Every job has its perks. While some get to travel the world, some others get to sip some of the finest wine out there. We as auto journos get to ride motorcycles, sometimes to places far away from the bustling city life. So when fate handed out yet another opportunity in the form of the Royal Enfield REUNION ride to Mahabaleshwar, I latched it with both hands.
Royal Enfield had arranged a Thunderbird 500 for me, which I picked up from Navi Mumbai, the trip’s starting point. With the sun just waking up from its slumber, I loaded my luggage ready to hit the road.
Even though I had not ridden the new Thunderbird earlier, I found myself more than comfortable on the low saddle and the tall-ish handle bars, but most importantly I was love struck by the way the 41.3Nm of torque made overtaking in the city traffic conditions a piece of cake. It didn’t take long for me to get acquainted to the bike and before I knew it, I was thoroughly enjoying leaning the bike from side to side and speeding through the twisties on NH 17 that were laced with trees on either side of the road forming a natural canopy.
Despite the bulk, the T-bird 500 wasn’t difficult to handle at all; in fact it felt more than happy taking on the curves cruising swiftly towards our destination. Three and a half hours of happy riding time brought me to the venue of this gathering of Royal Enfield fanatics. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and interacting with fellow participants before calling it a day.
Saturday saw participants go head to head in a lot of competitive events – slow race and arm wrestling were the two crowd favourites. In slow race, participants teamed up in pairs to complete the track without putting their leg down or going out of the lane. Yusuf Bombaywala and Vandan Patel took top honours in this event. The Slow race was followed by ‘Carry your bike’, in which participants formed a team of four to carry one motorcycle from point A to point B. Needless to say, the quickest team (of Saransh, Saurabh, Manav, Anand from Navi Mumbai) took the prize.
Next up was the bike towing challenge, in which one of the two partners attempts to tow the other's motorcycle to a finish line. Aditya and Pralesh did the task in minimum time to clinch the first place trophy. With the team events all done with, it was time to move on to arm wrestling, the final event of the day. Competitors flexed their muscles through the evening but it was Ayush Chaturvedi from Pune who won the contest. With all the competitive events wrapped up, and the DJ rocking the stage with some really good music, it was time to hit the bar.
On my ride back to Mumbai, I thought about the REUNION ride and what it meant to all these Royal Enfield enthusiasts who came for the event. Certainly, it wasn’t just a gathering of Royal Enfield riders. Perhaps, it meant a rejuvenation of the mind to some, a reunion with the motorcycle for some others, and a reason to spend time with close friends and rider buddies. No matter what the reason, the enormous turnout of over 260 riders exemplified the spirit of the west zone for motorcycling.
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