HYDERABAD: Wearing helmets while driving is not a norm in the city of Hyderabad. Breaking rules, over-taking and putting other’s lives in jeopardy is a regular scene.
“I rode on these roads for an hour or so and I have seen people ‘cut marke’ speeding up, and there are some more who are continuously honking. But we didn’t budge. There were some who still jumped the signal. But a good number stopped behind us. And that is the message we want to give through this ride,” observed biker Sheetal Bidaye when she rode on city roads.
She, and fellow biker Urvashi Patole are two riders who made a halt in the city as part of the Bike festival of India’s National Safety Ride.
The cross-country expedition was kicked off in Delhi in the end of August. The ride works like a relay wherein, nine bikers cover 8200 kms that is divided into four legs.
The third leg from Chennai to Kolkata was taken up by riders Sheetal and Urvashi, who made a pitstop at the official partners Triumph Motorcycles showroom in Banjara Hills on Wednesday.
The ride is being hosted in association with Rhiti Sports Management and Event Capital towards promoting responsible riding, focusing on the use of helmets and following traffic rules.
On how the ride is going to bring a change in people, Sheetal points out, “We are on the roads, practically showing people what is necessary in order to be safe. People look at us and ask why are you wearing so much protective gear. Well, my knee is very dear to me,” she laughs pointing to the chaps that she still wears during the conversation.
In addition to her passion for biking, Sheetal also happens to be a board member of The Bikerni which was founded by Urvashi Patole. The number of women riding motorcycles and scooters today have surged after the group was formed in the year 2011.
And these two women are very happy with the development. Beaming with pride, Urvashi says,”There was a time when men used to ridicule me, pass nasty comments. The situation is very different now. People appreciate us.” Agreeing Sheetal admits, “Once they identify that we are women they take a bow and that feels great.”
While for many, biking is just a hobby, Sheetal happens to be a a professional biker and writes about the field. “I do a lot of bike reviews, write about bikes and accessories even before they are launched. I have done a lot of rides. So if there is a group that is travelling, I go as a guide and get paid for it,” she informs. It becomes clear, the woman is passionate about biking when she reveals that she has been riding for the past 23 years. She is the first woman biker to have crossed the highest motorable point in the country – the Khardung La pass. She is also a Limca record holder for being the only woman to do a solo motorcycle ride up the world’s highest mountain pass, Marsimek La.
Both Sheetal and Urvashi are hoping that this national bike ride will motivate many more women to take up riding, and make people understand the importance of safe riding.
The duo left for Rajamundry on Thursday morning and will meet the riders of the final leg in Kolkata.
The ride is scheduled to finish on September 29 and will culminate with the main Bike Festival of India which will take place on October 4 and 5. Bike enthusiasts can register and buy passes at bookmyshow.com.