Thursday, June 1, 2017

Monster Inc

At any given point of time, there are a minimum of two and a maximum of about a dozen motorcycles parked in my parents driveway since they are the Chandigarh headquarters of Helmet Stories. You would think this means that I occasionally jump on to one of the Bullets or the Beautiful Blue Bonnie my Dad loves so much and ride off in to the horizon, not coming home till the sun has set and the day has come to an end. Yes, that would be the ideal situation but not knowing how to ride a bike might hinder this day dream just a bit. Shouldn’t I know how to ride a bike purely through osmosis since I am surrounded by so many motorcycles and people who ride them? I wish that was true and the one time I did try, I did a superb wheelie and left my pillion rider (and owner of the bike ) far behind, biting his nails and fearing for the safety of his beloved motorcycle.

One of my more important resolutions this year was to learn how to ride a motorcycle (the other important one was to brew the perfect cup of coffee) , so that I could ride it confidently and put those bikes in the driveway to some good use. Sometimes you just have to put the thought out there in to the Universe and hope it hears you. Most of the time it does and gives you what you want. With a little help from your brother. And a lot of help from Ducati. 

Ducati was launching a new motorcycle. The beautiful Monster 797. As Ducati does, they wanted to do something special and different for the Monster. Instead of a regular press release, they decided to fly over a few representatives from India who didn't know how to ride motorcycles and teach them how to on the Monster 797 with their amazing DRE (Ducati Riding Experience ) team. First of all, I am pretty sure the Universe heard me because I was one of the three representatives from India who was chosen to go to Bangkok to be a part of the DRE. The other two people with me were Varsha (CEO of Homegrown ) and Sayani. Second of all, if you don't know what the DRE is - it is a riding school that Ducati set up about 15 years ago where riders go to improve their riding (remember last year Vir did the Enduro DRE at the Bootcamp in Italy to become one of teh 7 Globetrotters) or where people, like us, learn how to ride a bike from scratch. Their instructors are top notch - they didn’t stop smiling or teaching for one second even in the scorching Thai heat. 

It’s hard to fit an experience like that in to one blog post but I can try. We were in Bangkok for just about 48 hours but it was an experience of a lifetime. I’ve been waiting to talk about it for over a month now and it seems more like a dream than reality!

So, on the day of the DRE- the three of us -Sayani, Varsha and I , along with our ‘local-not local’ guardian Amit went and met up with the group from China at the first briefing about the Monster. After Stephano told us a little about Ducati and the bike and what we would be doing that day at the DRE track, we headed out to start our day. It was easy to sense a little bit of nervousness and apprehension amongst some of us- would it really be possible that before the day was over we would be riding this 170-180 kg motorcycle like we were naturals? I still felt slightly comfortable since I have spent a large chunk of my life riding pillion on bikes and owning a non gear scooter while I was in college. But Sayani and Varsha had literally never been on a bike before and when you stand next to the Monster, it does feel a bit intimidating! 

At the track, with all our gear on - helmets, gloves , elbow and knee guards and with our superb instructors by our side - they gave us all the reassurance we needed that we would be pros by the end of it. We started with some really basic balance exercises but apart from balance, it gave us an idea of how big the bike is and how easy it is to manage it if you know how. Over the next 6-7 hours, our instructors taught us how to ride the Monster with as much patience as it would take to teach a baby how to walk . 


If you approach something like it’s an art , then that is exactly what it becomes. The way the instructors showed us how to ride the bike, the amount of throttle to give , the way to move with the motorcycle on a turn , where to look, how to relax your body was nothing less than an amazing lesson on how to compose a song , or a dancer leading his troop through a show. Sounds pretty cheesy, I know, but all of you who love riding motorcycles don’t do it to get from point A to point B- you do it because you are looking for something more.

It must have been 40 degrees or more but we didn’t want to stop and each one of us wanted the others turn to finish so we could learn some more, be on the bike longer. True to their word, by the end of the day - everyone was able to ride the bike quite confidently- I even got to take it out for the ‘bigger’ lap all on my own. If I could, I would have ridden off into the already set sun but alas , the gates were shut and I didn’t want to test the helmets quality.

I have a gazillion photographs to prove that I had a great time on the DRE track and some really cool videos too (always pays to have awesome photographers around!) , and a certificate to say I ‘passed’ but most importantly, I can tick off one of my resolutions for 2017 and its only June! Couldn't have done it if Ducati didn’t give me this awesome opportunity and if Vir hadn’t not taught me how to ride a bike all these years. Like I said, just put it out in the Universe and it will hear ya. 

Now, time to go tick off another resolution *goes to learn how to brew the perfect cup of coffee*.


Image by Ducati.

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