Two years ago, Gururaj Rao was just an ordinary young man. He considered himself a Mumbaikar, having grown up there, and had crossed the usual milestones that the majority of Indians usually aspire for. He had graduated from BITS Pilani, Goa and was about to embark on his corporate journey as a product manager at Oracle. He was waiting in charged anticipation for the next chapter of his life to unfold.
Unfold, it did. And how.
During his days at BITS Pilani, Goa, Gururaj had become a keen biker, owing to the city’s popular bike rental culture. He would rent a motorcycle and ride it around the quaint state, through its narrow paths and dusty lanes. It was nothing like the other hobbies he had grown up with, which consisted of collecting coins and stamps, and reading. Biking gave him an adrenaline rush, and this pushed him to ride more.
It was in the summer of 2014 that Gururaj chanced upon an initiative launched by Yamaha. The company was promoting its latest model, Yamaha FZS – FI, and it made sure that the launch was nothing less than legendary. For the promotion, Yamaha started a campaign called Mission 10,000 Km, a unique opportunity for bikers to prove their mettle in a motorcycle expedition from Delhi to Chennai. Gururaj was selected for the 40-member strong expedition through a demanding screening process. After sending in a one-minute video on why he deserved to participate, he was interviewed by a panel from Yamaha who quizzed him in more detail about his biking affiliations and interests. And before he knew it, he was on board!
Mission 10,000 Km was flagged off by biking aficionado and actor, John Abraham on 14th September 2014, and as the journey began, the bikers split into two groups. 20 bikers followed a route along the western coast of India, and 20 along the eastern. Gururaj was among the latter half of members, who collectively covered 28 towns in 34 days. On the 34th day, he arrived in Chennai with a new victory and a newfound passion. That voyage was what ignited the love for bikes within him, he says. And his life hasn’t been the same since.
In April this year, Gururaj took to his motorbike again, this time to cross international borders. After much deliberation, he decided to collaborate with other riders from an organisation known as Dream Riders’ Group for part of this journey. But for the other part, he was certain he wanted to ride solo. This is what his route map looked like:
Gururaj started from his base location, Pune, and covered Hyderabad, Vizag, Kolkata and Siliguri before venturing into international territory. From Siliguri, for the very first time, he took his motorcycle to Bhutan, which is situated a mere 70 kilometres away. Gururaj took his time to explore Bhutan, spending twelve days in the country, before heading back to Guwahati via Trashigang, Bhutan’s easternmost district.
From Guwahati, he then made his way through Siliguri once again before heading to Nepal, his second international border.
Gururaj’s journey home was through parts of Bihar, Muzzafarpur, Lucknow, Udaipur and Ahmedabad. When he reached Pune, there was one less item on his bucket list.
Kudos on your drive and passion, Gururaj! Reminds us of what Donovan Bailey once said: “Follow your passion, be prepared to work hard and sacrifice, and, above all, don’t let anyone limit your dreams.” Couldn’t have been said better.