Thanks to the popularity of cricket and other mainstream sports, a milestone set in September this year by Chennai-based bike racer R Chithra Priya and her group of female racers almost went unnoticed. The 10 female bike racers from different parts of India, including Chithra, who was the only racer from Tamil Nadu, covered the world’s highest motorable pass, Khardung La, riding from Delhi, a distance of about 2,500 km, in 15 days.
“This is the first time that a group of 10 female bike racers (called ‘Bikerni’)have attempted such a ride through the world’s highest motorable pass. We have applied for a record in the Limca Book of World Records,” says the 26-year-old Chithra. “Meanwhile, our feat will be featured in a reality show in UTV Bindaas and it will be telecast from Nov. 25,” she adds proudly.
Even though Chithra has scaled one height after another, she has already set her eyes on achieving another milestone — a dream, she says she cherishes a lot. “I want to create a world record by riding my bike non-stop from Chennai to Vizag and then return to Chennai in 24 hours,” she says, with a glint in her eyes. “That will be a test of my endurance. This has been in my mind for long and it’s my next target,” she adds.
Chithra has been on two-wheelers as long as she can remember and credits her two brothers and father for introducing the mean machine to her. “I learnt to ride bikes from my brothers. Initially, I started riding a scooty. But once I moved to studying in SRM University, I graduated to a bigger bike – Yamaha. Even then, I was good at roads and used to speed along,” she recollects.
“Later, one of my friends suggested that I should try my hand at racing. I gave it a try. And, in my first race itself, I came third. Now, it’s like an addiction. I can't think of a day when I’ve not been on my bike. I feel normal when I’m riding my bike. In fact, I take long routes to reach home to spend some time more riding my bikes,” she smiles.
Chithra’s passion for bikes has taken her places and during the 2005 season, she had seven podium finishes! The same year, she received some importantrecognition as well – ‘Tamil Nadu’s first female biker racer to win in an all male race’ from Madras Motor Sports Club.
However, Chithra hardly considers competing against men an obstacle. In fact, she says she shares great camaraderie with male racers who always have a word of encouragement for her. “When you are racing on the tracks, you don’t think at all whether your fellow racer is a male or a female. He’s just a competitor for you. You are too focused on winning the race to think about anything else.”
Talking about female participation in motor sports, Chithra lists out family or societal pressure apart from the risks involved as factors that create an aversion towards participation in this motor sport. Hence, she has taken it upon herself to encourage more women to learn bike riding. And if they are interested, she encourages them to pursue it further as a career. “I teach bike riding to a few young girls every weekend. In fact, some of my friends bought their own bikes after getting trained by me,” she says. “I do it for free, to develop interest in motorsports among women,” she adds. To get trained by Chithra, call 9840712334.