Gone are the days when only men rode hunky sporty bikes and went on challenging rides. With the changing times, there are many passionate female bikers going on adventurous solo and group trips, where they experience new terrains and learn a lot about themselves in the tedious schedules. These trips act as great eye-openers to the beauty of nature and to what they are capable of.
After going on group rides to Gujarat, Coimbatore and other places, when Sonali Mukherji, a network engineer, would ride back by herself to the city, she realised that she was capable of treading through any terrain all by herself and was very determined. “As a group, it took eight hours to cover the route but only a few hours when I was alone. When travelling as a group, they take frequent breaks,” says Sonali. She adds that bike rides help to build faith in oneself. “Also, when travelling between places where there are no mobile phone networks, one gets more time to introspect. You learn to take care of yourself too,” adds Sonali.
The mentality regarding women riding bikes is changing, with onlookers waving or supporting them when they pass by. Manpreet Kaur, an accountant who likes travelling with friends, says that she has never encountered any untoward incidents. “I went for the Shettihalli Rosary Church ride last month; Penu Konda, Andhra Pradesh, and even on night rides. I have never had to hear any inappropriate comments. There are many who would even give a thumbs up when passing by,” says Manpreet.
Long bike rides can include unexpected incidents en route. Madhuri Bisarahalli, a software tester, who does long rides on her Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350, says that her rides from the Rann of Kutch to Cherrapunji and Delhi to Leh Ladakh, were the most exciting among all.
“Every ride is different as each terrain is different. The trip from Rann of Kutch had me and my friend Aishwarya riding together. Riding with someone entails a lot of responsibility. There is a lot more concentration needed.” Also, on the ride from Delhi to Leh, she was the only one riding pillion. “The challenging part was the Jhalori Pass, which many people avoid. There is no way one can stop at this pass. One has to finish the stretch at a go,” she adds.
This ride also shook her as she saw another biker get injured. “This can be unnerving and affect one’s morale. Always remember your safety gear, especially a quality helmet, and keep yourself hydrated all the time,” she adds. Shilpa N, a senior executive assistant, loves taking the road as a group or all by herself. She has travelled to many parts of Kerala, Ooty, Tamil Nadu and the Western Ghats.
“The longest I have been to is Leh Ladakh. We covered a lot of difficult passes and went to the top of Khardung La. It was a crazy experience as we didn’t travel with backup support. We had carried some spare parts and learnt how to fix our own bikes,” details Shilpa.
She adds that food supply and changed button tyres were things she looked into. “Each riding experience itself is eye-opening. Trips to Kerala can be tricky as there are many twisted and narrow roads with several blind curves.” Shilpa adds that at other times when one is travelling too close to nature, instances like animals jumping out of blind spots can occur.
“This one time when we were travelling through Athirippally, Kerala, we knew that there were animals around and moved cautiously. This can be a life-changing ordeal or a beautiful memory depending on one’s luck,” she says.
There are some like Pratima Hebbar, a manager (learning and development) with a retail firm, who sees bike rides as an adventurous ‘me’ time. “I’ve gone on rides to Goa, Kanyakumari, Thirthahalli, Coorg, Koli Hills and Masinagudi. I have gone on many solo rides, though my friends were skeptical. I recently did a ride to Wayanad and Malpe and Manipal, Karnataka,” she says.
Pratima takes extra care to completely cover herself and travel so as to avoid any trouble. “For me, these trips are not just about breaking stereotypes but are also great windows to self-realisation and cutting off from the daily grind. Rides like these help me do certain things which I would be uncertain of doing otherwise — I can talk to myself and even sing out loud,” she says.