Life in the Fast Lane
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Bhaskaran believes that the biking culture picked up in the country in the last decade through the influence of television shows, films and biking events. Biking clubs such as city-specific Harley Davidson and Royal Enfield clubs, or more inclusive clubs such as XBHP and The Bikernis organise weekly and monthly rides. Over the years, track racing and rally races such as the Raid de Himalaya, a gruelling seven-day race across mountain terrain, from Shimla to Srinagar, have helped bikers and introduced new enthusiasts to the community.
The freedom that a lone figure riding into the horizon evokes sums up the appeal of biking. For Hubli-based Ajay Handa, riding his Harley Davidson is a way of letting off steam. As an entrepreneur in the hospitality industry, his workdays are challenging and stressful. Once a week, though, he sheds his corporate suit for his biking gear — leather jacket, jeans, sunglasses and bandana — and takes off on a long ride. "When you're riding, there is only one goal — to let go. Restrictions at work or at home don't matter. When I'm on my bike, I feel like Superman," he says, raising his sleeve to reveal a Superman tattoo.
"There is no doubt that bikers come from a completely different blood group. But contrary to what people think, it's not about tattoos and piercings," says 43-year-old Deepa Malik. For her, it has been about the spirit of survival. Malik has been paralysed from the waist down for 14 years due to recurring spinal cord tumours. She was an avid biker before she fell ill, and after the tumours immobilised her, everyone wrote off her biking career.
But her determination lifted her out of the initial depression and she began to look for ways to get back on a bike. In 2007, her dream to ride again came true, through the intensive exercise that rebuilt her upper body strength and after her friends in the biking community built her a customised all-terrain vehicle. Her story has given hope to so many that she has been honoured with several awards and is now also a part of the TV series, Roadies. "Bikers are eccentric people; they give up the comfort of regular travel and choose to tough it out. They endure cold winds, the hot sun, backaches and have to compromise on the amount of luggage they can carry. A biker does not carry baggage of any kind, neither physical nor emotional," she says.
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