The incredible adventures of Parsi Cyclists around the world
How it began
The first group to set off on their bicycles was made up of six members of the Bombay Weightlifting Club. They were Adi Hakim, Jal Bapasola, Rustom Bhumgara, Gustad Hathiram, Keki Pochkhanawala and Nariman Kapadia.
According to Rohinton Bhumgara, son of Rustom Bhumgara, the six youngsters had attended a public lecture in 1920 by a Frenchman who had walked from Europe to India. Hearing him talk left them deeply inspired.
Their journey began in October 1923 and meandered through Punjab, Balochistan, the Middle East, Europe, United States, Japan and South East Asia.
On the way, one team member returned to India from Tehran for “personal reasons”, while two others were so “enamoured” of America that they stayed back.
“Once, he [Jal Bapasola] narrated how they approached the Raleigh Cycle Co of England in Bombay about [the company] sponsoring the cycles,” Babani was told by Bapasola’s 82-year-old son Noshir Bapasola, who lives in New Jersey.
“The company refused. But when they reached England, he said the company was begging them to use their cycles. He asked them why they had a change of heart and was told quite bluntly ‘we did not believe that you boys would be so successful’.”
By the time Hakim, Bapasola and Bhumgara reached India in March 1928, they had covered around 70,000 kilometres.
In their book With Cyclists Around The World, they enumerated their achievements with “pardonable pride”: in four and a half years, they had scaled the Alps, crossed “pirate-infested territories” and waded through jungles with “hostile semi-savage tribes”, sometimes “escaping death by inches”.
Click Here for the full story in Dawn with pictures