Dad’s photograph egged me to complete the journey

Devanshu Shivnani, all set to step into ISB this month, recounts his epic 6,000 km journey across 13 states on bicycle and what motivated him to break the world  record set by New Zealander Tim Chitto

Published: 12th April 2017 11:23 PM  |   Last Updated: 13th April 2017 06:44 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: Devanshu Shivnani, 26, a graduate from College of Business Studies, Delhi, is set to join ISB this month. What’s so special you ask? Just a few days ago, he broke a record - of  cycling 6,000 km in less than 20 days.

“By doing so, I have broken the previous Guinness World Record attempt by almost four days. That record attempt was undertaken by New Zealander Tim Chittock in 2016.” We ask him the idea behind this adventure, the need to clock in the distance and what he got out of it. Excerpts:

What was the thought behind cycling 6,000 km in less than 20 days? 
I had always been an avid cyclist and had been fascinated with the idea of cycling long distances. Cycling became a coping mechanism post the demise of my father in November 2016. After that I decided to turn the fantasy into reality.

I underwent intensive training  that involved cycling 150 kms and gym and physiotherapy sessions daily and left Delhi on March 5. Through this ride, I raised awareness about diabetes and kidney care, ailments that confounded my father and affects 70 million people in India alone. This journey was less of an epic, once-in-a-lifetime adventure, but more like a journey reflecting upon the loss of my father. I dedicate this world record to my late father, BC Shivnani. 

Tell us about your journey and your crew – who all were a part of this and how did they contribute in your arduous journey?

My journey involved cycling on the Golden Quadrilateral Highway, visiting all four metros and 10 other cities across 13 states of India. I cycled the entire Western Ghats section, eastern coast of India and the Northern Plains. I covered 300 km a day on my bicycle.

The crew included my friend, Divam Anand, ex-consultant, Boston Consulting Group along with a masseuse Munna and driver Sanjay. Initially the crew took its time to understand the requirements of an 18-hour cycling regime and my personal requirements, but as the expedition progressed, the team came together and worked like a perfectly-tuned machine.

Diwam and Sanjay took turns driving in order to allow each other time to catch up on some sleep and Munna doubled up as a helper, cycle repair mechanic and navigator. Divam played a key role in helping me overcome my frustration over the unbearable heat, incessant tyre punctures and constant pressure of clocking a massive distance day after day. He deserves equal appreciation in making this expedition a success.
Were there times when you just felt like giving up? Also, what kept you going? 
I had a complete breakdown on Day 7 on my way from Pune to Satara as my shoes had worn out and I had experienced two punctures in a span of 15 metres.

Lagging 125 kms behind the target, I experienced a total meltdown  and broke down in front of the crew. Divam helped me gather myself and promised me that he will make sure that I crack the world record.

He completely took over the logistics of the expedition post the incident, allowing me to focus only on cycling. Also, I had pasted a small photograph of my father on the handle of my bicycle which served as a constant reminder about my purpose of doing such an arduous journey in the first place.

What are your future plans and where are you heading? 
I am here in Hyderabad to pursue my MBA at the Indian School of Business. 

What message would you like to give to all the budding bikers like you? 
In over 20 days and 6,000 km of cycling, I never experienced perfect riding conditions and the same should be kept in mind by any rider who wants to cycle great distances.

The conditions will never be in your control but your response is and that is the final determining factor in your success or defeat. Cycling great distances is more of test of your nerves and mental toughness than that of your physical capabilities.

I wanted to make dad proud

What about future expeditions?
Not this year, as I have to study. Perhaps after that. I hope to cycle 8,000 km across the Australian Coast some day. I hope I will get a sponsor then
How much did you spend the first time? 

About Rs 1.5 lakh
What kind of training did you undergo to take this up? 
I trained under Sachit Kocchar, the cycling guru in Delhi who has clocked 22,000 km so far. I also trained under Subodh Mor who was the physiotherapist for Olympian PV Sindhu during th Rio Olympics. I practised Yoga for one hour and cycled for about 150 km a day to build strong abs and shoulders. My training began 75 days ahead. I started training on December 10 for the expedition that I began on March 5.

What exactly prompted you to take up this adventure?
My dad passed away due to a cardiac arrest in November and that created a void in me. It took me over three weeks to get out of the trauma during which I also took to alcohol - something I am not proud of. Soon, I realised that enough is enough and I better do something that my dad would be proud of.

Even in college, I used to cycle for 30 km a day and I decided I will take up a cycling expedition that will make me stronger and test my willpower and perseverance.

I am happy I could do it and I am sure that my dad, wherever he is, is proud of me now. The expedition helped me to push my boundaries, get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself. I am happy that I could break a record set by a cycling champ. It makes me feel accomplished.


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