It was not only a passion but also a way to give something back to the society. It was this idea that gave birth to the moto-biking club ‘Highwaymen’. Started with merely five riders about three years back, this group today has more than 100 members including 50 active members.
Kaushik Vastare, the coordinator and co-founder of the club says, “It all started when the three of us (Shashak, Raghav and I) went to Kolli Hills. After the visit, we posted pictures and there were queries about the place. That’s when we thought ‘why not start a group where we can make trips with a bigger group?’ We would meet up once in two months and go on long rides.”
Since most of the members in the group are techies, the group rides once in 45 days. Shashank Sreekanta, says, “Our riding season starts in June and ends in March. The months of March, April and May are lean periods for us. During this time, we go for breakfast or one-day rides as the weather is not conducive for long rides.”
Though the group doesn’t have any specific criteria, they encourage riders with 150cc bikes to ride with them.
However, what they are particular about are the riding gears, safety measures and punctuality. Praveen Venkatappa says, “Safety has been our priority. We do not allow anyone to ride without the required gear. We are particular about three things — riding gear, safety measures and punctuality. We have a lead and a swipe for the group, so no one is allowed to cross the lead or fall behind the swipe. There is no overtaking and one must maintain a specific speed. The reason why we ride in groups is because we don’t want to block the traffic.”
The group makes sure that they don’t burden the riders with backpacks, saddle bags, etc, rather, have a back-up vehicle.
Madhu TC, says, “Our motive is to make the rider free, he should not be fiddling around with his bag or any extra things while riding, that is the reason why we have a luggage carrier behind us. For breakfast and one-day rides, we have an SUV that comes along with us. However, for multi-day rides, we have a back-up vehicle that accommodates first-aid and puncture kits, luggage, snacks and even one’s bike. There are times when bikes break down, and if it is one of those times when a bike cannot be put together, we shift the bike to the vehicle.”
They have been to places like Wayanad, Chikkamagaluru, Goa, Sakleshpur and Lepakshi. Though till now their rides are confined mostly to the South, riding up North is there in their bucket list.
“Leh, Bhutan, and other countries are places we are looking forward to in the upcoming rides. Since most of our riders are working in the corporate field, it is easier for them to do weekend rides and go to places which are nearby,” says Vijay Kumar TT.
They are always looking forward to encourage group rides and setting an example. “There have been times when we have spoken to people who drive or ride with high beams. We had riders who rode with us and have come back to us and said that they have become more responsible riders,” says Vinod Thomas.
They also have a Facebook page through which people can approach them. And once they become a part of the group, they are welcomed in the WhatsApp group, through which every rider is kept updated about the various plans and rides.
The most interesting part about the group is that before they go on a multi-day ride, they have something called a ‘pre-riding plus breakfast meet’, which is a way to know the new riders.
Encouraging women riders to ride, Kaushik says, “We have two women riders with us. One of them is a lawyer who joins us mostly for breakfast or one-day rides, and the other lady joins us for multi-day rides also. We also encourage families to join us just to understand as to how we function.” Their future events includes, their desire to do something for the society, so the events related to social awareness tops their to-do list. “Till now we were just participants in various riding events but in the future, we want to organise events by getting in touch with the traffic police and educating riders. A ride to Kakkabe near Coorg is one of our upcoming rides,” he adds.
Recalling one of the most memorable ride, Shashank points out. “The most memorable rides was the one to the Kolli hills, it was a round trip of about 700 km. We experienced everything that day. We had rain, horrible heat and close to three bikes in the luggage carrier. This was a ride that taught us so much.”
(For details, contact Kaushik on 9900171403)