The Hindustan Times
Wednesday 17 May 2000
Colour Supplement HT City front page, photo at Delhi Gate
Tracking the world on a mean machine
by Nishiraj Baruah
It ain't no Harley Davidson. But with a huge 45 litre fuel tank, a 600cc engine, a microcomputer that keeps track of distance travelled, oil and atmospheric temperature, and an antenna that shoots skywards from the rear mudgaurd and is connected to a satellite, this bike, one of its kind in the world, is certainly the mother of all Harley Davidsons. The engine is from Austria, the all terrain, long distance tyres are German Metzeler. And its called John T, after the name of the man who handmakes just three motorcycles a year. As if this is not enough, just log on to www.millennium-ride.com and you will know exactly where the motorcycle is positioned.
Now meet the man who drives this monster of a motorcycle. No Hell's Angel, Simon Milward, 35, and a bachelor, has been motorcycling the globe since January 1 2000, "to see the world at this important moment, to promote the interests of motorcyclists and to raise funds for humanitarian aid."
His family is broken - "mom, dad divorced" - but it actually took a broken collar-bone to spur him on his daredevil tour. Knocked down by a Jaguar in the mean streets of Brussels, inactive for a while, he wanted to make up for all the inertia. English by birth, Simon went to Brussels and joined the Federation of European Motorcyclists Associations (FEMA). Prior to that, however, he has, at the age of 19, hitch hiked all over Europe.
So how successful has he been so far? He wants to raise $1000 for Doctors without Borders and Riders for Help. These two organisations work towards supplying medical help to war-torn areas. "Supplying medecins by motorcycle is faster than other modes of transport," he says. And so far he has raised $14,000. Of course, adventure thrills apart, there are the other perks and the perils of the Ride. If an Egyptian woman proposed marriage near the Pyramids, he also suffered an accident in Jeddah. "At 135km/h, I was travelling too fast," he says.
The ride is totally sponsored with each sponsor getting to paste a sticker of the company on the bike for $200. Even individuals can donate a minimum of $20 and they will get a special badge and regular email updates. In India for two weeks now, Simon was deeply affected by his meeting with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. Talking to people across nations, he also found that ground realities in Asia are very different from what is reported in the Western media.
The journey, which started from the South of France, sees him traversing 400-500km everyday, but there are times when he does othing. How about being stuck in UAE for three weeks due to visa expiry! So far, however, he is stuck in India, looking for sponsors. And as he kicks off in his Denmark made mobike boots, he now wants to settle down. More so after setting his eyes on Indian women. Though "nobody was stupid enough" to accompany him him on the ride, he would certainly be delighted to have a beautiful companion. He swears, despite his dust devastated T shirt, his socks do not smell. "I wash them veryday," he says. And if the bike is a single seater, no problem, the mammouth petrol tank can easily carry a 24-34-24.