This 19-year-old cyclist is on a record-breaking trip around the world
“I want to be the youngest and fastest woman to do it.”
Vedangi is used to breaking records. At age 16, she became the youngest female football coach in India. Now at age 19, she is planning to become the youngest and fastest woman to cycle around the world. She knows the trip across North America, Europe, Asia and Oceania won’t be easy, but she’s ready for the challenge.
Vedangi began cycling after a severe head injury ended her football career. She soon realised that being on a bike “makes her feel free.” Vedangi says when she cycles, everything is in her control. She doesn’t need to depend on anyone but herself. Vedangi remembers thinking that she could inspire other girls as a cyclist, because it isn’t considered a girl’s sport in India.
In an essay, Vedangi writes about her journey as a cyclist and what led to her dream of becoming the youngest and fastest woman to cycle around the world.
Since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to be independent. Once I got to university, I was free to make my own decisions. So, one of my first decisions was to cycle the length of the U.K. I didn’t have much money, but I had a dream and a curiosity to see the northernmost point of the country I had recently started living in. As much as I’d love to call it a perfect adventure, it turned into “what not to do on a solo bicycle adventure.” But I learnt to be happy when alone and even more comfortable in my own company.
All of that encouraged me to train for London Edinburgh London — a 1,400 kilometre bike ride that I had to complete in 100 hours. I cycled crazy distances all over the country to train for it. But a day into the actual ride, I dislocated my knee. I popped it back by myself, carried on and faced the consequences. Every pedal hurt. But it gave me pleasure to finish what I started and it gave me confidence that no matter what, I do not, will not and cannot give up!
I couldn’t stop there, so I started dreaming big. I was training in the Himalayas when I finalised my plan to cycle around the world in 100 days — solo and unsupported. I want to be the youngest and fastest woman to do it.
On June 15th, 2018, I’ll be setting off from Perth for this journey and filming it along the way. That means cycling 200 miles over 14 hours every day for more than 90 days. I know that this is the ultimate test of physical and mental endurance. It’s difficult but it’s not impossible. With the right training, meticulous planning and an effective base team, I can achieve my goal.
Sometimes when the world makes you feel like you are not a part of it, you just stop trying to fit in. Instead, you find your field and dig deep. You start dreaming bigger than the barriers of practicalities and show the world that boundaries are arbitrary. The best way to prove that point is by chasing your dreams and making them happen.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vedangi Kulkarni is a 19-year-old student from India. She is attempting to become the youngest and fastest woman to cycle around the world.