Apr 18, 2012

My bucket list of biking

Image : Thanks to Michael Wilson photography
Motorcycles and horses have a very close similarity in my thinking and they fascinate me equinely - oops .. equally ! I do not know which passion came first but they feed one another mutually with petrol and oats and a lot of dreams. I admired bikers and horsemen alike when I was a kid and as I grew up, I learned to ride one of them and the other one still remains a distant admiration. Considering that I had to wait till I was 18 and officially approved by the state to ride a bike as per my uber-cautious parents, riding a horse seems quite a distance away in my life yet. But I still have a strong hope on the fuel prices and I am just waiting for the day when I can ride my own horse to work :-) If I were to make a bucket list of things to do before I die, horse-riding will definitely figure in that list (the Marina beach horse rides are only teasers and they strictly do not fill this bill). So, that sets aside the status and story of one passion for now. As you read on further, you will be introduced to my bucket list of biking - things that I have planned to do at various stages in my life associated with motorcycles and my current status for them respectively.

1. Learn to ride a bike

My father did not own a bike - nor did he learn to ride one - and hence bikes stayed out of my reach in my childhood. Most young biking prodigies pick it up from their fathers and I had to wait a bit long to learn to ride a bike. Peers of my age often sneak the bikes of their fathers to enjoy a stealthy ride and boast about it in classrooms in those times but unfortunately I did not realise that most of those stories are 1:1 fiction mixed. Indeed I had access to the mopeds and gearless scooters but a bike was the elusive ultimatum. Finally after finishing my high school exams, I persuaded my parents to persuade my uncle to teach me to ride a bike.

My first lesson ended in a mishap when I got confused about the brake and clutch and hit a truck from behind. For a few days, I had to live with a bandage in my ears - yes, of all places ! -  since I turned my face at the impact of collision and got an ear full of injuries, not to mention the other ear-full I received at home. It is not easy roaming around not knowing to ride a bike even when you are old enough for college. I have experienced that too and finally accomplished my mission with the help of friends at the age of 19. A slow start by most yardsticks truly but nevertheless, they say that the longer you wait for your love, the more romantic it gets right ?

Status : Accomplished . Officially approved by the state, my parents, peers and my bike-teacher that I can ride competently. 

2. Own a bike

Every young man's first major possession will be his own bike. I too had big dreams about buying my own bike and was waiting for the right moment. In the meantime, I was mastering the art of befriending bike-owners to quench instant gratifications and was evaluating alternatives for my own bike. I dearly wanted to buy a Royal Enfield but an inner voice kept telling me that if I were to ride a Royal Enfield with my bony frame, I would end up somewhere like Vadivelu riding a Bullet in Kadhalan.

Besides there are many practical difficulties for me to own an Enfield - like being forced by theatre parking lot fellows to park the bike with centre stand for example. Eventually the Apache caught my imagination and now I happily own one.

Status : Owner of TVS Apache ; Fit enough to park the bike with centre stand. 

3. Conquering the road

This is a statement that has many interpretations. For some, it is distance; for some, it is speed; for some pedestrians during the rainy seasons in Chennai, it might even be crossing a road by foot. I have had this feeling in two senses so far with my bike. The first is in distance when you accomplish a bike ride to a long destination and take some photo of a milestone or a roadside board indicating the distance/destination you have travelled. This is quite a usual sense too.

I have had this feeling in another interesting sense which most youngsters would not even have tried. What do most people do when they get a chance to ride on empty roads of a buzzing city in late hours? They generally try to reset their top speed meters and zap through the stretch but I have a different taste. I ride slower than usual at such moments - for instance, returning from a night show to home - and imbibe every drop of silence and emptiness filled in the atmosphere. At another instance, one would be fighting for just an inch's space in the same road in broad daylight. But for that moment, you are the king of that road and with some imagination, one can actually visualize the royal treatment showered on you by the city lights.

You can stop at a red signal even when there is no trace of life around you and check the correct functioning of auto-timed signals. You can engage in short distance races with little street dogs. You can park the bike across the road for a few minutes and just sit idle in a 'Zen pose' on the road. You should really experience all these in real life to understand what I am saying.

Of course I do not completely miss the adrenaline rush of high speeds in biking and try that too whenever I get a chance. As of now, my maximum speed stays in 'Roadrash' only. But I am yet to improve on my top speeds and clock a few more above 100 kmph to get the best out of it. That stands 'to-do' in the bucket list.

