Crossing seven snow clad passes including the highest motorable pass, Marsimik-la, in Himalayas in Ladakh, a 23 member cycling team of the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) has started a cycle from Gogra along Indo-China border to Kevadia in Gujarat where statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s is installed.
The expedition has been organized by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to celebrate the 75th year of India’s Independence as the “Aazadi ka Amrit Mahotsav”.
Assistant Commandant of ITBP, Adheesh Gupta said, “We plan to carry the message of our freedom fighters throughout the journey and along with it honour them for the supreme sacrifices they have made for the nation. It is a gentle reminder for the populace of the nation to pay homage to our martyrs. We have made it sure to honour them by carrying such a message by visiting their birthplaces, villages and memorials. Besides we have been promoting different govermental initiatives like Swacch Bharat, Fit India, Plantation activities conducted to seek general commitment towards a better,brighter India”.
Long distance cycling rally (almost 1800km till Delhi) has been conceived, planned and executed for the first time in the history of adventure sports in India. “We have traversed over all the major ranges of the Himalayas namely Karakoram, Zanskar, Great Himalayan, Pir panjal and Shiwalik. The team crossed over atleast 7 major passes including Marsimik La (18953ft) which is also the highest motorable roadpass in the world. Ladakh has always been an adventurer’s paradise and to be on a cycle with cold raw winds blowing past, crossing icy rivulets with glacial water and the might Himalayas looming in the background is a fortunate blessing” Adheesh Gupta said.
The rally faced many challenged besides the cold weather conditions. “One cannot over-exert or ignore any conditions of breathlessness or high blood pressure in areas where medical support was atleast a few hours away. Though we has acclimatized at every stage but precautions needed to be taken. We maintained our cycles on our own because the wear and tear of gear over such a large distance was expected. Moreover lastly adminstrative arrangements for the cycling team as well as the helping staff in sparsely inhabited locations were other minor concerns” Adheesh said.
“Weather was a bit tricky at the start of the rally and I remember at Marsimik la (18953ft) there was a snowy blizzard for about 30min. It really made the spin downhill challenging the raw biting chill in the drier trans Himalayan desert was indeed intimidating. Otherwise we encountered extreme dust laden winds, and an otherwise tough terrain along the way it was finally when we crossed Atal tunnel on way down to Kullu that we encountered a heavy orographic monsoonal downpour which left us drenched. But I guess the warm spirit to do something which was not attempted before kept us going” Adheesh said.