Late in 1993, Amardev Singh, upon seeing an ad in a newspaper inviting entries for the Mountain Challenge, decided to give competitive biking a shot. Nearly two decades have passed since he made his rally debut on his Yamaha RX100, the machine has changed to a Bajaj KTM 200 Duke and the Mountain Challenge has given way to the Raid De Himalaya, but Amardev's passion remains unflinching.
"I'm not a professional rider. I just do it as a hobby, but passion can drive a person to any lengths," says the 42-year-old, whose primary source of income is his automobile shop in the city's Lajpat Nagar area.
Amardev's somewhat underwhelming results don't bother him: "There are times when I have finished better than many pros. In the end, apart from the rider and the machine, luck also plays a crucial part."
A man's world
For Sarika Sehrawat, the past decade has been about bringing about a change in perceptions in what is essentially a male-dominated sport. "During a rally, when I travel through rural areas, where the people, especially women, are surprised to see me at the wheel," says the gypsy driver, who runs an automobile modification shop with her husband. "But even within the motorsport fraternity, people must've initially thought, 'How many rallies will she do?' Now that I've been arou-nd for a while, they've grown to know and respect me."
The honours keep coming her way in the women's section, but what Sehrawat really wants to do is compete with the big boys: "Ultimately, it's all about winning."
For Amardev, it's all about the feel: "People tell me to switch to four-wheelers, but I've not had my fill of bikes, not just yet. I'll keep taking part as long as I feel I can."