Who wouldn’t like to go around the world? But, definitely on a plane! Or a ship, if you are on a tight budget. But there’s 25-year-old Kamalakannan Durairaju, who plans to go around the world on a bicycle in a bid to spread awareness among people on Diabetes. Aspiring to become the first Asian to accomplish this extraordinary feat, Kamal plans to start his trip in June and wind it up in 130 days. As we chatted with him just before he was embarking on another trip to the Himalayas, Kamal shared with us the inspiration behind the trip and challenges he has prepared himself for. Excerpts:
What will your route of travel be?
The idea is to circumnavigate the world. The trip starts from Delhi and then goes through Kolkata, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Perth and across Australia, New Zealand and USA. After crossing the breadth of Europe I will cycle my way to Turkey, Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, finally reaching Delhi. Only ten people have attempted this, and I’ll be the first Asian to attempt this.
Have you done long-distance cycling trips before?
Yes, I have. In 2014, I rode across the length and breadth of Chennai on my cycle. I had a small company called OMR Pedal Messengers, Chennai’s first bike-messenger service, and to promote it, I cycled about 90 km across Chennai on a non-geared cycle. I also cycled to Pondicherry from Chennai and back. In May 2015, I cycled across all districts of Tamil Nadu in 22 days.
When did the idea of seeing the world on a bicycle strike you first?
I wanted to do it right after my Tamil Nadu trip. But the seeds doing long-distance travels were sown while I was pursuing my visual communication course. I was supposed to do a documentary, and got this crazy idea of filming my ride from Chennai to Neyveli, my hometown, without stopping anywhere.
What challenges do you anticipate during your journey?
Definitely the climate! Since I am from the South, I am not very used to extreme winters. Language won’t be an issue because I know a bit of Spanish and French, and can also read Arabic. But finding sponsors has been a big challenge. Thanks to the typical Indian mentality, people still ask me, “What will I get out of this” and I don’t have any reasons to blame them.
Have you been inspired by anyone who has undertaken similar adventures?
Yes, I am a fan of British cyclist Mark Beaumont, who has a record of completing 18,297 miles on a cycle around the world. I am also inspired by two other Indians — Gaurav Siddharth, who is attempting Guinness World Record for the longest bike ride in a country, and Kartik Sharma, who cycled from Manipal to Delhi.
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