RAAM Trans Siberian Extreme

Game The Mind to Cross The Line…!

In extreme endurance sports like ultra-cycling, many times there are instances when you don’t feel great or you fall sick. I also had such instances during in my ultra-cycling races.

During RAAM Solo 2017, we were in the second day of the race and I was riding through Arizona. We all know, Arizona is extremely dry and hot place. The water just evaporates directly from the skin, there is not much sweat and there is so much light reflected on your body. By the time I reached the time station of Cortez, I was already in a dehydrated state. I got down of the bike and went for a pee and it was all dark yellow in the color and my legs were wobbling and I didn’t felt well. My crew gave me the bike and I looked at the road ahead and I felt as if I get on to the bike I am gonna fall on my face. I asked for some more rest around 30 mins. During the break I drank lot of cold water and ate food. I felt good at the end of that break and felt 50 percent OK. Dinesh Sir came to me and said Amit enough of break, “Now you get on to the bike”. I followed his order, my crew gave me a sports bra with lots of ice packets in it (extremely innovative crew). Even though I was not 100 percent right, I started riding and after couple of hours I was feeling good again. Lesson to be learnt, you don’t need to feel 100 percent better to start riding in ultra-cycling.

Due to excessive drinking of cold water in Arizona, I got a throat infection on the 3rd day. I felt sore throat and impending fever, so I asked my mother who was crewing me to immediately start me on antibiotics and anti-pyretics to control infection and fever. The entire 3rd and 4th day of RAAM, I was riding in fever and weakness in my body. On the 5th day when we had entered Arizona, I felt good again and I told my crew and that we are half way and we are going to go all the way up to the Maryland. During this time my crew was extremely encouraging and especially my mother who always kept me going with her strong composure.

On the 10th day in RAAM, we were in West Virginia and it was raining heavily and I was riding in rain from evening 5 PM to almost 2 AM in the night. Due to rain, it became very cold in the night. One of the biggest mistake in my life, I took a break and I felt asleep, instead of sleeping for 1 hour, I slept for 3 hours and then it became very difficult to start in early morning cold conditions. I lost precious time and I felt extremely guilty for the wastage of time. Then I had to slog for next 24 hours to make sure that I finish RAAM successfully.

During Trans Siberian extreme, after completing the stage 3, I felt completely drained out due to lack of proper food and also my legs were extremely sore to the extend that I was not able to walk properly. By the evening, I got mild fever. I knew I had around 10 hours time to sleep and recuperate. I tried to eat as much as possible and slept as much as I can. Took medicines to control the fever. I told myself, I will evaluate myself next day morning, Next day morning, I felt good. But I told myself to slow down a bit for next two stages and try to recover my body on the bike. I was riding little slower and trying to eat a lot more on the bike. Yes you can recover your body in the middle of the race on the bike. During one of the race in Himalayas, I suffered dehydration and with altitude sickness. My crew took me to a primary health care center. I took medication and treatment for an hour and after that I was ready to go. If I had stopped, by getting afraid of these situations I would have never gone on finish Trans Siberian Extreme or RAAM.

Such situations are common in extreme races like Trans Siberian Extreme, RAAM or Ironman races. When you are hit by conditions like dehydration or loss of energy, there is no need to stop your race, Calm down and get yourself treated and you will be totally new person after an hour or so. In such situations, if the racer is ready to go and push and there is good enough time to finish the race successfully, then no one in the world should stop him/her or delay him/her from doing so. It is all about mental momentum in extreme racing. The racer is in different mental set up, don’t stop him/her. In such situations, I generally draw inspiration from my mother and people like Jeetendra Nayak. They are no where in sports but are inspiring personalities in themselves. A compassionate, loving and encouraging crew is extremely critical in such situations. I was fortunate to have such crew in these races.

In the end, you have to game the mind to cross the line. Think about the confidence you gain after finishing a extreme race like trans-siberian or RAAM. Human body is way to strong and even stronger is the human mind. Don’t think too much about that blood pressure reading. I have many times biked better after removing my heart rate monitor. I am always on a mission to push the human endeavor and nobody can stop me unless I think it’s over.

Team Amit Samarth

Be your own Hero…!



Ironman Phuket 70.3 – November 2012

Ironman 70.3 Phuket (1.9 km Swim, 90 kms Cycle and 21.1 km Run) Race Report (2nd December, 2012)

The Ironman Phuket is organized at the Laguna Resorts Complex. It was a triathlon festival over there, with two races being organized back to back, the first being on 25th of November and the Ironman 70.3 race on 2nd of December. The race on 25th of November is a smaller distance Triathlon (1.8 km Swim, 55 kms Cycle and 10 km run), which is considered as a warm to the 70.3 race on next Sunday. Around 1000 athletes were registered to participate in the Ironman race representing 56 different nationalities.

