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Dr. Meera Velankar - Scientist turned tandem cyclist. Exploring India since 2015. First woman to complete India’s Golden Quadrilateral, which connects Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata

Renata Chlumska  - Adventure athlete who became the first Swedish and Czech woman to climb Mount Everest and in 2005 did a circumnavigate of the lower 48 States of the United States by her own power.

Dr. Meera Velankar, a mother of two with a doctorate in life sciences, embarked on a transformative journey over a decade ago. Feeling unfit and discontent, she turned to cycling, becoming a seasoned endurance athlete since. 

Her achievements include completing numerous running and cycling events, earning the title of an Ironman 70.3 finisher, and conquering the Super Randonneur norm three times, with a podium finish at the Tour of Nilgiris.

In 2022, Meera made history by setting a Guinness World Record for a self-supported cycling journey from Agra to Umlingla, covering a distance of 1,835 km in 19 days, 7 hours, and 18 minutes. This remarkable feat, accomplished with Utkarsh Verma, traversed five passes with an elevation of 19,000 meters, equivalent to climbing Mount Everest twice.

During this podcast, Meera shares insights into her journey, emphasising the importance of setting goals and pushing boundaries. Drawing inspiration from fellow cyclists, she advocates for spending more time outdoors and pursuing dreams. 

Learn more about Meera's adventures and her passion for motivating other mothers by listening to her story on the Tough Girl Podcast.


Don't miss out on the latest episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast, released every Tuesday at 7am UK time! Be sure to hit the subscribe button to stay updated on the incredible journeys and stories of strong women.

By supporting the Tough Girl Podcast on Patreon, you can make a difference in increasing the representation of female role models in the media, particularly in the world of adventure and physical challenges. Your contribution helps empower and inspire others. Visit to be a part of this important movement. 

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Listen to Meera Now!

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Show notes

  • Who is Meera

  • Getting her doctorate in life sciences at 26

  • Having 2 daughters

  • Realising that she was obese 

  • Starting to walk and to get into running

  • Setting her first cycling challenge

  • Cycling 800km in 8 days with a lot of off roading and climbing in 2011

  • Receiving support from the male participants

  • Wanting to take her cycling further

  • The importance of working towards goals

  • Taking part in stage events 

  • 2012 getting involved in Super Randonneur

  • Getting use to cycling on her own

  • Taking on new challenges every year

  • Wanting to move away from organised events and create her own challenges

  • Deciding on challenges/events and the planning and preparation involved.

  • Using her research skills from her PhD to plan her routes 

  • Being inspired by Cat Dixon and Raz Marsden. The women’s tandem around the GWR holders. (You can listen to Cat and Raz on the TGP)

  • Meeting Laura from SteLa Tandem - Around the word - mixed pair GWR holder.

  • You can listen to Laura Massey-Pugh on the TGP - Her Inspiring Journey Around the World - 180 days on the back of a tandem. 

  • Book: The Next Everest by Jim Davidson 

  • Taking on 3 different routes/challenges with different partners, self supported. 

  • Riding Kanyakumari to Kashmir Route (K2K) 3,800km in 18 days, self supported.

  • Riding The Golden Qualdilateral (network of national highways connecting Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai in four directions) 6,000+ km in 41 days

  • Riding East to West - known as the "the other k2k" in cycling circuits. 

  • Having a supportive husband 

  • Social issues of riding a tandem bike with a male partner who is not her husband. 

  • The challenges of tandem cycling 

  • Riding Umling La Pass on a tandem bicycle, which is the highest motorable pass (19,024ft) in the world.

  • The many names of the tandem bike

  • Having support from the Indian Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)

  • Communication and needing to rely on local people and their local knowledge

  • Fitting in cycling around her life and family 

  • Focusing on high altitude cycling and the lessons she’s learned 

  • How to connect with Meera 

  • Final words of advice to encourage you to spend more time in the outdoors and to follow your dreams

  • Take the first steps to pursue your dreams 


Social Media

Instagram: @meeravelankar


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