CHENNAI: It’s 1.30 pm on Sunday and the sun seems to have no mercy to show. A soundtrack from the popular drag racing flick Tokyo Drift booms, crystallising the perfect mood for the event. But the sweltry weather is no deterrent for the motley group of young bike enthusiasts who have gathered at the Ispahani Centre in the afternoon to kick-start a nation-wide motor rally highlighting the theme ‘Stop Violence Against Women’.
Organised by the city-based Chennai Super Bikers Club, a 42-member brigade of motorheads, seven male volunteer riders from the club on four superbikes and one back-up car aim to traverse a mammoth 8,000 km in 15 days, cutting across 15 States.
Keeping Chennai as the starting point as well as the final destination, the convoy roared off from the heart of the city around 3 pm on Sunday with the next major pit-stop at Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh, covering over 600 km at a stretch in the first leg.
“We expect to reach Rajahmundry in the wee hours of Monday. From there, our route map goes like Bhubaneshwar, Kolkata, Lucknow, Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Mangalore, Trivandrum, Madurai and finally back to Chennai most likely on June 7 if all goes according to the plan, “ says Syed Jawahar Ali, Treasurer of the Chennai Super Bikers Club.
Sridhar Chellappan, club’s Vice President, says the club was launched in February 2014 with about 20 motorbike afficionados then with a firm social commitment to spread awareness on safe riding.
Cautioning against rash riding, Chellappan says, “I urge the youngsters to mix biking with responsibility. As regards the present rally’s theme, we witness increasing incidents of violence against women in our country, especially in the last few years. As responsible members of the society, we intend to highlight the issue so that it’s taken seriously.”
The four superbikes used for the pan-India adventure include a Yamaha V-Max, an Aprilia Caponord, a Kawasaki ZX 14R and a Kawasaki Z1000, while the back-up riders in tow would cruise through in a Toyota Fortuner. The riders wear full biking gears comprising helmet, jacket, shoes and gloves. The club members say the riders would also meet with one NGO working towards women’s cause from each State they zip past and grant donations to victims of domestic abuse.
Twenty-six-year-old Harish ‘Rossi’, who takes after professional Italian motorcycle racer Valentine Rossi and is one of the riders on the mission, says, “We want to spread awareness to avoid accidents. Riding is fun but one should not indulge in rash-riding. A lot of people are crazy about bikes and superbikes and we utilise this growing interest to promote safe riding by exhorting riders to always wear proper bike gear.”
It’s not much of a surprise when the full-time bike racer who sports Rossi-like sideburns claims that his favourite movie is Torque, an American action film about underground motor cycle gangs and racers.
Zahid Ahamed, the youngest volunteer rider, hopes that their endeavour braving adverse weather and myriad other hurdles would help young riders understand the necessity to keep the roads safe.
“If at least 10 people take in our message and follow the traffic rules and use proper riding gears, we’’ll be happy,” the 22-year-old, who is into construction when not on the road, tells City Express.
For Venkateswaran Aiyyappan, a third-year engineering student, hitting the roads is a better alternative to a sedentary lifestyle and harmful habits. “Many youngsters get addicted to alcohol and drugs. But inculcating a good biking culture can be rewarding as it’ll prod you out of your shell and help you connect with the world around you. It also gets you closer to nature,” he says.
A flash mob prior to the flag-off only added spice to the motor event.