At the end of the day, I wanted to ride my bike around the world. And as long as I didn’t let anybody deter that fire in me, I was fine. I was still going to do it. I let other people’s opinions really affect me. But I never let them get in the way of what I wanted to do.
Vedgani Kulkarni is the youngest woman to circumnavigate the world by bicycle, and she joins me on Sparta Chicks Radio this week
Raised in India to adventure-loving parents, she set out on her first epic ride - crossing the Himalayas - when she just 17.
Then in 2017 at the age of 19, she set out on her quest to become the fastest person to circumnavigate the world and to complete the journey in 100 days.
And while she missed both of those goals, after riding 29,000km / 18,000mi and 160 days, 14 countries and 1 birthday later, she became the youngest woman to ever circumnavigate the world on a bike. She was 20.
In this conversation she shares:
- her childhood growing up in India and how being encouraged to plan the family holidays became a skillset she later used in her ride around the world,
- her 850km solo cycling adventure across the Himalayas at 17,
- that she knows she performs at her best when she rides alone,
- what gave her the confidence to attempt the Himalayan crossing at such a young age, and with little previous experience,
- where the idea to circumnavigate the world came from,
- the role visualisation played in helping her mentally prepare for the ride,
- how she still struggles with worrying about what people think,
- being told by an employee at an Indian Embassy that “this adventure jam is for white people” and the importance of not automatically taking on other people’s stories and beliefs,
- getting chased by a Grizzly Bear (and how getting chased by one wasn’t on her pre-trip risk assessment),
- how she struggled with the question of whether the ride was a ‘success’ or ‘failure’ after she didn’t achieve her main goal,
- her experience as a woman of colour in endurance sports, and
- whether she felt like an imposter when asked to be part of a new book called ‘Tough Women Adventure Stories” that will be published later this year.
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