Twenty-year-old Vedangi Kulkarni has achieved a rare milestone by becoming the fastest woman from Asia to cycle around the world. She took 159 days to cover 29,000 km in 14 countries to achieve the feat. She reached Kolkata on Sunday morning as a victorious world champion. Vedangi now has to fly back to Perth in Australia from where she started the trip to complete the record cycling expedition.
The youngster achieved the unbelievable feat by cycling around 300 km a day. Along the route she had to face several challenging situations, including life-threating incidents. However, she rose to the occasion each time and took everything in her stride.
The fastest woman to cycle around the world is Jenny Graham, a British citizen. The 38-year-old set the record this year by completing the trip in 124 days. She broke the earlier record by a clear three weeks.
Vedangi's journey was no less easy. She encountered hurdles placed before her by both man and nature. Among the dangerous situations she faced was an attack by a bear in Canada and spending several nights alone in the biting cold of Russia. In Spain, it was a highway robber who brandished a knife at her that Vedangi had to deal with. Every time, Vedangi's adventurous soul kept her alive and kicking.
Obtaining visa from each country she passed along was another major problem that the youngster faced. At many places, there was delay in this regard and Vedangi had to cycle through Europe during the winter.
Vedangi, a Sports Management student at Bournemouth University in England, started her preparations for the record-breaking trip two years ago. She made elaborate plans, including selecting the most ideal bicycle to charting out a tight time schedule. For about 80 % of the distance, the youngster cycled all alone.
She carried a big load on her bicycle, which included a repair kit for the cycle, clothes and camping items. The expenses for the trip were borne by her parents.
The trip was flagged off from Perth and the first phase covered Australia. Vedangi then headed to New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Russia. From Russia, the youngster came to her home country India during the final phase of 4,000 km.
“Achieving a world record is fantastic, but I have to thank my parents for encouraging and supporting me during the entire trip,” says Vedangi.
When she set out on the journey, Vedangi was 19 and her birthday was celebrated on the way.
Though Vedangi’s parents were concerned about her safety, they called her over phone always and encouraged her. “I have to give full credit for my parents for achieving this record,” says the young woman.
However, her father Vivek Kulkarni attributes the success to Vedangi’s resolve and determination. “She will certainly achieve bigger heights,” he says confidently.