Build-up to the race
We (Myself and Mukul) reached Phuket on 28th of November and after checking-in to the hotel, immediately went to the Laguna complex to check out the race office. There I saw few athletes who were cycling and running in the heat to get acclimatized to the conditions. Then we went straight to the beach to see the swim course and was quiet surprised to see a calm and quiet ocean in the afternoon. I could not stop myself and went straight ahead to have the first dip and to my surprise it felt quiet easy and nice in the ocean. Swimming in open water and ocean has always made me nervous and it has always been the weak link in my preparation for the race.

Next day morning on 29th Nov, I again went in for a swim in the ocean and wanted to practice some cycling on the roads of Phuket. Hence, I joined the group of cyclist which was going for the practice bike ride on the same race route. I didn’t wanted to do the entire route as I thought it will too much of practice before the race, so I turned around to go back half-way into the route and I was able to find company of a pro-triathlete Chris Lieto, who was also going back half-way. It was kind of dream come true to meet him as I have only seen him in videos leading some of the Ironman races on bike. I had a quiet a long conversation with him, on training and about India. I was also able to meet Chris McCormack (two time winner of Ironman World Championship and most successful Tri-athlete ever). It was quiet an atmosphere in the Laguna complex, where you come across so many pro’s and age-groupers and it does get quiet intimidating after looking at the equipment with which they come for races. After coming back from cycling, I followed it up with a small 7 km run in 11 o’clock heat of Phuket to get a preview of what is going to happen on race day.

On 30th Nov, we went cycling to some other beaches of Phuket like Patong and Surin beach to check out the ocean over there and get more practice for ocean swimming in different conditions. It was followed by another swim again on the swim course in the evening.

On 1st December, I met Richard and Rohan for the athlete briefing. Now the entire Laguna complex was full of all kinds of Triathletes from all over the world, everyone trying to get their last bit of preparation right and be ready for the next day. I checked in my bike, bike-bag and the run-bag everything a day before the race day, walked backed to hotel to get some rest. I kept on eating in small quantities the entire day, just to be sure to have enough fuel for the next day.

Learning – if you think that you are going to get a lot of rest before the Ironman, then that is not going to happen. It might get more stressful…..

Race day….2nd Dec
I could not sleep the entire night properly, kept on checking the time. Bang…at 4 AM, started to get ready, had another 4 slices of bread with honey and then we were off to the starting point. Went up to the bike, checked the tires and whether everything was fine. Put on the swim cap and goggles, got on to a ferry to reach the starting point. I must say the arrangements for the race were absolutely amazing but it was already sweaty at 5.30 in the morning.

Swim…(1.9 kms)
Surprise…surprise, it was lot more windy, there was lighting and dark clouds over the ocean. The ocean was no where calmer and quieter as it has been for last 3 days. Wind and big waves go hand-in-hand and break your confidence, especially for a person who is attempting his first Ironman 70.3. Before the swim, I started doing some warm up and did around 20 Surya namaskars before the start, went into the ocean do a small warm-up swim. To start with, the pro’s went in first and then the yellow-caps for the age-group 30-34 years. I was also in the yellow caps; I went slowly after all the really confident starters. It was struggle to get across those big waves and keeping your nerves together. The first 50-100 meters gave the feeling of huge washing machine but finally I managed to get across the big waves into a little quieter ocean. Then I was just following the buoys and keeping myself on the left had side to make way for the fast swimmers. But, then swarm of women age-groupers and 40-45 starters came from behind, so it was like washing machine again. One has hardly any time to enjoy or think that you are in the middle of the ocean on the race day, forget the jelly-fishes, it’s the fellow racers kicks and strokes which are more lethal and dangerous over there. On the way back, I kept myself little away from the crowd but it was far better but I must have ended swimming extra 100 to 150 meters. After finishing the ocean swim, then came the lake swim for last 600 meters. One has to run across the beach to get to the lake. The water in the lake was warm and dark and at the end of the swim there is lot of slush mud and it is kind of crazy situation, where you can neither swim nor walk properly. Somehow, I managed to walk across it and might have lost around 10 minutes un-necessarily due to these conditions but the best part was that I was done with the weakest part and it was time for the stronger parts. Mukul was already there cheering me up….

Learning- the more you go to races, the better you get at swimming in ocean. Just being more confident can shave off 15-20 minutes and train more to swim better. One needs little bit of bravery and courage apart from training to get through the big waves and washing machine on race day.

