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Where the motorbike maniacs meet

Debapriya took up riding the RE as a challenge when people taunted her

Debapriya took up riding the RE as a challenge when people taunted her  

Say ‘Bullet’ and people go nuts over the very mentions of iconic thumping bike. Royal Enfield worshippers will gather by the thousands in Goa this weekend for Rider Mania. BHUMIKA K. speaks to four bikers from Bengaluru...

Beaches, bikes, beer, brotherhood (and sisterhood), biking mania. The combination couldn’t get headier. The beach town of Vagator in Goa plays host to Royal Enfield enthusiasts from November 18 to 20 this year, where more than 5,300 bike-crazy people from across India and the world are expected to gather to revel in the joy of riding at Rider Mania. The Himalayan, the latest from the RE stables is sure to get a lot of attention this year.

There’s also going to be some serious fun -- with off-road and dirt track training sessions, for the first time a learner’s course for those who accompany rider friends, dirt track racing, slow race, maze chase, obstacle course trails, assembly wars, carry your bike contests and more add to the spirit of the gathering. There’s an early morning ride planned, a filmmaking workshop on the cards and a custom bike exhibition to boot. For details see royalenfield.com/ridermania

Over 1,100 Bengalureans are headed for this annual motorcycling festival.

MetroPlus chats with four of them.

Murthaza Junaid, 32

Perhaps one of Bengaluru’s most recognisable names when it comes to the Royal Enfield, Murthaza started off as a part-time mechanic when he was barely 14. Today his workshop Art of Motorcyles is the adda where bike worshippers gather. Murthaza, an automobile engineer, owns 20 Royal Enfield bikes, starting from the 1969 edition to the RE Himalayan. Between 2004 and 2014 he’s won about 50 trophies for RE races all over the country; he holds the record for the fastest uphill RE ride on Nandi Hills! He spends most of his time these days in Ladakh as a bike tour guide.





He’s credited with turning the slow “bud bud” bike -- the ‘ haathi ka bachcha’ --into a racing motorcycle. “Converting the RE into a dirt bike is my forte. As a young motorhead I used cut off the RE’s mud guards to make it lighter and sleeker. There were many who used to ask me why I’m turning such a ‘majestic gaadi’ into a ‘circus ki gaadi’...” he laughs as he looks back at over 10 years of racing. Now he’s quit racing to support and sponsor other fellow bikers. Having worked as a volunteer with Rider Mania and designed their racetrack, Murthaza gets impassioned talking about the sense of brotherhood at the event. “It’s the largest gathering of people who love their REs. You may not know someone. You just smile and start talking about their bike. The new and experienced riders come together. You learn so much. There will be more than 5,000 maniacs who wont stop talking about their motorcycles! It’s a motorcyclist’s heaven.”






Debapriya Gupta, 28

Debapriya, an IT professional, got into biking because of her love for travel. “When I moved from Kolkata to Bengaluru, I was looking to travel on my own, meet new people, explore new cultures. A car was an option but the feel of wind in your face is more exhilarating,” she laughs. She now rides a Thunderbird 350, but it’s been a long journey. She didn’t know how to ride a bike, but was sure she wanted a Royal Enfield. It was more of a challenge thrown in her face. “All tanked up, it’s a 200 kilo bike and I’m five-feet-two...it’s a huge challenge just to manage the bike. I got pretty demotivated initially and people would taunt me a lot. So I took it up as a challenge. I first bought the bike. Because no one parts with their RE if you say you want to practise on it! And then my friend Vinod patiently taught me over weekends to ride it. It was a slap on the face of all who taunted me when I started to bike...”





At work she’s a very different person, and on her bike , Debapriya says she transforms into someone else. In the last two years that she’s been riding, she’s almost clocked 20,000 kilometres riding to Ladakh, Valparai, Chitradurga. She rides with a closed group of friends who call themselves Porkis and has also ridden with the non profit group Pathfinders that combined riding with a cause. This will be her first time at Rider Mania and she’s planning to ride to Goa with a group of friends. “It’s supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience!” she says rather excited.








Sanjay Kumar N. (Tribal Sanjay), 35

Sanjay, popularly known as Tribal Sanjay (he says people won’t recognise him if he’s not called that!) in Bengaluru is headed to Rider Mania for his third year in a row. First, to get the name out of the way, he says he comes from a remote village and so people simply started calling him Tribal Sanjay! Along with his brother, he runs a bike modification workshop on New BEL Road called Tribal Motokraft; they also have their own racing track near Devanahalli. “I go to Rider Mania to have fun. Riding is my passion. And after all, it’s Goa! You meet riders from all over the country. A lot of people I have met there have gone back and sent their bikes to my workshop to have them modified.”





He owns three Royal Enfields including an Electra 350 and the Classic 500 and is waiting for his Himalayan to arrive. An RE speed racer, he’s constantly winning awards, including last year the first place at Rider Mania. “I had taken my modified gaadi. But the organisers said it was not in keeping with the modification rules, so they gave me a stock gaadi; I won even on that,” he says with pride. This year the rule is that the engine or suspension can’t be modified. He’s gone on a Himalayan ride and says he rides his REs only in races otherwise. “I can’t ride it on Bengaluru’s main roads,” he says in all earnest. This year, he’s being sponsored by Art of Motorcycle to participate in Rider Mania.

Kamala Ramesh, 38



This tech delivery manager bikes her way to work every day from Jaynagar to Manyata Tech Park. Kamala has been riding for the last three years and says she became a Royal Enfield biker because it’s all about the cult that goes way back in India -- “It’s really the thumping sound of the bike,” she concludes. She went to Rider Mania last year too where she had her first experience of dirt tracks. She says she doffs her hat to all the women bikers who won that tough one last year. This year she plans to participate in the slow bike race and dirt track race, apart form the arm wrestling and beer drinking competitions. “While you tend to go to Rider Mani with your own circle of friends, you surely step out of your circle. It’s good to meet with the large community of bikers, ‘fellow mad people’, network, hear their opinions, share riding experiences, ogle others’ bikes,” she rattles off.

She’s part of two motorcycling groups in Bengaluru -- Hop On Girls and Free Spirits Motorcycling Club. She usually goes on long rides on weekends; her last ride was to Gadikota and Belum Caves in Andhra Pradesh. She manages one long distance ride a month, or sometimes more, depending on work. In July she rode to Leh and Ladakh. At Rider Mania, she agrees that men dominate the rider force, but adds, “But women are breaking stereotypes.”

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 10:26:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Where-the-motorbike-maniacs-meet/article16448510.ece

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