Friday, December 30, 2016

Travel: Go on an arduous bicycle trail for a cause

The route to Kilo features a 1,600m climb to the campsite

Dinesh Maskeri loves cycling. For the last year and a half, the professor of physiology, has cycled about 40 to 50 km daily. He moved to Mumbai recently and even though he hasn't had time to continue his routine, he will make up for it in a month.

the route between Agui to Anini

In January, Maskeri will participate in Ride To Light (RTL): the Mishmi Hills Challenge, North East India's first full-fledged cycle tour, covering 300 kilometres across Arunachal Pradesh. The tour supports Batti, an initiative that provides basic lighting to North East India's remotest inhabitants.

Dinesh Maskeri

Bicycle high
Maskeri will be one of 19 participants in the second edition of the ride; the debut ride in January this year saw nine participants. The 300 km, six-day journey will be spread across Arunachal Pradesh, starting at the Digaru plains in Tezu, going upwards to the Eastern Himalayas, and ending in the forests of Anini. The remaining days will be spent interacting with the locals of Anini.

The participants, support staff and locals at the end of the first edition of Ride to Light, at Anini

"Arunachal Pradesh has recently opened up for tourism, and since we've been working here for so long, we felt the need to create a model for responsible tourism, in which every tourist who goes there helps the local population. Here, locals handle every other aspect of the ride — logistics, cooking, camping, and other support," says Rajiv Rathod, project director for Batti and one of the organisers of RTL.

Abhishek Agarwal

Charity in the hills
RTL is a unique trip where cyclists who sign up for the event have to raise Rs 90,000 (Rs 300 per km) as funds for their ride.

"It's a good idea because it shifts the onus of fundraising to the riders, who can then use this as an opportunity to raise awareness of the initiative in their network," says Abhishek Agarwal, the founder of BoldKin, a solution provider for startups, and one of the riders. "I'm active in the fitness circuit and every year, I look for one charity to contribute to. This was a good fit. I've lived in Manipur for a couple of years, and there are people there who've never seen a bulb; they don't even know how to operate a switch. It is hard for people like us to fathom such a thing," he reveals. Agarwal has also signed up as a writer and is helping with the project's digital outreach.

The riders will get to interact with the Idu Mishmis tribe, a sub-tribe of a larger ethnic group of Mishmis

All the proceeds raised from RTL 2017 will go towards Batti's current focus — providing light to about 1,500 homes in the Seppa valley of Arunachal Pradesh.

"What attracted me to the ride was the combination of doing something charitable, the fact that it was an organised tour, and the chance to visit a region I haven't been to before," adds Maskeri.

January 26:
Day 1: The first day of cycling covers 70km, from Tezu to Roing (the district headquarters of Lower Dibang Valley). It will feature a couple of water crossings.
Day 2: On the second day, the cyclists will move 40 km from Roing to Kilo, featuring a
1,600 m climb to the campsite. It is here that the Mishmi Hills begin; this is the toughest day of the challenge.
Day 3: The 49 km ride to Kebabonli starts with a steady climb towards the Mayodia Pass, which is one of the eastern-most drivable passes of the Himalayas. The first 10 km feature a height of about
430 m, following which the route to Hunli is generally downhill.
Day 4: The 60 km ride to Aloya calls for a fairly tough day of cycling with many short but steep climbs, deep in the Dibang valley.
Day 5: Most of this 65 km ride from Aloya to Agui will be spent along the Dibang and the Dri rivers, making this the second most challenging day.
Day 6: The last day of the ride is a 30 km, short but constant climb, all the way to Anini. The road conditions are better than
the previous days making it an easy climb.

ON: January 25 to February 4
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