Out of the Blue

I hate motorcycles. I just can’t understand the purpose of exposing yourself to the elements that earth has to throw at you. Now throw in dozens of imbeciles pottering along highways showcasing their buffoonery on two, four, six, eight or twelve wheeled motors, the prospect of being on two wheels sounds rather half-witted. 

So, when my bunch of buddies decided to go riding, I stepped in with my profound wisdom to try and shake them off. Armed with hostility for two wheeled motors, I made my way to meet the daft bunch. I had to try and preach sense into their minds. It was dangerous to put yourself out there, amidst the circus that we call highway traffic. I just had to ensure they dropped this foolhardy plan of riding, get comfortable, switch on the AC, play some good music and drive. 

Two unrelenting and persuasive buddies, three mugs of coffee and four hours later, I was making a call to a friend to borrow a motorcycle. I had to put some absurd claims to rest. Free your soul they said. Bollocks I said. But then I had to put that theory to test. While I bravely accepted the challenge, the thought of me on a motorcycle after seventeen long years was bothersome and my mind played sinister tricks on me all the way till the morning of the ride. I worked relentlessly on my mind trying to calm it down saying that the ordeal will be over soon, but the growing count of butterflies in my gut stated otherwise. 

So, on the fateful day, I ponied up to meet the bunch at the designated spot. I was actually going on a ride for 800 kilometres; that too, on a pesky and risky two wheeler with no creature comforts surrounded and hunted by the elements. We all listened to ‘riders on the storm’ and flicked our machines to life (nope; this did not happen…but a cliche and the usual drama was amiss and I just had to add this piece :-)). So yeah, we began our journey.

About half an hour into our ride, as I gingerly tread the brakes and gradually feathered the throttle, an involuntary smile fixed itself on my mug. Try as I may I was unable to wipe that little smile off my face. Highly unexpected. I reassured myself that once I rode a tad bit longer, the smile would be gone.

We made our first stop for breakfast after about a hundred kilometres of riding. The smile was just impossible to wipe; and it had just gotten wider. So much that I had to eat with a constant uptick on my face! This was not happening!!!!!!!

The next hundred kilometres the heavens decided to open up and we rode in the rain. Soaking wet but the smile had only gotten wider. I was unable to explain the phenomenon that was unfolding. Riding the twisty roads of the western ghats in the rain and seeing the rays of the Sun pierce through the clouds imprinted a rainbow with a thousand colours on my soul. It felt natural and very fulfilling to be out on a motorcycle. Destinations didn’t matter; neither did time. What started out as a 350 kilometre ride to a destination transformed into a 1200 kilometre motoring exhilaration that I just did not want to end.

I had become a believer! The forgotten joy of riding had cemented itself firmly in my subconscious. I had put the theory to test and I had turned; and I knew that there was no going back. 

Thirty days from the day we returned after the ride, I was riding home from the Triumph service centre on my very own motorcycle. I had found my calling. It’s impossible for me to explain why or how this happened, but one thing I know for sure is that I will forever ride and respect motorcycles.

In the thirty days leading up to me buying the motorcycle, I test rode a horde of motorcycles. I was busy analysing engine performance, brakes, acceleration, handling, cornering, gizmos and gadgets. Spec sheets, comparisons, reviews by ‘experts’ were a part of the meticulous search for the ‘perfect’ motorcycle.

I then happened to ride my friend’s motorcycle again. I was out on the bike for some time before I realised that I wasn’t doing any of the analysing nonsense. I was enjoying myself. I was having fun! I was splashing through roads and puddles like a 5-year old and I was finding excuses to not return the bike back to my friend. It was then that it hit me that she was the one. The one that awakened me to the gratification of being on two wheels.

My Triumph Street Scrambler is far more than the sum of its parts. For me it has brought back a joy to motorcycling that increasingly “perfect” bikes failed to do! The SS works best when she isn’t whizzing down fast & long stretches, but twisting around the scenic back-roads at speeds that allow you to spot a few butterflies, a kingfisher and a pair of chipmunks . That might sound droll but it’s anything but. Everything works in synchronous harmony and the motorcycle feels just right doing that sort of thing.

It’s funny how a simple machine can bring so much joy and purpose to one’s life. I would have never believed that motorcycles would be the thing that woke me up. I guess that’s what makes life interesting. The unexpected. A pleasant surprise. And like most good things in life, I could have never anticipated it! 

And that’s why I ride.

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