Ashwin Govindaswamy breaks record for fastest time bu an Indian at the Deccan Cliffhanger 2018
At 3:56 AM on Sunday morning, 31-year old Ashwin Govindaswamy rode into Bogmalo Beach, Goa to complete the Deccan Cliffhanger 2018 in a record-breaking 22 hours 56 minutes, making it the fastest time by an Indian as well as the fastest time set on the first attempt. The previous best time by an Indian was set by Dr. Amit Samarth, clocking 25 hours 1 minute at last year’s edition.
Now in its 6th year, the Deccan Cliffhanger is a 646 Km Ultra Cycling Race from Pune to Goa, including both solo and relay categories. Solo racers who complete within the stipulated time limit qualify for Race Across America (RAAM), the world’s toughest bicycle race.
But qualification for RAAM wasn’t the motivation for Chennai born Ashwin Govindaswamy to participate in the race, “I felt I hadn’t performed to my potential in races earlier this year and I really wanted to get a big win before the end of the year. And that’s why I decided to participate in the Deccan Cliffhanger this year.”
Breaking the current time record of 21 hours 57 minutes held by German Michael Lehnig, was always on his mind. “I felt I could break that record and my training programme was also planned around it. I trained for almost three-and-a-half months in Chennai. Till about 100 kms out, I felt I was on-track to come close to Michael’s time, but that’s when the fatigue started to set in and I began cramping. Earlier in the race, I also faced some mechanical issues. But thanks to my team, I was still able to finish the race in record time. They kept me going till the end,” said Ashwin Govindaswamy.
He began running marathons in 2013, when a friend was looking for a partner. From marathons, he moved to participating in triathlons, which led him to discover that he enjoyed cycling more than running. He focused on individual time trials (ITT) and triathlons and soon began winning local ITT events. In 2016, he also completed the Paris-Brest-Paris, a 1,230 km cycling event in France. "The first few wins gave me the belief that I made the right choice to switch to cycling. I was fortunate enough to receive support for Scott Sports India early on, which not only helped me continue to focus on cycling, but also their faith in my abilities gave me a lot of confidence.”
Having now clinched both the title and qualification, will he begin training for RAAM? “Honestly, I haven’t given it any thought as yet. Participating in RAAM was never my goal. For now, I’m heading back to Chennai and have to resume office on Tuesday,” said Ashwin, who is currently balancing a full-time career as a design engineer and ambitions of being a professional cyclics