‘RiderGirl Vishakha’ is what Vishakha Fulsunge likes to call herself on social media, describing herself as someone who is “breaking all stereotypes”. And rightly so. While riding motorbikes is something typically associated with men, Vishakha has also taken her passion a step ahead by becoming a motovlogger, or a rider who maintains a video log.
In an interview with indianexpress.com, the young travel enthusiast talks about her journey, the challenges she faces on her rides across the country and, of course, being a woman motovlogger in a world dominated by men.
When and how did you start riding a bike?
Growing up, I spent a lot of time with boys, who inspired me to ride motorcycles at a young age. I was in 8th grade when I rode my first bike, loved the experience and wanted one ever since. It was in 2015 that I bought my first bike and started going on rides and drag races. During this phase, I discovered motovlogging and became the first woman to have tried it. Today, I have over 431k+ followers on YouTube and over 22 million views.
Bikes are still associated with men, despite women riders becoming common these days. Have you ever been stared at because you were riding a bike?
When you’re a woman and a solo rider, you not only face the odds on the roads, but also the repercussions of going against all odds. At signals, I used to get weird looks, with boys staring at me. In the eyes of society, we as women are breaking stereotypes when we ride a bike. There are other issues that we face as female bikers — a girl travelling alone does not get accommodation easily. There are no toilets on the road and mountains. Night-riding is not safe. Fuelling up after sunset is also a little scary at times. However, we take all these issues in our stride and focus on being better motorcyclists, explore more uncharted territories and lastly, relay it to the world through the power of social media.
How long have you been a motovlogger and how has your journey been?
I have been a motovlogger for about three years now. It has been a great journey during which I got to meet some really interesting country folk. I’m grateful to my followers who have endorsed my motovlogs and faithfully supported me on all my rides.
What are the challenges of being a motovlogger?
A motovlogger needs to know how to edit, ride and record oneself using different angles. There could be several issues regarding audio and video, having to repeat something you said because it didn’t come out right. But we overcome it all for the love of motovlogging and relaying our riding journey to the world and followers back home.
The basic thing about being a motovlogger is travelling. However, the sector has been hugely affected by the pandemic. How do you think this will affect you professionally?
The pandemic had affected me initially, but I guess riding in your own state and country, showing nearby places is also interesting, along with planning cross-country rides. India is beautiful and there are a lot of places to travel, so we capture the beauty of those territories while the pandemic is on.
Where have you travelled on your bike? Which places did you find to be welcoming, where did you have the best experience and why?
Leh-Ladakh (thrice), Spiti, Rajasthan, Kanyakumari, Kerela, Rameshwaram, Goa, Gujarat, Delhi, Punjab, Maharashtra. All places in India are very welcoming and safe. Leh/Ladakh was the best experience. I experienced all sorts of climates, I rode from Mumbai all the way to the highest motorable road. I experienced black snow, but completed my ride. It taught me how to ride on different terrains, and gave me immense confidence.
What safety measures do you consider before you set off on a trip?
I ensure that I have proper riding gear, extra cash for emergency, blood group written on the bike, emergency contact number on the mobile screen, a tracking and accident device. These are a few things that I follow, in order to have an accident and injury-free ride.
Have you ever been meted out different treatment by hotel owners or host families on your trips only because you are a woman?
A girl travelling alone doesn’t get accommodation very easily. Some hotel owners are inspired by what you do and are welcoming, but there are some who don’t take easily to the fact that I’m a solo female biker.
Roadside conveniences (public restrooms)/infrastructure are not the best in India. How do you manage when you are menstruating while on a ride?
It’s the will to record more kilometers that gives me the much needed strength during menses. Changing a pad is difficult on the road so I use petrol pump washrooms. At times, I have to use the same sanitary napkin for hours and change directly at night, but that has never been a deterrent to riding.
How challenging has it been to carve a niche in a male-dominated space?
I never had a plan B, I focused on YouTube and motovlogging right from the beginning. I continued building on my social media content, focused on riding and exploring more routes all around the country. That helped me stay focussed and carve a niche for myself in an otherwise male-dominated territory.
What do you plan to do next? How different do you anticipate your next trip to be, considering the pandemic?
I have already started riding and showing people undiscovered places around Mumbai, which people never thought existed. Though I’ve started riding, I’m extremely careful of following all the guidelines. I maintain riding solo and do not engage with anybody in person. It’s my humble request to all my followers to follow safe distancing and be fully prepared in these unanticipated times.
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