Today, many women in India have taken to biking and the growing number of women’s biking clubs is an indication that it is no longer a man’s domain. Women across the country have waved their biking flags and are seen traversing on their favorite machines right from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. This Mother’s Day, we at Sakshi Post interviewed two ‘bikernis’ from the City of Pearls.
Coming from two different backgrounds and professions Rekha John is a senior banking professional, while G.Padmavathi is a financial consultant, both of whom are based in Hyderabad. But apart from their corporate identities, these ladies are avid bike riders. In a tête-à-tête with P Charitha, read on as they share about what biking means to them and their experiences.
SP: Who inspired you to take up riding a bike and when did you first start riding a bike?
Like every girl’s story, it's either a brother or father who are their first inspiration. I would say, it was my brother who inspired me to take up riding... It almost been two decades now that I am riding.
SP: Was Royal Enfield (RE) the first choice as a bike? Which type do you ride? And what is it that keeps you hooked on biking?
Yes, RE was my first choice of bike. I ride a RE-Thunderbird 350 CC. The ease of handling an RE and the peace of mind and comfort it gives me keeps me hooked to my RE. The freedom and independence of biking is something I cannot do without now!
SP: So do you ever take your ‘mean machine’ to work anytime?
Yes, at times, on weekends I do go to work on my RE. And incidentally, the distance of my office location adds up to my weekend ride craze as well.
SP: Any nicknames that you have for your bikes? :))
NO… While my other bikes of our family are called "Ghost", "Red locust" and, ''Monica" I haven’t named my Machine. The Name RE itself is closest to my heart and matches my nickname RJ J!
SP: If your bike had a personality what would it be and what are the traits that you share with your Enfield?
'Fearless, Ever Curious, and HAPPY' ... that’s the personality of my bike which resonates with me in every essence.
SP: What are the routes and trails you have traversed till now, and any particular incident/journey that you would like to share with us which left an impact?
All routes, near and far ... are close to my heart. Every journey, however short or long, is a distinct journey for the biker. Every ride seems new. Every ride has a story in itself. There is no single ride that I have taken that hasn’t had an impact on me. Every ride is a learning experience. I am fortunate enough to have had all good and memorable experiences till now. Down South, all routes to Bengaluru, Kerala, Coorg, etc., entice me.
One journey especially where my family panicked because of my not being able to be in touch with them was an anxious experience. This has taught me the lesson to always keep your family members posted on your whereabouts.
SP: Have you seen any changes in the riding scene in India, especially for women?
The number of women getting into riding/racing as a passion is perhaps seeing an increase, with more and more women now being aware of riding, biking/ woman riding clubs, etc.
However, for women to carry forward the passion of riding for long years still seems a challenge. Women still tend to give up their passions, owing to their personal challenges, this passion takes a back seat always.
SP: How supportive has your family been in this journey, do your children enjoy bike rides with you at the helm?
The only reason why I am able to pursue and carry forward my passion is because of my family. I am lucky to have a spouse and son, who share the same passion as me… My son and niece are crazy enthusiasts of biking themselves now!
SP: What sort of bike riding gear do you wear and recommend?
A good riding gear is the first necessity for a rider. That’s the first thing NOT TO BE COMPROMISED on… I personally am a huge fan of Royal Enfield's riding jackets and shoes.
SP: Any tips, or advice especially for women who want to get into biking?
Never stop challenging yourself. Move away from your comfort zones, and follow your passion... If you are convinced, it's easy to convince your family to create the support system you need. Ladies, have your freedom and independence.. riding can give you that!
"Riding has been my passion so umm.. I took it up as a challenge and started riding in 2014. I have always ridden a Royal Enfield, I had Royal Enfield Standard 500, and I recently switched over to Royal Enfield Meteor 350, Padmavathi said. "My motto is to dispel the stereotypes. We are a gang of 6 women and we ride with the purpose of doing charity work," she explained.
" Besides my passion to ride a bike, I also took this as a challenge, to prove to people that there is nothing in this world that can stop a woman that seeks liberation. We ride with men as well, but the "women only" group has something more to the experience. I observed guys ride for sport, for betrayal, for ego, etc. But when you ride with a group of women, it is peaceful, calmer, and safer, there is no ego involved. That's WHO you ride with makes the difference ", Padmavathi stated when asked about what biking meant to her.
Why I ride: I feel like being me. It's a story about freedom. I walked into the wilderness to discover my inner self. I found peace in myself. I learned to just "get up" and "go". And learn through the journey and not look at destiny.
As a mother of two young daughters, my family has been a driver in all walks of life, bike riding is just not a skill it has been like an example setter for my kids.
Message to fellow riding aspirants: The moment you show interest in your passion or dreams, we get mixed reactions from people around. Just work on your dreams and yourself. And don't let anyone change your mind.