Pedalling for love of adventure and environmenthttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/pedalling-for-love-of-adventure-and-environment/

Pedalling for love of adventure and environment

Defying age and busy schedule,a group of businessmen and professionals from Pune gears up for a cycle tour from Delhi to Srinagar

It’s difficult to have an uninterrupted conversation with businessman Sanjeev Shah,who is the managing director of Parshwanath Metal Processors Pvt Ltd. He is constantly being called for board meetings,audits,site visits and trouble-shooting. But when this 51-year-old mounts his Trek 4300,he is a transformed man.

Nothing can get in his way. “Everything else is only of secondary importance,” says Shah,who is now getting ready to pedal with 15 fellow cycling enthusiasts from Delhi to Srinagar in August.

Shah’s travelling companions include industrialists,builders and professionals from the city. Called the Swanand Adventures,this group of environment and thrill lovers will be part of the second phase of a “Kanyakumari-to-Kashmir” tour inspired by the famous Tour de France.

In the first phase,Shah was part of a group of 11 people who cycled 1,630 km from the southern-most tip of the country to Pune over a period of 12 days.

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“We started on January 26 from Kanyakumari and reached Pune on February 5. We pedalled an average of 12 hours a day. The second phase of our expedition will begin on August 8,and we expect to reach Srinagar by August 18,” he said,adding that the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism department has offered to sponsor the trip. Catching many a curious glance along the way,the group uses this opportunity to advocate environment-friendly lifestyle.

Shah started cycling in 2007 because he wanted to be ‘fit at 50’. “Although people thought I was crazy to be cycling at my age,I would pay no heed and take of on my son’s bicycle. Some of my friends were also inspired on seeing me cycle. Word spread from one to another and our group grew,” he says.

In 2009,the group set out on their first long-distance cycling tour from Pune to Goa. Then in 2010,they cycled from Manali to Khardung La Pass,which is about 18,500 feet above sea level. “Now,we are doing the Kanyakumari-to-Kashmir trip. While in the first phase,11 people pedalled,we have inspired five more members to join us for the second phase,” says Shah.

Builder Yashwant Niman,who is part of the group,is one of those who were inspired by Shah.

“Now,it has become a habit to pedal at least 50 km four times a week. The expeditions we go on are only an extension of some lifestyle choices we have made. I used to have health problems and my sugar level was on the higher side. But ever since I started cycling,I am absolutely fit. My new lifestyle has also inspired 10 other family members and friends,” says the 44-year-old.

Rajeev Shah is another enthusiast who is getting ready to join the trip to Srinagar,in spite of his fractured right toe. “While cycling,you are alone with yourself and the sights you get to see are amazing; the landscape and culture changes every few kilometres. I will not want to miss that,” says Rajeev,an interior architect.

Having pedalled to Sinhagad,Lavasa,Mahabaleshwar and Khambhatki ghat as part of the practice session every Thursday and Sunday,the group is now familiar with the challenges of their expedition. Shah,who has been deciding on the itinerary and coordinating the practice sessions,says they had to fight extreme humidity,dehydration,sleepless nights and fatigue during their first phase.

“One of our members was even put on steroids,but it is a matter of passion for us so we made it and we are excited about heading out again,” he says.