From here the 3rd leg of the Polar Odyssey would head into the LATAM countries with initial tackling the Baja California, Mexico, and go all the way down to Cabo San Lucas, from where we would take a ferry to connect us to mainland Mexico, which would allow us to hook up to the Pan American Highway and that would travel all the way down to Panama, crossing Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and into Panama. From Panama, the plan was to take a flight to Bogota, Colombia, from where again, we would hook up to the Pan American Highway that would all the way take us down to Ushuaia through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.
As this plan was rolled out, on the sidelines, I was also working on the possibility of taking my motorcycle on to Antarctica, which would make me the only Asian-Indian to ride my motorcycle across all the 7 Continents. In principle, there was an approval for the main project of the American Continents and, as was the case with the Dominar Trans-Siberian Odyssey motorcycles, Bajaj will again, get the production lineup motorcycles delivered to the R&D team, which would categorically scrutinize the machines before handing us over in Bangalore
For the first three months since January, after I quit my job, I was rigorously planning the nitty-gritties of the route, putting many plans and documentation in place all by myself, coordinating with the many friends in various parts of the world, who had at one stage or the other, had traveled on the roads that I had in mind and the challenges they had faced in terms of border crossings, weather, people, roads and anything that I needed to know before I started off.
I had difficulty in getting the right set of people to join me since I would be leading a team of 3 as was the case with the Dominar Trans-Siberian Odyssey, When I approached some people in the community, I realized that they could not even fathom the magnitude of this ride and started to ask petty questions and putting personal preferences ahead of the larger goal.
A good friend of mine, Adnan Qureshi, introduced me to an already known Avinash, who worked with Bosch and my simple condition to him was to connect me to the right people in Bosch, who would be willing to join in as a Sponsor and he gets to ride along with me on this ride. It took a good 2+ months to work my way into the team that patiently listened and finally agreed to be on board as Co-Sponsors.
I started to reach out to other sponsors selling my dreams on a powerpoint presentation and trying to convince that I would deliver just what is mentioned in that presentation.
Spartan ProGear, who had supported me with all the gears during the Trans-Siberian Odyssey, were more than happy to continue their relationship and played a very major role in some outstanding support throughout the Polar Odyssey.
My association with Castrol goes back 25 years during the Yezdi Castrol Continental Raid. We had multiple rounds of discussion and eventually they too joined up with some fabulous support and recommendation for this adventure.
Titan… SF Watches were my Partners for the Trans-Siberian Odyssey and Titan would release TRAQ, a unique watch vertical in their line up and this would be the watch that we would wear to gauge many parameters.
6KIOM, a unit of Skylar Corporation under Khivraj Motors, the biggest dealer of Bajaj Auto in the Country joined up to manage the adventure website.
An adventure like this and crossing so many international borders, Insurance would be the MOST critical component that can slow down the whole affair. My good friend, and because of whose family I owe my adventure foundation, Aakash Yajaman, came up with a Global Policy that would address many issues, including air evacuation in case of political instability in any countries and also health and accident.
EagleRider India, apart from renting luxury motorcycles and conducting adventures rides are also the authorized distributor for Deltran Batteries. They supported us with 3 x 10-14AH Lithium Ion Batteries.
I was also able to get an official approval to use and endorse Brand Incredible India during this adventure.
ChargePlus have been in the business of manufacturing USB Chargers for the motorcycles and this time too, they came on board with as many required… a very critical accessory without which it is easy to run out of power on phones, GoPro battery etc.
At this time, that is about just a month ahead of the actual date to start the adventure, Deepak Gupta from Delhi, whose name was suggested by my wife, joined up after discussing certain critical deliverables that he will need to handle. One such outcome was getting Zana Motorcycles, who supported this adventure with the saddle stays and topbox carrier, alongside all the safety equipment as required.
I look back at the efforts that went into putting so many things together and I realized that the team was never complete in any of the powerpoint presentations that I presented and always the question of the team, to which I would simply say, “Yes, it’s work in progress!”
12th July, is a day when I led the team out of Bangalore towards Pune. The bikes were all prepped up in a way that would take on this journey. The tyres were used to suit the first leg of the torturous terrain of the Dalton and the Dempster. As usual, I got my seats customized with Rao Seats, in Shivajinagar, Bangalore. The front fender was borrowed from the Trans-Siberian Odyssey motorcycles, which were designed by Bali at MotoKraft. We had a small fairing that was bigger than the original fitment that came from Carbon Racing. We had some issues with the panniers that were supplied towards initially by Zana Motorcycles, at which point in time Carbon Racing stepped up and created two sets of panniers within 48 hours made of military grade lightweight aluminum, which got fitted onto these motorcycles.
We reached Bajaj the very next day, 13th of July, handed over the motorcycles, which would be crated, very carefully packed all within the Dispatch facility of Akurdi and would be handed over to the freight agent who will have them airlifted to Anchorage, Alaska. Here, I can’t but help thank Samar Sodhi, the Chief Experience Officer at EagleRider who used his good offices of FedEx and got some great connections and a price discount for the freight.
The entire management team of Bajaj Motorcycles were out to see us off. A formal flag off by Mr. Eric Vaz, because of whom the very idea was conceptualized alongside Mr. Manish Tandon who has always been a backbone for hearing my craziness and ensuring that these adventures take shape and are executed towards a beautiful accomplishment.
For the next two days, Bajaj ensured that we had hands on training in understanding the machine, attending to the nitty-gritties of minor repairs on the go, servicing on the go and making sure that there was one point of contact alongside a very senior person from the R&D, Mr. D P Sane who would be available just in case we have an SOS situation