Full throttle on a biking 'high'

Anam Hashim, the first woman biker to drive to the highest motorable road in India on a Scooty Zest, will repeat the feat this year with 10 other women riders.She talks to City Express about her gruelling journey to Khardung La Pass, her breathing issues at that altitude and how villagers refused to believe she went there on a Scooty

Published: 06th July 2016 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th July 2016 05:00 AM   |  A+A-

CHENNAI: It is every adventurer’s dream to conquer the heights of the Himalayan ranges by straddling a Bullet and thundering down the highways of the Ladakh range. What would you say then, if you saw a Scooty Zest in the midst of these, driven by a spunky young woman, reaching the highest motorable road in the world?

“People were shocked to see me! They could not believe that I had driven the Scooty Zest all the way to the mountains!” laughs 21-year-old Anam Hashim, who, in 2015, became the youngest Indian female rider to scale the mighty Khardung La Pass on a Scooty Zest 110, featuring her in the India Book of Records. Anam is also India’s youngest female stunt-biker.

Full.jpgAs a part of Season 2 of TVS Scooty Zest Himalayan Highs, she was in the city, where CE had a quick chat with her. Being a trained motorhead, Anam’s first love is stunt-riding. “I used to watch guys practicing stunts on their bikes in my hometown, Lucknow. But I was really fascinated after watching the TV show Stuntmania and I started practicing my own stunts. I have been professionally stunt-riding since I turned 18 and got my licence!” she shares.

Her father, who is an automobile enthusiast, supported her. “He always wanted to be a motorhead, but never got the time, so he allowed me to follow my dreams. My mother on the other hand, like all mothers, was very concerned and apprehensive. But that’s all changed now!” she chuckles.

She was a regular participant at stunt-riding competitions, including the recently-held ‘India Bike Week’ Stunt Championships. “Around that time, TVS was searching for a rider, and asked me if I was willing to drive to Khardung La Pass. I was so excited! But I had no idea it was going to be on a Scooty Zest!” she adds. “We began in September from Jammu and covered nearly 2,100 km in 18 days. I was the only rider, but I had a backup crew following me in case of emergencies.”

Fulla.jpgThough the initial ride was smooth, it soon got rough and she had to endure off-road conditions. “There was an 80 km stretch of very rough road, which zig-zagged, and you can’t stop in between because there are always trucks and lorries coming down the road. There was also the threat of landslides,” she recalls with a shudder. “At Chang La Pass, I had a few breathing issues because of the altitude and sub-zero temperatures. It was really tough. But the Zest managed and we completed the journey.”

All the locals and bikers she met on her way couldn’t believe that she had driven the Zest and assumed she had it transported. “I had to show them the meter to finally convince them!” she laughs.

Anam will soon head out for Season 2 of TVS Himalayan Highs and will lead a team of 10 women riders on the journey to Khardung La Pass. Talking about stunt-riding in India, Anam is very keen on developing it as a sport. “In India, stunt-riding is still a rookie event and not a professional one. But a lot of countries have stunt-riding championships. So I am keen on introducing and promoting it professionally here,” she says.

Her own personal inspiration is a Sarah Lezito, a Frenchwoman and one of the top female stunt-riders in the world. “I plan on meeting her soon.”

Anam also has her prized bike, an Apache RTR 180, on which she performs her stunts. “The paint job makes it sparkle both during the day and at night, so I’ve named it Sparky! I change the name with every new paint job!” she laughs again.

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