Riya Yadav started learning to ride a bike after her father gifted her one on her 19th birthday. Seven months later, Riya became the youngest female rider to conquer Khardung La- the World’s Highest Motorable Pass in Ladakh, situated at 18,379ft on her Royal Enfield Classic 350.
SheThePeople.Tv spoke with Riya about her passion and what drove her to achieve this feat. Excerpts from the interview:
My dad is extremely fond of bikes. He used to ride in his college days. So, my passion for bike riding comes from him.
You became the youngest woman to ride in Khardung La. Tell us about it
My dad gifted me a Royal Enfield on my 19th birthday. It is then that I started riding. Ever since then, there has been no looking back. The Khardung La ride is significantly special to me. For the first time, I experienced riding in the mountains, water crossings and even landslides. Also, there is this one experience which I’ll never forget. There was a huge landslide between Pang and Patso, the mountain was all jammed, the water flow was terrible and the situation became worse. The cranes cleared the rocks. Several vehicles were stuck due to the landslide. We saw a few bikers crossing the patch and since we were running late, we too decided to cross it.
“I was extremely scared, my bike even got stuck in the middle. However, something within me didn’t want to give up and I managed to cross it.”
I started playing sport at a very young age. I have won many laurels for my school and college in badminton, volleyball, football, shot put etc. As a sportsperson, I have learnt a lot. I’ve learnt how to work under pressure, and most importantly, how to handle both, success and failure.
A journey without challenges is incomplete. How have you overcome your share of challenges?
My first challenge was to convince my parents for the Ladakh ride, since it had only been a seven-month riding experience that I had. My sister convinced my parents. So it’s all thanks to her. Coming to the trip, there were various challenges in Leh such as riding in snow, big water crossings and a few landslides too!
“The journey is never easy but if you’re up for it with all your heart, it’s all worthwhile.”
There’s a lack of knowledge when it comes to biking. How can an atmosphere for more acceptance be created?
I believe, in the riding community, one should have accurate and thorough knowledge concerning the safety gears and measures. According to me, there should be rallies, workshops, talks etc. organised for both, female and male riding communities in order to make the atmosphere more interesting.
My family, especially my parents, have been very supportive throughout my journey. They have always encouraged me to do things which I thought I couldn’t do. I mean my dad gifted me a Royal Enfield on my 19th birthday! Friends and family’s backing has been extremely crucial.
How have you managed your academics?
I think time management is the key. It helped me to strike a balance between my academics and in pursuing my passion at the same time.
It is annoying to see the kind of reactions society has for women riders and women drivers. What do you have to say about it?
Yes, it is gravely annoying to see women still being considered weak when it comes to driving or riding. There are many people who cannot see women excel in things, which according to these people, women couldn’t even attempt in the first place. However, on the other hand, there are people who are always ready to support, encourage and empower women riders and women drivers.
I believe, things are changing now and we should stick with those who motivate women and ignore the ones who don’t.
My personal motto is to “believe in yourself and follow your dreams”. I believe that life is simply what you make of it.
What would you want to tell the girls who share the same passion for bikes?
Believe in yourself and do not let failure scare you or hold you back. Just, Ride On!
Where do you derive your inspiration from?
I take my inspiration from women around the world. Women are excelling in every possible field today. Any woman who is determined and courageous inspires me.
What are your future endeavours?