My taxi dropped me off at India Bike Week in Goa after a 16 hour overnight bus ride from Bangalore. I had no idea that within a few hours I would be backstage hanging out with the performers. Oh yes, and unlimited beer… India Bike Week was not what I expected, and how could I really expect anything? This was India after all, the land of the unexpected. Expectations in India often lead to stress as things never seem to go as planned. Best to just expect the unexpected and you will exceed your expectations every time. I thought for a while about how I wanted to recap this event, whether I should tell the story word for word. Or, perhaps tell the story in a more PG version, suitable for all audiences. I thought of putting together a list of sorts of what to expect from India Bike Week 2016, for those looking for some advice. I decided I will tell my story as it happened, for the most part. Arrival at India Bike Week As I left my taxi and walked through the dust and dirt to the entrance, the usual madness of any large gathering in India assaulted me. There were people, police, hawkers, animals, and everything that you might expect. Ladies sold omelettes in makeshift stands next to men who sold unusual souvenirs. There were people everywhere. This was no surprise of course; I had been in India for over 3 months at this point and this was now normal for me. I had learned how to navigate through the confusion to get where I needed to go, and get done what needed doing. I was here as a sponsored guest, to document the event and write about my experience. Usually with these kind of trips everything is very planned out for me; from what time I wake up at, when I eat, and where I go. At India Bike Week this was not the case at all and it was great. After some initial confusion about who I was and why I was there, things sorted themselves out as they do in India and I was inside the compound. I was immediately greeted, handed some coupons for food, and basically left to my own devices. Turns out these coupons could also be used for beer. I stand by my choice of coupon use. Eating Dust at India Bike Week I was exhausted after not sleeping on that overnight bus, it wasn’t built for a man of 6’4. I didn’t have much enthusiasm and moral was at an all time low. As I walked around in a zombie-like state, the bikes started to pour in. Engines were roaring and adrenaline, along with red dirt, filled the air. I breathed in both. Dust rose as bikes drove freely around the grounds of the event. Bikes literally drove through the crowds at the stage, it was incredibly unsafe by all accounts, but was at a whole other level of awesomeness. I felt the red dust in my eyes, my mouth, and my nose. I saw it settling on top of the foam in my beer, then felt it in my teeth as I drank. I would wake up every morning for the rest of the weekend tasting this dust, and then for a few days after. India Bike Week 2016 Survival Guide Tip #1 – Bring some sort of face-mask to protect your lungs from the dust. Networking at India Bike Week I sat alone with my beer in my hand. I am usually quite social and quick to make friends at such events, but the truth is I was exhausted. I was running on my last bit fuel and my tank was nearly dry. I had been in touch with a man named Akhil who runs the blog riderzone.in. I knew he was at the event as well and we planned to meet as we had spoken online for a while about motorcycles in India. Akhil runs a motorcycle blog and is VERY outspoken. He does not hold back in his writing and you know what he says is the truth. A few text messages and hard-to-hear phone call later, I was sitting at picnic table with him and his friends. I offered him a beer, but he had rough night before and as a man who usually doesn’t drink (so he says) was out of commission for the night. India Bike Week 2016 Survival Guide Tip #2 – Don’t peak too soon! This goes for any event or festival. If you go too hard the first night, you will spend the rest your time trying to recoup. Sometimes I should follow my own advice. So there we sat: Akhil hung over and myself exhausted as loud music raged and even louder bikes roared past. By now, to be honest, I had a few beers and my enthusiasm was rising. I started to feel the energy of the event as night was falling on this corner of the south of India. I watched the sun set behind the main stage and had one of those moments you have while travelling, where you take a minute to actually think about where in the world you are, and what you are doing. I said to myself “I’m at frigging India Bike Week, in Goa, watching a sunset, half intoxicated, and without sleep”. “How many people can say that?” I thought. This is why I love travel. Embarrassing Myself on Stage at India Bike Week It’s then my phone buzzed in my pocket. It was a text from the organizer saying to get to the main stage right away. I didn’t know what this was about, but in any case I raced to the stage as instructed. Before I knew it there I was, on the main stage in front of a HUGE crowd of people. As I looked out into the crowd I thought ‘I’m not ready for whatever this is.’ I stood there looking out at the sea of people not knowing what to say. Someone handed me the mic and asked me to say a couple of words. I was stunned and froze. I think I said something like “Hi, I’m Alex from Finding The Freedom, and I WOULDN”T WANT TO BE ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD!” I know, brutal right? But it was over as quickly as it started and I was ushered off the stage. I wish I could have said something more insightful or inspiring. I did just drive a motorcycle through India, I could have talked about that I suppose. India Bike Week 2016 Survival Guide Tip #3 – If for some reason you will be speaking at the event, actually plan something! I was led to the backstage area. This would set the tone for the rest of the weekend. I immediately headed straight to the open bar, of course. It is there I met the band Babyhead. They were going to be the headliners the following night, and were cool guys so drinking buddies we became. We had a couple of beers and wandered around the grounds of the event taking in the sights, sounds, and smells. We spent the next couple of hours wandering around and looking at some of the crazy bikes they had on display. I didn’t know these type of bikes existed in India, I have driven many miles, even in the terrifying night, but never saw bikes like this. Theres a little more to that night, but we will it there for now. Day 2 at India Bike Week