Work for intensive care doctor Mohan Ranawade is a daily adrenalin-charged race against the clock. Play, on the other hand, is a very different matter.
The weekend, when he’s not experiencing the elation and despair of caring for critically ill patients, is a time to release the pressure on his Tiger XRx, a bike whose “perfect handling and power characteristics” he says are the perfect match for India’s roads.
You’ll usually find him with his buddies at Vyagreshwar trail, a winding dirt track just inland from his hometown of Alibag on the east coast 50 miles south of Mumbai.
“It’s treacherous in places but huge fun to ride and even more exciting to ride fast,” he says: “When I’m there I remember within seconds why I ride. It’s where the danger is real, the hissing sound of the wind hitting my helmet is music, the blurred tarmac in front so close I could touch it with my foot.”
The precision of his day job means Mohan is drawn to the polar opposite, and he finds it in the unforgiving nature of the ruts, potholes, mudpools and dirt of the 18km trail.
“I’ve been riding ever since I legally could. It’s the difference between being in an action movie or sitting on a comfortable chair and watching it on TV. You can’t beat having the lead role in your own adventure,” he says. “Life and death issues form a part of my daily routine and invoke a complex stressful pattern in the fabric of my life, so riding with my friends is how I cope.”
He admits to trying “almost every bike available” before choosing Triumph, but eventually found the “perfect marriage” of bike and rider in the Tiger.
“That relationship between a rider and his bike can be successful only if a bike can take care of itself and a rider can take care of himself. Only through this interdependence can you achieve true happiness on long journeys,” he says.
He adds: “I can take the Tiger out and no matter where I go I don’t need to bother about a rut or a pothole, knowing that it would manage itself and allow me to concentrate on the ride.
“Off-roading is like being immersed in a series of moments where mind and heart are always engaged from second to second, and that’s what makes you forget the world. Riding on tarmac is often forgiving, but that’s not the case off road.”
His second bike, a Bonneville T100, is reserved for the shorter city rides to and from hospital and to “look good”, but it’s on his Tiger that the doctor earns his stripes.
He says: “I’ll be on it riding the coastal route to Mumbai, the sea, sand and the beaches on one side and the red mountains on the other, the broken road weaving and curving like a giant serpent. The ride is always epic and no matter how many times I take the same route, it seems new every time.”
Escape from the ordinary
“The sound of the lashing waves is always different. The hum of the fishing boats, their engines starting and stalling, the sweet smell of the cashew nut trees and the coconut trees dancing to the rhythm of the wind makes it a perfect escape from the ordinary.”
For Mohan, simply riding “somewhere in a vast nowhere” with total trust in his ride is the perfect antidote to a life of work-induced emotional turmoil.
And he insists: “I’ll do it ‘til I’m 100.”