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Ryan Pyle on The India Ride


December 20, 2012

Corbis contributor Ryan Pyle, with brother Colin Pyle, recently completed a 60-day journey through India on Royal Enfield motorcycles, tackling the most dangerous roads in the world. The India Ride covered more than 8,700 miles through the most crowded and also the most desolate parts of the country.

With a serious thirst for adventure, respectable knowledge of bike repair, and a healthy sense of humor, the Pyle brothers completed their second (yes, second) motorcycle adventure through a foreign land experiencing the geography, culture, economic development, food, and everything else imaginable – and unimaginable.

Their first adventure on the road went down in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first people to fully circumnavigate China by motorcycle. For more on that, check out their book, The Middle Kingdom Ride.

We asked Ryan a few questions about their most recent adventure through India.

CORIS: On average, how much ground did you need to cover in a day and how much time was spent on your bikes?

RYAN: We tried to cover around 250km per day and that usually took between 8-10hrs per day. We usually didn’t stop for lunch but we stopped often for filming sequences and to set up our shots. It was a very physically exhausting journey to spend 10hrs per day on the bike, but that’s what needs to be done if you want to cover huge distances.

CORBIS: Did you ever feel like documenting the adventure got in the way of experiencing it?

RYAN: Sure, obviously anytime you are out having an adventure like this and you need to stop and film it breaks the continuity of the journey and reduces that excitement and adventure you feel. But in the end, we were not only there to have an adventure, but to document our experiences and share those experiences with the wider world.

CORBIS: What’s the travel dynamic between you and your brother, Colin?

RYAN: The days are long and challenging and the living conditions and traveling conditions are hard. So my brother and I know not to get on each others’ nerves. We get along very well and we know that our expedition and film production is much too difficult to get in small petty arguments.  So we put our heads down and rumble on.

CORBIS: What was the local response to your adventure?

RYAN: India has a brilliant tradition of motorcycle tourism and motorcycle adventure. So the motivation behind our journey was well understand by all the local people we met. And of course, Indians are incredibly hospitable and wonderful people and we had nothing but smiles for our entire trip. We could not have picked a better location for our second film production.

CORBIS: Tell us a little about “The Road of Doom”.

RYAN: I think every road was The Road of Doom.

CORBIS: Why India?

RYAN: Why not? After our first production in China, India was another incredibly diverse and physically stunning country with more than a billion people. It just felt like the next obvious choice after China.

CORBIS: Any major mechanical malfunctions?

RYAN: Sure, we had problems every few days and they were easily fixed in India because of the excellent motorcycle mechanics that are available everywhere and anywhere. That’s the main reason why we wanted to ride on a locally manufactured motorcycle, because if something breaks and it always does, we could fix it on the spot.

CORBIS: Can you tell us a bit more about the Royal Enfield bikes you rode? Did you pick them up in India?

RYAN: We purchased our Royal Enfield motorcycles in New Delhi prior to the trip and they were 350cc Thunderbirds by Royal Enfield. They were very strong and tough bikes and I’m proud of how well they held up in some very tough conditions.

See more The India Ride photos.

See all of Ryan’s work on Corbis.



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