While many a bikers dream of riding a bike to the beautiful land of Ladakh, some are not content with just that. Pallavi Fauzdar decided to take it a notch higher and ride through the most treacherous passes and roads in the Himalayas. Last July, Pallavi set a new Limca record by becoming the first woman to cross eight mountain passes with over 5000m elevation in a single journey. Barely two months later, Pallavi touched another summit – the tip of Mana Pass which, at an altitude of 18,497 feet, is the highest motorable point in the world. She was also the first woman biker to do so on a solo trip.
Her achievements have earned her a place in the Limca Book of records and have also won her special recognition from the UP government. In a recent interview with TOI, Pallavi spoke about her journey, the biking culture in Noida and her home-town Agra, and why biking clubs in Delhi/NCR still don’t have a place for women.
She says that the biking scene in her home-town of Agra is changing slowly as more and more women are starting to ignore stereotypes and are taking up biking. It’s a bit behind other cities since it’s not a metro, but its getting there. However, the biking culture in Noida is not something that impresses Pallavi. She says “Noida has good roads, with the Expressway and all, and yet the bikers here aren’t very responsible. For them, it’s all about speed and how fast you can be. Wearing a helmet is almost non-existent here. That needs to change immediately.”
While Pallavi Fauzdar has been a part of many biking groups, she isn’t really a big fan of them. “It’s not easy for female bikers in any city and Delhi is no different. Being a metro and the capital, you’d expect the biking community to be a bit more evolved here, but that isn’t the case. I found that female bikers aren’t taken that seriously and not given the kind of respect we deserve in some groups from the NCR. That is one reason why I prefer to ride solo mostly. It’s about comfort,” she says.
Biking is more than just about the thrill for Pallavi Fauzdar. It is the chance of doing something in a male-dominated field that drives her more than anything else. “More than the adventure, it is a statement for me. I think of it as a public service. If my achievements can inspire other girls to take up biking as a sport or profession, I would consider my job done,” she says.
But it’s not an easy world out there for women who want to go on solo bike rides, especially ones who have 2 children to take care of. But it is her family that supports her to pursue this passion. Her husband, who is in the army, has been very supportive of her. She says “Being in the Army, he understands my love for this. It helps me stay focussed on the task at hand, knowing that other things are taken care of.” Her passion for riding bikes can be credited to her father with whom she used to ride as a kid in Agra. This love for biking has endeavoured in Pallavi Fazudar and we hope she continues to go on and break a few more world records.