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Thursday, March 04, 2021

‘Working from Cycle’: Three friends pedal from Mumbai to Kanyakumari without giving office a miss

Bakcen George, Allwyn Joseph and Ratish Bhalerao decided to give a whole new meaning to Work-From-Home with their month-long cycling trip in the midst of the pandemic.

Written by Shreya Das | New Delhi |
Updated: January 23, 2021 10:34:24 am
work from home, group cycling trip work from home, travelling in covid pandemic, covid travel plans, mumbai group cycling trip to kanyakumari, indian expressFrom L to R: Ratish, Backen and Allwyn at Kanyakumari beach. (Source: Ratish Bhalerao)

While work from home became the order of the day for most people around the world during the novel coronavirus pandemic, three men from Maharashtra logged-in for work while on a cycling trip.

Bakcen George, Allwyn Joseph and Ratish Bhalerao decided to give a whole new dimension to the work-from-home concept during their month-long cycling trip in the midst of the pandemic. They pedalled from Mumbai to Kanyakumari cycle, covering a distance of 1,687 kilometres. For office work, the three professionals logged in from highway dhabas and lodges.

Friends for more than two decades, they said working from home made travel and adventure enthusiasts like themselves feel stuck in a rut. So, instead of being caught up in negative thoughts and feeling frustrated in such trying times, they decided to make ‘Working from Cycle’ a reality. Although it had its share of challenges, the trio says ‘it was worth it’.

work from home, group cycling trip work from home, travelling in covid pandemic, covid travel plans, mumbai group cycling trip to kanyakumari, indian express While weekdays were hectic, weekends gave them more time to explore and see around. (Source: Ratish Bhalerao)

George (31) had made up his mind on going for his third long-distance cycling trip in November. He later asked his two closest friends if they were interested. But while George got plenty of time for preparation, others agreed to join in only two days before his journey started in late November, last year. The group of friends reached journey’s end in December.

“It was worth it for sure. We enjoy both kinds of vacations and holidays. Family vacations have their charm, but adventure holidays are like a gift to yourself. Cycling doesn’t feel like a chore. It’s liberating and exhilarating,” George told indianexpress.com in an emailed reply. While he agreed that travelling so much in heat and rain was tough, he said such challenges have to be faced and overcome even on regular vacations.

work from home, group cycling trip work from home, travelling in covid pandemic, covid travel plans, mumbai group cycling trip to kanyakumari, indian express Although most places were closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, they said the journey itself was very rewarding.

“The gadgets only added to the weight on our bicycles, which was the only downside. However, work gave us an excuse to stop by local dhabas, build our own makeshift workstations which was fun in itself,” he added.

Explaining how they managed to complete the trip, Joseph said, “Our only goal was to reach the destination. The idea was to take one day at a time. We would typically start as early as 4am and try our best to reach a commonly agreed destination by 11am to start our work.”

The 37-year-old professional said that they clocked 80 kms daily, on an average, with longer rides over the weekends. Adding that it was a little taxing in the initial couple of days, he said they soon managed to familiarise themselves with the routine.

work from home, group cycling trip work from home, travelling in covid pandemic, covid travel plans, mumbai group cycling trip to kanyakumari, indian express At crack of dawn they started their journey to reach a stop by 11 am to start their daily office work. (Source: Ratish Bhalerao)

Although their schedule did not allow them to explore everything around them as normal tourists do, they said that it was non-touristy stuff that captured their attention and make the journey memorable.

“The best part was experiencing different lifestyles, talking to locals and trying their cuisine. The overall experience of riding along beautiful scenic routes was beautiful and enriching,” Bhalerao said. Equating cycling to ‘meditating’, he added, “Even though we were cycling, we got a lot of time to spend with each other, to think and reflect about life in general.”

“Taking pit stops over grassy fields, lying on our backs, we would stare at the skies above in the silence of nature. Dusty, sweaty but at peace. These are the moments we got back with us,” the 36-year-old added.

For their nearly a month-long trip, they cycled through picturesque routes in Pune, Satara, Kolhapur, Belgaum, Hubali, Davanagere, Bengaluru, Salem, Madhuri and Tirunelveli.

work from home, group cycling trip work from home, travelling in covid pandemic, covid travel plans, mumbai group cycling trip to kanyakumari, indian express The trio said the pandemic actually provided them with this unique opportunity to travel while working. (Source: Ratish Bhalerao)

The budget-travellers said that they spent around Rs 25,000 each for the journey, with most of it going towards lodging, which involved staying at hotels for over 26 days.

Asked if the Covid situation posed any challenges while travelling, George said, “Apart from a few hotels denying stay due to Covid restrictions, we did not face any other major problem due to the pandemic.”

In fact, he said the pandemic presented an opportunity for them to chase this long-cherished goal while not compromising on office work.

work from home, group cycling trip work from home, travelling in covid pandemic, covid travel plans, mumbai group cycling trip to kanyakumari, indian express Braving heavy rains and heat, the three cycled more than 1600km during their special trip. (Source: Ratish Bhalerao)

The culmination of the journey was not just a delightful experience for the trio but even for their seniors and colleagues at work. “Our managers supported us, while telling us to make sure work doesn’t get hampered. We respected that. Our co-workers were overjoyed and excited for us. When we completed our cycling trip, they were really happy and proud,” Joseph added.

Although the trip was tedious, the group said it was rewarding and enriching as well. They said that with a proper mindset and even basic bicycles, a similar feat could be accomplished by anyone willing to embark on such a journey.

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