Determined, Courageous, DeservingÛ_ these are just a few of the many adjectives that come to my mind when I think of SSS Shameem and the incredible record he is attempting to set. A runner, a cyclist and an endurance athlete. This 27 year old assistant professor from Manipal University is all set to take on an exciting yet challenging ride. Kanyakumari to Kashmir ANDÛ_ back! An attempt to set a record by covering 8000 kilometers in 40 days ÛÒ A 'Ride 4 Pride' indeed!
Here's what he had to say...
Q. Tell us about yourself, your interests and passion.
I am a Runner. I am a Cyclist. I am an endurance Athlete. More importantly, I am just a common man, with an uncommon (desperate) desire to live happy. I am a Muslim by birth, Indian by heart,åÊhuman by nature, Professor by profession, family person by emotion, trier & achiever by determination.
My name is SSS Shameem, a 27 year old from Odisha. I carry the gifted genes of Sk. Anwar Hossain and a very strong women (by heart) Sk. Habibun Bibi. I declare them both the sole reason of my excellence. My beloved sister Sk. JF Anjum carries next-to-mother position in my life. Running or Cycling are NOT my passions. Those are just one of the forms of satisfying my passion/interest: ÛÏadventure in lifeÛ. A life worth living. Otherwise, I have a lot of hobbies; reading, creative writing, poem/ghazal writing, theatre, photography, travel, cooking, knowing interesting things, connecting with people, etc.
åÊQ.What made you get into cycling, and for how long have you been at it?
The place I belong to, i.e. Bhadrak (Odisha) has a very traditional way of living and there everyone uses (used to) cycles, be it kids/youth for school, college, elders for office/work, general public for any common needs. Growing up in such an environment, I (and my entire family) used to cycle always. I have been cycling since my childhood. We used to go on fun rides, for long (picnic) on holidays, Sundays, for distances of 50-100 Kms. But, I never knew theåÊ organized way of Long-distance cycling as a sport, called Endurance Sports. I got exposed to these after I came to Manipal, in my twenties.So I must say, I have been cycling forever; but hard-core (long distance/endurance) cycling has been for the past 4 years only.
Q. Have you done any long distance rides/ long tours by cycle before? Share some interesting travel stories of yours.
I am a regularåÊåÊ Randanneur. I have done seven 200 km rides, three 300 km rides, The Nashik Peloton inåÊåÊ 2014 which was 50 km of solo riding. In December 2015, I completed a self-organized 1500 km cycling journey, Bangalore- Hyderabad ÛÒ Vijayawada ÛÒ Koraput, in 8.5 days as well as other unofficial rides of 100,200 and 300 km. I have lot of stories to share and I am a great story teller. But right-now I donÛªt have too much time. Another time, maybe.
Q. What prompted you to take up this challenge?
It all came from my DNA. Being the son of a passionate, versatile, talented (but unknown) sportsperson (30 years back) and rock-strong, dedicated Indian house-wife/mother,åÊI can't take any credits for most of the things I have done/am doing/may do. ItÛªs all very simple: At the age of 50/60/70, when sitting on an arm chair at home-balcony and looking back into memory lane, it would be really painful if I have to regret that when I had the time and capacity, I didnÛªt even try. And, my belief in all these made me initiate all these.åÊOn a mission to live above said stuff, I started planning, and now, am all set to go for yet another Solo Cycling Expedition, ÛÏBharat Bhraman: Ride-4-PrideÛ.åÊ
Q. Have you faced any obstacles so far?
It's just that my profession tends to be rather a rather demanding one, by nature. I am a teacher by profession, an assistant professor in Manipal University. My regular, active involvement in endurance sports demands me off-the-job most of the time; which is not acceptable in a professional life like mine in which many lives/careers depend on you (as a teacher). My students, department, staff and University are always supportive. Also, I have some major personal issues, which I canÛªt disclose here. Every smiling face doesnÛªt hide a happy heart.
Q. What do you think could be the challenges you could face doing a double K2K?
Respect and fear of The Himalayas is there in any living human in this entire of world. I am no different. I will be cycling 8000 kms solo, in the heat of summer and shower/storms of monsoon. Do I need to highlight any better kind of challenges I could face during this Double K2K.
Q. What has the response towards your ride been like, so far?
People first laugh, then give me a look and start gossiping funnily. They just donÛªt feel the pain/passion of the rider. But slowly, they realize and then they start respecting. The entire phase has been my personal experience. Simply put, the response I am getting is.. normal students of aged 19-20 getting into endurance sports, is a very rare thing in the Indian scenario. These are not sports-school, not army-camps; these are all engineering/medical students from very regular backgrounds, and now doing good/great in endurance sports. It feels great. When I see students going home on study-vacation on a bicycle, it is great.. thatÛªs Manipal ÛÒto- Delhi 2000 Km! Manipal ÛÒ Hubli 350 Km (including Western ghats)! These two are just for an example, there are many more such brave youngsters.
Q. Which cycle are you going to be using for the ride and why did you chose it?
I am using a SCOTT Speedster 60. I have no specific reason to have chosen this cycle apart from the simple fact that it's the only cycle I've got.Frankly speaking, the cycle I am using is a good quality product and is available at a reasonable price.I am not sponsored by SCOTT so I am not promoting the brand because I have to.Why I choose it, is a tricky question. I checked online and for my price range, this was the best I found. But luckily, it turned out to be a very good product, I must say.
Q. What message would you have for the Indian cyclists and those who are looking to get into the habit of cycling?
I am doing a (mini) Tour of India, that's why 'Bharat-Bhraman' and the journey on cycle will be one of the many proud moments of my life, that's why 'Ride-4-Pride'. åÊBut, there is something more to the story that I want, to my possible limits, to spread some message. Very recently, I found like-minded people doing similar work in an interesting way,åÊ'Mohabbat-ke-Dange' and I am proud to spread their/our message through my journey. Apart from this, I have one-more thought running at the backdrop.åÊThrough the financial support that I will/might be receiving from different sources, I will make it a point to dedicate portion of that towards that community in sports arena who are really talented, but have very struggling financial background.
Q. How are you financially supporting your ride and how can other people contribute to this?
ItÛªs an endurance test, and I am going for even higher level to not only physical, but mental endurance. I am making it all very simple, and expecting to go with very minimal requirement. No great diet, but normal Indian food (of course, with focus on fruits and fluid). No high-end/great accessories. No five-star/AC night-stay. No crew/back-up vehicle. No high gadgets. Just me, my cycle, basic requirements, normal facilities, people love-wishes, and my goals. This costs 80K INR for 40 days (approximately) to cover 8000 Km attempting for Limca records (including 8 days in Himalayan belt). Earlier I had planned to save my salary for few months, even family wanted to contribute. But, once this attempt got public and people started to know about it they volunteered for crowd-funding and they became my Title-sponsor. With all possible support, I already generated 75% of my fund and remaining, I will manage by myself.