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    Tornadoes - A close view !!

    Sunday, December 12, 2010

    The testosterone-driven have always fallen for the lure of daredevilry. They crinkle noses at the risk-averse and the unfortunate few of the male-species, those leery of physical danger, are seen as leer-worthy. Well, being fearless always did come with arrogance. Or so we believed, until we met the Tornadoes. 

    Tornadoes, the motor cycle display team of the Army Service Corps (ASC), have smashed many world records, performed incredible feats on moving bikes, yet are surprisingly modest. They court danger daily attempting stunning stunts on their trusty steeds. These perfect poster boys for the Royal Enfield Bullet can do the Surya Namaskar on the moving bike. They stand on their heads on the backseat, tank, or even on the front wheel hood. Broken bones are mere incidental occupational hazards to them. 

    They shrug, and brush it off. It’s all in a day’s work, they say.

    The Tornadoes are 28 years old. They were raised by the Army Service Corps in 1982 after a high-impact performance at the Asian Games hosted by New Delhi. Army records say, “since then, the men of the Tornadoes team by their sheer grit, determination and spirit of adventure have created a niche for themselves by rewriting various records.” Just a week ago, at the runway of Air Force Station Yelahanka, they broke two world records by riding a distance of 1,100 metres with 54 persons on a single 500cc cast iron engined, Royal Enfield Classic Bullet, and by covering a distance of 925 metres with 55 persons on one bike again. With this, they entered the Guinness and the Limca Book of Records.

    At one point, the team had held seven world and national records of varying degrees of sports and adventure. They entered into the Guinness Book of World Records in 1992, 1994, 1995 and 2000 for carrying 93, 111, 115 and 181 persons respectively on 11 motorcycles. The team also holds the Guinness Record of being the fastest group of men forming a pyramid of 15 men on three motorcycles. 

    Feathers to crowd any crown, isn’t it? “It’s all thanks to our Army training,” says their Group Captain, Major MK Jha.

    He joined them a year ago, incidentally for romantic reasons — a daredevilry of another kind. “My girlfriend was posted in Bangalore, and I wanted to be with her. So I volunteered for a spot in the Tornadoes team,” he says, Rank doesn’t come in the way when he accords all credit for his stunts on the bike to the team members who hold a lower rank in the military hierarchy but are the seniors of the team. 

    Hawaldar Rampal Yadav — the man who rode bike that carried 54 others into the record — has been with the team since 21 years. Before he joined the Indian Army, he used to ride his Rajdoot in the hilly terrains of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He carried his penchant for motorcycling into his Army service, and opted to train in the team — a decision that met with a lot of opposition from his family. “Initially, they objected. But then, I stuck to my decision. And how much can they cry over the same thing! So now, they support me silently,” he says. Lance Naik Dilip Rupnar nods his head vigorously at this, citing similar experience. 

    The acrobatics and feats on moving bike require tremendous skill and precision, no doubt. It also makes other demands on the team members. “We have a special diet. We constantly watch what we eat. Very carefully,” says Rupnar. They have strict limits when it comes to body weight. Yadav is among the heavier members, at 79 kilos. “That is because I have to be strong to support the weight of so many of my team members on the bike. While the others who make the pyramid would weigh around 59 kilos,” Yadav says. 

    Lying one next to another on the track, ready for a team-mate to jump over them on a speeding bike asks for an extraordinary faith on the other. That is something the team of 32 men cultivates religiously. They train daily, three and more hours on the bike, and the rest of the day work together as a team. “We eat, drink, work and play together, we are a unit. The whole team is always together, and that way we know and trust each other completely,” says the Group Captain. In fact, we are sure that our team-mate would rather let himself be injured than cause injury to any of the others, Jha adds. 

    Jha sports several cuts and bruises on his face. “Oh, this is nothing. It happens during practice. When we hear the applause from an impressed crowd, we forget all of this,” he says, smiling. 

    These brave men handle awe with largesse too. Applause is accepted courteously, but they are also quick to tell that they are just like any other soldier of the Indian Army, — “there’s nothing extraordinary about us.”

    source : dnaindia.com

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