By: Staff Writer, 20 Feb, 2019
Sachin claims he’s a walking bunch of contradictions, but we think he’s an awesome travel companion! He’s passionate about exploring the world on two wheels, and he wants to spread that joy as far as he can. It’s why he’s leading an incredible cycling journey down the Konkan coast to Velas –find out about it here!
We spoke to Sachin about his travels, cycling and more. His inputs have been edited for clarity.
White Collar Hippie: If you had to describe Sachin Bhandary in a line, what would it be?
Sachin: Sachin to my mind is ‘a bunch of contradictions’. Ambitious, but not for material things. A travel freak who loves staying indoors when home. Someone who’s travelled to faraway lands to fall in love with his own country, India.
That’s the philosophical part! But otherwise, I am a guy who had a decade-long good run in the public relations industry. I quit my job to travel the world, visited 14 countries in 18 months – mostly in South America! Now I run Eccentrips, a cycling blog, and its mission is to get more people to cycle in India. And the ones who are already cycling, get them to go on long distance trips.
WCH: How did you fall in love with cycling? Why is it your preferred mode of travel?
SB: I owned a fairly basic bicycle for a long time, which I would ride occasionally within the city. In December 2014, I decided to cycle solo from Mumbai to Goa (I know, it sounds crazy!). But, yes, despite the pain in my thighs and my buttocks, I managed to complete the trip in 12 days.
Those 12 days were some of the best of my life. I knew then that cycling was going to play a major role in my life. But then, I went on to travel, learning different skills across countries like music in Brazil, Salsa in Colombia and rock climbing in Thailand. Long distance cycling took a back seat, but I was cycling in every city I visited. I was either renting or borrowing cycles and managed to cycle in Delhi, Chennai, Pondicherry, Udupi and a few other places. Heck, I used to cycle even in Colombia!
It all came together when I asked my wife if she would like to take a cycling vacation. She said, yes! This yes excited me as much as when she agreed to marry me ;)
We cycled from Chiplun in Maharashtra to Mumbai, about 350kms, in 5 days. Those were the most delightful days we had spent together. On one beautiful stretch, I realised exploring the world on a cycle is what I want to do. Forever!
WCH: For a lot of people, cycling is quite a solitary experience – it’s just you, your cycle, and your surroundings! What makes you want to share that with other travellers?
SB: Hmmm... Cycling is what you make of it. There are numerous cycling groups in India and elsewhere. Some people love riding together. And yes, at the same time, there are many who take solo rides. I thought I enjoyed riding solo too. But on the trip with Sarika (my wife), I really enjoyed being able to guide her along the route, to share stories of the region and to introduce her to family-run restaurants. The smile on her face through all these experiences made me really happy.
I think to be able to share my discovery and life with others is a joy. I will now solo cycle to discover routes, stories and food that I can share with others through my blog and trips.
WCH: Tell us about some of your favourite bits on the route along the Konkan coast to Velas.
SB: Oh, there are many bits that I’d love to list! But let me limit them to three.
First, there’s Suhas Bapat Khanawal, a small family-run restaurant in Diveagar – you have to call them a day prior to order. They only cook if people are coming in!
Then, there is a stretch of road that leads to Velas from Bankot, it isn’t in great condition, so motorists avoid it. But it has the most splendid views, with the road running parallel to the sea for 3 to 4kms!
Also further south, close to Goa in a village called Arawali lies the temple of Vetoba. He is a local god combined with Lord Shiva, and there are so many fascinating stories around him. The most interesting one is that the villagers have been making giant leather chappals for him for the last 300 years. They believe he wears the chappals and walks around the region at night to protect the villagers. Amazing, isn't it?
WCH: What are some of your craziest travel memories from the past few years?
SB: Too many to even think of! I already told you about cycling trips.
Learning salsa in Cali, Colombia would be the top one after my cycling trips. Almost equally great was learning to play drums in Salvador, Brazil. Both these cities had such a fun vibe and people were super friendly. Add music to that mix, and it was heavenly!
WCH: What’s one thing you never leave home without?
SB: That’s easy. My mobile phone, just like everyone else!
Join Sachin on a four-day cycling adventure down the Konkan Coast this March – read all about it and grab your spot here!