Updated: Aug 4, 2019
Sayali Maharao, the twenty-year-old venturesome cyclist holding a record (along with her partner Pooja Budhwale) for being the First Female Duo to cover Kashmir to Kanyakumari on a Cycle, is paddling out on yet another record-setting journey in association with Inspire Crew this December.
On 15th December 2018, Sayali and her partner Abhijit Balu Gavali with unit NCC 36MAH_BN will start their cycling expedition from Arunachal Pradesh towards their final destination Gujarat. The 3,883 km route through 7 states has been planned to complete over a period of 35 days with an average of 150 kms to be covered every day.
Sayali and her partner Abhijit Balu Gavali will be the First Duo to cover Arunachal Pradesh to Gujarat on a cycle from East to West. Just like the previous record-setting cycling expedition, they will make this journey without any backup support team on road.
She mentions, “both our cycling expeditions have an intention in common, that is, to create awareness for ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padao’ and ‘Say No To Plastic’”
Flashing back to a memory when Sara and Maya were stolen from her building basement, Sayali spent many months in tears till her parents finally agreed to give in and Taramati came into her life. To clear all confusions, Sayali has a tradition of naming all her bicycles. Taramati is a basic model of Btwin that she named after her favourite fort in Harishchandra Ghat.
Most of her exploration in life began with Taramati in Thane, Maharashtra. But then she started dreaming bigger and she wanted to make her dream of Kashmir to Kanyakumari on a cycle a reality. She needed a cycle that could support her tedious ride.
Nandu Chavan from Mountain Sports Academy was moved by her determination to achieve this goal. He immediately agreed to help out and sponsored Sayali with two Californian Felt Hybrid Bicycles. Sayali, keeping up with the tradition named hers Kanchenjunga. She will be on the same cycle for her Arunachal Pradesh to Gujarat expedition as well.
Besides her cycling adventures, she is also a mountaineering champ with over ten treks lead in Sahyadri and more than fifty forts visited in this range. She has made it to the Everest Base Camp, ascended the 15,800 ft High Altitude Height Gain Trek and also completed the 6111 metres Mt. Yunum, Durgapremi’s expedition.
Rekindling her memories Sayali recalls, “I was the only girl amongst a team of nine. We summited Mt. Yunum on 15th Aug 2018. Hoisted a fourteen-by-twenty-four-inch flag and Gopal Bhai did the honour of playing the national anthem on the guitar”.
The adventurous soul has many more ambitious dreams in line. Now that she’s found a way to combine her passion for mountaineering and cycling Sayali sees herself riding on her cycle one day on the highest roads of the world, Leh and Ladakh.
Sayali understands the utmost importance of sports along with education. She spends much of her quality time visiting and hosting talks in schools arranged by Step-Up Foundation in Pune. Being an active voice for Inspire Crew she presents to the students what young girls and women in India are achieving in alternative outdoor sports today.
“I derive a lot of motivation from these talks. The principal and faculty are very accepting and supportive of the idea. What boosts my interests more to visit these schools is seeing the girl population almost equal to boys, sometimes even more. It strengthens my faith stronger in the campaign and also in my country”, says Sayali.
While her story so far pours in a lot of appreciative nods for the things she has achieved, she is still struggling to gather funds for her expeditions instead of utilising her time in training for the upcoming challenge. They are losing out on time and at present relying on the support from home.
Losing no hope and mentioning the difficult situations she has overcome in the past, Sayali expresses, “To a brave heart, ‘age’, ‘gender’ and ‘conditions’, are only excuse often used to stay within their comfortable boundaries. Success is only achieved when you challenge yourself first to step out of those comfortable boundaries and then fight through the odd conditions to reach an identity that only you can define”.
Wishing her a safe and adventurous journey, Inspire Crew will be documenting her Arunachal Pradesh to Gujarat cycling expedition and share regular updates of the milestones achieved.
As Sayali prepares to set out on 13th December from Pune to Arunachal, she extends her heartfelt gratitude to Commander Jeetendra Nair and his wife Mrs. Billawaria for helping her get a generous sponsorship from Free Runners, Suhana Masala for a notable financial contribution as well, Mr. Nandu Chavan from Mountain Sports Academy for sponsoring the cycles for the expedition, Ozone Ventures for their cycling equipment services, Step-Up foundation, East to West Cycling Expedition 2018, Shri Shahu Mandir Mahavidyalaya Pune for approving leaves from college and providing utmost support from their end, National Cadet Corps, and last but not the least, Inspire Crew for coming on board as media partner.