When I was slogging my ass in the corporate sector, I would often come across acronyms like B2B, EOD, C2C, etc. Little did I know that when I got into motorcycle tours, these acronyms would haunt me there too! Welcome to popular terms like K2K, GQ, ATGATT, GODS, etc. If you are a biker, I am damn sure you’ve heard them too. You not only have heard them, but they have now become the quintessential biker badges – monikers bikers use to boast of their achievements.
An Indian biker’s obsession with the K2K ride!
I am going to talk about one particular acronym which makes my blood boil when it heard it – K2K. For noobs or the ones who don’t ride, K2K stands for Kashmir to Kanyakumari. It has been called the Journey Extraordinaire, The Ride of Glory, The Saddle Sore, and whatnot. A grueling journey that stretches through 4,000 kilometers of riding from the southernmost point in India to the tip of the North! The ultimate test of endurance; the true calling of the real biker. And God knows what else!
K2K is for squids, noobs and wannabes
Every new biker seeks recognition. Earlier the certified way to get attention was to do the ‘dangerous’ and ‘life-threatening’ Ladakh circuit with the treacherous mountain passes. Oops, by saying its dangerous, did I make the tour even more interesting? However, now millions of bikers do the Ladakh circuit every year so you can’t really use that as a coveted feat. So, what’s next? Unless you come up with something new, there is always the temptation to do rides like K2K and go for the Limca Record.
Ask any experienced rider, or traveler whether they would like to do K2K. We wouldn’t because after all what’s the point? You don’t see anything except highways and signboards buzzing by. Riders like us do not need the false sense of accomplishment that such certifications tend to bring. We are travelers who use our motorcycles as an instrument to set ourselves free and explore the world. We know why we ride, do you?
But noobs and squids are wannabes. They are out to prove a point – to God knows who. And they are the ones that do the K2K. Google Kashmir to Kanyakumari and you’ll see images of riders doing the circuit on their bikes. Some have done it on gearless scooters. Wow, amazing right? Huh, people have done it on cycles. Hell yeah, there are a few who have done it on foot!! Beat that noobs!
This ain't traveling, it's racing!
One day I was sitting in this immensely popular biker café in Bangalore talking to the owner about riding gear. And close to me were a bunch of early 20’s guys, talking on top of their voices about the K2K ride. The bone of contention was how they could and should break the record for the fastest K2K ride. “Macha, we can do K2K in 7 days bro.”, said one of them. “Bro, girls have done the ride in 129 hours, a north-south ride.”, said another one. Little did they realize that I could hear them make these daredevil plans in a country like India that rarely has the infrastructure for such road trips.
K2K is a race against time. It’s the epitome of human stupidity, the stupidity of those who actually think they are traveling! Bikers approach us asking how they can travel to Ladakh while doing to K2K ride. And each time I tell them that they won’t see a thing during their trip. The ONLY objective of such trips is to race – against time, against nature and against your body clock.
For some bikers, it is a matter of prestige to get certifications for Saddle Sore rides. In this highly advertised stunt, bikers must cover 1,600 kilometers in 24 hours to get certified by Iron Butt Association! Imagine ripping through the Bangalore Pune highway at breakneck speeds, hardly taking any rest, or eating. Riding for 24 hours, experiencing everything just buzz by. What did you see – nothing. What did you learn – nothing. Did you enjoy the trip – nope.
Bikers who proclaim to be experts at such trips are loose cannons enticing the younger lot into taking unnecessary risks. Indian highways are not made for high speeds, neither are our vehicles. And in such circumstances attempting such feats is highly dangerous and stupid. And it’s not that the certification gets you anything. You’ll probably put up a post on Facebook, get your ego massaged for a few days and then everybody forgets about it. So, is it really worth risking your life over it?
It’s an opportunity lost. And money
Let’s say you do the K2K ride or GQ (Golden Quadrilateral) ride. You take a break from work, spend money, and invest hard work into doing these tours. And what do you have to show for it? On the other hand, wouldn’t you rather use that time and money to spend traveling to a nice place, exploring it, and coming back with stories and interesting content?
True travelers prefer to immerse themselves in the destinations, cultures, and local experiences. Even those who ride bikes do so to feel connected with the environment around them. To feel the wind in their hair, to feel the ground underneath and the feel free like a bird. Ripping on highways doesn’t get you this. All it gets you is a sore bum, numb fingers, and terrible back pain!
K2K ride – the journey from the ocean to the sky. That’s what they call it. Do you think you actually will have time to connect with the emotions of being present in these natural beauties? They should rather call it an H2H ride, Highway 2 Highway ride. Naah, it’s not for us or any other traveler we know. Travelers don’t seek recognition, they seek immersions. They don’t seek certifications, they seek memories.
What do you seek? Do you seek validation to be called a rider?