On eve of World Cycling Day, Adil Teli – who entered Guinness World Records last year – tells his cycling journey
Despite facing hiccups, Adil Teli, 24, in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir has booked his name in the Guinness World Records by pedalling 3,600 kilometres journey on a bicycle.
He achieved this feat last year by travelling from IIOJK to India’s southernmost tip Kanyakumari in just eight days.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency coinciding with World Bicycle Day, which is being observed on Friday, Teli said the high temperature and humid conditions in the Indian plains had left him drained and he used to undertake journeys in the evenings and early hours.
While traversing the NH-44, the longest national highway in India, he mainly rested during the afternoons when the temperatures were high.
“In case we found no such facility, I used to nap on the road,” he said.
He covered cities like Srinagar, Jammu, Delhi, Mathura, Agra, Gwalior, Jhansi, Nagpur, Adilabad, Hyderabad, Kurnool, Bengaluru, Sellum, Madurai, and others before ending his journey in Kanyakumari, on India’s southern tip, on Mar 30.
“This journey will always remain with me as inspiration to do more,” Teli said.
Since 2014, Teli has been a professional cyclist and has represented the Jammu and Kashmir region in many events. However, it has never been easy for Teli to go through this journey.
Belonging to a middle-class family, it was very hard for him to purchase equipment costing hundreds of dollars or take part in big events.
“Finding a sponsor was always challenging. For many months, I roamed here and there looking for sponsors,” said Teli.
In the end, while he succeeded to get a sponsor from the business community, Teli urged the government to improve the sports infrastructure in Kashmir and actively support athletes.
“We do not have coaches, cycling tracks, or events of sports at very basic levels. There is no proper training available in Kashmir,” he said.
Cycling as a sport yet to take roots
Rajesh Kaushik, who coached Teli for over seven months, said that cycling as a sport is yet to take roots in India.
Kaushik, who has been training cyclists since 2006, lamented the absence of sports culture in India.
“In many countries outside India, there is a proper cycling culture, and that is why they are better trained than us,” he said.
Ravinder Singh, president of the Jammu and Kashmir Cycling Association, said he had raised demands of improving cycling infrastructure in the Jammu and Kashmir region with the government.
For now, Teli is preparing for another record-breaking feat.
“For the last three months, I have been training here in Punjab and then for another 45 days, I will move to Ladakh for training before taking part in another ride – which he is yet to officially announce,” he said.
Teli recalled that 10 years ago when he had been spending hours cycling through the lanes of his home in the Narbal area of district Baramulla, his parents often used to get upset with him for wasting time.
They wanted Teli to study and secure his future by getting a good job. But he continued cycling and surprised his parents as well by entering the Guinness World Records.