A friend of a friend, Ananthakrishnan , software engineer and serious biker, introduced us to Anil, of Apex Racing Academy who promptly invited our children to come and spend a day watching a group of bikers train and prepare for bike racing.
Bikes, cars and speed seem to be part of the genetic buildup of boys. They wanted to go. More and more boys started appearing at the library in the evenings. We had a hard time restricting the list. We chose not to take the girls, interest being the selective criterion.
On 20th December, we gathered at the library at 7 am. 20 boys from the 8th and 9th standards of CMM CSI School and Thalaiyattumund Municipal School and three volunteers- Kalyani, Nivishna and Harshita. After the initial confusion of waiting for one boy who finally turned up, frozen and unable to speak, having run 2 km to catch up with us, we finally left Ooty at 7.45 a.m. in a Swaraj Mazda.
At 9 .30 we drove into Mettupalayam and were treated to a royal breakfast of dosai and pooris by Nivishna’s Aunt and Uncle . Then we proceeded to Chettipalayam, near Coimbatore, to the Kari Race Course.
We were given a warm welcome by Anil of Apex Racing Training Academy and his team. The boys were allowed to ask all their questions about bikes and racing to the assembled group of bikers. Fastest bike. How they become bikers. Pitfalls. Fuel. Special tyres. Then the boys presented a play in mime about road safety which they had been practicing all week. Pedestrian safety, safety for cyclists and bikers. They enjoyed the drama of accidents and carrying out the injured a great deal.
Then we were led to a viewing gallery on top of a building from which there was a great view of the entire 2.5km racecourse . Bikers in training lined up below us and were cheered lustily by the boys as they revved up and moved out on to the tracks. As they sped around the curves and bends, the boys got very excited and there was a lot of adrenaline in the air.
Bharath came and showed the boys his special helmet with a little video attached to the side. He had specially decorated it with plumes in bright yellow. The boys thronged around him to try on the helmet and ask questions about how they could race too. Study hard, get a good job and then spend your money on bikes and racing he told them.
All too soon, it was lunch time. Boys were given biryani packets and a dessert of ice cream. Post lunch , a theory class was given to the bikers with great detail about posture and the instructors showed them their mistakes. Meanwhile we watched other people race. The boys longed to go out on the track but without helmets and special suits, it wasn’t possible. As a sop, Anil got them to go around in the van.
The grand finale was the photo shoot. All the bikes were arranged in a perfect semicircle. Each boy was hoisted on to the back of a bike as a pillion rider. And their day was made. With terrific poses, a lot of photos were shot and then we left , to start the journey back.
Bonus was a generous donation by Apex Racing Academy to Siragugal . And this inspired the caterer of the race course Jayakumar, to donate his earning of the weekend to to us!
With a short stop for tea and snacks at sivananda colony, we made it back to Ooty by 8 p.m., tired and very happy.