Categories
Fitness Marathon RAAM Trans Siberian Extreme

How I got into Endurance Sports?

Many people ask me this question. What made you to take up endurance sports? It is a long story almost more than 10 years long and even more than that. I was never a sporty guy in my school days. Actually I was very chubby and plum school student. During my 10th and 12th standard years, I had a put on lot of extra weight due to all time studies and no physical activity. At that time it was about getting maximum marks in exams and scoring 90 to 95 % marks in your subjects to get into medical college. My friends used to call me Chota Hati. I was no where considered good for sports and I also remember that I was rejected to be a NCC candidate due to my physical fitness at that time. But I was never sedentary also. Going to school and college by cycle was a normal thing and I used to play lot of cricket but yes cricket does not make you very fit and healthy. It is more of a technical sport. I remember got extremely charged by watching the movie Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar in school days. At that I had no idea that I am going to do race like Race Across America and Trans Siberian Extreme in my life.

After my 12th Standard exams, for the first time in my life, I went to join a gym thinking that this will help me out. After one month of training and going through lot of soreness of weight training, I kind of started liking this new fitness regime. Then I got into MBBS, I started reading lot on physiology and biochemistry, so I started to implementing all the knowledge on to myself. I changed my diet and food habits and became obsessive about following them. At that time, gym, studies and watching Arnold movies was my life. Due to change in my food habits and gym training and cycling I lost quiet lot of weight and gained lot of muscle. I started to like the world of bodybuilding and started to train systematically. Sanju Sir of Barbarian gym was my coach. I remember I used to have a huge collage of Arnold pictures in my room. On provocation from my friends I started to compete in bodybuilding competitions in Nagpur and Vidharbha region. I was extremely shy and introvert so getting into a sport like bodybuilding was extremely un-natural for me. I started to get first three positions and became Vidhabha Shree in 2001 in above 75 kg weight group. One very distinct habit in gym I had was to train alone. I never used to like training partners. For some reason being the only child to my parents, I used to like to be alone and training.

After that came a very lean period of training. I got busy with final year MBBS and my career. There was no career into bodybuilding in India at that time. I had to shift from Nagpur to Mumbai. Gyms were very expensive in Mumbai so I used to do some body weight training at home and used to go for some running in a ground near by in Vashi, Mumbai. Then I had to shift to Hyderabad, Delhi and Mumbai again. So from 2002 to 2006 was the time of when there was no training. It was about trying to fit into the world but I was missing lifting some weights.

In 2007, I was in Hyderabad and was going through some serious personal problems. Life was very lonely and depressing. I wanted to get out of it. That is when I met Malik Sir. He used to teach Taekwondo – Korean Martial arts. I had done bodybuilding and I used to think that is the best sport. But all my thinking was shattered when I entered the world of Bodybuilding. I started to train in Taekwondo. It was hell of a difficult job. I had no flexibility and I had huge muscle mass from bodybuilding. So I had to become lean and mean machine. Again I started my transformation from a bodybuilder to martial arts player. Life was lonely and I filled it up with training myself in Taekwondo. I used to get up 4.30 AM and go to KBR park for training. I used to train again in evening. Malik Sir became my guru and my best friend in Hyderabad. I learnt a lot from him. To train better I rented a home very near to KBR park so that I don’t waste time in commuting in Hyderabad. Taekwondo – Office – Taekwondo – Sleep that used to me my daily routine. I went on to earn a Black Belt in Taekwondo. Life was fun again and I think those were the best days of my life in Hyderabad.

For Taekwondo, we used to do lot of running training. So one fine day I thought of running a 10 km run in Hyderabad. I ran 10 km in 39 mins. It was a great feeling of achievement for me. Then I ran a half marathon. At that time running half marathons and Taekwondo was a perfect balance. I went to US for further studies at Johns Hopkins University. I ran couple of half marathons in US during my study time. After coming back to India in 2010, I got married and in 2011 I started running full marathons at Hyderabad. 1st edition on ADHM was my first full marathon. Then came to know about Ironman, so I started to learn to swim and purchased my first road bike. Then got more into Ironman and marathon running.

At that time I had never dreamed of doing races like Race Across America and Trans Siberian Extreme. As you climb one peak you see the next peak and I just went on climbing peak after peak. Don’t stop, just keep going, that’s the golden rule of endurance sports. After getting into martial arts and endurance sports, bodybuilding seemed of no interest to me. Endurance sports is a mental battle and the very purpose is to beat your own self. You realize you are your best competition.

Miles N Milers

ProHEALTH Foundation

Be your own Hero…!

Summary of my achievements in sports

Red Bull Trans Siberian Extreme Finisher 9100 km in 25 days in 2018

Race Across America Finisher 5000 km in 11 days 21 hrs in 2017

Ironman Busselton in Australia in 2016

12 times Ironman 70.3 Finisher

8 Full Marathons

1st Dan Black Belt in Taekwondo

Vidharbha Shree in Bodybuilding

Categories
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…!

