Breaking barriers and stereotypes, 19-year-old Riya Yadav became the youngest female biker to have conquered Khardung La on her Royal Enfield Classic 350. Situated at 18, 379ft, Khardung La is world's Highest Motorable Pass in Ladakh.
Riya got the bike as gift from her father and it took her only 9 months to create a world record.
"I did not know how to ride but I was really passionate about bikes and my father knew this. So when he gifted me a bike around seven months back, I started learning and took my brother for shorter trips to Neemrana and Noida Expressway."
Riya, who is currently studying Political Science (Hons) from Indraprastha College for Women began her journey on June 17 and returned on July 1.
"I got to know about this trip through Facebook. I also found out that the youngest female rider to Khardunga La was Anam Hashim, who was 20 when she rode there on her scooty."
"I was really excited about this trip. When I told my parents about it, first they took it casually, but when they realised I was serious about it, they agreed. I think those were the best 13 days of my life. After crossing Manali, my phone didn't have any network, and I had no contact with my parents. But I needed to do this. I have never gone anywhere alone except to an NCC camp when I was in Class IX. I remember I cried a lot back then, but this trip changed me completely. I only had my bike and the determination to conquer the highest motorable road - it was an experience of a lifetime for me."
Now that Riya has come back home successfully, completing an adventure that not many would dare to attempt, she revealed that it wasn't an easy ride. One of the toughest, deadliest and steepest roads to drive on, Khardung La is full of challenges of hills, weather and more and the journey was not easy for the young girl.
"I have learnt to ride only recently, so there were problems. I would always panic if the road had too much traffic, but this trip taught me to be calm and face hurdles. I went along with Sarah Kashyap (an off-road rally racer) and she helped me a lot during this trip. I had all my belongings in only one bag, had problem breathing and didn't get to wash my hair for days. But when you think about achieving something, you do it without thinking about anything else."
Riya is now aiming to participate in Raid De Himalaya, the world's highest rally raid, next year.
All images and quotes courtesy TOI.
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