” For a journey on two wheels, you have to be conditioned, because one miscalculated twist of throttle or thrust of power could push you over the edge”, Shruti Singh.
Women are no longer the pillion riders. They love being in-charge and love the real deal. So it’s no surprise to see a woman behind the iconic lifestyle motorcycle brand, Royal Enfield motorcycle these days. They are determined to prove that it’s not only the men who are born to be wild.
I have heard saying from few riders that riding a Bullet fills you with a sense of empowerment, enhances your personality and makes you realize that you are on your own without any inhibitions. Proved to be true after meeting Shruti Singh.
Shruti, a techie by profession and an avid rider by passion, is into motorcycling since 1.5 years. She is employed with Optymyze Company as Marketing Manager and Software Analyst.
Q) How long have you been riding a motorcycle?
A) I have been riding Royal Enfield since 1.5 years.
Q) Any particular reason for your riding?
A) Freedom is defined by how you choose to travel. For some, ultimate freedom is to explore on foot, for others freedom is to ride. Riding gives me wings and makes me free.
I live for the journey and not the destination. My journey is on an engine with two wheels, so if you want to control one, you have to be conditioned, because one miscalculated twist of throttle or thrust of power could push you over the edge.
I have achieved and discovered what’s possible by attempting what’s impossible, as nothing happens unless you make it happen. I like doing things the hard way, but it’s always been my way. I don’t live by a routine or schedule, and like to trust my instincts.
I ride because Riders don’t judge people by their arterial assets. If wealth is a measure of success, then I am yet to succeed. I have a wealthy memory bank. Through my riding trips, I have explored nature’s treasure trove which is a billion times more in worth than a fat bank balance.
Q) Describe on how you got to where you are with motorcycling today.
A) I use to see my uncle Rajiv ride through Himalayan terrains on his Royal Enfield. Since then I had this dream of buying Bullet. However, college and then work took priorities and profound inside the dream for riding bikes got buried. It was in late 2014 when I shifted to Pune, wherein one of the events I met few bikers from Blitzkrieg Riding Club (BRC ). It was then my biking dreams came alive.
Their self-customized bullets awestruck me, and without wasting a single minute I went over to ask them if they can teach me “How to Ride.”
Initially, I did not know what clutch is, how to shift a gear or where the brakes are. But today I have completed approximately 52,000 km. I have also been accoladed as the 1st Lady rider across the globe to ride a bullet to Marsimik-La, Ladakh, Rider Mania Obstacle Race, Dirt Race 2nd Podium, and on the Nepal terrains where the roads cannot be traced even on Google maps. Overall it has been a dynamic journey.
BRC Pune is what got me into riding, and I always thank them for it.
Q) Why preferred motorcycle over a scooter?
A) The spirit of taking a bike which is designed for cruising to offroad and exploring unchartered territories is both fun and challenging.
Q) The first motorcycle you started riding/ learned riding?
A) Earlier I had an Activa. After meeting the BRC guys at an event, they were kind enough to help me learn how to ride, and it’s then I learned to ride on my friend Sarang’s Royal Enfield Classic.
Initially, I faced numerous difficulties in handling and maneuvering the massive Royal Enfield Classic. There were times when I fell, and times when I gave up, but then Sarang told me two things which I can never forget.
He said that anyone could open the throttle while riding, but smart riders know when to lower it.
Riding is done always thinking how to tackle the 10 feet ahead.When you can take that accurate judgment, you can ride anywhere.
Once I understood this two thing, I learned to take turns on ghats, to rip the offroad, stretching your leg out keeping hands firm and controlling bike on the front tire.
Nevertheless, Learning never ends, there are always some new techniques to be learned on new terrain.
Q) Your ride (motorcycle) now?
A) Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 and Himalayan are coming soon (waiting for delivery).
My Hulk – Thunderbird 350CC four stroke engine bullet is the king of jungles. Carbureted single cylinder engine marks 130 effortlessly on roads. It is and fast; you kind of have to predict its acceleration before it gets you in trouble.
