First Indian to Bicycle across Two Continents Says 'Risk Existed At All Levels' and More

"I chose to cycle from the northernmost part of Alaska (North America) to South America. I wanted to do what very few people on the planet have done, which is to travel solo and unsupported on a bicycle from one continent to the other," says Dhruv.

Dhruv Bogra decided to cycle from Alaska in North America to the 9000-feet high Sacred Valley in Peru, South America. His love for cycling motivated him to undertake the most dangerous routes covering the entire length of the Dalton Highway, something which no Indian has never attempted. Let alone the fact that no one has ever undertaken cycling across from North America to South America in one continuous journey which extends to over 13 months of time. 

For Dhruv, his cycle was his freedom. He shares that during his childhood days, when other children chose the army truck to cover the distance of 4 kilometers in the army cantonment to school, he chose to cycle all the way to Sacred Heart Convent in Mathura

It was this memory which inspired him to relive the feeling of being the lightest and happiest he had ever felt. After his trip to Chugach mountains in Alaska in 2015, where he traversed the unexplored natural beauty in the locale, he wanted to do something that no Indian dared to do. 

Planning For The Cross-Continent Trip

Dalton Highway
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A massive trip like this does not happen overnight. It takes some practice and planning. In 2011 he took to the roads of Mumbai with his bicycle and gradually shifted to mountain biking. He also started planning the technical requirements and the nitty-gritties of his trip from the route, equipment, funds, food and communication, that which needed prior planning to avoid unforeseen and extreme circumstances. 

“Cycling in remote and on less travelled roads has been a passion since 2012 and I have explored the mountains of Himachal, Uttarakhand and Sikkim since then and clocked over 2000 kms on a bicycle on Himalayan roads and the Western Ghats in the last seven years," he said.

The route choices laid before were multiple. There were several routes for the cross-continent trip he wanted to take which included- Trans Siberian, Old Silk Route and the African continent. Dhruv chose the Pan American route which entailed a massive journey over 10 countries and 15,000 cycling kms from Deadhorse, Alaska to Cusco in Peru, he was spoilt for choice. 

“Over many months, I would pore over the roads after work hours and mark each riding day. I had to refer to numerous cycling blogs for different sections of the route as very few cyclists take such long trips stretching to over a year."

Deciding On Equipments and Packing 

Dhruv Bhogra and His Bike
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It took him about 6 months to select and decide on the bicycle and equipment which he was to carry with himself. It is a task indeed! What is endearing is that he named his bike Quest which was his constant companion through his adventurous journey. 

He says- "I chose the all-steel touring bike - the Surly Troll, proven to be a workhorse across all forms of terrain and installed one of the best gear systems in the world on it "

He went on to say that “Each item such as the tent, sleeping bag, rain jacket, thermals, cooking stove, water filtration systems had to be researched for performance and durability -- and weight,"

He also discovered that for such an extended trip, every gram counts! Almost 90 items -- from the cameras to the tent to the rainproof matchboxes, everything got stuffed into four panniers and a handlebar bag that altogether weighed more than 40 kilograms.

It is not easy to take a short leave from your boss, let alone a 2 year sabbatical!

We have all faced the repercussions of taking a leave from our boss. Dhruv was no exception. But gradually everyone turned supported, even his boss- Dave of the epic journey he was set to undertake. 

Dhruv recalls- “The conversation with Dave Thomas, the MD of Adidas India, was one of the toughest I have had and most awkward. I was a key member of his team and I felt quite guilty for taking this ultimate step to freedom,"

The Epic Journey

Dhruv bogra
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The journey was indeed an epic one. With the many faces of terror and adventure, Dhruv traversed through many terrains. He kick-started his trip from the northernmost section of North America from Deadhorse which lies at the Beaufort Sea to Cusco, in the Peruvian Andes.  

At Tijuana, the road drifted into Mexico and he cycled through the many valley towns and majestic mountains, also soaking the breathtaking views of Guadalajara, Oaxaca, Tequila and San Cristobal which are some of the  UNESCO heritage sites. After his journey into Mexico, he explored through the thick tropical rainforests and mountainous Guatemala and El Salvador. 
“It was an odyssey from the cold barren arctic tundra, past the remote wilderness of the Yukon, the sweeping majesty of the icy Canadian Rockies to the beautiful rugged coastline of the Pacific along the US West Coast. 

Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama were hot and humid but tropical paradises! Central America was the gateway to South America but due to visa challenges, I had to travel directly into Lima, Peru.”

 His last stop was Sacred Valley at 9000 feet in Peru.

From the steps of planning to execution, Dhruv faced multiple challenges. Many friends and family discouraged him from taking the trip and they said that it was too crazy or dangerous and that taking a sabbatical would kill his career. 

However, this did not kill his spirits. He said, “Risks existed at all levels but I chose to follow my heart and my desire to fulfill a long-cherished dream”

Did Dhruv’s story inspire you to take up an adventurous task? Tell us in the comments below!

This post was published by Sony Punjabi

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