Thursday, May 25

World Women Riders: Vartika Pande aka SOFTY. Offroader and stunter

Meet Vartika Pande, also known as ‘Softy’. She is one of the founder member of The Bikerni- an all women motorcyclist group. Vartika is also the best known female off-road motorcycle rider and stunter. She has also participated in the Pulsar MTV Stuntmania, India’s first stunt biking reality show.

Q) Introduce yourself? 

A) My name is Vartika Pande, also known as ‘SOFTY’ in biking industry. I am one the founder member of The Bikerni – First All Female Motorcycle Association of India.  I am a biker since 8-9 years and a proud owner of Hero Impulse, named RENATE.

Vartika Pande SOFTY

Q) How long have you been riding motorcycle?

A) I have been riding motorcycles since 8-9 years.

Q) Any specific reason you ride for?

A) Well when I first saw a girl riding a bike, it really fascinated me and since then, I just couldn’t lay my hands off my bike. It gives me such an immense adrenaline rush, and when I am on my bike, I am totally different person. A person, who is, fearless, independent, I am just Me.

Q) Describe on how you got to where you are with motorcycling today.

A) It all started with just a click. Sometimes I wonder how I got into hard core motorcycling . My dad used to ride the Java Yezdi in his time. He  belonged to a biking group called the MerryGo Bikers. However, no one in my family has such a passion for bikes as I have.

The time when I first got into the motorcycling world, it was through Orkut, the only social networking site then, I got to meet few bikers online . I managed to get in touch with few female bikers as well.

I started my motorcycling adventure as a stunter. I used to stunt on my Scooty Pep. Slowly and gradually, I made my name in this field. And after 7 long years of patience and wait, I got my own bike- the Impulse. Now I am more into off road, trails. Soon gonna try my hands on track racing. Biking is never ending sport for me.

Vartika Pande SOFTY (2)

Q) Why preferred motorcycle over scooter?

A) I would never give preference. Because I started biking on my Scooty Pep. Even now, though I had a motorcycle,. I still have Honda Dio. And I believe rides does not matter, rider does. You can do wonders with your bike (whether scooter/motorcycle), all you need to know is techniques.

Q) The first motorcycle you started riding/ learnt riding-

A) The first motorcycle I started riding/learnt riding was the Bajaj Pulsar 150 (Classic one). It was my dad’s bike, cherry red in colour. Oh it was a beauty!! Dad was a hotelier then, his timings was never fixed. I used to wait outside my home for long time till he returns back to grab the keys of Pulsar. Every night, two hours without a break, I used to ride that bike.

Vartika Pande SOFTY (1)

Q) Your ride now?

A) I ride a Hero Impulse, she is named RENATE. Renate means, Reborn or reliving.

Q) Tell us about your motorcycle

A) As I mentioned earlier, my bike is with me after 7 long year of wait and patience, before that, it use beg and borrow and that is the reason why I named by bike the RENATE. Renate means, Reborn or reliving and in my case it is exactly the same. Because of Renate I am reborn as a biker, and reliving my biking life. My bike is my baby. Is is everything to me.

Vartika Pande SOFTY (9)

Q) Do you maintain and repair motorcycles on your own?

A) I don’t do it on my own, but I give it for regular servicing, without fail.

Q) Joined any riding clubs/ motorcycle clubs?

A) I am one of the founder member of The Bikerni – An Association of Female Bikers of India. The aim of ‘The Bikerni’ is to create a platform for women who ride motorcycles and for those who aspire to ride motorcycles as well. The Bikerni’s mission is to create an equal platform for women motorcyclists and to empower women all over India through the field of motorcycles. We have members from all over India and every state. Our main focus is about Women Empowerment in India.

Vartika Pande SOFTY (7)

Q) Is there a local motorcycling event that you try and attend regularly?

A) No, I don’t attend any event on regular basis. My definition of biking is totally different.

Q) How far have you ridden your motorcycle?

A) The longest ride I have done on Renate was recently to RERM (Royal Enfield Rider Mania) from Pune to Goa and back.

Q) Do you have a motorcycling achievement that you take pride in? (Winner, participant in any riding events, any special awards as such)

A) Yes. Few to mention are..

  • I was one of the contestant in MTV Stunt Mania Season – 1,  2009
  • Did Stunt Shows in ,Gujrat(Rajkot)
  • Also featured in Bajaj 135cc XCD advertisement,
  • Social cause ride for CPAA- Cancer Patients Aid Association (7000kms in 12days)
  • Participated in Invitation Races for Honda Twister & Yamaha R15.
  • Went to Leh-Ladakh on bullet 500cc, ride from delhi till Khardungla(world’s most highest motorable pass), which also, was aired on UTV Bindass as Reality show.

Vartika Pande SOFTY (8)

Q) How  was your experience at the MTV Stunt Mania?

A) Stunt Mania was like a dream come true. The stunts I did there…I never knew I could do in my life. The most exciting was the survival stunt in which we were released from the 40th floor of a building sitting on the bike. Stunt Mania gave me lots of sweet memories, I will cherish for rest of my life.

Q) Do you have any motorcycling heroes?

A) Burt Munro, Valentino Rossi, Brandy Valdez, Sarah Lezito, Brian Deegan,  Syed Adil Kazmi

Vartika Pande SOFTY (4)

Q) How are women motorcycle riders treated by most people and by male motorcyclists?

A) Honestly, There are really some nice motorcyclists, who truly appreciate for what we are, but sadly, there are more on the other side. In last 8 years of my biking career, I have met more people who just can’t see women motorcyclists doing well.

Q) Parents/ Friends- How do they feel of you riding a motorcycle. Any special comments?

A) Except my parents, I never got support from my family, to pursue biking. But as the saying goes, when you are successful and famous, even haters sometimes turns into appreciators.

My parents have always supported me morally. They were always there for me and they always say this proudly that their daughter has achieved so much in biking.  I really don’t care what others in my family thinks about me, as long as I have my parents standing right beside me.

Vartika Pande SOFTY (3)

Q) Bikes you would like to see parked in your garage?

A) Ducati Monster 795, Triumph Street Triple, KTM 390 and KTM Motocross bikes.

Q) Message to other female riders?

A) The only thing I would like to convey is that, if your really passionate about being a biker, then just do it. Never give excuses. Passion is something we do out of our limit. It should not let sleep at night. Rest all will fall in places.

(Unedited and as told to team TNW)

Posted by: Megha Madhavan

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