Becoming a paraplegic at the age of 21 shattered not only my spine, but also my youthful enthusiasm as an avid sportsman. What I hadn't realised at the time, was that being confined to a wheelchair would afford me new and in some ways, more exciting, opportunities to test my physical endurance through a range of sporting activities.
As such, I got involved in triathlons, marathons and (single skull) rowing. This led me to undertake more endurance related endeavours to test myself. It turned out that I was showing others that anything is possible, especially for the disabled. I learnt to scuba dive, participated in long distance ocean rowing, IronMan races and long distance hand biking events for fun and charity.
Last year I decided that I would try to do something to test my abilities even more. I also wanted to use these activities to try and inspire others, while also fund raising for different charities. In 2019 I did 'Krakin'thru China' which saw a team of us, able and disabled riders, take 37 days to bike 2,315.17km from Beijing to Mohe, the border town near Russia. In 2020, Kashgar to Karachi is my goal.
The Kashgar to Karachi hand biking expedition will make use of the China National / Karakorum Highways to cross countries, but will extend further on both sides, beginning in Kashgar in north western China and ending in Karachi, on the southern coast of Pakistan. This is a journey of approximately 3,000 km and we will also pass through other Pakistani cities including Islamabad/Rawalpindi, Lahore, Multan, Sukkur and Hyderabad.
The Belt and Road initiative is the re-invention of the ancient Silk Road. Part of that historic trading route ran through what is present day Pakistan and China. One of the most romantic and modern linkages between the two countries is the Karakorum Highway (KKH) also known as the China Pakistan Friendship Highway. This national highway is 1,300 km long and connects Gilgit Baltistan in Pakistan and Xinjiang in China, a popular tourist attraction and one of the highest paved roads in the world. This hand biking expedition will make use of the Highway to cross boarders, but will extend further on either side, starting in Kashgar in Northwest China and ending in Karachi, a route of approximately 3,000 km and passing through Pakistani cities including Islamabad/Rawalpindi, Lahore, Multan, Sukkur and Hyderabad. The purpose of riding a hand bike for such a great distance and covering such a swathe of Pakistan is to raise awareness in the country that those with disabilities have the potential to contribute to society, both economically and socially, and are not a stigma to be hidden away. In the 21st century, it is time to advocate for an inclusive society, where the disabled can be encouraged to lead independent lives, enriching everyone towards progress and success.
During the course of the trip through the length of Pakistan we plan to:
hold workshops with disabled people’s associations and various hospitals and rehabilitation centres
provide motivational talks for public and private sector, as well as, educational institutions
promote sports for disabled people, particularly in
Handcycling by holding workshops along the way
Para-Rowing by having experiential workshops in Rawalpindi
Marathons and Wheel Chair Racing with trainings and workshops
Scuba Diving for the physically challenged, again with experiential trainings and workshops, particularly in Karachi
To read more about this incredible journey, visit: https://www.kashgar2karachi.com