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Lavanya Bahuguna

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Watch Stereotypes Being Run Over By 48 Y.O. Bengaluru-Biker Mehdia Fathima

  • IWB Post
  •  August 24, 2019

 

5 ft 1 inch tall and donning an embroidered salwar-kameez, Mehdia Fathima might not appear as mighty as other professional motorcyclists to you, but does that mean she lacks anything to vroom over the bumpy roads? Let’s paddle through her story so our myths are gone in a whirl of dust.  

Road trip to Chilika lake ! Just tried riding the guides motorbike 🏍 #chilikalake #orissa#motorcycles#heromotocorp #motorcycle #motorcycles #bike #ride #rideout #bike #biker #bikergang #helmet #cycle #bikelife #streetbike #cc #instabike #instagood #instamotor #motorbike #photooftheday #instamotorcycle #instamoto #instamotogallery #supermoto #cruisin #cruising #bikestagram

166 Likes, 1 Comments – mehdia fathima مہدیہ فتیم (@mehdiaridesagain) on Instagram: “Road trip to Chilika lake ! Just tried riding the guides motorbike 🏍 #chilikalake…”

This Bengaluru-based techie took to biking a few years ago after she came in contact with her colleagues who happened to share a similar interest. Although, she had always been a passionate biker – “I rode friends’ bikes in college” – Mehdia says it was when she turned 44 that she finally yearned to get her own beast home. Her first (and present) bike is a Bajaj Avenger 220 Cruise.

IWB spoke to now 48-year-old Mehdia, who’s successfully completed the Golden Quadrilateral Ride on her bike in 2018. She rode across 16 Indian States in 3 weeks covering a distance of 7000 km.

Excerpts below:

Introduce yourself to our readers.

I am Mehdia Fathima. I live with my husband and two kids – 12 & 15 – in Bengaluru. I am a professional at an IT company. My first memory of riding a bike is from 20 years ago, from my college days, when a large number of undergrad engineers hit the roads together on their geared bikes. It was thrilling and inspiring at the same time to be one among them.

Why do you think it took longer to recognize and get back to your passion?

I don’t regret the fact that I embraced my passion for bikes in the mid-40s, after all, I had totally different priorities in the former years. Now that I have time to invest in something I truly love, I am making the most of it without complaining.

How did the family react when you announced your decision to them?

I am a very spontaneous person. I don’t announce my decisions, I take actions instead. For example, the day I decided I wanted a bike, I straight away evaluated my account, set the budget and by the end of the day, got the motorbike home that suited my caliber, pocket, style, and height. Of course, I first polished my skill on a rented bike before putting my hard-earned money into an actual one. Since my husband is pretty much aware of my nature, he was quite supportive of the impromptu act. The kids, especially the daughter, who’s the younger one, immediately demanded a joyride though.

As far as society is concerned, I did hear some people say that forties are not the appropriate time for a woman to show-off and attract attention. I don’t remember paying heed to any of those taunts.

Throw back – Day 1 golden quadrilateral solo ride summer 2018 . Bangalore to Nellore via Chennai . 580 kms in 42 /44 degrees was like what am I doing ? At chennai my iPhone heated up :) and refused to budge ! #motorcycle #motorcycles #bike #ride #rideout #bike #biker #bikergang #helmet #cycle #bikelife #streetbike #cc #instabike #instagood #instamotor #motorbike #photooftheday #instamotorcycle #instamoto #instamotogallery #supermoto #cruisin #cruising #bikestagram#goldenquadrilateralsoloride #chennai#nellore#nationalhighway #avengermotorcycleclub#rynox

246 Likes, 4 Comments – mehdia fathima مہدیہ فتیم (@mehdiaridesagain) on Instagram: “Throw back – Day 1 golden quadrilateral solo ride summer 2018 . Bangalore to Nellore via Chennai ….”

So, did your daughter get a joyride?

Ha-ha, yes! She is pretty tall and I kind of like it that she shows interest in biking. I’m waiting for her to turn 18 so she can get her license and drive along with me. I cannot wait to see her follow the footsteps and travel to faraway places one day.

Tell us about your first bike journey that you took across a few Indian states.

I started in mid-April, that’s when my kids usually have their summer vacation. Their break was 22-day long, and I completed my tour in 21 days. That was some good planning, I must admit.

