An 18-year-old on what drives his bicycle journeys

Young Faisal Latif wants India and Pakistan to be like the two wheels of a bicycle. He aims to bring the two countries together by cycling from New Delhi to Islamabad. However, he is still working out the details. But he is emboldened by the journey he undertook on his Firefox cycle from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, covering a distance of 3,800 km.

The amazing thing is that Faisal, 18, took the journey all alone. It took him just 37 days to cover the distance, cycling nearly 100 km every day. “I see school kids taking drugs and smoking, leading to health problems. I started my tour without any cycling practice to spread awareness about their health. On my way, I stopped at schools in Hissar, Nagpur, Seoni and many other cities. I addressed the students in the morning assemblies and in some schools went to their classrooms to tell about the disastrous results of such bad habits and the importance of fitness. I tried to convince them to use cycles as their mode of transport at least for reaching their schools. The students listened to me very sincerely.”

Patna-based Faisal tells that his journey was not as difficult as he initially thought. “People all along the way were very friendly and helping. I used to cycle in the day and stayed in hotels, tents and even temples for the nights,” he says. At some places the weather played spoilsport but he was not deterred and kept on moving.

Faisal, the son of an Indian Railways employee, and the youngest of three siblings, now wants to join the Indian Army and is preparing for his Combined Defence Services exams. In order to spread the message he has his eyes fixed on scaling the Mount Everest all alone and that too without an oxygen cylinder. He took up a 28 day mountaineering course from Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling, and is ready for the expedition.