- “Riding at (and after) 40, I feel good” – Sheetal Shah
- “I am a proud single mom biker living my dream” – Sony Mathew
- “To me, bike riding is like having a painkiller” – Manoshi Mistry
- A tête-à-tête with these lady bike riders:
The world is a space for the ones who perceive that tomorrow is just another day. The pursuit of happiness and positivity are trending and we indulge in everything under the sun to embrace them. Today we have not one but three real moms who found their path to eternal happiness. They are on a mission to break the gender stereotype and lean into the curves that life throws at them. Meanwhile, these three lady biker moms – Sheetal Shah, Sony Mathew, and Manoshi Mistry are reclaiming their individual spaces, spreading their (s)wings, acknowledging what’s out there. Riding away to glory, they tell us the tale of how being a mother and a lady biker inching towards bringing a real change.
“Riding at (and after) 40, I feel good” – Sheetal Shah
Sheetal Shah, the biker queen from the Silk city, Surat, is a go-getter and a self-acclaimed born winner. B.D.S Gold Medalist, M.D.S Periodontist, and Implantologist, Fellow Master and Diplomate in Implantology USA (ICOI), Fellow ITI (Switzerland), the list goes on. On the other hand, she has a family of dentists, with husband and daughter into dentistry. A full-time dental surgeon on the weekdays and a lady biker over weekends, Sheetal Shah is a dynamo. She completed levels 1,2,3 on the racing track at California Superbike School.
“For me, adventure biking is enthralling. Moreover, I believe in riding for a cause.”Sheetal Shah
Sheetal proclaims that gender inequality remains a major obstacle to development. The stats are outrageous and surprising. In India, the problem is more deep-rooted. She was featured in The Times of India for a Solo drive to and fro Goa covering a distance of 1800 Km! Since then, being in the limelight has been a norm for this lady biker. It doesn’t end here. She has been a regular office-bearer in LOH, a lady bike riders group of the Harley Davidson owners.
She shares her adventure biking journey to inspire other lady bike riders. Undergoing a hysterectomy in 2018 has been a turning point in my life. Within a month, she bounced back to life as a woman biker, riding and cycling, shattering the shackles of gender inequality. To sum up, This biker queen has inspired lady bike riders for a new purpose. She sticks to one message for each one of us – literally and metaphorically, “Ride for a cause.”
“I am a proud single mom biker living my dream” – Sony Mathew
Sony Mathew is a butterfly born out of an iron cocoon. Hailing from the Queen of Arabian Sea, Kochi, she is a dental surgeon by qualification, businesswoman by profession, and lady biker by passion. She runs Party Store, where she delivers party decor, event management services coupled with Sony as the Master of Ceremony.
Brought up as an overprotected daughter, she was denied her due freedom throughout her life. Sony realized that gender inequality is not a fancy term but it was real. She nuzzled with her ultimate freedom when her father gave a go-ahead to live on her terms, in his death bed. “My siblings were still apprehensive,” says Sony. ” They worried because I broke my shoulder bone and pelvic bone in a 150cc bike. What would be the situation if I rode a 1000cc bike?” Sony likes to ride in the night, away from the traffic, and the scorching sun.
“What attracted me to riding is the power to break the shackles of gender inequality disguised in love and care. Initially, people used to stare at me when I would stop for a tea/coffee break. Being a solo female rider who prefers riding in the dark was an unheard and unseen concept to the passerbuys. But now I am a familiar face.”Sony Mathew – About fighting for her freedom
Adventure biking, for her, has been the way to eternal freedom, to erase the gender lines. This lady biker inspires other girls to love themselves.
“To me, bike riding is like having a painkiller” – Manoshi Mistry
Manoshi is a passionate and professional lady biker. Her love story with DS Moto is going strong. It is a one-stop-shop for bikers to customize, service, and accessorize their machines. She has embraced her passion and discovered an outlet for the facets of herself that weren’t stimulated otherwise.
Manoshi fell in love with the “Detroit of India”, Chennai, and moved from Pune. Most importantly with her husband overseas, this biker queen single-handedly looks after her family, two daughters, DS Moto.
For her, the risks in adventure biking go with the stride. If you think that her solo K2K (Kashmir to Kanyakumari) ride was risky, she would say, “No, bravest was my solo ride to Agra passing through Gwalior post sundown.”
When I reached Chandigarh, I met two riders who said that they were detained by the police because it was not safe to ride. They had seized 20000 guns without a license that day.Manoshi Mistry – About her bravest riding journey
She loves to do things that might sound mad to a common man/woman. Going on a solo ride to Ooty to celebrate her birthday would be one such ecstasy of this lady biker.
A tête-à-tête with these lady bike riders:
These biker queens didn’t have it easy but they tamed the wild beast with passion, perseverance, and implacable fire in the belly.
Let’s hear it from these lady bike riders about how they demolished the barrier of gender inequality with adventure biking.
Who marked the beginning of your journey as a lady biker and when?
Sheetal: My dad is my riding guru. He held my hands while I took the baby steps to be a lady bike rider at the age of 15. In no time, bikes faded away. They were replaced with dental floss and related dental equipment. It took me years and years to reconnect and rekindle my ultimate dream. It was on a cold December evening of 2014, that my husband brought home a handsome athlete for me – A Harley Davidson Street 750.
Every day from then on, he would take me riding after my practice at the clinic. That’s when I realized that adventure biking is in my blood.
Sony: I was a born rider!
