Hello Neha, thanks for coming forward to be interviewed for Progress. Could you tell us a little about your background?
I was born in India and brought up in Bury St Edmunds, I’ve been living in Tooting for about ten years.
You seem to be tremendously well qualified; could you tell us what in?
I have first in Philosophy and Psychology, a Masters in Neuroscience and a Ph.D. in Psychology. I’ve recently joined Surrey Constabulary as a new Police Officer also known as a Probationer. I’m really enjoying it so far, both in terms of helping people as well as the excitement of emergency calls.
And what of your biking background?
I only began riding in September ’19, having taken the Direct Access option and have so far clocked up 25k miles. I took it up partly because my husband rides and also that in India a two-wheeler is seen as a practical transport option for women as well as men.
Having done my training on a Suzuki Gladius I managed to find a bargain SV650S on eBay – 2.5k miles for £2500 – and find that this suits me really well. I’m also insured on my husband’s Fazer but find that I’m able to make fuller use of the smaller bike’s performance.
I commute on the bike as well as using it for leisure and general purposes and will use the bike in all weather, other than icy conditions.
So what brought you to LAM?
After passing my test I took up the Enhanced Rider Scheme – this gave me an initial introduction to some Advanced Riding principles, which planted a seed, and I was encouraged by Huw Pritchard to consider joining LAM.
I’ve found cornering the most difficult area to get to grips with but am getting more confident in taking the nearside on right-handers. I’ve been impressed at seeing Advanced Riders take a series of bends quickly and smoothly and would like to be able to get to this level. I try to make a conscious effort to apply the principles I’m learning every time I ride, and to gradually push my comfort zone.
Despite the interruptions brought about by lockdown I’ve tried to keep up my training and find it beneficial to have input from different Observers, all of whom can point out specific areas I need to work on. I did manage to get to the Kent weekend but unfortunately I dropped my bike due to misjudging the road’s camber, leading to a broken gear lever.
Have you managed to get any longer rides in?
My favourite trip was one I did on my own to Wales. It was quite technically challenging and I was confronted by some difficult weather conditions, including very strong winds but the beauty of the scenery made up for this.
How do you keep your bike in good condition?
Because it gets such heavy use I tend to ‘baby’ it with regular cleaning and a full valet twice a year. I’m confident at doing basic adjustments and maintenance myself – I’m planning to change the chain and sprockets soon – and my husband will always help if I ask him.
Do you have a favourite snack when you stop for a break.
I enjoy a coffee and a Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer, also the occasional ‘full English’. I like ‘Billy’s on the Road’, also the American diner on the A303.
What do your family and friends think about you taking up motorcycling?
My parents are both doctors, so did have some concern when I first started, however they’ve now accepted it and have bought me some useful presents for the bike including leathers and heated grips.
How have you felt coming into LAM from a non-biking background? Do you have any suggestions for the future?
I’ve always felt welcome and have been more self-conscious about being new to motorcycling than because I’m a woman or because I’m from an Indian background. I feel that we’re all just riders who want to get better.
You’re a little younger than many Associates and Members. Any thoughts about how more younger riders could be encouraged to join?
The image of IAM does conjure up ‘wheel shuffling’ which might put some people off. Perhaps if there were an equal emphasis in publicity on enjoyment as well as safety, a focus on helping riders to make progress as well as avoiding accidents.
Thanks Neha, hopefully we’ll be able to meet in person at some point. Top photos by the way.
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