Not many fancy the idea of enduring the harsh scorching heat of a wild desert to enjoy the experience. Well, India being a land of surprises, has revealed yet another gem from one of its mines. Boasting a frame of toughened bones with adrenaline-laden blood running through his veins, the man we are interviewing today happens to be one of the youngest participants from the mighty Dakar 2020. Meet Harith Noah, a boy from southwestern India (Kerala), who heralds a new era of racing talent in the country.
How did it all begin for you?
I am probably among those few kids who grew up watching rallies and motorsport events like the Dakar Rally, over cassettes. These cassettes were a usual gift from my father, who used to work abroad. He would bring a new lot every time he came home for a quarterly visit.
When did you realise that your dreams were shaping into reality?
Initially, I wanted to be a Rally car driver. I couldn’t wait to be a part of it, but my excitement was kept at bay when I understood that I would have to wait until I was 18 to be able to drive, let alone racing cars. Then one day, I saw there was a race going on in the paddy fields, on motorcycles, in my backyard. People were skidding, crashing, they were all over the place, but most importantly, I saw that they were enjoying themselves. I wanted to give it a shot. A little later, I did take part in one of those events. I didn’t even make it to the list, but that was the time I realised that the wait was finally over. And I had found my escape!
What is your daily routine like?
I have personally curated some tracks around my house. There are 3 of them to be precise. My day usually consists of riding on these tracks, training for the majority of the time, and whenever I’m not doing either, I prefer to rest and be at peace mentally.
On average, how many hours do you dedicate to physical training?
Usually, it’s around 3 to 5 hours a day. It depends on how I feel on that particular day, and it’s usual for me to keep going for more than that, but it’s never less than that.
What kind of diet do you follow to keep up with your highest form?
I usually eat healthy. It’s not that anyone monitors my diet, but I don’t follow a prescribed diet either. Being a graduate in the same field, I understand the importance of eating right, so it’s usually monitored by myself and also by my mother whenever I’m home.
How has Dakar changed your perspective towards attaining personal goals in life?
Dakar has changed me a lot, even on a personal level. It has taught me to follow a different approach altogether towards overcoming any kind of difficulties in life. It has taught me that irrespective of the mistakes you have made, accept what comes your way and move ahead. It has taught me that getting better with every step is what matters the most.
What importance did physical training/fitness have in your pre-motorsport life?
Before I entered the world of motorsports, my physical activities usually consisted of playing football and cricket like any other teenager out there. Ever since I have started to race bikes or bicycles, I have tried to be in the best physical state possible and no doubt it has paid off very well in Dakar as well. To me, as a racer, physical fitness is now a top priority.
Are you in your best desired physical shape?
I feel that I am in the best physical and mental state as of now. I also feel very confident at the same time.
What role does your physical well-being play in your professional career?
It is of great importance for me to be in the best physical shape possible. I train without fail, no matter what form of training it is.
When did you know that you were going to Dakar?
It was back in March 2019 when I got the confirmation about being on board with the TVS team. I finally had the opportunity of racing against the best talent in the world and had entered the next stage. I felt very excited. TVS Motor Company being the first Indian manufacturer to take part in Dakar, and me being a part of their team, felt like a dream come true!
Were there any ‘special’ pieces of training sessions endured before you became a part of the Dakar team?
When we teamed up for practice sessions in France, my teammates were happy with my physical form and with my overall energy. They were surprised to understand that I could easily undertake their training regime without any hiccups. The team liked me and appreciated me being in solid physical shape. On an endurance scale, all of us were on the same page. It is the riding part where things changed for me. I started to pick up new techniques and started to collect all the required data. Considering the saddle time, I have a lot of catching up to do in comparison to my teammates.
In your opinion, what will be the perfect ratio to balance a healthy equation between mental well-being and physical wellness?
Mental and physical states are both equally important to perform in unprecedented situations. You never know what will be thrown at you next, and hence it is best to be in more than the desired state of mental peace to overcome any level of difficulties in a jiffy. It’s a fifty-fifty balance for me.
How important is mental health to you for being a part of one of the longest and toughest motorsport rallies in the world?
