The full throttle roaring sounds of a motorcycle, interspersed with a mixture of reviving up, winding out, popping tires, spinning, riding and squealing, transports you in to the world of motorcyclists. A world of black jacket, leather boots, full face helmet, hand gloves, padded shoulders and knee caps and the mean machine fitted with saddle, tank or fender bags- ready to take in strange and exciting sights, sounds and smells. Riding can provide for joy that is unparalleled. And women bikers have slowly been transforming the landscape and how!
“Mud for makeup, and petrol for perfume”, is the mantra of the Bikernis, says a proud Minakshi Priyadarshini Mohanty, the Admin of the Bengaluru chapter.
The Bikerni is India’s first all-female Motorcycle Association of India, launched in 2011. It is an association of like-minded women bikers founded by Urvashi Patole and Firdaus Shaikh for riders who are interested in touring, stunting, racing or even daily commuting on geared motorcycle. Anyone with a valid driving license and above the age of 18 is welcome to join in. Bikerni is present in 18 cities with over 1800 members. Bengaluru has 300 members registered.
Bikerni is a tribe that motivates, encourages of empowers a diversity of riders. It is a safe haven that does not judge or pressurise you.
The Bikerni Bengaluru Chapter has seven core members Minakshi Priyadarshini Mohanty, Anupama Pai, Audrey Sequeira, Sameera Dahiya, Anitha Praksah, Shatabdi Samanta and Arpita Rai take care of the chapter’s health and ride. They plan rides, encourage members to connect, participate and volunteer in events and social causes and keep the chapter engaged.
Minakshi who has been with chapter for over five years, says Bikerni, has been like an extended family, and her journey is not just for rides but a connection at an emotional level.
Echoing Minakshi’s sentiment, Anumpama who joined Bikerni in 2014, says Bikerni is family and has played an important role in each rider’s life, as it allows you to be. It’s a celebration of coming out and reinforcing beliefs of “I can do”.
Sameera Dahiya, decided to take a break from her regular IT job, and took up riding from August 2015. She says, “I was not a passionate rider, I did not know the meaning of riding too. It was just a thought. And I feel that it was always good, when you don’t know about anything, there is curiosity. And I must say I am lucky to have so many riding opportunities. She joined Bikerni in 2016 but tested waters for a year, and that Bikerni has been a lesson in responsibility”.
Audrey Sequeira’s hidden passion was riding. She nursed this feeling for many years, putting family and other commitments before the passion. It was when her husband supported her, at the age of 39 she took to biking. She has been with Bikerni since 2017. “When I knocked on Bikerni’s door, they opened up and accepted me and also said they were happy to teach me. Each ride was an experience and that gave me the confidence to ride even more. And as I say, Bikerni is a family and I am not going anywhere”.
Arpitha Rai volunteered at an event Men Take Lead Ride, as a photographer and met a lot of women riders and they were not making a big deal about it and that really triggered my desire to start riding. “I come from a much protected family and my father was always worried of me getting hurt. There are accident cases I don’t see women riders, why do you want to ride. But the two years back, he called me and said I think biking is picking up and the stereotypical thing of only men can ride geared bikes has been broken”. Arpitha says that Bikerni gives you comfort, it is people with similar mindset coming together. “It is not a routine, there is so much to do and connect and that’s what tribes do”, she adds
Shatabdi Samanta hails from West Bengal and was always interested in biking. While in Grade 8, she took a bike and rode it. Later on she moved to Bengaluru for higher studies and started going out on trips, but always as a pillion. Her friends suggested that she gets her own bike, so she booked a bike and looked around for riding groups and sought out Bikerni.
Anitha Prakash, hails from a family of bikers. It became a proper adventure riding, when I started riding with my husband. Recollecting her first ride with Bikerni, she says, “It was a small breakfast ride and I was late to the starting point, however they welcomed me, and hugged me. And that was it. Soon after that they were planning for their annual ride in 2018, and I am happy that I am now sharing the space with the core member team. If you have a spirit of community, they acknowledge and cherish you”.
So what’s the Annual Event all about?
Minaskhi says, “In 2015 we decided that the month of March, we would get the entire community to spend time with us. We started small, but then we decided that the event will be by the Bikernis for the rest of the community. So what do we call it?
The Bikerni Within is not just a name; it is a metaphor for the feminine rider within you. It has nothing to do with gender. It is about emotions, we are emotionally connected with our bikes. The event is about celebrations. This year’s event starts at 6.30 am and ends at 4.30am and is being held at Devanahalli.
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