The morning of day 2, or should I say afternoon, was a slow start after such a great but late night. I left my hotel in the early afternoon and headed straight back to the event. I rode with an middle-aged man in a white van. We stopped at the “wine store” to grab a quick beer (for me of course not the driver) and drove quickly to the event. The plan was to take the second day of India Bike Week at a slower pace. It was already over 35 degrees and full sun, there was no need to hurry around. I spent the daylight hours wandering around and checking out all the exhibitors. There was a huge turnout here, and it was impressive. They had the likes of GoPro, Harley Davidson, Red Bull, and other top name companies sponsoring the event. A Redbull bus would later become a stage, with 3 times as many speakers as could ever be necessary. Stuntmen preformed on a little track in the center of the event, doing tricks like riding while standing on their seats, and fitting many men on one bike (which actually isn’t that impressive after seeing what some of the people in India can fit on their bikes!). Seeking Refuge in the Big Trip Tent I was wandering around, getting baked by the hot Goan sun in the afternoon, sweating out last nights adventures, and grinding the red sand in my teeth. It was then I found the Big Trip Tent. The Big Trip Tent at India Bike Week is an informal gathering of sorts, with a small stage at the front and lay down mats scattered around. Perfect. Those who appeared on the stage, had in one way or another, done something super impressive in the world of motorcycle trips. India Bike Week 2016 Survival Guide Tip #4 – Seek refuge from the sun and hear some amazing stories in the Big Trip Tent. Most talked about around their world journeys which lasted for months or even years, something super inspiring that I would like to do at one point in the journey of Finding The Freedom. It was there I met the icons that run the motorcycle community website, Horizons Unlimited. Grant and Susan are household names to anyone who does overland trips on a bike and they have carved out a wonderful little community of active, like-minded people ready to help plan your next trip. If you love motorcycle trips, check out their site. The best part about The Big Trip Tent, besides the speakers of course, was that it was covered and shaded, and was a great escape from the heat. I lay there, on a mat on the floor, listening to some fantastic inspirational speakers talk about trips I have only dreamt of. Partying at India Bike Week By now, night was falling, the crowd was growing, the beers were flowing, and the music was blasting. It’s no secret that bikers like to party, and India Bike Week would be no exception to this rule. This was only a 2-night event. This was the last night, it was twice as packed as the night before, and my new band friends were headlining. I had no choice. This is the part in the story where the tale of India Bike Week can go one of two ways. I could bust out another 1000 words about rejoining the band backstage, actually being on the stage while they preformed, drinking way too many free beers, meeting dirt bikers from Delhi, using my business card to get myself and said dirt bikers into one of the most exclusive clubs in Goa that had an open bar and a huge pool, and then getting back to my hotel room at 6am after one of the craziest nights of my life and feeling like a total rock star. But who wants to hear about that? This is about India Bike Week, not Alex does Goa like a fu@king champion. India Bike Week 2016 Survival Guide Tip #5 – Make friends with important people I think I will go with choice number 2 here. Some stories are better left untold and better told over drinks, fires, guesthouse common areas, beach huts, camp sites, and other random places I find myself on this life of travels. Why you should go to India bike Week 2016 India Bike Week is epic. It’s not expensive in comparison to a similar event in a western country, and it’s twice as fun simply because there are half the rules and the people you meet are incredibly friendly. The event is well run and well-managed. They had great sponsors and fantastic shows, great music, and so, so much food, cheap beers that never ran out, and a contagious vibe. I have no idea where I will be next year, but if I’m in India you will see me at India Bike Week 2016, theres no doubt about it. A big thanks to India Bike Week for hosting me for this event. Although they sponsored my trip here, you can tell that clearly all thoughts are my own and I had one of the best times here that I had in India. Have you been to India Bike Week? How did you like it? Will you be going in 2016? Are there bike weeks like this in other countries I should be visiting? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! If you liked my adventures at India Bike Week be sure to sign up for emails for new articles that I publish and keep up with my constant world travel. I may even share some secrets of how I lead this crazy life! New to Finding The Freedom? Click to Start Here to see what this is all about! Like this post? Help out and share it!TweetEmail 7 Responses Alice April 4, 2015 waw it seems to be a great event !! thank you for sharing that with us, i would love to go to India ! Just to inform you : do you know the social media : Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com) ? On Pinterest, you can share your pictures from your website and when others clic on your pic, they are directly directed to your blog. You take beautiful pictures so i’m sure maybe it will be interesting for you to create an account 🙂 Bye, Alice Alex April 13, 2015 Hi Alice! I know about pintrest, of course haha, but have struggled finding the time! I will soon be looking for an intern to help out witht his kind of thing! Know anyone interested? Daniel April 21, 2015 Nice trip, i want to do the same someday 🙂 travel save! Alex April 22, 2015 Awesome good luck 🙂 Kiara June 29, 2015 Ciao Alex, it really sounds amazing and definitely an event I would love to attend…but I don’t know if it would be difficult for females as I don’t see any woman in your pics. Curious to know 😉 Alex July 15, 2015 Well to be honest it was about 99% dudes, as it is with most things in India! You would realistically be fine aside from the usual harassment. Kiara July 16, 2015 Ahahah, yes, I know what you mean…I’ve been to India some years ago (and loved it, btw). Anyway, thanks for answering me, who knows if I will ever attend an event like this one!