Commandant Rajesh Thakur has always been an avid follower of mountain bike trip. In the year 1992, he bought a Hero Hercules 5 speed bike and rode it till Rohtang Pass in Manali. One of his biggest bucket lists was to go on a grand mountain bike trip for a cause. But that was in a different era and then he was caught in the other passion of him – to serve the nation in uniform.
During his time in the central paramilitary force, he understood that there is no exception where the fitness is concerned. If he had to be a better soldier or an ideal leader he had to become fitter and lead by example.
At the same time, he saw that young boys and girls were becoming fatter by the generation. When he looked back to his old photos and compare with the youth of same age now, the difference was obvious. He thought that if he achieved something worthwhile at this age and stage of his life, the youth may consider that worth emulating.
Therefore, he started serious mountain biking and training a couple of years ago. Since he was a trained commando in the force, the training was not tough for him. However, mountain biking required a different set of muscles for optimal performance. Therefore, he devised his own training program and started participating in various national and international races.
There is no better way to train than to compete against those who are better than you. Along with training sessions on the saddle, he also started bit of weight training, mountain trail running and badminton. All the above being complimentary to each other. Recently he decided to test himself how much better he has become at running after training on mountain bike and participated in Chandigarh Half marathon. He surprised himself by completing the race in 2hrs timing. Pretty cool for a first-ever race, eh?!
Last year he was sitting with his Inspector General SSB at Ranikhet, and he proposed Commandant Rajesh to do something different. Something which no ordinary person would even dare to dream of.
Commandant Rajesh thought for a moment and he remembered his dream bucket list. In no time, he replied that he will mountain bike with his team from the Base of the Holy Om Parwat mountain to Delhi. The IG was dumbstruck and remarked not to build castles in the air. But they did it. And did it in style!
The great mountain bike trip was scheduled in October 2016. Commandant Rajesh was all set to accomplish his bucket list. His team had 10 ladies and 20 males. The team had some other motives also, before starting the great mountain bike trip. They wanted to spread three messages to the world:
1. To create awareness about ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (Save girl child, Educate girl child) campaign.
2. To spread the awareness about the physical and health benefits of Cycling.
3. To motivate people to use cycle more, as it is environment-friendly.
Route map of the Mountain Bike Trip
NABHIDHANG – ELAGAD – DHARCHULLA – DIDIHAT – PITHORAGARH – ALMORA – RANIKHET – KATHGODAM – RAMPUR – BRIJGHAT – GAZIABAD – GHITORNI – DELHI
Sh. Kiran Rijiju Hon’ble Minister for State Home Affairs who had earlier visited Commandant Rajesh at high altitude post of Gunji and Kalapani, immediately accepted to flag off the MTB Expedition from Om Parwat. Commandant Rajesh remembers that the temperature on the flag off-day was minus 10, which was below the freezing point. They pedaled down trails and paths where it was difficult for even mules and goats to traverse. The locals were staring at them. Later, they came to know that, cycling down the Kailash Mansarovar yatra route had become a stuff of the legends.
In a place called Pangla they were mobbed by tiny tots of a village school who hug them and kissed their hands. In Dharchula, children and adults from Nepal and India had lined up on the road throwing flowers on them smiling and singing. Every place they visited, they saw similar stories. It took only 10 days for them to pedal 1009 kilometers.
“Yes, MTB had been a life changing experience for me. I made many new friends all over the world. Young boys and girls look at me with a different light and I live for it. Now I have been tasked with organizing MTB Race of international level in Arunachal Pradesh. What more can a man ask for!”
Other Bucket Lists
When all things are achieved, he hopes that one day he gets a chance to visit the Mount Everest, maybe ride down the base camp. He also wants to ride around the globe on his bicycle.
“I would be very happy if young people, the future of my beloved India, look at what I am doing and, try to emulate. A fit young generation is essential for the growth of the nation. For the pride of the nation, train hard and pedal even harder. Anything is possible. Pedal until the end of the world.”