A few days ago, a teenage girl riding pillion on a motorcycle was killed after her biker-friend sought to surprise and impress her by doing a wheelie on Old Madras Road in Indiranagar. The incident was just another grim reminder of the perils youngsters in Bengaluru expose themselves to while performing impromptu stunts on city roads.
Stunt riding, though, is an art in itself and requires professional training. The only group in the city that imparts professional training in stunt riding is Team Zero Gravity which was formed in 2010 by Prasanna Uchil, Ram Rao and Dhanush Rai. The core team of stunt riders in the team are Jupsy, Anil, Shodhan, Mahesh and Dilpesh. The riders specialise in performing all kinds of daring stunts and they are popular for their ‘wheelie’, ‘stoppie’, ‘circle wheelie’, ‘burnouts’, ‘high chair wheelie’, ‘semi-high chair circle’, ‘human compass’ and ‘acrobats.’
Jupsy is one of the first riders to join the group. He says the group’s strict rules and regulations impressed him. “I was always into riding but I was attracted to stunt riding and this group seemed like the perfect place for me to learn it with proper guidance. Stunt riding is an internationally accepted sport but it hasn’t caught on in India,” reasons Jupsy. He informs that the group performs stunts in enclosed areas away from the city with police permission. “We not only perform these stunts but also educate and create awareness among youngsters about why stunt riding should be done only by those who are professionally trained and why it should never be done on the streets,” adds Jupsy.
Accomplished stunt rider Mahesh admits he was a I PUC student when he attempted a bike stunt with a group of friends only to end up in a bad accident. He recalls he wasn’t mature enough to understand the dangers involved in performing bike stunts without training.
It was only when he met Jupsy that Mahesh came to know there were professionally trained stunt riders. “The accident taught me a lesson for life. I stopped riding on the road and took to serious stunt riding with Jupsy a few years ago. Looking back, I regret having ridden recklessly. Today, I share my story with youngsters and take them through the importance of safe riding,” he says.
About his favourite stunts, he says, “I like ‘endo stoppie’ which involves lifting the rear wheel of the bike and the ‘flamingo’ stunt’ comes next where I lift one wheel, stand and balance on the seat. Finally, I like doing a ‘wheelie pop’ which is balancing the bike on one wheel and going around in a circle.”
Mahesh admits his family didn’t accept his passion at first but started encouraging him after they saw his performances.
The excitement and thrill of being able to do some of the most dangerous stunts, is indeed what got Shodhan Shetty to join the group. “I never venture out without wearing my safety gear such as knee pads, helmet, arm guards and safety shoes,” he says. He advocates safe riding during his performances and even when he’s on the road.
These riders don special safety gears, including special shoes that protect them from extreme damages. “I joined the group six years ago and today, I find it the most relaxing hobby. I am able to relieve the pressures of running my own business when I go stunt riding. I exhaust my energy during the rides and return rejuvenated to work harder,” says Shodhan, who waits for the weekend just to go riding.
Anil Kumar, another rider, says he first tried some basic stunts on his cycle, moved on to experimenting on his moped and then bought an Apache bike when he joined the group.
“It’s definitely the eagerness to do some exceptional stunts that attracted me to the team. We go through very rigorous training before we venture out to ride. I look at every performance as an opportunity to showcase my skills,” says Anil.
Dilpesh, another member, says he has been able to overcome fear after joining the team.
(The team can be reached on 8050230759)