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HOG the road to Odisha and back

On the surface they may just be avid bikers, but they are HOGs the moment they hit the road. Four proud Harley-Davidson owners from the state recently made a round trip to Bhubaneswar from Calcutta as part of the exclusive Harley Owners Group.

Naveen Sehgal, Rana Roychowdhury, Ayush Chaturvedi and Ashish Ghosh donned their riding gear and kick-started their mean machines at 6.30am on June 15 to begin their journey of around 900km. They were accompanied by employees of Bengal Harley-Davidson, the Calcutta dealership of the iconic American bike company.

The bikers reached Bhubaneswar in the afternoon. The next day, there were test rides and displays of the bikes at the Mayfair Hotel in Bhubaneswar. On June 17, the HOGs hit the Marine Drive, the largest coastal road in India, for a trip to Konark and back and returned to Calcutta the next day.

“When you own a Harley-Davidson, you become part of a brotherhood,” said Sehgal, the secretary of the Bengal chapter of HOG. And he should know. Since he bought his Harley 48, a 1200cc V-Twin bike, his “life hasn’t been the same”.

“It was an awesome experience,” said Naveen, who rode a Fat Boy. “There was so much curiosity about the bikes that we were mobbed on the way. Local residents stopped us and looked at the bikes with a lot of enthusiasm,” said Sehgal. At full throttle on the NH 6, the Fat Boy did an average of 120kmph, with a top speed of 172kmph on the Bhubaneswar-Konark stretch. “From Kharagpur, the roads were good. The Balasore stretch and the highways in Odisha were very smooth,” Sehgal said.

For Rana, too, the ride was “an experience”. His Iron 883, a stripped-down blacked-out Sportster with an 883cc Evolution engine, drag-style handlebar and chopped rear fender did an average of 120-130kmph with a top speed of 165 kmph. “It was total fun,” said Rana, for whom biking is a passion.

“When Bengal Harley-Davidson opened in Calcutta in April, I bought my Iron 883. It was a dream come true,” he said.

About being part of the HOG, Rana said: “There is a lot of bonding among Harley owners. We meet every Sunday and go for rides,” said the Birla Tyres employee who had left biking for some years till he bought his Harley.

Ayush attained a speed of 190kmph on the Balasore-Bhubaneswar stretch near Jajpur on his 48, which he bought in April. “I was the first one to book a Harley from the Calcutta dealership,” said the automobile dealer. “Harleys are rock-solid bikes — the Softails and the Fat Boys are the Rolls Royces of motorcycles,” he said.

As of now, all of them are looking forward to June 24, “HOG Day”, when all Harley owners all over the world customarily ride. “There will be a ride in the city followed by a dinner in the evening,” said Sehgal. The HOGs are also planning a ride to Visakhapatnam later this month.