The thrill of it all

“Wear your helmet, ride slowly, and be careful on the road!” These are oft-repeated words I get to hear from my parents when I go riding. They are against riding a sports bike or what is commonly known as ‘heavy bike’. It is understandable that they worry for my safety but at times it gets very annoying. I’m not careless about bike riding and know exactly what hazards are involved in it.

Now you must be thinking that this is just another kid who is passing through a “phase”, but that is not the case. I’m a racer, a born racer. In fact, one who lives for the thrill of the sport. Unfortunately, racing is banned in Pakistan. And the conditions of the roads are such that only riding freaks can think of racing on them. It is also a pity that people have no respect for others on the road, with everyone muscling their way around. The bigger the car, the bullier a driver will be.

Coming back to racing, the thirst to bike is an unbearable one and with no tracks or drag strips to race on, I have resorted to the most dangerous form of racing. Yes, you guessed it – illegal street racing.

I know I’m going to be seen now as a spoiled brat but what else can I do? Bike racers gather from around the city to participate in drag races of motorbikes. These bikes aren’t the bikes usually found on our streets for they are ‘heavy bikes’, starting from 400cc to 1000cc. The guys riding them are in jackets and wear helmets because, as a safety precaution, don’t race without them. Different types of races are held, such as a simple 400-meter drag race, a half-mile drag race, half-mile time trials and the list goes on.

These races are usually held on abandoned highways or roads with very little population to avoid any sorry incident. Riders gather on a selected day and then race for three to four hours. They have fun and share their valuable racing experiences with other racers who are keen to learn. We riders are more like brothers, always caring for each other and warning against trying anything that is beyond the limitations of our machines. To cut it short, we are like a small family where everyone is involved in the same thing – bike racing!

People dislike us because they think we are spoiled brats out to hurt ourselves just for the heck of it. I’ve been called a psycho and an idiot because of it. I confess racing is dangerous but with proper gears and a proper track, it becomes more fun than dangerous. The roads we use are not meant for racing but we have nowhere else to go to. The local government is busy elsewhere so who do we turn to for help? We arrange all the events that are held and, if required, riders give some donations.

Many riders have crashed during these races and have suffered injuries, with their family members blaming it all on what they think is a foolish activity. I disagree. This foolish activity isn’t that foolish if done with proper equipment and training. All around the world racing is very popular and people gather in thousands to watch their favorite riders battle it out on the track. Many riders crash very badly but after the crash they just stand up and walk away from the scene. Have you wondered why? Simply because they have proper equipment and medical units all around them.

We are just like other sportsmen and deserve some respect. We need tracks and training. We will prove that Pakistanis don’t only play cricket well –– they can go fast on the track, too. Simply because we don’t get proper attention and support by the right people, the art of racing will never become a common sport. The government should make a track or at least drag strips with safety measures for racers. It is my firm belief that if given a chance the bike racers of Pakistan will be able to compete on an international level if given the opportunity.

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