Ride of a lifetime

Kathmandu:

It is not just the Beetle-owners who are woven together by their passion for their cars. This passion for a mean powerful machine is shared by those who love to ride to the sunset on their Enfield, or we popularly call these bikes ‘Bullets’.

And many of the Bullet lovers are banded together as a group called the Himalayan Enfielders (HE) which saw its inception in the autumn of 2001 as an Enfield workshop and a hang-out place for close-knit friends. However, it has come a long way in connecting the many Enfield riders and taking them to different parts of the country and abroad. Although the club does have a commercial aspect, it is better known for being a junction of the Enfield riders here in the Capital and for conducting various peace rallies.

It’s a special relationship we have, say its founding members.

“We look at each other’s Enfield, talk, and are immediately connected to each other,” shares Siddhartha Gurung, a helicopter pilot and one of the founding members of HE. “In the beginning, there were too few of us. But as we met other like-minded friends in the following days, the group expanded quickly,” he adds.

Their first venture together was a peace ride in 2002, which gave them a good exposure and a rocking experience of driving in a group on the highway. They also got an opportunity to connect with each other closely.

“It’s a different feeling altogether to ride in a group. You meet so many people, forget about your daily work, and just let your passion rule,” shares Pramod Shrestha, another central member, better known as ‘Goofy’ among his friends.

“We make a loud sound driving together, and everyone comes out to see us. There is great fun, adventure, and, of course, security when we drive together,” adds the latest central member of HE Amith Singh, a teacher by profession.

And this ‘loud sound’ is also the reason why Ayesha Thapa, who is among the very few Nepali female riders who participates in HE’s journeys, likes the motorbike which boasts a history of more than half a century.

But it is really her zeal to “break boundaries” that urges her on to try what was traditionally thought of as a ‘male’ thing. Presently she has bought a definitely ‘he’ bike, and explains, “I am riding that in part to prove that it’s also meant for females, as I want people’s perception to change so that they don’t get surprised when a girl rides past on a heavy motorbike,” Thapa explains.

And how does she feel while riding in a group of HE?

“Everyone’s friendly and appreciative, so there is no problem. It’s often flattering, as you are given a lot of attention,” she says.

The Enfielders have gone on longer rides to Delhi and Lhasa taking with them the message of peace.

“While going to Lhasa for the first time in 2003, people there were surprised to see our motorbikes make it through the desert, off-road terrain of mountains and the high passes that reached above 5,000 meters where the air is thin,” says Goofy.

The riders say that when you feel doubtful about reaching your next destination for the day, it is actually time to get more strongly bonded to the bike.

“You plead ‘C’mon go’ to the bike and have that same sense of purpose. And when you finally reach the day’s shelter, you feel it’s a well-deserved rest,” shares Goofy.

“No two Bullets are the same, and it is you who knows your motorbike best. Each has its own ‘temperament’ and ‘mood swings’, and you really have to pamper it to ride it,” says Gurung.

The names they give their bikes too are mostly of the opposite sex, like Goofy who has named one of his bikes Kanchhi (the youngest).

Explains Singh, “You can respect a man, but cannot fall for him; we fall for our motorbikes.”

But is this thinking valid for a lady as well?

Not quite, hits back Thapa. “It’s just about riding on a different, powerful and stylish bike,” she says.

“We plan to go all the way to UK — the original place of the Enfield — if possible in the future. Although we have become busy in our occupations, we are still held together by this club, and we try to conduct our tours regularly,” says Gurung.

And as they go on roaring through the roads, they hope to travel to more national and international destinations spreading the message of peace and harmony.