Categories
RAAM Trans Siberian Extreme

The unforgettable Stage 10th of Red Bull Trans Siberian Extreme

The unforgettable Stage 10th of Red Bull Trans Siberian Extreme

The stage 10th of Red Bull Trans Siberian Extreme is from Krasnoyarsk to Irkutsk. It is 1054 km long with a elevation gain of 5500 meters. The stage comes after 11 days in the race and 4200 km already done in the race. It is longest stage so far in the race. We were given around 54 hours to finish the race.

The stage starts from Krasnoyarsk. A very modern city. The stage started at 12 in the noon from central park area of the city with many cyclist joining in. Just outside the city you come across some very long hills , really steep ones. I thought of taking it easy because the stage is 1054 km long. I just made some mental calculations and told myself that it is a job of around 42 to 43 hours to reach the Irkutsk. I also told myself that after this stage there is a very long break of almost more than 24 hours. So ride till Irkutsk and rest as much you can and eat as much as you can and ride the last 4000 km which are unknown to you.

Your limits will get expanded after this stage and you will experience what only few have experienced in their life. After few hours riding suddenly it became very cloudy and I could see very dark clouds coming from behind and wind also picked up. After few minutes it started raining and I had to stop to wear my rain gear. It was not raining very heavily but the rain drops were cold so it was better to keep riding in rain gear. I knew we are little way to behind the leading group but I kept my patience with own speed. In the late evening we reached one small town and took a wrong turn to end up in a dead end. It took us sometime to figure out the right way but all this meant that we were falling more and more behind the leading riders. It was still raining on and off. The weather was very heavy and I could make out it is going to be one tough night.

In the night we were riding on this one big highway and around 2 AM in the night it became extremely windy and started raining heavily. There was wind coming from all sides and through the forest making that typical howling sound. The highway was lonely and so was I right in the front. The howling sound of the wind coming through the Siberian forest and the typical sound made by the trucks on the wet roads is still very well recorded in my mind. It is just unforgettable. After some time we had Red Bull media coming and shooting some footage of me riding in the rain. One of them said to me hope you reach alive, all the best. And we were both laughing like anything. It was a crazy situation to be in. I was all wet and shivering as the cold water to seeping inside my clothes. I kept on riding till morning 8 AM and was looking for a place along the highway to change my clothes.

It was still raining and wind was super cold. I came across this bus stop right by the side of the road. I took that critical stop and somehow managed to change my clothes in those super windy cold conditions. Chetan helped me change of clothes and gave me coffee to drink. We kept on moving ahead. After sometime the rain stopped and weather was still heavy and I could make out that it can start raining anytime again. At many places we had to stop due to traffic jams and also due to railway crossings. We kept on riding till around 800 km with no sleep break so far. The next night at around 1 AM, it was still drizzling on and off. I felt very sleepy. My mental orientation was not that great. At one place I took a wrong turn and went after a big 18 wheeler truck. My team got panicked, I stopped and told them it is time to sleep for an hour. I slept for an hour and at around 2 AM in the night I had to start cycling again. to get on to the bike in that super cold rainy conditions was to me one of the hardest moment of the race. It was again raining and I was shivering like anything on the bike. It took me some time get warmed up. I was around 200 kms from Irkutsk but it still meant 8 hours of riding in the rain.

As we approached towards Irkutsk the road became flatter and I could see some very large agricultural fields and some big factories. Irkutsk was around 50 km away and it started raining very heavy. When I thought that all the hardships are over, there was something more to happen. Near Irkutsk there were really tall hills. Last 10 km it was all climbing into the city in heavy rain. We took some 45 hour to complete the stage. I remember I had to give interview in heavy rain. I was happy to be alive. The weather look frightening. It looked as if it is going to rain all through for next 10 days of the race. The stage was over and Ghostrider was Born..!

Dr Amit Samarth

Miles N Milers

ProHEALTH Foundation

Be your Own Hero..!

Categories
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.

 

Categories
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…!

Categories
RAAM Trans Siberian Extreme

Red Bull Trans Siberian Extreme vs. RAAM

Many people ask me this question. Which race is tougher? Race Across America or Trans Siberian Extreme?

Both the races are of different format so very difficult to comapre. RAAM is a continuous race and Trans Siberian Extreme is a stage race. Race Across America is a 5000 km continuous bike race for which you get 12 days (288 hrs) to finish where as Trans Siberian Extreme is 9100 km World’s Longest Bike Race in 15 stages over 25 days. The stages in Trans Siberian extreme are super long and are of different distances ranging from 260 km to 1364 km (King’s stage).

RAAM – 5000 km Continuous bike race with a time limit to finish in 12 days. East coast to West Coast. Total elevation of around 40,000 meters.

