Often considered an extreme, male dominated sport, motor biking in the country is rarely associated with women and a woman riding a bike does not fail to grab eyeballs. Women — mostly considered as better pillions — are often expected to take the back seat and not gear through. On the occasion of International Women’s Day we spoke to five female motorbikers who think otherwise, and are quashing gender norms one ride at a time.
A very well known name in the female biking circuit, Louis is a biker, motorcycle tour manager and social media influencer. Her legacy involves touring for seven months across 22 states of India covering a distance of 30,000+ kms in 2015 and an epic journey from India to Australia, through 10 countries for 8 months on the road covering a distance of nearly 29,200kms. While she enjoys showcasing her home country to the followers, she also cherishes experiencing the culture, heritage and cuisines of various countries. “I started off really young, going on rides with my dad and now I’ve been riding for 15 years. I started as a pillion rider but I always knew I wanted to be in the front seat. Dad gifted me a motorcycle on one of my birthdays and from then, it’s been an incredible journey,” she says. She’s led over 42 tours so far and in 2017 was also selected for DoGoodAsYouGo where she rode with three other riders from the US and Canada delivering laptops in remote villages of a Cambodian jungle and teaching them how to use it.
Singh is an army officer’s daughter, wife and mother, but what defines her best is that she is an avid biker. Her love for machines began very early on, as early as her teens. “I started shifting gears when I was 13 and since then there’s been no looking back,” she says. While Singh also donned many hats in the professional space, the latest being a hotelier, she is now a full time biker with her latest ride being from Udaipur to Delhi. She is also elated to share that her family has always been supportive of her passion, with her first ever bike being a Yamaha RX 100. She’s now moved onto a Harley Davidson and is also looking forward to the HOG rally in April in Pune.
Sarika Mehta hails from Surat, Gujarat and was raised in a huge joint family. “I was acquainted with social pressure aplenty at home. Female education was never a priority in that household.” However, her parents' support ensured that their three daughters established their own identity. “I credit my parents and my husband Jignesh, whose motivation particularly helped me dodge the societal norms and set different standards for women,” she says. Looking back on her journey she recalls an incident where someone once had said, ‘Women don’t have it in them to be road junkies and brave the dusty miles’. Mehta, who is a mother of two now, says family support is crucial.
Mehta is also the founder of Biking Queens, a female biking group. “I launched Biking Queens to shatter the societal mental roadblocks,” she says. The group has led various biking expeditions across continents including the All India All Women Bike Ride, the 10 nation Bike Ride from India to Singapore, the 3 Continents Bike Ride from India to London and the most recent ride being from Spain and Portugal representing India, and various other international rides conducted by the WHO and the UN.
Neha hails from a family of people in uniform and has always been fascinated by the great outdoors. “I was 25 when I developed the passion for biking. I used to admire my husband when he rode his RE Thunderbird in 2011 and that was the first bike I laid my hands on and now I own my JAWA 42,” she says. Neha faced her own share of challenges before getting on with her journey. “Initially, my parents were worried about my safety while riding a bike being a woman. Moreover, being a mother looking after my twin young daughters was also a bigger challenge for me to pursue my passion. But my husband and friends always encouraged me to do what I wanted,” she says. The most memorable ride for her has been the one in the northeast. She also rode solo in August 2021 from Assam to Arunachal and plans to explore Bhutan on her bike in the future.
Dr. Maral Yazarloo-Pattrick is an Iran born, world record holder motorbiker. She sat on a motorbike for the first time when she was 23 and it was to prove to a friend who thought she couldn’t handle a motorbike.
"My partner has been very supportive. When I was on a world ride across seven continents and 64 countries for a year and a half he flew every month to the country where I was. He also proposed and we got married and I left the next day for my ride. I was pregnant and he made sure to book me advanced sonographies to the place that I was travelling to,” she says.
Maral also set the record for biking in Asia and the Middle East in one round trip covering over a distance of 100,000 kms, and most of it solo. “I’d definitely like to go back to western Africa, Alaska and South America again. As for India, I’d like to go back to Ladakh and travel to the remotest areas” she states.