- Srinivas Gokulnath marked history by becoming the first Indian to complete the toughest cycle race in the world – RAAM
- Dr Amit Samarth trailed behind him at the finish line
- Gokulnath stood 7th amongst the nine men who finished whereas Samarth stood 8th
June 27, 2017: Srinivas Gokulnath marked history by becoming the first Indian to complete what is known to be the toughest cycle race in the world. He completed 4900 km Race Across America (RAAM) in solo category in the stretch of Eleven days, 18 hours and 45 minutes after setting out from California.
Dr Amit Samarth of Nagpur, trailed behind him at the finish line at Annapolis on American east coast around midnight today as per the Indian Standard time.
Gokulnath, a doctor by training, is an aerospace medicine professional working with the Army in Nashik. He was timed out last year after pedalling at RAAM for nearly 3,000 km. Samarth, on the other side, completed the race in his earliest trial. Apart from Rizvi and Gokulnath, Sumit Patil from Alibag was the only one to have tried the race in the past.
Springing from the moderate weather on the Pacific Coast, the race opens the furnace-like Mojave Desert, crosses through parched Arizona, freezing mountain passes in Colorado, windy plains in Central America, and ultimately, the Appalachian Mountains test the riders before they reach the Atlantic coast on the east.
Gokulnath stood 7th amongst the nine men who finished whereas Samarth stood 8th. Christoph Strasser stood out as the winner of the race.
Team Sahyadri Cyclists, from Gokulnath’s hometown of Nashik, ceased the race in the 4-men category in eight days and ten hrs today.
According to PTI report, riders have to pedal over 400 km a day to finish the race in the stipulated 12 days. Fatigueness and hallucinations are not uncommon with so much unrest.
“I am relieved…that is the feeling I am going through right now,” said Lt Colonel Gokulnath at the finish line.
In the history of three-decade, only three Indians had endeavoured RAAM solo, however, none could reach the finish line. The first Indian to try RAAM solo, Samim Rizvi also participated this year but couldn’t complete. Gokulnath stated he went through the upheaval of emotions right from the inception of the race, which he called a relentless effort from the moment one signs up for it.
More than twelve Indian riders qualified for RAAM in the past decade through special rides that take place in different regions like the Deccan plateau, the Thar desert and the hills of southern India.
After qualifying the RAAM, one has to endure exhausting training sessions for several months and do simulated multi-day rides with a uniquely collected crew. One also requires for arranging the finances that run up to over Rs 20 lakh for the race and more for training, mentioned PTI report.
Satish Patki, who virtually introduced distance cycling in the country over a decade ago, congratulated the finishers saying the resources required make it an exclusive club, but there is a huge dormant for endurance riding in India too which can be traversed by conducting domestic races.
– prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter: @Nainamishr94