Bikes, Brawns, Babes: Testosterones Tales from India Bike Week, Goa.

 (sanjay austa sanjayausta@gmail.)

‘Bikini’ Bike Wash at India Bike Week, Goa

(The article first appeared in the Bangkok Post , feb 2014. )

Without the beach, the heat in Goa can be oppressive.  But for us, there was no respite.  We were hemmed in at  Vagator, the venue of the second edition of  India Bike Week,  surrounded  by ocher coloured  mounds on two sides and the closest beach many miles away.  The dust and gravel festival grounds made it that much worse.

Perhaps it was all-intentional.  A part  of the ruggedness that comes with the bikes.  They called the biking rendezvous; the Woodstock of Biking and touted it as the biggest and meanest of its kind in India. The  first one, which  took place in 2013,  attracted biking aficionados of all hues, over 6000 of them.  This year it was  more flamboyant  drawing all comers to  the sweltering cauldron at Vagator, despite the hefty entry fee.

And if you were a biker you had it all in here for you. There was the gleaming steel and burning rubber. Bikes of various makes, styles and designs were arrayed under various categories.   There were biking accessories that you would probably get no where else. There was Bike talk sessions , informal over Maggie at the Ladakh Tent and a bit studied at the auditorium where the likes of Ted Simons and Nick Sanders- the veteran bikers famous  for circumnavigating the world on their bikes- held forth.

 (sanjay austa sanjayausta@gmail.)

Freestyle contests – India Bike Week, Goa

There was of course the girls as there was glamour, with girls including grownup women coming out in  short skirts and tank tops ,  never mind if it exposed only cellulite . The riders revved their bikes to announce their arrival and kept their headlights on. Men , their jaws firmly set and stubby wore bandanas and tattoos, not helmets..

The centerpiece of the India Bike Week was however the HOG ( Harley Davidson Group)  parade,  where about 1000  Harley riders converged in Goa from across India. As they entered the festival grounds,  the guttural boom of their bikes resounded in all the pavilions and their bikes kicked up plumes of dust in their wake. There was only awe in this unabashed exhibition of machismo. For, there is clearly a hierarchy in the biking world and Harley riders are the biking elites.  There are legends how quickly two Harley riders bond with each other for life. It’s a family –of mostly the rich- and they tell you they have their own unwritten code and mannerisms.

As a phalanx of HOG riders paused to take in the applause, drowned somewhat by their exaggerated revving,  I  edged closer to a guy on a black customized Harley and asked him, “ How come  there are no girls amongst you  in this parade?”.

He  looked at me  through his polaroid’s and pointing to his bike hollered, “This is my girl. And I am riding her”.

 (sanjay austa sanjayausta@gmail.)

The HOG parade, Goa

True, the  India Bike Week at Goa , only a year old,  is   Woodstockian in scope. But it’s more a monument to testosterone.

There was a  pavilion   called the  ‘Brotherhood of Bikers’. Place where bikers bond over their machines and talk of road adventures that men can share with only men.  There was the tire lifting competition where beefy men took turns lifting motorcycle tires; half a dozen  on each arm.  There were the open-air  bars – one called the Howling Dog Bar-where you hung around  for a drop and gossip.

But the most favored watering hole was the Bikini Bike Bar where the bikers lined up to have their bikes washed by girls in tiny shorts and shirts. Though its Goa where its ‘modern’ enough for a Bike Wash exhibitionism but its still India, so not  so modern enough to have our own women do the scrub and dance.  So foreign women (East Europeans) were roped in for the show.

Among the evenings entertainments were the gladiatorial free style contests where the fighters stopped only when the opponent was down and  bleeding often with a broken nose. Even boxing has rules and a certain elegance. This seemed too barbaric. But perhaps it was only me who was flinching.  There were petite girls near me egging the pugilists.

 (sanjay austa sanjayausta@gmail.)

Padma Rao, one of the few female bikers, Goa. 

For those with stomachs for lesser spectacles, there were pushups and chin-ups and arm-wrestling. Here many from the  audience participated and were promptly rewarded with a memento for their  embarrassing performance.

But perhaps the most spectacular show was put up by two stuntmen  (foreigners again) . They did marvels with their bikes speeding  them off a curved ramp, high  in the air where they summersaulted, kicked their legs back and after jaw-dropping eternity landed smoothly down a ramp.

There was too much to see and too much too take in but thankfully there was music and there were the bars.

It was only after the festival the next day that that we clambered on to  a beach and finally found Goa and the silence again.

 (sanjay austa sanjayausta@gmail.)

Bike stunts at India Bike Week, Goa


 (sanjay austa sanjayausta@gmail.)

Biker Labadi Shah on her Harley, India Bike Week, 2014


 (sanjay austa sanjayausta@gmail.)

Singer Anoushka Manchanda at India Bike Week, Goa

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