Setting out on a trip lasting more than a year discovering the country on bicycles with just ₹600 in pocket, calls for immense self-belief and belief in the compassion of fellow beings.
Ashik Reji and Ashwin Manoj, 21-year-olds who met eight years back at G.V. Raja Sports School where they were pursuing athletics and football respectively, have embarked on such an adventure this New Year. Their journey was flagged off from Ashik’s place at Pampakkuda near Piravom.
Since then, they have pedalled their way to Thalassery and were set to be given a second flag-off from Ashwin’s place at Iritty in Kannur.
“So far, our trust in compassionate strangers stands vindicated as till now we didn’t have to use a single penny as people have fed us and even arranged our overnight stay. We slept at a fire station at Vadakara on Wednesday. We also have with us the materials to put up tents,” said Ashik, a travel vlogger who bought his cycle and other paraphernalia using the income from his YouTube videos. He plans to enrich his vlog with daily videos for the next one-and-a-half-year their trip is expected to last.
Even the portents of a potential third wave of the pandemic failed to dissuade them. “Cycling is perhaps the safest thing to do during an epidemic. We are confident of being allowed passage even through areas under lock down,” said Ashwin who used to work at Kerala House in Delhi.
Ashwin, a cycling enthusiast, wanted to pedal around the country while Ashik wished to discover the country somehow. “Our ideas kind of converged and we ended up cycling,” said Ashik.
They have been pedalling around 70km to 80km a day since they started. But they may slow down considerably once they exit Kerala as exploring the places they pass through take precedence over setting a daily target in terms of distance to cover.
“This is such a wonderful country and majority of us die without ever getting to explore it in full. We have just one life and we thought we would rather do it now than regret later,” said Ashik.