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No taboos Snigdha Chavan on her Enfield Bullet
No taboos Snigdha Chavan on her Enfield Bullet

Women defy stereotypes and follow their hearts for sheer thrill

Storming another male bastion, women are making headway in the Indian motorcycling arena. To be the only girl among a group of 60 guys, driving 400 km, 12 hours non-stop except for a chai break on a 350cc motorcycle from Pune to Hyderabad, one must have more than a mere curiosity for bikes. Just what Gauri Lokare, a second year degree student from Symbiosis, has in plenty as she reached for the annual Royal Enfield’s Rider Mania-2008 in the city. On her bike nicknamed Tejas, after the light combat aircraft, Gauri’s pink machine stood out among the 370 Royal Enfield motorcycles. An active member of Road Shakers (RE Club), Pune, Gauri was on wheels since age nine. In college, she got herself a Karizma and two years ago swapped it for her brother’s Enfield for thrust and thrill. Getting to the first place in the All Women Dirt Track race a jubilant Gauri says: “My club members are very helpful and they stick to our motto “leave no man behind” Obviously that’s meant to include women as well!” And it’s not always the kids who are doing the asking as in the case of 19-year-old Aarti of Indie Thumpers, Mumbai who was gifted a Thunderbird on her birthday by her dad an ardent Bullet fan. Says this teenager with that cool black jacket, “I have been riding as a pillion for a while but I now find there is nothing that comes close to riding – it’s a great way to de-stress and on a 350cc I feel like I own the road.”

Riding high

Surprisingly the biker’s bug has not only hit the students. This year’s Female Rider of the Year awardee Snigdha Chavan is a Chartered Accountant and was part of the Royal Enfield team that participated in the Himalayan Odessey. Snigdha says, “I live in Chennai where I use my bike for commuting to work. I enjoyed riding on the world’s highest motorable road – Khardungla.”

Also Deepa Akhoury of Rolling Thunder Motorcycling Club, Bangalore has been a long-time biker and a Rider Mania faithful. She believes in riding long distance with known people and her enthusiasm took her to Rajasthan checking out both bike and rider. “Bikers share a special bonding and I’m sure to have some good biker friends even when I stop riding.”

These are no short haired, tomboy stereotypes, not all come with eyebrows pierced or clad in leathers – they are of different age groups, diverse backgrounds with just two things in common - a passion for adventure and a dare- to- be -different attitude. So be it Mahima from Chandigarh who rode to Ladakh, Freya and Sonali from Bangalore or Maya from Chennai – welcome these women of change!

Plan to make this Women’s Day a memorable one? Consider getting onto a mean machine, open throttle and ride into the sunset – remember the make up is not essential but the helmet certainly is!

PADMINI B PATELL

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