Big Biking Commune 2019: Women bikers Roshni Misbah, Veena Shetty, Maral Yazarloo tell us how they break the stereotype
Chennai is set to host South India’s inaugural Big Biking Commune 2019, starting today at the Chariot Beach Resort in Mahabalipuram, hosting over 250 biking clubs, 8,000 bikers with over 100 motorcycle brands doing a pit-stop as they make the temple town their home for three days. With workshops, stunt shows and vintage as well as custom-made bike exhibitions, it is going to be every motorhead’s dream. Having worked in the automobile industry for over 20 years, Arun Kumar, Convenor of the Big Biking Commune says, “The idea for the festival came after I observed that there is a desperate need for an annual fixture for the motorcycling community in India.” Being one-of-its-kind, Arun is leaving no stone un-turned in making it a gigantic success as the festival also has off-roading workshops for different terrains, inter-club competitions and also bike club parades as people share their biking stories in a segment called My Story. With International Women’s Day only a week away, we decided to get up close and personal with three of India'swomen bikers, before make their way to one of South India’s biggest adrenaline-pumping event.
‘The Hijabi biker’
Seeing women bikers on the road isn’t uncommon these days. However, while biking still seems like a man’s game, Delhi-based Roshni Misbah is on a different track, after first being spotted on the road to Jamia Millia Islamia University. “We often say we are living in a modern world but I would say it’s not even half true as it’s very difficult for society to digest the view of a girl riding a bike,” Roshni immediately elucidates. However, she has been able to pursue her interest in riding bikes only because her parents have been really supportive, or it would have been a distant dream, she adds. It isn’t really surprising then when she tells us that the one aspect of riding is the freedom it gives the rider, which she would not have known if her father didn't allow her to start riding the bike.
Two years later, Roshni, or the Hijabi Biker as she is popularly called, has rode across the entire country on her 1811 cc Indian Chief Vintage. However, While the 24-year-old biker is often seen riding the Indian Chief or the Suzuki Intruder 1800, she is itching to take her newest superbike the Kawasaki ZX6R on the race track before riding it around the world. With the Big Biking Commune commencing, Roshni says she cannot wait to ride in South India, however, that is not all for the biker as she also rides for many causes -- education for the girl child being among the most prominent.“It is so good to see so many women bikers in India travel across the country to participate in this event and I feel I will make more friends who talk like me (motorcycle talks),” says Roshni, as we ask her about her excitement levels for the upcoming mega meet. Biking comes with a certain style and it is not hard to notice that Misbah is quite the fashionista on two wheels. However, she added that it wasn’t always like that as he fewer options for women, made her get helmet accessories for ponytails, cat helmets while adding a dash of pink to her outfit, stepping up the fashion game by a mile.”You might soon see a Powerpuff Girls-themed bike on the road,” trails off Roshni, with a laugh.
Born to ride
Bengaluru-based Veena Shetty has been a biker than many others. Having started in 2000 while she was still in college, she recalled that her first bike was the Yamaha RX 100, which was quite a rage back then. However, she has come a long way since then and even owns two bikes — a Kawasaki Versys 650 which she tells us was always her dream to own, and the Royal Enfield Interceptor. For Veena, biking is all about the feeling of brotherhood and the feeling extended to one of her most memorable trips, K2K (Kashmir to Kanyakumari) trip, she did with various bikers across the country. “It was an instant plan over a call with a rider from South for which I took off the same weekend for a ten-day trip," Veena says. Over the next few days, they were accompanied by several other riders who welcomed them and showed them around, making it quite an enriching experience for her. On the other hand, being a female biker has never been easy, as she recalls that during one of her rides through Punjab, people literally stopped in their tracks to see her riding. She even recalls them saying, “Oye kudi te Bullet’, however, she adds that her husband has always encouraged and motivated her to ride all the time.
At Big Biking Commune 2019, Veena will be one of the many speakers telling people about her ride experiences, however, she is already making plans to ride to Bhutan, Spiti, Sach Pass and the Golden Quadrilateral next. Counting on off-road racer and Super Cross champion CS Santosh, who she hopes to meet one day, she also has several others including a 45-year-old mother-of-two, who are on her list, who inspire her every day. Veena is also the founder of Roaring Riderz, which she started a little over two years ago with five riders but now has over 200 passionate riders, who run by the fuel.
Fuel for Fashion
For Maral Yazarloo, being born in Iran, a country where women are not allowed to ride in public or get a license, being a biker has been quite an achievement and she has never looked back ever since she first fell in love with the Harley Davidson 48 in India, a little over seven years ago. Maral is also the only woman in Asia and the Middle East to ride solo across seven continents and 64 countries. “I am happy to break the stereotype of middle eastern women and the idea of biking, while also getting married in Machu Picchu and having my baby and still continuing the ride,” Pune-based Maral tells us with conviction. Being a female biker does get you a lot of attention but often it is unwanted and Maral believes that women have to be careful to not let the people get too close or make stops wisely while on the road to avoid dangerous situations. The 37-year-old encouragingly reveals that the number of female riders in India is increasing because while she used to first be the only one at the Harley and Ducati meets in 2012, all-women bikers group Bikerni are riding all over India and Lady Bikers of India, which she founded also see an increasing number of women bikers on the road .
Visibly very good at changing gears in her life, Maral juggles her passion for biking with being an artist as well as a fashion designer, and she even opened her first store House of Maral Yazarloo in JW Marriott Pune in 2012. “I used the opportunity of being on the road and travelling to remote villages to learn about their fashion and pick up samples to work on my new collections,” Maral explains as goes on to say that she has displayed them in Dubai, Italy, France and even London.
The Big Biking Commune 2019 is a three-day event from February 22-24.