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…!