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'If you don't have courage, you can't ride our Bullets'

By Archana Masih
January 27, 2016 16:59 IST
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Captain Manpreet Singh led his band of 130 men on Rajpath, perched on a ladder 10 feet high, rising precariously from the handle-bar of his motorcycle.
He tells Archana Masih/Rediff.com what it is to be a Bullet-riding Dare Devil, a member of the Indian Army's award winning acrobatic team.

Captain Manpreet Singh leads the Dare Devil display team 

IMAGE: Captain Manpreet Singh led his contingent of Dare Devil bike riders in the Republic Day parade. The 131 men practiced for one-and-a-half years and put up a fabulous show.

Some of the loudest cheers at the Republic Day parade were reserved for Captain Manpreet Singh, his men and their fleet of Bullet motorcycles.

Captain Singh led his band of 130 men on Rajpath, perched on a ladder 10 feet high, rising precariously from the handle of his motorcycle. He gave his Supreme Commander a smart salute and elegantly maneuvered the Bullet from atop the ladder.

In the splendour of the Republic Day on Tuesday, the acrobatic motorcycle display by the Dare Devils was the piece de resistance for the Indian and foreign dignitaries and spectators.

"Keeping the speed to 20 kilometres per hour is most important," says Captain Singh, who is from the Corps of Signals with four-and-a-half years service in the Indian Army.

"It can't go below 15 kilometres," he adds.

"The ladder we used for the Republic Day parade was shorter. Otherwise the height of the ladder is 15 feet and 4 inches."

The Army's motorcycle display team in the Republic Day ParadeThe riders and acrobats from the 1 Signal Training Centre in Jabalpur had been training 2 to 3 hours every day for the past one-and-a-half years. The men and machines arrived in Delhi in December.

They had reported for the parade at 6.30 in the morning, but their turn did not come up till 11.15 am. The parade organisers were saving the best for the last and sure enough it was a gobsmacking display.

It took the Dare Devils an hour-and-a-half to check their bikes and go over the routine for that morning. The bikes have to be maintained excellently to avoid any mechanical error.

"Your mind can be controlled, but a mechanical error cannot," points out Captain Singh.

Thirty members of the group had participated in previous Republic Day parades, one of them being a veteran of 8 parades!

"I think we did well. You need presence of mind, discipline and concentration, especially because there is a lot of cheering, clapping, which is not so during our practice," says Captain Singh, the son of a farmer from Haryana and the first in his family to join the army.

It was the first time for him at the Republic Day parade, but the Dare Devils team travels almost six months in a year performing at events and jubilees at different army units.

The Corps of Signals motorcycle display teamIt is not easy to find a place in the motorcycle display team, explains the officer. Those who volunteer are put through a tough selection process.

After their basic riding is gauged, personnel undergo a three month probation where they are trained in motorbike acrobatic skills. The riding fit finally make it into the team.

Some veterans in the team have 28 to 30 acrobatic biking experiences behind them.

"In our routine, it is difficult to give a motorcycle to a new chap because a rider has to balance a lot more people on his bike. It needs tremendous control and skill," adds Captain Singh, whose favourite mean-machine is the Bullet.

"To be part of the Dare Devils you need courage," says the captain, "If you don't have that, I am afraid, you can't ride our Bullets."

Photographs: PIB/Twitter.

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Archana Masih / Rediff.com
 
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