Cycle…(90 kms)
After the swim, I quickly ran up to the rack picked up the bike bag, put on the bike shoes and took a electrolyte drink and was quickly on to the bike. Then, suddenly realized, then I have forgotten to put on the bike computer on the bike in the morning. Hardly, I could do anything about it and went ahead with cycling and then after couple of kilometers of warm-up picked up speed. The route is just amazing as it goes through the long winding country side of Phuket with lot of forest and shade on the road. The traffic is almost blocked and controlled at all the important points. After 20 kms or so, came the famous pedestrian bridge, were you have to dismount from the bike, walk across the foot-over bridge mount back and start cycling again. After 43 km you have the first set of famous steep hills which everyone was talking about. I went across the first one cycling, but realized I could be lot faster, if I get down and just walk with my bike up. So on the next hill, I was running over the hill with bike shoes on. It was little difficult but on race day somehow one manages everything. Then the route was very quick and flat and it was very well supported. At few places they had yellow flags, where everyone has to compulsorily bike slow (20 kmph). These steep down hills were quiet technical and I have never cycled on such routes before. Handling a road bike was quiet a task. Then it started raining heavily in the last 20 kms till then the weather was awesome with lots of clouds and cool air. At 75 km came the last set of hills. This time again the strategy was the same – to get out quickly and run across and it was also a good warm-up for the run part. After crossing the hills, it was again a fast course up to the Laguna complex. At many places the roads were filled up with rain water and one had to slow down considerably and also came across few riders who had crashed and sustained injuries. The bike course had everything; it was just like “Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar” movie with all the drama and excitement.

Learning – need to put in more bike time in training and also need to change the gear-combinations according to the course. One needs different gear combinations on such course with very steep sudden hills.

After reaching back to Laguna, I dismounted from the bike again went running to the racks picked up my run bag and put on the running shoes. The rain had gone and it was hot and humid 10.35 AM in Phuket. I have ran an entire half marathon at that time but was prepared for the conditions. Just before the start of my run, I heard Chris McCormack has just won the race. So it was nice motivation to know that one of the guys who has inspired you to get into the sport has won another race. So started off with a bang, and I knew this was my strongest part and I can do it no matter what the conditions are. The run course was two-loop course of 10.5 kms each and it goes across different resorts at Laguna complex and golf course. It is a flat but winding and with lot of trail running and at few places it had become slushy and muddy due to rain and hence not the fastest course to run on. The first loop was quiet comfortable and I met Richard and Rohan in between. All along I was continuously drinking water and using sponges to keep myself cool. It was well supported all the way and there were gels available on the run course to keep the energy levels high. At the finish, Richard was already there to run with me to the finish line and Mukul was also there at the end.

Overall time – 5 hr 50 mins 38th position in age group (30-34 years) (could have been better just by keeping nerves together in swim and more bike training)

Learning – it does not matter if you are slower in one section, one can always make up time in the stronger sections. Just keep moving from one section to another…..!

It was very satisfying experience by participating in such a well-organized international triathlon race and being a part of Ironman race experience. It was quiet learning and exposure to the Triathlon racing atmosphere. I would recommend Laguna Tri-fest to anyone who is looking for a very good racing experience and doing an Ironman 70.3. I am surely going there again next year. Next year the Ironman title is not going to be there but will be replaced by Challenge series, which is another family of long distance triathlons. The organization is going to be same and better and it is quiet a nice place to visit.

I would thank all the Hyderabad Runners family and especially Rajesh Vetcha for his motivation and support. Anirudh Pandya and Sunil Menon to teach me how to swim and advice in the pool, without that I would have never swam into the ocean on the race day. Richard McDowell for his advice and support to built a new bike and race advice. Gupta Kandula and Venugopal Sir for getting me bike parts from US. Ramkrishna Sir for his advice and motivation. Maninder Singh for all his support and enthusiasm to built and tune-up the new bike.

Ironman can never be an individual effort and I thank everyone to who have supported me in this endeavor.

Cycling Fitness

How to lose weight? – The Endurance Sports Way…!

