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Harley glory for Bengal HOG

Calcutta’s “small” band of Harley Davidson diehards rode high on passion and attitude rather than quantity to grab the Chapter of the Year Award 2013 at the second edition of the India Bike Week held in Goa early this year.

The Bengal chapter of the Harley Owners’ Group (HOG) is a lightweight compared with its counterparts in Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore, but that hardly gets in the way when they are riding for glory.

Bengal HOG notched up 390 points to the title.

“Though sales are a bit sluggish in Calcutta, the enthusiasm and passion of the Bengal chapter of HOG makes up for the lack of numbers. This reflects in the best chapter award that it won for last year’s activities,” said Anoop Prakash, CEO and MD of Harley Davidson India. “Bengal HOG is very active and vibrant,” he added.

Every Harley dealership in the country has a HOG chapter registered with Harley Davidson, UK. These chapters — India currently has 13 — organise events and rides throughout the year to bond and promote brotherhood among the Harley bikers. The activities bring them points and the HOG with the highest score at the end of the year wins the title.

Harley Davidson India gives out the calendar of events in January along with a set of rules. “The score depends on the number of rides that the chapter organises, the number of kilometres covered, how many new riders join the chapter, hosting the regional HOG rally and so on. At the award ceremony in Goa, a thousand Harley owners were present. Calcutta’s representation was very good,” Prakash said.

Adarsh Tulshan and Atul Makharia of Bengal Harley, the sponsoring dealer, couldn’t contain their excitement. “It’s a big achievement. We are responsible for Bengal HOG… we ensure that the office-bearers are in place and HOG members get the support they need. The activities are carried out in a professional manner,” Tulshan said.

Makharia nodded. The HOG office-bearers are elected through an open poll since it is necessary to have “the right people in place for a non-profit activity rooted to passion… for biking and for the brand”.

Zubin Songadwala, a former director of Bengal HOG who has shifted to Bangalore, said: “The Calcutta chapter has about 150 riders, a small community, but we rode to distant places such as Chail in Himachal and Bhubaneswar. The title was all about riding.”

Navin Sehgal, the assistant director, said: “We lost the 2012 title to Bangalore by the skin of our teeth. Last year we were determined to finish first.”

Podium finish is not easy since “you have to compete with the chapters in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad”. “Our plan was to stick to the calendar. We organised Sunday rides, overnight rides, bike nights and the Eastern HOG Rally in Bodh Gaya,” Sehgal said.