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Biker bug catches women of all walks

Two years since she rode a bike for the first time, Vishnupriya is among the small but growing community of female bikers in the city who come from disparate backgrounds

Biker bug catches women of all walks


CHENNAI: She always liked bikes. But it was her yearning for something that would help distract her mind from the creeping sense of depression that made Vishnupriya consider taking up going on long rides. The single-parent of two graduated from being a pillion to an avid biker herself, going on long rides and returning with stories that her children enthusiastically wait for.

Two years since she rode a bike for the first time, Vishnupriya is among the small but growing community of female bikers in the city. They come from disparate backgrounds and the factors that motivated them to try their hands with biking are different. But individually and together, they have braved taunts and discouragements, and left behind the long-held archetype of it being a man’s arena.

“Enjoying a sense of independence is the major reason why many women turn up to learn bike riding,” says Maya, instructor and founder of Nomad Bikers Club. Agrees Vishnupriya. “I rode a bike for the first time in 2021. The pleasure I experienced when I was riding the bike cannot be described in words,” says the 33-year-old, lauding her mother and children for giving her the much-needed motivation. Now, after listening to the experiences she recounts after every trip, her kids are fascinated about such trips, he says.

Maya during her class

The biker bug seems to have caught women of all ages and all walks of life. Shri Bala, a famous city-based chef, took it up quite recently. Like many others, family played a key part in taking that step – it was her daughters who enrolled 49-year-old in a riding class. “It is a fact that seeing a woman riding a bike is still a wow factor in Chennai. The adrenaline kick I get when people look at me riding a bike is mind-blowing,” Shri Bala says.

Shri Bala

However, not everyone had such a support system. Arya, a 25-year-old from the city, did not have the support of her parents. And when she finally gathered the courage to learn, she experienced certain incidents in the initial stages, an experience so traumatic that she did not even touch a bike for four years.


But that did not mean the dream had died. When she started working, Arya bought a bike of her own and began learning on her own. “I faced a lot of discouraging comments when I started riding bikes, mostly directed towards my height,” says the rider, who is now an instructor.

Outside their close circle, it is still a challenge for women to take up biking. One such is the common notion that women are bad drivers, which, Arya says, is demotivating. “We are tagged as bad drivers because we don’t have the right platform to learn. But once we learn, women are more responsible riders. I want to make roads equal space for everyone,” she adds, noting how her parents have confidence in her now.

“The mindset of elders is changing with time. Parents themselves enrol their daughters. To reflect the equality in their relationship, a few couples also wanted to learn bike riding to share long-distance bike travel with each other,” adds Maya.

On the recent surge in the number of women bikers, Vishnupriya says women have started to come out of their shells. Arya adds that seeing a woman riding a bike motivates others to try and learn. The swell in numbers would prompt manufacturers to make bikes specifically for women, hopes Vishnupriya.

“Travelling is the most preferred weekend getaway for Chennaiites. It should also be noted that both community and solo rider counts are increasing,” says Maya. She also feels that having access to female instructors is also a reason for women to opt for the learning classes. “We aim to create new women riders. That way, we can play a role in expanding the community here,” the instructor adds.

Nivetha C
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