India!

India! Ok here’s the plan:
Drive 16 hours home to Atlanta from Canada event Monday, February 23.
Pack.
Jump on a flight to Malaysia Tuesday, February 24.
Arrive in Kuala Lumpur Thursday morning (February 26).
Unpack.
Grab parts from Malaysia bike.
Repack.
Fly to Kochi, India Friday morning (February 27).
Drive from Kochi airport 5 hours to Thiruvananthapuram.
Fix motorcycles.
Test motorcycles.
Fix motorcycles.
Saturday night drive 8 hours north to other Indian city (I lost track of where I was in India at this point). Sleep 2 hours.
Freestyle show at MES technical college.
Drive 4 hours from show to Kochi airport.
Fly to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Sleep….I hope.

Before I begin this tale, here’s a neat video!

The journey kind of starts in Canada, but I will save that for another time.

My good friends the Ghost Riderz in India hit me up for a show. We decided we could squeeze it into a small 3 day travel window between my events, sleep being the only casualty. Time to leave the snow behind!

The pack list includes:
Cylinder head, front forks, rear suspension, 2 radiators, 4 brake master cylinders, brake pads, 8 sets of grips, handlebars, and socks.

Parts in tow, I’m off!

So here’s the thing…..this event was put together so fast there was no time to tell me any details other than “fly to India”. So I flew to India.

Arriving in Kochi, India (after a quick stop in Kuala Lumpur to swap some parts around and lighten my load), I find a guy with a sign with my name, jump in a car and head 5 hours south to the hometown of the Ghost Riderz, Thiruvananthapuram. Thiruvananthapuram, a word I still cannot pronounce.

The driving in India is the most terrifying of all the countries I have visited. A combination of narrow roads, zillions of people, and mild insanity make passenger napping impossible.
Ice cream makes it tolerable.

Upon arrival, I unpack my bag of goodies and we immediately set to work preparing bikes. It is now Friday. I haven’t had a full night’s sleep (other than airplane napping) since Saturday…6 days ago. I’ve entered double bonus round Zombie Mode. And it’s damn hot here.
After a few hours sleep it’s time to test the bikes. Oh the bikes…

There is a Honda f4i and a Honda 600rr. They are the only stunt setup “superbikes” in the country. They are broken. It is not a situation of this bike needs this and that….they are just broken. It’s impossible to get parts in India and my friends have done a great job with limited resources. 15 minutes of practice reveals a very short trick list.

No time to worry because I’m in a car again driving through the night to the other city where the show is to be. Never did catch the name of the place…

Arrive at “other city”, sleep 2 hours, EAT, and check the riding area. Sweet merciful heavens it’s small. Trick list just got smaller. “Oh here, ride this bone stock Street Triple!”. What? Who’s bike is this? Are you sure? Who is in charge here? Ok…
Show time. Arrive back at the college (I’m riding shows for an engineering college!) and the full details of my doom are revealed. I am responsible for a solid hour of content. Alone. The sole source of entertainment.
Holy crap there are thousands of kids here.
Holy crap there is a larger than life sized movie style poster cutout of me on the building.
Holy crap those grandstands are made of tree limbs and string.
What am I supposed to do with these bikes for AN HOUR?

“Ok Aaron, just go out and perform for an hour”. An HOUR? Dude, shows are 10 – 15 minute sets. “Yes, exactly. Ride 10 minutes then rest.”
What?

Then it began. The most intense spectacle I have ever been a part of. The lengths these nice people went through to approach “Epic” were mind-blowing. I felt like I was being absorbed by chaos at all times. The drum team, the crowd “control”, the ROBOT! What is happening??

So I rode 10 minutes and rested. In the middle of thousands of kids. Staring. Judging. The MC’s who were supposed to entertain the crowd didn’t say a word. Not a damn word! Then comes “the guy” asking “Hey man, hey….do that one trick you did in that video, here, in the 20 foot riding space we gave you with absolutely no barricade between you and the people….on this broken motorcycle”.
Dude. Don’t be that guy.

Then the f4i died. RIP. No mas. So I did the sensible thing: Ravaged the 600rr until the tire exploded “THANK YOU GOOD NIGHT!”

That day was spent swimming in awkward tension. I’ve never experienced such a drastic gap between crowd expectation and my ability to perform. I felt like a complete goon for a solid day and had to hide behind a goofy smile for the good people of MES College. I constantly felt the need to explain, apologize, rationalize what was happening; but it would have been pointless.

So smile, it’s time for a selfie.