Gurgaon: Being the daughter of a fighter pilot, the need for speed ran in her blood. However, it was only recently that Neharika Yadav figured that out. The Gurgaon resident, who has been a dentist professionally for the last eight years, decided to pursue motorcycle racing as well. “I always knew how to ride a bike. Then I tried my hand at motocross biking and gradually forayed into bike racing. About two-and-half years ago, I had gone to Buddh International Circuit with a friend who is a superbike racer. He introduced me to all the bikers there. Standing there for a couple of hours and watching them vroom past me, I realized that this is something I want to do. I gradually started working towards it, and I hit the circuit about a year-and-a-half back.”
Neharika was the only female motorbike rider to participate in the JK SuperBike Cup last year. Needless to say, she is among the rare breed of female bike racers in the country, with Chennai-based Alisha Abdullah being the most noted Indian woman in the sport. Neharika says that though her family has been always very supportive, it took some time for her mother to accept that this ‘dangerous’ sport makes her daughter happy. “Earlier, I was scared for her father’s safety, and now I lose sleep over her safety. My younger daughter, who is a model, also wanted to try motorbike racing, but I strictly said no,” says Ayesha, Neharika’s mother.
Expressing the thrill of riding at 265km/hour, Neharika says, “Initially, I was very nervous as it looked very scary, but once you ride that bike at the top speed, you are in a totally different world. It is such a wonderful experience.” Despite that fact that very few people in India follow moto racing, Neharika says that a lot of young boys and girls do come to her, wanting to know more about the sport. “Indians love bikes, be it in villages or cities. When they see a woman riding one, it amazes them. Everybody who came to see the bike championship appreciated the fact that I was the only female participant,” she says and adds, “Youngsters always have queries about how fast the bikes can go and I always tell them they should care more about safety than speed.”
For a superbike, being a dentist would be the less glamorous part of her life, but that is not the case with Neharika. “I don’t think biking is that glamourous, but I guess being a woman, the tag comes automatically. However, I am equally passionate about dentistry. My excitement level while treating a patient on a dentist’s chair and while sitting on my bike is the same,” she says.Neharika. “I don’t think biking is that glamourous, but I guess being a woman, the tag comes automatically. However, I am equally passionate about dentistry. My excitement level while treating a patient on a dentist’s chair and while sitting on my bike is the same,” she says.
Being the child of a defense staffer, Neharika kept moving across the country while growing up and it has been around 12 years since she returned to Gurgaon, her hometown. “The difference I find between the cities I have lived in and Gurgaon is that there are a lot of activities happening in the Millennium City. There are so many groups here who passionately pursue their hobbies. People here are very encouraging,” she says.
So are her patients intrigued by the fact that their dentist is a superbike? “No. I never mix the two. I am a very different person in the clinic than what I am on the track. I am serious and focused in the clinic, and adventurous and fun-loving on the circuit. If a patient happens to know that I am a superbike, then that’s another matter, but I never reveal it to them. If I am not a good dentist, the biking skills can’t help me in the clinic. If my patients want to see how good a biker I am, they would have to come to the track.”
On weekdays, she works as a dentist and on weekends, she goes to the circuit to ride with 15-odd bikers from Gurgaon. But she says that since she has been pursuing the sport, she is yet to see another female hitting the track. “I am happy with the recognition that I am getting for being the only superbike racer in NCR, but why should only men pursue it? More women should come to send the message across that ‘Boys, this is not just your sport’.”
Ask her how guys hit on a superbike girl and she says, “Some men are egoists while others are appreciative. The ones who start boasting about their stunts, shut up the moment I talk about my bike riding. The only place they are allowed to open their mouth is in my dentist’s chair.”