I Can Do This! The Women of Two Wheeled Expeditions and how biking became their lives.
It’s been years since Anita began her motorcycle adventure, but her sense of joy and wonder has not diminished one bit. A national level basketball player in her teens, who learnt to ride a motorcycle in college, and then tested her skills in a rally, Anita’s attitude has been “I can do this!”
She began her career as an event manager in Bombay, curating product launches and organizing gigs at nightclubs and it soon became apparent that she was a people person. Getting married soon after to a Naval Officer meant more adventure travel and socializing.
Anita’s passion to see women get out on their motorcycles is a reason why she heads the India division of Women’s International Motorcycle Association. WIMA India as the name suggests is part of a global sisterhood, connecting female riders from across 33 countries.
The pandemic has obviously challenged and changed the world as we knew it. Until the beginning of 2020 Anita had also been leading tours with Two Wheeled Expeditions and will continue to do so from 2022. Meanwhile she has been riding solo, exploring some remote parts of India, learning firsthand about ancient cultures and making the most of each day. But she has also managed to do a few trips with her friends.
When asked about the difference between solo versus group travel, Anita’s take is “riding with friends or leading a tour is a lot of fun as each person brings a unique perspective to the same adventure. On the other hand, riding solo means you choose your own pace and its often introspective. You’ve got to pay more attention to how you or your motorcycle is doing…also the kind of places you’re exploring and at what time. With a group those concerns are shared so you are not as worried.”
Curious riders and often girls have asked Anita what it takes to lead a group or run tours. “A road captain has to be very patient and enterprising at the same time. They should have a hunger for travel and to learn. Keep an open mind to deal with people and situations. A bit of technical know-how about your motorcycle will help and you need to have hospitality/people skills to ensure your group is having a good time. It takes planning beforehand, to anticipate what is required so that you can maximize each day.”
In short, you need a “I can do this” attitude!
You may not be following her on Instagram or seen her YouTube videos. Might have even missed her talk on Tedx, interviews on BBC, National Geographic and countless other national and international tv networks.
Maybe you didn’t renew your subscription to Travel+Leisure or Lonely Planet magazines. Over the last 15 years of motorcycling, Candida Louis has come a long way. Enough to warrant an entire book being written on her, titled “Candid Tales”.
Riding to the furthest corners of India and then across 25 countries, including her epic 2018 trip from India to Australia gave her the exposure and skill to lead over 30 tours. For those who have met her or ridden on her tours, what distinguishes Candida is her grit with grace, and a quiet confidence which says, “I can do this”. Excerpts from a recent interview.
1. How did you go from motorcycling for fun to motorcycling full time?
I’ve always loved being outdoors. I figured that if I wanted to continue riding and taking in all these beautiful experiences, I needed to get a job related to biking and motorcycles. But back then all I could find were jobs like a store manager or accounts related deskwork which meant I’d be stuck indoors! So when I joined a company which was in the motorcycle industry, I suggested we create a different department. They agreed and that’s how I began planning and leading tours in 2016. Along with that I also started teaching women how to ride. Before long I had a full time job which kept me outside on the motorcycle. Gradually I also built a social media following by blogging and vlogging my travels.
2. What were some of the biggest hurdles you needed to overcome to get this far?
My knee dislocations which I had frequently from my school days and the doctor telling me I would never walk again was really tough. Then the first 3 years after I quit my job to pursue fulltime motorcycling were extremely difficult. I used up all my savings including my pf and during those years I did most of the work for free. Which meant I was broke and often I would just lock myself in a room and not meet anyone.
3. A lot of people dream of riding across borders but don’t end up fulfilling it. How did you end up doing the Bangalore to Sydney trip?
I feel everyone has a choice to get up every day and do something, to make a difference. I was really determined to finish Alistair Farland’s ride who tragically died in North America while on his world tour. When I started planning for it I imagined myself on a bicycle because I did not have funds to do it on a motorcycle. But I think if you are determined, work hard enough and believe in the power of prayers, the universe just makes things possible. I was able to do my entire ride in what other people spend on buying a middle-weight motorcycle.
So I never quite get what people mean when they say I’m rich or I’m lucky. The reality is I was able to ride from Bangalore to Sydney because I decided that I could do it!
What would a dad who is in the Police and has seen enough road accidents involving motorcycles tell his teenage daughter when she asks if she can ride one? You guessed it, “no, not even as pillion! They’re too dangerous!” Wendy passed her driving test for a car at 17 and it wasn’t long before she discovered her need for speed. She drove her cars fast, what with them getting fuel injected and having GTI on the back. But her fascination with motorcycles remained. Eventually her parent’s fear and worry could not keep her from saying “I can do this!” Wendy enrolled for motorcycle lessons and even before she passed her test, purchased a stunning R6 in Yamaha blue. Once she got the license, there was no more time to waste. Excerpts from a recent interview:
You finally started riding then you had to stop. What happened?
As it does with many of us, life got in the way of my passion. Between the full time career which required a lot of travel, relationships and family commitments I had less and less time to ride. My poor bike spent more time on the trickle battery charger in the garage until I sold it with much sadness. Unfortunately life got a bit more tough as both my parents’ health started to decline. There was no time between helping them both while working full time. My dad passed away due to cancer and then my mum required constant care due to her Parkinson’s disease and dementia until she passed away recently.
Motorcycling was very much still in the back of my mind and I knew at some point I would get back to it but I also knew I had to wait for the right season.
How has it been getting back on the motorcycle after such a long break?
It has been exciting, nerve wracking and exhilarating all rolled into one! I have been taking refresher lessons to remember how to get back on two wheels. I was so convinced I had forgotten it all that I wondered if I would need to ride with stabilisers! Thankfully I found a great local company called Biketec with really patient instructors, Eric and Heath who have helped me get my confidence back. Thanks to them I feel like I can do this! Heath got me started on a 125cc and now am riding a 650cc around the beautiful Scottish countryside and also through the city in all weathers. I feel like I am almost ready to jump on a plane and ride in Nepal or India!
Any tips to those who may think it’s too late for them to get back to riding?
I would definitely say it’s NEVER too late. If I can do this, you can too. Yes it’s scary and it’s wild to jump back on the saddle of life…but when we are out negotiating all sorts of roads, it’s an inexpressible feeling of being truly alive!