India Bike Week: Blame it on the Bikes

Lunch break. Heading for the food counter, Nitin points out a stout man in white dhoti-kurta, red turban and black Ray-Bans. Turns out, he’s not a visitor but a farmer from Kolhapur, exhibiting his modified Enfield 500 – which is shaped like a woman bending over (picture included for the sake of editorial accuracy). He says it took him two years to put the bike together, with a budget of a little over a lakh, excluding the cost of the donor bike.

Next to the media room where we’re taking a break from the heat, Ashish Moudghil, five-time Raid De Himalaya motorcycle champion is sharing his experiences with an audience. He peppers the talk with some heart-stopping footage from the Raid, which is a six-day, 2500-km run across rocky Himalayan territory. He’s that rare racer
who still speaks straight from the heart. And none of his answers start or end with, “I’d like to thank my sponsors…”

“Right now, I have a Yamaha WR450 F, but the BMW F700 GS is my favourite bike,” he says, pointing to the BMW Motorrad stall in front of us.  So what are the bare essentials on a Raid, we ask? “The rider has to know how to fix his bike if anything goes wrong between checkpoints. And a sleeping bag is compulsory – in case he can’t fix the bike himself, and he’s stranded for the rest of the night until help arrives.”

IBW’s first edition is drawing to a close, having hosted 7,000 visitors and 3,000 bikes. Nitin and I have seen enough metal and eaten enough dust. We decide to head back home. If this first edition is any indicator, I’m booking my seats for next year already.

(Words: Abhinav Mishra, Photos: Nitin Rose)