He cycled 3,600 km from Kashmir to Kanyakumari4 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
Braving the cold, rain and harsh sun, 18-year-old Om Mahajan made a journey on his bicycle last month, one that would get him into record books. He peddled from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, covering over 3,600 kilometres in eight days, seven hours and 38 minutes, breaking the record for the fastest bicycle journey across India.
Interestingly, the existing Guinness Book record for the fastest bicycle ride from Srinagar to Kanyakumari is held by his uncle, Mahendra Mahajan. That record was recently broken by the Indian Army’s Lt Col Bharat Pannu, who cycled the distance in eight days and nine hours, though it was yet to be entered in the record book. Om had his eyes set on breaking Pannu’s record, which he has now accomplished.
Owliver caught up with the Nashik resident on his amazing feat.
Peddling 3,600 kilometres in just eight days sounds intense! How did he prepare for the journey?
Preparation is a very essential part of any expedition. I would cycle for around 35 hours a week and spend an hour or two a day in the gym every day. Pranayam, yoga and meditation were also part of my training – this helped me become mentally prepared for the journey. Other aspects of my training included selecting the right support crew, planning the route, and maintaining a balanced diet.
He’s broken the record for the fastest bicycle journey across India. How does he feel?
It feels great. I have received tremendous love from all my well-wishers from across the country as well as abroad. I am so grateful to everyone, but I also know that there is a long way to go!
His father and uncle are both cyclists too. Has sports and fitness always been part of his life?
My father and uncle are accomplished ultra cyclists (ultra events are those that are longer than regular races or marathons) and adventure seekers. They have inspired and encouraged me to pursue my passion for cycling and mountaineering since childhood.
What were the hardest and the best parts about the journey?
I had zero experience in ultra cycling. I have been a racer and have represented Maharashtra at the national level twice, but ultra endurance cycling is completely different. I only trained for three months, so the lack of experience created a lot of difficulties. Riding at night and the lack of sleep was very hard – I would sleep for just an hour or two every day. Extreme climatic and geographical conditions were a challenge too.
On the seventh night, while approaching Bengaluru, I suffered hallucinations. I thought I saw snow on the sides of the road, and that I was in Kashmir. When I asked my crewmate, he said we were near Bengaluru, and that I was imagining the snow!
His plans to study sports management in the US were put on hold due to the pandemic. What’s happening with that?
I have already completed my first semester fully online. I will be flying to the US in January to attend my second semester, physically.
Dedicated cycle lanes in Indian cities are still a distant dream. What does he have to say about its importance?
Dedicated cycle lanes are a dream for us Indians. Very few parts of the country have them. I believe cycle lanes will make a huge difference, as it will firstly assure safety of cyclists, and secondly, it will encourage more people to take up cycling as a regular activity.
What are his future plans? Any more records/challenges in sight?
The next goal is to participate and successfully complete ‘Race Across America’ in the solo category, and be the youngest in the world to do so!
Here’s what Om has to say to all you dreamers out there…