Hyderabad: Seventeen-year-old cycling enthusiast Macharla Venkatesh, of Patancheru in Hyderabad, accomplished his dream of cycling to Leh, in a 26-day expedition.
He started from the city on May 23 and reached his destination on June 17, traversing 11 states on his 2,713-kilometre-long journey.
Venkatesh, who works as a butcher, said he had been saving for four years to undertake the trip. “It was an amazing experience that was worth the struggle. I found helpful people during the journey. They provided me with food, money and first aid,” he said.
The city teen, however, is not a trained cyclist. He completed an expedition to Kanyakumari a month before setting off for Leh, to make sure that he could undertake the journey.
Venkatesh drew inspiration from 55-year-old Parimal Kanji of Kolkata, who travelled across the country on a bicycle last year.
A class 10 pass-out, Venkatesh said he was not academically inclined and started working. He attempted to ride out to Leh last year as well, but returned after 500 kilometres due to familial pressure. But after completing the expedition this time, his family is proud of his accomplishment, he said.
Armed with camping equipment and a first-aid kit, he mostly stayed near petrol pumps during his journey. He used a geared cycle, and wore a helmet and hand gloves.
Venkatesh said he travelled between 75 kilometres and 130 kilometres per day, but found it hard to navigate his way as he was reaching his destination, as it is located at an elevation of over 11,000 feet.
“The view at Leh was breathtaking. Clear water, snowy mountains and white clouds were the only sight; it was a heavenly experience! I have no words to describe the feeling,” he said.
He dedicated the expedition to his best friend Salim, who died in an accident last year. “Salim bhai and I had planned the adventure together, which could not happen. It was his memories that kept me pushing forward whenever I thought of giving up during the trying moments.”
He said that he also wanted to promote greener modes of transportation.
“We know that the environment is in danger and forests are being chopped off for development. So, I thought I could give a strong message to people to raise awareness about the environment on my trip.”
Dismissing intentions of becoming a celebrity, Venkatesh said that he wants to live a contented life, every day....