Helmy El-Saeed is now racing against time as he cycles towards Russia's western border in the first Egyptian attempt to break the record of the fastest bicycle crossing of Europe.
In a country undergoing a tough social and economic transition, which is especially harsh on its youth, many of them still seem to be determined to carve their own stories of success; stories fueled by consistent efforts and burning passion. A perfect example of this is Helmy ElSaeed, an Egyptian cyclist who landed in Russia 9 days ago, all ready to to take on the task of breaking the Guinness World Record for the fastest bicycle-crossing of the European continent.
Though the glory and recognition that comes with such a achievement is practically inevitable, breaking the record reason is only a small part of the reason he's embarking on this adventure. "Breaking the world record would be an honorable achievement, but my main goals centre around raising awareness about child autism and setting another example for Egyptian youth that firmly believe in their ability to achieve anything they truly set their minds to," says ElSaeed hours after landing in Moscow, before he heads east to start the crossing from the Russian city of Ufa, which is Europe's easternmost point. ElSaeed is now fast-approaching Russia's western borders, hoping to cross into Belarus tomorrow after he covered 1,500 KMs in just 7 days, which puts him right on schedule to breaking the record.To gain the title of Europe's fastest bike crossing, ElSaeed who embarked on the challenge last Sunday, is going to have to cross the whole continent in just 37 days if he is to break the world record, which is currently held by Norwegian cyclist James Bowtell, who achieved the record in 2014. That's why he has been prepping for this life-changing event for more than a year, and not just on a physical level. "Cycling, boxing, yoga, running, strength training etc. are all things I've been doing on daily basis for a year now. But I believe achieving the record will essentially be about my mental training, which is why I read a lot, and like to interact with people, from whom I learn a lot about myself and the world. I believe that letting go of one's ego, doing good, being humble and believing in yourself are far more important than putting in hours at the gym," ElSaeed explains.
I believe that letting go of one's ego, doing good, being humble and believing in yourself are far more important than putting in hours at the gym.
The extraordinary trip, which is sponsored by The Arab African Bank, will have ElSaeed cycling through 7 different European countries, in which he will pass by dozens of towns and cities, big and small, with the distance totaling around 6,000 Kms, all the while raising awareness about child autism through the cities and towns he crosses, and spreading the message to the world through social media.
El-Saeed cycling his way out towards Russia's western border
At the core of his journey ElSaeed aims to send a crucial message to a plethora of Egyptian youth who feel crippled by the frustrating conditions in which they are barely surviving. "Dream big, there's no limit to your capacity. Our country is full of potential and talent, which never ceases to amaze me. And I'm not special or better than every other Egyptian out there with a big dream. Just combine those dreams with determination and the right mindset, and wonders will begin to unravel," ElSaeed says.
And I'm not special or better than every other Egyptian out there with a big dream. Just combine those dreams with determination and the right mindset, and wonders will begin to unravel.
Sometimes it feels like things aren't ever going to get easier, that challenges are only getting bigger by the day, which is true in so many ways. But that is precisely why we need to step up our efforts and not give in to the paralysis of inaction. Some people get a head start in life because they have better access resources and abilities. Others have to break a sweat for every inch of success and achievement, whether that's on a bike crossing a continent or in the heart of noisy, polluted cities fighting for survival; everyone has got to start somewhere and write their own stories the way they'd want to read them.
You can follow ElSaeed's adventure via his Instagram account.)