Shilpa Balakrishnan, aged 43 years is a motorcyclist with an aim of living her dream of travelling to as many places as she can on her motorcycle and otherwise. She started riding at the age of 29 – i.e. in 2004 with a wish of riding just a 100 mtr distance just for fun sake. However, it turned out to be a very long spin which is still doing its rounds. Till date she has covered nearly 300,000 kms in total on her motorcycles and aims to cover more distances.
Her riding stint started off as a fun thing between her and her sister to get on a bike and ride. She loved 2 wheelers, especially the motorcycles, so she thinks that’s what got her into riding.
She recently covered 4 corners of India on a motorcycle. The four corners being Kanyakumari, Khardung La, Kibithu and Koteshwar. She covered a total distance of 15219+ kms in 29 days on her Bajaj Dominar bike. Her riding route was Mumbai – Kanyakumari – Leh/Khardung La – Kibithu - Koteshwar. The plan was to complete the ride in 30 days. She started the journey on September 22, 2018 from Mumbai. The first corner she rode to was Kanyakumari, then to KhardungLa via Srinagar, then to Kibithu and Koteshwar. She ended her journey in Mumbai on October , 20, 2018 with 1 day to spare.
The purpose of her ride was to create awareness and teach the locals about keeping our country clean (Swachch Bharat) and promoting tourism of India. The motivation behind the ride was that many people had completed K2K (Kashmir to Kanyakumari) ride and few had done the East to West corners. Her friend had been wanting her to do the same for quite a long time. So she decided to do all the 4 corners in one trip. Since it has not been attempted by any other female rider in the past, she wanted it to come in the India Book of Records and World Records of India as the 1 st woman rider to do this feat.
In 2016, she did a Pan India ride covering all 29 States and 5 Union Territories. So she had a rough idea of the regions she was visiting. She has, in the past, visited 3 corners individually except Kibithu. So she could plan the ride accordingly with the help of her guru who co-ordinated the whole ride.
As a rider she follows traffic rules strictly whenever she is on the road – walking, riding or driving; in short, travelling. This habit keeps her safe most times. While on her rides, she wear all protective gears, i.e. riding jacket, riding pants, gloves, boots, and a good quality helmet. This has saved many a times during the falls she has had. They have now become her second skin and each time she gets onto her bike, she feels incomplete if she doesn't wear any of them.
Speaking about her experiences on road she says that there have been a few incidents or near misses during her rides. During her recent ride she was riding on a road with single lane and was on her side of the road when suddenly the driver in a car from the opposite side decided to overtake a truck and came right on her. There was no space to get off the road. He would have hit her head on if she didn’t have presence of mind. She swerved her bike just in time to avoid it. Still, the mirror of his car hit her knuckles but she avoided the fall as was mentally prepared for it.
The itinerary for this ride was not very flexible as she had a timeframe to finish it within, but it was not super stretched or unachievable, or one that she found very tough to do. Her main support system is her mother. Her second support system is her bike guru, who taught her how to ride and has been a strong pillar in whatever rides she has done so far. Her achievements are a token of thanks to both of them. Her family also supports her entirely and keeps her encouraged throughout her journey. DCB Bank has been a great support in this particular journey. They supported her financially through their CSR initiative to promote a clean and green India. They are planting over 15000 trees as part of this campaign. They decided to plant a sapling for each km she covered and also on behalf of those who hashtagged #plantaplant or #merapaudha on my posts.
Some of the memorable moments on the ride include the roads leading to Kibithu. Although they were under construction or washed away or super smooth, the views were mesmerizing through the swirling and winding roads. Some parts where the cliff tops were cut through to make roads, gave the feel of entering a tunnel in the forest. The region being a rain forest one, the greenery was awesome and she never felt tired throughout the entire stretch.
A message that she spreads during the course of her ride is be safe on roads, keep our country clean, promote tourism of our beautiful country and have cordial behaviour towards tourists and also from tourists to the locals.
In the past she has done many tours within Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, Gujarat, Rajasthan etc. The major ones were post 2013 when she actually started touring for over 15 days.
Some of her other major rides include :
Feb - April 2018 – Road to Mekong – Ride through 6 Nations – 17000 kms – 56 days. Route : India – Myanmar – Thailand – Laos – Vietnam – Cambodia
April 2017 – Trip to Bhutan – Over 6000 kms – 18 days
Sept – Jan 2017 – Pan India Tour – Solo ride across all 29 States and 5 Union Territories, covering a distance of 27000 kms in 135 daysLadakh – 5 times
Oct 2014 – South India Coastal Trip – 5500 kms – 13 days. Route covered – Hyderabad, Vishakapatnam Araku Valley, Vijayawada, Machilipatnam, Suryalanka, Ongole, Sri Hari Kota, Chennai, Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, Tranqubar, Chidambaram, Rameshwaram, Dhanushkodi, Kanyakumari, Kovalam, Trivandrum, Allepey, Ernakulam, Kochi, Palakkad, Mangalore, Murudeshwar, Goa, Mumbai, Hyderabad.
Iron Butt Association’s Saddle Sore Challenge – 1610 Kms in 24 hours – Solo ride. Route covered – Madurai – Kanyakumar – Salem - Hosur – Bangalore – Hubli – Kolhapur - Satara.
She has no upcoming rides in the near future, but yes, there will be one coming soon.
Speaking about Throttle Biking App, she says it is a good app for motorcycle enthusiasts. She thinks new riders can use it to read and understand how best to prepare for long tours and much more.
Throttle Team salutes her riding passion and wishes her good luck for future!