Omprakash Siddananjappa and Savitri Omprakash
Bengaluru-based Omprakash Siddananjappa and his wife Savitri Omprakash rarely rode separately. For the past six years, the couple travelled across the country on the 350cc Royal Enfield bike their two sons had gifted them. Last Wednesday, 71-year-old Omprakash lost his life to COVID-19. Savitri, 65, passed away 48 hours later.
From treks to rides, peaks to dirt roads
Members of Road Thrill, the riding club they were part of, recall how Omprakash and Savitri would always ride together. “Members of the group do sometimes bring their partners on trips. That usually happens once in a while,” said Jacinth Paul, a founding member of the group. “But the two of them were always together, no matter where they went.”
The couple always had a taste for adventure. Before they started biking around the country, the couple had been active trekkers for about 25 years and even took school kids on treks to the Himalayas. In an article he wrote for Passion Connect, Omprakash recalled an adventure in the mountains: “I remember the time we went to Betla. The road was frozen and we kept negotiating with nature until we reached the destination. I wish to go on a trip to the Himalayas on a bicycle, though it’s quite a challenge for me after the knee injury I’ve had.”
Over the years, Omprakash and Savitri had their fair share of bumps and injuries. A crash in Visakhapatnam resulted in minor fractures and an accident during another trip left Savitri with a fractured rib and a damaged knee for Omprakash. Two years ago, when they signed up for an offroading trip to Dabbugalli near Bengaluru, their riding club was hesitant—the terrain was rough and riders had sustained injuries in the past. “We told them to ride pillion with other riders, but they refused,” Jacinth says. The couple completed the trip on their bike and had a couple of falls too. But nothing could bruise their spirits.
The last ride
As they aged, the couple decided the treks were a little too demanding and shifted to biking. But on their last trip with the Road Thrill team in January, the couple got to live out a piece of their trekking life. The team had organised what they call an annual Temple Run—a bike trip to a temple to start off the new year. This year, it was the Gomateshwara temple in Shravanabelagola, about 145km from Bengaluru. One needs to climb 700 steps to get to the temple on the top of the hill. “Most riders on the trip didn’t want to make the climb,” Jacinth says. “But Omprakash was the first one to reach the top.”
The couple continued to ride even through the first wave of the pandemic. Bikers and friends, both young and old, looked up to them as icons. “The things they did and their level of activity was very inspiring to all of us.” Jacinth tells me. But for the couple, this was just their way of life. Omprakash said it best himself: “I believe we should always enjoy what life has to offer. If we do what we find interesting, we are going to end up being pleased.”