When we heard about Abhi Iyer’s odyssey, we were terribly excited. A young adventure-seeker, setting off on his own from his house in Pune with nothing but a cycle to carry him across the 1600 kms from Pune to Kanyakumari, along the coastline of India – how inspiring is that?! We just had to ask him all about it.
Here’s Abhi, telling us his guts and glory story!
The Great Next (TGN): Tell us a little about yourself. What do you do for a living? What kind of adventures do you like? What do you do for fun?
Abhi Iyer (AI): I’m 28, a Marine Engineer and I grew up and live in Pune. I spend a few months out of the year working on board ships and a few months back on land on vacation. I usually lead a physically active lifestyle, due to the nature of my work with it being a blue collar job. When I’m back home though, I love to play basketball and train occasionally for triathlons. Bicycles being my preferred mode of transport, of course. 🙂
TGN: How often do you manage to get away and travel?
AI: I suppose going a month without heading out gets me feeling restless. Even a weekend get away with a hike or camp helps me reset sometimes. I feel privileged that my lifestyle allows me to up and go anytime if I should want to.
TGN: What is it that makes you want to travel? Did the adventure bug bite you young?
AI: I wouldn’t say I caught the bug early on. It sure has accumulated over the years. I look to head out mainly for mental stimulation and the need to challenge myself each time. I feel I return a wiser me and realize just how insignificant we all and our problems really can be.
TGN: What made you decide to do this solo cycling trip?
AI: Simply put, I had the time for it and I hadn’t topped my last challenge of a Half-Ironman Triathlon in months. This seemed like an opportune time to execute it and none of my peers had done such a thing before. I guess I also felt like I was at a point in life where I had a point to prove.
TGN: Was this the first time you’ve done a solo cycling trip?
AI: The first solo biking trip over long distance would be 2 years ago. I remember carrying my bicycle via train to Chennai for a Triathlon and post that I biked inter-cities sometimes, exploring the South of India.
TGN: Tell us about the trip. What route did you take?
AI: Pune-Goa is a pretty common route for veteran cyclists and I was looking to do something different with it. A friend recommended I look into going further South and I got down to researching it. To my fortune, I read that the coastal highway up to Kanyakumari was supposedly a very beautiful ride. All I had to do was move west, find the coast and just head south. So I decided to figure out basic logistics and felt adamant about doing this entirely on my own. In retrospect, I’m glad I chose to do so.
TGN: What kind of research goes into a trip like this?
AI: I spent less than a week. I had the idea, spent time reading online and spent time procuring gear for it. That’s the nutshell. I would recommend one to not spend all their time on research and making things fool-proof. In my experience, the trip itself usually doesn’t materialise if you contemplate and sweat the small stuff. If you’ve thought about it, just go! That’d be my mantra, if any. Of course, I must add that I did feel physically fit to begin with.
TGN: How did you manage your luggage? It looked like you went completely minimal. We’re guessing you didn’t have too many costume changes
AI: Glad you noticed! 🙂 I feel like a bit of an expert with packing for travel since I’ve taken an umpteen number of solo trips if I’m not just counting bike rides. For this one, I picked up a pair of neat looking pannier bags from Decathlon and they were each a 7kg max load/19ltr volume bag, if I remember correctly.
I carried with me 3 sets of riding clothes, 3 sets of casual wear, a minimum required amount of bicycle spares and tools and a few electronics. All of this fit snugly into these bags and they clipped perfectly along the sides of my bike pannier. Total weight was possibly 12kgs. I’d do my laundry once in few days if I got in early and had access to a washing machine.
TGN: What kind of gear do you use? Do you have any favourite brands?
AI: Most of my bicycle accessories are from Decathlon – lights, handlebar grips, saddle pouch, portable bike pump etc. The bicycle tool kit and puncture related spares were an assortment of brands. I carried 2 new tubes, 1 hand pump, 1 puncture repair kit, 1 Allen-key set and installed a new pair of tyres before the ride. In terms of electronics, I carried 1 pair of front and rear lights, a GoPro, 1 Hard drive, 1 power bank and a couple of chargers. Overall I’d always pick Decathlon for gear mainly for the convenience and the value for money factor.
TGN: Do you have an adventure travel bucket list? What do you plan to do next?
AI: I do have something lined up for the coming month if I don’t sail out already. I should know more post my shipping exams. I know I have to take it up a notch with the next one, but I’d rather keep it hush until I set out on it. I’ll tell you this though – It involves a bicycle, a GoPro and some rivers in the North of India.
TGN: Tell us about your favourite moment from this trip?
AI: I’ve got to say getting to Maravanthe Beach, Karnataka was refreshing and the stunning views there was something I wasn’t anticipating or had looked up. There isn’t much to do there besides a beach that’s located besides a highway with a river to the other side. Yet, it features on the nicest beaches I’ve been to this far. A tiny strip of land between Malpe, near Udupi, going all the way to Kapu was easily the best 30 odd km stretch of my ride, though.
TGN: What advice do you have for adventurers who might want to do something like this?
AI: Just go. Don’t wait. You’re shortchanging yourself if you tell yourself you can’t figure it out. You’re missing out on experiencing new layers to yourself if you aren’t changing your environment often enough. I read something corny related to this once but I find that it applies each time – The biggest reason one doesn’t end up travelling begins with “But……………..”
TGN: We HAVE to know more about this trip! Is there anywhere we can read about your trip in detail?
AI: I did finally get around to putting words on to paper from the sound bytes I left myself as journal entries along this ride. It is up on my Medium profile here. You’ll also find my other post on my Half-Ironman experience over there.
Watch Abhi’s video here:
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