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March 22, 2018

Model-Cum-Biker Priyanka Kochhar’s Love Affair With Motorcycles

Text by Sadaf Shaikh

“I enjoy how people gape with open mouths when I go on rides or races; it’s like flipping through a comic book!”

The kind of woman that will seduce the camera in one moment and vroom away on a superbike in the next, this model-turned-biker’s love affair with motorcycles began four years ago. Priyanka Kochhar had just got out of a relationship and, having always harboured the desire to ride a motorcycle but never securing the permission from her parents to do so, her freshly liberated soul rose to the occasion. She scoured the internet for tutorials and got acquainted with the basics of riding through a generous friend’s Royal Enfield, eventually graduating to the zippy Ducati 959 Panigale.

“I faced a ton of criticism when I first started out. Numerous negative articles were written about me and it surprised me how educated folks scoffed at the fact that a girl could know motorcycles like the back of her hand. That being said, I do enjoy how people gape with open mouths when I go on rides or races; it’s like flipping through a comic book!”

“I like to keep my motorcycle clean and do away with frills. In fact, I took off all the stickers it originally came with and had a black carbon fibre wrap plastered all over it to make it look like one slick, black babe. I am now contemplating learning how to tinker with my bike to transform it into a dual-purpose one that will let me go off-roading too.”

“My favourite road-trip destination is a tie between Ladakh, New Zealand and Italy. I have attempted to ride up to Ladakh twice and failed midway on both occasions. The first time around, I was hit by a cab right before Sarchu in the Himalayas and fell 200 feet into a valley. The army had to rappel down to get me out of there. Fortunately, I didn’t fall straight into the Chenab river a few inches away because I definitely wouldn’t have survived that. When I travelled to New Zealand on a modelling contract, I would just hop onto my motorcycle and explore the beaches and mountains around Auckland on the days that I didn’t book jobs. But as a motorcyclist, it was Italy that blew me away with its biking culture.”

“I almost lost my life in Ladakh last year during a ride to Khardung La which is one of the highest motorable points in the world. Things went a little awry when it started to rain and subsequently snow and my body failed to acclimatise to the extreme weather conditions. To add to it, my bike crashed en route and I expended most of my energy trying to dislodge it from the rocks it had gotten caught in. In the midst of it all, I lost consciousness. The army happened to be passing by a few minutes later and one of the jawaans administered CPR to me. He later told me that I would’ve died had they arrived two minutes later since the human body can endure the state I was in for only eight minutes.”

“Not preparing for a road-trip makes it all the more fun. However, I ensure that I carry my motorcycle gear, GoPro and an extra helmet visor wherever I go. Other items on my list of travel essentials include thermal wear, moisturiser, earphones and an assorted travel playlist on my phone. I also carry a lot of extra scrunchies to tie my hair into a tight knot so that nobody can ascertain my gender unless they were to spare a glance at my lanky legs. I make it a point to arm myself with pepper spray and a knife in the eventuality of an attack.”

“I want to witness Nagaland’s Hornbill Festival. The North-East has always intrigued me. There are enough and more international countries I’d love to discover but those can wait — I want to see all of my country first!”

“One of my upcoming projects involves teaching women how to ride motorcycles. I also want to foray into the off-road space this year which is a whole new ball game. Other than that, I look forward to participating in the National Racing Championship and planning road-trips and meetups with people across the country who follow my work.”

“I would advise aspiring women bikers to just seize the day. Don’t allow anybody to dictate terms to you. Allow your heart to lead you to what you want to do and who you want to be. Your gender shouldn’t discourage you from achieving glory.”

Previous: Anam Hashim’s Journey As One Of The Few Women Stunt Bikers In India

Next: Anjaly Rajan Of The Riderni And Her Vision Of Making Ahmedabad Famous For Its Women Bikers

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