Status : Tasted success. Created my own recipes of success. Yet to explore and rewrite the records !

4. Marathon rides

I have felt a friendly pulling force with the highway and my mind yearns to befriend as many highways as possible. A marathon ride on a bike opens your eyes to a lot of visions - from being in the comforting bosom of nature to being inches/seconds away from meeting sure death. I have done 3 reasonably long rides so far - from Bangalore to Kannur (~800 kms in two days), Bangalore to Yercaud (~600 kms in 2 days), Chennai to Tada (~350 kms in 1 day). All three have been unforgettable experiences offering a variety of terrains - from steep hills to slippery rain roads , from flat valleys to flat tyres etc.. A marathon on a bike empties your mind first and then fills it with a sense of freedom, adventure, exploration and self-discovery. I wish to explore further and the back-pack rides are on top of the bucket list now. I wish to do a nation-wide round trip and chronicle an experience similar to Che guerra's 'Motocycle diaries some day. Of course unlike Che, I would love to return to the starting point and that too with my bike intact .

Status : Appetizers are awesome. Hungry for the main course.

5. Have a near-death accident but escape with minimal damage

An oxymoron it may sound but yes I wish for it to happen once in my life. Now please do not think weird and imagine me chasing accident scenes. It is just a wild dream and I am tempted to replace 'minimal' in the above statement with 'negligible' as we speak and that should explain my risk appetite. However I have had a sniff of this once in Bangalore when I was switching lanes from a service road to the Bangalore-Hosur highway. I never realised that the road contractors of Bangalore had a habit of building mini walls between lanes as that was how one could explain the difference in heights of the two adjacent lanes; and as I was switching lanes, my bike's tyres hit the elevated adjacent lane sideways and the bike fell to the right taking me down immediately. There  I was lying flat on the left most lane of the 6-lane highway with the bike on top of me arresting any movement  I can think of. Fortunately, there was no speeding truck on that lane for a few critical seconds when the by-standers pulled me and the bike to safety. But I will never the forget the view of the speeding tyres of Tata Sumo on the middle lane inches away and directly in front from where I was flat on the left lane. I have lived to tell that story now. Period.

Status : Does not know whether accomplished or not. Hoping to accomplish this with extra stress on the later half of the wish statement. 

6. Dhoom Machale 

Who knows? With such a pillion rider, even a moped can do the cruise!
What is biking without a chase here and there in life? It is pretty unfortunate that the society has stamped a chase as only for a criminal/movie hero/cop and sidelined the common man biker. I stand up to vehemently oppose this discrimination and demand my right to friendly chase. I would not bother if the cops participate too as long as it is friendly (err... the Police is your friend stuff ? ). Occasionally I have chased a few good looking girls riding an Activa or Scooty Pep in the city's roads but yeah, the thrill in such chases is focused on the girl and not the bike. So , an actual friendly chase figures in my bucket list.

Status : To-do. Maamaa ... readya?

7. To bliss with the pillion rider

Recently I see a growing trend among bikers to take their better halves on an adventure ride for a week or two and scale some peaks. It seems that Khardung-la , the world's highest motorable road, is getting a steady inflow of couples every season and apparently they should be contemplating about opening new facilities exclusively for couples. I even know a personal friend who had this experience. Read these links (link 1 ; link 2)  if you are not enlightened yet. Let us safely assume now that all these husbands do this only out of sheer love for their wives and bikes and are not trying anything like the 'Vaaraay nee vaaraay' Tamil song of yore where the husband takes the wife to a hill top with different aspirations. After reading these stories, even I have started dreaming about a trip to such a destination in the future on a bike with my lady. And yes, I have also mentioned this as a condition to my parents if they are seeing a girl for me :-)

Status : Bike ready; Rider ready; Pillion rider search on progress. 

Image courtesy : Miss. Anita's travelogue

8. Teach a special person to ride a bike

It might be my pillion rider in the trip mentioned above. It might be my kid. But yeah, I would love to teach a special one how to ride a bike and be remembered for it always.

Status : Admissions open . Hurry ! Few seats left ...

