Meet 40-year-old mother-of-two, Niharika Mohan. What makes her special, you ask? Just the fact that she’s a techie by day and superwoman by night. The holder of an MBA, an M. Tech and an M. Phil and a Ph.D., India’s first female triple-Super Randonneur (SR) and the first Hyderabadi to complete a 1000 km brevet.
It takes most others years to complete a series of brevets (200 km, 300 km, 400 km and 600 km-rides) and be named a Super Radonneur. But Niharika has managed to complete them all and pick up her third SR title within just one season!
Reflecting on her achievement, Niharika says, “The rides were very tough. I had to withstand several difficulties and exhibit great endurance. Completing a triple-SR has been one of my long-cherished dreams, and it’s been extremely gratifying.”
Niharika became the city’s first female SR in the year 2016 after completing a 600-km brevet ride in Hyderabad. She picked up her second title in 2017, also in Hyderabad, and her third and most recent one has come after a series of brevets in Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Coimbatore and Tiruchi.
Explaining how she got into long-distance cycling, Niharika says that she used to run marathons, and she was first introduced to cycling when she decided to participate in a duathlon held in Hyderabad in 2015. “I started enjoying it and practised cycling for short distances. Later, I joined local cycling clubs and started participating in 200 km, 300 km, 400 km brevet rides.”
Despite the fact that work has her shuttling between Hyderabad, Chennai and Bengaluru, Niharika has never given up on her passion. “I joined cycling clubs in Chennai and Bengaluru and cycled with them every month. The club members’ enthusiasm and motivation renewed my spirit and desire to ride further, and gradually, I too started inspiring others, leading rides, and sharing tips. That’s when I decided to attempt a 1,000-km ride,” she says.
The cyclist’s biggest challenge came in the form of an accident during a 400 km ride in November 2017, in Bengaluru. “I suffered injuries on my chin and my shoulder. My family became terrified and asked me to stop cycling,” she says.
But the setback only made her more determined to pursue her goal. In early 2018, she completed a 1,000 km brevet within 71 hours 20 minutes in Hyderabad.
Soon after, she decided to take a break from cycling in an attempt to achieve a better work-life balance while making time for her kids, but she was unable to stay away from the sport for long.
“My friends forced me to resume cycling in June because I was stressed at the time, and it really worked like therapy. I felt so rejuvenated that I went on to complete my second and third SRs too,” she says.
Niharika also reveals that riding at night, on the highway, is not the safest of things to do, but that’s what it takes to be best. “My family used to tell me not to ride at night. But after seeing my achievements, they realised what cycling meant to me, and they were proud,” she says.
The champion’s got a supportive husband looking out for her, and she says she wouldn’t be here without him. “He takes care of the kids, their food, their studies everything, which is why I am able to do all this. In fact, he even packs all the items I need before a ride,” she says.
Talking about how the sport has helped her evolve as a person, she adds, “It has made me more patient and helped me see things from a larger perspective. Riding requires a lot of planning, and that has helped me better organise my professional and personal life. It’s now a big part of my life.”
Niharika currently has her sights set on completing the London Edinburgh London (LEL) Challenge....