Contrary to popular belief, International Women’s Day is not about celebrating women or womanhood, it is about celebrating equality, progress and achievements of the amazing women who help make the world a better place. For as long as one can recall, motorcycling has mostly been associated with men as their passion, hobby, or even career. However, a community that was considered to be niche a few years ago for women, has immensely grown beyond proportions, in recent times. The super-charged community of women riders in India is living their passion in accordance with the code of a pure motorcycling philosophy.
On 8th March, as we celebrate the extraordinary women who play multifaceted roles, across the globe and move towards equality, here are few Indian women who are breaking the gender stereotypes, one ride at a time.
Archana Timmaraju, Bengaluru
Bengaluru resident Archana Timmaraju, rides with a sticker on her bike that reads: ‘Rider is deaf. Failure to cooperate with verbal commands means I am not hearing you’. The 36-year-old arts and metal sculpture teacher at Mallya Aditi International School, Bengaluru, who claims to be India’s first woman deaf biker, is passionate about motorcycling and has undertaken various expeditions to raise awareness about sign language and deaf women’s empowerment.
Archana is also the co-founder of a company called Silent Expeditions for bikers with an emphasis on those with disabilities. She has undertaken many expeditions to promote various causes. In 2018, she rode from Bengaluru to Leh covering 8.400 kilometres in a single shot to spread awareness about sign language and deaf women’s empowerment. Archana’s aim is to motivate future generations and dismiss all the stereotypes regarding disability, especially disabled women.
Jesslina Nayyar, Delhi
Jesslina Nayyar, a model, an influencer and an avid rider is an example of a woman who is breaking stereotypes to change her own life and inspire other women and girls around. She is a fashion model who’s a passionate Royal Enfield enthusiast. Turning her passion for travel and riding into her success story, Jesslina is breaking barriers and is up for any adventure. Jesslina has grown up living all over India since her father was in the Indian Army.
Her motorcycle journey truly began at the age of 18, when she got her hands on her father’s motorcycle. Before that she would go out with her friends who had their motorcycles and ride for hours from Noida-Gurgaon, to and fro, with her friend as a pillion rider. Jesslina cites that her day truly begins when she gets on her motorcycle, which gives her immense happiness and motivation to do things every single day. Each moment on her motorcycle is a memorable one. The fact that it always takes her to places through thick and thin is what makes it even more special. In her own words “Riding the motorcycle is one of those few experiences in life which allows you to take control over the handlebars and define your own path”
Manjari Biche and Gargi Biche, Pune
Famous mother-daughter duo Manjari and Gargi Biche, who have been riding for years now are an inspiration to many. In Gargi’s words “My mom started riding in her 20s. She was staying in Talegaon and she was the First Lady Rider of the town, everyone would look at her in awe, people perceived her as a Policewoman! She has always been a daredevil and an adventurer! She had the guts to fight with misogynistic people to marry the love of her life!
She is also a chairperson of Maharashtra’s well-known engineering firm Orbittal Electromech! “My mom made sure I learned how to ride a bike when I was 18! Before teaching me how to ride a moped she taught me the Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500. I am so happy to have those adventurous genes in me. We usually ride to Lonavala, Pawna, Bhor, Mahabaleshwar, Kolhapur, Vashi, etc. Royal Enfield Rider mania 2019 was our longest ride together (Pune-Goa). In riding, they love each other’s company! Whenever there is a tough road she takes the lead and shows me the way and whenever the road is free she sets me free and lets me take a lower more or less it’s how she has raised me in life.”
Kiran Moortha, Hyderabad
Kiran, like most of us, has a regular job. She is a psychologist by profession and a voracious reader who would want to own a mini library at her place. She has a knack for music, dance, and loves playing guitar in her leisure time. Kiran may be a perfect example of how she is breaking stereotypes in this world of motorcycling predominately spearheaded by men. She recalls her incredible first ride to Kanyakumari to Kashmir which coincided with world motorcycling day. She cruised herself up to Kanyakumari through the rains and her eagerness was to reach Kashmir by July 18th as it happened to be her birthday.
She covered approx. 14000 km in her maiden ride and became the first woman from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to have covered Kanyakumari to Kashmir in her first solo trip. Her convenient escape on her Watson (her Royal Enfield Thunderbird motorcycle) are the mountains in Coorg, Madikeri, and the Western Ghats. She rode solo to Khardongla and is the second woman in India to have achieved this feat. She feels that Motorcycling is an Art and how riding can be both liberating and meditative.
Dr Aparna Bandodkar, Mumbai
An avid traveler, cyclist, storyteller, trekker, artist, environmentalist, animal lover, writer, actor, dreamer, Royal Enfield rider by passion and a dentist by profession, Aparna is smashing stereotypes and is an idol for many. In 2018, Aparna, unfortunately, suffered a sudden sciatic nerve injury that numbed her leg.
For 3 months she was unable to move. She picked up yoga during this time and instead of going under the knife healed herself through sheer will and got back to riding. She carried yoga with her through this time and feels that just like machines and motorcycles, we as humans also need maintenance and self-care.
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