There are three important factors towards weight loss.
1. Nutrition and Food habits
2. Exercise and sports training
3. Time
1. Nutrition and food habits –
If you are heavily over weight then you need to make dramatic changes to your food habits. Moderation in food habits is the key towards weight loss. Eat small balanced meals.
Reduce heavy carbohydrate foods like – Rice, wheat. Reduce the portions of these foods.
Avoid Junk food like Domino’s, Pizza hut, Haldiram’s
Avoid Sugary drinks like Coca Cola, Sprite, Maaza, Frooti etc.
Maaza and Frooti has more sugar than soft drinks.
Avoid Saoji kind of food.
There are lot of different diets available these days. All of them have one primary goal that is to create calorie deficit.
You can starve yourself and eat only 100 to 200 calories a day and look thin in few weeks but you will dramatically loose health and fitness. That will not work on a long term basis.
What to Eat then?
Eat home cooked food. Small meals. Have 4 hrs gap in between every meal. Your food should provide you protein, good fats like ghee and moderate carbohydrates.
If you want to snack – eat dry fruits
2. Exercise or sports training –
Exercises like jogging, running, cycling, swimming burn maximum number of calories. At low intensity you can keep doing these exercises for a very long time, in fact for hours together. That is the reason all the Miles’n’Milers training is heavily inclined towards jogging, running, cycling and body weight exercises. These are all aerobic exercises, where body is continuously supplying oxygen to the muscles and muscles will keep working for a very long time.
Fat burning Zone – When we do any activity like jogging, cycling, running and swimming, for the first 45 minutes your body is using the glucose present in your muscles and your liver. if you keep on doing the activity then only the stored fat in your body gets utilized. So to loose extra weight and burn more fat you need to do any activity beyond 45 mins.
For example – jogging and walking – 60 mins – 75 mins – 90 mins
Running – for 60 mins and beyond
Cycling – for 60 mins and beyond. This will burn more fat. Advantage of cycling is that you can keep doing it for hours together as it is a non impact activity. Your muscles will recover quickly.
Running and jogging is high impact – more chances of injury. Do more of running and jogging after you have lost some weight.
Activities like gym and weight training – do not burn lot of calories. Heavy weight training should be avoided if you want to loose weight. Only do body weight exercises and light weight training, if you want to tone up the muscles. Don’t join a gym and train like a bodybuilder. You are actually moving away from your goal.
So if you want to loose weight then 80 percent of your training must be activities like cycling, running, swimming, jogging etc. 20 percent you should be focusing on strength training, core training etc.
I have done bodybuilding, martial arts and now into Endurance sports. Believe me Endurance sports is one of the best way to stay healthy, fit and eat all the healthy things available. I eat everything at home. I eat all the things like ghee, high fat curd, high fat milk. My training helps me to stay lean. Because my training is huge.
3. Time – most important factor. Everyone talks about exercise and food habits and expects things to change in few days or weeks. Believe me nothing happens in first few days or first few weeks. You need to invest few months and then few years to become the best version of your own self. The best thing about endurance sports is that the Sport will shape you slowly but surely. So keep training for the sport. It may be running, cycling or Triathlon and it will shape you in few months and years. Best things take time to happen…but when they do happen you will be your own Hero…!
So the Formula is Nutrition habits x Endurance sports training x Time = Weight Loss
Dr Amit Samarth
Be your own hero…!
Trans Siberian Extreme

Strava links to Red Bull Trans Siberian Race

Dear all,

Please find below Strava links to all the Stages of Red Bull Trans Siberian Extreme 2018 by Team Amit Samarth

World’s Longest Bicycle Stage Race
Moscow to Vladivostok
9100 kms

15 stages over 25 days
Longest stage – 1386 kms
Shortest stage – 260 kms
Total elevation – 77,320 meters

Stage 1 – Moscow – 315 kms-Nizhniy Novgorod –

Stage 2 – Nizhniy Novgorod – 383 kms – Kazan –

Stage 3 – Kazan – 693 kms – Perm –

Stage 4 – Perm – 331 kms – Ekaterinburg –

Stage 5 – Ekaterinburg – 314 kms – Tyumen –

Stage 6 – Tyumen- 614 kms – Omsk –

Stage 7 – Omsk- 611 kms – Novosibirsk –

Stage 8 – Novosibirsk – 260 kms – Tomsk –

Stage 9 – Tomsk – 557 kms – Krasnoyarsk –

Stage 10 – Krasnoyarsk – 1042 kms – Irkutsk –

Stage 11 – Irkutsk- 447 kms – Ulan Ude –

Stage 12 – Ulan Ude – 660 kms – Chita –

Stage 13 – Chita – 1368 kms – Svobodny –

Stage 14 – Svobodny – 689 kms – Chabarovsk –

Stage 15 – Chabarovsk – 761 kms –Vladivostok –


My First Full Marathon – Hyderabad Marathon 28 Aug 2011

It was quiet a quest to keep myself away from long distance running. I used to keep myself telling that “no man, you don’t need to run so far distances like 21 or 42 kms to prove your fitness.” I used to think I am fine with this Taekwondo, it makes me feel good and I am kicking around the trees but without goal…I needed some goal so that I can train specific and put all my training to use to achieve that goal. Hence started training for Full Marathon, in May…not a very perfect time to start training for marathon in Hyderabad.

I thought of changing my training to run a full marathon…what a good decision it was, to start training for full marathon…42 kms…the king of long distance running…and I learnt very good lessons about life and running. So,  I started training for full marathon from the month of May…hoping that I will run my first full in September but along came the announcement of Hyderabad Marathon, being organized by own people – Hyderabad Runners. I got registered for it thinking that I will take it as a practice run. No matter what I will run the full in my city with the support of my own people. Along with running the marathon, also took small responsibility of taking care of pace groups for the half and full marathon.

Over the next three months, I was able to increase my mileage and increase the number of kilometer per week. In the world of distance running, they say….its all about mileage. A professional marathoner runner runs somewhere around 100-120 miles per week. I started from 60 kms per week and was able to increase it around 70 kms in few of the weeks. The major problem for the training was my liking for Taekwondo and also for cross-training. So never really trained like a pro-does. But anyway no more excuses, I tried to train my best, with all the responsibilities and juggling around my work. Nobody pays me to keep running and doing all this madness, I wish I could get paid to do all this.

