“So why do we need a f#%ing government anyway Tim” I retorted.
“What do you mean?” Says Tim “Without a stable government the entire system would crumble and the world would fall in to total anarchy and chaos and eventually a mad max style post apocalyptic hell” Tim Fisher explains with a slight air of nervous desperation common of someone enslaved in the exact same system he defends. “Exactly” is all I can be bothered saying and we sip from our whiskey in silence.
The snow gently falls outside as we debate the practicalities of an ungoverned world. A world where people are free from property ownership, mortgages and jobs. I present to the group of weary and altitude affected bikers a utopian paradise where people have all their basic needs fulfilled and are free to pursue creative endeavors and passions in peace whatever they may be. Tim then rebuts, describing a world thrown into turmoil, fear and desperation. A world where people are forced to prey upon each other for life’s basic needs. Where eventually an opportunistic evil dictator type leader manages to take control of the weak minded masses forcing them into slavery and imprisonment. Altitude can really mess with one’s mind. The group listens to each argument attentively. The rebellious tour leader and the practical government bureaucrat. Each makes a convincing argument and the debate rages into the early hours, finally concluded when we are unable to squeeze even a drop out of the bottle of local Nepalese Signature whiskey.
Appropriately we are holed up in the ancient citadel of Lo Manthang a few kms south of Nepals border with China controlled Tibet. They call this place the lost Tibetan kingdom as it has been hidden from the western world until relatively recently. The ancient walled city lies in the northern extremities of Nepal’s Upper Mustang region, one of the most remote and inaccessible regions on the planet. The local people are smiling and friendly. They warmly welcome the group of Australian and New Zealander bikers, showing us around the city and sharing tea and stories with us.
The journey to get here by bike is challenging to say the least. Days of haggling and negotiating red tape with corrupt government officials to get a $500 US dollar permit (per person) to enter the region, plus a swag of other “informal” commissions and fees. Its no wonder that we have this amazing place all to ourselves.
The ride itself is by far some of the most diverse riding terrains any of us have ever encountered, and that is saying something. This group of riders has been hand picked from Nevermind Adventures growing database of “Rogues”. All have significant riding experience in some of harshest and most challenging riding terrains in the world.
This is Neverminds annual Rogues Tour.
The ride itself has been loosely pulled together by Western Australian adventure biking gurus Nevermind adventure. Every year the Nevermind guys and gals hand pick a small group of 5 to 10 “Rogues” from previous adventures and “go somewhere they have never been before”. This inspiring phrase has become the Nevermind call to arms.
Not only do we go where we have never been before but also go where very few people have even heard of. Past rides have taken Nevermind Rogues to outback Kashmir, Nagaland and the infamous Spiti Valley, officially the world’s highest and most dangerous roads. Next year will see a new crew of Rogues trail blaze a new route from India all the way to Thailand via Burma!
Riders are selected on mental toughness and positive attitude not necessarily superior riding ability. Any idiot can ride a motorbike but not everyone can keep their head up and stay calm when things don’t go according to plan. Especially when extremely fatigued, lost, injured, broken down, sick or all of the above and altitude is fucking with your mind or you are just plan scared.
These rogues tours are a real highlight on the Nevermind calendar and clients register their interest years in advance to take part in the epic expeditions that have become part of folklore amongst Neverminds loyal and passionate clients.
To qualify one has to have completed at least one Nevermind Adventure over the past few years and the rest of the selection criteria is kept secret. The rewards for those who successfully complete a rogues tour are a lifetime gold membership to the Nevermind Rogues Club, an exclusive secret society of bikers, as well as the opportunity to be trained in the Jedi like art of leading adventure tours with Nevermind.
This group is being led by the Neverminds by myself with the help of adventure guru in training and super nice guy Craig “Beano” Bean. The riding group is an eclectic mix of young disillusioned professionals, actors, businessmen, tradys and a kiwi nurse all out to get that slap in the face and addictive flavor of adventure and good times that Nevermind have become famous for. Indeed this feels like and actually has become a group of old mates out exploring the world on bikes. This is definitely not a personalised guided tour or over organised sightseeing tour, indeed we may be touring but Nevermind is not you typical tour company. Everyone is expected to chip in, no passengers.
“This has been the most amazing adventure, something I will cherish forever” Says Bob “Holiday” Sanders, an electrician and enduro rider from Melbourne’s east. “Holiday Bob” lives and breathes motorcycles and just cant get enough riding each day.
Along the way we ride from village to village on gravel and sand following an ancient river bed wedged in between two giant 8000 meter peaks. The scale of everything here warps ones mind and at the same time is exhilarating, breathtaking and terrifying. Other times, when fatigue and altitude take hold the place can become downright petrifying.
We all try to maintain control of our bikes and our senses as the gravel roads become barely distinguishable and start to take us high up into the mountains, climbing thousands of meters in just a few hours.
For days we slip, slide and gasp for breath as we ride, kick, walk and push each other’s bikes up steep gravely slopes between 3 and 4 thousand meters in altitude. Tying your shoelaces up here is hard work let alone piloting a Royal Enfield motorcycle. That’s not to discredit the bikes. These funky retro bikes were designed by the Royal Enfield Motorcycle company for the Indian Military to patrol the high altitude borders and have been successfully doing so since the 1950’s.
Eventually we reach the Tibetan plateau and the world becomes a Star Wars like desert with few signs of life and no signs at all of civilization other than a sandy wheel track to follow. The anabatic winds up here whip up a sandstorm that painfully sandblasts every exposed part of the body. Our visors come down and we very slowly carry on until we spot a slight structure in the distance, some greenery and we know this must be our destination. This is the fabled Lost Tibetan Kingdom of Lo Mathang.
All of a sudden the entire group gets a last dose of energy and races towards the ancient stone walled city, almost dropping bikes at the entrance in our eagerness to congratulate each other and shake hands, already worried about the return journey and what terrors we may encounter.
Written by Nevermind Chief Guru Matt Natonewski. Matt is a self confessed non conformist and has been exploring the world by old school motorcycle since he was 10 years old. Matt founded Nevermind in 2012 as a way to bot share his passion for old school adventure, India and to help raise funds and awareness for a small primary school of 85 students in Agra, India.