Talk about aging gracefully and Vidya Singh can put any youngster to shame. At 66 she is racing at life’s roads on a bicycle. Literally. DC indulges in a conversation with this fitness enthusiast with royal connections.
“Age is no bar: all it takes is passion laced with a thirst for thrill and adventure”, believes Vidya Singh who recently broke all stereotype and conquered the treacherous Death Road in the Andes in Bolivia. Born into a royal family of Vijayanagaram, Vidya has set a course of her own when it comes to living life queen size.
Bicycling down the world’s most dangerous road is no mean task and a slightest carelessness can send one veering off. This thrill-seeking boss lady however is setting new goals everyday and conquering the unachievable. Vidya, who has remained committed to fitness all her life, started bicycle riding 8 years back but her adventures were always restricted to Chennai.
“We are a group called G3 that goes cycling along the ECR”, says Vidya. “But this was my first time cycling on the infamous Death Road”, she adds. She has always been into swimming, tennis, running, weight-training, walking, horse riding and she goes trekking every year. “Last year I trekked to Nepal, Everest Base Camp and Annapuram circuit. But this has been my most exhilarating adventure so far.”
Recalling her death-defying journey, she shares, “The total distance covered down the mountain is 63 kms. The tour starts at La Cumbre and ends at Yolosa”.
Once the highway ends, the rough terrains of the mountains start with muddy roads laden with gravel and potholes. “ And that is when the thrill begins”, says Vidya with excitement evident in her eyes as she reminisces the rush of adrenaline she experienced on the downward trail. The road that connects La Paz with Coroico is not for newbies. A research conducted by the Inter-American Development Bank showed a staggering number of suicides the road has triggered, is how the road got its name.
“The narrow road is notorious for its bends and less for its picturesque waterfalls, rivers and forests”, says Vidya who has always had an eye for beauty . “When we went, it was winter in the southern hemisphere. We encountered wildlife, cycled our way through seven villages, getting a chance to soak in the local culture.”
Didn’t she ever feel scared or unsafe? “ Well, two guides were always there, cycling with us and we were four groups in total”, she adds, referring to her Girl group. “The organisers would brief us before each section and there were police check posts we had to report to”.
“There were two landslides on the route just a few hours before we reached that particular place”, she says with a childish grin.
Altitude sickness, ill health, extreme climate, wilderness, old age may be excuses for many but not for Vidya. Not one to let anything deter her spirits, this 66-year-old now has conquering mount Kilimanjaro on her bucket list next.