It is immensely important to me, no doubt. Also, I am blessed with an amazing mental trainer (Neil Roach) who also happened to be my psychology lecturer at college. We have a very healthy bond of sharing and understanding, he helps me a lot with keeping my mind clear and my vision crisp at all times.
What does your ‘regular’ training day consist of? Would you mind giving us a small insight?
My daily routine usually consists of a mixture of physical training activities such as cycling and also being in the gym for a good amount of time. Apart from that, I prefer being in the saddle for a majority of the time, but it’s only when time and weather permit the same.
Here’s an insight into what my day looks like;
-Wake up at around 5 to 6 am
-Kick in the adrenaline through some cardio. I attain this by either cycling for two to four hours or by running for about an hour. Conclude the morning session with some healthy breakfast
-Hit the gym pre-lunch and sweat it out for a good one and half to two hours
-Post lunch, spend time in the saddle around the tracks
-Conclude for the day late in the evening
Do you consume outside/junk food? What’s your favourite junk food?
Not really, if I ever feel like having something, then it’s easily accessible as my father owns a bakery here. I can’t think of any specific dish, but usually, I love having a chocolate or a dark chocolate cake at any time. I’m not sure whether it classifies as junk food. However, I do make sure that I consume a lot of fruit juices throughout the day.
Which is that one exclusive ride destination you want to ride to?
I haven’t been to Ladakh, yet. I’m not sure whether the roads are enjoyable there. But if it happens soon, I will be looking forward to riding to the land of high passes.
Being a part of one of the biggest motorsport events, what is your vision for the next 5-10 years?
My goal at the moment is to perform at the Dakar and not just complete it. Being a first-timer, I was too keen on finishing the race, but now it’s about competing with the best talent out there.
What kind of bikes do you prefer to ride on the road?
I haven’t ridden bikes much on the road. But I’m supposed to get the delivery of my new TVS Apache RR 310 BS-VI soon. If it hadn’t been for this lockdown, it would have been here by now.
Mountains or Beaches?
It will always be the beach for me. Being born and brought up in Kerala, it’s an unarticulated fact that beaches add to my fascination. I was in Bali just before this lockdown. I love diving in the ocean, and being on the coastal front brings me peace.
Touring or Off-road?
As I’ve previously said, I haven’t been on any touring ride to be specific. Off-road comes to me naturally. It is the adrenaline which will never allow me to have any second thoughts about it.
How does it feel to be among the youngest blood out there in the desert?
It feels really cool, you know, to be the youngest rider from India to have taken part in and finished the Dakar. But I don’t think about any of this while I’m on the motorcycle. It’s a good feeling altogether but it’s just the beginning.
Best memories around a motorcycle?
I was competing at the MRF National Supercross Championship of 2011. I won in the privateer class (SX2). It wasn’t just the win but the whole journey surrounding it.
The championship runs through six segments. In short, it went on for the whole year. Travelling with my father along with our ‘one-man’ crew-mechanic, in a car, loaded with my bike in the boot, is one of the best experiences of my motorcycling life.
Most embarrassing memory around a motorcycle?
For the world to fall in place, no one thinks or can prepare himself for crashing on the very first day of Dakar. It was more of an eye-opener for me rather than being an embarrassment. It was this time that the spirit of not stopping and keeping my head up helped me get out of it.
What’s your personal preference among Supercross – Motocross – Enduro – Rallying?
I started it all practicing on a paddy field, so Dirt Track or Flat Track style of racing will always be close to my heart. At the moment, however, I am focused on rallying and that’s where all my attention and interest really is.
What will be your message to the upcoming young motor aspirants/fitness enthusiasts?
The one thing I’ve always believed in is what I would like to share with all the upcoming riders out there. Make sure that you are enjoying every moment while you are on the bike. Things will usually fall in place only if your smile is as wide open as that throttle in your hand. Don’t worry about the timing, or the ranks, make sure you are riding the machine to its full potential and give your best towards it. You will only be the best if you enjoy every moment of what you are doing. Always remember to do it for yourself and to do it for fun. No matter what sport you play, try getting better at it.
Also Read: Super humans do exist!
Your Motto in life?
No matter what you do, give your 100 per cent. Do things at the best of your ability and never stop chasing your goals. Keep your head high and keep on going!