Srinagar: “Nothing is impossible if you put your mind and heart into it. In cycling terms, I ‘emptied the tank’ to achieve my dream,” said Adil Teli, a young Kashmiri youth, who recently completed a fatiguing ride from Kashmir to Kanyakumari (K2K).
Aiming to break a Guinness World Record (GWR) of the fastest K2K journey, 23-year-old Teli from Budgam pedalled the nearly 3,600 km journey in just eight days, 1 hour and 37 minutes.
While on his way back home after completing the grueling task, the young professional cyclist spoke to indianexpress.com about his journey, the relentless pursuit and all the love he has received.
Starting the journey on March 22 from Kashmir’s iconic Ghanta Ghar at Lal Chowk in Srinagar around 7: 30 am, he reached his destination on March 30 around 9 am. His ride was flagged off by Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Pandurang K Pole. The goal was clear but not easy — breaking one of the most difficult Guinness World Records.
“Ever since I started cycling professionally, I want to achieve this world record. And it took me some time to get there but I’m so glad I could do it,” he ecstatically said over the telephone. Previously in 2019, the man had successfully pedalled from Srinagar to Leh, completing the high-altitude journey of 440km in just 26 hours, 30 minutes.
The current world record is held by 17-year-old Om Mahajan from Nashik, who took eight days, 7 hours and 38 minutes. Although, owing to the time taken Teli has breached the mark with a great margin, the international body is yet to officially acknowledge his feat. “We are in the process of submitting all the evidence to the association and we’ll get the official confirmation soon,” Teli said.
For the mammoth task, Teli said he pedalled for nearly 20 hours everyday to break the previous record by a wide margin. “I had studied Om’s route well and how he rested. I quickly realised I needed to reduce break time in order to beat it. So, I usually took power naps in between my physio sessions,” he said.
When asked about the most challenging part, Teli said it was the high temperature and humid conditions that got to him the most. “Coming from the mountains, I’m not used to hot weather…here I was riding in almost 40 degree Celsius,” he said.
So, to beat the odds — Teli pedalled mostly throughout the evening, at night and early hours. During the course of his journey, he rested mostly during hot afternoons, while traversing the NH 44, the major north–south National Highway in India, the longest in the country.
For his ride, he travelled throughout India, covering major cities like Delhi, Agra, Gwalior, Hyderabad, Madurai, among others before ending his journey in Cape Comorin, on India’s southern tip. He had with him a team of eight members, which included a physiotherapist, a nutritionist, a mechanic and camera crew.
He said the ride will be a lifetime experience and an extremely special one. “This journey will always remind me to keep pushing myself beyond expectations. I got to know my own capacity once I finished this wonderful, stressful and enjoyable ride. But every pedal was worth taking all the risks,” he said.
He admitted that there were times when he was on the verge of giving up. “During the ride I got demotivated because of unbearable pain. Every time I thought of quitting, I could see my parents’ faces and tears in their eyes…that kept me going,” he added.
Around December last year, he submitted his application to the GWR body and finally got a green signal in March to commence his journey. After training for five months in Punjab, where he would pedal for 250 km thrice a week to build his strength, he added that without the love and support of his family, crew and sponsor this would have been impossible.
Supported by Abraq Agro, a controlled-atmosphere storage facility company from Kashmir that sponsored the entire journey, Teli said he was immensely grateful to them. “I come from a middle class family, I could have not achieved this if I didn’t have the sponsorship. Thanks to their efforts, be it providing support staff or equipment, I could focus on my goal without worrying about the rest,” he said.
He said the journey was excruciating but totally worth it. “It was one hell of a ride but it was beautiful in its own way. I have a feeling that my own era has started and it will not stop until Allah stops it,” he said.
As a young athlete who has represented J&K in cycling competitions from 2014, he hopes his achievement inspires more people, especially the younger generation in the state. “Interest in cycling is developing in India a lot in recent years and hope more and more people take this up.”
“The response has been phenomenal over the past few days. Not just people of Kashmir but people across the country have been getting messages, and it feels really nice,” he added. (Agency)