Persons With Disability Tandem Cycling Expedition Flagged Off

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Manali: A 550 kilometre tandem cycling expedition from here to Khardung La Pass (5359 meters altitude) that has 25 mountain bikers, which include blind, sighted as well as amputee cyclists was flagged off on Sunday.

The event was flagged off by police officer Puneet Raghu and the expedition is organised by the organisation Adventures Beyond Barriers Foundation (ABBF).

Speaking about the event Divyanshu Ganatra founder of ABBF said that using adventure sport as a platform to promote inclusion between Persons with Disability and the able-bodied community, we believe that change starts at the individual level and nurturing friendships that go beyond markers of disability is the key to shattering stigma and stereotype.

He disclosed that ABBF worked in five verticals currently – tandem cycling, scuba diving, mountaineering and trekking, paragliding, and marathons – and since inception in 2014, had been able to reach out to 3500 Persons with Disabilities and and over 1.5 lakh people from the mainstream community.

Tandem cyclists Gagan Grover & Divyanshu Ganatra out to ride on the highest road in the Indian Himalayas (File Photo 2016)

Last year in August, Divyanshu Ganatra set out with a sighted captain to pedal from Manali to Khardung La, a high pass on the Manali – Leh highway in the Himalayas. The total distance of 550 kilometres was completed by the team in eight days.

Divyanshu, who lost his eyesight to glaucoma when he was nineteen years old, is also the first blind person to undertake a solo paraglider flight in 2014. His thirst for adventure and love for adrenaline sowed the seeds of ABBF.

When Divyanshu and his captain successfully completed the cycling expedition last year on September 4th, 2016, ABBF decided that this would only be the beginning of an annual tandem cycling expedition that ABBF would organise.

Divyanshu said that built to support a minimum of two riders, a tandem cycle is the perfect solution for accessible adventure.

On the heels of last year’s success, this year’s edition has drawn participation from blind, sighted, as well as amputee cyclists from across the country

The 25 cyclists participating are from diverse backgrounds holding professions ranging from corporate giants to language teachers, from the armed forces to motivational speaking. The age bracket of the participants ranged from around fifteen to about seventy years old.

The experience on board spans seasoned cyclists to those getting on the pedal for the first time ever, says Divyanshu. With such diversity in lived experiences comes the opportunity for conversation, camaraderie, and personal growth. At ABBF, we have seen time and again that we climb the mountains as strangers and come down as friends. We are confident In Sync will be no different this time.

Divyanshu quoting Nelson Mandela said, “sport has the power to change the world…It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in ways that little else does. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. Adventures Beyond Barriers Foundation (ABBF) is Mandela’s words in action”.

Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice. He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express. With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology. Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.

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