More and more people are getting on to the road, discovers Anoop Bharadwaj. With a renewed appetite to explore the world, it’s an overdrive
Work to ride, and ride to work”, sported with flourish on thousands of motorcycle fenders, had an almost instant appeal among American commuters. Environmentalists today would cry foul over the apparent short shrift their ‘greener commute’ cause is getting, but there’s no denying the sheer thrill of hitting the highway, which a rising number of men and women have embraced with open arms.
While weekend ‘getaways’ have been extremely popular, an unprecedented number of people are kicked by the idea of getting behind the wheel. Distances of around a 100 kilometres are an instant hit with those planning a day long jaunt. Rush Parekh of Team-BHP says, “there is indeed a growing fascination with long weekend rides, but largely with the well-heeled.”
He adds however, that if car and motorcycle sales are anything to go by, the trend is all set to go on overdrive. Off-roaders such as Mahindra Thar, which sold more than 700 units ex-military just last month, make emphatic statements about weekend preferences. Leena, at Tusker Harley Davidson, Bangalore, which organises a ride every Sunday, says, “For many, a Harley is an investment and they work towards acquiring one.” Small wonder then that Tusker has sold more than 550 Harleys till date.
Why the renewed appetite
In retrospect, the ‘escapes’ have always been there. So, why is there now a renewed appetite to race to these goal-posts come weekends? These destinations are now more accessible than ever, and not just logistically. Says Rush, “the Internet and social media have obviously made a huge difference. Not to discount better facilities on offer at these places”. Let alone your regular favourites, offbeat destinations are lapped up. Kodachadri hills and the temple town of Banavasi in Karnataka, Vihigaon falls in Maharashtra or the Chembra Peak in Wayanad are just a few random names that attract weekend riders.
Why do people find these long rides so welcoming? Salil Lawande, a product marketing professional, an avid photographer and a Royal Enfield motorcycle owner says, “The first idea that springs to mind about weekend rides is ‘freedom’. By the end of a dreary work week, all one wants is freedom from drudgery and the joy of beholding an unfettered line of sight of the rolling plains or the high mountains”. A weekend ride, solo or with company, releases the senses.
Says Leena, “Long rides with people from different walks of life are such a leveller. One has to experience it to see the kind of networking and camaraderie that take place.” That said, these rides aren’t all about personal exhilaration or making new friends. Rides in support of causes are not a novelty anymore. Bikerni, India’s female motorcycle club, is extremely popular and regularly arranges rides for causes. Rides are also a way to reconnect with humanity. Salil feels strongly about it. He says, “A decade ago a lot of these infrastructure projects that collectively marred our cityscape were non-existent or were just getting started. Rabid urbanization has ripped apart humanity and shred our last sense of empathy with it”.
In On the Road, Jack Kerouac writes “Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life!” The line certainly wasn’t peculiar to the book. We, in our collective conscience, are sure living it up on the road, come every weekend. See you on the road!