OFFBEAT Age is just a number for this Bullet club that’s for people aged 50 and above
They are well past the first flush of youth, but still love their thumping big bikes and the long road. They are members of 50+ Bulleteers, a Bangalore-based Bullet club for people aged 50 and above. It might as well be called 60+ Bulleteers, because many of its key members have crossed their 60th birthday.
In Chennai for a group ride and a visit to the Royal Enfield factory in Thiruvottriyur, Naozar R. Garda (64), a founder-member, says, “We were in our fifties when we first thought of forming such a group!”
The age-specific Bullet group, which hopes to install chapters around the country shortly, starting with Chennai where celebrated Bullet biker Girish Mylandla (50) is expected to initiate such an effort, was born in 2006 as a whimsical idea in the minds of Velan Balan, now 63 and the president of the club, and Naozar. Velan Balan had floated the idea on the Royal Enfield website. Work and pesky problems kept it from taking wings. In 2011, another Bullet enthusiast Ajit Lakshmiratan, now 63 and the secretary of 50+ Bulleteers, read the old post and came on board. By now, everyone involved desperately wanted a Bullet club where seniors would be in the majority.
“I ride regularly with the Royal Knights, Bangalore, a very good Bullet club that has members drawn from widely varying age groups. It’s when these bikers stop for a break, that the differences in age come to the fore. While the 20-somethings discuss their girlfriends, I have nothing to contribute to the conversation. At my age, I am more comfortable talking about life with grandchildren,” says Ajit.
Interestingly, the biking space the ‘grandpas’ have carved out for themselves, has room for youngsters. Says Ajit, “People above 40 but under 50 can join us as associate members. Those younger — the twenty- and thirty-somethings — are invited to the long-distance expeditions as guest riders. However, the seniors will always constitute the nucleus of the group.”
To prevent the essential nature of the club from getting diluted, the seniors have laid down certain other rules, which include having a maximum of only six guest riders in every expedition. “It can’t be denied that the youngsters pep up the ride. In return, we give them object lessons in safe and responsible biking. We have ourselves imbibed safe-riding techniques of big international riding groups by watching their videos,” says Ajit.
The group insists on riding in full gear, including reflector jackets. And they don’t set out without a Leader Of The Ride and a Sweep (an experienced rider who ensures nobody is left behind). Other interesting features include a presence on Facebook, where a page displays commentaries and photos on every ride, and the group’s growing inclination towards social service. Following a regular ride — conducted every third Sunday — they extend help where it is required.
Explains Ajit, “At our age, we can’t think of donating blood. So, we look at activities such as teaching English to village kids, picking up plastic and donating clothes to the needy.”
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