Ooty ! Now I am back to reality !chikmagalur next week ? Anyone interested let me know ! I took my daughter to Ooty now my son’s turn ! #bikingbrotherhoodgears #ooty#pillionwithmom#rider #bac_coimbatore#bikeridewithmom #nilgiris #ootacamund #tamilnadutourism#bac_chennai#thelitas#bbgears #bajajavenger #feellikegod #rideroftheweek

250 Likes, 5 Comments – mehdia fathima مہدیہ فتیم (@mehdiaridesagain) on Instagram: “Ooty ! Now I am back to reality !chikmagalur next week ? Anyone interested let me know ! I took my…”

My manager at work is a biker himself so he wholeheartedly supported my rather unique summer vacation plan to explore the great Golden Quadrilateral drive on two wheels. It’s a 5,846 km long trajectory, connecting the four major metro cities of India – Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Chennai. I did it with my fellow bikers as it was my first time and I needed that kind of experience before taking off on my own in the future. After that, my second journey was a solo bike ride along the Indian coastline across West Bengal, Kanyakumari, Maharashtra, and Gujarat.

What did you learn on these tough roads?

That no road is ever tough for you. Traveller, bikers, and all sort of off-roaders will tell you stories. But you cannot call their adventurous journey your own unless you go out and experience it by yourself. To not refrain myself from stepping on those rough roads is what I’ve learned so far.

Throwback GQ 2018 – Bhubaneshwar to Kolkata via Kharagpur is a near 450 kms ride ! One fall and I was still good to go ! Kolkata the city of joy has a charm like no other metro ! Staying in new Kolkata ( didi’s London as it’s called here ). My classmate and friend from Engg college Saikat Das and family hosted me in their amazing villa ! Took a day off to service and look around ! You ask me how to cook Hilsa maach I know it now :) #kolkota #goldenquadrilateral #goldenquadrilateralsoloride#avengerunitedofficial#backolkata #bac_bengaluru #bike#bikelife #bikerchick #goldenquadrilateralsoloride #indianriders #indiacoastlineride #motorcycles #ibm#bengaluru #solorider #bikergirls #indiaonmotorcycle

208 Likes, 12 Comments – mehdia fathima مہدیہ فتیم (@mehdiaridesagain) on Instagram: “Throwback GQ 2018 – Bhubaneshwar to Kolkata via Kharagpur is a near 450 kms ride ! One fall and I…”

How do you prepare yourself for the long bike rides?

My priority is always my gear and medical kits. I never fail to get my bike checked properly at the service station a day before my journey starts. Likewise, I keep a list of all the service centers that I might cross on the way. I carry two mobile phones with me, in case I’m staying at no-electricity remote areas. I also try to book my hotels beforehand or at least during the day if I’m checking in late at night. You, as a driver, are aware of the approx. number of hours you will take to cover a certain number of kilometers. Based on that, I figure out the decent hotels in that particular area. Preparing itineraries is homework I sincerely do before I start my journey.

What tips do you give to new riders?

Not just for the bike-enthusiasts, I have got all-purpose advice for everyone. You should never make your gender or age a constraint while picking up on a passion and hobby. Now, regarding the new bikers, the only tip that I have for them is to seek help as a beginner. Right from taking driving lessons from your seniors to planning your stays, get help from wherever possible. When I go solo, for example, I always prefer staying with my relatives or friends who’re living in the cities that are on my way. There is nothing better than staying with your people. Plus, who wouldn’t love nice-smelling washed clothes and hot home-cooked meal for a night?

Apart from this, I strongly believe that your safety is in your hands if you plan your journey wisely. For instance, I don’t ride after sunsets. In this way, one can escape a lot of criminal accidents, especially if you’re riding/driving alone. About packing, follow minimalism when it comes to your clothes and don’t forget the basics like a raincoat, batteries, fuel can, medicines, etc.

The very obvious question – where do you want to go next?

I’m not riding until mid-2020 because my daughter is writing board exams this year. My husband and I have decided to be around and help her prepare better. But once that’s done, I plan to drive across the stunning states of Arunachal Pradesh and Kashmir.

Lastly, what else can we spot you doing when you’re not indulged in a 9-5 job or riding a bike?

I love to go on treks and run marathons. Also, I keep organizing boot camps for those who want to learn how to ride a bike. This is a free service for those who’re as obsessive about this sport as I am.

(pictures are Mehdia Fathima’s own)

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