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Derring-do on two wheels

Nothing stops the Tornadoes, a daredevil motorbike team of the Army Service Corps. On 500 cc Royal Enfield motorbikes, they do the unthinkable, speeding through fireballs, walls of tube-lights or a bunch of boxes. It seems they defy gravity.

The venue was the Manekshaw Parade Grounds in Bengaluru this Independence Day. Last year, they set a world record when 58 men rode a bike for 1.2 km. The crowd, with many children, that has come for the Independence Day celebrations waited impatiently for the speeches and the parades to end so that the Tornadoes could take over. The adrenaline-filled daredevil acts contrasts with the team’s cool demeanour and ease with which it executed seemingly impossible acts on custom-fitted motorcycles.

The 25-minute show was headed by Captain Rishabh Ghaghat, 28. “I joined the team, like many others, because I love biking. And this is fun, to travel around the country performing on our bikes,” says Captain Rishabh, a two-year veteran with the team. Each bike has an “owner”, and during their voluntary tenure in the Tornadoes, the team members develop an emotional attachment with their machines.

The clockwork-precision comes from years of training, knowing one’s machine and also from picking yourself up after falls or accidents. “You have to become one with your bike,” says one of the riders as he sets off for some acrobatics.

The 30-member team ups the ante, matching expectations after last year’s world record — one of the 20 since the team was formed in 1982. This time, nine men jumped through flaming hoops one by one on their bikes and rode through and broke a wall of tube lights into a million shards. In the end, the 30 men made a human pyramid on seven bikes.

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