Sunday, October 23, 2011

Marco Simoncelli - RIP

Marco Simoncelli. No, I will not pretend to have followed his career all along or to quote from rote all his podium wins or teams that he has worked with. I just know that this racer really caught my fancy in MotoGP though I have been really following it only for the past 3 seasons or so.

What really interested me was the fact that he would somehow take positions from seemingly impossible places - overtaking at just the right time, taking calculated risks sometimes that even hardened "veterans" would think twice to! And that crazy hairstyle that he had - his hair peeking out from under his helmet too! I have thought that it would even slow him down sometimes! Just cannot say anymore rather than say that he will be missed. I will miss watching him on his white Honda screaming down at a turn, stick out his lanky leg and try and take the turn full on - with that stupid orange hair sticking out of his helmet, trying to fly away! I am sure he had a crazy grin (picture) stuck on his face everytime he overtook someone. Will miss you Marco! MotoGP has surely lost a "cool" racer!


Friday, October 14, 2011

Metal or plastic - biking? Royal Enfield and other assorted oil-leaks!

I've been an Royal Enfield fan for many years. My earliest memories of a Royal Enfield was in my hometown where we'd have many regal old men dhup dhupping around in their Enfields. In fact, many of them still own it but cannot ride it and neither are they willing to sell it to the next gen.

Well, its this love that kindled a fire that has been living within me for all these years. I really believed that a bike should be a Royal Enfield and nothing less. But as the years passed by, I did get some respect for even the smallest of bikes and understood that biking is more than just about one bike. I even owned a TVS Max 100R for around a year or so and really, really loved the bike. To look back, I really appreciate that year spent with that bike - it has taught me things about the philosophy of biking that I might never have learnt otherwise. It was a modest 98.2cc two-stroke engine that was way more fun in those days. Modest mileage too. But fun, yes!

Anyways, fast forward to the future and I start earning and all that - no savings though mind it! But loans were cheaper in those days and I was confident enough to try on an Enfield. Though my heart earned for the Standard 350, I thought that the Thunderbird would be a more suitable choice - what with it being a newer bike with the new AVL engine too. So did the test ride and was impressed - what with having ridden a Max 100 R last! So plonked down the money and have owned the bike for 6 years now. Not without its problems though.

But that is not what this story is about. The Royal Enfield has its share of problems. The damn machine would be fine for a month and suddenly, out of the blue, would not start. You take a rickshaw to office and go through hell for that. You get back from office and try to start the bike - she would start without any problems at all! WTF!!

I have had days I would wake up early in the morning just so that I can start the bike up and keep it ready to ride to office. But start it up, it would still not start up, leaving me stranded. But again, that is not what this story is about.

I have had times I've totally hated the Enfield. Hated it. I then decided that enough was enough and that I would buy another reliable bike at the first opportunity. Planning came to fruition when I could finally lay my grubby hands on some cash and I decided to buy the Honda CBR 250R. But again, that is not what this story is about.

The story is actually about the attitude. The biking attitude that I have come to respect. This respect has also been helped by my Royal Enfield club - Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Club where members not just love the Enfield but all other bikes as well. When some noobs loudly proclaim that "Plastic (read Japanese) bikes suck. Metal (read Enfields) are the best", they are met with sniggers from the club members. Though we love our Enfields, we have equal or more respect for other bikes - including so-called "Jap Crap"! To tell you the truth - I hate that term. I'd equate that to some sort of racist chant!

It is this what I actually wanted to write about. Biking is about the attitude. The sense of one-ness with the open roads. Respect - for the bike, for your fellow-biker, for traffic rules and for other road users. To understand that biking requires your complete attention - you are not driving inside a cage that protects you from all the elements of the road.

To all Enfield-only fans - I have this to say. Open your mind - biking is about the attitude. Not the attitude that the Enfield is the only bike there is and there ever will be. I wouldn't totally agree to this statement from a forum - "Once you've ridden another bike, you'll never ride an Enfield after that". But I would ask you to try other bikes too - including so-called "plastic" ones. You will realise that there is another spectrum to the rainbow too. Err, not sure if that can ever be correct technically but you get my drift.

Ride safe!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October 2011

Wake me up, wake me up when September, err, October ends...