“I remember very well my first ride on a bike about 30 years ago. We had bought a brand-new Yamaha 550 XT, a 550-cc, one-cylinder off-road bike with a fantastic acceleration that was a recent release at that time. The publicity slogan was, ‘Ride the Bull’, and the experience was exactly that. Rough, tough, no self-starter, but with a high fun factor. I learned to ride it in a gravel pit. A hard school, but very effective. Of course, I also had to go to the driving school. I was very lucky to get a good teacher. He had the ambition to teach me how to ride a bike, not just how to move one. Later on, I underwent several training courses, which helped me a lot to improve my skill and gave me a lot of self-confidence too.
“My next bike was a BMW 800 GS with a two-cylinder Boxer engine. Much heavier, but much more comfortable for long rides. This one was followed by a Honda 650 Dominator and the last motorcycle I owned in Germany was a BMW F 650 GS, all of them off-road bikes. I preferred this kind of bikes because they are lighter and more manoeuvrable than street bikes or choppers – perfect for rough and narrow roads. Unfortunately, they are not available here in India.
“I lived in Munich, which is very close to the Alps, and therefore I did a number of wonderful rides through the mountains to Austria, Italy, Switzerland and France – sometimes with friends, sometimes alone. I rode on all kinds of roads, also unpaved passes through snow and ice, and I enjoyed all of them. Now I am living and working in south Kerala. More than three years ago I bought a used Bajaj Pulsar 180 which I still possess. On that bike I got used to the chaotic Indian traffic and rustic roads, especially to the left-hand drive rule in India. One thing that really shocked me (and still does) was the rude manner of many people. One of the basic things we learn in Germany is politeness when participating in road traffic. Give way to others and try your best not to bring yourself or others into dangerous situations. Here in Kerala it seems that many drivers don’t obey traffic rules and drink-driving seems to be normal. In most European countries they would immediately lose their licence for a long time and get a severe punishment. Nevertheless, I love to ride bikes. It opens my heart and my mind. A few weeks ago I made a one-week trip to the Kerala mountains, up to Munnar, Marayoor and Thekkady, mostly on small roads. I drove through the tea plantations and rainforest, saw wild elephants passing the road in front of me – fantastic! Even though I was alone, I enjoyed it immensely. Often I have been asked whether it is boring to drive alone. Boring? When I ride on my bike I don’t need anybody else. Of course, in the evening and during the breaks it makes for greater fun if you have someone to share the experiences. Maybe next time?
Dr Angelika Weber, a German lady with a passion for motorcycling, has been living and working in ‘God’s own country’ for the past three years following her marriage to an Indian. She recounts her experience of riding an Indian motorcycle and coming to terms with our chaotic traffic after nearly 30 years of owning and riding various bikes across Europe.