Meet the female Indian Army Major riding 2,200 kms through the toughest Himalayan terrain

On her trusty bullet

All firsts are memorable — especially your first bike ride. It was as a teenager that Ritu Tanwar managed to convince her older brother to teach her how to ride his Bajaj Pulsar, an experience that brought alive her passion for riding. And since then, the journey has only been forward. In 2012, Ritu bought her first bike ever — nothing less than a Royal Enfield Bullet 350 — that she would ride to college and back. Six long years later, and now a Major in the Indian Armed Forces, Ritu finally took a leap to traverse the most toughest of terrains — the Himalayas. As part of the Royal Enfield’s Himalayan Odyssey for Women, Major Ritu will be covering 2,200 km on her trusted bullet in a span of 18 days.


The Indian Army Major on her bullet. Picture courtesy: Major Ritu Tanwar

Flagged off from India Gate in Delhi, the 20 women riders will ride towards Khardung-La (the highest motorable road in the world at 17,500 feet above sea level) and then make their way back to Chandigarh.

Known as a mecca for motorcyclists, riding through the Himalayas is as daunting as it is exhilarating. "The most challenging aspect for a rider on a long journey — no matter how experienced they are — is the provision of food. If you don't stock up well, you're going to be stopping everywhere, which takes away from the journey," says Major Ritu, whose longest trip before this was riding with her husband (both of whom share a mutual love for riding) over a span of seven days, starting from Agra and going via Rann of Kutch, Khajuraho, Jabalpur, Indore, Kanpur and Benaras. 


Picture courtesy: Royal Enfield’s Himalayan Odyssey 2017

"Being on the road teaches you endurance and makes you physically tough. It also brings about respect for nature and develops comradeship for your co-riders," says Ritu. "Riding a bullet has given me confidence, a state of being that's necessary when you're in the army. "When I tell men that I ride a bullet, their first reaction is usually that of surprise. Then comes respect." she adds.

Being a Major in the Army as well as a biker, we ask if there are any preconceived notions she wants to shatter. "I believe men and women are equal. Riding a bullet is my way of making a feminist statement," she says.


Picture courtesy: Royal Enfield’s Himalayan Odyssey 2017

The Royal Enfield’s Himalayan Odyssey for Women kicked off on July 7 and will end on July 21.

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