School is back in session around the country, and a lot of families have education on their minds. But for many students around the world, receiving a quality education is not a simple thing. Below Hariharan Ragunathan, an Isha volunteer, shares his story of pushing himself to the limits in order to support Isha Vidhya, which provides education for children in rural India who would otherwise not be able to afford it:
“There are moments in life when you feel you have hit your physical limit, but there is something so strong in your mind pushing you to continue. At that moment, somewhere in your body there is a sudden spurt of energy to help you overcome the odds and continue with what you are doing. I had that particular moment when I biked last month on July 12th for 202 miles from Seattle to Portland.
This 202-mile bicycle ride is the largest multi-day bicycle event in the Northwest USA, with up to 10,000 participants riding from Seattle to Portland(STP) in one or two days. The route takes you through the scenic valleys, forests, and farmlands of western Washington and Oregon.
There were moments of excitement and joy as I cruised at 16-17 miles an hour for the first 100 miles of the ride in just 6.5 hours from the start point at University of Washington to half way point at Centralia. I had big hopes at this moment that I would be finishing the ride in another 7-8 hours and probably driving back to Seattle on day 1. There came a point at 110 miles on the first day where the temperature shot up to 103 Fahrenheit, the hottest day in Washington, when we were passing rolling hills to Winlock and Lexington. This is where I was completely dehydrated, cramping and totally sapped. At 120 mile mark I fell flat on a stop point thinking I am almost done.
But there was somewhere in my mind I kept telling I am riding this event for a cause and not this is just not another ride for me today. I wanted to support Isha Vidhya initiative by Isha foundation for my first STP ride. Isha Vidhya has taken giant strides in the last few years in helping rural kids in India go to school and get best education. The goal was to raise $5 to support for every kilometer of the 328 KM (202 miles) ride, which would fund one year of education for 10 Kids at Isha Vidhya. With the support of my friends and family, we raised about USD 2300 before the event through direct and matching contributions.
This definitely played a great role in pushing me to give my best shot on the ride. This mental strength gave me that additional energy to continue the ride. At the 150 mile mark there was a high elevation to bike, where you cross the Lewis & Clark Bridge, which is a 2722 feet long cantilever bridge. But the thought that the other side of the bridge is Oregon State and I am just 54 miles to end point gave me that sudden spurt of enthusiasm to bike harder now. I continue to bike till I reached 176 mile mark to St.Helens at 9 pm when it turned dark and I had to stop for the day. Till this point, I had biked for about 16 hours with a couple of hours at stop points to eat. My mother and a friend helped me at this place to get to the hotel to rest for the night.
I started to ride again the next day on July 13th at 6.45am from St. Helens in the morning, when sitting on the saddle was excruciatingly painful. With just another 30 miles to go I rode for another 2 hours to reach the end point at Portland at 9 am when I was in tears and gratitude. My mother bought me the Isha Vidhya poster as I hugged it with a sense of satisfaction.
I was in the bike riding for about 18 hours in total till the finish line, and in that time span there were moments of excitement, joy, pain. As Sadhguru says, when you do things with absolute involvement not with hesitation and calculation things happen for you, and I felt this during this ride. Thanks to everyone who helped me in supporting Isha Vidhya for this year STP.”
Hariharan Ragunathan: “I have been volunteering with Isha foundation since 2013 after my Inner engineering course with Sadhguru in Hyderabad. I work for Microsoft Corporation as a HR Manager at their Redmond office, USA. I have been working with Microsoft for the last five years, after completing MBA from XLRI, Jamshedpur. I am passionate about long distance cycling with a strong desire to contribute to education of underprivileged children. I would not have been able to complete my own education without financial support from many people given the tough financial situation in my family. Education can truly transform life not just for the kid but also for the family.“