Shilpa Balakrishnan from Mumbai loves to travel around the world in her bike. She had undertaken several expeditions including a 17,000 KM ride to 5 ASEAN countries in 2018 to promote India Tourism. Her team was received by Prime Minister Modi when they returned to India. Fan9 catches up with the lady biker to know more on her passion, mission and many more. Read on.
What was the debut moment of your career?
I had never in my wildest dreams ever imagined that I would ride a motorcycle, leave alone going such long-distance drives and achieving fame. It all happened when one day suddenly my close friend asked me to sit on the motorcycle and start riding. An argument ensued for nearly 2 hours before I started my tryst with the machine.
Your favorite sports?
I love to play carrom and go trekking in the Sahyadris.
Favorite sports star?
M S Dhoni: His captaincy and leadership skills are something one can learn a lot from.
Your early struggles as a female biker?
My childhood and even college life was like any other kid. I was not someone who aimed too high or wanted to reach the sky. But then, motorcycle came to my life when I was 29. The struggles of being a lady motorcyclist do not end. Time and again, we are judged for our riding style, strength to handle a machine comfortably, being looked down upon by family, friends and some bikers too. I had to face all odds. Eve-teasing, being stalked, being urged to get into a race on the streets, teased for falling off the bike, and many more. But they never deterred me from doing what I want, instead they were my stepping-stones to achieve more and reach out more to the world.
My biggest motivators are my mother and my friend who taught me to ride motorcycle. They both have always given me the strength to go beyond my limits and limitations to reach my goals in life. When I get tired, they are always there to push me out of my comfort zone and get me going.
Big Break Through moment:
My big leap happened in 2016, when I set out on my solo motorcycle tour across the length and breadth of India. Although I used to do a Hyderabad-Mumbai-Hyderabad trip every now and then, this was my first ever attempt at doing something big at this level. This tour taught me how to be self-reliant, have trust in oneself, get stronger, keep myself going no matter what happened and many more important things and values of life.
Biggest Achievements so far:
My biggest achievement was finishing my Pan-India ride successfully in 2016. In 2015, I completed the Saddle Sore Challenge by Iron Butt Association, USA – An endurance ride to complete 1.600 kms in 24 hours. Also, in early 2018, I, along with 3 more female motorcyclists, rode from Hyderabad to 5 ASEAN countries: Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia and then back to India. We completed this journey in 56 days covering 17,000 km with to promote India’s Tourism in other countries while also visiting the UNESCO Heritage sites.
Some of the awards bagged by her:
I am an India Book of Records holder for being the first woman to ride solo in all 4 corners of India in one go. This was conferred on me in 2018. I completed this feat in 29 days, covering 15,219 kms.
Future career plans?
To empower women and help them live their dreams, I have a plan to train them to ride bikes. I also want to train them on various safety aspects while on the road by making them follow traffic rules, understand what road safety is and how they should behave whilst they are on the road. I want to see more and more women on the road riding safely and bravely.