To celebrate the passion of biking globally was the prime objective of the eighth edition of Royal Enfield’s One Ride, which was held on 8 April at multiple venues across the world. The one-day event was flagged off in Taiwan, the UK, United States, Vietnam, France, Germany, Italy, Kuwait and India among other countries, where riders took to the streets to celebrate biking under the banner “Ride As One”. The event was hosted in 171 Indian cities, including New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Goa. The Indian participants alone covered a total distance of over 33,000 km.

Conditions in Goa, a place which is packed with visitors and tourists around the year, were perfect for a full-scale biking expedition last Sunday. Our day began at the Royal Enfield Garage Café in Arpora, at eight in the morning. The place was bustling with the bike enthusiasts and the weather added to the excitement of the day. The Garage Café perfectly complements the Royal Enfield spirit, through food, beverage, music and entertainment. The place is set on the banks of the beautiful Baga River, which makes for a fine view. After almost two years in the making, the café opened its shutters in January this year. The place now caters not only to motorcyclists of all stripes, but has also become the preferred hangout for casual travellers
and locals.

“Royal Enfield has gone beyond an organisation or motorcycle brand. And since the people have loved it so much and made it into a sort of sub culture, we wanted to put all of it together at one place. So this café is a place for anyone and everyone,” says Arvind Iyer, head of strategic initiatives at Royal Enfield.

The venue has an array of drinks and dishes from all around the world, served with a twist of local culture. Starting from drinks like pina colada to the pesto to tiramisu, an Italian dessert, every dish is right up to
the mark.

The property is also home to a small museum, which celebrates the history and heritage of Royal Enfield. The replicas of some iconic bikes are on the display at the museum. The exhibits range from replicas of bikes that were built in the ’90s to those of  new, customised cruisers.

About one of the oldest bike replicas that the museum displays, The Flying Flea, Iyer said, “This bike was used during World War II. It was used to make reliable communication during the time of war. The bike used to get dropped by the parachute and then the rider used to take the message to the respective place. Since it was airdropped, it came to be known as ‘The Flying Flea’.”

Among the other gems at the museum was a model 1963 Continental GT Café Racer, and a 1965 MK-2 750cc Interceptor.  The venue also has a retail store where you can buy all types of Royal Enfield merchandise.

After a visit to the Garage Café, the bikers roared on to the streets of Goa. Motorcyclists from across the country were part of the riding expedition, on a variety of Royal Enfield bikes. It was a ride spanning almost 60km, and it lasted some two hours. We started from the Garage Café at the Baga Riverside, headed to Arambol and then returned to our starting point. There was a certain charm in the  fresh morning air of the city which filled the people with excitement and enthusiasm. After the event, a live band performance at the café was organised as a treat for all participants.

At the event, a Goa-based rider, Altaf Khalifa, took time out for a brief chat with Guardian 20. “My father has actually been a mechanic at Royal Enfield since the 1970s and that was how I was introduced to bikes,” he said. “Riding bikes in the city was a normal thing but my first journey away from Goa was when I got my license and my dad told me to take the bike and to go wherever I wanted to. I went to Belgaum, around 120km away from Goa. So yes, that was my first ride alone and that was the time when it all began for me.”

When we asked him about the first bike he ever owned, Khalifa answered, “I just cannot describe it. I remember the first bike that I got from my father was in a box, on my 21st birthday. It was basically in parts, as it was quite old. My dad told me that since it was a 1969 Royal Enfield, we had to reassemble it. We both worked on the bike for several days, reassembling the parts, painting them. That was my first bike.”

Talking about his most memorable bike ride to date, he said, “The best ride I ever had was in February, earlier this year, to the Northeast. I was accompanied by a friend. We travelled from Sikkim, till the Indo-China border. We shook hands with Chinese soldiers, rode in the snow. It was just unbelievable and the most unforgettable ride for me.”

He went on, “We try to do dangerous things like going to the deadliest roads on bikes and loving it. People call us ‘mad’, but let me tell you one thing, if you want to ride bikes, do not limit yourself and keep pushing , you will be astonished to see how capable are you.”

His sister, Aisha, 29, was also among the riders at the Goa event. In a conversation with us she said, “It came as a shock to me when I rode a Bullet. Actually, I was with my brother, Altaf, going to some hospital, as he needed some dressing on his arm. And suddenly he told me that due to the pain, he just couldn’t ride anymore. And I had to take over. In the heat of the moment, I did it and as soon as I reached my home safely, I knew that it was in my blood. And believe me, I was just in 12th standard at the time.”

25 year old Vibhav attended this rally for the first time. He said, “ This was my first ride with Royal Enfield. I recently went to Ambolim, not quite far but it was special to me as it was my first ride outside Goa. I was accompanied by two of my friends Alisha and Altaf. Even this ride today, was a wonderful experience for me.” Since he is a new rider he told us about some of the challenges that he is facing. He said,” My bike, Royal Enfield Thunderbird, is quite heavy and there are many instances where it becomes difficult for me to balance it, like knowing narrow roads. So presently I am working on that so that I can be prepared for more bike rides.”

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