Vinu S. Vishwanathan rode 2537 km in 34 hours and became the third Indian and first South Indian to complete Iron Butt Association's Bun Burner Challenge.

He gave up a cushy job to hit the road. And when he couldn't figure out how to fill his tank without a job, he didn't mind mending and fixing bikes of people who knew about his super mechanical skills. Vinu S. Vishwanathan is 26 years old but when he set out to learn a two-wheeler with gear a few years back, he wasn't sure if he would be able to do it. And when he had the confidence, the road was his only company. Vinu's hunger for the road made him look at different ways to be on his two-wheeler. Yet even he wouldn't have imagined then that he'd achieve a rare feat on his bike.

Vinu now becomes the first South Indian to complete the Bun Burner challenge a feat that is certified by the Iron Butt Association (IBA) USA, a club of the ‘World's Toughest Riders'. Before setting out on the Bun Burner Challenge, Vinu took up Iron Butt Association's Saddlesore ride which is an endurance ride. “I had to cover 1600 km in less than 24 hours,” he says. The documented ride was completed and “apparently I was good,” smiles Vinu.

And what was the Bun Burner Challenge like? “This international endurance challenge requires the rider to complete 1500 documented miles (2414 km) in 36 hours. I, however, finished the record ride by clocking 2537 km on the route – Hyderabad to Kanyakumari via Anantapur, Bangalore, Krishnagiri, Salem, Madurai, Kanyakumari and back in just 34 hours and 24 minutes,” he says with pride.

Life hasn't been an easy ride for him though; othing has come without challenges and hurdles. He says, he is still struggling to get a sponsor for himself.

Personal journey

After completing his studies his sensible inner self said he should take up a job. “So I did and joined a corporate firm. After spending weekdays at work I couldn't wait for the weekend to ride on my bike. I somehow managed close to a year with the firm and one fine day after a lot of debate and discussion with my inner self, I decided to quitand follow my heart. But when it came to following my heart I didn't have the funds. To make money I would do anything related to bikes, right from fixing to delivering bikes. And with whatever money I saved from money made that way I did a total of 14 inter-State rides,” recollects Vinu.

So are his parents happy with their son riding? “Not at all. Dad is an army man and he doesn't approve of anything which is not ‘Army'. He still can't accept the fact that I am rider. Mom is more bothered about my safety though she isn't against my riding; she isn't the most excited person either,” rues Vinu. He adds, “the moment I finish a ride, I have lots of people calling and wishing me and wanting to ‘hang out' with me. But eventually only those who wait for me at the finish and believe in me matter the most.”

This riding bug bit Vinu young, when he went on a ride with friends, but little did he know back then that riding would become such a passion. He then decided on a South Solo last year. After that he wanted to do a return from Cochin to Hyderabad “which mostly takes three days. I wanted to complete the ride in a day and finally did it in 17 hours,” he says, delight writ large on his face .

Once that was done, Vinu knew he had to prove himself and not stay content with the rides. The race track in Chennai was his next stop.

Safety is important

This 26-year-old somehow feels he is not the only one who lacks encouragement, “In a country where cricket is next to God what more can we expect? Take for instance the kabaddi team. They returned in a shared auto after winning the world cup,” he points out. As a rider he feels, “it is lack of a racing track which forces riders to race on roads like ORR and then mishaps happen. I wouldn't suggest anyone to race on roads and risk lives,” says Vinu.

What are the challenges he faced in the long ride, “At certain points of time I felt like giving up. Especially when my ears started to bleed and I had pus coming out from my eyes. Since I was wearing the helmet all the time, it blocked my ears and hence the bleeding. I couldn't stop, except for re-filling. I kept going in that manner and finally reached my destination. When I saw my friends waiting for me at the end, I was delighted,” he adds.

This biker on his Blue Yamaha R-15 however, says he is a responsible motor bike rider and doesn't go at break-neck speed. “I ride at permissible speed limits on the highway and when I feel the need to race, I make it to the racing track in Chennai,” reasons Vinu.

Literally a burner…

The Bun Burner is an endurance ride that requires a motorcyclist to cover 2,500 kilometres over a span of 36 continuous hours. Ride needs to be backed up with adequate proofs like ATM receipts/credit card receipts/electronic fuel bills etc. along with the start and end witnesses. Only a handful of Indian riders have been certified with the IBA Bun Burner certificate in India so far and Vinu is the first from South India to have achieved this feat.

Five steps to earning a Bun Burner GOLD

1. Choose a route

2. Get start witnesses

3. Collect and track receipts

4. Get end witnesses

5. Submit the documentation.

Vinu's suggestions for endurance riders/ motorcyclists:

1.Plan every tiny detail as much as possible in terms of route, fuel stations and every other little thing possible.

2. Make sure you are in great physical and mental state.

3. Make sure the bike is ready to face the demands of such a gruelling ride and have all the right set up for it.

4. Try and gather as much information as you can from people who have done or attempted the ride

5. Make sure you understand your own physical capabilities and limitations in terms of how long you can ride without a break, how long you can manage to stay up without sleep, food, etc.

6. Once you know your own limits, try and work alongside them to achieve the goal.

7. Keep yourself hydrated with water, carry plenty of energy drinks.

8 Always wear safety gear regardless ofthe magnitude. Be positive and ride safe.

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MetroplusJune 28, 2012