BENGALURU:The next time you’re travelling down the highway near Bengaluru and come across a group of women riding Bullets, don’t be surprised. These members of an all-women motorcycle club Hop on Gurls, have one thing in common – the feeling of being free and liberated while straddling their bikes and zooming down a highway.
Hop on Gurls was founded by Bindu Reddy in 2010, an employee with Traction, and is based out of Koramangala. Anyone over 18 with a learner’s license is given a geared bike to practice on, and if one wants to learn on a non-geared bike, they must have a driver’s license. “The reason I founded this club was to help women learn how to ride bikes. At the time, there weren’t any platforms where women could go learn how to ride bikes, there were no men who were willing to teach a group of women how to ride bikes,” says Bindu, for whom riding is a way to relax and meditate.
There are no restrictions in who can sign up for a class, as long as they’re of the legal age, says Bindu. Remembering her first student, Bindu says, “My first student was a 50-year-old woman who had come for the class with her daughter. While the daughter wasn’t very keen on learning, the mom was all for it. We have these misconceptions that only people in their 20s-30s should attempt these sort of activities, but this experience showed me otherwise,” she says.
Families skeptical at first
While women entering what were typically male-dominated spaces is very common today, a few years back, it wasn’t such a common sight. And naturally, riding Bullets was not something the girls’ premts expected. Bhavya Srinivasan, the co-founder of the group who’s in marketing, has been a rider for several years before she joined Hop on Gurls. She says that riding is in her DNA, as her father was an avid rider too. “I was never pressured to stop riding by my dad because we share the passion. But I did have to hear a lot of things from relatives who would tell my parents not to let me ride. People think that women can’t handle the weight of these bikes, which is fair, but telling women they aren’t capable of doing something isn’t right,” says Bhavya, who now lives in Mumbai and handles the Pune and Mumbai chapters of Hop on Gurls.
Vinutha PG, one of the earliest members of Hop on Gurls, started riding when she still in school, and always wanted to find a group of women to share her passion with.
“Initially, my family was very skeptical about this, they would question why I was into riding. But when they saw that a lot more people are joining the group, people are getting inspired by us and are able to find an outlet like this, they didn’t question me again,” says Vinutha.
Thumbs-ups almost all the way
It isn’t unlikely to assume that there hasn’t been some amount of eve-teasing, mocking or cat calling when these bikers are out on the road, but they all say that they have been lucky that way, as most people they pass by encourage rather than put them down. Prathima Hebbar, who’s in the learning and development field and also handles the social media amongst other things for Hop on Gurls, says that when they’re out on the road, it’s not always easy to tell if they’re girls or not because of all the heavy gear they wear.
“I have faced some issues while on my daily commute in Bengaluru such as men trying to block me. But when we’re out there on the highway, we have always been appreciated. People come and ask us questions, take pictures with us and sometimes, women tell us that we’re doing something they could never do – so that’s always a nice feelings,” says Prathima, who adds that she has managed to balance her life and her passion perfectly. “I can’t say that it’s never happened, but each time someone asks me whether we’re harassed on the road, I tell them to hop on the back of my bike and come for a ride so they can see,” says Bhavya.