In an incredible feat, 20-year-old Vedangi Kulkarni from Pune became the fastest Asian to cycle the globe. Vedangi, who hails from a suburb in Pune, cycled into Kolkata in the wee hours of Sunday, completing the 29,000 km distance required to qualify as bicycling across the globe.
She started off from Perth in July and will now fly back to the Australian city to complete the record. Talking to PTI, Vedangi said the 159 days spent peddling up to 300 km a day in 14 countries had shown her the "best and worst" of both herself, and the world.
Her father Vivek Kulkarni said very few people undertake this gruelling campaign.
British adventurer Jenny Graham (38) cycled the globe in 124 days in 2018, three weeks faster than the previous record.
Elements, both human and natural, tested the Indian cyclist. Vedangi was chased by a grizzly bear in Canada, had to camp alone on multiple nights in the snow in Russia and was robbed at knife-point in Spain. She also had some trouble securing necessary visas. The visa process led to a delay in her departure, and she consequently had to face bad weather conditions in Europe where winter had started to set in.
Vedangi, a student of the University of Bournemouth in the UK, is pursuing a degree in sports management and said preparations for the ride began about two years ago with long cycle rides, getting the equipment including a specially crafted cycle, and planning the route and time window.
She did not have anyone accompanying her for over 80 per cent of the route and lugged her tools, camping equipment and clothing all alone. The ride was mostly funded by her parents.
Starting off from Perth, she cycled across Australia to reach Brisbane from where she flew to Wellington, New Zealand and rode from the north to the south. A short flight took her across the international dateline to Western Canada's Vancouver, from where she continued her eastward journey till Halifax.
Europe came next, and she chose Iceland to start and later cycled through Portugal, Spain France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Finland to enter Russia. From Russia, she flew to India for the last 4,000 km.
Vedangi encountered temperatures ranging from -20 degree Celsius to 37 degrees Celsius during the ride. "My parents have done a great job in giving a 19-year- old (she turned 20 on the ride) all the required mental support and encouragement to explore the world, always being on the other end of the phone and not letting the curiosity die out due to ill experiences," she said.
Vedangi, who entered the City of Joy in the wee hours, will take the earliest flight out to reach Perth and cycle a 15 km distance to reach the same place from where she started her journey.