Kottayam: "Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike," said former US President John F Kennedy.
A young temple priest in Kerala's Kottayam district too finds pure bliss in off-road bike rides and races.
V N Unnikrishnan (34) is now preparing for the Indian National Rally Championship (INRC) which is scheduled to take place in Coimbatore, after having won the highly adventurous Annapurna offroad bike race in Nepal.
He is the senior priest of the Devi Temple at Puthukulangara, Kuruppanthara, in Kottayam district. This graduate in BSc Computer Science took to bike riding and the ancestral vocation of conducting temple rituals after quitting his job at the InfoPark 10 years ago.
After he left the job, Unnikrishnan covered the entire State of Uttarakhand in 90 days on foot. He took to bike racing in 2008 and rode through the States of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, and Jammu and Kashmir in 120 days.
He maintains the same attention and discipline when zooming on his bike during off-road racing in the snow-capped hills as he does when he conducts temple rituals.
Riding the bike through the hill ranges of Nepal was highly adventurous, he recalled.
Unnikrishnan completed the Annapurna Bike Race in Nepal in 30 days. He came face to face with death while crossing the river by braving the boulders that were being washed down by flood waters.
Unnikrishnan cooks his own food and takes rest at night during long-distance bike rides. He goes on his adventure trips after taking leave from his temple duties.
Unnikrishnan is son of late K Narayanan and K P Usha Antharjanam. He hails from the Vadassery Illom at Thekkenada in Vaikom.
Earlier, when he used to go on leave, he would hand over the responsibilities of the senior priest to his father. It has become difficult to go out as before after his father passed away four years ago.
"I pursue my dream rides with the meagre income from the temple," the biker said.