Putting pedal to metal

REINVENTING THE WHEEL Tejaswini, Jayanth, and Gurudeep Photo: Murali Kumar K.  

The way people are seeing travel and exploration today, they want the thrill of a discovery; they don’t want it planned. Just landing there doesn’t work, says Jayanth Jagadeesh. An avid biker, he joined two other passionate travellers Gurudeep Ramakrishna and Tejaswini Gopalaswamy and together they co-founded Unventured.

The story isn’t that simple. It took many years for three people doing different things, before they began their journey together. Gurudeep, who had been running such a venture informally, was a marketer in the start-up space having worked in corporate America and returned to India. “The last five years I’ve been cycling and found it an interesting way to travel. Every weekend soon became an excuse to get out of town. In 2009, I used to rent or borrow cycles, because you don’t want it to be just the next toy that fades out. Four years ago, I chanced upon the Manali-Leh cycling trail…” smiles Gurudeep.

Tejaswini, a copywriter in an ad agency, had a baby in 2007 and by 2010 realised that she wanted to take a break and do some solo travelling. Off she went to China, South Africa, Bhutan, Leh. “Even when I travelled with family, I would sort of take off to some places on my own. My first time alone in Leh, I picked a monk as my guide keeping ‘safety’ in mind,” she laughs. She landed a second time in Bhutan without any bookings “and Bhutan welcomed me with open arms”. Gurudeep was a schoolmate and though they hadn’t been in touch many years, their passion for travel got them in touch again; a school reunion helped them exchange travel notes. They tried a few cycling trips together. “But cycling was new to me. I went up Nandi Hills kicking and screaming and then surprised myself by doing the 550 kilometres from Manali to Leh.” A history and culture buff she would constantly read up on churches and temples in Bangalore. “Travel was the way to satiate that curiosity,” says Tejaswini. So Unventured decided to do city trails, one of all the old churches and one of all the historic temples in the city.

Jayanth, the quieter of the three, an engineer who ventured into corporate communication, says “being on the road makes me come alive. I pushed my limits while motorcycling, doing a Kashmir to Kanyakumari tour on my bike. Then I hopped to cycling.”

Since they co-founded the company in June this year, they have conducted seven tours. They take a maximum of 12 people on a tour. “We want our trips to have the thrill of adventure, plus safety.” They accompany cyclists on the tours, leading and tailing the entire team. For long-range trips, they have a support team of cooks and a car that carries luggage. They are on the cusp of a Bhutan trip. They will be staying on a farm. “We want local communities to benefit; we are also thinking of volun-tourism,” says Gurudeep. They rent cycles locally on long expeditions.

“Cycling is becoming mainstream. And Bangalore is becoming the cycling hub of India. Why we’re relevant is that we have experience for all levels of difficulty,” says Jayanth. They do city trails, weekend trails, and long-haul expeditions, which are real-world adventure experiences exploring new trails, people, culture and terrains. “A lot of cycling is about endurance,” admits Gurudeep. “But it’s also about stopping and exploring along the way.” Once an expedition is fixed, they train over several months, pushing the limits as a team together. Jayanth also points out: “People now want to go on group adventures, and are open to finding new similar-minded people to go on journeys with.”

Next on their cards is a southern spice trail, as well as cycling tours to Rajasthan, Cambodia and Vietnam.

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Printable version | May 19, 2021 2:18:55 AM |

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