Cycling RAAM Trans Siberian Extreme

The Story of Saddle Sores

The Story of Saddle Sores….!

I have been getting many queries regarding saddle sores from all my friends on social media. How to prevent saddle soreness or frank saddle sores?

Saddle Soreness is when you have pain and discomfort in your bottom due to long hours of riding. Saddle Sores is like when the skin is damaged and there is burning pain and rider is unable to sit on the saddle of the bike.

I have never experienced Saddle Sores during any of my Ultra-cycling races. I had some problem with soreness in RAAM but used to change my cycling short regularly and also changed the saddle many times on which I was riding. During RAAM I had  to use double shorts one day to combat soreness in my bum. During Trans Siberian I had to change the saddle of main bike in last few days so that the saddle rubs at a different place.

I have never used chamois butter or similar products to prevent chaffing. For some reason I don’t like it. I just use a very good quality short and right bike to prevent this problem. Over a period of time the skin in that area has become used to all the riding, which I have been doing in last three years of ultra-cycling.

The most important rules to prevent saddle soreness or saddle sores –

1. A good bike fit is very important. Right saddle height and saddle position will help you prevent saddle sores in a big way. Improper saddle position will rub the saddle at wrong places and will cause unnecessary trouble. During your practice rides take allen key with you. Try different saddle positions to get to the right one. It takes patience to do this but worth doing.

2. Invest in good quality shorts. Indian manufacturers are not producing good quality shorts for long distance riding. Some of the European brands produce very good quality shorts, great for long distance riding. For RAAM and Trans Siberian I had invested in buying very good quality shorts which made the difference

3. Invest in good quality saddle. Now a days very good quality anatomically fitting saddles are being manufactured. There are different saddles available for men and women. I use saddles with cut out in between. They are super comfortable for long distance riding.

4. During races like RAAM and Trans Siberian, change your cycling shorts frequently every 8 to 12 hours to maintain hygiene and also improve cushioning.

5. Strength training is important. Having Strong glutes muscles will help you maintain good saddle position and prevent saddle sores.

6. If you are getting saddle soreness during ultra-cycling races then use double shorts. Wear the second short inside out over the first short.

7. Use products like chamois butter or similar products.

8. Practice cycling without sitting on the saddle. Just in case if you get very bad saddle sores and you have to ride on the bike without sitting on the saddle. This will be helpful.

Don’t take it for granted. Invest in trying different solutions. Saddle sores can jeopardize your race and lead to DNF. Most important investment is good quality short.

Dr Amit Samarth

Miles N Milers

ProHEALTH Foundation

Be Your Own Hero…!

Cycling RAAM Trans Siberian Extreme

Dealing with Sleep Deprivation in UltraCycling

Lot of people ask me about how to ride sleepless in ultra-cycling races? How to keep your focus in those long rides throughout the night?

Any ride or race above 500 to 600 km will need you to ride throughout the night or over a period of 24 hours. Races like Race Across America or Trans Siberian Extreme will require you to be sleep deprived for many days. For example, when I was riding in Race Across America, I went riding continuously for first 24 hours and then started taking sleep breaks every day. I used to be on the bike for 21 to 22 hours everyday and sleep for around 1.5 hours to 2 hours. So riding without proper sleep is a part of the sport of ultra-cycling. When I started ultra-cycling, my friends made me realize of my ability to ride long distances without sleeping and at the same time maintaining good speed. That was the trigger point to attempt RAAM Solo and get it done successfully in 2017 and then Red Bull Trans Siberian Extreme in 2018.

So how to ride sleepless?

1. Eat small meals starting in the evening and throughout the night. Less food in the stomach at a time will keep more blood in the legs and help you ride faster in the night.

2. Start yourself on caffeine from evening itself and don’t wait for the night or don’t wait to feel sleepy. Drink energy drinks like Red Bull or Coke, they have large amount of caffeine in them.

3. Keep supplying yourself with caffeine throughout the night according to the recommended doses. Caffeine tablets are also a very good option. I only use all this in the race and not in general daily training.

4. To get maximum effect of caffeine during the race, keep yourself off the caffeine during training and daily life.

5.  Crew plays important role in keeping you awake during night time. It is a very important job of the crew to keep talking to the rider and keep the rider motivated to ride through the night. During RAAM, my crew used to talk to me on interesting things and keep me awake and alert. Few times they also connected to me to my friends in India. It was great to talk to people back home in India during RAAM, it motivated me a lot and gave lot of emotional energy.

6. Think and behave like a ghost. It is very hard to explain how to do this. But I did lot of ghost riding in Trans Siberian Extreme. Think as if you are possessed with some spirit to do this. Your thinking will make things happen.

7. Talk to yourself. Talking to yourself on those lonely roads in the night will help you reaffirm the belief that you can successfully finish the race.

8. Listen to music. One of the best way to deal with sleep deprivation and lonely night rides is music. Always keep a music player with all your favorite music to play. Singing along with the song on the bike helps you to become more alert and ward off sleep.

9. Don’t wear too warm clothes. Very warm and cozy clothes will make you feel cozy and your mind and body would want to go for a sleep.

10. If you become too slow and feel very sleepy and your cycling speed is going down, it is better you go for a sleep. 1 to 2 hour sleep will help your mind to reset itself and become mentally oriented. It is always good to take this sleep break at 3 AM in the night because when you get up and get on to the bike, you will get the first few rays of the sunlight and they will take your sleep off and you will feel very energetic to ride again.


Cycling RAAM Trans Siberian Extreme

Investing in Miles – Be your own Hero..!

