Riding high on an adrenaline rush
KOCHI: The lure of the unknown terrain coupled with the powerful rev of the motorcycle’s engine is all that a biker needs to feel that adrenaline rush. And it is the need for such a feeling that is propelling youngsters in Kochi towards rugged motorcycle riding. Well, the bonus of getting to see the beauty of nature in its raw form adds to the thrill. From the misty hills in Munnar to the snow-clad terrains of the Himalayas and the slippery slopes of Palkulamedu, the millennials are roaring to take the risks, involved while charting the unexplored paths, head on.
Motorcycling is turning into a popular fad. Year after year the number of those going off on a ride, regardless of destinations, is growing. But seasoned roadies have a word of caution for the youngsters joining the flow; use proper riding gears and adhere to road laws.
Of course minor falls and scrapes are a part and parcel of the package, but if one is cautious the ride never ends. Peter Vinu Pallathatta, a rider from Kochi, said, “You live only once, so it makes sense to explore it to the fullest when you get a chance.” Most of the riders like to ride slowly in high gear on a flat stretch of road. While many others like the misty mountain rides and dirt track races. Munnar is the perfect destination to explore on two wheels in the state. Depending on their fitness, riders can pick a range of options, be it the day trips or even week-long expeditions.
Trends change from time to time. Rather than buying just any motorcycle, people now go in for the types that serve their purpose, especially racing. Royal Enfield races are a new trend. While, mud and dirt track races have now become common. Many youngsters from the state have placed podiums in the Royal Enfield national events.
Besides these races, ecosystem riding is revving up. In ecosystem riding people explore different locations with their friends and fellow riders. Royal Enfield had conducted ‘Onam Ride’ from Kochi to Munnar from September 8 to 10. It also conducted off-road trip to Chathurangappara which is 1,200 ft from sea level. Lijin Raj, Royal Enfield, Regional Sales Manager said basically, the motorcycle company is promoting leisure biking. “This is the second ‘Onam Ride’ which was organised by RE. We are aiming an integration of RE community,” he said. Royal Enfield also organises and supports many motorcycling events and rides globally, more prominently the Rider Mania–an annual gathering of Royal Enfield riders from all over the world. The Himalayan Odyssey is the most arduous motorcycle ride. It spans some of the toughest roads and highest mountain passes in the mighty mountains. Royal Enfield also conducts the popular ‘One Ride’ where people around the world ride out on their motorcycles on the first Sunday of April.
Several clubs in the city also organise rides. Krishna Raj, secretary, Bullet Buddhasa group of hardcore Bullet riders founded in 2007 said they have 35 members now. They conduct four rides every year and will be conducting a ride to the oldest gathering of Indian bikers—the annual Rider Mania by BOBMC (Brotherhood of Bulleteers Motorcycling Consortium). The Rider Mania will be held in Mumbai in January 2018. The team members have also gone on many solo rides to different destinations and terrains under varied weather conditions.
Arun Kumar Thachilethu and six other IT professionals from Kochi had recently gone for a two-week-long ride from Delhi to Leh-Ladakh. They covered Delhi, Pathankot, Srinagar, Leh, Khardungla, Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, Sarchu, Manali, and Chandigarh. They took two weeks to complete the 3,000kms ride. Arun said despite the hostile terrain the ride was worth dying for. The wind and slippery roads made the ride very treacherous. “We were riding at a slow pace due to the curved roads, which is a common feature in the mountains. But we picked up momentum once we reached the straight roads,” he said. In their group, 80 percent rode Royal Enfield while the rest own Duke, Unicorn, Aventure and other new generation bikes. “Despite all its charm, the ride was not without its share of downsides. While riding through areas like Leh and Ladakh, where the air is thin, the riders were left gasping for breath,” said Arun.
Francis George Attokaran, Tags Bikes, Thrissur said rides are a window to nature. “For me, it has never been about the destination. It’s the journey that counts. Leaving the daily grind of office work behind, every ride helps me reinvent myself,” he said.
Richie Prakash a rider, who came all the way from the UK for the Munnar ride, said he began making regular trips to India just to ride. “Well, it all started when I rode my first bike at 13. I didn’t get to enjoy it for long since I moved to the UK. And riding a bike in the UK is tough. But it was all I could think of and I began reading and researching. Che Guevara ‘Motorcycle Diaries’ had a great influence on me. Besides Dulquar Salman’s movie-Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi- lit a spark in me.”
Honeymoon on bikes
Bride and groom generally plan their honeymoon much in advance. But several couples in the city are preferring to ride to Munnar, Leh, and Ladakh instead of the exotic foreign locales. Bullet riders said there has been a steep rise in the numbers of women riders. “Royal Enfield not just men’s forte today. Ladies too do keep the spirit up when it comes to motorcycles and rides. The number of women and couple riders is increasing. There are a couple of women riding clubs in Kerala and many in India. A trend which we couldn’t think of 5 years back.”
Do’s before a ride
Wear safety gear l Obey traffic rules l Avoid rash driving l Keep yourself hydrated l Sleep well and eat well l Check condition of the bike before the ride l Carry additional spares l Carry a tool kitl
Palkulamedu lUrumbikkara l Pooyamkutti l Memuttam l Kava l Malakkapara l Mamalakandam l Ellapetti l Munnar
All the machines are checked by the safety officer before every ride. The riders have a certain formation while they ride, either single row or double row like a convoy. Also, they have a Road Captain (the leader of the Convoy), Pilot (who checks the discipline), and a sweeper (who never leaves anyone behind).
Besides the quintessential long all-terrain riding boots, short warm weather gloves, anti-flare eyewear, water-resistant, elbow or shoulder-padded riding jacket or body armour and full face or modular helmet, be sure to carry a good navigator so as to not lose yourway and capture the ride, best moments in high definition with a GoPro Hero 4 Adventure Edition.
Learn to fix minor issues like changing different kinds of cable and fixing flat tires.
Do carry an extra set of clutch/handbrake/throttle cables and tubes for both the tires.
Besides carrying a decked-out tool kit, make sure you have a small pouch of grease for your bike chain, as it may wear off, especially on long rides through dust, mud, and rain.
Peter Vinu Pallathatta
Rider name: Lone Wolf, From Kochi, Riding since 2009
Has travelled to 16 states and 5 union territories on a Royal Enfield. He was adjudged first in the All India 350cc dirt track challenge in 2015 BOBMC Rider Mania Chandigarh. Owns a private race track where Royal Enfield and Triumph conduct their experiential off-road events.