Life in the Fast Lane
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Dressed in a white kurta with flowing white hair and a beard, and a ready smile, Bose stood out like a gentle Dumbledore amid a crowd of leather-and-metal-studded bikers at the India Bike Week held earlier this month on Vagator beach in north Goa. The first independent national bike festival, sponsored neither by Harley nor Enfield, nor other brands, it saw around 1,500 visitors, and was a mix of the bizarre and the touristy. People stared at the gleaming bikes lined up outside the venue, as eager as birdwatchers on a sunny morning: "Look, there's a Kawasaki," or "That's the new Harley." At the bikini bike wash corner, bikers waited in queue to have their motorcycles washed by white girls in bikinis, while other visitors gazed at biking gear and rifled through T-shirts at the flea market. From speed devils to proud Harley owners, the professional stunt-rider and the law consultant who likes to bike on weekends — the many faces of India's biking culture were on the beach.
Twenty-four-year-old Urvashi Patole from Pune is an example of a growing diversity in the circuit. She started at the age of 14, trying stunts on an Activa. After spending months mastering the use of a two-wheeler, and breaking a few bones along the way, she began to go on long rides and stunting professionally. She was soon adept at wheelies (when you lift the front wheel of the bike and ride on the back wheel), doughnuts (spin in circles) and Christ (biking with hands held out). The idea of a female professional biker was unheard of 10 years ago. "I would go off alone on these rides, tie my hair and keep it hidden under the helmet. I would not take it off even when I got off the bike," she says. Now, though, Patole is the co-founder of an all-woman motorcycling club called The Bikernis. Two years old, the club has over 200 members.