Biker clubs are fun. They also mean serious business. Arvind G.R. on motorcycling groups that ride the change
Jack Jigg, founder of the pan-India Royal Enfield club Wolfe Pack, has a logic that is simple and effective: a rumble of Royal Enfields going down a road is sure to catch the eyes of passers-by. The same goes for a cause that is riding on them.
Many other biking groups subscribe to this view, which is why you find many a ride that is hitched to a cause.
Enfield Motorcycle Club of Chennai (EMC2) was formed when a bunch of motorcyclists bumped into each other, on an unsuspecting Sunday at Mahabalipuram.
“Now we do rides, hang out together and customise our bikes together. We socialise pretty much around our bikes,” says Prateek Darolia, founding member of EMC2. Prateek’s restaurant Grill Ministri in Mogappair is the congregating point for EMC2. It is there that they discuss bikes and society, over a cuppa.
Groups such as EMC2 give the lie to the worldwide perception of bikers as a law unto themselves. They are responsible citizens to the point that elaborately plan campaigns, some aimed at drawing eyes to issues and the others at raking in money to support some cause.
The United States has for long had groups such as these. In contrast, India had few groups that clubbed a fun ride with a social cause. But the scene is changing, says Prateek.
“EMC2, has participated in many international awareness rides, including The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride(DGR) and World wide Relay rides(WWRR), which have now made their way into India,” says Prateek. While DGR raised awareness about prostrate cancer, WWRR, which is an ongoing initiative, helps raise funds for children with terminal illnesses.
WWRR, which started in Arizona, USA in 2013, will go through 23 other countries. The ride is symbolised by the teddy bear that travels pillion through the entire ride, which will eventually head back to the US. Jack Jigg was the national coordinator for the India/Nepal section of the ride.
Says Jack, “It is great working closely with individual riders and clubs to get the loveable globetrotter Charlie Bear from place to place.”
Charlie Bear vroomed into Chennai from Pondicherry on May 22 riding pillion with Chitra priya, a well known rider from Chennai. He was then handed over to EMC2 which took Charlie Bear on the Chennai leg.
In Chennai, Charlie visited the Royal Enfield factory and the Kapaleeshwarar temple, and was then gifted a lungi for his long ride home.
More recently, EMC2 participated in the beach clean-up drive along the city’s coastline, organised by Chennai Trekking Club.
Confident and caring
Wolfepack India is a typical biker group: fun-loving, confident and one that wears its attitude on its sleeve. It has 10 chapters across India, which include cities like Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi, and whenever and wherever two Wolfepackers cross paths, they tell each other “just shut up and ride”.
Started in Hyderabad in 2011 by Jack Jigg, the group has a serious side to it, one that has launched a dozen campaigns over the last three years. The group has combined with other groups, some of the into biking such as Brotherhood of Bulleters Motorcycling Consortium (BOBMC), for what is called ‘zero-tolerance, anti-rape awareness ride’ and also cancer, and rider and traffic safety rides. Jack has participated in Bikers Against Racial Discrimination (BARD) ride staged by BOBMC.
Wolfepackers congregate on social networking sites. “Everyone learns about a ride through Facebook, Whatsapp or text messages,” says Jack. “We essentially ride for pleasure, but also know when to be selfless and pin our colours to a cause.”
Beyond the ride
India Bulls Riders, a pan-Indian Royal Enfield motorcycle club with a strong presence in metropolitan cities, including Delhi and Mumbai, is helping out the Concern India Foundation, a voluntary organisation working for people across age groups that have different needs, with a fund-raising event, Splash, in July. The event which covers most of the metros is meant for children with special needs and will have IBR volunteering and partly funding it.
Siddhanth Sampath, moderator of IBR’s Chennai chapter, says since November last, the group has done nearly half-a-dozen community service rides, together with the Bangalore chapter. These two chapters, so close to each other as to shun separate identities for themselves, together take children from orphanages on fun rides to interesting places. Taking children from Abhilasha, an orphanage in Bangalore, to Wonderla, an amusement park in Bangalore, is a case in point.
Race for racial acceptance
Bikers against racial discrimination (BARD) is one of India’s biggest awareness rides conducted by BOBMC, an umbrella organisation for many motorcycling clubs. Launched launched after the alleged racial assault and subsequent death of Nido Tania in New Delhi, BARD does protest rides when issues of racial discrimination crop up.
In February, 2014, a group of Bangalore-based Royal Enfield riders conducted short BARD protest rides across India to protest racial discrimination of people from the Northeast.
Abdul Khan of IBR Bangalore who took part in this BARD ride, says: “Racial discrimination is unheard of among biker communities. Thank God, I am a biker.”