I was a misfit in the gender child mold. I wanted to play with the ‘boys’ toys (read cars, figurines, etc.). In other words, Gender inequality (quite visible back in the day) shattered my dreams to own and ride a bike. ‘A lady need not own a bike!’, said somebody or everybody. I couldn’t digest the blatant attitude that this was par for the course and it stirred up my determination.
Manoshi: It started when I was 18. There was a boy whom I dearly loved. My companion, tutor, my greatest support – he taught me how to ride on a Bajaj scooter. A few years down the line, the boy upgraded to a handsome man and I grew along with him and upgraded to his wife and a lady biker. So did our chariot- from a Bajaj scooter to a Harley Davidson and now riding a BMW GS 1200.
What is it that attracts you the most about riding?
Sheetal: Riding is my expression of self-love, the time I give for myself. The intoxication in adventure biking for me is the roar of my 1855 cc 115th Anniversary limited edition Fatboy, with my riding gears and helmet. When I sway with the wind, I feel liberated from the customary life. Being one of the lady bike riders in India is a privilege.
Sony: When you are brought up in a society, that promotes gender inequality, that says you can’t do this and that, you will be stronger. What attracted me to riding is the freedom to break the shackles of gender inequality. Getting on the bike, ripping through the highways, wind in the air (of course with a helmet on) – it is my way of telling them that I am 40 and free.
Manoshi: Being a lady biker, I have experienced the weird stares and comments. But nothing could put out the fire in me because of the feeling of freedom that riding gave me.
How do your kids support their lady biker mom?
Sheetal: My teenage daughters (age 18 and 16) are my support system. Nonetheless, my long trips have always been alarming enough, thanks to Indian roads and erratic traffic. The news of riders losing their lives is worrisome. Despite the fears, they are proud to say, “Yes, our mom is a lady biker.” Unlike any other mother, I preferred to raise daring daughters (and not darling daughters). I gifted a bike to the elder one!
Sony: My sons aged 17 and 13 are my buddies. They have seen their mother burn out. Also, they saw a mother with crazy tattoos, speaking her mind – a gung-ho person. They are proud of the latter. There are situations when I, despite being a free spirit, stumbled upon my self-doubt. But my sons have more confidence in their mother than I. If I ask them, “Will I be able to do it?”, the answer would be, “If not you, who else?”
Manoshi: My daughters and I are always there for each other. My husband is abroad and hence we are a team of ladies who care for and protect each other. It is because of their independence and support that I could continue to be a lady bike rider. When I am on long-distance adventure biking trips, they take care of each other. My oldest daughter, a lady biker herself, owns a 150cc motorbike. So, it pretty much runs in the family.
Which is the most adventurous trip that you had?
Sheetal: That would be my first long ride, without any doubt. I took off from Surat to Indore – about a thousand kilometers to and fro. After that, Looking back, it was a risky adventure biking. Amidst the heavy rain, thunder, potholes that merged with the roads (as the roads remained namesake for kilometers) – I sustained on adrenaline.
Sony: Looking back it is a ride that is the most adventurous and the one that creeps me out. I set out for a one-day trip from Kochi to Munnar, Munnar to Thekkady, and back to Kochi – nearly 400 Kilometers straight in 24 hours. I have been on long trips but never one without rest like this. It was like I was on a “riders high”.
Manoshi: My most adventurous trip as a lady biker has been the longest, and a risky affair. Perhaps, the most gratifying adventure biking experience by far. I set out for a solo ride from Chennai to Kashmir, Kashmir to Kanyakumari, spanning 5000 plus kilometers along with another 3000 kilometers – All alone, my quality time, self-actualization, self-assessment, and my pride. When I reached Chandigarh, I fell and had a ligament tear. I didn’t want to leave it halfway. So I came back to Chennai, took two weeks’ rest, and resumed the trip. When I finished the K2K in 8 days, I felt I was on top of the world.
What is your future riding plan?
Sheetal: I am planning to ride to Ashram Shalas (schools for the underprivileged) over the weekends to donate the essentials. Seeing a lady biker brings a lot of excitement to the kids. In a society that hesitates to shed gender inequality, lady bike riders are still a rarity. Hence my trips can be exciting at different levels.
Sony: As impulsive, as I am, I don’t have any preset riding plans. I use my bike as an inspirational platform also. It is to show the women out there that if I can do it, you can. If I can stand amidst a bunch of men and speak for myself, you can.
So, whatever I do, wherever I go, every moment I remember how I overcame my self-doubt. Being a lady biker has helped me immensely, and I want to bring more girls to riding.
Manoshi: India is a land of picturesque beauty. I have made a list of places I want to visit and imbibe the beauty which seems manifold while you are on a bike. Also, I want to go on cross country trips with my husband.
The three lady biker moms have several aspects in common. One of them is their perspective towards riding. So, their primary advice to aspiring riders is not to take riding for granted, especially on superbikes. You are immensely responsible to take care of yourself and wear protective gear. Be mindful of yourself, other riders, drivers, pedestrians, cows, dogs, and every other living being. Don’t use your riding skills to intimidate others. Follow traffic rules, be responsible, and make others know that superbike riders are responsible.
We are short of words to express our gratitude towards the three three lady bike riders. Why? Because we have been talking relentlessly about eradicating gender inequality and promoting women empowerment. These women spoke it, rather screamed it loud with their lives. They started riding at a young age, bid adieu to their passion, and came back with more fervor at their forties. ‘Impossible’ shrunk to a meaningless illusion in their lives. They are an inspiration, to every woman who wants to be not only a lady biker but anything or anyone. Some call it adventure, but they call it life.