Red Bull Trans Siberian Extreme – World’s Longest Bicycle Stage Race
Moscow to Vladivostok
9100 kms
15 stages over 25 days
Longest stage – 1364 kms
Shortest stage – 260 kms
Total elevation – 77,320 meters

The King’s stage in Trans Siberian Extreme is 35% of Race Across America distance. But King’s stage is 13th stage in Trans Siberian Extreme and comes after 19 days in the race and after pedaling 6300 km in the race. So it’s pretty clear which race is hard. The stages in Trans Siberian Extreme are varying that makes it challenging. For two days one will be riding 350 to 400 km and then suddenly there is a 600 km stage or a 1054 or 1364 km. That becomes very challenging mentally as well as physically. So you have to ride those distances no matter the terrain is or weather conditions are. Only good thing is that after you finish the stage you get to go to a hotel and sleep for some time.

RAAM has one big desert of Arizona and the rough terrain continues into Utah for around 900 km. For me that is the death zone of RAAM. If you get across the desert and Wolf Creek Pass in Colorado then finishing RAAM becomes almost certain. There is a long flat terrain in Kansas which eases the rider before you hit the West Virginia mountains.

In RAAM the rider can plan the race and sleep breaks as per his own choice whereas in TSE the race plan is all fixed. Everyone has to ride the same way all the way up to Vladivostok. TSE is a kind of fast ultra-cycling stage race, where riders have to ride massive distances in stages and take breaks and then ride again. If you become too slow in TSE then there is very less time to sleep before the next massive stage begins. Apart from that it is mentally very challenging to sleep for some time in these super luxury hotels for some time and then again get ready to ride some 600 km. It is mentally horrible to get out of those hotels and get on to the bike. That is why I call it Ghost Riding.

Weather conditions are more extreme in TSE as compared to RAAM. It gets very hot in the day time and temperature sometime can go up to 30 degree Celsius and in the night it goes up to zero degrees. In RAAM once you are across Arizona  heat and Colorado cold the weather is does not vary much. RAAM is overall a hot race, you are subjected to lot of heat. The rain water in Siberia is super cold, when it rains. I had to ride almost entire 10th stage in rain in Trans Siberian Extreme.

The terrain conditions of Siberia are extremely tough. Siberia is full of these mid-high lands. There is lot of elevation gain in every stage of TSE. I would say the entire route of TSE is hilly. Hills never end in TSE. You are either always climbing up or going down so steady state cycling is never possible in TSE. Steady state cycling is very much possible in RAAM in Kansas and many other sections. In TSE there is no mercy, if there is no road one has to ride on gravel. In RAAM, the organizers will ask you to skip the section.

In TSE, all the arrangements are by the organizer. They provide you with vehicle, drivers, food and hotel and anything you need during the race. The organizers also provide you with the best physio and medical support all through out the race. You can meet and talk to the race director at any time of the race in TSE. Apart from that TSE has a great media time, which captures the real essence of the race.

In RAAM, the organizers provide you with the start and finish line and all the arrangements in between are your responsibility. RAAM is a 37 year old race and hence it is prestigious and iconic race. TSE is very young race but has all the potential of becoming a legendary and iconic itself.

For me Red Bull Trans Siberian Extreme is the most toughest endurance challenge on the face of the planet across any discipline. Anyone who can ride 9100 km from Moscow to Vladivostok in 25 days in the given race format is a hero himself. Race positions do not matter in this race.

Distance and time limits of Red Bull Trans Siberian Extreme –
Stage 1 – Moscow – 375 kms-Nizhniy Novgorod – 16 hrs
Stage 2 – Nizhniy Novgorod – 383 kms – Kazan – 17 hrs
Stage 3 – Kazan – 693 kms – Perm – 33 hrs
Stage 4 – Perm – 331 kms – Ekaterinburg – 14 hrs
Stage 5 – Ekaterinburg – 314 kms – Tyumen – 16 hrs
Stage 6 – Tyumen- 614 kms – Omsk – 26 hrs
Stage 7 – Omsk- 611 kms – Novosibirsk – 27 hrs
Stage 8 – Novosibirsk – 260 kms – Tomsk – 18 hrs
Stage 9 – Tomsk – 557 kms – Krasnoyarsk – 33 hrs
Stage 10 – Krasnoyarsk – 1042 kms – Irkutsk – 53 hrs
Stage 11 – Irkutsk- 447 kms – Ulan Ude – 21 hrs
Stage 12 – Ulan Ude – 660 kms – Chita -31 hrs
Stage 13 – Chita – 1368 kms – Svobodny – 64 hrs
Stage 14 – Svobodny – 689 kms – Chabarovsk – 36 hrs
Stage 15 – Chabarovsk – 761 kms –Vladivostok – 39 hrs

Categories
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…!

 

Categories
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…!