journey from Kashmir to Kanyakumari with atrificial limb


Every fall counted as also his family support

He lost a limb in an accident. But not his determination to ride the bicycle. After many falls and two silver medals for the country, cyclist Aditya Mehta is all set to ride from Kashmir to Kanyakumari for a cause.

As Aditya Mehta gears up for his endurance ride from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, he is a bundle of energy and excitement. If there’s any tension at all about the impending challenge, Aditya chooses to maintain a positive attitude. “Yes, it will be hard, but not impossible. I’ll be able to do it,” smiles the amputee. The 31-year-old cyclist from Hyderabad is gearing up for a journey from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. He will begin his journey on November 7 at Srinagar from where he will proceed towards Delhi via Patnitop, Jammu and Ambala. His route will cover cities such as Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore before he proceeds to Kanyakumari. The cyclist hopes to finish his 3,800-km journey on a road bike in 36 days, with some friends and other bicycling club members joining him. “I’m glad they are doing that. It can be very boring to ride alone for long distances,” says Aditya, who will also be accompanied by a support vehicle.

I’m riding to raise money to set up a Trust for amputees,” he says, elaborating, that while he is blessed with a supportive family and the resources to do all that he likes despite losing a limb, there are several others who, despite the potential and determination, don’t have the support or the resources to pursue their dreams. “I regularly get calls from amputees from across the country telling me they are inspired by me and would like to do something similar if they could find a sponsor. That is when photographer Arvind Chenji suggested that I set up a Trust that’d help such people,” says Aditya, who is also into garment export and the construction business.

Staying positive

It was eight years ago when Aditya was hit by a bus while he was riding his motorcycle. “Fortunately, I was wearing my helmet that day, a new one that I wanted to show off to friends,” he says. While the helmet did save his life, Aditya lost his leg in the accident. What really helped him at the time was his family’s positive attitude. “My father would do everything to lift my spirits. He’d say I was a fighter and was lucky to be given a second shot at life,” recalls the cyclist. A mere 25 days after his accident, Aditya flew to South Africa for a garment expo.

Aditya, had been married for a year at the time of the accident. “I didn’t want her to be tied down. But she stuck by my side. We have a four-year-old daughter,” he smiles. His daughter is his biggest fan. “She boasts about my accomplishments to people at school. She’s very proud that I have a robot (that’s what she calls his prosthetic leg) and her friends’ fathers don’t,” he says.

As he prepares for his 36-day cycling expedition, he admits that staying away from his family will be the hardest. “I can’t imagine not seeing my daughter for so long,” he says. As he spends his evenings and early mornings practising for his cycling trip, Aditya recalls how he first began cycling after his accident. “I happened to see a Hyderabad Bicycling Club poster a couple of years ago and was upset that I couldn’t do that anymore. One day as my brother was riding his cycle, I convinced him to let me try. He was worried that I’d hurt myself. But I wanted to at least try,” he recalls.

He rode one km that day and was elated. “I fell more than five times, but each fall made me stronger. After riding casually for some time, I decided to try and get a place in the Limca Book of Records for the fastest 100 km. And I did! It was an amazing feeling. I also love the adulation and recognition that I now get,” admits Aditya who has won two silvers for the country at the Para Asian Cycling Race and participated in the London to Paris Cycle Challenge.

As Aditya continues to cycle competitively and for a cause, he says that cycling has changed his life in more ways than one. “Cycling for me is like meditation. I know that at the end of this endurance challenge, my hands will be swollen and I will have saddle sores, but I’d love every bit of it. Nothing is hard. Pain is in the mind and once you overcome that, it’s easy to reach your goal,” he says adding, “Cycling has also taught me the value of money. Earlier I’d spend money without a second thought. I’m a foodie and love to dine at the best places. I went to Dubai just to eat at the Burj Al Arab. But ever since I began cycling I’ve learnt to save for my sport. Each of my prosthetic limbs costs over Rs. 7 lakh (including the cycling leg).”

(Aditya also counsels amputees and visits accident victims. For details, visit www.adityamehta.in

 

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