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Meet Mini Augustine, the oldest woman to reach Khardung La pass on a motorbike

Fifty-five-year-old Mini Augustine has emphatically proved that age can’t clip the wings of her dreams. Now Mini is on cloud nine as she had completed a solo trip from Kerala to Rajasthan. More importantly, her favourite ‘Bullet’ motorbike was also with her. There are many travel junkies who love to hit the road alone, but Mini is a tad different from them. She rarely travels without her ‘Bullet’ motorbike, which had been with her since she was 27 years old.

The ‘Bullet’ diaries

Mini participated in the heritage ride organized by ‘Royal Enfield’ as part of the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, an initiative by the central government to celebrate 75 years of progressive India. The Canara Bank sponsored Mini for the heritage ride as she was an inspiring model for every woman. “I will consider myself long in the tooth when I am unable to ride motorbike,” says Mini after riding close to 2,600km. This is not the first time she is covering such a long distance on motorcycle.

The Rajasthan stories

Mini, who is a senior manager at Canara Bank, will soon turn 56. “I don’t have any problem whatsoever in revealing my age as my age hasn’t posed any challenge anywhere. The most important thing is to have a strong will power to face any challenge,” she notes. The ride was from December 17 to 26.

“I reached Jaipur by flight and hired a ‘Classic’ model for the journey as my own motorbike, which is a ‘Thunderbird’, could not be used for the heritage ride. I was part of an 18-member team and I had the oldest motorcycle. It took almost two days for me to get comfortable with the mean machine,” Mini adds.

Cows, goats and camels everywhere

Though Rajasthan is a state with rich heritage, it is pretty tough to ride motorbikes on its roads. If you are a stickler for traffic rules, then you won’t probably drive on Rajasthan carriageways, she says.

“You can find animals roaming around everywhere and anytime cows and even big camels, not to mention pedestrians, can dangerously cross your path without any warning. Initially I found it difficult to maneuver the motor bike through the streets but later I learned the trick. If a cow stands in front of you on the road, you will be able to move forward only if the animal moves away at its leisurely pace.”

But when a camel stood on her way, it was a different proposition altogether. “My team members went ahead and I had to go past the camel. When I tried to move forward, the camel turned suddenly and luckily it missed me by a whisker. Somehow I was able to take my vehicle forward without hitting the animal. Barring this incident, the whole trip was very grand,” says Mini.

The ride that started from Jaipur culminated at the Tanot temple along the Pakistan border and the banking professional had rode more than 300km daily. In Kerala, one could get a speeding ticket if you rode bike at 80km per hour, but in Rajasthan, Mini had clocked a speed of 100km per hour without attracting any penalty.

“We were warmly received at many places. I won’t forget the nice words the local women told about me. They told me that I was an inspiration for them and they also aspired to ride a motorbike. I was happy that I could bring cheer to the lives of other people,” she notes.

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