realise how small you are and just how vast and diverse this world is. I no longer spend time on petty issues as life is a very short ride and I want to make the most of it,” added Karl. 

Karl also has the distinction of being one of only four H-D riders in India and the only Goan to have ridden to every state in India.

An entrepreneur, who grew up and studied in Panjim, Karl is considered to be a role model for the Goan biker community. “Travel makes you see the world through a different perspective...it sets you free from the mundane. I never ride thinking that I'm out to break a record or anything. I just love the adventure of being on the road less traveled and if my rides motivate others to travel and experience life outside their comfort zone then that’s great!” quips Karl. 

But where exactly did this one lakh kilometres take him to? It started with his first long distance ride which was across the country's border into the Kingdom of Bhutan and back. This 7,000km journey inspired him to think of further destinations and in 2016 Karl undertook a life changing 14,000km ride to Thailand via Myanmar and back. He is the only rider to have gone Solo to Bangkok and back. 

After this journey Karl undertook a 10,000km Kashmir to Kanyakumari ride which took him and his Harley-Davidson to the remote Himalayan Hunder valley which lies in the Leh-Ladhak region and from there all the way down to Kanyakumari and back to Goa. 

Nepal was next on his list and he together with a fellow rider from Goa were the first to cover the entire country of Nepal on their Harleys. This ride took them from Bardia national park in west Nepal through Lumbini, Pokhara, Kathmandu and out through the extreme eastern border of Bardibas into Siliguri. 

His most recent 36 day, 12,500kms ride took him from Goa up to the north eastern states of Assam and Meghalaya then towards the north west state of Punjab and then back home to Goa after visiting the newly completed Statue of Unity in Gujarat and attending two Harley rallies along the way. 

“People spend the best years of their lives working and stressing about everything under the sun. I decided a few years ago I'd spend at least some of my time doing the thing I love most while I still can. I've been on the road for over a month many times. But technology has been a blessing. I can work from anywhere as long as I have connectivity. I've never had to leave things in limbo. Video calls to home also bridges the feeling of being away for long stretches. And sharing the days travel stories and pics with family is always fun,” added Karl while talking about how he balances work and personal life with his constant adventures. 

Speaking about he plans his trips,  Karl who does this meticulously, pointed out that he prepares every aspect of his ride well in advance. All routes are pre-planned using apps like navimaps and google maps, hotels en-route are researched for location and safe parking for the motorcycle. The days ride distance is based on the terrain and he never rides at night. Early to leave and early to reach is the motto he rides by!  “Safety gear is of paramount importance. I've experienced two major crashes and came out completely unscathed solely because I never compromised on my safety gear,” Ensure that the motorcycle is fully checked and torqued before each ride and never ride with worn out cables and tyres. A towing strap, plastic ties and bungee cords are life savers on the road and I always carry them with me,” said Karl. Moreover, his helmet is equipped with a Gopro camera and a communication system by Scala which provides him with navigation instructions. 

So where will the next hundred thousand kilometres be to? Only the road will tell...
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