I love to travel light, but when you are traveling by motorbike that is not possible. The bike herself weighs 191 kilograms but with all the spare parts that I was taking with me, plus 10 liters of extra fuel, she weighed closer to 230 kilograms.
Basically, I took with me half a motorbike in spare parts. No matter what would happen, I would be prepared. So I took with me a spare chain, spare clutch plates including housing, 2 tubes for the front tire, 2 tubes for the back
tire, brake pads, 2 clutch cables, accelerator cable, 2 air filters, 3 oil filters, fuses and 2 liters of engine oil.
Riding with a fully loaded motorbike does require some getting used to. The balance is completely different and you can't take sharp corners smoothly. But the best way to learn how to handle a heavy motorcycle is by riding it!
Delhi - Mathura (183 km)
I didn't want to go crazy on day one. So I picked Mathura as my first destination, a city close to Agra famous for the Taj Mahal. It was just 183 kilometers from Delhi, but it still took me 3,5 hours to reach it. Driving fast is just not possible in India. Cows, dogs (and people) cross the road at any given moment.
Leaving Delhi after spending a full month sorting out paperwork and learning how to prepare a bike felt great! I am a traveler, I like to move. Sitting around and waiting is just not my cup of tea. In my eagerness to leave Delhi, I skipped breakfast and did not bring any additional food or water with me. I just wanted to ride!
I regretted that decision soon enough. Luckily, several food stands, also known as dhabas, lined the road towards Mathura. After a nice meal of Aloo Parantha, my favorite Indian breakfast, I rode the final 100 kilometers to Mathura.
Holy city of Mathura
Mathura is the birthplace of Lord Krishna and it attracts millions of pilgrims each year. It is one of the Sapta Puri , one of the seven holy cities for Hindus. The holy river Yamuna runs right past it. Temples, both old and new, are dotted throughout the city.
A foreigner riding on a motorbike was an uncommon sight for most of the locals. As soon as I stopped at the local guesthouse, a crowd gathered around me. The guesthouse owner told me that I could park Basanti inside a garage, which was extremely dusty. I thought that would still be better than leaving her on the street with everybody touching and checking her out. But, in order to get into the garage, I had to make an awkward turn. My palms were dripping with sweat as a group of men had gathered to observe every move I made. I would be their topic of the day and I didn't want to drop my bike in front of them.
In my mind, I pleaded “Please go on with your lives. Please stop watching me. PLEASE!” It didn't help, but I managed to ride Basanti inside without falling on my face. Thank goodness.
Mathura proved to be a highly photogenic place and just wandering through the streets was already very rewarding. The city is slowly being taken over by monkeys though. So if you are slightly petrified of monkeys, use your zoom lens to capture them, and keep your distance.
Check out my first Itchy Boots travel video
And that is how my first day ended, my motorcycle adventure had started! Underneath my very first video I made, celebrating my first motorbike ride from Delhi to Mathura.
India has so much beauty to offer. But also such poverty. Your lovely pictures describe her well.
I can so imagine how anxious you were getting Basanti in the garage with all those watchful eyes on you. But as always, you did it!