“Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things.” — Denis Diderot
In this Edition we bring you an L&T-ite who is passionate about cycling, motorcycling and photography. He holds a Guinness Book World Record for “LONGEST JOURNEY BY MOTORCYCLE IN A SINGLE COUNTRY”. Santanu Chakraborty, who is currently working at LMB, Hazira, is one of the most passionate human being you will ever come across. His energy, enthusiasm and passion for things he love to do and follow is unmatched.
Enlightenment feels honored to present him in the “In Focus” section of this edition and thank him for sharing his passion and story with us.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Santanu Chakraborty. I was born in Bengal and am currently staying in Surat (Gujarat) for the last 7 years. I am working as a senior engineer in LMB, Hazira. I never wanted to be something great, but wanted to explore different places and experience different activities. During my school days, I have visited different parts of Eastern India, Nepal and Bangladesh. As I grew up, travelling became my passion and started to flow through my soul. From my college days I started exploring eastern Himalaya (Darjeeling, Sikkim, Bhutan).
Later, I got involved into motorcycling photography, trekking and cycling.
I have never identified myself with any cast, religion, culture or language.
What made you try for Guinness world record attempt and how did it all happen?
Initially, I was only planning for a pan-India ride to see every corner of my country. At that time I had no idea about any record. One day I came to know about “Guinness World record” attempt for Longest Journey in China and India. From that time onwards, I started aspiring and started planning to attempt the record. I also wanted to spread road safety awareness throughout my journey.
To achieve the title of “LONGEST JOURNEY BY MOTORCYCLE IN A SINGLE COUNTRY” we had to ride more than 28,000 km in 75 days covering all the states and union territories of the Indian mainland. It was one of my most challenging journey not only because of the long ride but also due to the huge task of documentation, evidence and preparation. Finally, I decided to jointly attempt this record with my rider friend Mr. Vishnu Mehta as he also had a similar dream. We spend 3 months in preparation. There was lots of uncertainty about evidence, expenses and leaves, but eventually everything was managed.
Most of my friends, my parents and fellow riders supported me during my preparation and attempt. There were lots of expectations mainly from rider community to be successful. We analyzed all the possibilities and in a step by step manner, planned for everything like route, documentation, weather, local issues, maintenance, health and safety. Almost everything was predefined with a checklist, a logbook and a backup plan so that we could concentrate on riding and enjoy ourselves on the way.
To ensure good health and physical fitness I focused on all the important elements:-
Practiced Running or cycling 1Hr/Day – 5 Days/ week.
Ensured sufficient water intake (5L/Day for Motorcycling and 10L/Day for Cycling) to avoid de-hydration.
Balanced diet with 6 small meals per day.
Less of rice, sweets, oil, spices and more fruits.
Short breaks and power naps are very important to avoid stress and to regain concentration. There is no rule for interval distance and time. Generally frequent intervals are required between 12pm to 4pm and after 9 pm.
I was generally doing body stretches, bends and twists of Neck, back, knees, wrists and fingers.
Any memorable moment during your attempt
I want to share one of the most adventurous days spent in Manipur state of North-east India.
Jiribum to Imphal:-
It was a tough day for us. We had a totally different off-road journey (around 200 Km) involving a challenging route. This route is rarely used by any motorcycle or car. Generally people are using longer (double length) and easier route via Dimapur (Nagaland). We had no other option but to choose this route to avoid repetition of road as per Guinness guideline. It is a completely off terrain track consisting of fine soil, sand, stone, slope and switch-backs into a deep jungle. It needs a lot of skill and experience to handle a motorcycle on this type of track. Most of the ride was off-saddle as the bike was continuously jumping.
Another challenge was of multiple landslides. This route is not accessible to any motorcycle or car during monsoons due to extreme and unusually marshy terrain, so we planned to cross this part of the journey in February with less chances of rainfall. We started at 6 am from Jiribum and reached at Imphal at 8 pm. These were most adventurous 14 hours of my life till date.
It’s interesting the way you are balancing your professional life and passion. There are so many people who aren’t make it able to happen. How do you work it all out
Even I am struggling to maintain the balance properly. There are a lot of sacrifices behind my passion. In my 12 Years of professional life, I have no saving in terms of money but have earned lots of memories and feelings.
I never waste any weekend and or holidays by remaining idle at home. I rarely visit my parental home to save time for my passion. My parents are also supporting me by visiting my place. Yes, there are many people unable to follow their passion due to different priorities.
I believe, if we have a dream and we are passionate about it, then no one can stop us from achieving it. But it is important that our dream should be strong enough to overcome all the obstacles.
How does it feel being a Guinness Book record holder
It feels amazing to achieve this title which always inspires me from within.
Life is nothing but a very short time between birth and death. So, it’s better to live with passion and do something profound and close to your heart.
How has LMB helped you in achieving your goal
LMB has always been supportive of my passion by providing long leaves and financial support for both of my Guinness world record attempts (by Motorcycle and by Bicycle).
During my “Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) Bicycle ride” everybody was with me at the start from “L&T-Bachelor Hostel” and they were always connected virtually during my journey. It was 6,000 Km Cycling of the entire GQ which connects most of the Indian cities. My route was Surat-Mumbai-Pune-Kohlapur-Devangere-Bangalore-Chennai-Visakhapatnam-Bhubneshwar-Kolkata-Varanasi-Kanpur-Agra-Delhi-Jaipur-Ahmedabad-Vadodara-Surat.
My motto was “Get fit, Get Strong and Don’t Give-up”.
I received lots of positive response from seniors and colleagues which is another source of inspiration.
Year 2017:- High altitude long Trek and Cycling in Ladakh Area through most of the highest passes
Year 2018:- Travelling to South-East Asia.
Year 2019:- Trek to the Mt. Kilimanjaro – Highest peak of Africa.
Year 2020:- Circumnavigation of the World by Bicycle.
What is your biggest learning by following your passion
It helped me to understand and experience the true meaning of life. During long journeys, we could feel the quick changes of landscape, weather, culture & food and we soaked all of it.
Biggest learning is to unite with everything around us and live with minimum resources.
Any tips for budding motorcyclist / cyclist who want to take up this passion
It’s magical to live your life with passion. Whatever be your passion, you need to follow it with proper technique, practice, safety and good health.
[As shared with Nijeesh Padmanabhan, LMB]