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Of miles endured before getting ‘saddle sore’

K. Santhosh
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DIFFERENT LEAGUE:Varghese John (left) and Athul Bos.— Photo: K. C. Sowmish
DIFFERENT LEAGUE:Varghese John (left) and Athul Bos.— Photo: K. C. Sowmish

Every cult has its secret or special handshake. The world of endurance motorcycle riding too has. Biking fiends covet membership of the Iron Butt Association (IBA), a U.S.-based organisation dedicated to the sport of safe, long-distance motorcycle riding. The members call themselves the world’s ‘toughest motorcycle riders.’ There is only one way to earn membership: ride one of the several rides the IBA certifies. The minimum requirement is the Saddle Sore 1,000 ride covering 1,000 miles (1,600 km) in 24 hours or less.

Biking enthusiasts Athul Bos and Varghese John, who hail from Thrissur, have earned membership to the IBA. Both currently pursue an engineering course at TCE College, Coimbatore. On December 4, 2011, they rode their motorcycles from Coimbatore, starting at 10:15 p.m., to Hyderabad and back in the next 24 hours. They ended their journey at Erode, obtaining evidences needed by IBA such as petrol bills, photographs, signed witness forms, and debit card swipes at fixed intervals at ATM counters along the route. They did not have time to stop for food and survived on energy drinks and chocolates. An average speed of 66.66 km per hour should be maintained to cover 1,600 km, but when you plan to negotiate Indian roads on a bike, the challenge gets tougher.

We reached Bangalore around 3 a.m. and got onto the Hyderabad road. The headlights of our bikes could not pierce the thick fog. Our watches showed 10.45 a.m. when we reached Hyderabad. Almost 860 km had been covered. When we came back, we lost our way and also got caught in a traffic jam. In the next 4 hours, we had to cover 400 km, Bos said.

At 10 p.m., when they reached Erode the youths smiled at each other. John patted Bos and yelled, ‘we did it.’ They had not told their parents about the trip. When we did, they were angry, but proud of our achievement, said Bos. To prepare for the adventure, the youths had ridden to Goa a few months ago, covering 2,000 km in two days.

They do not intend to let their leathers spoil by disuse. They are going full blast and plan to tear across the Golden Quadrilateral, a highway network connecting New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai.

Riding 6,000 km is not a revolutionary idea, though. Che Guevara, history says, rode 7,000 miles on a motorcycle on his way to planning a revolution. He and his companion rode across the Pampas on a bike, crossed Lago Nahuel Huapi Lake between Argentina and Chile, and hiked through the Andes. I do not know if Che Guevera had to get the nod from his parents, said Bos. The youths have to. Motorcycling across the Quadrilateral may be easier for them than convincing their mothers about the trip.

Two Kerala bikers donned their leathers and rode 1,600 km in 24 hours to enter an exclusive club for world’s toughest riders.

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