Heat, dust and a warm welcome for India bikers

Alex Cooke in India
Alex Cooke in India

A Towcester Rotarian has completed a motorcycle ride across southern India to raise funds for children’s charities and to promote Rotary.

Alex Cooke took part in the 15-day motorbike ride from Mysore to Ooty, along with 15 other Rotarians from seven different countries, as part of the centennial celebrations of Rotary International.

As well as raising $50,000 and helping spread the word about Rotary, the ride gave the bikers a chance to meet local people. Alex raised more than £1,000 for ProVision Asia and Coram Life Education, based in Northants.

During the journey, Alex emailed home a series of fascinating bulletins, some excerpts from which are below:

Bulletin 1

“We are being hosted by upto six Rotary clubs every day and many of the evening events include a cultural show. As guests of honour, we have been introduced to the local people in many ways, including having to march in the streets behind a large brass band.”

Bulletin 2

“Day 10: We have now exceeded 1,000 miles on our motorbikes. With the lack of any road protocol and the sheer volume of traffic, this has been a real achievement. We are experiencing a mixture of major road construction, coupled with the crumbling infrastructure of roadside buildings, creating a thick red dust which covers everything.

“We are impressed by the inherent beauty of the Indian people with their clear skins, bright eyes and ready smiles.”

Bulletin 3

“Leaving the Mangalore area, we rode up the mountain to Madikento to be hosted by Lhasa Bylakuppe Rotary. The ride was delightful – undulating roads through rubber and coffee plantations and down in the valley a blue mist covered the green paddyfields.

“This Tibetan settlement’s income is generated by the Golden Temple. However, our hotel was basic – no internet, intermittent power, no bar and no crockery. We ate with our hands, and drank from paper cups... well, we did want to see the ‘real India’!”

Bulletin 4

“The final leg of our once-in-a-lifetime experience took us to Ooty, where the district conference was being held.

“This last ride was extremely testing, due to the climb of 2,200 metres through cloud, rain, 180° bends and manoeuvring around the many overheated vehicles.

“After being lauded by the 1,500 conference delegates, we departed for Bengaluru airport on the Sunday morning in a minibus. The trip took 11 hours to travel 250 miles, due to the level of traffic congestion along the route. Our total time from Ooty to home was 41 hours. We arrived home exhausted, but exhilarated, by our efforts.”

The Rotary Club of Towcester welcomes new members. For details, email secretary@towcester-rotary.org.uk