So, in came the week when I am going to run my marathon. First scary moment, pain in the right heel on the Tuesday evening, send me the warning signals of keeping myself safe until marathon. So I kept myself away from running for the rest of the week, hoping that I will be able to run better on 28th of August.  The day before the run I started carbo loading and all that stuff to make sure that I will have enough energy to run through 42 kms. Till about 9 pm in the night I was roaming around to get the pace setters group work done. Actually, it was a busier day than the usual week days.

Anyways, then came the morning of the run, it was perfect weather, no rains but very cool breeze for my first full marathon.  It was great to have My wife, Mukul at the starting point. Then came the flag-off and I started my first quest to conquer this long time dream of running 42 kms. Honestly speaking, I thought of taking it as my training run and hope to finish somewhere around in 3 to 3.15 hours. I was pretty confident to making the 42 kms in that time…but 42 kms is a kind of distance, which will destroy all your myths and assumptions. The distance of 42 kms will tell you…boss…I am the king…and you need to do something special to run over me in quick time.

But then came the two flyovers and the 3 kms uphill run from Punjagutta to KBR park. I was running at decent pace, till 25 kms…but then came the Gachibowli flyover, which took kind of my energy off. Then the ISB hill…and hill after hills keep coming on this dreaded route…crafted by own people from Hyderabad Runners.  Around 32 kms, I was still running at decent pace…trying to hold by my pace and dream together of finishing fast. But man…this 42 kms is a killer of a distance and on a terrain like Hyderabad marathon route, it become doubly difficult.  I kept running confidently into the HCU campus, but man….they had planned another crazy thing inside the HCU campus. All those twists and turns really took my patience off and after running so long one kind of looses his ability to think. The only thing I kept thinking was to finish and only hope I had that when I will get on that highway…..I knew finish line is not very far off from highway…..! the route inside HCU really fried my brains off..!

Then came the highway and the 40 kms mark….good sign…i would say God Sign…so I kept running…steady. On the way, I was able to get past some of the professional runners….some of them walking and I was shouting at them….chalo…chalo….lets keep running. It was also very nice to see some of the policemen encouraging the runners. Then came the stadium and the last few meters…inside on to the track. Thanks…to Ram and Sunita for accompanying me for the last few meters….it will go down the memory lane for the rest of my life…!

It was amazing…to finish in the presence of my wife, parents and my 6 month old baby boy…! The most precious moment of my life…indeed came through running. All the friends and well-wishers from Hyderabad Runners have made it possible..thanks to all of them for motivating me to run a full marathon.Special thanks to Rajesh, Satish, Gupta, Vinay, Ram, Ravi, Sunita and everyone from Hyderabad Runners to motivate on the way to first full. Special thanks to everyone at home to support me in all this madness.

It was tough…but I was tougher….hence I conquered it….it gave me the one of the best lesson of life that 21 + 21 is not equal to 42 kms….! Believe me it is not equal in the world of distance running…! Your body and mind behaves differently at these long distance…! Full marathon is the truest test of one’s mental and physical abilities…it when your un yourself in the unknown and unsafe zone…you will understand more about yourself. I will train better to beat myself next time. This is what is amazing about the distance running, you get to beat yourself and that is what matters…there are many more miles to be run and many more kicks to be thrown…and I will keep running to conquer myself.

Lesson learnt….21+21 not equal to 42…this blog is all about this magical distance of 42 kms and endurance running.

“It does not matter how slow you go so long as you do not stop” – Confucius

Cycling Public Health

Cycling as a way of Life for Nagpur

Nagpur is an ideal city to promote it cycling city and create a cycling friendly environment for all the residents of the city. Nagpur is a flat city without any major hills and most of the commuting distances are within 10 km for any common person. Apart from that rising fuel prices and adopting a healthy lifestyle will help

What it will take to make Nagpur a destination for any cyclist,

Parking places for cycling – one of the most important and often forgotten measure is dedicated parking places for cycles in both public and private spaces in the city. Most of us when we go to any place by cycle are worried whether we will have any park space for our cycle. Whether after coming back from shopping or meeting, will I find my cycle in the same place is a big question for all of us. This factor is a major deterrent as to why many don’t use cycles. Nicely designed and well maintained cycle parking stands will be inviting for any cyclist to use them. Developing cycle parking stands and spaces in all the government offices, shopping and market areas will help promote cycling for everyone.

Cycling lanes – Smart city project of Nagpur is going to develop more than 700 kms of cycling lanes on Nagpur roads. It will truly create a cycling environment on the Nagpur roads. A separate space will be ear marked on the roads for the cyclist. This along with many road signage’s will help create a safe environment for the cyclist.

Cycling clubs in school and colleges – the local administration should work with all the schools and colleges to start cycling clubs and rejuvenate the old tradition of going to school or college on the cycle. All the school, colleges and tuition classes should have cycling parking stands to keep the cycles properly locked. Apart from that schools and colleges should provide training in the sport of cycling to promote the sport of cycling. This will not only make the sport of cycling more stylish and inviting for the younger generation but also create next generation of cycling heroes from the city. To create cycling heroes the sport of cycling has to be promoted at school and college level. Having regular cycling races for youngsters and for people of all ages will make the sport more inclusive.

