With the start of June, everyone is busy preparing for the monsoon season. Getting their MTBs out, installing mudguards, doing a “jugaad” to prevent their bike’s taillights from getting spoilt, and the list goes on. This might seem like the usual for many, however, there was something else that Indians were hooked on to, the world’s toughest bicycle race — Race across America.
This year, seven Indians started their journey from the West Coast to the East Coast of USA. Three in the solo category and the remaining four as one team. With 365 days & nights of training, putting together a crew and hunting for sponsors, Samim Rizvi, Amit Samarth and Srinivas Gokulnath set their wheels rolling towards Annapolis in the solo category.
On the other hand, Team Sahyadri Cyclists comprising of Dr Rajendra Nehete, Dr Ramakant Patil, Dr Sandeep Shewale and Pankaj Marlesha were supposed to start four days later. They had only one goal in mind, to preach the importance of exercise and finish RAAM in their category.
While Amit and Srinivas carried on pedalling towards the finish line, Samim had to pull out due to health problems. While the news certainly came as a setback, the whole nation still had a lot of hope with the two solo doctors and the team of four. Following a dot as an interface, everyone were hooked on to their phones and laptops. Whether at work, in transit or even in the middle of the night, their update was just a refresh away. Whatsapp groups, Facebook page comments, early morning cycling conversations; they all revolved around these fighters from India.
With hot days, cold nights, uninvited showers and terrible headwinds, the riders rode non-stop until the mission was accomplished. Every time a picture, video or anything related to our Indian riders was shared on social media, everyone back home went bonkers. They wondered how good the riders are feeling, they sent in their good wishes, shared the stories with their friends and eagerly waited to celebrate India’s victory.
Today, we have Srinivas Gokulnath (11D 18H 45M) as the first Indian to finish RAAM in the solo Category, Amit Samarth (11 D 21 H and 11 M) as the Indian rookie and Team Sahyadri (8D 10H 16M) who finished the gruelling 3000 mile race this year. All these finishes have not only made India proud but given a big boost to the cycling community in India.
When we look back at those 12 days of Raaming, many others will certainly agree that we are going to miss following our heroes racing across the American continent. When the tracker showed off road, everyone had a jolt in their hearts and when their speed went over 15 miles, it instantly got a smile on our face, calming our nerves. For the most of us, watching our heroes finish RAAM despite being thousands of miles away was so exciting, it made us all feel a big part of it.
Now, we can’t wait for them to come back so we can bring you great insights and present them to you on VeloCrush India.