One of the things we love about being a part of the Dream Team here at DC is that we have the chance to take on our Dream Challenges ourselves and experience the magic of the event first-hand. In 2018, our wonderful UK Events Organiser, Rachel Smith - you may have seen her at Women V Cancer Ride the Night or on one of our team events – jumped on a last-minute opportunity to join Cycle India 2018. Here, she tells us about her experience of the challenge and gives some fab insight into what you can expect from our Cycle India 2020 challenge, which follows the same itinerary.
First off, how did you train for the cycle in India beforehand?
I only found out that I was going on this challenge a few weeks before it started, as another staff member wasn’t able to make it, so I actually didn’t get lots of training in. I was very lucky/unlucky - lucky to attend the event and unlucky I didn’t get much training time. However, I do go to the gym two to three times a week, so my fitness isn’t too bad and I went for a few long-distance cycles once I found out I’d be going.
Have you ever been to India before?
Never – it was the most incredible experience and I’m so pleased I managed to experience it in the way I did.
What would you say were the highlights of the challenge?
I love meeting new people and finding out a bit about them, why they may be doing the challenge etc. I love that you can cycle with one person one day and a completely different person the next. I also absolutely loved India – cycling through villages you would never come across if you were on your own and the incredible colours that you see on all the saris in the fields and how friendly all the villagers were.
How was the weather?
We were very lucky: it was dry and sunny but not too hot or unbearable.
And what kind of accommodation were you staying in?
We stayed in some of the most beautiful palaces, very grand rooms! We did stay in a few tents; however, these were more like glamping than camping! Very luxurious!
Did you enjoy the food?
The food was delicious! Curry in England would never be my first choice and I don’t love spicy food; however, the flavours were amazing in Rajasthan! I really looked forward to meal times.
Favourite curry or Indian dish?
This is a tough one, as I loved it all. The majority of meals are veggie and I’m usually a meat-eater, but I loved anything with paneer in!!!
Did you learn any key phrases in Hindi you can share?
Namaste!! (meaning hello) The children love it when you shout this out as you cycle by!
It goes without saying that India has an entirely different culture to ours. What were the three things about the Indian way of life/culture that you found most striking?
What would you say is the most challenging part of the cycle?
The long days and getting your bum used to cycling for five days straight! Off-road was tough, but I loved it!
How did you celebrate after completing the challenge (both in India and when you got home)?
We had a lovely celebration meal/late night party with a ‘few’ drinks in India and a good rest when I got home!
Top tips for people thinking about taking part in Cycle India 2020?
What’s the next challenge you’re going on?
I am lucky enough to be cycling Costa Rica at the end of October. Luckily, I have slightly more time to train for this challenge!
Experience India for yourself
We love this adventure so much that we're cycling through Rajasthan again in 2020 - so you can experience the amazing flavours of India for yourself. Why not give it a try? It's way more fun than seeing it on a screen. Find out more about our Cycle India 2020 challenge in the gorgeous info pack here or on the challenge page here.