Ten monsoons ago, a group of 50-odd bikers were scaling the Lonavala ghats, and one among them was Vinod Rawat. Riding a 350cc chopper motorcycle, Rawat was advised to stay off the treacherous Rajmachi stretch, hailed as the prep ground for challenging biking expeditions. But the gritty man skilfully pulled himself and his bike to the end point.

Until that night when the bikers retired in their tents, no one knew that Rawat did it on a prosthetic leg. “It’s true that I lack a limb, but not the confidence and strength. However, I was rejected from the club once they found out. Though the members appreciated my riding skills, no one was ready to ride with me,” recalls Rawat, who is based out of Mumbai. “That rejection hit me hard. My eyes welled up on the ride downhill and I decided to start a biking group for people like me.” That’s how Convoy Control Club (C3), a motorcycle community for the differently-abled, was born.

With nearly 100 riders and seven chapters across the country, C3 members go on regular long-distance biking, marathon, cycling and trekking expeditions. “It’s all about mobility and being able to see the world again. Physical disability should never be the reason for confinement. I believe in giving wings to your dreams, and in our case, it’s the wheels that take us to our dream destinations,” says Rawat. “One of our first bike rides was to Ladakh in 2011. It was a charity ride titled ‘Beyond Barriers’ and we raised approximately Rs. 18,00,000 to help six families in Ladakh rebuild their houses damaged in a cloud burst.” Since then, there has been no looking back. Rawat has done a number of challenging cycling and biking fêtes in some of the most unforgiving terrains.

Every year, Rawat has been taking groups of differently-abled people on a trek to the Kalsubai peak, the highest in Maharashtra at 1,646 metres. “Kalsubai is extremely steep and narrow, and people do a lot of preparation treks. But I went directly with novices, including people with Cerebral Palsy, who have difficulty in balancing themselves. With the help of one volunteer per person, I supported them to do something that’s daring.”

Rawat is also a motivational speaker and works with Jaipur Foot in providing prosthetic limbs to people free of cost. “I get calls from hospitals and homes to inspire amputees. When I narrate my story to them, they gradually accept living limbless. We have members in the club who have lost a hand or leg in the Mumbai bomb blast, some are accident victims,” says Rawat, who lost his left limb in a road accident when he was six years old. “But none of them feel bad about themselves any more. I believe that’s my biggest achievement.”

New-car smell?

It could be toxic, says research that identified 275 chemicals in vehicle interiors. These were associated with birth defects, liver problems, even cancer.

Source: Ecology Center

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