Pune woman aims to be fastest to cycle around the world

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Vedangi Kulkarni

Vedangi Kulkarni (File image)

Mumbai: The top bar of Vedangi Kulkarni’s bicycle frame has a telling line – `It’s just around the corner’.

For someone who will be embarking on a 29,251-km solo unsupported bicycle ride, it may well serve as motivation to keep going even in a most inclement weather and other adversities.

In mid-July, 25-year-old Vedangi will embark on the ambitious journey from Finland, aiming to finish in the same country to become the fastest woman to cycle around the world.

This is not the first time that this Pune-born cyclist will be undertaking an adventure like this. In 2018, she undertook a similar ride, albeit along a different route, and completed it in 159 days to emerge as the fastest Asian to cycle around the globe.

This time, her attempt would be to do it in under 124 days to break the current world record, she told PTI earlier this week from Inverness in Scotland where she is based currently.

“From the last ride, I have had learnings on what it takes to execute such a ride successfully,” she said, sounding confident of achieving the feat.

In the last five years since her previous ride, Vedangi has found a mention in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ address, and has also earned the tag of being the fastest woman to cycle on the arduous Manali-Leh stretch in 2023.

Vedangi was into various sports including football during her schooling at Pune’s Dnyan Prabodhini, and cycling caught her fancy later.

During her undergraduate studies at University of Bournemouth, the idea of cycling around the world came, and she executed it before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

The last few months were spent on training, collecting the right gear, route planning and paperwork for visas, Vedangi said.

Her training includes regular yoga sessions and meditation besides putting in miles on the bicycle, both on an indoor trainer and out in the open. During her ride, she will have to clock more than 300 km every day to achieve the record, Vedangi pointed out.

As things stand now, Vedangi will be cycling through Finland, Estonia, Russia, Mongolia, Australia, New Zealand, US, Canada, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Sweden before ending the ride in Finland.

In her past rides she has encountered incidents like being robbed at knife-point (in Spain) and chased by a grizzly bear (in Canada). She says cycle touring continues to be full of challenges, but the key is to have the right strategy for every situation.

The endurance athlete-turned-entrepreneur pursues other interests including open water swimming, mountain biking and cross-country skiing.

She acts as a consultant for adventure expeditions, and also delivers motivational talks, among other things.

She is funding her coming ride through sponsorships. She also plans to make a film on her journey.

`Look beyond barriers’ is the message she wants to spread, Vedangi said.