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The year was 1967, and All You Need is Love was blowing up airwaves around the world. Inspired, young Puneite Bryan Hendricks invited his new wife Helen on the honeymoon of a lifetime – an epic 2,400 kilometer road trip on his 1957 Jawa MMC 4580 from Bangalore to Kanyakumari and back to Pune. Helen said yes.
Reeling, Bryan scurried around for helmets, a map, and some cash for the adventure. In retrospect, Bryan admits the plan was thrown together – there was, “no planning, no spares, no protective gear – just blind faith”.
Having heard that the maximum load for a Jawa was 310 kilograms, Bryan began removing everything he considered unnecessary – including the toolkit – before loading the bike.
A few days later, the couple packed their Jawa onto a train for Bangalore.
It’s a family thing
Motorbikes were always like family for Bryan.
His father had been a collector, with an NSU, a Norton Manx, and a Matchless – and whenever he was out of town on business, Bryan and his brothers would wheel one out and joy-ride around Pune.
Bryan’s love for motorcycles was hard-wired. And now he was bringing Helen into the fold.
Setting off on their big adventure
From Bangalore, their 21-day journey snaked down through Mysore, Chennai, and Ooty, all the way to Kanyakumari, before looping back up to Pune.
Each morning, they’d set off after breakfast, and they’d ride through the day, exploring quaint hamlets and enjoying local hospitality along the way. When the sun began to set, they would find a hotel in the nearest city.
Over the course of the trip, Bryan taught Helen to ride. Even though they were averaging between 100 to 120 kph, the implacable Helen wasn’t phased. Being able to split driving duties made all the difference, with the pair alternating between one-hour shifts.
Sitting behind a person who had never ridden a motorcycle in her life, Bryan admits he was a little apprehensive at first. “But I never said a word – I let Helen learn on her own. She was so confident – a complete natural.”
One day while the pair were climbing the Ghats to Ooty, the clutch plate burned out. Dusk was falling, and all nearby mechanics would be closed. It looked like their road trip was over.
But luck was on their side.
A TVS truck happened to be passing by and pulled over to help. And they didn’t stop there. Not only did they load up and transport Bryan’s stricken Jawa to the Ooty factory for repair, but they also dropped the weary couple off at a hotel for some much-needed rest.
The next morning, Bryan called the TVS factory. He was told that the bike’s clutch plate assembly had been fully repaired and was in perfect working condition. The Jawa was ready to ride again.
The rest of the trip went off without a hitch – there was barely a pip, squeak, or whimper from the motorcycle.
All’s well that ends well
Looking back, Bryan now laughs at their naivety: “We trusted someone with our motorcycle without knowing them, without asking their names or where they were taking it. All we had was the phone number of the TVS factory.”
During the interview, some 51 years later, the still-very-much-in-love couple, remembers their three-week adventure fondly. Helen says, “I still can’t believe that my parents allowed me to go on that trip.”
Because sometimes for a good story, all you need is love – and a Jawa.