A boy, naughty to the core, lived with his family in the city of Hyderabad. Not much inclined towards studies, he had a world of his own. Not governed by the ‘ethical code of parent-pleasing child behavior’, he was difficult to handle. “I eventually realized that I was looked at as a failure. Everyone had a poor opinion of me, especially in the family; It hurt.”
This ignited a fire within him. At the age of sixteen, he ventured out on his own. “I worked like a bull! My days would only end at midnight or so. I traveled from town-to-town selling garment pieces.” He turned a modest investment of Rs.30000 into a turnover of Rs.1.5 crores by the time he was eighteen.
He was independent, managing a growing business and family realized his worth. What else could he have wished for!
But the wrath of the unforeseen dawned upon him and he met with a terrible accident. His right leg had to be amputated from above the knee. He realized that moving around with garments wasn’t possible. With a heavy heart, he had to close his business. He was fitted with a prosthetic leg and eventually trained to walk.
One day he came across a hoarding of a local cycling club. This picture marked the beginning of new innings in his life. Encouraged by what he saw, he borrowed his cousin’s bike and started off. “Every fall made me stronger. I learned from every fall. I just kept going. I never stopped.”
His dream of becoming a Limca Record Holder thus became a reality with him being the first amputee cyclist to complete the 100km ride in 5.5 hours. Yes, I am talking about Mr. Aditya Mehta, whose list of achievements has made him a prominent name in the field of cycling.
His feat is nothing short of a saga full of hard work and dedication. Sharing one of his heart-wrenching experiences while he was training for Asian cycling championship, he says that his prosthetic leg got stuck in the spokes of the front wheel. “My leg immediately came off and I flew off the cycle. I was riding at 40 km/hr. I smacked against the ground and could not move”. His tailbone took a severe impact. The next thing he heard was his doctor’s ‘diktat’ forbidding him to put on any further strain and skip the Asian championship. His parents too had similar views.
But Aditya had other plans. How could he have let his accident cost his dream! He left for Delhi telling his parents that he would watch the games and Asia got its first amputee double-silver cyclist.
He also holds the Limca book of records for riding from London to Paris, climbing 9000 feet in the journey. One of his greatest achievements is to ride along the difficult terrain stretching from Manali to Khardung LA pass, the highest vehicle available pass for the general public in the world. Nosebleeds and wounds could not deter him from achieving what he set out for.
In spite of gaining such recognition and media attention, he has never taken cycling for granted. “I have a road bike and train everyday for 50 to 60 km.”
Aditya currently has his foundation for raising money for the Para-athletes. He has a piece of advice for the new entrants as well.
“Go for hybrid n train every day for 1.5 hours. Low gears and high on cadence. “
‘Don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits.’