Kolkata,Pedaling nearly 700 Kms across the Great Himalayan Range along the Indo-China border in high (above 9,000 ft) and super-high altitudes (above 14,000 ft) braving sub-zero temperatures, sleet and rarified atmospheric conditions, a team of ten supremely fit gritty army men led by Captain Navjot Thakur from Indian Army's Striking Lion Division, Kalimpong, successfully completed a never-before attempted cycling expedition, an unheralded feat that might just earn them a place in the 'Limca Book of Records'.
Captain Thakur and his team comprising a JCO and eight other soldiers from the Lightning Streaks Battalion were received at Sukna in North Bengal to a rousing reception by senior army officials from the Tri-Shakti Corps Headquarters on successful culmination of the nearly three-week long expedition, today.
The expedition set out from Khangjakma (19,209 ft/ 5,855 m) situated on Tibetan plateau that overlooks Teesta-Khangtse glacier, the origin of Teesta river, on June 30. The team pedaled across nine important mountain passes, eight of which are not connected by motor-able road on their 18-gear Indian bicycles much of it with grit and will-power alone.
The passes traversed include Khungiyami La (18,428 ft/ 5,616 m), Sese La (17,913 ft/ 5,459 m), Bamcho La (17,500 ft/ 5,334 m), Chulung La (17,366 ft/ 5,293 m), Kongra La (16,800 ft/ 5,120 m), Tangkar La (17,200 ft/ 5,253 m), Phimkaru La (16,400 ft / 4,998 m), Jelep La (14,330 ft/ 4,368 m) and Nathu La (14,100 ft/ 4,297m) being the only motor-able pass traversed.
The super-high altitude cycling expedition, one of the many adventure activities that Indian Army promotes, sets new vistas in human endurance and team spirit in extreme weather and terrain conditions.
“At several places we had to lift our bicycles and trudge across the icy road blockages. The freezing temperatures and rains also made our task that much more difficult,” says Capt Thakur.“We knew we would encounter these conditions and had practiced for nearly three months building up strength and stamina to be able to pedal nearly 60 Kms in hill conditions,” he adds.
The expedition followed the alignment of Teesta river from its origin to approximately the point at which it enters Bangladesh. The average altitude was at 9,000 - 19,000 ft (High Altitude / Super High Altitude) for 325 km and between 3000 - 9000 ft for 213 km. A distance of 237 km was off the road along treacherous mountain tracks in Super High Altitude Area / High Altitude Area.
The route selected for the expedition is one of the toughest mountain cycling expedition attempted not only in India but the entire world. ‘Limca Book of Records’ has been approached to confirm the same and accord due recognition to the expedition.