Travelling isn’t about the destination, but the journey you undertake. No matter how many times this is repeated, it still holds true. Especially in the case of two friends, Amrutha Kashinath and Shubra Acharya, who did the unthinkable—they covered the distance from Kanyakumari to Leh distance, on motorcycles, in record time.
“I started riding in 2010, and in 2014, started a company called Travelling Circus, organising motorcycle tours across India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the upper Himalayas, etc. Although I had travelled extensively around India, and outside, I had not explored places solo,” says Shubra, mentioning that she had a lot of pre-conceived notions regarding solo bike riding, in certain places in India.
Shubra conceptualised and completed a 45-day long ride in 2017 from Bangalore to Bhutan, through Sikkim, returning via the central Indian route, through Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, North Bengal, and other regions. It was just Shubra and her husband. As the trip progressed, Shubra realised that the fears she had, were mostly in her head. In the most interior and remote places of the country, the duo met lovely people, who were always kind and welcoming.
Back home, both was bombarded with questions. People expressed the wish to travel as well but felt apprehensive. That is when the duo decided to help them out, and do her bit to assuage their fears. She wanted people to know, that it isn’t the place that is safe or unsafe, it is just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“Do your research, don’t ride at night, don’t create unnecessary trouble, stay away from riots, and use alternate roads,” says Shubra, adding that basic precautions are always of paramount importance, before undertaking any biking trip.
While Shubra had overcome her fears, she understood that for many other women, riding a bike was still an obstacle. She then teamed up with Amrutha to reach out to them, and make them realise that travelling on a motorcycle around India isn’t as difficult as it is made out to be.
“Amrutha is the best person to travel with,” says Shubra, adding that the two decided to undertake a journey, without backup, support vehicles, or any help. The duo decided to help break the prevalent mindset that riding was tough for women. They wanted to get a sponsor because that would ensure that the word of the feat would spread further.
Phalada Pure and Sure came on board, to support the two-member team in their endeavour. 70% of the company’s workforce is women, and they really liked the idea of the duo breaking the glass ceiling, and undertaking this challenging trip.
“It would be great if you both returned safe and sound, after completing the trip,” said many people, according to Amrutha. This was infuriating for them because people assumed that it would be difficult for the women to complete the trip, without anything untoward happening.
That is when the duo decided to set a target. They decided to set a time limit, to prove that they can have a tangible challenge, and would help keep the naysayers away.
The duo found out that two women held a record for completing the North-South expedition (from Leh to Kanyakumari) in 150 hours. They decided to beat that—and they did! Completing the journey in 129 hours has resulted in the duo qualifying for the Limca Book of World Records.
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Both women rode a KTM Duke 390 each. This is because it would be easier since spares would be common for both. The duo used the super-sticky Metzler Sportec tyres, for half the distance, and off-road tyres for the rest of the trip.
“I was aware of the fact that this motorcycle heats up fast, but we didn’t face any issues. The bike has a few modifications done, the footpegs are slightly forward, to suit touring, and changes, like fabrication on the bikes for petrol cans, customised luggage racks, seat cushioning, etc,” says Amrutha, rounding off that the reliability and added bonus of ABS, in the KTM is a blessing, she wouldn’t trade it for anything else.