Three bikers, eight months, one destination

Clifin Francis

Clifin Francis  

Pedalling all the way, they plan to be in Tokyo when Olympic Games get under way on July 24

If everything goes according to plan, three youngsters will be in Tokyo when the Olympic Games get under way on July 24 next year, and they will have reached the city surmounting challenges of almost Olympic proportions.

Clifin Francis, Dona Jacob, and Haseeb Ahsan plan to pedal their way to the Olympic city in over eight months, covering nearly 10,500 km spread over eight countries.

Clifin is not new to long-distance biking, having biked his way from Dubai via Iran and Azerbaijan to Moscow where the World Cup Football was held last year. He had also biked through the Cuban countryside and Mexico.

“The success of the Moscow trip gave me confidence to plan for Tokyo,” said Clifin, a freelance Maths teacher who gave up his job as an IT professional and hitch-hiked his way across Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam before falling for the freewheeling life of bikers.

Beginning their expedition from Kochi on December 15, they will enter Bangladesh after traversing dozens of Indian villages and towns before proceeding to Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and China. From Shanghai, they will take a cruise to Tokyo.

“Our plan is to bike for five hours a day covering 80 to 100 km. The stretch through Vietnam, Cambodia, and China is likely to be the most challenging as it is marked with several steep climbs to scale, for which we are building our muscles and endurance through regular bouts of cycling and gym sessions,” said Clifin.

Dona, an avid biker who had spent nearly a month hopping around the villages and tobacco farms in Cuba earlier this year, wants to espouse the cause of women empowerment during the trip. “I want to talk to girls and women along the way inspiring them to study and lead independent lives, besides campaigning in schools about menstrual hygiene and reusable menstrual products,” said Dona who gave up her IT job for the dream journey.

For Haseeb, an IIM graduate employed with a global e-commerce giant, the trip is about recapturing his halcyon past at school and college when he captained the football and athletic teams. He was drawn into the idea after he accidentally bumped into Clifin, his junior at college, in Moscow during the Football World Cup.

They plan to hand over to the Indian contingent at the Olympic village a poster bearing wishes of people from all the countries they pass through. Video documentation of the trip, a photo exhibition in Japan, talks at schools, and meet-ups with NGOs along the way are among their plans.

The trio have drawn up an estimated budget of around ₹15 lakh for the trip including the cost of an upgraded bike for touring and sophisticated gadgets like helmet-mounted cameras for video documentation.

“We are looking for sponsors to bolster our personal savings we have earmarked for the trip. But sponsorship or not, there is no going back on living our dream,” said Clifin.

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Printable version | Jul 9, 2020 10:25:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/three-bikers-eight-months-one-destination/article29966984.ece

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