42-year-old young man at heart, Rajesh Khandekar, from Thane loves to ride around on his bicycle and take biking trips. He feels bicycle is the best, healthy and no-pollution causing vehicle. Determined to let the world know how they could lead healthy, environment friendly lives and to travel around the world on his hero bicycle, Rajesh Khandekar set out to travel and touch 11 countries.
The cycling enthusiast who had earlier toured around 16 countries across Asia and Europe on his bicycle, in 2009, and fell in love with cycling, camping, & hiking, started his latest journey on 21 December, 2014.
“Apart from cycling, I also fell in love with camping, hiking, mountaineering and other nature-related activities, and I found myself becoming more passionate about the environment. I used my cycling expeditions as a means to reach out to people I meet and educate them about environmental issues, in particular global warming”
Rajesh covered 21,000 kms over 7 months on his tough bicycle with only one gear. He rode his bicycle from Kolkata to Bangladesh, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand. In Australia, Rajesh paddled from Darwin to the Gold Coast, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. He then took a flight to Wellington and from there cycled till Auckland.
Rajesh survived on maggi and khichdi the entire journey after he mistakenly devoured a bowl of soup with dog meat.
Because by the end of the day he would be dead tired, he did not care much about what he ate and where he slept. He also remembered sleeping outside a graveyard in Thailand which mistook as a temple.
Rajesh, who runs a grocery store in Thane, had made his route on a paper map. Umesh Thakur, a cycling enthusiast from Juhu helped Rajesh by contacting Indian embassies and sponsors for Rajesh’s expedition.
A co-operative bank and a local corporator, together sponsored Rajesh’s four flight tickets.
Rajesh was also offered an international bike for his cycling tour but he refused to accept it. He felt his very bicycle was sturdier than any other bike.
The challenges: When his bike was transported in train in Kolkata, he found that its handle had bent. He had to get it fixed. Rajesh had to repair his bike’s tyre four times because the roads in Asian countries were rough.
“Snowfall had started in south of New Zealand, so I could not go on the cycle in few other areas. I had to use the bus hence, I finished early. My parents were always with me in my expedition and luckily I got immense support in foreign countries as well. People offered food, shelter and extended all possible help.” said Rajesh.
Rajesh’s mother feels proud for his passion to cycle around.
Rajesh feels that as he is single and there is no one to scold or stop him, he is healthy and fit and can easily continue on his cycling trips whenever he wanted.
He takes his note: “There is no one to scold me. That’s why I have no health issues. Also, it is great for the environment.” and gets it translated in the local language at the embassy to distribute among the people. He wants people to take to cycle to commute around. He was surprised that people used their cars to even go to the grocery stores in Australia.
“The cleanest way to see the world without harming the environment is by cycling. I had planned the entire route in advance, and hence, didn’t need to use GPS either.” said Rajesh.
Rajesh remembered how people generously helped him from different lands in different ways and made a significant difference to his experience and life each time. His diary is full of such experiences.
Rajesh is planning to cycle around in America and South America the next time.
News Sourced from Mid-Day