Public awareness campaign – creating infrastructure to promote cycling as a way of life is the easiest thing the government can do for the city. The most important thing is to engineer the minds of the people. The city needs a major behavioural and public awareness campaign to improve traffic discipline and discipline towards pedestrians and cyclist in general. Schools, colleges, government and private institutions should be part of this public awareness campaign. A sustained 10 year awareness and change program will help improve the state of traffic behaviour of our city. Drivers of busses, trucks and other heavy vehicles should be sensitized about the safety of cyclist on the road.

Public bike sharing services – with all these above measures, more people are likely to cycle on Nagpur city roads in coming years, which will generate demand for rented cycles for going from one point to another. Already smart city project of Nagpur is going to start public bike sharing services along with metro services.


RAAM Trans Siberian Extreme

Ghost-Riding – the mind sport of UltraCycling

Lot of people ask me how are you are able to cycle 5000 km in Race Across America and 9100 km in Trans-Siberian Extreme (TSE). To me Ultra-cycling is a Mind Sport. You can only prepare physically to an extend and then you depend on your mind and spirit to ride those thousands of kilometres in a given specific time limit.

It is impossible for riding 5000 km or 9000 km in training and not required also. The maximum distance during my training for trans-Siberian extreme (TSE) was around 300 km in a day. The best way to train physically is to build up slowly your weekly mileage and do quality training. Then you depend on your mind to do the job in the race when the physical limits are crossed. There is no other way to do it.

To ride massive distances like 5000 km in RAAM or 9000 km in TSE, all you need is an empty mind. If you make too many calculations or thinking, it is not possible to sign up for races like RAAM or TSE and not even train. Generally the more educated we get, the more calculations we make based on the knowledge we receive from the outer world. Most of the time these calculations lead to negative decisions, because it is very difficult to put a value to the power of mind and motivation in such situations.

Signing up for Trans-Siberian for me is a classic example of setting a goal so tough which will push my mind, body and spirit to its limits and beyond. I knew that 90 per cent there is a chance of DNF in this race, looking at the history of the race. With RAAM success it was easy for me to keep harping about it and about success at Ironman races. But I still went ahead and literally jumped into a monster of a race called Trans-Siberian Extreme. Alien country, alien terrain, alien weather and a very different food system. All factors were against me. Race was way too hard as expected but I kept on believing in my goal.

I had told myself before the race that I have already done 5000 km in RAAM, so let’s ride up to first 5000 km in TSE, which is up to the 10th stage and then I will figure out how to ride the last 4000 km in next 5 stages. The biggest difficulty of TSE is that you ride first 5000 km in 10 different stages and the last 4000 is squeezed into only 5 stages. So in the end stages become longer and difficult.

Words can be biggest motivators. The biggest motivation came from the facebook and whatsapp messages which I used to get for my posted videos on social media. After every stage I used to read them and read them again to keep myself motivated. Powerful messages can ignite your mind and help you bike those extra few hundred kilometres which you have never done in the training.
In the night, I used to listen to the music. Songs were generally from sports movies like Chak De India, Dangal, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and many other such movies. Another big favourite was the music from the movie Baahubali. Music helped me to keep awake and kept the pedals moving at a faster cadence. Then many times I used to think about my son and family, because I had promised them of a successful finish. Some of my friends told me that it will be impossible for me to land in Nagpur (my home town), if I don’t get this race done successfully.

I don’t think about the kilometres already done in the race. If you think about them, you will think about the soreness, rest and recovery, which is very minimal in races like TSE or RAAM. I call it Ghost riding, where you don’t think of the kilometres done, how many left, how much pain or soreness you have in different parts of the body. I think there is no other way to ride in TSE if you want to get it done successfully. Riding on that long straight highway in between Moscow to Vladivostok, through hills, hundreds of kilometres of forest and extreme weather conditions can kill you mentally, if you let these factors overtake your motivation.
The race situation, the geographical expanse and natural beauty of Russia will make you do these monstrous distances in every stage of TSE or RAAM. Apart from that you have these fellow ghost riders in the race and most of the time I used to draw motivation from them. I used to think if they are doing it and are riding ahead of me, then I can also do it. I may be slower than others but still I had good many hours to finish every stage comfortably and take rest. TSE is one of its kind on the planet and it happens only once in a year on the planet.

So if you want to be successful at Ultra-cycling – don’t think, just ride – be a Ghostrider..!
Dream big…Very big…Push yourself beyond…Take risks..!
Don’t keep doing same things every year..! And Be your own Hero…!

Trans Siberian Extreme

How I conquered King’s Stage of Trans Siberian Extreme?

