Nishad Nikarthil along with his friend, Nagendra K, cycled 460 km from Bangalore to Kochi in just four and half days. This included additional time to eat, take a rest, and explore the places along the way. They covered Mysuru, Gundlupete, Nilambur, Wadakkanchery, and Kochi. The Bangalore to Kochi journey was a beginning of an adventure for Nishad who wanted to challenge himself and give his newfound skills a chance.
How Did It All Begin For Nishad?
Nishad started his cycling journey in 2020 when he had come down to Kerala from Bangalore to work from home. He works as a Senior Assistant Vice President at an MNC bank.
The work from home shift became slightly monotonous to Nishad. The time he would use to commute to work, now became an opportunity for him to focus on priorities outside of work. As such, he used his free time to incorporate fitness into his life. He thus found inspiration in a bicycle. After a couple of self-motivation episodes, he dedicated a few hours in the day to cycle.
Nishad’s first long-distance cycle ride was on Independence Day (2021) where he covered 217 km in 18 hours with a five-hour break. Nishad shared, “I had no clue about cycles when I first started. Short rides were a smooth sail for me. But, when I rode 217 km for the first time, I understood where I went wrong as a cyclist. But it was a blessing in disguise as it gave me the confidence to do more of such travels. That’s one of the reasons why I decided to try the Bangalore to Kochi route.”
His cycle couldn’t handle the long-distance. On top of that, Nishad had suffered knee pain that he never experienced before. Thankfully, he was able to make a stop at Decathalon. He commented, “I went there and asked the store assistant to give me a cycle that was meant for long-distance travel. Unfortunately, it wasn’t there in the store and he told me that he would inform me if it came online. As for my knee, I met with a doctor of sports medicine and coach, Dr Abin Jos, who gave me a couple of exercises to recover. Apparently, my knee wasn’t strong enough to handle the long cycle drive.”
That particular experience changed the way Nishad saw cycling and fitness. He learned two things that day. Firstly, he had to gain an understanding of long-distance cycling. And secondly, he had to make sure that his body was fit enough to handle the pressure. Nishad didn’t give up. He turned his weakness into his strength and a couple of weeks later, he was back at it again. This time, with a better bike and a stronger knee. He would go on to ride 30 km on weekdays and 60-80 km on weekends.
The Begining Of The Journey
In December 2021, Nishad had to go to Bangalore for business purposes. His intuition urged him to challenge himself to cycle from Bangalore to Kochi. Even though his family was a bit hesitant, he convinced them to give him a chance. In fact, upon hearing this, Nagendra K, who had absolutely no clue about cycling long-distance decided to give him company. “He didn’t want me to go alone,” said Nishad. He added, “I’m grateful to have him as a friend. Nagendra liked cycling too, but he had never cycled at such long distances. But he was adamant to accompany me and that was amazing. We had so much fun together.” They have a partnership with a well-known food outlet called Asha Tiffins in Bangalore. But more than that, they have a good friendship that’s transcended their business relationship.
Nishad had to dismantle his cycle and send it to Bangalore, where it was re-assembled with the help of Nagendra.
The Preparation For The Journey
Having the right equipment is essential for every rider no matter the distance. In fact, it is an art to know how to pack the equipment such that it doesn’t pose a challenge to the rider. Nishad had to learn this from scratch and YouTube videos and article guides helped him out.
Nishad shared, “The one thing that a cyclist should remember is that when they plan to cycle long distances, they should always travel light. I carried five pairs of nylon cycling apparel that are lightweight, mandatory cycling gear such as gloves, shoes, specs, helmet, and safety jacket, essentials that were miniatures, and medicines. These are the things that I had to carry. Apart from that, there are a few things your cycle will have to carry for you such as cycle tubes, puncture kits, lights, hand pump, and cycle lock. I didn’t carry a purse; I just had cash and my cards.”
Nishad and Nagendra would start at 6 am every day as they weren’t familiar with the place. Around 8-9 am, they would stop for breakfast and at 11 am, for lunch. By 6:30-7 pm, they would halt their journey and take a rest in the nearest lodge. Nishad shared, “Due to COVID, there were many rooms available. That too, at an affordable price.”
One of the best parts of their cycling that Nishad couldn’t stop raving about was the route between Gundlupete till Nilambur via Gudalur. “I can’t stress how beautiful that lap was. The sight of wild animals and birds and us being so close to nature was probably the best part of this trip,” shared Nishad.
During our conversation with Nishad, he mentioned a striking aspect. He said, “No matter where we stopped, we were respected like anything. People were in awe of what we were doing and they showed us immense respect. A few instances that I particularly recall is one where we had our room upgraded by the manager. Some of them even offered free food to us. When we stopped to drink coconut water, the vendor didn’t even charge us. At another stop, we didn’t have change to give the seller, but they went out of their way to help us get it so we could have a smooth journey ahead. Every person we encountered, right from a small seller to a hotel manager was generous to us. The amount of respect long-distance cyclists get is crazy.”
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On average, the cyclists spent 10,000 on accommodation, and 500 on food (per day). The main expenses they had to incur was during the preparatory period. The equipment, cycle service, clothes, shipping charges cost them a lot. He shared, “In actuality, this is not how you prepare for a long-distance ride. Since we were first-timers, we didn’t really know. Next time, we would carry a tent and not keep a target to cover the distance. Rather than quantifying it, I personally think we should have kept going till our heart’s was content. Next time for sure.”
The Bangalore to Kochi trip was Nishad’s second long-distance cycling trip. A few lessons were learned. He hopes to do more of such challenges that push his limits. This year, he aspires to cycle from Kochi to Kasaragod before the summers or during the winters. This particular route in the north of Kerala is home to historical sights. This is one of the main reasons Nishad wants to travel this route. Another trip he’d like to take is the Kochi to Munnar route. While the distance between the two places is short, the last 30 km is a tough one to crack. Then, of course, there are many out of state travels that he has planned and hopes to achieve in the coming future.
At the moment, Nishad is hooked to the book Bicycles of Amsterdam by Raju Raphael, a travelogue that he highly recommends to all cyclists. He continues to hone his cycling skills every day. There’s no stopping him now. We hope Nishad can achieve his cycling aspirations, all while inspiring others to follow suit.