Bhubaneswar: They are bending the age-old rule that bikes and more so superbikes fall within the boundaries of male bastion. They are fearless when it comes to leaving the daily grind of life behind and taking the road unknown in sweltering heat. Meet the Ladies of Harley (LoH), female bikers and proud owners of the legendary Harley Davidson motocycles, who are travelling the Golden Quadrilateral to encourage bike-riding among women.
Their ride was flagged off at Daman on April 7 and after going through Udaipur, Delhi, Kanpur and Kolkata, they reached the City of Temples on April 14. With a route plan to traverse nearly 6000 km in 14 days perched atop their swanky Harley Davidson superbikes, this group of seven is an interesting mix of women, from different age groups.
While in Bhubaneswar, they shared their experiences of travelling through the diversity of cultures that changes every 100 km in India. “The language, food, people, culture are all sights to behold. Our journey so far has been really good,” said Smita Mande (44) from Mumbai, who is a graphic designer and rides a Harley 1000 cc cruiser.
Anushriya Gulati (23) of Dehradun, the youngest of the lot, who is also the first woman rider in India to have taken her motorcycle to the Khardungla pass, the highest motorable road in the country, said,”The roads of Bhubaneswar have been a treat. They are so wide and clean. We were literally flying on the roads of Bhubaneswar. The people here are so welcoming.”
Parveshika Katiyar (34) from Bengaluru who learnt to ride a bike at the age of 12, also echoed Anushriya and said that the “No helmet, no petrol” signs at the petrol filing stations in Odisha impressed her the most.
They have been riding for the past week for almost 10 hours a day, stopping at dusk. They garner a lot of attention because of the distinctive potato-potato-potato chug of their Harley superbikes and it amazes people even more when they find the faces behind the helmet visors are those of women.
Krupa Reddy (37) of Bengaluru mimiced the expression of people when they saw the Ladies of Harley weilding such heavy superbikes. “There is a service vehicle that travels with us, in case there are any technical glitches in the machines,” she added.
“Motocycles do not recognise the gender of the rider. Some of the greatest chefs in the world are men and no one questions their preference of profession then. Women have been riding motocycles for almost a 100 years now. The society now has to stop being amazed at the sight of a woman biker. Motobikes are for everyone,” said Sunita D Kunjeer (43) from Pune, the director of LoH India chapter, whose parents gave her a Royal Enfield Machismo when she began studying in college.
Sporting short cropped hair and knee-high biker boots, Shirley George (48) is the seniormost rider of the group with riding experience of 33 years! She is an architect and a certified contractor from Bengaluru who stressed on the importance of safe riding, wearing appropriate biker accessories such as helmets and gloves.
When asked about making time for hobbies in the midst of the challenges of everday life, Urvashi Desai (31), an entrepreneur from Ahmedabad opined that the support of the family is crucial when you want to pursue your dreams.
The Ladies of Harley later went for a ride to the Marine Drive with the Kalinga Chapter of Harley Davidson in Odisha. They also lauded the efforts of Odisha Bikernis to spread awareness on sexual abuse against children, while condemning the Kathua and Unnao rape cases. The Ladies will ride on to Vijayawada from the Odisha capital and their route includes stops such as Aurangabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolhapur and Mumbai, before concluding in Daman on April 21. LoH, with about 22 active members is the all-women wing of the Harley Owners Group and this is the second ride of the chapter. Some of the members from India will also be a part of the celebrations in Prague, marking completion of 115 years of Harley Davidson.