The King’s stage of Trans Siberian Extreme is truly a King’s stage. It is the thirteenth stage of Trans Siberian Extreme, comes after you have already raced some 6,300 km and already 19 days in the race since we started on 24th July from Moscow. The total distance of the stage is 1360 kms. The stage starts in a city called Chita. Chita is geographically above the country of Mongolia. The route of King’s stage then progresses above Mongolia and then it curves around the Chinese border.You are riding parallel and going in a curve along the Chinese border towards Svobodny were the stage ends. If you compare it with the RAAM distance you are actually doing 36% of Race Across America in just one stage of Trans Siberian Extreme. Apart from that there is around 12,000 meters of climbing (elevation gain) in King’s stage which means it’s all hills and mountains all the time, typical of Russian topography. The total time given to complete the stage is 65 hours.

Yes it’s Extreme standing true to it’s name.

It was a cold morning in Chita when I woke up after resting from rising 660 kms in Stage 12 from Ulan Ude to Chita. I had a good sleep. I was looking forward to meet Mr and Mrs Nayak from Nagpur who were flying all the way to Nagpur to support me and cheer me during these last three stages of Trans Siberian Extreme. They directly came to the starting point of stage 13th from the Chita airport. I met them just before the start and gave a very tight hug to Jeetendra Nayak Sir and started crying like a baby. Jeetendra Sir has crewed me in RAAM and he exactly knew how to handle me and crew me. He is an inspiring personality himself and I admire him for his success in business as well as social projects. At the start of the stage there was a nice program organized by the local cycling club. There were lot of cheerleaders and dancers. The music really pepped me up. Nayak family had brought in lot of Indian food and it was given to Chetan, who was crewing me in the race. It was really cold at the start. Lot of local cyclist were riding along with us for quiet some time. The start was good. Myself and Patricio were riding along each other. There was a massive hill section in the beginning. i ate almost 10 parathas brought from India during first couple of hours. I was so hungry for the Indian food. All that eating made a major difference in next three hours. I felt good in my legs and good in my mind. For nearly first 250 km I was just behind Patricio, keeping around a average speed of 26 kmph through the hills and i was really happy about it. For some reason Patricio did not wanted to ride along with me so I was hanging on just behind him. At the food stop Patricio took a stop. I was feeling good so I continued with the same rhythm.

As the stage progressed I felt even more better. I was maintaining same average speed. I knew If I go riding throughout the night, I will be able to cover around 550 to 600 kms in first 24 hours. I kept on pushing throughout the night and next day early morning. I took a 15 minute break at food stop in the night to change my clothes. It was very cold and very foggy from 5 AM to 7 AM, typical morning in Siberia. Heavy fog makes it very humid, so you kind of sweat even though it is cold. We reached the next food stop during the breakfast time. I was not yet feeling sleepy so I kept on continuing my progress waiting for the temperature to go up so that I feel more warm and get better speed. Around 9 AM in the morning I felt sleepy and took a 1 hour sleep break after almost cycling for 24 hours. I started again and it was one of the most hilly sections of stage with many climbs of grade ranging from 5% to 12%. This kept on continuing for more than next 400 km. It was hot in the daytime and climbs were relentless. This was the time when the most powerful words of the race – Don’t Surrender were spoken to me by Dimitry. Dimitry is a doctor and works in the medical team of the race. He was following me closely and was taking lot of pictures. In the late evening, I got the news that Patricio has quit the stage, I felt very bad and sad. I also felt if I could have slowed down or slept more he could have caught up with me and we could have together finished the race but I had no information. Jeetendra Sir also rejoined us along the way and kept me cheering and talking to me on the communication device.

I kept cycling throughout the night and had covered some 900 kms. It was around 1 AM in the night, Chetan was talking to me for sometime. My mind was tired and wanted to sleep. So instead of sleeping around 4 AM in the morning I decided to sleep little earlier. I took a sleep of around 1.5 hours and we re-started at 3 AM in the morning. It was not that cold. I had another 460 kms to cover, I felt good and mentally oriented. The major hills had gone and the section was relatively easy. So I picked up speed quickly covered a distance of another 200 km by noon, still i had another 260 km to go. Nayak family brought in more Indian food which was cooked freshly, they had purchased a electric cooker and were cooking in motels for us. As we came closer to Svobodny the geography changed and hills had gone but in the end there was another massive climbing section. We finished stage at somewhere around 10 PM local time. The Head of Jury Alexy was present at the end and he was so happy to see me finishing the stage. He said there are only few who have done this successfully and you are one of them. I just wanted to go to hotel, eat and go to sleep. When I went to the hotel, I was shocked to see my face in the mirror. It was horrible and scary, I can never forget that face. Nayak family had cooked Indian food for the entire crew. I had lots of it and went to sleep. With food and sleep, my face came back to normal in next 6 hours.

It took me 59 hours to finish the King’s stage – 1362 kms. Out of which 56 hours were spent on the saddle and rest three hours must have consumed in sleeping, changing clothes and pee breaks. King’s stage is truly memorable.

