In conversation with Tejal Dhumal, a graphic designer and motorcycle rider
How did it all start?
“I have been around motorcycles since I was a kid. My uncle used to participate in the motocross and my dad used to modify bikes for him to participate in events. My dad runs a garage where he has restored many old-school classic motorcycles like the Jawa, Laxmi, Yezdi, Rajdoot 175, RX-135, Bobby etc which are still with us in running condition. My dad had modified the Bajaj Sunny to make it a pocket bike for my brother to race in motocross when he was in school. The vehicle is now kept in AISSMS college, Uruli Kanchan as a display bike. Growing up in such an environment, I was naturally inclined towards this field.”
How do you feel as a woman biker?
“A lot of girls who ride motorcycles see this field as a glam lifestyle to increase followers on their social media, get more likes, look cool. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, the bike does not ask for your gender when you are riding it. I have grown up amidst motorcycles, so I don’t feel the urge to shout out regarding motorcycles. It’s my honest attitude of having unconditional love for motorcycles which I would like to cultivate in other people.
I feel that more and more women should try getting into this field because bikes are fun. In India, motorsports is not very well known and people see it as entertainment rather than a sport. The racers work on getting fitter, faster and better day in and day out for years and the hard work that is put in is not less than any other sport. I want to work towards changing the mindset of people regarding this.”
Juggling between riding and graphic designing
“I am completely into graphic designing right now and somewhere I am trying to make both the ends meet so my passion and my profession go hand in hand and I can dedicate more time to motorcycles. I have currently started with the production of stickers and bike wraps and this is just the beginning. I dedicate my entire weekend towards being around my bikes and riding. I love off-roading and I often go off-roading on my Yamaha RX 135 at least twice a week.”
Favourite motorcycle yet?
“It’s the Kawasaki 450 FX. It’s a proper purpose built off-road bike. Because of my passion towards the sport, the 450 FX tops the list of my all time favourite bikes. I would love to own one in the near future, if that’s possible.”
Being an inspiration
“I have come across a lot of talented women in recent years who possess great skills and need polishing and proper direction. As a woman in this field, I have begun helping such people to whatever extent I can. I feel that more women should participate in the off-road expeditions, rallies and grow the movement that we have started. Most women don’t participate with the fear of falling and getting injured, they see this as a dangerous sport. But I urge all of them to come and participate and see for themselves how safe this sport is. And of course, it’s fun too.”
Message to girls
“It’s my honest request to all women – they must stop looking at bikes or mopeds as a medium of transport and nothing else. It is definitely a medium but to explore your skills, it is a medium that can take you places like nothing else can. It’s our responsibility to break the dogma that girls are only capable of riding scooters and the motorcycle is something that should be left only for the boys. We as women should take the initiative to change the conservative mindset. With the onset of social media, lots of female riders have bagged the limelight. Which is definitely a great start, already.”