LADY RIDERS

Sports

When Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran declared that "women must avoid anything that attracts strangers, so riding bicycles or motorcycles by women in public places causes corruption and is thus forbidden" and passed a law banning women from riding motorcycles on the streets of Iran, there were two kinds of reactions. 

The engineers went to work, designing practical ways to get around the problem. They developed the Islamic bicycle, which consists of a regular bicycle with an additional boxy contraption designed to hide the woman's lower body. They drew up plans for cars designed especially for women and Islamic vehicles. The other reaction was of a bunch of young women who began to pick at words. Realising that riding motorcycles was only forbidden on public streets, they took to motocross tracks instead.

In 2009, Iran held its first ever motocross race for women, in which Nora Nahagi defeated eight other women -including her mother- to become the country's first-ever female motocross champion. The race attracted considerable media attention, which could have resulted in a crackdown by the authorities. But the Iranian government reacted to the sport's growth by legalising the races. In December 2012, the President of the Motorcyle and Automobile Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran announced that he was aware of the fact that many women were illegaly racing in Iran, and added "now, there's no need for illegal activities of such kind. They have official permission for motor racing." 

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