This cyclone appeared on the West Coast, near the Arabian Sea, at Alibag in Raigad district of Maharashtra. The word Cyclone here is actually a corruption of Cycle On, which is what Sumit Patil (34) did on 20th May.
Sumit is an endurance cyclist who has scaled many summits. He has participated in numerous cycling events at home and abroad, including the prestigious Race Across America and the Paris-Brest-Paris brevet. He is the Limca Book record holder for riding from Manali (Himachal) to Khardung La (Ladakh), a distance of 511 km on treacherous mountain roads in just 72 hours. Indeed, Sumit has summitted the highest snow laden passes at 18000 ft altitude.
This time Sumit was cycling for money. No, not for himself. He was cycling to raise money to help the struggling migrant workers who were in a mass exodus from Mumbai, close to his hometown. Yes, they were trudging or cycling thousands of kilometres to the ‘safety’ of their homes in U.P. and Bihar. Sumit knew he had to do something, so he did what he does best – cycle! Because of the lockdown he couldn’t hit the road, but he could still hit the pedals on a training simulator on the terrace of his house, facing a hot and humid breeze. How could he cycle in an air conditioned chamber when his people were on the hot, parched and dusty road.
The idea was to ‘cycle’ 600 kms in 24 hours that would be live telecast on Face book and with a special app, Zwift. There was total transparency. He hoped to raise Rs 100/- per km, totalling Rs 60000/- that would be donated online, as he cycled, to Prabodhan Trust in Dhule that is located on the National Highway connecting Mumbai to central and eastern India. There was a wind in his sails, because he raked in Rs 1,80,000/-, thrice his target; from known and unknown supporters. Prabodhan used the money for food, water and other necessities of the hapless and helpless migrants.
Today’s youth are often accused of being social media and technology addicts. Sumit turned the accusation on its head, proving that both could be used for a noble cause.
At the beginning of his ride he had said, “To my country and my people, I pledge my devotion. In their wellbeing and prosperity alone lies my happiness. My people are out there on the road … just to survive. How can I not empathise?”
24 hours, 600 kms and Rs 1,80,000/- later Sumit can rest on his saddle. He is no longer saddled with guilt. He has done more than his bit for his people and his country. He is a true role model for young people today. Sumit cycled on and scaled the greatest summit of all ‘Service above Self’.
(The writer is the founder of Cycling Monks, a website for everything cycling.)(Published on 1th June 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 23)