Investing in miles…!

Lot of people ask me which is the best way to be fit or which is the best sport to be fit. I truly believe that endurance sports like running, cycling, triathlon and Ironman are one of the best way to be fit and to adopt sports as a lifestyle. There are many reasons for that.

I have personally done lot of serious bodybuilding, then moved into martial arts for 3 years. Then got into marathon running, then Ironman and then into ultracycling sport and races like RAAM and Trans Siberian Extreme. When I look back endurance sports is one of the best way to be fit. You have all the elements in endurance sports like stamina, strength, flexibility, yoga and mental strength etc etc.

Apart from that you can train either in group or solo for endurance sports. If you have company for training it is better. If you don’t have company for training, it is even better for people like me. I like all the loneliness of training. I am cut-off from the outer world and just focusing on present job which might be to run, swim or bike or doing strength training. Then training becomes my meditation.

Apart from that the best part of endurance sports is that you can set your own goals. You are your biggest competition. Every race which you are racing you can have your own goal which can be to become a finisher or improve your time from the last attempt in similar race. So set your own goals and chase them down – is the way to do endurance sports.

Apart from that investing our time in running these miles in training has a major impact on our physical health and your mind. We all get 24 hours every day. If we start investing one or two hour everyday on improving our health. At the end of one year we will have more than 365 hrs of training done. All these hours add up to your quality of life. We acquire all the fitness to run marathons or Ironman and at the same time lead a outdoor life. We can go to trekking and hiking any time.

Endurance sport is life long. Now a days we have competition in age categories in marathons or Ironman all the way up to the age of 60 years. Endurance sports can be perceived seriously for many many years and one can be either a competitive or recreational athlete for many years.

Endurance sports has a great social life to offer. We become part of this fitness community in our city and also internationally these days. I have made friends all across the world during my last 8 years in endurance sports. It always feels great to be part of this tribe and meet many more crazy people across the world.

In the end, investing your time in running those miles is truly worth it. The more early starts the better are the returns all through the life in endurance sports.

Dr Amit Samarth

Miles N Milers

Be your own Hero…!

Cycling Fitness Marathon

Cycling – gateway to running for beginners

There is a explosion of marathon races in India. Almost every city has marathon events and races these days. Thousands of people participate in these marathons. Some of them do training properly and some of them never train but just run for the sake of it. Lot of people want to adopt to running as a lifestyle or a hobby. If you want to become a good runner start slow and steady. Even though you are just a recreational runner, you still need to train properly. In the beginning invest your time on these.

Run Less in initial days of running. Invest more on learning the sport. Later you can jack up the miles. If you are fit and strong, you can run as much as you want.

Learn Proper Warm -Up – most of the recreational runners never to do good warm up. When I look at the warm up of a competitive runner or a professional runner, they always spend good time to warm themselves up. Investing in learning proper warm up helps you loosen your joints and muscles to do more rigorous work. It also helps in elevating your heart rate.

Learn running drills and stride – Invest time on learning important running drills. Running drills help you to learn to run the right way. When you run with proper stride and foot landing, running becomes effortless. When running is effortless then there is less chance of injury. There are some 10 most important running drills, learn them and always do them before the run.

Strength training – the more the strength, the faster you can run. Most of the beginners ignore strength training. They think that running is an escape from strength training. Training the entire body for strength is important. Exercises like squats, lunges, calf raises, push ups, mountain climbers and core exercises will help you to become strong and hold proper form while running.

Cycling as cross training – Cycling is one of the best way to train for running. I would suggest for a beginner to do cycling every alternate day for one hour or 2 hour. Cycling helps build lots of endurance without risking yourself for injury. You can keep working your heart at low intensity with cycling. This will help you loose lot of extra weight by burning calories for a longer time. Alternate day cycling for three to four months will be a great platform to step into running more kilometers injury free.

Barefoot walking – everyone who wants to start running forgets that they have been just walking or sitting for all those years. Apart from that they forget that they have been using shoes or chappals to roam around everywhere. All these lead to weak foot muscles. So when start suddenly running on tar roads, these weak foot muscles and tendons are bound to get injured. Running in shoes will not strengthen your foot muscles. You need to walk barefoot on mud or grass surface to train your foot muscles. These muscles will get strengthen over a period of 6 months and the arches in your foot will become strong. Your foot is what is going to get hammered on to those tar roads thousands of time. So investing time in strengthening your foot will be useful in long term life in running.

Stretching and flexibility exercises – another most ignored part of training is stretching. Investing 15 to 20 mins after your training in these exercises will help you relax your muscles and help them recover faster. The more flexible you are the more effortless your running will be. The more relaxed your stride will be and more distance will get covered in the same effort.

The entire objective of the above mentioned training is to prepare your body and foot for the high impact sport of running or jogging. In the initial days don’t run on hard tar roads. Run mostly on ground and mud surface. This will help you to prepare yourself for road running. If you invest your 6 months into training systematically as mentioned above, there is whole lot you will be able to do in the world of running and save yourself from injuries.

Your weekly program can be something like this,

Day 1 – warm up, strength and barefoot walking for 15 mins

Day 2 – cycling for 45 mins

Day 3 – warm up, jogging/waling for 20 mins, barefoot walking for 15 mins and stretching exercises

Day 4 – cycling for 60 mins

Day 5 – warm up, jogging/waling for 20 mins, barefoot walking for 15 mins and stretching exercises

Day 6 – cycling for 70 mins

And this can continue to build up….

Dr Amit Samarth


Be your own Hero…!

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…!
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.