EXCLUSIVE: Breaking stereotypes with her bike: Pragya Aggarwal, the first woman to ride a bike to Shinkula Pass

New Delhi: 

In the world of stereotypes and patriarchal construct, here we have a story of Pragya Aggarwal who is breaking barriers with her bike. Here is the conversation that will tell us, what it takes to become the first woman to ride a bike at Shinkula Pass, Zanskar, Ladakh. The location is situated at an altitude of 16,580 ft.

Pragya was born and brought up in Dehradun. She is a passionate motorcyclist and traveler. She is professionally working with Red FM 93.5 as a Manager Sales and Marketing Uttarakhand. She has also bagged a Gold medal in Uttarakhand State Powerlifting Championship. She has also worked as a communicator and career counsellor and has counseled over 1000 students and helped them choose their careers ahead internationally.

Let us take a sneak peak into the life of Pragya Aggarwal who is evolving as a smasher of stereotypes. 

When did you first start riding? 

I’m riding since 2016, but got my first touring vehicle on 22-02-2020. And since then I’m unstoppable.

Are you a solo rider or a group rider? 

Both. I ride solo as well as in a group.

How did friends and family react to your passion of bike-riding? What was the reaction of society in general?

My family was always supportive, as my father and mother both are passionate bikers too. My brother pushed me more when he learned of my interest in motorcycling. Friends, in general, appreciate me and always pray the best for me. Society here, they envy me. Motorcycling is not as easy as it looks like. Need dedication and passion too.

What all places have you rode to?

Near and about Dehradun, Mussoorie, Rishikesh, Tehri, Chamba, Harsil etc.. whole of Uttarakhand. Dehradun to Rajasthan: Jaipur, Ajmer, Pushkar, Jaisalmer, Sam Sandunes, Jodhpur. Char Dham: Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, Yamnotri. Tugnath. Manali, Sissu, Jispa, Dharcha Lahaul, Spiti. I became the First Women Rider to make it to “Shinkula Pass, Zanskar, Ladakh” on a motorcycle.

Tell me about your vehicle.

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650. A roadster machine. Love it for touring and long rides. Retro style twin cylinder machine.

Traditionally, bike riding is looked as a men’s sport. And India is not yet done with its patriarchal hangover. What is your stance on this?

I feel “sport” is not gender specific. Yes, they do stare at me as if I’m an alien when they see me riding a motorcycle. Some even roll their eyes back! But, just keep doing what you want. India will change with you.

You naturally meet with a lot of strangers while riding, any particular person that has stayed with you and deeply impacted you?

I came across this riding couple in their 70s in a biking event held in Hyderabad. Yogi and Sushi. What a lively couple! They still ride together. I could see myself in them. I want to ride till my body allows. No matter what age we get into.

Any particular instance that is unforgettable and you definitely want the world or other aspiring woman bikers to know?

So, recently when I was supposed to conquer Shinkula pass, I got down with fever and cold! Looking at the health conditions, I almost gave up and thought of parking the motorcycle and move further in a trailer! 

But, then I saw the boys riding, hurraying, laughing, giggling and what not. The excitement of the summit! The summit was near and I was on a verge of giving up. But that smirk on boys made me have a second thought. I didn’t give up! I kept riding, off-roading and what not! Can’t express that phenomenal feeling of what I conquered next!’

What are some of the best things that you have learnt from all your rides? What is it that you expect from your future rides?

Rides teach you a lot. A lot of roads and your machine. You get to know your machine better when on rides. Each time I rode, I learned a new skill. Every ride brings that blessing with it. 

I’ve learned to ride continuously for 100 kms without hault. I’ve learned team work when riding in a group. Traffic rules to abide and live for! Learned engine breaking, conquered by downhill fear and much more.

I look forward to new experiences with each ride in future. New places, people and food. I look forward to how my machine responds to each destination.


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