Breaking the glass ceiling

They like calling themselves girls with guts, naturally bold and beautiful, they know exactly how to make the most out of scooters generally categorized as a female ride. Minute the engine is on and after few laps of warming up, a sense of adventure transforms the girls and the scooters into something people do not see much in Kathmandu. 

Like an agitated stallion, they set the stage fire with their extraordinary performances. Some stand upright on the racing scooter´s seat while some spin the scooter at a narrow angle to the ground as others do ´wheelie´ — airlifting the rare wheel after a grinding halt. 

Driven by their passion for speed acrobatic moves on their bikes, they are the female dare devils and doing stunt is a fun sport for them. 

“I started racing and doing stunts nearly two years ago and this has become an addiction for me,” says twenty four years old Shraddha Shrestha. Looking at her pretty face, one can hardly believe that she can perform some serious stunts. 

Starting as a novice, Shrestha is now a professional rider. Her stunts during various events in Kathmandu is high on demand these days as most people prefer watching her doing some crazy moves like ´stoppie´ and ´wheelie´.

“It´s a different experience when you are on your motorbike during stunt sessions. It´s more like being free and taking control of the machine with ease, single-handedly,” says Shrestha proudly. 

For Shrestha, her passion for riding motorbikes sparked when she was in grade eight. She remembers growing up trying her hands at motorbikes of her elders whenever she got a chance for a short ride. 

“I grew familiar with motorbikes and gradually this interest changed into a serious passion for me,” adds Shrestha. 

Having completed her Bachelor of Business Studies (BBS), she has been lending her hand to her family business. Compared to other female riders, she has been blessed with a family who has always been supportive of her passion for biking. 

There are altogether six other female riders in their group and one thing in common among them is the passion for riding bikes and performing variation of stunts with perfection. This group of 25 daredevils called ´Riders´ Unified´, and includes 110 other general group members. 

“We are more than happy to be recognized as the first Nepali youth involved in such so-called manly sport. Our presence in this sport has amply proved what we females are capable of and to what extent our potentials can be stretched to,” asserts Deepa Shrestha. 

Deepa, 24, who holds the degree of Bachelor of Science in Nursing, started exercising her scooter into variation of stunt modes only four months back. Within such a short period of time she has mastered many moves that even professionals sometimes hesitate to try. 

Her intimacy and interest in bike stunts had started a few months back after watching another trailblazer Shubani Thapa performing her amazing stunts during a program held in Kathmandu. 

“She is like a mentor to me and inspiration that helped strengthened my passion for scooter stunts. I had no idea girls could do such stunts and very next day I decided to join the group and learn the skills,” adds Deepa. 

Still at her first phase of the training season, she claims to have already mastered a few of the major stunts. 

“Believe it or not, it took me less than two weeks to learn the art of standing on one foot on the scooter´s seat while the bike races,” says Deepa.

´Human compass´ is another move that every novice riders love to perform during their regular training session. Explaining the nature of the stunts, another rider Ashika Neupane,21, shares that every move is based on balance and concentration. 

“Fear is the first barrier, one need to overcome it before stepping inside the realm of stunt. And it´s all about giving oneself to the flow with full concentration and balance all the time,” explains Neuapane. 
Neupane, who has just cleared her +2 level, has the advantage of riding both bike and scooters because of her lean and tall body structure. More of a tomboyish in nature, she admits that she has always liked boyish things from her early teens. 

“Pink is not the perfect color for me. Give me a bike and I will show the difference I can make,” adds Neupane. 

For her, the best part of being a stunt girl is the appreciation she gets after her performance. During the course of interview, she shared an anecdote that showed she had accomplished something praiseworthy in life. 

“I was one of the participants in a recently held stunt show in Kathmandu. The crowd was awesome and when my turn came, everyone I was familiar with and strangers cheering me, calling out my name and I did complete my stunts flawlessly. That moment made me feel like being at the top of the world,” says Neupane with a radiating smile. 

However, there are certain obstacles and challenges the girls have been trying hard to overcome. Lack of family support is the main challenge most of the female riders feel. 

“Had my parents been more liberal in what I like, I could have a peace of mind to learn more advance stunts,” says 16 years old Sulakshana Khadka, who is the youngest member of the group. 

“Moreover, it is hard to manage all the expenses needed for the practice as I am still unemployed. The hardest part is to convince my parents; I really don´t want to learn computers and language course during my leisure, but to ride bikes and do stunts,” adds Khadka. 

Dipesh Shrestha, president of Riders´ Unified, is the man behind the success of every girl involved in the stunts. He himself is a biker and a professional stunt person engaged in the field for more than six years now. 

“We learnt from videos and youtubes and it took us months to master one stunt. But when I see these girls, doing the same moves in less than two weeks I feel it´s because of their dedication and hard work. They certainly are fast and passionate learners,” says Dipesh.