Bisons’ Nest: Kahani Gira Ki

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I have no idea were to start from, so I guess I will start from my heart. I just learned few days back on my first ride with Bisons that I am an admirer of classic bikes and not a rider at heart. I may actually enjoy custom designing bikes more that riding them. I would love to draw, sculpt the Enfield bikes than actually take the effort to ride one. BUT that’s changing a little now…after my ride to Mulshi with Bisons on 27th and 28th of July 2013.

For me my love for the classic started during my NCC days where the army men would show up on matt green military Bullets with that signature muscular fuel tank. After school I have forgotten about the bike. Then one day in 2012, some 25 years later, when I saw the Classic Battle Green on the website, I was like…wow! Lets get this! I ran to the Bandra showroom and they disappointed me by telling me that it’s not for civilians. I seriously considered joining the Territorial Army if I can get my Battle Green. Even spoke to an Ex Military friend, was disappointed when he told me that even he can’t use it after his retirement. Then as a 2nd choice I considered Desert Storm, which now I am totally in love with.

When I went to book the bike at Nerul Showroom, on my 38th birthday, they offered me a test drive, which I had to politely refuse and I had to let them know that I am yet to learn riding a bike! The showroom guy told me… “Sir seedhe enfield pe ha? Why don’t you buy some other bike for a while…get used to riding.” I wondered how he must be able to sell any bike with this attitude. I told him not to worry about that and accept my booking amount. He then told me to come for a few test rides when I am ready and I never went back till I had to collect my bike 6months later! I borrowed a friend’s Pulsar and learned a bit. But I had to take my Brother-in-law along to bring the beast home.

After that the mental battle started. I will look down from 5th floor to the parking and imagine Duggu (That’s what I call my bike) yelling out “tu neeche aaja, teri band bajata hu!”. I approached HIM(such a macho bike, I cant call HER/SHE etc) like an armature cowboy will approach a wild horse…and yes I was kicked off the back a few times. But slowly I made peace with Duggu. I took him for WALKS, as even aunties on Activa would overtake me. The predefined rules were, we will never cross 50-60 kms. We will even walk in the 1st,2nd gears most of the time. If we don’t see any thing in the way for the next few hundred meters, we will get to the very special 3rd gear and hit full speed at 50-60kms!





When I spoke to Sam and Swapnil, I communicated my 60km principle. But they told me that its rain…we won’t ride very fast…you will manage etc. But they had no idea how well equipped I was. All the riding I have done in 7-8 months totaled up to less than 500 kms! The longest ride was 30kms. I had no idea, what I was getting my self in to, when I registered for Bisons’ Nest!

I carefully rode Duggu to Panvel and joined the gang along with Swapnil. From here the real fun started. While everybody else was busy munching vada paav, I just wanted to start. I was assigned 2nd position in riding order as Paaji had sensed my expertise. After 30mnts my great speed and cautious riding saw me slipping down to number 7, 8. All the time some one would keep to my right, protect me from traffic, signal me to slowdown, increase speed, watch out for potholes, cows, dogs etc. What was comforting is that I was always assured that some body is constantly seeing to it that I ride safe. But after Lonavla, I was running out of patience and loosing my focus. I have done 3times more than my max distance of 30kms in one go. I wanted to reach the destination, and had stopped enjoying the journey. It was like I was expecting something to go wrong; I just wanted to finish riding for the day. When we stopped for a small tea/snacks break on way…there were a group of young couples on bikes. I could see them admiring us, our bikes etc. One girl was constantly giving me the ‘looks’ but I was more worried about not dropping my bike in the mud, in front of her, while trying to reverse it. I struggled for a minute, but just managed to gracefully turn around and start. Flirting was never so tough!

From then on I was on a countdown mode and was getting frustrated that the journey is not ending. In all this madness…I once almost missed a puddle and just applied the front breaks heavily. Result…I earned my ‘Gira’ title. The bike stopped, but it tilted to the right, to avoid any damage to myself I tried to pull my self out, which resulted in an almost epic dive in to the puddle. Like a martial arts expert I was back on my feet, more concerned if Duggu still looked good. Everybody was checking first if I was fine. Only then they gave a good look at Duggu, he was fine too! They got him to his tyres, and told me he is also ready to go. From there on I dipped a few more Kms in speed, got a little more cautious, and didn’t want any more stunts.

On the ghats, I was almost walking my bike uphill at the same time wondering when I will gracefully ride like my partners. Then came the final test, just when I thought its over for the day, at the resort entrance. From the gate the next 20-30 meters went down hill at a good 35-40 degrees. I was told to go just after Swapnil. I managed that just to realize that the parking is just at the end of another similar patch that goes uphill. I told my self, lets do this boy, and we are done for the day! And I managed it. When we settled down in the dormitory I have already started worrying, how the hell will I get my bike out of the parking the next day morning and how will I do all the riding that got me here…I missed home!

The lunch was served; I had a moderate meal and didn’t enjoy the food. I am typically the guy who eats a lot when happy, sad or angry. I learned that when I am anxious and scared hunger goes for a toss. In the evening we had a long session of chat, food and drinks.

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I ate to survive. I got my turn to introduce my self, my riding etc. I admitted I was scared. Paaji gave me the true Gurumantras.

1. 80% leg brakes and 20% hand brakes.

I applied the hand brake to do my epic dive and learned the hard way!

2. Look where YOU want to go, and your bike will follow.

Yes, I looked, saw my bike go where I was looking, on the return journey I did a bit of off-roading…to be rechristened GIRA!!!
BUT, on the return journey after Pune till Lonavla, I did better looking where I wanted to go. It helped me ride with some confidence, not dropping my speed dramatically at turns. I could see a few guys doing Thumbs Up to me…each time it felt like they were giving me an Oscar Awards!

The guys, most of them much Junior to me in age, treated me like a kid brother, taking good care of me each time I did a stunt. They always assured that I was doing fine. They checked my brakes, lights and even gave me an extra bungee cord to secure my shabbily packed bag. They were truly selfless. My special thanks to each one of you guys for helping me all the way. I am not taking names, as I will have to write down all the names any way. Some helped me as and when needed…some assured my safe riding. But above all they made me feel that I was not being a liability to them. The gang was very patient. They truly believe in their pledge: Like Bisons we don’t stop at nothing. But we stop for someone!

I was assigned a drill by Paaji. I must ride 3000kms in the next 3months.

Some how this has motivated me…I will do this drill…I have realized that I have to spend time with build the man and machine relationship. Also, I am inspired by some graceful riding that I was a witness to. I have told my wife everything that happened on the ride. She said she is proud of me 😉 She is hoping that very soon she will be able to ride pillion on great journeys.

I just want you to consider one suggestion…see if you guys want to set a ‘minimum experience’ part before allowing guys like me to enrol for rides…something like a few 1000 kms of experience on the bike. I leave it to you as I strongly believe you guys know the best.

I enjoyed riding in the rains, now I can say proudly that one is not a rider if he doesn’t ride in the rain ;p

Some interesting info about Bisons on that makes me believe somewhere inside me I am a REAL Bison.

1. A bison wallow is a shallow depression in the soil, either wet or dry. Bison roll in these depressions, covering themselves with mud or dust. (I did that, TWICE!)

2. They can move at speeds of up to 35 mph (56 km/h) and cover long distances at a lumbering gallop. (If I was not pushed, I would be maintaining that speed)

That’s it guys! God bless all the Bisons! I hope to be a Bison soon.

Yours truly,

Pravinkumar Chevoorvalappil Venu – Gira

On a very related note, do check this video. Gira, this is dedicated to you! – All of us at Bisons