Two Maharashtra cyclists cycle along India’s coast for a plastic-free world

Milind Tambe and Shriram Kondhawekar cycle along the Indian coast for approximately 6,179 kilometers to highlight the harmful effects of single-use plastic

At a time when the Indian coast is battling a tidal wave of plastic pollution, two cyclists from Maharashtra are tasked with highlighting the harmful effects of single-use plastic and its impact on marine life. Navy veteran Milind Tambe, 56, and Shriram Kondhawekar, 49, cycle along the Indian coast for approximately 6,179 kilometers as part of their Indian coastal cycling expedition.

The Pedalbums, as they call themselves, began the first leg of their journey from Mumbai last February. The trip had to be cut short in Goa due to the second wave of the pandemic.

Milind and Shriram resumed their expedition from Goa on November 14 with the aim of completing the three remaining legs of the journey through Kanyakumari, Visakhapatnam, Kolkata and Gujarat before culminating their expedition in Mumbai.

“As we crossed the beaches, we were confronted with the extent of plastic pollution that plagues our coastline. The beaches are mostly polluted with single-use plastic. Pollution was worse on beaches around urban and semi-urban areas, while rural coasts had negligible amounts of single-use plastic, ”Milind said during an interaction in Visakhapatnam earlier this week.

“We carry the little plastic generated throughout our tour until we find a designated recycling facility. Even today, my bag contains wrappers of used cookies and the like, which I will keep with me until I can dispose of them responsibly, ”says Milind. “We are against the irresponsible disposal of single-use plastic. There are ways to upcycle and that’s what we tell anyone we interact with, ”adds Shriram.

The cycling expedition has been officially recognized by the Ministry of Youth and Sports as part of the Fit India movement.

The duo cycle with the Fuji Touring and Marin Four Corners bikes. “These cycles are designed for touring and are able to withstand heavy loads from the touring setup. In addition, the geometry of the frame makes it easier to attach the panniers and frame bags to the bike, ”explains Milind.

Fitness program

Milind says they are on a diet high in protein and carbohydrates during the expedition. The physical preparation of the duo was taken care of by Fittr, their fitness sponsor.

“They analyzed our body structure and eating habits and gave us six months of strength training and endurance building exercises. They also made personalized diet plans. It helped us a lot on this expedition, ”says Milind.

The cyclists were on the road for 50 days before coming to Visakhapatnam. “We have found a lot of good souls along the way. The people were very generous and more than willing to help us, whether it was finding accommodation, directions or just general advice, ”says Shriram. There have been instances where cyclists had food in small roadside hotels.

“The owners, after talking to us and knowing the purpose of our tour, refused to accept any money,” Milind recalls.

The cyclists met several groups of cyclists, who welcomed them for dinners and showed them around.

Speaking about the most difficult parts of the expedition, Milind says: “The south coast of Kanyakumari was one of the most difficult. This is not because of the terrain, but of the humid climate which greatly undermined the energy. Being physically fit and mentally strong are of equal importance during long distance cycling. Determination is all that matters, ”he says. When it comes to gear, Milind says having a cycle that you can take apart and reassemble is a vital skill. “Bikes need to be suitable for the terrain you intend to ride. We have adopted a minimalist approach in our luggage and carry very little clothing and other accessories, ”he adds.

What was the biggest takeaway from the expedition? “That we have to adapt to change and that we can live with very little. You don’t need much to live, ”says Milind.

Wiley C. Thompson