An Indian Ultracyclist’s Preparation Ride for Raam 2020

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Vivek Shah, a Chartered Accountant in Ahmedabad set to do the great RAAM 2020 race after qualifying in the Ultra Spice RAAM Qualifier Race in January 2019; he stood first in the 600km solo category. Get a detailed account of his simulation ride for RAAM and tips for a long endurance ride!

5 DAYS 9 HRS 21 MIN.
2420 KM ON MY CYCLE

“ I am only one, but I am one.
I cannot do everything, but I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

― Edward Everett Hale

My 1 mission accomplished. My 1 dream came true. I made it possible.

INTRODUCTION

As preparation for RAAM 2020, I wanted to do a simulation ride in India to perfect my riding strategy, crew planning and nutrition. In RAAM one has to cover 4828 km, in 12 days with about 170,000 elevation gain. So my team and I planned out a 2420 km ride across India with good elevation gains, adverse wind conditions and cold winter weather of northern India.

We decided to start from Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad on 30th November 2019 in commemoration of the 150th birth year of Gandhi Bapu. The aim was to cover approximately 450 km every 24 hours as a simulation. Short days and long nights of winter ensured additional challenges to sleep management and nutrition. I finished the ride in 5 days 9 hours 21 min

ROUTE FOR RAAM PREPARATION

Gandhi Ashram (Ahmedabad) – Dahod (Panchmahals) – Indore – Nagpur (Vidarbha area) (geographical centre of India) – heading north towards the forests of Satpura – Jhansi (famous for the epic battle of 1857) – Gwalior (the city of ‘The Pearl in the Necklace of the Forts’) – Agra (the UNESCO heritage monument TAJ MAHAL & one of the 7 wonders of the world) – New Delhi (India Gate Sahid Smarak) – head north-west towards Panipat (famous for the historic 3 Battles of Panipat) – Kurukshetra (of the great battle of Mahabharata fame) – Chandigarh (India’s first planned city) – Amritsar (the holy city of the Golden temple) – Attari Border.

WEATHER CONDITIONS

The weather till Nagpur was slightly temperate even at this time of the year. With the forests surrounding the Deccan plateau, the chill started setting in. Vast swathes of dense forests surrounding Chhindwara north of Nagpur made the riding conditions memorable. For miles together, there was no soul to be seen and no sound to be heard except the sound of my own breathing and the steady hum of my follow vehicle. 

Approaching Gwalior, the weather became still colder and as we hit the Gangetic plains near Agra, the morning fog also threw in its own set of problems. The areas of Delhi, Kurukshetra, Panipat and Ludhiana right till Amritsar were cold throughout the day and night. Arm and leg warmers and inner base layers topped up with woollen headgear and wind cutters were the norm 24/7 in those areas while riding.

Out of 2420 km, I encountered steady headwinds for the first 2100 km till beyond Delhi. The cold northeasterly winds blowing in at this time of the year had a steady incessant effect on the ride speed. After 2100 km, the wind pattern changed and I encountered a crosswind coming in from my right. The last 100 km was like an icing on the cake as if nature was rewarding me for my efforts with a nice tailwind!!

ELEVATION PROFILE

The total elevation gain in this ride of 2420 km was a little more than 8300 meters. 90% of this was in the 800 km stretch of Indore – Nagpur – Chhindwara – Gwalior. The northern Gangetic plains were relatively flat while the road from Delhi to Attari border was totally pan flat. The elevation gain was mainly concentrated in and around the Deccan plateau. Remaining 10% of the elevation gain was in the Panchmahals which was in the first 450 km of the route upto Indore.

ROAD CONDITIONS

After turning from Ahmedabad, we hit NH 47 till Nagpur. This national highway is simply a treat to ride on with superb surface and very less traffic. North of Nagpur after leaving Chhindwara, we hit the NH 44 which again is a very nicely paved road and it passes through some very beautiful and gorgeous geographical areas. The stretch of NH 44 around Gwalior is a slight pain with a lot of road construction going on and broken roads. But that has to be tackled and taken into one’s stride.

CREW COMPOSITION FOR RAAM

We had 2 follow vehicles – 1 Tata Winger & 1 Maruti A Star. The crew composed of 6 of my teammates who have been with me in my journey like a rock since day 1. They were Pinky Jha (crew chief), Manthan Patel Tejeshwar Singh, Kinjal Shah, Dilipbhai & Kaplesh Bhai. They use to take duty rotations every few hours. I had made it a norm for each of my crew members to sleep 5 hours in a stretch of 24 hours to keep them fresh, relaxed and alert. Tejender Singh was primarily responsible for navigation and photography. PinkyJha took up the responsibility of nutrition, overall coordination and she was the crew chief. Manthan Patel was in charge of nutrition, logging and documentation and bike maintenance.

DAILY SADDLE TIME AND SLEEP

The typical breakup of 24 hours was –

  • 19.5 hours of riding time
  • 2.5 hours of sleep
  • 2 hours total break time for physical therapy, natural calls and major meal breaks.

NUTRITION FOR RAAM PREPARATION

On the ride nutrition was mainly in the form of liquid food, bananas, energy gels, hydration fluid and dry fruits. Major meal breaks were every 7 hours with food like daal chawal, magi, upma and pasta

CONCLUSION

This ride would not have been possible at all without my fantastic crew named above and without the support & blessings of my parents and guidance of my coach Amit Samarth. My crew have remained like a rock with me and I thank them from the bottom of my heart…..team this is OUR achievement!

One Reply to “An Indian Ultracyclist’s Preparation Ride for Raam 2020”

  1. Avatar sridhar pokuri says:

    Congratulations, wish u all the best,
    “Think big” great keep going, once again Indian flag raising, proud to be a cyclist.

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