• Akash

Solo Bikepacking Ride for 725 Kilometers into the Dry Grasslands of India

Updated: Jan 2


Akash is a Young Musician from Jaipur and this is his story of his first ever foray into the world of self supported bicycle touring & Bikepacking.



Namaste! Finally, here writing about my journey - thanks to the Bikepacking India Team.

To keep things easy & sorted - I am dividing this narration into various segments.

 The first part will be super quick to not let the story goes too long.


My Bicycle Tour

It was the middle of February when sheer restlessness was taking over my mind. My

explorer self or precise soul was screaming inside, and I just wanted to get away for a

while, for a change. After spending a deserved number of sleepless nights &

thoughtful days thinking, I had finally decided I would go somewhere.


Apprehensions

It was then when the second wave of the pandemic was progressing and taking the outrageous form of what we have critically hit with today.

And I should not forget mentioning & admitting, like most of us - I have not been financially fit ever since coronavirus came into existence.

Last but not least, I wanted to keep this journey as raw as possible as I needed to test myself - my strength, endurance, mindset, and above all, my beliefs.


For the love of the Environment & Bicycles

A few days later, I planned to fulfill my long-awaited wish of meeting & taking blessings from Acharya Shri Vidyasagar Ji Maharaj.

Best known for his epic poem Mook Mati - Acharya Shri was (still is) in Nemawar, Madhya Pradesh.

While planning how to go, a thought struck me, and that was the moment I made up my mind to go by bicycle & not by any other means of transport.

There were multiple reasons behind this decision:


As I said earlier, I wanted to check my belief system.

I was (am) inspired by Acharya Shri's journey. I wanted to convey a message - Save Earth.

Coronavirus. I didn't want to carry a virus with me. When you go publicly - there are simply higher chances. And,

Every day, hundreds of people arrive to visit Acharya Shri, but they are not allowed to go close to him. I wanted to talk to him. One coming by motor vehicle & one by cycle - whom would you give preference to?



First Challenge


The problem was I had to go on a bicycle, but I didn't have one. So, the first challenge was to get one.

And after a few days of struggle, when all my efforts went in vain & I couldn't get a cycle offline - I arranged the money and placed an order online on March 5. The bicycle arrived on the 10th. However, I had to return it when a bicycle shop owner insisted. And then I bought another one from him.


The temperature, coronavirus cases, & heatwaves were increasing rapidly - I had to be quick.

All the while, I was training myself - working on building stamina by running, strengthening the body by eating healthy, gathering mandatory resources by shopping, and routing the route by mapping.


On March 26, I went on an almost 100 km ride from Jaipur to Padampura & back via Sanganer. That was a mock drill - to make sure things were good to go - cycle & I - and it was successful.


Support from friends & family


My family was against the idea and tried their bests to convince me - gave me all the possible reasons to think of quitting or at least postponing the plan.

And the bicycle shop owner too suddenly flipped at the end and calls the idea stupid & said it is suicide. He did his best to change my mind.

But I didn't move a bit. In fact, I was ready to leave.

And on April 2 at 5 a.m. - I did leave!!


Second Segment

During


Day 1

Road, Ride, Run


Alert! My intuition meter was briskly blinking as if it wanted to convey something. My heartbeats were hitting the upper gears as the shiver swirling across my body.

"You need to get away from here now," my brain kept shouting. It was around 7 p.m. - total darkness - I had been riding for 14 hours now or approx 155 kilometers - tired, hungry, thirsty, & unsafe. I was lost in the outskirts dry grasslands of Rajasthan. There were no lights, no humans, nor animals, but only emptiness spreading through a long stretched sheet of an endless narrow road.

Soon I realized I did something wrong - my calculations, route, or the night destination. Something!


The dusk grew older, turned into the night - I had to hurry, or my first day of the journey would become the last day of my life - such thoughts surrounded me. Despite all odds, they were helping me pedal faster - hence I didn't mind and welcomed them.


I was prepared for the bad I had planned for the worst - I knew destiny was waiting to test me at every step. And there it was - right there - a jungle.

I stopped! Standing amidst the empty dark road with a forest right ahead, thinking should I turn back to the countryside?


The clock hit 8 - I knew I was late, very-very late - didn't even have time to check how much distance my next stop is left. I had to hurry.

My hands flapped hurriedly towards the bag to take out the little torch I had - "where the hell it is?" I shouted.

Found! I didn't want to be there anymore. I had to run no matter how I was feeling. I just turned on the torch, grabbed it in my left hand & I entered the jungle.

I was pedaling and pedaling - the visibility was absolute zero. I could see nothing except a dot of light my torch was throwing on the roadway, and I could only feel the chilly essence of trees & the silence. Nothing else!


In life, sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where we are begging to get free & get away from it - from the unwanted. It even soaks every last drop of your sweat & blood, and you're left with nothing to do. You then just surrender yourself to let it come to an end - whatever it is.


It was me when the jungle wasn't ready to come to an end. I had no energy left to paddle. I wanted to stop right there and let it be.

That's when I always call God, "okay, so you want to see who will give up first?" Just to tell him, that will be you.

And so he did. As I speeded up, I could see the other side, the open side. Jungle ended!


It was around 8.45 at night when I reached my first day's destination, where I was supposed to spend the night. It was Nainwa - a little town around 170 kilometers south from Jaipur.

Wait! It didn't end here. There I had to find a Jain Temple where I could spend the night as I planned.


Call it God, Music, nature, destiny, or hope - they all are the same. Have you ever noticed that after every tough test, they reward you? They do.


And so I was rewarded.

In the little town, the first person I bumped into to inquire - was Babulal Jain Ji. He was (is) a senior citizen who plays an essential role in the community - someone who knows all, all knows whom. You got it - I had nothing to worry at least that night.

After visiting three temples as he suggested - I was s