“I could go cycling non-stop without sleeping and that too fast" says Amit Samarth
Amit Samarth started off as an endurance athlete with running and used to take part in a lot of marathons. Running is still something which he loves, however, he took a fancy towards cycling when he was training for Ironman in 2010. That is also when the pedal junky had to swim a lot for his training.
Being a fitness freak, Amit was also into martial arts and even boasts of a black belt in taekwondo.
“I bought my first racing cycle in 2011 and I still remember that it cost Rs. 30,000. It was a big amount for me back then. By 2014, I had already completed seven Ironman 70.3's (Half Ironmans) with running and cycling becoming equally important for me. I came to Nagpur once and seeing that I was a good cyclist and had excellent stamina, one of my friends registered me for the Deccan Cliffhanger race which happens from Pune to Goa. This was in the year 2015 and I was informed that the race also acts as the qualifier for Race Across America (RAAM) – touted to be one of the World’s toughest bicycle race,” shares Amit, on how he started off his journey and when he got to know about the agonizingly difficult cycling race.
Luckily, Amit budged in, agreeing to participate and ultimately got into ultra-cycling after doing a lot of research.
He learned that it is a different ball game altogether and is actually a team sport, where the team helps the rider with food, water, navigation, always being behind him/her in a support vehicle.
“Despite being a beginner in this sport, I finished the Deccan Cliffhanger in 28 hours and qualified for RAAM. I even had a bit of luck – as the director of RAAM had come to see that race. I got the opportunity to interact with him to know more about the race. When I came back home, I sat down to research more about it by surfing the internet as now I really aspired to participate in it. However, I realized that it is super-expensive to participate in it,” says Amit, with sadness creeping into his tone.
All of Amit’s plans came to a sudden halt due to this financial constraint and he had no choice but to get back participating in Ironman’s and taking up other long-distance race challenges. However, participating in RAAM had now become his dream and was always on the back of his mind.
“I could go cycling non-stop without sleeping and that too fast. Everyone started telling me that I am RAAM material - where the rider has to go non-stop for twelve days. I also got more and more interested in long distance races,” shares the top endurance athlete in this exclusive interaction with Sportskeeda.
One of Amit’s friends suggested him to go and participate in RAAM as a crew member. He decided to give it a shot to at least get versed with the whole mechanism and get a first-hand experience of what the harshest challenge was all about.
“I came back to India with a lot of knowledge and experience and set a clear path for myself. I was hell-bent on participating at RAAM now. A lot of my friends contributed for my training, with a bunch helping me out by organizing fundraisers as a sum of over Rs. 80 lakhs was required overall,” shares Amit, the enthusiasm evident in his voice.
A multitude of efforts on his part, as well as his friends’, finally enabled Amit to take part in RAAM in 2017 - where he did not disappoint and finished the 5000km race, becoming the first Indian to do so in his first attempt.
RAAM is a grueling race and the rider has to go through various climatic changes as well as a diverse topography. This year he plans to take part in the Trans Siberian extreme and needs support for the same. The distance of Trans Siberian comes down to about 9100 kilometers, extending to seven time zones and five climates around several cities of Russia.
Amit is also the founder of the ProHEALTH foundation and the training club ‘Miles and Milers’ which provides training to athletes for middle and short distance running. Many recreational athletes also train here for marathons, ultra-marathons, and Ironmans.
“I have a lot of experience so I know how to train these people for such events. Besides training myself, I train 150 people with different requirements. I also give motivational talks at corporate houses and institutions," Amit discloses his future plans and whereabouts on normal days.
Trans Siberian extreme being a stage race, the rider needs to ride very fast and that makes it extremely exhaustive. Amit shares that he has never received any support from the government of India or the Cycling Federation. He tried to get it when was preparing for RAAM. However, he was knocking at the wrong door and all he received from them was a refusal letter.
“Getting through Arizona and Utah was in itself a mammoth challenge in RAAM, where I had to go through 900 km of uneven deserts. After getting past the first three days, the topography changes, and it is very nice, green, and scenic. However, the temperature’s are always soaring as the RAAM happens during the summers. One is effectively riding in the heat for 15-16 hours as the days are really long there. Right from 5 am in the morning till 10 at night, there is sunlight. Trans Siberian is different and there are no deserts and the temperatures are also pleasant for the most part. However, it has its own challenges. It can become very cold in the night or early morning. If it rains then it just adds to the misery. Another point of difference is that RAAM is a continuous race whereas Trans Siberian is a stage race,” Amit shares his experience of RAAM and reveals what the Trans Siberian Extreme is all about.
The Trans Siberian race is an invitation-only event and one needs to have the requisite credentials and experience, which Amit has worked really hard to have. The race also one of the most well-organized and features top class mechanic teams, equipment, and the management is truly professional.
Amit has invested five to six months of training for this mega-event and will be the first-ever solo Indian to participate, all he requires is a little support. Do help the man with the indomitable spirit take part in this race and fulfill his dream of making the nation proud and creating history.
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