In past one and a half year, the Thunderbird and I have gone through many patches like a snowy encounter at -7 degrees in Baralachala, river crossing at zing Ginsberg, Sand in Pan onto, Slush, mud snow with a terrible climate and the ghats of Uttrakhand. The Jungles of Uttarkashi and also every Sunday off roads and long\short rides, The Thunderbird always sticks to its name.
Q) Do you maintain and repair motorcycles on your own?
A) The general servicing, air filter, oil filter, oil change, clutch cable replacement, Accelerator cable replacement, Handle Bar change, customizing the Thunderbird for Dirt Ride and other things which I can do with the toolkit, I do it at home itself.
Q) Joined any riding clubs/ motorcycle clubs?
A) I have proudly been part of Blitzkrieg Riding Club since Oct 2014.
The club where all are treated equal, and where the leads take the initiative to train each and every rider.
Being with BRC is like being a part of a big family which houses you inside them like a friend, family, and protector. BRC Pune is about 200 riders strong group which believe in promoting safe riding and giving back to the society as two primary objectives. BRC has supported social causes of child safety, prostate cancer for men, saving water and charitable causes like pledging support for the soldiers and the army. BRC has organized blood donation drives for the military, created awareness of saving water through rides and promoted children wellbeing by supporting NGOs.
Q) Is there a local motorcycling event that you try and attend regularly?
A) I do visit Freedom Rush, Rider Mania, and soon going to participate in RAID the Himalaya.
Q) How far have you ridden your motorcycle?
A) I have traveled approximately 52,000 km on my Thunderbird, which includes Ladakh, Pangong Tso, Marsimik-La, Nubra, Dehradun, Legend Mt. George Everest House, Rishikesh, along with all the long rides every weekend I rejuvenate myself going on long/short- rides/off roads around Pune.
Q) Do you have a motorcycling achievement that you take pride in?
A) Journey of Being the 1st Lady rider to ride bullet to Marsimik-La (Highest Motorable Pass- 18953ft):
We were a group of 9 BRC riders chilling at Pangong Tso discussing the next early morning Marsimik-La plan. Few villagers overheard us and shouted “Are you guys crazy, you cannot go there!!!”, ignoring what they just said, we continued having our hot tea and Maggie.
The next morning when we reached the Army Gate for permissions they warned us “You guys need to be back by 11.00 am after that the weather gets worst. And one more thing, before 1.5kms of Marsimik-La milestone you will have to park the bikes and trek as there is no road to the top.” Giving Thumbs up, we continued.
The first few km were smooth with gravel and dust. As soon as we started riding towards the snow top welcomed, riding a few kms in snow, I was thinking “Why did the Army men say that we cannot ride till top, probably he don’t know we love to ride on no road.” and then suddenly the road disappeared !!! Literally!!! I could see 5 to 10 ft snow all around, but we were determined enough not to give up. Slicing through the snow, we were going slowly. But suddenly the Lead’s bullet fell 5 feet under the snow. We then realized as we go on the top the soft snow bed is waiting for us where is impossible for us to ride.
Few people then decided to go back to Pangong Tso or trek till the top, but the Blood rush in me wanted to take my bullet till milestone and kiss it. I can see, the milestone is just 1 km away!!! How can I give up? That time I prayed to God, to show us some route.Even if it was a difficult one, I wanted it.
After few minutes, far away, we saw Army Truck coming down from the top. And we all shouted “Yay!! We still have hopes”, but we could also see the truck’s tire which has such a massive torque were finding it difficult to go through the slush. We went to that route and to our surprise it was worse than riding in snow, but at least we could still ride. Our bullets were half in slush; we had to make sure we can keep up a momentum and not let out bikes roll in mud and get stuck. We were drained out. For covering ten meters, we were taking ten mins. With very low temperature and low oxygen, we felt breathless.
That 1 km of ride to the Marsimik-La top took us 3 hrs to reach on top. The 1st thing I did after reaching was screaming. Then I kissed my bullet for giving me a memorable experience to cherish for a lifetime.
Royal Enfield Rider Mania Dirt Race 2nd Podium:
My first Rider Mania was in Oct 2014 after I learned to ride the bullet. I was no Pro at it; I still had to learn a lot. However, BRC club led motivated and asked me to at least take the experience of Dirt track.
