A Rotaract cycle expedition addresses global warming, illiteracy

Hemanth and Dhanush (in whites) along with RC Jowai president S K Lato (in jacket), Rotaractors and members of Jaintia Bicycle Forum.
Hemanth and Dhanush (in whites) along with RC Jowai president S K Lato (in jacket), Rotaractors and members of Jaintia Bicycle Forum.

Extreme sports and ­­high-endurance adventures have caught the fancy of ­Rotaractors Dhanush M and Hemanth Y B who are now into an ambitious cross-country cycling for over 24,000km by pedalling across 29 states and three UTs in 6–7 months. The youth are attempting a Guinness Record for cycling the longest distance within a country and RC Bangalore Whitefield Central, RID 3190, their sponsors, is “taking all efforts to make this venture a success. A WhatsApp group formed with five members is in regular touch with the duo to take care of their needs and arrange for their stay in the course of their journey,” says Prasanna V, club president.

Every day is a joyful learning experience as we are cheered by Rotarians and Rotaractors all along the way and are enjoying their hospitality.
Hemanth Y B, a cyclist

While the two hybrid polygon cycles were donated by Rtn Dr Durga Prasad Reddy, chairman, Vydehi ­Hospital, Whitefield, the parent club with generous contributions from its members, Shishu Mandir Education Centre, Hella Nagar, and Maithri Aquatech are funding the cycling ­marathon of the duo. “The primary aim is to create awareness on global warming and literacy among people they meet during their journey across the country,” he says. The WhatsApp group consisting of Rotarians Hari Prasad Reddy, Manoj Kabre, Rtrs Nandini G, IPP of RAC Shishu ­Mandir, Manoj Kumar and Shammu is in constant touch with the cyclists. “We provide all the back-up support to them as they record their daily experience, travails and joys on WhatsApp. We make arrangements 10 days in advance for their stay in their scheduled transit places,” explains Prasanna.

The cycles carried messages on global warming and literacy, and “during their interactions with school students, villagers and Rotarians, the duo highlight social issues like climate change, natural disasters and the importance of good education for children to spread the message.”

 

Pandemic challenges

Dhanush and Hemanth, as passionate members of an extreme sports club at the Government Ramnarayan ­Chellaram College of Commerce, Bengaluru, had taken up mountaineering, rock climbing and cycling across Karnataka.

DG Fazal Mahmood flags off the cycle expedition in Bengaluru.
DG Fazal Mahmood flags off the cycle expedition in Bengaluru.

It all started a year ago, when Hari Prasad Reddy was approached by ­Dhanush and Hemanth for help in taking up a cycle rally as it needs sponsors and logistic support. “They are local boys trained in extreme sports. With involvement in social activities, I decided to help them out. I took up the idea of cross-country rally with my club and began to plan for it with a dedicated team. But due to pandemic restrictions, we could not go ahead at that time,” says Reddy. The rally was supposed to have been launched in Feb-March 2021, but it got delayed and “finally it was inaugurated at Whitefield by our charter president Purna Chandra Rao on July 11 with much fanfare.” On the same day, members of the ­International Fellowship of Cycling Rotarians (IFCR), ­Rotarians and Rotaractors cycled together till Vidhana Soudha, the state’s legislative complex, where DG Fazal Mahmood flagged off the cycling marathon with a host of district office-bearers of RID 3190.

 

The North-East challenge

Right through the duo’s journey through the northeastern states, PDG Kalpana Khound, RID 3240, was guiding them across the difficult terrains and on what sort of people to look out for. “I was in communication with them daily through my mobile phone ever since they entered Malda district of West Bengal. Also, I instructed the Rotary clubs in RID 3240 which are on the way of their journey to provide lodging, food and other essentials to the cyclists,” says Kalpana. In Meghalaya, RC Jowai led by its president S K Lato made arrangements for the cyclists. “Two Rotaractors, along with members of Jaintia Bicycle Forum, escorted the duo till the Assam-Meghalaya border.” During her interaction with the young cyclists, she found them “totally unfamiliar with the topography of the northeast, but were passionate to carry on with their pedalling marathon despite hurdles.” They wanted to reach Arunachal Pradesh and “sought guidance from me for the uphill journey.” When they reached Nagaland, they were given a warm reception and felicitated by Rotarians and Rotaractors at an event hosted by RC Dimapur.

 

Grand vision

In their early twenties, Dhanush and Hemanth were inducted into Rotaract by Reddy a year ago so that “they can successfully explore opportunities for extreme sports and strike friendship with like-minded people.” While ­Dhanush from ­Kadugodi, a city ­suburb, is working as an admin staff at the Vydehi Hospital, Hemanth from ­Yadagondanahalli in ­Whitefield is an agriculturist, helping his parents in their traditional vocation. However, both shared a passion for ­high-endurance activities during their college days.

Hemanth (L) and Dhanush (4th from R) along with Meghalaya cyclists and local Rotaractors.
Hemanth (L) and Dhanush (4th from R) along with Meghalaya cyclists and local Rotaractors.

Taking a one-day halt at ­Bhubaneswar, Dhanush says, “we are grateful to Rotary and happy to take up as our campaign two focus areas of Rotary — environment and literacy.” After completing this cross-country journey, they want to do another mega cycling project in a year under the Rotary banner. “We want to attempt another Guinness Record by doing the longest cycling in a state with Karnataka Rotaractors with as much riders as possible.”

They want to set up training facilities in adventure sports at schools in and around Bengaluru in the long run. “This type of activities will strengthen the mental and physical well-being of students.” For Hemanth, every day is a “joyful learning experience as we are cheered by Rotarians and Rotaractors all along the way and are enjoying their hospitality.”

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