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      A 45 day, 3000 km bicycle from Chhattisgarh to Mathura and back by Cyclist Shanu. Read it to see how a bicycle ride can change your life!

      Often, we cyclists get caught up in the finer details of cycling, missing the bigger picture. There are times when we need to take a step back and see bicycles for what these are.

      Bicycles aren’t just a means to get fitter or commute or compete. These simple machines connect with us, because they remind us of carefree childhood. When we would just hop onto the bike and ride, with no goals, aims, plans, we just rode for the love of riding.

      Talking to Shubham Sahu, reminds us what cycling simply is. A way for us to forever rekindle the child in us…

      Cyclist Shanu

      Shubham, now better known as Cyclist Shanu, hails from the town of Korba in Chhattisgarh. Korba is known for its coal reserves and is called the ‘power capital’ of the state.

      It is therefore ironic, that Shanu, who hails from the place which provides power to a large swathe of the country, found himself riding a bicycle which has no requirement of power. Other than human power, even that was more mental than physical!

      Like most of us Shanu grew up riding bicycles, before the allure of powerful motorcycles took over. With the power of the motorbike, Shanu ended up gaining weight and peaked out at 95 kg. It was then that he got back onto the saddle of a bicycle.

      His brother got him a cycle for commuting and he would ride it to the nearest park to go for a run. Over time with the combination of cycling and running, he ended up losing 30 kg. And from then on, in his words, “I have been hooked to Cycling“.

      To Mathura with Cyclist Shanu

      Mathura isn’t the most popular destination for cyclists. The destination was more a case of serendipity, rather than a conscious choice.

      While Shanu was cycling through Jashpur in Chhattisgarh, he was helped with free food by a gentleman named Basant, at his restaurant. Basant asked him about his destination, and without actually knowing, he jokingly blurted, Mathura.

      And that was it! Mathura became the perfect destination to go and enjoy being a part of the Holi festivities.

      Keep It Simple

      Most of us are forever looking to upgrade our bikes, kit or something else. Always assuming the more money we spend, the better a cyclists we will become! Sometimes we need to put all those complexities aside and just focus on the simple joys of riding a bicycle.

      Shanu was riding a Hercules Decoy. A simple single-speed bike, which he bought online for just 3500 rupees. His equipment consisted of an air pump, and that’s it. He didn’t know how to repair his bicycle, so he saw no point carrying spares and tools!

      He just strapped on a couple of bags onto his bike, one with his sleeping bag, and the other with his laptop for copying all the photos and videos he shot along the way.

      A bicycle ride can be JUST THAT SIMPLE!

      Bike Rides are about Experiences…

      In his 45 days bicycle journey, Shanu learnt a lot cycling solo.

      He remembers the time he got emotional, because someone took him to their house for him to stay the night. This generosity of the human spirit is something we don’t often encounter in this day and age. He remembers fondly, Avinash Prajapati, Akash Tirkey, and Ayush Singh, who took him to their village of Bhalmanda. They didn’t just provide him with hospitality, but with memories never to be forgotten.

      Along the way, on multiple occasions, people offered Shanu food, since he was riding all alone. It reinstated his belief in humanity.

      It was not all animate experiences though. He also enjoyed the visual spectacle of historical monuments like Akbar’s Tomb. The beautiful forts of Orccha and Gwalior, Lucknow’s Imambara. Along with enjoying diving into the hot springs of Jharkand and Bihar.

      Shanu was also exposed to the teachings and way of life of Gautam Buddha, when he visited Bodh Gaya, Rajgir and Sarnath. And the memories of the ruins of Nalanda University are still fresh in his mind.

      Some Positive. Some Not!

      Roses have thorns. And journeys have bad experiences as well. The bad experiences are what make the good feel even better.

      After 3000 kilometres of riding, on his way back at the Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh border, Shanu encountered some technical difficulties. The chain of the bike had worn out and kept jumping off the sprocket. He stopped to get it repaired at a local shop.

      But that wasn’t the bad experience!

      At the shop there were a few drunk men, as it was the day after Holi. And in their drunken stupor they kept trying to mess around with his luggage. They wanted to see what was inside.

      Shanu eventually pushed that guy away and started riding. That guy followed him on the moped and went up the road to wait for him with his friends. Fortunately, they were too drunk to chase after Shanu and he escaped unscathed.

      But that did leave him angry and scared as well. We see the good and bad of humans.

      Change is the only constant…

      Bicycles change humans. Long solo bicycle rides, even more so.

      This 3000 km, 45-day ride, allowed Shanu to better identify and understand his abilities. It has allowed him to dream once again. And see that he has the potential to travel the world one day on the saddle of his bicycle.

      Earlier, he would always look for a companion to travel. After this ride, he doesn’t feel that need anymore. He believes that the bicycle is his companion on every journey!

      As he realised, cycling is easy. At no point of time did he feel exhausted, even though he was riding more than 100 km every day.

      The most important thing is to be mentally strong. Besides that, he ensured that he drank sufficient fluids and ate when required and took as much rest as his body craved.

      Once he took care of the basics, the rest happened on autopilot mode!

      The Future Beckons…

      This ride is only the beginning for him. His next rides are planned towards Odisha, Goa and Kedarnath. All in different directions.

      When we last spoke to him, it appeared that he was headed towards Kedarnath first!

      Wishing Shanu loads of luck on his future rides…

      You can follow his journeys on YouTube and Instagram.

      Photos: Cyclist Shanu

      Also read Vignesh VP’s journey from Jammu to Kanyakumari on his Single Speed and Sorav Gahlot’s ride from Rajasthan to Andhra Pradesh on his Single Speed!

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