What started in Surat, Gujarat, 40 days ago, culminated in Delhi on Tuesday in the presence of PM Narendra Modi. On a mission to spread awareness about the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign, four girls from the female biking group, Biking Queens, covered 10,000km, spanning 10 Asian nations — India, Nepal, Thailand, Myanmar, Bhutan, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.
“It feels great to have completed the journey. Motorbikes are considered masculine symbols. We want to break that stereotype and tell the world that women are equally empowered and capable. People think that women can’t do this or that but we want to come out of that zone so we decided to choose a bike to spread awareness,” says Sarika Mehta, founder of the group that had earlier taken up causes like female foeticide and girl trafficking.
A 40-year-old psychologist, Mehta was joined by Khyati Desai, an HR head, Duriya Tapiya, who runs a travel agency, and Yugma Desai, an interior designer, on the expedition.
Mehta says that every day they had to face new challenges. In once incident, the team got stuck at a bordering zone between two countries and had to spend 36 hours in no man’s land. “This incident took place at the Thailand and Cambodia border. Thailand ke rules do din pehle hi change hue the (The rules of Thailand had changed only two days back). We were not allowed to enter, neither could we go back to Cambodia, which we had exited. Eventually, we had to seek help from Indian Embassy in Thailand,” she says.
All four of the bikers are vegetarian. “Our diet was the most difficult part but people from other countries helped us a lot. Whenever we interacted with locals, NGOs and other communities, we asked them for separate kitchen to cook food for ourselves,” says Desai.
Read: Riding their passion
Talking about the hurdles as they rode through tough terrains and harsh climates, she says: “This one time, we pushed our bikes for 180km as the terrain was too bad. The Bhutan ride was the most challenging. Some roads were so steep and narrow, we couldn’t rest at all, and it took us 13 hours to cover 18km. But the mission kept our will strong and we moved forward.”