There is a saying in Nagaland that here life begins in a cot of bamboo and ends in a coffin of bamboo. Nagas are excellent in making articles from bamboo, but this man took the wood to another level of innovation and made a bicycle with it to go on a world tour to promote an innovative, eco-friendly and healthy lifestyle.
After circumnavigating over 25 countries in Europe and North America on a bamboo bicycle in 2016, 30-year-old Sievituo Chevy aka Yakuza Solo has returned to his hometown Kohima, where he has started GoTravels, a sustainable travel start-up to manufacture bamboo cycles.
“Travelling is a form of education where one gets to witness rich cultures of different places in real time,” says Chevy, who switched many professions. Initially, he worked at a call centre, then ran many small-scale businesses before pursuing his passion.
“The idea was to get away from the mundane life routines and be mentally agile to face tough weather conditions with minimal needs.” To make the journey more instantaneous, he travelled without a map or an atlas.
“I chose bamboo for my vehicle because I wanted the world to take note of the benefits that the state’s cultural resource offers,” says the cyclist, who managed the trip expenses from savings, friends’ support and the state government’s partial sponsorship.
It took six months to build the first bamboo bicycle with the help of Manipur Cycling Club, but was later redesigned. Richard Belho, a sustainable design architect and Chevy’s mentor, made the final prototype for his cycle. His friend Lovito Achumi’s precision and skills in carpentry came handy to give the bicycle laser focus accuracy and a solid design.
“My first country point was Amsterdam, followed by Western Europe and from there, I headed to the Balkans. The Danube river led me to Central Europe, where I ended my Euro tour in Riga, Latvia, before again taking a flight to the US,” he says. He took just three flights during the whole journey and rest of the destinations were covered on bicycle.
“My bike was an ice breaker, leading to people hosting me in their homes. Families were curious to know my travel stories and I would end up cooking Naga dishes for them,” says Chevy, who has started a community driven sensitisation initiative Project 72 hours. “Our 11-member team visits old age homes, orphanages and prisons, apart from indulging in street art, gardening and town cleaning,” he says.
Chevy is now awaiting a patent for his bicycle’s prototype, following which he will ship initial orders to Belgium, Austria, Czech Republic. I am aiming to set a Limca Book of Records on the longest distance travelled on a bamboo bicycle.