Day 35: Legendary Riders
Udaipur to Rajsamand, 80km
There are some situations which are so absurd and surreal, that it’s difficult to talk about; not because no one will believe us, but because when we look back even we would question our own perception of the events.
But if the film crew didn’t capture it on video, we would never get to say we rode on the back of Harley Davidsons through an old city at 5 in the morning, blasting Another One Bites the Dust at full volume while the police escorted us through.
It began with a suggestion from our liaison officer Farooq, a former cricketer who represented India in the Ashes and is one of the most fiercely protective men we’ve ever met.
He was part of a motorcycle club, the Legendary Riders of Scenic Mewar 6001 Club. They were a group of business owners and CEO’s in the travel and tourism industry who formed the club about 8 months ago. They rode Harley Davidsons and Royal Enfields, and because the motorcycles are supplied by a prince they had some of the rarest rides in the world.
When they heard about Pat and his efforts to raise funds for girls’ education – which they have been long-time advocates for as well – they promised to give us a spectacular send-off from Udaipur.
When we arrived at the starting line at 5am, we saw a dozen or so men clad from neck to toe in leather. It was pitch black in Udaipur save for the light coming from our vehicles and the occasional streetlamp in the distance. The men greeted Pat like an old friend and threw a club jacket over him. Suddenly we heard the Australian anthem coming from a mounted speaker on the lead motorcycle.
Everyone stood in silence as Advance Australian Fair played. Pat tried to contain his giggle. Katie didn’t try at all. It’s funny to think that in a country with over 500 languages and a thousand sub-genres of music, the strangest thing we heard all week was our own national anthem.
The riders put on their helmets – a rare sight in India – and then Pat and the other runners who decided to join him this morning, formed up behind the bikes. Their engines howled and the loud chorus of machines reached out and touched every corner of the city.
Then we they were off. The motorcycles let out another howl and suddenly everyone was on the move. Running through a city often feels faster than out on the highway. There’s this sense of urgency and vigilance that underlies a city run, and despite almost no one being out on the streets, the motorcycles made Pat’s feet move a bit faster.
The speaker which was playing the national anthem switched to classic rock; we heard ACDC, Queen, Rolling Stones and The Eagles. It felt like we were in a backpackers pub for Australians – the only thing missing from the experience was INXS. Through the 10 kilometres we rode and ran through Udaipur, we could make out some people in the darkness who looked utterly confused.
The notion of a noise complaint in India was non-existent, we weren’t even the loudest group in the city at the time. The temples and shopkeepers were broadcasting prayer chants and Hindi pop songs through what sounded like a hundred megaphones.
When we reached the outskirts of the city, the motorcyclists stopped and Pat ran onwards after a quick thank you and photo. They let out one last rev of their engines while Hotel California played in the background.
The film crew stayed behind and asked one of the men, Digvijay, why they wanted to support Pat in the manner they did.
“A lot of us are in the tourism field,” Mr Digvijay said.
“As motorcyclists we travel quite a bit, but we don’t do it on two legs, we do it on two wheels.
“One of our members, Farooq, requested to be part of the run and after we got to know about Pat we were impressed with him. He’s done quite a few runs.
“When I spoke to Pat he told us he was doing 80km a day for over 60 days. When you’re doing long distance riding, it’s just like you’re meditating. It’s beyond just the physical self and that’s what Pat does as well.
“When you’re running you get a second wind and that’s what happens on a motorbike after 60-80km of riding.
“When you’re on a motorbike, you’re riding with your heart and your soul. You don’t bother about who sees you or who else is there, it’s just you, the road and the motorbike.
“I imagine running is a lot like that as well.”