Women bikers test endurance on Delhi-Leh rally

Women bikers test endurance on Delhi-Leh rally

Indistinguishable under their helmets from the remaining 70 bikers, the two are the only women participants of the annual endurance rally for motorcyclists that began here a couple of days ago.

Irina Walker (49) who has flown in from San Francisco says the odyssey organised by famed motorcycle makers Royal Enfield provided her with a chance to kill two birds with one stone.

"I really wanted to see the Himalayas and then found out about this event and couldn't have managed to find a better vacation to India," says the US consultant who has been an ardent rider for the past 10 years.

The second women in the team is Ila Johri, who is over 20 decades younger than Walker and a experienced biker herself.

"Anyone can come for such a journey. It is all about training yourself" says Johri (25) a Chennai- based financial analyst who has been organising various riding events in the past.

Rally participants are expected to ride hilly terrain of Ladakh region in Jammu and Kashmir.

Beginning from Delhi the route map of the rally passes through Chandigarh, Manali, Key Long, Jispa Camp, Sarchu, Pang Camp, Upshi, Leh and finally to Khardung La, the highest motorable pass in the Ladakh region."Who wants to go on a trip with 60 dirty men for 20 days?" joked Venki Padmanabhan, CEO, Royal Enfield who flagged off the three-week long eighth edition of the Himalayan Odyssey.

However, he pointed out, "We have to encourage women riders to participate in such events, get rid of the mind set that women don't ride motorbikes."

The journey lasting 21 days would take the riders through three mountain ranges, six passes, a gut wrenching 18380 feet high at Khardung La and a 40 km off road ride through the high altitude desert at the Moree Plains.

Medical aid and a team of specialised quick repair mechanics accompany the group to ensure the bikes remain fit to handle the tough roads ahead.

"I came for the 1st edition Himalayan odyssey as a participant", says Sachin who leads pack as the lead rider in its 8th edition.

"We have to motivate the riders to keep going" he says pointing out that as the terrain gets tough the spirits get low.

While the odyssey is advertised as all about pushing the limits and testing the mind and body, several participants say they have entered to break free from the clutter and monotony of everyday work life.

One rider ShreeRaj says he hopes his participation in the rally inspires his 9-year old son.
"I was really looking forward to it for the past several months and am quite excited. Hope this is inspiring to my son," he says.

The participants are expected to cover a distance of 2,668 kilometres

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