Wayanad: Will cycling solo liberate women and promote sustainable living? So believes Kalpetta-resident Aparna Vinod, who began a weeks-long solo biking mission from Tali Temple premises in Kozhikode to the Somanath Temple in Veraval, Gujarat, recently. She hopes to cover more than 2,000 km in 40 days. Named ‘Pedal for Planet’, the ride aims at promoting nature conservation, and sustainable travel and creating a community of like-minded people who love nature, travel and cycling.
Cycling and nature enchanted Aparna from a young age. Her love for travel led to experimenting with sustainable tourism models in Wayanad which she had to suspend midway due to Nipah, the flood and Covid pandemic. Just before flagging off her ride from Kozhikode on Sunday morning, Aparna told Onmanorama that her dream was to create Asia’s largest community for sustainable travel and lifestyle in a few years. “The ride is just the beginning; I will expand my existing network and demonstrate to the world that India is safe for travel, especially for women,” she said.
Her first stop was Kannur on Sunday from where she will be travelling through the Western coast through Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Why cycling? “Cycling always helps one slow down and appreciate the life around,” she said. Planning to pedal 60 to 70 km a day, Aparna hopes the ride would also help meet and interact with people in the villages.
A mother of two, 36-year-old Aparna said motherhood and its varied responsibilities never deterred her from her mission. “Even as a child I wanted to meet people and learn new things from them,” she said. “This journey is to unlearn and learn so that I can become a better version of myself,” she said. “Being alone is not daring. Since I announced my plan, I have been receiving immense support from various clubs, cyclists, nature lovers and activists along the route,” she said, adding, “With all these supporting me, I am not alone”.
An avid promoter of eco-friendly lifestyle, Aparna is supported by the Rotary Club of Calicut Beach and Junior Chamber International. Aparna's ride is also supported by various cycling clubs along the coast across states. Her husband is Vinod, popularly known as Crown Vinod, a member of the family that owns the more than a century-old Crown Theatre in Kozhikode. To be closer to nature, the couple recently shifted to Kalpetta in Wayanad.
She admitted that while on the road, she would miss her family “But I have ensured that my family including my children Ram, a class 7 student and Dev, who studies in Grade 1, are self-reliant,” said Aparna. “During the years I have groomed them that way.”