ASTRIDE a Royal Enfield Thunderbird, kitted up with the quintessential biker’s gear with a helmet that reads “India on a motorcycle”, Candida Louis makes an impressive entry. The 25-year-old, who hails from Hubli, near Goa, isn’t just another biking enthusiast. She has just completed 21,000 kms, riding across 16 states in the country and is all set to start the second leg of her road trip from Chandigarh to Siliguri in association with CEAT, on Wednesday. Did we mention she’s riding solo all along?
“It’s always a conversation starter. People often assume that my group is riding behind me or I have someone joining me. But the fact is that I am on a solo journey,”says Louis.
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This passionate biker is also on a mission to create awareness about road safety as well as raise funds for people with disabilities suffered due to road accidents. “I always talk of road safety first wherever I go. I talk of how important it is to wear your helmet and safety gear. Given the fact that I have travelled such a distance, people tend to take me seriously,” says Louis. She has also partnered with Bengaluru-based NGO Aditya Mehta Foundation to raise funds for people with disabilities.
Working in Bengaluru with a biking company, Wicked Rides, Louis admits she’s always been passionate about travelling and biking. “I have been riding for the last eight years. I always dreamt of riding across India on a bike and decided to go solo at the first chance I got,” explains Louis. While she’s met with curiosity at most places, Candida admits she’s never encountered safety issues. “Most people think it would be unsafe for a woman to hit the road alone, but I have faced no problems till now,” admits the biker. But she does have some words of advice. “My parents, who have been extremely supportive of my travel, track me on the phone. Also I am in constant touch with biking clubs across India who have been very helpful, be it for road maps or directions or even accommodation,” informs Louis.
Making the most of her trip, Louis who is also an avid photographer, has been capturing moments of the journey and is looking to put it all together in the form of a book. “I have over 7,000 photographs and I also write a blog – India on a motorcyle where I share my locations. Facebook has helped me reach out to biking enthusiasts and get local help,” says Louis who hasn’t followed an itinerary so far. “I am going with the flow. Also I get a lot of directions and help from people on the road,” admits Candida who became the first female biker to ride through the largely unexplored Gurez Valley in Kashmir. “I was also a part of a TV programme that covered 10 riders in their journey across India but it couldn’t be aired,” she adds.
Once she’s back home, Louis wants to support fellow women bikers in similar adventures. “When people have vacations they tend to book tickets overseas, but I think there’s no place like India,” she sums up.