Pursuit of Happiness

Road to freedom

For Quess Corp chairman Ajit Isaac, there's nothing more calming than a bike's roar

Vishal Koul

The scene begins on the sunny Route 66 in Los Angeles with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper cruising on the highway along the lyrics to Steppenwolf’s Born To Be Wild. This classic heavy metal track not only set the tone for the 1960s Cannes-awarded Easy Rider but also found itself as the unofficial anthem for bikers in pop culture there on. Five decades later, the chairman of Quess Corp Ajit Isaac, has the background score playing in his head every time he hops on to his Harley Davidson. 

“It is a pursuit where your reward is freedom — freedom to travel and discover unique landscapes,” says the 49-year-old India head of the business services provider, who has been pursuing bike riding  for the past 25 years.  A native of Chennai, Isaac fondly remembers his initial encounters with a bike in 1985. He was given his first motorbike to go to college then. For him, the two-wheeler was not just a utilitarian medium to tackle his travel woes, but a channel to fulfill his desire to travel and explore the country. Isaac joined a group of four to five such biking enthusiasts in college and travelled with them to nearby places like Puducherry and Mahabalipuram, thereby only enhancing his passion for biking. However, it was his first inter-state ride to Goa that was a game-changer. “It was during this trip that I realised my fascination with bikes was more of a passion. That’s when I went ahead and bought my own Harley Davidson,” he recalls.

As a first generation entrepreneur, Isaac then moved base to Bengaluru, but carried with him his love for bikes. Even today, despite his demanding work schedule, he ensures he spends time with the motor beast at least two weekends every month. An early morning ride that begins at 6.30 am, then continues for another 100-120 km. But, Isaac, informs us that there is a lot of planning that goes into organising a long ride with his gang. “There are four main components to bike riding. First, it’s about knowing the technical aspect of the bike. Second, the ride has to be pre-planned. Next comes the actual ride, which requires  protective gear, helmets and jackets. Lastly, it is about choosing the right group and when you have done that, making sure you keep an eye on everyone during the ride. When these points operate in tandem, you can enjoy the bike ride completely.” Isaac’s faultless planning with his group has taken him to places around Bengaluru such as Mulbagal, Hossur and Nandi Hills.

 According to him, bike riding is a hobby that brings with it some unconventional pleasures. And this, Isaac says from his own experience. On his trip to Mulbagal, he remembers having stopped at a local eatery and having dosas from a shack. “You get to experience first-hand the local culture and then there’s the joy of making new acquaintances. That is the real beauty,” he says. So, have the lessons on the road influenced his approach at work? “Biking involves a lot of safety. I have learnt to manage risks and I know how to effectively keep a safety margin, even in business. I have also learnt to value teamwork and enjoy the journey with the people I work with,” he adds.

Being the cautious rider that he is, Isaac has had the fortune of avoiding any major mishap on the road. Also, the corporate honcho isn’t keen on participating in competitive bike riding. However, the future plan does include a road trip along the highways of New Zealand, a place Isaac is confident about given the present safety measures. As for a local trip, Isaac plans to reminisce his first major bike riding experience back on the dirt road in Goa.