New Delhi: Army life is known for its adventure, but there are a few officers, serving and retired, who are experiencing this by going beyond the framework of their duties. They do so through the wanderlust and passion for biking as they go on uncharted routes of picturesque places and feel the nature closely.
The bike provides them freedom and mobility and an unmatched sense of thrill.
For these soldiers, there cannot be any better mode of transport than the motorcycle, which gives them the experience of travelling on all sorts of roads and even taking to places that are difficult to reach.
Sharing his adventures with motorcycles, Lt Gen (retired) Satish Dua told IANS, “I had a love for the bike when I was very young. By the time I got commissioned, I already had two bikes, a Yezdi and a Bullet.”
After retirement this hero of 2016 surgical strike took up biking as a hobby and now he travels with his two sons enjoying every moment of his ride.
“I now own a Ducati and a Bullet and I take good care of them,” said the former Army officer.
“I never gave up my love for bikes. when I was Major General in North East, instead of going in the staff car I used to go in a Bullet to the office. Even when I was the corps commander in Srinagar I used to ride a bike to my office.
“When I got posted in the Army Headquarters, I came to office only a couple of times on bike as in Delhi it is not conducive to ride a motorcycle,” the officer added.
His love for the bike was such that the day he retired, instead of going in a car, he chose to ride his bike to his home and his gesture was appreciated by many.
“When I took over as Corps Commander in Srinagar in 2015, I went from Pathankot to Manali to Rohtang Pass on motorbike with my sons. Monsoon had set in and many people advised me not to take this ride. But I went on till Ladakh, where we went to the eastern-most part up to the Pangong Tso lake. I drove 50 km along the lake. It was simply mesmerising — you riding along the beautiful lake and enjoying your drive along with the nature.”
This was not the end for the Army soldier as again in the summer of 2016, he went to Gurez across Razdan Pass on motorbike and that too in uniform.
“Similarly when I was the General Officer Commanding (GOC) in the northeast, I had gone to Aizwal from Silchar on motorcycle and again in uniform,” Lt Gen Dua said.
“I just like it… Open air, the nature and the best part is you can stop anywhere without getting down and take out your phone and click a picture.”
Talking about his Himachal trip, the bike lover soldier said he took a ride from Chandigarh along Sutlej and Beas rivers and then to Manali to Rohtang tunnel and came back to Kullu.
This was not the first time that he was riding through these routes, as he had done so in 1984.
Besides love for bike riding, Lt Gen Dua also has a passion for horseriding and loves riding his favourite horse called ‘Govindaa’.
Another senior army officer Lt Gen DR Soni is also a diehard bike lover, who does not leave a chance to be on his bike.
He said of all the bike brands, his all time favourite will be the ‘Bullet’ and he proudly calls himself a “Bullet Man”.
“I love bikes very much. When I was in the Armoured Corps, I used to go on the bikes. In one unit with 20-25 officers there were at least five to seven Royal Enfields and three or four Jawas, one or two Yezdis and an equal number of scooters,” Lt Gen Soni said.
He also recalled how during one of his younger days he decided to take a bike ride from Gwalior to Delhi.
“I started off for the road trip on my bike without listening to anyone. For me life was full of fun with adventure and there was never a thought that I will die,” the officer said.
The officer, who also plays guitar during his free time and also a dog lover said that he travelled a lot on bike from Ahmednagar to Mumbai and Pune.
“I enjoyed all my rides,” he added.
His passion for bike was such that he would ride 100 kms only to watch a movie at a different place and he mostly loved riding bike during rains.
This biker has an advice for all passionate bike riders “never drink and drive and always wear a helmet”.
“Passion does not mean one loses mental balance and if you do so then then you will kill yourself. We never drove without a helmet. We never drank and drove.
“If you are fond of biking you have to be careful. You don’t have to take chances. Because thrill is not in taking chances but just sitting on your bike and driving out into the wilderness,” the officer said.
The officer currently bought a new Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 CC twin engine bike and waiting eagerly to take off to a beautiful destination with his wife who is a doctor and served in the Indian Army as a Colonel.
Colonel Deepankar Zinta, who is also a serving officer at the Headquarters Army Training Command, Shimla said he had the love for riding bike at a very young age.
“My first motorcycle was Yamaha RX 100. This I got after lots of pushing and blackmailing as my parents were not in favour of me riding a bike,” Col Zinta said.
The officer said that when he was commissioned into the Indian Army in 1997, a friend of his got injured during a routine exercise. His Bullet motorcycle was at the service centre.
“He asked me to collect the bike from the service centre. I used to call Bullet a ‘Milkman Bike’. I drove his ‘Milkman bike’ from Pune to Ahmednagar and fell in love with the machine and bought a Bullet for myself.
“I travelled a lot with my bike and have had both group and solo rides. Bike has always been my passion and they will remain forever,” the officer added.