September 3, 2009
The Soul Of A Biker
Think about the word "Biking" and the first word coming to your mind is "freedom". This term "Biking" is often associated with different images in different countries. In the US it carries the image of the wrong side of the law, whereas in India it is considered that people who cant afford to buy a car end up with a bike. Both these images are true to some extent. But to generalize all the biker's into one category is not acceptable.
Take my example. I am a Engineer and travel via bike to office on my bike on the busy and congested street's of Bangalore. Now this part of Biking is absolute painful both mentally and physically, crawling on the streets like a snail. But come weekend the same bike and with the same driving skills of mine, we are transported to the totally different level of experience, and this even though might be physically(literally its a pain in the ass :P) and mentally challenging we just pray to God that let this day never end.
It offers one of the cheapest forms of recreation. Some find recreation and mental happiness in trekking, some in sailing, some in traveling, but my best recreation partner is Biking( even though the others I have mentioned come second :) ) . The endless roads, the wind blowing on your face, total exposure to the elements of the mother nature is altogether a different experience and each and every person should try this atleast once in their lifetime. I remember the Bajaj Avenger ad which was aired a few years back with the tagline "Feel Like God", and I totally agree with this. On weekends when I have nothing better to do I just take by bike and ride on Uttarahalli Road, Mysore Road, Kanakpura Road or the NICE road. I get completely refreshed and it makes my day.
I remember the first time I got my cycle (I consider cycling also as biking since more or less they are our cousins :D) when I was in 4th grade. I remember the pain's I had to go through to learn cycling, but i never gave up, so do others because we all know whats there at the other end of the dark tunnel, "Freedom" :). After coming from school (my school was too far away, so my parents didnt allow me to take my cycle to school :( ) i would roam endlessly around the streets of my house exploring the unexplored. Even though the distance i traveled was very minuscule to the amount of biking i do today, it set the first foundation stone of biking in me.
This graduated to a 3rd hand Luna TFR 50cc moped i got when i was in 11th grade. This one rarely did more than 40km/hr with a 50 cc engine and my fat filled body back then :). But even though i was happy to have graduated to higher level. When i was 18 i laid my eyes on my father's Bajaj Super scooter. Brake, clutch, accelerator, gear....my god so many things to do. Somehow i learned to sync all these things and got the driving licence after failing the test the first time :D. Now i had been officially certified by the government, I now had "The Licence To Ride" :).
Came to Bangalore to do my engineering at BMS college. By this time used to travel in a 100cc Kinetic Honda(Level 3 :)). I had not started any serious biking during this period too. My elder bro got his first bike(Bajaj Pulsar 150) around this time, I completely fell in love with the bike. I used to search for some excuse so as to use his bike. I even went to college on saturday's even though i didnt have any important classes on that particular day, just so that I can ride the bike for the short distance upto my college :).
Then started my professional career. All working people remember what they did with their first salary. If I am asked the same question, my answer would be "I bought a bike with my first salary" :). Even though I didnt have the cash reserves of around 69k required for my Pulsar 180, I took loan (interest free :) ) from my father and brother and put all the cash I had to buy this bike.
Around 3 months into buying i had my first real biking experience. At a party in my friends place(Akshay) we suddenly decided to go for a bike ride upto Maddur(around 80kms from Blore) have a coffee at the Coffee Day and come back. It was one of those chilly December nights and when we set for Maddur via Mysore Road at around 2 am there was almost not a single soul in sight with everyone tucked in their bed with warm blankets :). It was a clear moonlit night and riding in the totally desolate Mysore road with only the moon(and truckers :D) keeping us company for the entire trip. With most of us ill-equipped for the cold(I was wearing a cotton sweatjacket) we were totally frozen just 10kms into the trip. With no gloves our hand had become numb. Our hands and feet were shivering with the cold,chilly winds blasting us from everywhere. Reached Maddur almost frozen to death(Well not to that extent :)), felt like heaven when we had the hot cup of coffee and left that place at around 4 a.m.. After reaching Bangalore a thought came to my mind saying , "Woooaaw.... That was an awesome experience. I should do that again"........ since then I have been biking non-stop :).
Another incident that I pretty much remember is the first serious crash I had with my bike. It was almost 6 months after I had brought my bike and I thought I was the GOD of biking. While driving through the city roads a Karizma guy tried to challenge me, and me being a hot headed ego centric guy accepted it (Just by twisting the throttle) and off we went zooming past. We approached a "U" shaped flyover(Domlur Flyover) and the Karizma guy slowed down , and me being over-confident zoomed doing almost a 40 degree banking. "Aha"...I thought ..."I won the race"...even before this could register in my brain I crashed to my right (bcoz of sand on the road + my banking). My first thought when I knew I was going to crash was "Shit...... I am crashing...was it worth it?????"........ Funnily the second thought I had was " I am gonna wreck my bike " :P(I spent around 6k to get my bike repaired :( ). Luckily, because of our speed we didnt have any vehicles immediately following us. If there had been, it would had been tragic. Received heavy injuries to my right elbow,palm and leg apart from the bruises all over the right side of my body with shirt I was wearing beyond recognition. Since was wearing a helmet had no head injuries. After returning home I recalled my first thought "Was it worth it?????? "......and a answer to that was a big NO. Since then I have been more careful with my life, keeping my testosterone level under control, not just while biking but in other cases also with a new level of respect for my life.
People always ask (Including my mom :))..."y take a bike for long drives..... take a car"... Well I always feel like I am in some sort of cage while traveling in a car.Try to recall why does a dog travelling in a car always puts it head outside the window and lets its tongue hanging :D. While most people have adapted to that, but not me...atleast for the time being. Also I feel that bikes are more safer than cars on the standard 2 lane indian highways, since most of the reasons for head on collisions is when someone is trying to overtake. And since bikes are 1/6 the width of the cars, the chances of collisions is reduced to 1/6.(Just my thoughts).Also dont get me wrong, I enjoy driving a car, but given a choice between a bike and a car , i would prefer the former.
The biking bug has not just smitten the common public but even celebrities too. From Thomas Edward Lawrence(Lawrence of Arabia) a biking fanatic who died riding one, Ernesto "Che" Guevara who traveled the entire american continent primarily on his "La Poderosa" a Norton bike, Steve McQueen a racing fanatic who would do all his stunts in movies and much closer home celebrities like John Abraham with his Hayabusa. Biking is a disease once contracted will never leave you :).
Hence I am expecting that I will keep biking until I am 60(or even more :) ) as a solo biker as well as in a group(my present biking group comprises of prasanna, manju,nandan,raghav,shantu and harsha) and I am waiting for my Level 5 upgrade :). And my dream biking trail would be exploring the Himalayas for 20-30 days. Got to see when will this see the light of the day.
So my last thoughts before I end this article is "keep biking". Always wear a helmet, drive safe , because nothing is worth it, if your life is in question.
"Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it."-Greg Anderson