Denis, can you tell us about your passion for motorcycle travel?
I was born in the 50s, and arrived just at the right age to enjoy the freedom of the 70s. Attracted by motorcycles from a very young age, I was having fun with my solex. I always rode a motorcycle, without necessarily going fast. I worked on the motorcycle grand prix in the 80s and then in the Renault F1 team as a development engineer. During this time, my wife was a journalist on the Formula 1 Grand Prix. We had very busy jobs, always travelling around the globe. When we had some free time, it wasn't a priority to go on motorcycle tours. Later, we met you at a bike show and the idea of combining the pleasure of riding a motorcycle while discovering a new country appealed to us. We went for our first trip in 2018 to Madhya Pradesh with Johann. Thanks to his unifying driving style, our whole little group became good friends. We went back to India together one year later.
How were your motorcycle tours in India?
Johann had told us about other motorcycle tours Asia, and amongst them a new circuit in the Himalayan foothills of Uttarkhand. The itinerary crosses two very distinct regions, Kumaon and Garhwal. The Himalayan landscapes are absolutely grandiose. We enjoyed the motorcycles, perfect mounts for these beautiful mountain roads. There was a bit of everything, it was very diverse without any difficult portions. The diversity was also found in the landscapes, in the cultures and in the architecture. There was the right mix of riding, discovery and encounters: an alternation between immersion in nature and cultural experiences. We visited a traditional handicraft factory, we discovered Rishikesh and its hippie culture, the Beatles ashram, a whole piece of history! And then the Ganges, the great sacred river. After several days in the middle of the mountains, we arrived in Haridwar, in the heart of tumultuous India and Hinduism in all its splendour. You watch, you enjoy it, you soak it up, you get rich. We loved the closeness to the people. The contact with the locals is allowed thanks to the motorcycle and the itinerary that takes us where others don't go.
What did you like best?
As on the previous trip, it was a whole, I love the concept. There is a real notion of lightness and freedom, unlike a road-trip alone on a "big bike" with luggage, where there can be a notion of tension and heaviness. With a guided motorcycle tours agency like Vintage Rides, you feel free because the team makes you feel light, you don't have to worry about the potential risks, you really have time to enjoy. On the longest stage, Johann took us through a place he had spotted on the map. We ended up in a lost valley that hadn't moved for 500 years! Another time, we were looking for a place to have lunch. We stopped in a small village and found ourselves the guests of a baptism on a farm. This is the kind of experience that is possible because we travel in small groups on secondary roads. And of course, Haridwar marked us all, it was a grand finale. Not to mention the quality of the accommodation. The formula Luxury Tour, it's really luxury!
Photo credits: Johann Rousselot - Shweta Jain