How far would you peddle for the environment? Satyen Das rides his rickshaw on a road in Kolkata, India (AP photos)
How far would you peddle for the environment?
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It took 68 days for Satyen Das to pedal his rickety bicycle rickshaw from the seaside Indian city of Kolkata to the roof of the world at a 17,600-foot Himalayan pass. His goal was to promote the vehicle as an environmentally sound travel option.

As he pedaled toward the top of Khardung La on the world's highest motorable pass, he remembered the words of his wife and 9-year-old daughter: "You must complete this mission."

The journey was arduous. He trained by loading his rickshaw a carriage-styled seat hooked to a bicycle with heavy items and cycling long distances. He added a third brake pedal. And when the time came to set off on his journey on June 11, he packed lightly. He took only a few items of clothing, medicine, food and a stove, a sleeping bag and plastic sheets for an emergency.

"I crossed five high mountain passes on the way," Das, 40, said in an interview. At one point, he faced a group of bears. But he was relieved when they showed little interest in him or his rickshaw.

Near his destination, he took shelter with Indian paramilitary forces after sighting an elusive snow leopard in the high reaches of the region of Lakadh. And on his way home, another cyclist in the mountains offered him food and shelter from the cold.

In total, he covered nearly 4,440 miles. That made him the first to accomplish the feat. He hopes to have it endorsed by Guinness World Records.

The idea "was to popularize the cycle-rickshaw as eco-friendly transport that does not need any fuel," he said.

It's a mode of transport he and his family have relied on their entire lives. Das earns about 200 rupees ($3.20) a day transporting passengers in Kolkata, the capital of India's West Bengal state. Under its former name Calcutta, it was a homebase for Imperial Britain when it ruled the South Asian subcontinent.

Das started as a so-called "rickshaw wallah" under his father, who also pedaled a rickshaw for a living.

He enjoyed the job, he said, because "there was no one to boss me around!"

But he always dreamed of setting an example for others. And he wondered how to do it being poor and with little education.

"So I thought, why not do something which is within my reach. I decided to spread the message of peace using my cycle-rickshaw," Das said.

He made his first attempt for Ladakh in 2008. He carted his wife and daughter up to an altitude of 13,050 feet on the Rohtang pass of Himachal Pradesh state before running out of cash.

For his latest expedition, he received 150,000 rupees (about $2,460) from a sponsor.

Critical thinking challenge: How is Satyen Das rickshaw an environmentally sound travel option?

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COMMENTS (53)
  • SofiaB-2
    10/17/2014 - 12:19 a.m.

    This article is about a man who pedaled an approximated 4,440 miles for his dream to promote more fuel efficient ways of getting around instead of using non-environmentally safe vehicles such as cars. This man has grown up using this mode of transportation, a rickshaw, as his father did before him and made a living out of transporting people for $3.20 rupees a day. This man is very inspirational as well as a good example and wanted to influence the worlds decisions on being more fuel efficient. He now hopes to be recorded in the Guinness book of world records for his long mile trip.

    • GB3._
      10/21/2014 - 12:08 p.m.

      This article is about a man who pedaled an approximated 4,440 miles for his dream to promote more fuel of getting around instead of using non-environmentally safe vehicles such as cars. This man has grown up using this mode of transportation, a rickshaw, as his father did before him and made a living out of shipping people for $3.20 rupees a day. This man is very good l as well as a good example and wanted to influence the worlds decisions on being more fuel efficient. He now hopes to be recorded in the Guinness book of world records for his long mile trip.

  • DylanM-4
    10/17/2014 - 12:41 a.m.

    An Indian man has rode a rickshaw attached to a bike and traveled 4,600 miles. His hope was to promote an Eco-friendly form of travel that he has been using his entire life. It helps the environment and gives a great workout. He tried to do the same task in 2008 with his wife and child, but they ran out of money. This time when he went he got $2,460 from a sponsor. This is a very cool way of standing up for the environment by doing something very simple.

  • JohnL-4
    10/17/2014 - 01:10 a.m.

    Satyen Das pedaled 68 days to show that the rickshaw bicycle is an easy environmentally friendly way to transport cargo. He crossed 5 mountain passages and rode about 4,440 miles. Das has been transporting people his whole live for 200 rupees a day, and he enjoyed it, but now he's going even further. He did this long journey throughout mountains, tigers, and bears to spread peace. He received 150,000 rupees for his last expedition. I think this is a really cool idea because there are plenty of people who drive 5 minutes to work, which is a waste of money, and pollutes the earth. On the other hand, people who cycle spend less money and get fit.

  • LaurenT-1
    10/17/2014 - 08:43 a.m.

    Satyen Das rode his rickshaw 4,400 miles to reach a 17,600 foot pass, making himself the first biker to do it. He made the goal because this transportation was what he used all of his life and he wanted it promoted as a great transportation option. While biking, he saw both a group of bears and a snow leopard.
    I think that this is interesting because the goal Das set for himself was so difficult, that alone shows his work ethic. He is a inspiration to all those without a true voice.

  • ImanB-1
    10/17/2014 - 10:12 a.m.

    A man name Satyen Das wanted to popularize the cycle-rickshaw as eco-friendly transport that doesn't need fuel and that is was safe. To do that he needed to pedal from seaside Indian city of Kolkata to the roof of the world at a 17,600-foot Himalayan pass. It took him 68 days to travel nearly 4,440 miles! He saw bears and snow leopards on the way! I think this trip was exciting, and exhausting. I would like to try out the cycle-rickshaw.

  • aidan2459
    10/17/2014 - 10:59 a.m.

    This article is about a a bicycle rider who gives people rides that traveled 4 thousand miles. In this a ride their was a lot of changes in the elevation. It took him 68 days and reached 17,600 ft. he is hoping his ride could get in the world record book.for completing this ride he got $2,460. i would never take a bike ride that long.

  • virginia1000
    10/17/2014 - 11:42 a.m.

    Facts: It took 68 days for Satyen Das to pedal his rickety bicycle rickshaw from the seaside Indian city of Kolkata to the roof of the world at a 17,600-foot Himalayan pass. Reasons: His goal was to promote the vehicle as an environmentally sound travel option. Examples: He took only a few items of clothing, medicine, food and a stove, a sleeping bag and plastic sheets for an emergency.
    Details: The journey was arduous.

  • Maddy1414
    10/17/2014 - 01:49 p.m.

    I think this is very generous of Satyen to ride his bike from seaside Indian city to Himalayan Pass ,for 68 days. I think its amazing that he would do that , he covered 4,400 miles! I wouldn't be able to do that my legs would get tired to fast , but im happy he did it.

  • LaurelM-4
    10/17/2014 - 04:03 p.m.

    Satyen Das peddled his rickshaw 68 days from the seaside of Kolkata to 17,600 foot Himalayan pass. He wanted to promote the rickshaw as an environmentally sound vehicle. He remembered the words of his wife and daughter. In total he traveld 4,440 miles and he wants to get noticed by the Guiness World Records. Das earns 20 rupees a day for transporting customers in the rickshaw. He wanted to set an example for others but didn't know how because he was poor and had little education. He attempted to make the journey in 2008 but he ran out of money. When he finally accomplished this great feat he had 150,000 rupees from a sponsor. I think that this is a great way to make a difference. Satyen Das had little to nothing but was still able to make a positive influence on the world. This is very inspirational to me.

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