DREAMER, GROUND-BREAKER, ACHIEVER.
Springtide|September - October 2021
From building motorcycles along with his brother and best friend to winning the Indian National championship, Ami van Poederooijen Iglesias shares his journey with Mitali Joshi on how he progressed from riding motorcycles on Auroville’s forest trails to the professional track.
Mitali Joshi

“On the way, will be there in 10”, I received a text from Ami van Poederooijen Iglesias while waiting outside his house in Auroville, a forest town he calls home. I was greeted by his gorgeous black cat, who danced about excitedly, expecting a few scratches. To pass the time, strolling around the front yard, I stumbled upon a striking orange Contessa parked in the open garage - perhaps a work-in-progress, I thought to myself. Just then from behind me, a voice clarified my confusion. “It’s the first car I ever bought, I was 18, currently fixing it. Also, sorry for the delay, was teaching a friend to do a burnout for her magazine feature photographs”, said Ami, apologetically smiling as he parked his bike right outside his house.

While Loki, his cat, led us back to his house, I couldn’t help but notice the large number of bikes neatly stacked in another garage behind. A few of them seemed to be barely rideable. To this, he expressed, “I have around 30 motorcycles parked out there; most of them need work, and some are simply parts, but if put together, they would create a magnificent bike”. Climbing the stairs to his study room, chuckling, he said, “You may call it junk, but it hurts when one says that”.

Born in the Canary Islands and brought up in Auroville, Ami’s house came as no surprise to me. There was no special place for his trophies, most of it was simply kept over the window bars so they wouldn’t go unnoticed, the room had a half dismantled green bike next to the couch, his four racing outfits hung above it, a couple of computers on the desk, and most prominently, an autographed picture of Valentino Rossi on the wall. “Initially, I had a copy of this photograph which I took from a friend who owned it. A few years ago, the same friend gifted the original to me”. The house was indeed a visual representation of a forest boy with big dreams.

How It All Began

Ami’s father discovered Auroville, Pondicherry, during a tour in the country. His father was enamoured with the essence of this land and was certain that this place was his new home. So, Ami moved to India when he was three years old.

Ami’s family kept travelling back and forth between Europe and India. During this time, at the age of five, he came across a gloriously displayed pocket bike at a store in Órgiva, Spain. “I had to sit on the bike! I was head over heels in love”, he recalls thinking of the experience. “It seemed like it was made for me, meant for me!”. The connection must’ve been something really special as even Ami’s mother picked up on it. The loving mother didn’t want to dispirit her 5-year-old, especially when all he wanted to do was sit on the bike. Thereafter, each of her subsequent visits was dedicated to persuading the shopkeeper, to allow her son to sit on the pocket bike. “If you want to be a racer, you need to start early. My parents were completely unaware of it, but my mother did everything she could to keep my passion for the sport alive”.

“She went so far as to gift me miniature motorcycle figurines”, he added.

His dream of having his own bike soon became a reality, and he didn’t have to wait too long. Edgar Iglesias, Ami’s elder brother, built him his first bike when he was nine years old. “I was really thrilled, but I just couldn’t ride it. I gave reasons about how maybe at the age of ten, I’d be much better”, he said, laughing at his own naive self. Even though he was only permitted to ride the bike from his front door to the fence of his father’s seaside house in Auroville, Ami’s love for motorcycles was only deepening.

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