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One a lawyer. One an entrepreneur. What could possible unite them? A shared passion for cycling! Meet Aakash and Navin, two bold men who have joined hands for an exciting ride. For them, a dream ride. What more? These compassionate souls are riding to promote the "Beti Bachao Beti Padhao" scheme, giving talks and educating people across India- from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
Read on to see what Aakash and Navin have to say about the ride they are on...
Q. Tell us about yourselves, your interests and passions.
- I’m Aakash, a Lawyer by profession and a Cyclist by passion.
- I'm Navin Gautam. A cyclist by choice, entrepreneur for life, flautist from heart and explorer to start.
Q. What made you get into cycling, and for how long have you been at it?
Aakash: It’s been 4 years I’ve been cycling, and I must say it has helped me in all the phases I’ve been through. Be it meeting friends or exploring places, reporting to work or collecting household things, breaking my own record or just wandering around. Cycling has helped me evolve as a person. And I believe, that talking up cycling is the best decision of my life so far as it has helped me physically, mentally, economically, socially, emotionally and spiritually. I feel much more connected with nature and can understand its needs and concerns. Cycling gives meaning, add colors and weave moments in my life. I become the engine of my machine and it takes me to places I’ve never been. All I can say – It defines me!
Navin: I met a cyclist in China in 2011 and his journey across the globe made me enquire further about cycling. From that time onwards I took cycling sincerely to explore places. It's been 6 years now.
Q. Have you done any long distance rides/ long tours by cycle before? Share some interesting travel stories of yours.
Aakash: I have cycled solo from Jaipur to Ajmer, covering a total distance of 250 kilometers. On this journey I interacted with a lot of people. I feel, riding solo is always enlightening as you get to know yourself better, people help you out on the way... I think that's my reward on the move.
Navin: I have cycled across Cambodia, Thailand and have made many rides to different regions of The Himalayas such as Leh, Manali, Shimla, Dharamshala, Nainitaal and Jaloripass. Besides this I have participated in a 200km Brevet and well, currently Kashmir to Kanyakumari. I have lots of memories to share. My first long cycling trip was the national Himalayas biking expedition by YHAI in 2011. Here, I met many like-minded and bike-minded people. It helped me understand this sport in a much better way and I grew up as a rider who loves to explore as well as compete. From then on, the roads kept on unfolding and I kept exploring and experiencing new things everyday.
Q. What prompted you to take up this challenging ride?
We are cyclists who wish to explore, expand and experience the unseen, unheard & unknown. India is such a diverse nation, with people from different backgrounds cohabiting peacefully. A nation where after every 100kms the languages, cultures, traditions, beliefs, ideologies change. Yet, fundamentally they all stay strong and united. Touring India is one of our dream rides and therefore we have planned to cycle from the top to the bottom, i.e. from Kashmir to Kanyakumari covering 13 states, over 500 villages. It will be somewhere around 4500kms, from Mountains to Valleys to Deserts to Forests to Beaches. An experience of a lifetime and we believe that nothing damages the adventurous spirit inside a man, than an urge for a secure future. 40days on the roads, under the sky, close to nature. This very idea drives us crazy, and now... we're actually doing it.
Q. Could you tell us a little bit about the cause you're riding for? Why have you chosen cycling as a means to promote the cause?
We are supporting Central Government Social Campaign, “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao”, to encounter the declining trend in the Child Sex Ratio. This is an alarming indicator for women disempowerment. The decline is widespread across the country and has expanded to rural as well as tribal areas. The overall goal of the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Scheme is to celebrate the girl child and enable her education. The objectives of the Scheme are as under: Prevent gender biased sex selective elimination, ensure survival and protection of the girl child. Ensure education of the girl child. Throughout our journey we will be going to various schools and colleges to spread the fundamentals of this program and to inform everyone about their Rights and Duties. This mission is close to our hearts and gives a meaning to our Dream Ride.
Q. What has the response towards your ride and cause been like, so far?
The response has been overwhelming. People have appreciated this stint of ours. As in this motorised world it's a far cry for people to gulp down this fact that one can actually tour India on a bicycle. Lot of corporate and leaders helped us out by sponsoring us with the essentials to spread the cause of “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao”.
Q. What bicycle are you using on your ride and what made you choose it?
Aakash: I am using Urban Trail Edge, a premium mountain bicycle from Hero Cycles, it has been sponsored and hence I am using this as it is an all-terrain bike with top notch configurations.
Navin: I have been using a Cannondale Trail 6 for the last six years and Brompton folding bike for unfolding new territories.
Q. What message would you have for the Indian cyclists and those who are looking to get into the habit of cycling?
To us, cycling is the best sport and means to explore new places, different places and also stay fit.
Q. How are you financially supporting your ride and how can other people contribute to this?
Right now it's self-funded, however we are open to sponsors towards our mission and to help us meet our expenses. We expect our total costs to be about 50,000 INR.