After two years–The Bikerni—India’s first national all-women bikers association is stronger
All eyes follow them as a legion of bikers—dressed to part in riding helmets, jackets and boots—zip by on their mean machines. But when they stop and whip off their helmets, the surprise is unmistakable as the onlookers spot the flowing tresses and feminine faces. “Many people feel that biking is only for boys and are surprised to see a large group of women bikers,” says Urvashi Patole, who along with Firdaus Shaikh, co-founded the first pan-India all-women biking association, The Bikerni.
The duo founded the association in Pune two years ago on January 15 both to change the perception about female bikers and to help female bikers connect with each other. “Urvashi and I would do a lot of bike stunts and each time, we would notice that we were amongst few girls in a sea of men. Sometimes, it’s nice to have female company,” says Shaikh.
What started as a group of 11 female bikers is today a nation-wide association with 200 members spread across the country and even abroad, in the UK, Middle East and Germany. It is also the only women’s biking group in India officially recognised by the Women’s International Motorcycling Association. The founders credit the group’s success to the various biking events they organized as well as aggressive online promotion.
Among their biggest accomplishments is their group trip on the Delhi–Khardung La route, which is the highest motorable road in the world. The group has even achieved a Limca record for being the first all-women group in India to successfully attempt the route. The Bikerni also regularly organises trips in each member city, where “road captains” assign routes and plan trips for local members. Now they are looking forward to celebrating International Female Ride Day on May 3, when female riders from across the world will go on bike rides simultaneously.
Shaikh says the group does not have exclusive member restrictions. In fact, anyone with a driver’s permit, a bike and a helmet can join, she adds. This has enabled many women who never owned bikes before take the plunge and start biking. “Our oldest member is 54. She got tired of sitting at home after her children left to study and work. There are so many such women who have been empowered by biking,” says Patole.
There are several bumps too along the way, such as the