Behnaz Shafiei is shattering stereotypes at a high speed. At 26 years old, she is one of the first female motorcyclists in Iran to obtain official permission to practice on off-road circuits, and the only one to have ever done professional road racing. When people realize that she’s a woman the moment she takes her helmet off, they “stop and say damet-garm [‘right on’]” Shafiei told The Guardian. A handful of women like her are allowed to join a motorcycle club, but they are still banned from entering competitions or racing on official race tracks, since they aren’t allowed to ride in public. In a hopeful sign that attitudes are changing, however, Shafiei was featured in a national newspaper and interviewed on state-run television. She found her passion for the sport as a 15-year old, when she started riding her brother’s bike, and later saved up the money she earned as an accountant to own her own bike. Shafiei said reactions have been nothing but positive and she hopes to one day be able to race for her country: “The restrictions in Iran are problematic for us. My wish is that this sport becomes free for women” she said. “Motorcycling has changed my life for good, my entire life is tied to motorbikes. If I don’t ride, I’d fall ill. It’s a way for me to empty my mind and free myself.”
Read the full story at The Guardian.