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This Apeejay student cycled from Kharghar to Hyderabad to fulfill her guide’s dream

Niharika Reddy from Apeejay School, Kharghar, and her father covered a distance of 657 km in three days

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Niharika with her guide Gade Sudhakar Reddy

Niharika Reddy, a class 10 student of Apeejay School, Kharghar, does not recall being a fitness enthusiast. But her passion for cycling developed after she met her guide who coached her for months with the mission of embarking on a long cycling adventure. After rigorous practice sessions, the young girl recently cycled all the way to Hyderabad from her home in Kharghar in just three days. In an interview, Niharika talks about the experience of her first cycling marathon. Edited excerpts:

Who or what was the inspiration behind this adventure?

It was Gade Sudhakar Reddy, an executive coach from Telangana, whom I met in 2020. Passionate about cycling, he formed a group and began to coach me. We started cycling on a regular basis. We went for long rides on weekends and cycled around Palm Beach Road in Navi Mumbai on weekdays. One of our first achievements was cycling for 25 km to Palm Beach Road. In September 2021, he moved to Hyderabad.

Reddy uncle’s dream was to make our group ride to Hyderabad. I thought of fulfilling it. When I told my father Bhaskar Reddy, he showed a lot of support. With the help of a friend, he planned the entire ride from Kharghar to Hyderabad within two weeks. My father and I, along with three of his friends, got on our cycles on February 11 and reached Hyderabad on February 13 where I finally met my coach.

This was your first long cycling adventure. What was the experience like?

We covered a distance of 657 km. Initially, I thought the journey would be easy. But when we got to Bhor Ghat, situated on the Western Ghats, on the first day, I realised how challenging the trip was going to be. Climbing Bhor Ghat was extremely exhausting. We had to get down from our cycles and walk through the mountainous terrain. On the second day, the temperature was very high, and the heat and dust made me feel really uncomfortable. I was not even able to eat properly because of chapped lips. It was a very hard trip for me. But the only motivation was the desire to meet my coach anyhow, which kept pushing me to ride.

Did you use any special cycle for the trip?

We used carbon fibre cycles—the frame is made with carbon fibre strands. These are gear cycles that are lighter as compared to other cycles, which helps in picking up pace.

What was your reaction when you finally ended the trip?

I was extremely happy to meet my coach. But my father and my coach were even more ecstatic. Seeing their happiness added to my joy.  

What was your school’s reaction?

When we informed the school principal, she showed a lot of enthusiasm and wished me luck. My class teacher was also very supportive; she even shared the news on social media. Besides, all my classmates and their parents sent their best wishes for the adventure.

Are you or your family members fitness enthusiasts?

Not really, it was Reddy uncle who inspired my parents. Earlier, we never tried any such activities, although I have been involved in sports. In class 4, for instance, I learned how to play handball. I also participated as an athlete in some events at Pune, but I soon lost touch.

Take us through your training process.

I practised daily and started covering more and more distance gradually, from 25 km to about 50 km. Within a month, I covered 100 km on a single day. Then I rode to Alibaug, located about 150 km from our house. During my vacations, I covered about 1200 km in 18 days.

Practice is the way to perfection, believes Niharika Reddy

Was it difficult to balance your preparation for the board exams with such long hours of practice?

The pandemic helped me in a way. The timings for the online classes were convenient and allowed me more time to practice. It would have been difficult to manage both if I was still going to school physically.

Any tips for cycling enthusiasts?

Practice is the only way to ace it.

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Senior Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.

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