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Meet the IT professional who bikepacked 3,000 kilometres between Zoom meetings

TWO WHEELS AND THE HIGHWAY: Andrew’s cycle, his trusty companion throughout the journey

TWO WHEELS AND THE HIGHWAY: Andrew’s cycle, his trusty companion throughout the journey

For the dhabas along NH 160, 48, 52, 46 and 44, Andrew Menezes is hardly a stranger. At 10.30 am sharp, he parks his cycle at one of them, comfortably sits on a charpoy , switches on his laptop and starts work. In his case, one could say he is on work-from- dhaba .

“There would always be hot parathas and a cup of chai as I attend Zoom meetings,” laughs Andrew. The 25-year-old recently completed a 3,000 kilometre cycle ride across western, northern and central India. Starting in Mumbai on October 23, 2020 he finished the ambitious journey in Pune on December 18, covering 23 cities en route.

Andrew used the lockdown period to hone his cycling skills. He was working from home and planned each day such that he could accommodate his work as well as his passion. “I would cycle from 6 am to 10 am and then start work. Again, post lunch I would cycle till sunset and then get back to work to complete whatever was unfinished,” he says over phone from Mumbai. Once he managed to tirelessly cycle for seven hours, he decided to set off on this adventure.

From Mumbai, he rode to Nasik, Indore, Ujjain, Chittorgarh, Ajmer, Jaipur, Delhi, Agra, Gwalior, Shivpuri and then through other cities in central India (Madhya Pradesh) back to Nasik and then Pune.

He spent two to three days in the bigger cities getting his cycle repaired. On an average, Andrew covered 100 kilometres daily, and managed eight hours of office work every day, except on his days off. He worked from dhabas and small roadside eateries by day and slept at dharamshalas and lodges by night.

The whole trip was completed on a budget of ₹50,000. “Most accommodations charged around a couple of hundreds for a night. Night stays were far from luxurious. He recalls sleeping in a dharamshala 50 kilometres from Indore. All the stark two metre-by-two metre room had was one mattress, a tubelight and a socket. “The mattress and sheet looked like it was used by a lot of people before but I didn’t mind it. By the end of the long day, I was so tired that I could sleep just about anywhere,” laughs the cycling enthusiast.

He had cold baths at night even with temperatures often dipping to 10 degrees Celsius. And his emergency food package included two packets of Maggi and Parle-G biscuits.

For this trip, Andrew added a luggage carrier to his trusty second hand cycle, which he had bought two years back. The cycle served him well even through the treacherous ghat roads, unruly terrain, and mountain slopes. However, one of the pedals broke when Andrew was in the Chambal region (MP). He walked four hours to get to the nearest town. It was all very scenic. Along the way, passers-by kept cautioning him about the region once notorious for its dacoits and thieves. “I just kept telling myself, now, during COVID-19 there would be no dacoits and if someone approached me I would just cough,” he laughs.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2022 6:38:29 pm |