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At risk: Delhi bikers with need for speed

Tuesday September 27, 2011 05:06:00 PM, Rahul Vaishnavi, IANS

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New Delhi: Till some years ago, 23-year-old Jayant Verma was a compulsive thrill seeker and the member of a biking gang in Delhi. Performing dangerous stunts and indulging in street racing was a way of life with him, till a major accident changed his life -- for the better.

It was the winter of 2009 when Verma, an erstwhile member of Korrupt Ryderz, was performing stunts on the DND Flyway that connects Delhi with the neighbouring suburb of Noida.

"I was performing a 'stoppie' on my Hero Honda Karizma when I lost my balance and slammed down on the ground face first," said Verma, who, like most of his friends, wasn't wearing a helmet.

A stoppie is a stunt in which the bike is brought to a halt on its front wheel while the back wheel is lifted by carefully applying brake pressure.

"I broke my nose and six teeth and had serious injuries on my face," added Verma, who took weeks to recover, both physically and mentally.

"I never realised the dangers involved in what I was doing just to get an adrenaline rush," he said, adding that he has not touched a bike since the accident and now rides a Honda Activa scooterette.

Earlier this month, a bike accident killed former cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin's son Mohammed Ayazuddin, 19, and his cousin Ajmal-ur-Rahman, 16, in Hyderabad.

While Rahman, who was riding pillion, died on the spot when the bike skidded due to high speed, Ayazuddin died after battling for life for five days.

Sadly, this has not had a major impact on the city's bikers, who say it's "part and parcel of the game".

"These things happen if you are driving recklessly. There is controlled aggression whenever we perform stunts or race...this is no child's play," said 19-year-old Sunny, a Tilak Nagar resident.

The teenager eagerly awaits Saturday nights because that is when he, along with his gang, is out on the streets, performing stunts.

The guys cover their faces with scarves and take care to fold their number plates to avoid any police trouble.

"Though I am saddened by their deaths, it's a fact that whenever you drive fast, you know the dangers involved. If you get hurt, that's part and parcel of the game," said Sunny.

He also boasts of teaching others in his neighbourhood the "art of stunting" for free.

"Thin traffic volume and deserted roads late night are ideal conditions to train juniors," said Sunny, who owns a Honda CBR250R and a bigger Yamaha YZF-R6.

Agreed Sohail, a biker from the old quarters of the city: "Early Sunday mornings, at least twice a month, some biker groups meet on the outskirts of the city and race."

Sohail, who owns three bikes, including a Kawasaki Ninja superbike, refused to give out his group's name, but said usually a lot of money is at stake and the best stunt performer or racer takes home a lot of dough.

According to biking enthusiasts, around a dozen biker groups are active in the city and they meet regularly on weekends. While some of them perform stunts and indulge in street racing, others prefer to go on long drives to tourist hotspots around Delhi.

However, there are also some mature voices within the community.

"We never indulge in racing or performing silly stunts on our machines. These are very powerful bikes and require maturity and experience to ride," said Shahbaz Khan of the Group of Delhi Superbikers (GODS), a popular biking gang here.

Khan agreed that superbikes are a rage among today's youth. However, a 19- or 20-year-old laying his hands on a superbike is absolutely illogical, he said.

"I think the parents need to be stricter. I got my first superbike when I was 26 and had eight years of experience of riding bikes," said Khan.

According to psychiatrist Samir Parekh, factors like peer pressure, the glamour quotient and aura attached to bike racing are what attract the youths.

"I know it's the parents who buy their kids such machines but I would not blame them alone," Parekh told IANS.

"It's society that is collectively responsible for not realising how a youth would be influenced by, for example, seeing a hero dangerously riding a superbike," he added.

(Some names have been changed on request)

(Rahul Vaishnavi can be contacted at





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