Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Royal Enfield links India with U.S. yachting center

Suki Finnerty directs Kenneth Maginnity as he describes his India on an Enfield project.
More than most motorcycles, Royal Enfields help shrink our world.

Royal Enfields don't just travel over the world's surface, reducing the time it takes to get from one place to the next. They bring people — sometimes very different sorts of people — together.

I couldn't help thinking this as I watched a videographer tape Kenneth Maginnity speaking on a dock Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. It was a beautiful sunlit day and over Maginnity's shoulder loomed an enormous private yacht. Under Maginnity was a far more modest private vehicle: my 1999 Royal Enfield Bullet.

Maginnity, a tall, lean Australian, doesn't own a yacht but he knows them well. He's a private chef on one and has cruised the east coast of the United States, the Caribbean and even the Mediterranean, stopping in famous ports of call. Sounds glamorous, but realize that an on-board chef works 50 hours a week while the vessel is in port, and many hours more when it's underway.

After a decade at it, Maginnity is taking a break. He intends to rough it, riding a restored 1965 Royal Enfield Bullet 3,500 miles through India, to the top of the world and into Kashmir. Quite a change in lifestyle.

He's paying for it himself, but is promoting the ride to help people in need in India through End Poverty, an organization that conducts micro-financing. Small loans enable people to use their own skills and ambitions to lift themselves out of poverty. The organization says that 95 percent of those who get the loans manage to repay them.

Working from a computer on his bunk aboard the yacht, Maginnity has done a terrific job of making the world aware of his plans. There is an India on an Enfield website, Facebook page and Twitter feed. Articles have appeared in The Triton,  2 Wheel Tuesday and Kick Stand Up  (scroll to page 24).

Now there will be a video, thanks to "Suki" Finnerty, creative director of Yachting Today TV.  Since Maginnity's Royal Enfield is waiting for him in India, he asked if I could bring mine over for use as a prop. Secretly happy that I had only just washed it — for the first time in two years — I was happy to oblige. In the closing shot Maginnity bravely chugs off on my Bullet.

To my relief, no parts fell off, at least none you could see.

He'll have to do far braver stunts in May, 2012, when he sets off to conquer the Himalayas.

I read somewhere that there is a dispute in that neck of the woods about which road is "the world's highest motorable road." Here's what surprised me about this: the dispute apparently centers not on which road is higher. Modern instruments determine that easily. The point in dispute is what you mean when you say "road."

In typical Australian fashion, Maginnity is undaunted. He is reassured by the friendly reception his Internet postings have received from riders in India, some of whom will escort him along the way.

"I can not tell you how much I am looking forward to miles of roads and miles of smiles in India," Maginnity wrote on Twitter.

Just another example of Royal Enfields shrinking the world by making the people in it seem bigger, and more important to us.

God speed, Kenneth.

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