Pedalling to success: Hyderabadi cyclist qualifies for world’s toughest bicycle race

Anand Verma; an ultra-cyclist from Hyderabad, has become the first person from AP/ Telangana (among six finishers from India) to complete the Race Across West (RAW), one of the most gruelling and prestigious bicycle races in the world.

While the stipulated time to complete the race (1528 km with an elevation gain of 25371 meters — 2.86 times the height of Mt Everest) was 12 days, Anand completed it in just 10 days, 14 hours 34 minutes. He started the race at 18:30 p.m. on June 16, and finished it by 09:00 a.m. on June 27.

The 43-year-old has now qualified for the world’s toughest bicycle race, the Race Across America (RAAM), next year.

“This accomplishment means a lot to me; it is a good confidence-booster for me at this age to realise how much I can push myself during tough rides. Also, this is a great opportunity to prepare for RAAM,” explains Anand, who wants to dedicate his achievement to COVID-19 Warriors – Doctors, Police and support staff.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, RAW-2020 was cancelled and instead, the first edition of the Virtual Race Across West (VRAW) was organised on FulGaz App, the official App of RAW.

“The cycle is mounted on a Smart Trainer, which, along with other censors, is connected to a FulGaz application running on a device. Devices can be an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV or any other compatible device. With live tracking enabled, each cyclist’s position in the race is displayed in the VRAW Leaderboard,” explains Anand.

He says he did not have enough time to prepare for the race. “But when I am not cycling, I do weightlifting exercises to stay fit,” he says, revealing that he took to cycling for fitness after being diagnosed with diabetes in 2014.

“I took to cycling in 2016 to be healthy. Then I started participating in long distance cycling, and that’s how I learnt about RAAM,” explains Anand, adding that cycling made him stay disciplined and focused.

According to Anand, VRAW is very gruelling.  He states that riding long hours on a trainer requires tremendous mental tenacity apart from being physically fit.

“Four days into the ride, I had sleepiness, saddle sores and some muscle soreness. Also, there is no one to talk to, so we need to beat the boredom, although my family sometimes dropped in to encourage me. Moreover, while riding outside, the breeze keeps the body cool; but indoors, we sweat a lot and get tired quickly,” he shares

He fortified himself with carbohydrates (lentils, rice and curd) every three hours apart from having electrolytes, salt water, buttermilk, etc., to stay hydrated. Anand ascribes his success to his family (his wife Kavita, and their 10-year-old daughter Mrinmayi), as well as to his friends, who constantly encouraged him.


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