If there was a rulebook that stated that women can’t live the life of their dreams, Shyni Rajkumar aka Kerala’s Biker Queen would gladly ride over it!
After all, crushing stereotypes about women comes naturally to this professional biker and former athlete, physical education teacher and police constable.
Founder of Kerala’s first all-women Royal Enfield bike club—the ‘Dauntless Royal Explorers’—Shyni is today a role model for thousands of women across India.
A bike enthusiast from childhood, Shyni first pursued her own dream of riding a bike when she took up a job as a physical education teacher in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh after completing her pre-degree in Trivandrum.
“During those days in Gorakhpur, I saw many of my students cycling to school. I decided to do the same. Soon, I took up riding two-wheelers such as the Bajaj Pulsar and TVS Victor and then later a Royal Enfield Bullet. In Gorakhpur, I felt free to ride a bike in spite of the occasional stare or two,” she says.
Shyni then continued to ride various bikes even after she became a police constable in Delhi. But the real challenge came when she returned from Delhi and decided to ride a Royal Enfield Bullet on the streets of Kerala in 2006.
“When I first started riding in Kerala, I faced a lot of criticism. People would even abuse me and say that I was trying to attract the wrong kind of attention. This made me feel really discouraged. I even stopped riding my bike for a while. But then upon the coaxing of my husband, I decided to continue. When people started seeing that I was also fighting social issues and driving positive change, they started responding differently. Now I’m even encouraged to ride here,” she reveals.
A bike enthusiast himself, Shyni’s husband T Rajkumar has even embarked on bike trips across India with her to support her dreams. Shyni believes it is because of this relentless support of her husband as well as her brothers and parents that she has been able to really break through any shackles that society has tried to restrain her with.
Now besides empowering other women to overcome social barriers, Shyni also rides for change. She is the first woman in India to ride a Royal Enfield Himalayan—with the support of the iconic bike company—all the way from Kanyakumari to Leh and back (covering 12000 km in 42 days) to help prevent violence against women.
Supported by Childline workers, Royal Enfield concept bikes and HDFC, she recently also rode along with 4 bikers and 1 pillion from Kanyakumari to Kasaragod to protest against the recent child rapes in India.
“The increasing violence against women and children in India has disturbed us deeply. We have been channelising all this emotion into making a change through our bike rides. Our most recent campaign ‘I am Masoom’ was our way of protesting and raising awareness against child abuse and rape,” she says fervently.
Her group of Dauntless Royal Explorers now has over 40 female riders up to the age of 53. Besides teaching them to ride safely and confidently, Shyni also offers her biker group moral support to help them overcome social barriers.
“If a woman is interested in learning how to ride and joining our group, I make sure that I’m also available to talk to her family and clear any doubts about women bikers that they may have,” she says supportively.
When asked to reveal her secret of living life full throttle, Shyni responds heartily: “I believe life is all about creating opportunities for yourself rather than waiting for them. If you want to ride a bike, don’t let anyone stop you. Make your own way in life!”