Flagging off with joy and hope in our hearts!

As Preeti and her crew are flagged off at dawn from Koteshwar Mahadev Temple, here’s looking at Day 1 and all its myriad experiences…

Day 1

355 km Covered in 1st Day!

No. of km covered: 355

No. of hours ridden: 20 hours, 40 mins

Cities covered: Koteshwar-Bhuj-Kabrau-Bachau-Adesar-Santalpur

When a journey starts on an incredibly positive note in such a pure environment with noble souls around, it is bound to be a splendid one. And that’s exactly how our lady champ Preeti Maske and her team flagged off. At an hour when most of the world is asleep, Preeti Maske and her crew readied to leave from Koteshwar Mahadev Temple. This spiritual location is the last outpost of human construction at the westernmost limit of India beyond which lies the sea and our national border. Assistant Commandant NK Sharma of the BSF was kind enough to flag our crew off at 5.07 am in the lights of our colorful vehicle. Preeti Maske shot off before the crack of dawn with the hopes of putting at least 300-350 km behind her by the end of the day.

They rode on in the cool morning weather, enjoying the brief pleasantness before the sun would brazenly show itself. At one point they encountered troublesome fog for almost 1-1.5 hours. The poor visibility slowed down their speed, but they determinedly carried on. Preeti completed the first 100 kms without a single break!

“She is emotionally super strong. Always wishing to carry on irrespective of the conditions around her.” Says Mr. Ghanshyam, the crew chief with immense pride.

It was interesting to note how they prepare for a slow highway ride. The vehicle has lights modified for the highway. They have amber lights in the back with a slow-moving vehicle triangle displayed too. They have also attached a banner which reads slow moving vehicle.  

At around 12 noon, after having ridden about 150 kms, Preeti decided to stop as she was famished. They halted at a small store in a village called Mankuwa Dhakdai (near Bhuj). The crew could only find some wafers and chocolates. The shop owner Mr. Khengarji Madhubla Jadeja quietly watched this. 5 minutes later he approached them with hot piping bajri rotis, tamatar chatni and chaas for the entire crew. Heartened by this gesture, the crew sat under a tree and wiped off this delicious meal.

As Mr. Khengraji chatted with them (he was posted at the Gujarat embassy for South Africa before retirement), he realised their expedition was for the cause of Organ Donation awareness. That’s when he surprised the crew once again. “I have already filled the organ donation form earlier” he smilingly mentioned “My brother passed away in an accident and we donated his entire body for organ donation. They took his eyes and his heart. I am very proud of the cause you’ll are supporting. I will follow your journey virtually”

This left the crew with hearts filled with joy and hope at how this man in the smallest and unlikeliest of locations was already so well aware. As Preeti gifted him with their t-shirt, he rushed inside and promptly changed into it beaming away with bright eyes. With this lovely experience lodged in their memory the crew took off.

At 5 pm after completing 200 kms, they stopped for lunch at Hotel Galaxy at Kabrau. At this late hour the hotel’s lunch was over, but the management kindly arranged for hot parathas and chai for the group. This is also where Preeti underwent her strengthening massage.

While their day was agreeable on the whole, they did face a quite a bit of highway traffic and check point queues. Since the rule doesn’t allow the cyclist to be too far from her vehicle this tended to break Preeti’s speed. She would cycle ahead but the car would be stuck in the long line of vehicles. This along with the sunny and windy weather in the afternoon slowed their speed considerably. Their terrain hasn’t been a challenge yet as its mostly straight with gentle slopes (over bridges and flyovers being the only escalation).

Inspite of the different snags, they managed to complete 355 kms by 1.30 am in the night! Pretti rode on without break exclaiming that “Since I am not sleepy, I’d rather pedal away”

They finally called it a day when they had triumphantly crossed 55 kms over their targeted distance. They halted at a petrol pump at Santalpur where they set up a tent for the night. While half of them occupied the tent, the others took up sleep positions in the vehicle.

“It’s been undoubtedly challenging and yet all I feel is excitement. I am enjoying myself, come rain, sunshine, night or day. Pick up the cycle and get going is my only mantra. We are constantly meeting and interacting with people on the way, educating them on our cause and expedition. It’s been good going.” signs off Preeti in her strong clear voice.

Blog by : Arohi Bhimajiani