Biking by heart – Shilpa Balakrishnan – India’s first female solo rider to travel across India
Substituting high heels for boots, replacing a dress with a leather jacket and a crown for a bike helmet this queen cruises with free spirits and high speeds. An avid motorcyclist Shilpa Balakrishnan has covered 1600 km in 24 hours. Shilpa created a record in India Book of Record and World Records of India for being the first female to do a solo ride to all 4 corners of India in 29 days covering 15219 km. After 25 years of a desk job in marketing, she decided to quit and pursue her passion of professional biking full time. Her aim of travelling across the country is to promote tourism. She believes that visiting a local village in one’s own country is better than splurging on a foreign trip as it would improve the economy thus creating a kind of sustainable tourism where the locals can earn, show the tourists around as well as preserve the local heritage. Her ideal bike is one which can cover long distances without much maintenance, a hassle-free bike which provides good mileage and hopes that one day she could ride a bike which would be equipped with a music system. During her college days, Shilpa loved to ride on bikes with her friend who owned one. Initially reluctant to learn, Shilpa told her friend that she wanted to try and ride a bike for a distance of 100 meters because her sister had learnt to do so. Her friend taught her how to ride a bike in one month. It was that tiny distance in an alley near her house that was the start of her amazing journey. The team at Eureka moment sat down with Shilpa Balakrishnan, here are the excerpts of the interview.
– Shilpa Balakrishnan
I’ve learnt a way of life living not only in my own terms but to live life in a carefree manner by not holding on to too many things or becoming possessive. Whatever you have has to go.
Q: What is the Eureka moment in your life?
A: The first thing that happened to me was learning a bike which I hadn’t ever dreamt about doing. I never thought it would change my life to such an extent. People who know me from my childhood would never imagine that this woman is such an extrovert because I had been an introvert since I was a little girl. I changed myself when I was in college and I became an extrovert and doing biking has actually changed my life. I’ve learnt a way of life living not only in my own terms but to live life in a carefree manner by not holding on to too many things or becoming possessive. Whatever you have has to go.
Q: What are the challenges you face?
A: When you are a solo biker the most challenging thing you have to face is to keep yourself difficult. When I fall over I don’t have anyone to pick me up I have to pick up the bike on my own. You always have to keep yourself motivated.
Q: What does it take to start something like this?
A: Passion to do what you want no matter what happens you will find a way to go out and do it. If you love to travel you will achieve the same.
Q: Three reasons why you will never leave biking?
A: Love for biking, passion for biking and my love for travelling also I consider a bike to be the best mode of travel.