Starting in 2005, the Tour de Taklimakan rally now dubbed China’s Dakar Rally, held in the world’s second largest desert, the Hami, and has attracted more than 100 drivers and 40 riders from all over the country this year. And its attracted female drivers and motorcyclists as well, who also enjoy the extreme challenges of toughness and speed.
During the average working week, Su Yanli is no different from the millions of Beijing’s female office workers. But while most city girls spend their time in shopping malls or watching soap operas, this 24-year-old accountant puts on her helmet and motor-racing gear to chase fellow racers throughout the remote suburbs.
“I enjoy the high speed and the sound when you rev the engine, it is so cool. You can leave all your troubles behind. Nothing can stop you from moving ahead,” Su exclaimed.
“Chinese people always think motorbikes only belong to the guys. They think females should learn a musical instrument or have some ‘quiet hobbies’. That is totally biased. Those things are too boring to me. I like extreme sports and motorcycle competition is my favourite,” said Su, who started racing three years ago.
The Tour de Taklimakan is her first serious competition; however Su surprised her rivals and herself by winning the first leg of the HT 5.4 group on Sunday to become the first rider to don the golden helmet.
“I really didn’t have any expectations for this race. I am an amateur, just riding for fun, trying my best to finish on each leg,” Su said. “But the victory proved that we girls can really make it”, she adds.
Lu Min is the only other woman among the 44 riders in this year’s Tour de Taklimakan’s motorcycling rally. She is also the only female professional in the event and the third in the rally’s five-year history (Lu Min of the Xinyuan International motor team pictured above). The long-haired 23-year-old looks like a girl-next-door but she is all grit and determination when it comes to racing.
“My parents think it’s too dangerous for a girl to ride a motorcycle, let alone race competitively. I’m not fear-proof but I just love the feeling of flying and they have finally become supportive,” Lu said, showing off bruises on her arms and legs due to injuries. Lu started racing in 2005 and decided to turn professional last year.
“We now regard the Tour de Taklimakan as a mini-Dakar. It is very challenging and I believe it will prepare me for next year’s Dakar,” Lu, of the Rely x5 team, said of the 3,800 km event.
The organizers have now set their sights on turning the biggest domestic rally into an international one from 2012.
*source China Daily