As told to Chinmay Chaudhary
Chinmay: What is the idea behind a ‘ladies only’ riding club? How was the club founded?
Maral: I have participated in almost all the HOG (Harley Owners Group) rides in India for four years and was the only lady rider in a private club and rode all over India. This is when the idea of starting a motorcycle riding club exclusively for ladies came to my mind. I contacted my friends, colleagues, social acquaintances about the idea and that is how the club began to take shape. Right at the start, we decided not to divide the riders by the kind of bike they ride and hence we have all kinds of motorcycles in our group. This is how ‘Lady Riders of India’ started! It was initiated purely out of love for biking and friendship.
What are the basic rules of your club while out on a ride?
Don’t b******t and don’t be a b***h! Simple.
What is the core principle on which Lady Riders of India is based?
We call ourselves a “tribe” more than a club. The word has way deeper meaning and feelings. We believe that we are a bunch of strong, like-minded females from different fields who stand by each other. We are moms, wives, daughters and sisters. We learned how to balance it all and we all wear different hats. The unity we have amongst us regardless of the diversity in the background that we come from, is our strength. We are more than just a riding club. We are a family now. An extended family with members that are always available to stand by each other. We believe in “we are women and we stand by women” and currently have 22 members. Riding is purely our passion.
Is there any kind of membership fee to join the club?
No, it’s free. We wanted to build an emotional connect with each other and develop a sense of belongingness in the group. Also, we wanted to keep it away from any sort of monetary business. The only criteria to becoming a member is to own and ride a bike over 650cc and they must show serious riding passion with at least 10,000km covered on road.
How do you plan your rides?
All of us share our previous ride experiences and we help each other to learn more about the bike and tours. Planning out rides is a simple thing, we share our previous travel experiences with each other. We conduct regular meets where everyone suggests different locations and we all decide and vote for one common place. There is always good teamwork required to make any ride work out the best way possible. And also we meet for occasions that any of our riders want our presence at, like their track races, or any kind of other important occasions in life.
Is there any age limit to be a part of your group?
There is no age limit as long as the rider has a valid riding license and considers herself fit to ride, she is most welcome. We have riders ranging from 19 years to 53 years.
How does one become a member?
The applicant needs to be introduced by one of the existing riders of LRI. We all ride powerful bikes, so we really need to have a good amount of trust and confidence in our fellow riders as well. All the existing riders in the group are trained.
What all bikes do you have in your group?
We have all kinds of bikes including BMW, Harley-Davidson, Ducati, Suzuki, Triumph, and Honda. The club has got all kinds of motorcycles including adventure tourers, cruisers, sportsbikes and naked motorcycles.
How do you promote safety on two wheels?
Safety is an important parameter and we promote that by implementing it ourselves. We are never seen riding our motorcycles without proper riding gear and we are doing our best to spread the same culture amongst other riders.
Has the group conducted any special events so far?
Ours is a women’s riding group, we always focus on standing strong ourself and standing for every other woman in the country. We conduct many activities for the underprivileged women or small girls as well as educating kids and women from rural areas.
What was the longest ride the group has ever done?
The longest ride we have done as a group was around 7000km. Personally, and as a founder member, I have ridden 63,000km from India to Argentina over a span of 11 months.
Any interesting experiences you would like to share?
Every ride is interesting. We have always noticed people admire a bunch of women riding different bikes. At a couple of places, we actually got hugs from women in small towns and were as well served meals in some places. We really feels blessed to experience this.
Would you like to mention any silly things that other women riders on road do that irritate you?
More than irritation, I feel sorry for the women who ride on the road without proper riding gear and create a hassle for themselves and everyone else. Riding on two wheels with your body parts exposed, especially the head is extremely dangerous. It is also very important for women to learn the basics of riding a scooter or a motorcycle, learn proper traffic rules, use indicators, etc. All these things if implemented through self-learning and observations will surely make roads safer for them as well as others.
What message would you like to give to other women who want to do something similar?
Life is short; make sure you live a life that brings a smile on your face every day. Have a passion which keeps you going, shouldn’t necessarily be what we are doing – pick your own.