When you first meet Minesh Doshi, you don’t immediately think, “This guy’s a hardcore biker”. His genial smile and warm demeanour is a far cry from those growling, leather-clad bikers often depicted in movies. But, as I sit in his office in the gleaming P LAL Store on Jalan Gasing in Petaling Jaya, a large poster of a superbike catches my eye. It’s was a good sign. “I don’t ride my bikes now,” he says and a wave of confusion washes over me. He then proceeds to roll up his sleeves and a vivid scar jumps out, its pale ridges providing a stark contrast against the tan skin, eager to tell its terrifying tale.
“So, I was on a ride from South Africa to Victoria Falls in late 2016. We were off road in Namibia when my bike sank into a sand patch and I was violently thrown off.” explains Doshi. It was the fifth of a 15-day riding adventure and he’d shattered his right arm and crushed his left shoulder. He shows me x-ray images of his injuries and I see a dozen or so pins embedded into the bones – it’s a chilling sight. “The recovery process is slow and my arm movements are limited,” he said as a hint of sadness tinges his voice. “I don’t know when I’ll recover but I can’t wait to get back on my bike again.” “Oh!” I exclaimed, both surprised and impressed.
“It’s fun!” he exclaims with a laugh. “And addictive! When you get on a motorbike, you’re always learning. The more you learn, the more confident you become. As your confidence increases, the more you want to ride. So, the confidence and desire to ride are always building on each other, and you find yourself getting more adventurous.” As testament to his addiction, Doshi reveals he once had a staggering collection of 22 motorbikes, – BMWs, Harley- Davidsons and Hondas. “At that point in time, I was on a quest to find the best touring bike in the world. So, I had to go through almost all of them before realising that the bikes made by BMW are far superior. Their braking system is second to none; it’s made to the highest of standards and the comfort of riding is well thought out.”
“To be honest, the first time I mounted a BMW bike, I was in love. It was the R 1200 GS Adventure and it was such a great joy that I simply had to get another. The R 1200 RT was my second Beemer and that’s when I knew I had found the one,” reveals Doshi. Since 2009, Doshi has always been a proud owner of the many iterations of the RT. “I would say that I’m attached to this bike; we’ve gone on some great adventures around the world.” Funnily enough, it was these adventures that sparked the former president of BMW Motorrad Club Malaysia’s obsession with traversing continents on just two wheels.
The confluence of circumstances that led to Doshi’s first-ever long distance ride was nothing short of serendipitous. The iconic imported men’s shoes and winter attire retail P LAL Store on Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman was shutting its doors in 2011 to relocate to the green suburbs of Petaling Jaya, a process that would take almost two years, and Doshi found himself with all this free time on his hands. Then, at a BMW Motorrad Club gathering in 2010, little did he know as he drew his lots that he would be lucky enough to win a semi-sponsored hotel stay for the club’s upcoming ride to the annual gathering of BMW Motorrad owners and admirers at BMW Motorrad Days in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. “I’ve entertained the idea of doing a long-distance ride like this, but leaving the country for nearly a month is near impossible as a business owner,” says Doshi emphatically. “However, when such a rare opportunity was presented to me, I had to take it.”
And so, in the summer of 2011, 18 BMW machines were shipped to Istanbul and the 5,000km journey began. Crossing countries, cruising by coasts and travelling through towns, Doshi fell hook, line and sinker for the epic trek on the two-wheeler. With a faraway look in his eye, he waxes lyrical: “The freedom that comes when riding on a bike is unparalleled. There’s no barrier between you and the surroundings, so you really engage with the environment around you. You feel the terrain underneath, the wind on your skin, the smells of the land and the clear vistas.” A dreamy smile appears and he continues: “Riding puts me in a meditative state of mind and you’re just so relaxed. Combine this with the excitement of exploring another country and you have a magic formula.”
That first trip brought Doshi through the quaint towns of Bulgaria, the sunflower fields of Romania and the opulence of Austria before completing the epic adventure at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, for the annual BMW Motorrad Days. “Before the trip, one of the organisers actually told me, ‘Minesh, I have to warn you that this ride is very addictive. Once you start, you can never stop’,” recalls Doshi. “I burst out laughing because too many things fell into place for me to embark on this ride. I thought it was probably going to be my first and last ride!” But lo and behold, on the second day of the journey, Doshi turned to the same man who had cautioned him and exclaimed: “Are you doing this next year? Where can I sign up?”
Sign up he did and the joyride continued in the years that followed, including a private ride around Iceland, where he circumnavigated the Nordic island and explored the inlands. “Iceland is honestly one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever seen. The air is crisp and the views are simply breathtaking,” proclaims Doshi. There’s also the added thrill of navigating different terrains from mountains and fields to gravel and volcanic ash. “It was such a beautiful journey that I told myself that I must bring my family here to experience this magnificence.” Alas, this would be one of his last sojourn on a foreign land on a motorbike before the fateful crash in Namibia the following year.
“After the accident, I did a trip to Europe with my wife and daughter in a car, but it just wasn’t the same,” he laments. “It’s like sitting in a box. You don’t feel the outside and that sense of freedom is missing.” Though hindered by his current physical limitations, Doshi remains optimistic. “My recovery is slow but sure, and when I do get to mount my R 1200 RT again, I’d like to complete my unfinished African expedition.”
Hearing all this, I was curious: why is he so keen to get back on a bike? “You need something outside the bubble of life’s expectations – family, career, etc, to stay sane. Now, these are things you cannot run away from. However, a hobby gives you that escape. And, for me, that is with my motor-touring adventures,” he says simply. I was nodding enthusiastically in agreement and, in that moment, I could feel my feet itching in a pursuit of adventure of my own as well.