Things are looking up for Major K Renuka, who’s all set to be part of the third edition of Himalayan Odyssey for Women. The flag-off for the 18-day bike ride to Khardung La, Leh, is to happen on July 6 and she can’t hide her excitement! Armed with her safety gear, she’s thrilled that her lifelong dream of riding to the Himalayas on a Royal Enfield Bullet is finally coming true.
Why did you decide to participate in the Himalayan Odyssey this year?
I have been riding scooters and bikes from my school days and I’ve always yearned to ride a Bullet — “Yeh gaadi kab chalaenge hum?” was a question eternally on my mind. Because I had the inclination for bikes, I began training on mopeds and have even driven a 30-yearold Yezdi! I’ve ridden very funny and old bikes, which have the gears on the right and brake on the left, with the sole aim of mastering a Bullet. This trip gives me the perfect opportunity to do that.
Being in the Army or riding bikes are typically known as “male things” so I’m sure you’ve earned the label of a tomboy by now – does it annoy you or is it a compliment?
If you look at me now, even you’ll call me a tomboy! (laughs) but it doesn’t bother me at all. I am married, have a two-year-old daughter and I’m very happy so it doesn’t matter what others have to say.
I’ve heard many bikers say that the journey is more important than the destination – do you concur and why?
Absolutely! As beautiful as Leh is, I’m not keen on sight-seeing because the breathtaking scenery is always going to be there. What I’m excited about is the people I’m going to meet and how the ride is going to be. All of us are strangers to each other so the camaraderie we’ll share and how we’ll have each other’s backs during the journey is what I’m excited to discover.
Since Leh is such a tough terrain to ride through and it can take a toll on the body, did you undergo any special endurance training?
Not really, as part of my routine physical activity sessions with the Army, we have a lot of exercises that build our core strength. If you ask me to do a five-kilometre run right now, I can do it. Every three months we have a fitness test so I have to be in my peak at all times.
Most youngsters love going on bike rides but barely take any safety measures or exercise caution on the roads. Do you have any advice for them?
Whether it’s a car or bike, I never break rules — I don’t jump signals or get on a vehicle without wearing my helmet or seatbelt (even when I drive to work). When we’re riding on the highway in formations, it’s important not to cross lanes. As for safety equipment while riding, we have jackets, pants, gloves, ankle boots and more that cover every single body part which is exposed, be it the neck or elbows. I would suggest every rider follows these practices.