“I have always believed in taking risks.”
By Suman Bajpai
If you thought only guys can do wheelies, twirl in the air on their bikes and land on the ground, only to take off for another stunt, think again. For here’s a young woman who’s sure to give all those men, who brag about great stunts, a run for their money.
Probably the youngest professional bike stunt performer and rider in the country, Anam Hashim says she knew her heart lay in riding when she was barely 11.
In 2015, she became the youngest Indian female rider to scale the Khardung La Pass on a 110cc TVS Scooty, a record-breaking feat which has entered the India Book of Records.
Anam started her solo journey from Jammu and rode via Kargil and Leh to reach Khardung La. She says that her experience during stunt rides that require good brake and clutch skills helped her on her trip. “The tough part was riding solo as I am not an adventure biker and while riding in the mountains with hardly any traffic your mind is clear of thoughts. I kept thinking about my goal and had decided that when I reach my destination, instead of taking a selfie, I would do a handstand to celebrate. Those thoughts of celebration kept me going,” says Anam.
Excerpts from an interview
How did you turn to motorsports? Did you plan or was it sudden?
It wasn’t sudden. In fact, my love for bikes and scooters has its roots in my father’s passion for two-wheelers and it was under his watchful eyes that I began to train. I also observed older kids who would ride bikes and perform stunts. I started riding lighter bikes which were easier to handle and eventually graduated to heavy bikes. I would do extensive research on the Internet and learn more about international bike riders and professional stunt riders.
You recently became the first woman to ride to Khardung La, the world’s highest motorable pass on a Scooter. How does it feel?
I am elated. The ride wasn’t easy. In fact, when TVS Motors approached me in August, 2015 for the ride to Khardung La I thought they wanted me to ride a performance bike as I own an Apache RTR 180 but to my surprise, it was a TVS Scooty Zest 110 cc which was to be my companion for the ride. I was both excited and surprised to find out that I was going to ride a TVS Scooty Zest 110 cc. We are in the midst of registrations for Himalayan Highs season 2 now.
At present, it is quite unusual for women to perform stunt riding. How do you feel being one of the role model women bikers out there?
Yes, you are right. Coming from a conservative family and being a woman, the journey has not been easy. Fortunately, my father has been quite supportive of my endeavours. As a kid, he used to take me for biking events that further boosted my morale and bolstered my natural training. Besides that, I have always believed in taking risks and not being afraid to pursue my dreams. I believe, if you have the determination and passion for pursuing your dreams, you can definitely make a mark.
Please share details of Himalayan Highs Season 2 campaign.
TVS Motor Company has kicked off Season 2 of ‘Himalayan Highs’ campaign from 20th June 2016. This year, we will take this first-of-its kind initiative by a scooter brand to the next level with pan India outreach, targeting women scooter riders. The registrations are in full swing as we speak. The first phase is being conducted on the TVS Scooty website. We will select 10 women riders for the final ride to the world’s highest motorable road, Khardung La Pass. The ride begins from Jammu. The chosen riders will undergo a training procedure with the TVS team and then, led by me, journey to Khardung La.
What will be your role in Himalayan Highs Season 2?
The second season of Himalayan Highs will be different and more challenging than the first one. I will ride the TVS Scooty Zest 110 cc to Khardung La Pass along with the 10 chosen riders. My role is not limited to participation but includes helping selected riders to train and prepare for the high-altitude ride. It is a huge responsibility, but I am excited to get more people on the road less travelled and have their own adventure.
What was the reason for your participation in this campaign for the second time?
The second season of Himalayan Highs is going to be even more challenging and exciting. With 10 riders, I’m hoping for a more adventurous and gruelling ride. Last year’s thrilling experience has pushed me to try this again. It will be exciting to have 10 women riders accompany me this time. Over and above, the ride to Khardung La is an experience of a lifetime.
What were some of the challenges you faced during the first edition?
On my way to Khardung La, I faced many challenges right from the sub-zero temperature, landslides, low oxygen, incredibly tough riding conditions and altitude sickness. Thankfully, the TVS Scooty Zest 110 cc, proved to be a great companion and is mean machine, with its great suspension, efficient handling and comfortable seating. It was the highest, scariest and the most challenging ride of my life full with long, winding tracks, stumbling rocks, depleting oxygen levels and disorienting altitudes. There were moments of dizziness, nausea and fear. Moments when I doubted myself but my unrelenting companion in this journey, TVS Scooty Zest 110 cc supported me throughout the journey. I kept myself focused on the ultimate road post that would read, “Welcome to Khardung La, the world’s highest motorable road at 18380 feet!”
What are your hobbies, besides riding?
Besides riding and studies, in my free time, I indulge in sketching, painting, cooking and of course I love music. I sing and also play the guitar.
Going forward, what is your aspiration in terms of biking?
Stunting is not considered a serious sport in India. My endeavour is to inspire more women to take this up. In the near future, I intend to work for setting up a federation for stunt riding in India and promote the sport through exclusive events.
What bikes do you ride?
I have always been a TVS Motor fan. Today, I own the TVS Scooty Zest 110 cc and TVS Apache RTR. Apache is way lighter than other bikes. I used an Apache during my training. I stunt on Apache.
However, ever since I rode the Scooty Zest to Khardung La, I have a special relationship with this scooter. It almost feels like an extension of myself and makes me fly on the