Thomas Bourgin: Two-wheels move the soul

By Hemant Abhishek | Last Updated: Jun 10, 2013, 10:41 AM IST

A dark, lonely stretch of road stares at me. The bright, round beam of my motorcycle’s headlight lightens up a small stretch of the tarmac ahead. With my eyes riveted on the tiny stretch of the road lit in the otherwise pitch black surrounding I keep driving into the night. Suddenly, the light shines on bloodied remains of a biker lying on the road—next to him lies the mangled heap of his motorcycle. And I’m jolted out of the nightmare.

This recurring dream has startled me out of slumber many times in the past months. And when I dwell on the cause behind this constant sub-conscious soiree in my head, I often retrace my steps to a page from my past — an accident site.

One foggy morning years back, a usually desolate stretch of road was teeming with activity—sirens, police cars, ambulances, cops — an accident had occurred.

I slowed my bike down, and through the commotion peeked to see the mangled remains of a man being carried into an ambulance. And his bike lay in a pile of rubble by the sidewalk.

That was 2008 and the scene of death and destruction has followed me ever since. It has punctuated my dreams these five-odd years — interspersed with nights of peaceful sleep.

It recurs every time I hear or read of something similar. I have reasons to believe that the current bout has been triggered by the death of French motorcyclist Thomas Bourgin.

Thomas (25) met his end in the recently concluded Dakar Rally, following a collision with a Chilean police car. Ever since his debut in 2009 Morocco Rally, the talented rider had notched the fourth spot in 2011 Africa Race and finished seventh in the Tunisia Rally.

Who can forget the wild locks and enchanting smile of Marco Simoncelli. He would’ve turned 26 this January 20. Whoever saw him ride said that the maverick Italian was destined for greatness. But that was until that fateful day during the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit.

There are hundreds of riders who clobber each other on the track for a win. And then, there comes one like Marco, who lifts the soul with his exuberance and stylish riding. Simoncelli was brash to the point of madness.

Back home, we lost — Vinu SV — the man for known for his Herculean rides. The Hyderabadi ‘Mad-Max’ rode non-stop for 36-hours, traversing 2500-kms of tarmac to bag the ‘Bun Burner’ tag. He had also ridden 1000 miles in 24 hours to earn the ‘Saddle Sore’ monicker.

Ironically, it was during one of these rides in 2012 that he met with an accident on one of the roads he knew like the back of his hand.

Back in 2011, Ayazuddin, the son of MP and ex-cricketer Md Azharuddin, too succumbed to a road accident alongwith his cousin on a Hyderabad highway. The irony of it was that the sportsbike he was riding then was a gift from his father.

Noted cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle had aptly remarked that 19 ‘is an age to begin life and not to end it’.

But Thomas, Marco, Venu and Ayazuddin are just a few whose names we know. Thousands like them lose their lives on the road every year — their death unsung. As per estimates 1,786 people lost their lives on the capital’s roads in 2013 alone. And despite the fatalities over 3.29 lakhs were booked for driving without a helmet during the same year.

We simply don’t learn, do we? Two-wheeler drivers are more susceptible to accidents, yet we can’t make it a habit to buckle up at all times.

Compulsory use of helmets, driving within speed limits and adhering to lanes alone can help avert a sizeable number of these deaths on the road. It is also imperative that four-wheeler drivers respect others vehicles` presence and don’t take wheels under the influence. And strict adherence and enforcement of driving rules and enforcement can also go a long way in curbing road accidents.

Speed thrills, and there are few more soul-stirring experiences than feeling the rain on one’s helmet and listening to the wind whistle into the helmet vents. Then why not exercise a bit of caution, just to ensure that the experience lasts a lifetime?