9. Taming the tough old ones

We can consider this as a very exclusive personal experience and a Ghazni-like yearning. The most powerful and challenging bikes can also be tamed with some effort. But there are some bikes - some wily old ones - who obey only their master. It is truly very very hard to tame these toughies and I know one such toughie. Unfortunately, I end up in a position to ride this roughie on my own quite often in spite of my best efforts to avoid this scenario. This is a very loyal vintage bike - that's how we call it; he calls it differently - owned by a close friend, which obeys only its master's kick to get started. Attempts to start the bike by lame men like me have often resulted in physical injuries, frustration, anxiety and depression. In my bucket list of biking, I must definitely add this toughie. I truly intend to master this machine and develop the skill of starting it at will..... at least before my end!

Status : Kick .. kick ... kick ... Ok .. steady.. kick .. KICK ... KICK ... KICK .. Neutral ? Yes ... Petrol ? Yes ... kick .. kick .. Pongada dey ..

10. Adventure stories to tell my grandchildren

Speaking of vintage bikes, I still remember the Rajdoot bike my grandfather had when I was a little kid. He sold it before I developed the passion for bikes and all and settled to peaceful gearless scooters due to old age. But later I got to discover the adventurous side of him. He had been a biker in his days - owning a Java, Yezdi and a Rajdoot one after the other. His eyes just light up every time when I ask him to narrate how he took his whole family - wife and 3 kids - on his Rajdoot from Tirunelveli to Madurai (roughly 300 kms two-way) at a time when there were no proper highways to attend a wedding and how he became the star of that wedding with his machismo. Even at a later age, he had taken me on a stealthy ride to a hilltop waterfalls on a Kinetic Honda and that was an unforgettable experience for us both. (We both were punished with starvation that evening for risking both our lives by my grandmother and that was a different story :-) )

I seriously wish to have countless stories to tell my grandchildren about my biking expeditions in my easy-chair days, when the Apaches, Pulsars and Bullets shall become akin to the Javas, Yezdis and Rajdoots.

Status : Mission initiated. Story collection immediately started. Work towards producing children and grandchildren later. 

The wild list :- 

Well.. there are some wild wishes I have about bikes and I wish to add them too in this bucket list. Here we go,

1. I wish to fill petrol at less than Rs. 50 per litre at least once before I die.
2. I wish to ride that weird gadget that Batman rides in his movies. Can we call that a bike ?
3. I wish to learn the tricks of a bike mechanic and even assemble a bike with my own hands.
4. I wish to play Roadrash in real life with all the multiple lives. Sierra Navada !
5. I wish to have one good display pic quality photo of me riding my bike. Crazy buggers .... many friends have screwed it up so far.

Thanks for travelling along with me. By the way, this post is also an entry for the Castrol Power Blogging Contest organized by Indiblogger. Thanks for Castrol and indiblogger for provoking me to write down this list :-)



  1. Anna now you're fit to go with Royal Enfield. Interesting.. Hope you'll get a pillion rider soon :)

  2. Nice one ... the conquering the road part was good... i have lot of experiences in drivin late hours (courtesy: my damn software job)...i used to try a lot of wild things during those times like leave both the hands from the bike handle and see how far you can drive.... and once i drove back home 22kms without pressing the brake... not even once :)

  3. Point 7..... ll definitely try to execute...
    I think u have waited a long to write this. good observation and collection of memories... and vadivelu video ellam mana brandy.... think about raguvaran in rajini fame - siva movie
    vaalthukal keep riding....

  4. :) nice one!
    best wishes for the contest!!

  5. @ Ramanan and Nandha .. thanks folks .. @Raghunathan ya i remember we discussing this pleasure even before once.. That night ride experience community is a very niche one !

  6. @magiceye Thanks brother .. glad to have you visit my blog for the first time

  7. Sooper na.. Wish to see u come to office riding that horse.. But u how how oats cost nowadays? :)

    And Reg point no 9 : Un saavu andha bike la thaan.. Note panni vechikka.

    1. Oats is also costly now eh :-) Then there is no other way .. 3 Rs ku Parle G biscuit vangi saptutu nadandhe vara vendiyadu dan .. !

  8. Thanks Vijay .. Glad you liked it

  9. Interesting list...I just wish you never test the Point ...ever :)

    1. Thanks Punit ... Which point did you mean :-)

  10. Replies
    1. Thanks Sona .. Glad to have you visiting my blog for the first time