I took all the learnings and experience from the track, after coming back to Pune I did 60 rides offroad/ghats/gravel/slush. One complete year, I dreamt daily for again going on Dirt track and performing my best. A month before the competition, I had focused on just one thing- Implementing all that I learned for a Year.
On the Race Day- I was on the starting grid waiting for the flag to go down and was ready to rip the throttle. I was holding the 2nd position since the start. After the 1st lap itself, I took over all the rest of the riders. I was one lap ahead of all the riders. The last lap ended with very few distance between the 1st rider and me. The checked flag waved making me the 1st runner up of Dirt Race Women’s.
This year more preparations and more focused mind will be on Track.
Rider Mania Obstacle Race:
Being the 1st Lady to Participate on Obstacle Race feels Great!! But it didn’t go as expected.
When our club mates looked at the hurdle, they were thinking- should they send me to the track, next day is dirt race, nothing should happen to you or your bike, 90% of men didn’t even cross the 1st hurdle. Will I be able to do it?
I gave them confidence that I won’t injure myself or my bullet.
When I went on track, there was a huge crowd cheering for me irrelevant of their club. I was keeping my mind focused, thinking just one thing- Keep up the same momentum no more or less throttle needed.
I started, completed the 1st hurdle by rolling over the tree barks and stones, everyone was surprised, keeping the pace went through an uphill, sand, Ice while I made a small mistake of accelerating a little bit more, and I fell. I was so disappointed with myself for not completing the race. But when I got up and looked at the crowd, It made me smile, a huge applaud with every single person standing there motivating me, cheering for me.
After the competition, a very senior rider from Bangalore, probably in his late 60’s came to me and said – “I was planning to propose you had you completed the Obstacle.” And seriously, I was sad not having a coffee date with him.
Q) Do you have any motorcycling heroes?
A) Just One. He is who taught me riding, put his days and nights to show me the throttle control, how to rip on dirt, how to maneuver, how to lean on ghats. His hidden secret is that he would never motivate me directly by words, he had his tricks and techniques to keep the adrenaline pumped up to make us focus on achieving our goals. He is none other than our Club lead Sarang Kenjale.
Q) How are women motorcycle riders treated by most people and by male motorcyclists?
A) All are quite respected. When I was in Hyderabad on Work Purpose, I use to leave the office around 3.00 am daily. Hotel cab driver asked me once, “Madam, you leave office so late, here hotel cabs are there, but In Pune how do you manage, It is not safe to travel such late, how do you Travel in Pune.” When I said I move on Royal Enfield, his immediate reply was “Oh my God! Royal Enfield! Then no one would even dare to come near you. You are safe.”
I have traveled solo and never got any negative comments from people, they all respect seeing girls on a bike.
Talking about my Riding Mates, they are once who Inspire me, whenever I see the rear view mirror, they are there to support my back.
Q) Parents/ Friends- How do they feel about you riding a motorcycle. Any particular comments?
A) When I was planning to buy Royal Enfield, my mom was little scared, she said – “Beta, buy FZ or Honda bikes, Royal Enfield is HUGE, how will you handle it. It is Risky”. I did apply few puppy face techniques to convince her to let me buy RE, and today she advised my Sister to learn RE and ride it. May it be Ladakh, Nepal, Uttrakhand, South India or any place in this world, today she is not scared to let me go(with proper safety gears of course). Lucky to get such supportive parents.
Speaking of friends- All the good friends I have are from BRC only, so on every fall, they are there to pick me up and make me realize my mistakes. Blessed to have BRC as extended family.
However college and school friends sometimes do as me seeing my Riding Pics on Facebook – “Have you left Job and just spending Dad’s money on Riding” :D, I prefer to ignore those conversations :P.
Q) The motorcycles you wish/dream to see parked in your garage?
A) After Royal Enfield Thunderbird -the Hulk and Himalayan -the Beast, I am planning to get Monster onboard- Ducati Monster 821.
Q) Message to other female riders?
A) Bikes are the perfect path between Physic and design. Whichever bike you ride, you have to get the feel of it and flow with it. You need to understand the acceleration, the power and then hit the throttle and live yourself.
Don’t be bound by anything. Let yourself free and ride where your heart sends you.
**Interview unedited and as told to team technwheelz