Pedalling her fears away

56-year old cyclist Vasanti Joshi

56-year old cyclist Vasanti Joshi   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

56-year-old Vasanti Joshi is cycling to Leh from Kanyakumari

She has undertaken cycling expeditions in the Leh-Ladakh region before in 2007, 2008 and 2009: from Leh to Srinagar, Leh to Siachin Base and Manali to Leh. In her first trip to the region, she was the only woman cyclist in the group, and also, reportedly, became the first woman to cycle at Khardung La, one of the highest motorable roads in the world. She has also, on a tangential note, completed 1080 Suryanamaskars (sun salutations) in two hours and 50 minutes in 2013.

On the go

Vasanti Joshi is in her mid 50s and is off again, this time - from Kanyakumari to Leh, where she is targeting Umling La in Jammu and Kashmir, now the world’s highest motorable road. Her support team comprises 62-year old mentor Shubdha Joshi and her daughter, Ketaki who are following her by car.

Vasanti’s route is via Madurai, Bengaluru, Pune, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Manali and Leh. She has now crossed the Rohtang pass.

“I will be covering a distance of 4, 275 kms, I am targeting 160 kms every day. I want to complete the trip in 40 days,” said the professor at Pune’s SNDT Arts and Commerce College , adding that exercise is part of her life. She credits her discipline to her background in NCC (National Cadet Corps), where she has held the position of Second Lieutenant, Ex-associate NCC Officer at the 2 Maharashtra Girls’ Battalion.

Conquering fear

“I am passionate about adventure sports, I regularly take part in adventure rallies, treks and cycling trips.” Each of her trips also carries a message for women-empowerment. This time her campaign is to ‘conquer fear’. “I simply have to face whatever the day brings. Conquering fear is about just being in that moment and not thinking of the big things. I have to stay determined that come what may, we will keep moving.”

“As a teacher, I always feel that our female students are not getting the kind of exposure they need to because they fear doing something new or different. I want to spread the message that if they think big, dream big and plan accordingly, they can do whatever they want to. By doing what I am doing now, at 56, I am also conquering my own fears,” says Vasanti. “ I have been practising for the last four months, cycling three hours at a stretch . The advantage of practising in a city like Pune is that it is surrounded by hills so it is easy to train for riding in the mountains.”

On her trip she has been cycling at a speed of nearly 23 kmph, starting at 4. 30 in the morning in order to make headway before the heat sets in as it is summer in most parts of the country. Climate, she says, is one of her biggest challenges.

“I will be passing through three different climatic zones. When I began in Kanyakumari I was expecting rain. As we moved further, towards the north, we were facing torturous heat. Once we enter the Leh-Ladakh region, it is going to be extremely cold since the snow is now melting,” she explains.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 12:27:33 AM |

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