Young Mannan Wani of Sopore now plans to go to Kanyakumari but has no money
Sopore: This 21-year-old cyclist from Sopore town recently completed a solo cycling trip from Sopore to Leh, a distance of 480 kilometres, in a cycling time of just 20 hours & 44 minutes, a record speed that no one else has pulled off before. But Mannan Wani’s aim of going on a similar solo cycling trip from Kashmir to Kanyakumari is proving difficult to accomplish, as he cannot find a sponsor to pay for the trip’s expenses.
When Mannan was still a child, his father died of kidney failure. Mannan’s mother became the sole bread earner of the family. She did not earn enough to afford cycling gear for her son who was passionate about it. So she sold her jewellery.
Till 2017, Mannan used a simple cycle in his training and also at tournaments. Armed simply with determination and hard work, he won 34 medals at state and district competitions. He couldn’t do much in national-level tournaments due to lack of a proper racing cycle.
Mannan Hassan Wani, currently a BCA student at Baramulla Degree College, started cycling at the age of 13 with his mind made up that he will both study and become a record-making cyclist from Kashmir.
Mannan did that in September this year, in a journey that he describes as “of pain and pleasure”, cycling up and down on slippery mountain roads that were full of potholes and heavy traffic.
“It was the 13th of September when I started the journey from Sopore and the 16th of September when I reached Leh. I had already done research for this journey and collected all the required information for the ride. I faced severe hurdles while passing through Zojila pass as it was raining heavily and the roads were absolutely slippery. My bicycle suffered tyre cuts twice to a bad road full of potholes and stones,” Mannan told Kashmir Reader.
He said he felt sick at times due to less availability of oxygen. His skin developed rashes and he also bled from the nose.
“On the first day, I completed the trip from Sopore to Sonmarg in 4 hours and stayed there for the night. The next day I went from Sonmarg to Kargil in 6 hours and 15 minutes. It was the most difficult part of my journey. There was heavy rain and less oxygen in the air. From Kargil to Lamayure it took 6 hours, approximately, and from Lamayure to Leh almost four hours,” he said.
Manan covered about 480 kilometres during the trip in a total of 20 hours and 44 minutes, breaking the record of 24 hours by a Srinagar cyclist, Mannan said.
Mannan had also featured in the top ten in the Tour De Kashmir championship of 350 kilometres ride in 2013 as well as in 2015.
Mannan thanked his sponsors, Adventure Wheels and Kathi Junction of Sopore, for making possible this Sopore to Leh trip. He requested more sponsors from Kashmir to support him in a record-breaking trip from Kashmir to Kanyakumari which he is planning to do in January 2019.
“I visited so many places, talked to people in the government as well as others, to sponsor my trip from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, which will make our Sopore as well as Kashmir proud. I even visited the youth sports office, the sports association, and many other NGOs, but nobody is coming forward to support me”, Mannan said.
He has not lost hope, though, as the trip from Sopore to Leh has made him famous in the town.
Despite losing his father at an early age and the drawback of his poor financial condition, Mannan’s spirit has never been broken. He is trying hard to find sponsors for his solo K2K journey, so that he can break the record of Adarsh, who completed a cycling trip from Kashmir to Kanyakumari in 19 days. Mannan aims to complete this trip in just 17 days.
Mannan’s success as a cyclist is an inspiration to many in the town. His family, especially his mother, is very happy at what he has achieved.
He has one piece of advice for all aspiring achievers: “Believe in yourself. Never give up, no matter how many times you fail or what people think about you. Just prove them wrong.”