Below is the strava link of my King’s stage at Red Bull Trans Siberian Extreme

Trans Siberian Extreme

Extremes of Red Bull Trans Siberian Extreme

“Don’t Surrender” those two unforgettable words of Trans Siberian Extreme 2018

Red Bull Trans Siberian Extreme (TSE). World’s Longest Stage Bike Race.

9100 kms from Moscow to Vladivostok. This crazy distance is to covered in 25 days in 15 stages. It takes you across 7 different time zones. The total elevation gain is 77,321 meters which amounts to climbing 9 times Mount Everest. This really makes it longest and toughest endurance challenge on the planet available. 

When I started the race in Moscow, I was 2.5 hrs behind India time after 25 days when I reached Vladivostok I was 4 hours ahead of India Time. The stage plan itself is crazy, in the initial 2 stages we biked around 320 kms and 350 kms. In trans siberian language these are short stages and are kind of warm up for the race and an opportunity to settle into the race. Settle into the rhythm of the race, get your food intake right, understand the support you are getting and understand other riders. 

Then comes the third stage which is 690 kms from Kazan to Perm. It has 4900 meters of elevation gain. This is where you start getting the real taste of TSE and terrain of Russia. The terrain of Russia is mostly these Siberian mid-highlands. You can never settle into a continuous steady rhythm on this terrain. The terrain is very typical. There is a grade of 1 to 2 % for 2 to 5 kms, which will end up in a steep hill of 5% grade to 12% grade of 1 kms to 2 kms. The same pattern keeps repeating for hundreds of kilometers. Same up and down and again up and down, which keeps killing you in the mind. 

Stage 4 and 5 are relatively short stages covering 331 and 314 kms with elevation gain of 3500 and 1500 meters respectively. 

Stage 6 and Stage 7 are crazy as one has to ride back to back 614 kms and 611 kms. I remember I finished the stage 6 around noon and the same day at 10 PM we were going to start stage 7 from Omsk to Novosibirsk. This really tests you as I had only some 8 hours of rest and again I was back on the road. The 8th stage is relatively easy with only 260 kms. The 9th Stage is 557 kms. 

The 10th Stage is 1054 kms with an elevation gain of 9500 kms is I think second most toughest stage of the race. It was all raining during this stage, sometimes it was drizzling and sometimes heavy. It rains cold in Siberia and I had to change my clothes 4 to 5 times during this stage because the cold rain water will still seep in in-spite of wearing best possible rain gear. When I reached Irkutsk it was all raining heavily in last 100 kms. It took me time but we made it in the end. There was almost a 24 hours break in the next stage. 

The 11th stage was short 440 kms but with lots of climbing of 4500 meters. We went across Ural mountains and magical Lake Baikal. This stage is magical and most beautiful of all the stages. The 12th stage was 660 kms from Ulan Ude to Chita another beautiful section of Russia. 

After riding 6,300 kms comes the King’s stage from Chita to Svobodny for 1360 kms with an elevation gain of 13,000 meters. This is truly the King’s stage and a dream of ultra-cyclist. It has everything the distance, elevation, forest and all the beauty. The beauty of Russia as a country is unparalleled.

After getting through the King’s stage, you have this feeling that you are almost there with two more stages to go. The 14th and 15th stages are still super long with 689 km and 760 km and elevation gain of 3000 meters and 6800 meters respectively. The last stages test your patience and focus to finish the race. Everyone is tired and you want to finish the job as soon as possible to go home but still one has to ride these long distances and be on the bike for another 60 hrs. It’s a sitting on the bike competition. 

The weather is also extreme in Trans Siberian Extreme. As soon as we hear the word Siberia we generally picture snow and freezing temperatures. It’s summer in Siberia when the race gets organized. In the initial 5 stages it was really hot in the day time and night temperature was also pretty comfortable. From the stage 6 on wards it started to become very cold in the night with night temperatures falling up to zero and 2 to 3 degree Celsius. apart from that it used to become very foggy in the night and early morning and result in poor visibility and reduced average speed. So the rider is subjected to all kinds of weather heat, light, cold and rain. You need to be ready for everything.  

The day is very long in the initial stages with sunrise at 3 AM in the morning and sunset at around 11 PM in the night. This exposed me to heat and sunlight for almost 20 hours in a day. As we kept riding towards East the day became shorter and the night became longer and also more humid. 

It is most amazing feeling when you see the Japanese Sea in Vladivostok after 25 days of riding. This bike race is not about cadence, heart rate and power meter. You need truck loads of guts and determination. You need a mind to sit on the bike for 30 hrs, 40 hrs and sometimes 60 hrs to get through every stage. It is a test of your physical and mental strength. Cycling 9100 km in 25 days is just a tool to demonstrate your endurance and power of the mind. You will need to have long big conversation with your own self on the bike to get through these distances.