BENGALURU: Bengaluru airport was slightly different than usual on Tuesday. While it’s per se for cricketers and actors to receive a rousing welcome, it was a pleasant surprise when fans gathered to catch a glimpse of city-based rider Aravind KP. The 34-year-old was garlanded by his fans, who also lifted him on their shoulders. This, after his historic performance in the Dakar Rally, which bagged him the title of the second Indian – after CS Santosh – to complete the toughest off-road rally in the world.
In fact, three months prior to Dakar, his participation itself was doubtful owing to a wrist dislocation. Only three weeks before the event, did doctors give a green signal with regard to his participation. The go-ahead seems to have been a formality with Aravind having made up his mind of heading for the gruelling rally, irrespective of doctors’ advise. Though ‘not completely healed’, the Sherco TVS rider featured in the event, and came out in flying colours.
“Leading up to Dakar, I dislocated my wrist, which usually takes around six months to heal. Thanks to my doctors, I was able to get back in shape quickly. It hadn’t completely healed, but was adequate to ride. I was given a green signal for Dakar, three weeks before the race and I pushed my luck. Even if the doctors hadn’t given me a go-ahead, I would have still participated,” said Aravind, who finished in 37th place after ten stages of the competition in Peru.
Aravind, who chose this sport as a 19-year-old, prepped for the race by doing weight training, cycling and maintaining keen mental focus. “It is exhausting to ride under those conditions for almost six hours a day. And you only get to sleep around five-six hours. All the elements put together make it really tough,” he said. Now, post his feat, he just wants to put his feet up.
About the race
Said to be one of the toughest races in the world, completing Dakar is an achievement in itself. The riders have to go through treacherous terrain, which includes riding in mud, rocky mountains and under extreme temperatures. In fact, Aravind only managed to complete it in his third attempt after his failures in 2017 and 2018. The first driver from India to complete Dakar Rally, Santosh, who achieved it in 2015, 2017 and 2018, failed this time around, which explains the level of difficulty well.