For most bikers, a trip to Khardung La, the world’s highest motorable pass, ranks high on the to-do list. And city biker Vinod Rawat is no aberration. However, this ex-Roadie is part of a very different gang of three. Rawat has been sporting a false leg for eleven years now and his biking trio comprises of Santosh Dhuman, who is affected by polio and Manoj Mehta, who developed gangrene in both legs and now sports an artificial Jaipur foot.
“I was barely six when I lost my leg in an accident,” says Rawat adding, “A lot of people consider it the end of the road for them, but I did not lose hope. I decided to meet other people who’ve suffered from similar tragedies to overcome their physical disability.”
Today, Rawat and with his boys will hit the highways, starting from Bandra’s Carter Road to embark on a unique expedition to Leh-Ladakh.
“It’s every biker’s dream to ride there. I’ve been riding professionally for a while now, so I think I’m prepared for the Ladakhi terrain.” Leading the troika, Rawat hopes to cover a distance of over 1,733 kms within the next fortnight with stopovers in states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Delhi and Jammu & Kashmir before returning to Mumbai on August 26. “We plan to ride to Leh to help victims of the cloudburst. We will build houses for the affected families and even hoist a flag with them on the Independence Day,” he says.
Ask what it means to him to scale the world’s highest motorable pass on his bike and the 37-year-old says, “It’s definitely a personal achievement. But the idea is to dispel the stereotype that differently-abled people are dependent on others. We want to motivate others in similar positions to recognise their strength.”
Confident of setting a Limca Book of Records this year for the tricky ordeal, Rawat also plans to helm similar projects every year for the next seven years. “The destinations will change but the message will be the same,” he insists.
Ask him if his team is prepared for all the challenges they may encounter on the way and he says, “No place is safe today. We have first aid boxes. Hopefully we’ll be fine.” But aren’t safety measures pertinent when travelling on such a tough terrain? “We are prepared for everything. This is just a start. Hopefully next year, we’ll have an escort van and a proper team if we raise enough funds,” says the man with an indomitable spirit.