August 15, 2022

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‘The [bike] swayed, danced and fell greater than as soon as. I cherished it’

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Ambika Sharma says that as a child, she was once a “wild kid”. At 12 years of age, she learnt to experience her father’s motorcycle. His response? “[He was] overjoyed I guess, he taught me to experience… I do know that he nervous I might sneak the bike out now and then, although we lived the place there have been infrequently any automobiles at the highway; he frolicked educating me the fundamentals of repairs,” she advised indianexpress.com all through a contemporary dialog.

The 43-year-old resident of Delhi, who’s the founder Pulp Technique Communications, has a zeal for commute and journey sports activities, and is an avid biker. She claims that cycling is in her DNA and that she inherited it from her father, who may be her commute better half. Sharma has ridden her Harley Davidson Highway King to a few dangerously-beautiful terrains. Thoughts you, the traveling motorcycle — with a 1700 cc engine — has a loaded weight of greater than 500 kg!

Ambika Sharma in Chitkul, India’s ultimate village. (Picture: PR handout)

She took the Highway King to the perfect motorable highway on the planet in Khardung Los angeles, Ladakh — turning into the one lady in India to experience a traveling motorcycle there. In dialog with this outlet, she additionally shared her revel in of visiting Chitkul within the pandemic and all of the adventures that she had there.

Excerpts from the interplay:

Let us know about your love for commute, when did you first realise it?

My father is an Military officer, commute was once part of lifestyles. Each my folks shared a love for commute and we have been out nearly each weekend, exploring puts. That has stayed with me. By the point I were given my using license, I had already visited 18 states and lived in 6 with my folks. I really like the rustic, the tradition, the folk and the heritage. The additional you commute from the large towns, the richer the tradition and the revel in will get.

Rising up, do you recall a in particular attention-grabbing adventure you took?

My maximum memorable travel was once to the seven sisters of the northeast once we have been posted in Siliguri. We spent days within the Kaziranga, it was once a time when rhino was once visual in herds and tiger sightings have been not unusual. We spent a month at the highway going to puts, which don’t seem to be simply available even as of late. I visited Ladakh for the primary time when I used to be 14; it was once this magical position Pangongso — that we take as a right — that took 18 hours to succeed in from Leh. The panorama was once dotted with wild yak herds and mountain goats. I were given to experience a motorcycle on a couple of small roads. It was once then that I had determined I might come to Ladakh alone motorcycle; I’ve now made that travel six instances.

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What were given you curious about cycling, and why did you select this mode of transportation for travelling lengthy distances?

It’s within the DNA, my father loves bikes and there was once all the time one round. I learnt to experience early and later in lifestyles it was a method to bond with him. We experience in combination (he has his personal Harley). Go back and forth and bikes cross hand-in-hand. What you spot when using a motorbike isn’t the similar as what you spot from a automobile or a educate.

travelling, motorcycle, riding a motorcycle, travelling to the mountains, female bikers, solo travel, Indian female biker, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, travel journeys, travel diaries, bike rides, Harley Davidson, indian express news Ambika Sharma and her father. (Picture: PR handout)

With my father, we have now talk-back gadgets in our helmets. He is aware of the again lanes, the historical past and the heritage of each position that we seek advice from. The item I’m maximum grateful for is that we will speak about anything else, have divergent perspectives understanding that it by no means will get in the way in which of open dialog. We even have a lot in not unusual with a love for historical past, bikes and commute. Our journeys are what I cherish maximum, for the 11 years that we’ve got been travelling by means of bike.

You rode your motorcycle to the perfect motorable highway on the planet in Khardung Los angeles, Ladakh. What sort of demanding situations did you face?

The Manali-Leh path itself is difficult, and on a Harley much more so, as a result of the absence of roads and the load of the motorcycle. The low oxygen, the bone-chilling chilly and the terrain was once a part of the joys. Khardung Los angeles didn’t disappoint, except for for the truth that it was once raining and snowing repeatedly. The site visitors was once maddening, the street was once underneath building with now not an inch of tarmac within the stretch. The Harley swayed, danced and fell greater than as soon as. I cherished it.

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travelling, motorcycle, riding a motorcycle, travelling to the mountains, female bikers, solo travel, Indian female biker, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, travel journeys, travel diaries, bike rides, Harley Davidson, indian express news Ambika Sharma in Khardung Los angeles. (Picture: PR handout)

You have been the one lady in India to adopt this adventure in 2018.

Sure, I used to be the primary to take a traveling giant motorcycle to Leh and Khardung Los angeles!

Do you ever really feel unsafe, or in finding it tricky as a solo feminine traveller to head out exploring?

No longer in reality, persons are great in case you are great to them. I do take some precautions like fending off using at night time if I’m by myself in a brand new state or town. I attempt to bunk down by means of 8 pm. There were instances when that has now not been imaginable.

I take into accout as soon as on my method to Goa, it was once 10 pm and 4 hours into Goa, the freeway was once jammed and we took another path. That highway weaved between fields — no other folks, no lighting fixtures, darkness. No longer even a canine in sight. Once we noticed a small liquor dealer after nearly one hour, I was hoping they served tea. As a substitute, the folk advised us there have been wild animals within the house and that we must now not forestall until we hit the freeway. Those are nice recollections.

Because you love commute and journey, how irritating was once it to be confined to a spot within the pandemic lockdowns?

It was once horrid, I’ve by no means stayed in a single position for see you later with no commute smash. It was once difficult, however important.

How difficult was once Chitkul, and when did you seek advice from it?

I used to be there ultimate August. Chitkul was once difficult for the ultimate 100 km, most commonly because of non-existing roads and landslides because of rains. The terrain is hard — slender goat tracks within the title of roads or pothole-ridden roads with blind curves. A not on time, receding monsoon irritated the stipulations.

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travelling, motorcycle, riding a motorcycle, travelling to the mountains, female bikers, solo travel, Indian female biker, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, travel journeys, travel diaries, bike rides, Harley Davidson, indian express news Ambika Sharma in Chitkul. (Picture: PR handout)

Lots of the stretch publish Rampur — round 770 km — is both underneath building or washed away by means of landslides. Rain introduced slush and dirt. It made the heavy motorcycle heavier, inflicting a pressure in my sprained wrist. Falling pebbles and rocks added to the issues. I carried a changed forged which equipped some help to my wrist however now not up to I had was hoping. Eighteen hours and 3 tumbles later, the ones previous couple of 100 km have been performed and dusted. Whilst the path was once difficult and the adventure strenuous, the view was once breathtaking.

I didn’t thoughts the hurting wrist. There was once additionally no meals, except for for dry culmination that I had within the saddle bag. The worst a part of the travel, alternatively, was once once we waited for hours whilst the Indo-Tibet Border Police (ITBP) recovered passengers who have been swept away within the landslides. It was once heartbreaking.

What has been your largest commute lesson in most of these years?

I might say two classes are price a point out: first, commute each probability you get. Puts trade, and your bucket checklist will handiest get longer. And 2d, be well mannered, pleasant and all the time stay situational consciousness. Individuals are great to great other folks; I’ve travelled on motorcycle in different international locations, too, however nowhere are other folks as pleasant and useful as in India.

What motorcycle do you experience at this time, and the place have you ever taken it or plan to take it at some point?

I experience a BMW GTL K1600 and a Harley Highway King, and I’ve actually taken them far and wide. I’ve now not overlooked a state in India (except for, perhaps, West Bengal) and I’ve a protracted checklist of cities I wish to get again to once I will. My subsequent travel shall be to Odisha.

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