Sanket Naik: Celebrating life and nature through bicycling
BY ASAVARI KULKARNI & FRANKY GRACIAS
Sanket Naik (39), a teacher who resides in Goa's neighbouring Maneri village of Dodamarg taluka, Sindhudurg, has been strongly advocating for the conservation of nature for posterity over the last 20 years.
Sanket's love for nature is natural given the fact that Dodamarg is surrounded by the biodiverse hills of the Western Ghats. As a child, Sanket saw so much natural beauty around him that it always uplifted his spirits whenever the chips were down.
However, he could never enjoy that perspective and joy nature offered while riding a scooter or a bike, driving or travelling in a bus. That's when he decided to get onto a cycle and explore the natural wonders around him.
Cycling is something Sanket loved as he had been riding since his school days. So when he started cycling with his friends, the shorter rides started becoming longer as his endurance for distances grew.
What helped his cycling endurance to grow is the topography of Dodamarg, where it is difficult to find plain roads. As a cyclist, he had no choice but to deal with hill riding to feel close to the wild he so loved.
He has climbed the Tillari ghat on his cycle at least five times. Tillari Ghat is one of the steepest ghats in the Western region and offers a challenge even to motorists, forget cyclists.
Later, he joined a cycling club where other riders encouraged him to take on long-distance riding challenges. The ghat riding certainly helped Sanket to complete time-controlled cross-country rides ranging from 100 to 400 kilometres.
The highlight of his adventurous journeys came last year when he along with two of his close friends took up the Manali to Leh cycling challenge where one has to deal with climbs 8 to 10 times higher than those found in the Konkan region.
Though Sanket had to abort the ride due to body pain as a consequence of a fall, braving such treacherous terrain still gives him the feeling of triumph. He rode around 475 kilometres despite the pain, but had to finally get off the saddle when his oxygen level started falling.
Sanket has now encapsulated all of his cycling memories in a book, Ek Pedal Anandasati (One Pedal for The Sake of Happiness). The 103-page book, which is written in Marathi, was released on June 17, 2023 (Saturday) in a small gathering at Sankhali, North Goa.
The book, which consists of 16 topics, narrates Sanket's cycling adventures to different places in India. Even though the book is about cycling, it has captured the nature, culture, history and cuisine of the places with the help of good-quality photographs and write-ups.
Naturalist and well-known birder Parag Rangnekar is all praise for Sanket's book endeavour. Parag, who was the chief guest at the book release function, shared some of his cycling campaigns with Sanket for the cause of Mhadei and plastic menace.
Well-known environmentalist Rajendra Kerkar, under whose guidance Sanket learnt to admire nature, praised the teacher for using his passion to get close to nature and at the same time focus on its conservation.
TEACHER ON A MISSION
Like Kerkar, one of Goa's well-known crusaders for nature, Sanket knows the intrinsic value of saving national resources for future generations. And, as a teacher, Sanket's life mission is to take nature to classrooms and connect his students to what he feels is education that can teach more than books.