Having Aced One Of World’s Most Challenging Cycling Championships, Khushali Purohit Shares Her Mantra Of Success
- IWB Post
- June 17, 2019
Being a female in an era of never-ending sexism and gender stereotypes, I decided to make a list of things that are a major no-no by society for us. Here it goes: going out after it is dark, solo traveling, not getting married while our ‘biological clock is ticking, and oh, trying to make a career in a male-dominated field. The list certainly does not end here. Attempt any of the above and voila! you’ll have successfully ticked off the so-called protectors of these archaic laws, something which Ahmedabad’s Khushali Purohit takes pride in.
A self-taught cyclist, runner, and mountaineer, Khushali is Ahmedabad’s first woman Super Randonneur Cyclist to complete the Brevet des Randonneurs Mondiaux (BRM), one of the world’s most challenging and prestigious cycling championships. As per the rules, to achieve the Super Randonneur title one has to finish all the brevets (200, 300, 400, 600km) in a calendar year. But being the superwoman she is, Khushali completed the task in just 22 days in November 2018!
Excerpts from our engaging conversation with Khushali:
How did it feel like to win the world’s most challenging cycling championship, Brevet des Randonneurs Mondiaux?
When I came to know that no female had yet attempted the challenging Super Randonneur series that made me crazy to do it. I like to face challenges in life, so I decided to do that. Sometimes you really don’t know the real capacity you possess until you go ahead and give your 100% to something which you were afraid of doing. Winning has just motivated me to follow my passion and not let hesitation become a hurdle.
Now I know that if your will power is strong, no power on Earth can stop you from doing what you’ve decided.
After 25 days of completing Super Randonneur series, she took part in the 1000 km cycling and finished it in 74.05 hours thus becoming the first female of Gujarat to complete the 1000 brevet and qualify for the worlds famous Paris-Brest-Paris cycling event.
You qualified for Paris-Brest-Paris 2019! How amazing is that!
Yes, I have qualified for the PBP 2019. And instead of opting for coaching, I am training myself. I believe in becoming strict and disciplined towards achieving your passion. But I do take guidance and tips from experienced cyclists.
I divided my training into three parts:
1) Cycling (Long/Short)
2) Core Exercises (To strengthen core muscles)
3) Cross Training (Running/Swimming/Racket Game, etc.)
The most important thing is diet as healthy eating is as important as physical training.
Breaking many stereotypes, you practice cycling alone on the most difficult terrains, go on solo adventures and have won the toughest races. Tell us about your childhood. Was it as fearless?
I feel very lucky to have very supportive parents in life. So I have been grown up like any other boy in the family. My twin sister and I were treated the same way as my elder brother was. My family, parents, sister, and brother, is my ultimate support system and have encouraged and supported me in all my craziest adventures in life. Their confidence in me made me tough. We were always sent to various activities in our childhood – swimming, skating, karate, badminton, etc. also I won the state karate championship in 1998 and judo in 2003.
Do you have anything to say to naysayers and distractors?
I have been traveling alone for 19 years now. There are people in society who try to distract you by using abusive words for women like me, but I generally ignore such nuisance. It is their upbringing and not reacting to their senseless comments is mine. I know how to handle such situations when it happens. I don’t understand gender stereotypes. I mean when I completed the 1000km race, the news went viral so easily. What I couldn’t understand was the reason behind it – was it because I was the first female to do it or was it the fact that a female did it the news?
But you’ll agree that many parts of India aren’t high on the list of ‘safe for women places’. So, how can India be a more women-friendly nation?
I believe there are only two ways to do that. One, teach your kid the lesson of equality and respecting each other and second, make your daughters strong enough that they can handle any situation on their own in life.
True that. Though the number has certainly improved, there is still very less women in the NCC. Being once an NCC cadet yourself, what are your thoughts on it.
Women have served in the Indian forces in many different roles in various jurisdictions throughout history. Yes, the number is less but they have been serving now in greater numbers and in more diverse roles than before.
I was an NCC cadet (Army wing) during my college tenure and I have seen army officers working very closely. NCC taught me many things in life.
As part of the Officers Training Academy at Gwalior for NCC Training, she won the gold medal and Sharma Cup for displaying excellence in Leadership qualities, silver medal for being the second best firer and many other honors. She was also awarded as Outstanding Motivator for NCC Youth by Additional Director General of Gujarat Directorate, NCC.
Amazing! At the age of 37, you are successfully breaking the age barriers as well.
I believe one should continue chasing their dreams not being concerned about the age. It is up to us to stay young and energetic at the age of 37 also. Life is very short and very uncertain, just do what you want to and live as you wish to.
Pearls of wisdom, your words are Khushali. Coming back to the fact that you are one ardent solo traveler, share with us that one trip in which you learned crucial life lessons.
It was the Kullu to Khardungla Cycle Expedition which was then recorded in Limca Book. That expedition taught me to believe in myself.
On the D day, we had started at 5.30am from South Pulu to Khardung La (highest motorable road of the worlds – 18380ft). A steep hill to cycle, at the middle of the route I was told to go on my own as the major chunk of the group, was behind and to support them all the support team was with them. I alone continued my cycle from there and decided not to put my foot on land until I reach the top. That day, I learned that if you decide anything and believe in yourself, nothing is tough.
What has been that one trip where you got to discover more about yourself?
I used to travel to Himalaya and it is still one of the best parts of my life. I used to talk to the mountains for hours. The Himalayas is the place where I feel more like myself and at peace.