Ever had the urge to make like a young Che Guevara and hop on a motorcycle to see what the world is made of? London marketing exec Simon Smith got that itch in 1999 and went scuffing around India to recalibrate his life. And the product of his two years of soul searching?
A scheme he started in 2003 to help others to find their inner Che and do some good along the way. Every February, Smith, an avid biker, leads 120 or so riders on the Enduro India tour, a two-week, 2,500-km motorcycle trek from Goa to Cochin [an error occurred while processing this directive] via the magnificent Western Ghat mountains. To join in, you need at least $6,000 in private sponsorship (plus $35 a day for fuel and fun) and a motorcycle license. What you get is the chance to ride a new, locally made Royal Enfield Bullet along unmapped rural Indian roads and see places like tiger reserves that are normally off-limits.
The going can be tough, and some nights you sleep under canvas or just the stars. But, says Smith, "it's a life-changing experience, and good food, cold beer, clean sheets and fresh towels are always waiting for you." At tour's end, the bikes are repaired and donated to rangers in India's wildlife reserves, and the surplus profits go to local charities. In November 2006 Smith heads up the first Enduro Africa, an even tougher off-road tour of South Africa where the bikes will be given to the country's health workers. Both 2006 Enduros are already full, and 2007 is selling fast. Sometimes even life-changing experiences require advance booking. www.enduroindia.com