LAHORE - Pakistani cyclist Samar Khan is the first women in the world to ride cycle on 4,500 meter high Biafo Glacier in the Karakoram Mountains of Gilgit Baltistan. With the passion of cycling, she raised voice for social injustice and created awareness in community to change the perception of people related to adventure sports and to bring ‘Cycling Revolution’ in Pakistan like other countries to lessen the accidents, pollution and to bring healthy lifestyle. In an exclusive interview with The Nation she talks about her journey. Following are excerpts of the interview:

Where was the first place you took your bicycle and how was your experience.

The first place where I rode was KKH, towards Pak-China border (Sep 2015). This year I started my journey from ISB on 24th July till Biafo glaciers. And found it really challenging to ride over the icy-rock surface and cracks in minus temperature.

What things do you carry in your kit bag while travelling?

Long route travelling is like going on wars so I keep myself fully equipped with gears and gadgets like helmet, goggles, gloves, first aid kit, water bottles, power bank, extra batteries and cycle puncture kit etc.

What’s the most extreme weather you’ve experienced and where?

The most extreme weather I faced was in ‘Chillas’; the most dry and hot place on KKH. I got heat stroke and nosebleed many times along the way. Luckily, I was helped by police force of Chillas called CPEC who provided me enough water and juices etc.

What inspired you to travel on a bicycle and who was the motivation behind this entire journey?

The poor sports condition and limitations we experience in our daily life motivated me to attempt this challenge and to change the perception of people related to adventure sports and security issues related to travelling. And I want to bring the ‘Cycling Revolution’ in Pakistan like other countries to lessen the accidents, pollution and to bring healthy lifestyle.

What’s the worst road you’ve

ridden on?

The road towards Askoli which starts after crossing Dassu was the worst road for riding any mode of transport. Because it’s damaged by rivers and land sliding at many places and is very narrow for two-way traffic.

What did this journey teach you about yourself and adventure?

The more you are prepared physically and mentally the easier will be to face challenges. And by passing each challenge, I feel myself stronger than before.

What’s the hardest bit of cycling you’ve had to do and why?

The hardest part of entire journey was to enter the glaciers for cycling attempt, survive over there and search the place to ride because it was too cold and rainy and I could not walk properly due to the injuries on my feet.

How much your family supported you?

My family has fully supported and motivated me for this expedition. Even my siblings brought and help me in collecting all the gadgets I needed.

How do you choose where to go on your bicycle?

I do road study on distance, elevations by downloading the maps and details. Also I choose a place which is less known to people and which needs to be explored and seen.

What’s the most inspiring story you’ve discovered on your travels?

I met a Japanese trekker ‘Tomoyuki’ in Skardu, when I was collecting necessary items for climbing. And I was really amazed to know that he’s going to trek the same route on Biafo Glaciers where he had fallen last year in a deep crevasse and then rescued by local porters. He said; ‘I just love Pakistan and I don’t remember how many times I have visited this country, it’s like my own home now.

Which places did you discover on your bicycle and in how much time period?

I have discovered many lakes, peaks and hidden valleys in glaciers and it took me almost 18 days or more than 800km to reach those amazing places.

How far do you go in a day usually?

I do my trekking and cycling activities on weekends because of the family and job responsibilities. But per day I can cycle up to 80-100km including elevations.

How big are the climbs? Do riders need to train?

Yes riders need to train a lot because sometimes the steeps get very ugly. By ugly, I mean extreme heights and temperature. Both are the big challenges for riders. And one can find many ugly climbs along the way to Northern Areas.

Where did you use to sleep?

The event was sponsored by PTDC in terms of accommodation along the way but after crossing the last village ‘Askoli’, I camped on glaciers for more than 8 days.

If you had to recommend a location that you’ve had the pleasure of visiting while on your travels where would you send us?

I would send you to visit all the beautiful lakes like ‘Sadpara Lake’ (Skardu),Borit Lake(Hunza), ‘Shangrilla’, and the hidden undiscovered lakes in the premises of glaciers.

Anything new in pipeline that Samar Khan fans should be looking forward to?

Looking forward to join the national team of cycling & planning to make more records, unless or until Pakistani Youth join the adventure sports and make it a lifestyle.