Meet Renu Singhi – a 57-year-old cyclist from Jaipur who recently achieved the distinction of being the only woman participant of India to complete the 1550 kms target of the international cycling event of London-Edinburgh-London in the stipulated time frame.
London–Edinburgh–London (LEL) is a randonnée bicycle event of approximately 1,500 kilometres over an out-and-back course between the capital cities of London (England) and Edinburgh (Scotland). It has been described as a contender for hardest cycling event in the United Kingdom. The event has been held every four years since 1989, with the ninth event in August 2022. This route is counted as one of the most challenging self-supported rides in the world. In this, the participant has to gain an elevation of around 14,300 meters, which is higher than the Mount Everest. This makes it one of the toughest tests of the mental and physical endurance of the participants. In 2022, around 1900 participants took part in this ride in which they were supposed to travel from London to Edinburgh and back to London in a time frame of 128 hours. Singhi brought home laurels by completing this ride in 124 hours and 32 minutes spread across 5 days. This is indeed a testament of her strong will, patience and perseverance.
Preparation and Challenges
Talking about the preparations that went into this cycling event, Singhi shares: “I have been preparing for this ride since the last two years. Along with physical fitness, preparing oneself mentally is also quite important. Keeping this in mind, I used to ride for 60-70 kilometers daily and around 100 kilometers on Sundays. For mental endurance, I used to practise meditation. The support of my family to keep me free from any familial responsibilities also played an instrumental role in keeping me mentally relaxed.”
Shedding light on the challenges that came across her path during the ride, Singhi said that lack of sleep and downward ride were the biggest hurdles for me. “Across 5 days, I slept for just 5 or 6 hours. Riding downhill was a task especially during the night. However, the people along with me were quite supportive and helped me when I lost the way. In fact, once I even fell down but thankfully neither me nor my cycle suffered from any damage and I just got up and continued to ride”.
A Remarkable Journey
It is noteworthy that till now Singhi has travelled more than a whopping 55,000 kilometers on her cycle in just six years. Ask her how her tryst with cycling began and she says: “Around six years ago, I had bought a cycle for the purpose of staying fit because I could not find time to go to the gym daily. I eventually joined the Jaipur Cycling Community (JCC). Going to Nahargarh early in the morning with JCC members boosted my confidence”.
Singhi has achieved the status of Super Randonneuer (SR) five times by completing a Super Series of 600 km (100km, 200 km & 300 km) in a calendar year. In 2018, Renu Singhi qualified for the cycling endurance ride ‘Paris Brest Paris (PBP) 2019’. After that she never looked back. Nine participants from Rajasthan participated in the self-supported endurance ride- Paris Brest Paris in 2019, in which Renu Singhi was the only finisher. She has also travelled from Srinagar to Leh covering a distance of 420 kilometers.
Age is just a number
A grandmother of two, Singhi presently works as the Advisor of Poornima University in Jaipur. Sharing a word of advice for those who are keen on taking up a sport or an outdoor activity at a slightly later stage in their lives, she says: “Age is just a number. You just have to go out there and take the first step, everything else will fall into place. If you have the will, you can do anything at any age.”
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