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May 23, 2020
Photography by BBC Hindi
For all the incredible rides that pros have been putting in over the past few weeks, from Everesting attempts to ultra-endurance rides for charity, 15-year-old Jyoti Kumari belongs in the conversation for delivering the cycling effort of the year so far.
According to reports from NDTV and The Wire, Kumari spent just over a week traveling some 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) across northern India largely by bicycle—with her father as a passenger.
Kumari’s family lives in Darbhanga in the state of Bihar, but her father had been working as a rickshaw driver in Gurgaon, near New Delhi, when a crash left him injured and unable to walk or work. Kumari came to stay with him while he recovered, but then the country went into lockdown.
Kumari decided to try to take him home, even if it meant spending long hours in the saddle, with an extra rider aboard, en route to place over a thousand kilometers away.
She borrowed money to buy a bike and the two set out on the lengthy journey. A combination of Kumari’s resolute pedaling and intermittent lifts from truck drivers on the road ultimately propelled them all the way to their destination, despite a few days spent traveling without much to eat.
Her story caught the attention of the Indian Cycling Federation, which has offered her a trial to train with the national program.
“If she has achieved this, then she is really talented,” said federation president Onkar Singh. “We would like to give her an opportunity. We look for talent like this.”