Before the tour Himanshu, Kamal and Sangeetha were working together in a travel company in Mysore. Only Himanshu and Kamal were using cycles, Sangeetha was using public transport like buses and passenger trains. On route, they cycled, they learned and now they are experiencing the change at a mental, physical and spiritual level. They call themselves The Traveling Trinity.
We talk to Himanshu Shekhar, founder of GyanYatra.com on what it feels to let go of the mundane 9 to 5, pack your bags and pedal across town.
What encouraged you’ll to leave aside the normalities of everyday life and set cycling across the country?
Being travellers since birth (Air Force Ward), life for us was a bit different. We never belonged to a place, state or city, we were always free travelling Indians. Things remained same even through college days at Delhi University. But situations started getting different after the CA internship and job. We were slowly going into the comfort zone, where we didn’t belong. I and my 2 office colleagues (Kamal & Sangeeta) decided to explore India, on our favourite machines; cycle or bike. Initially, it was a difficult decision, as we were about to leave the job for this tour and sometimes while discussing it almost felt like an impossible task. We did 15 days of full research regarding routes, organizations to meet with our message and places to stay. So, it is not the comfort of traveling, but the non-comfortable environment of not being ourselves that encouraged us to leave aside the normal schedule of life.
What is the most challenging part of your journey?
I was looking at the mighty mountains of Western Ghats before starting our journey riding uphills for the first time in our tour with my small cycle. An uncle who hosted us in the city said, “It is going to be the most difficult thing of the tour”. I said, ” I don’t think so, the most difficult thing was to take decision and to start the tour”. Now after more than 40 days since that day, I think I was right. Although in terms of on-ground challenges, the western ghats were the most difficult stretch to cross. Riding uphills with luggage and doing more than 130km some days are next to impossible for non-athletes like us. But we did that. Stay and food was never a challenge at all because riding in India is always full of people and villages. At many places, we even used Couchsurfing, even in a city like Dhule; where one can’t even imagine this.
What is the one thing you enjoy the most about travelling on two wheels from town to town?
We were travelling with the speed of life, looking at every roadside tree, flying birds, small homes and smiling faces. People were sharing greetings with us, giving us tea and water, clicking pictures with us and asking us after listening to our story, is it possible? Nothing of this would have been possible if we were using any other mode of transport. Everything happened because we were on cycles. We realized how good majority of people are and media is portraying everything as negative. Ultimately the one thing which we enjoyed the most was, sharing an unlimited number of smiles with an unlimited number of strangers.
How can one be a part of these cycling tours and how often do you conduct them?
After doing a 3300 km cycling tour across India, I think all you need to do is buy a cycle, put your luggage in a backpack, tie it and move on. Believe us, India is a safe country to ride cycles as long as you want. On a personal and organizational level, we are planning to start a cycling tour of a single state every year. A new state every year. No one can give us 30 whole days and even that isn’t enough to understand India, but 15-20 days are enough for a state. It will do justice to both, the place as well as the rider. So, we are planning a yearly tour and under the banner of Gyan Yatra, I think we will be able to accept more travellers to explore India on cycle.