Towcester Rotarian Alex Cooke has successfully completed his 15-day motorcycle ride across southern India along with 15 other Rotarians from across the world. The ride, which started in January 2017 was part of the Centennial Celebrations of Rotary International and also a fund-raising event for children’s charities.
The ride has been an extraordinary example of the power of Rotary, not only because it has already raised in excess of $50,000, and because it has helped to spread the word about Rotary to those who were not aware of the organisation, but also in true Rotary spirit it has provided an amazing cultural exchange between the visiting Rotarian motorcycle riders and the local Indian Rotarians and people.
Alex’s final figure for his own fund raising for his two nominated charities: ProVision Asia (www.provisionasia.com) and Coram Life Education, Northants (www.Coram Life Education) is over £1,000 and will be spilt equally between the two charities. He would like to thank all people who sponsored him.
You can read about Alex’s adventures below:
“The Ride for Rotary TRF Centennial Expedition is expected to raise over £40,000. We are travelling on a 15 day motorbike ride from Mysore to Ooty, taking in Hasan, Hospete, Hubi, Goa and Madiken. We are being hosted by up to 6 Rotary clubs every day and many of the evening events include a cultural show. We are enjoying the company of the 15 other riders who have come from 7 different countries. 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”.
“Day 10 – we have now exceeded 1,000 miles on our motor bikes and 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. We are having an awe-inspiring experience, as well as fulfilling our remit to publicise the Rotary Foundation, by being both ambassadors for the cause and a welcome curiosity for those that see us pass through their villages and towns in formation”.
“Yet another cultural experience – our accommodation has varied from European, to well-used Colonial, to Safari parks. Yesterday 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 rural areas and green paddy fields. This Tibetan settlement’s income is generated by the Golden temple which was truly impressive. 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’!
We finished the day at Bandipur Tiger Reserve for another social evening around the camp fire. We had a 5.30 am call next morning for a Jeep Safari to see peacocks (the national emblem of India), deer, monkeys, Elephants and after a long wait, a large tiger”.
“The final leg of our once in a lifetime experience took us to Ooty, a once renowned beauty spot, where the district conference was being held. This last ride to Ooty was extremely testing, due to the climb of 2,200 meters through cloud, rain, 39 one hundred and eighty degree bends and manoeuvring around the many overheated vehicles.
We arrived safely at our final conference destination in Ooty. We are staying in a European style hotel, although Wi-Fi is still intermittent as is the power. After being lauded by the 1,500 conference delegates for our achievements, 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 all along the route. After a night at the Taj hotel at Bengaluru airport, we checked into our flight at 4 am only to find it was delayed by 4 hours! Our total time from Ooty to home was 41 hours, we arrived home exhausted but exhilarated by our efforts.
The undertaking raised a total in excess of $50,000 but the main benefit was the tremendous publicity that the Ride for Rotary generated, and the promise of incoming grants and funding for the many Rotary projects we had been introduced to over the two-week period.
During our trip, the hosting Rotary clubs, gave us brilliant cultural shows, often featuring children who carried flags of all the countries where Rotary is active. On one occasion they even told us how many clubs and the number of Rotarians there were in each country. It has been one of the many joys of this trip to experience just how involved the families are behind Rotary”.
The final figure for my own fund raising for my two nominated charities, ProVision Asia (www.provisionasia.com) and Coram Life Education, Northants (www.Coram Life Education) is over £1,000 and will be spilt equally between the two charities.