A Randonneur by passion and a design engineer by profession, who lives by this motto has managed a whopping 17000 Km (Yes, you read it right!) in less than a year on a bicycle despite his demanding job profile!
“Everything seems impossible until it is done” – Nelson Mandela
Meet Sayi Rama Krishna, a cycling enthusiast whose journeys across India set an example for the right mix of endurance, passion and perseverance. Inspired by Randonneuring (long distance cycling) events such as Paris Brest Paris (PBP), a 1200 Km cycling event held once every four years and Bliss in the hills (Toughest endurance cycling event in India), Rama Krishna wanted to ride to the Himalayas.
From a daily commute of 10 km by the time he graduated, to a trip to the breathtaking Spiti Valley in the Himalayas, he has come a long way in cycling.
“Long distance cycling is accidental”, he says. He began training himself by covering 50 km a day and his first longest ride was to Mahabalipuram (100 km), in the unforgiving summer heat. “That was a wrong time to go for a long ride, yet I went only to suffer in scorching heat. It took me nine hours to finish that ride, but I learnt many new things,” Said Sayi Rama Krishna.
HatkeStory‘s conversation has been very interesting with this cyclist and we are sure you will find it inspiring as well.
What have your rides taught you? Can you share your experiences?
Long distance cycling is a journey that puts you through many experiences. Since many of the events I ride are self-supported and timed, I realized the importance of preparation and time. In addition, this gives a chance to learn and respect your body. In these rides (Brevets), we need to foresee road, climate conditions and prepare our mind for anything that comes across, only then we will be able to finish it. Finishing a long distance ride really helps boost self-confidence.
What is your most memorable cycling moment/trip?
I cannot just choose one, but I would say climbing to Rohtang pass and Mumbai – Mahabaleshwar – Mumbai are the toughest and best things I did on bicycle. Apart from that, night rides in forests and lonely state highways are always a thrill.
Any road that has something green on both sides is a great ride for me. However, I was truly lost in the beauty of Nature among greenery and tea estates of Valaparai.
Can you tell us more about your Himalayan Trip?
I saved 40k for the himalayan trip assuming that I have to hire a vehicle. The budget was beyond my capability, yet I managed. After figuring out that people do travel by cycles, I wanted to do it myself. I reduced the trip budget, took money from savings and bought my first cycle- Schwinn Frontier Sport online(OLX).
What according to you is your biggest accomplishment in cycling?
Riding without injury is so far my biggest achievement in cycling since I started. Because of that, I was never away from my bicycle. As soon as I began cycling, I realized the importance of fitness and ensured proper diet and recovery time before attempting the next big ride. In addition, I learnt proper way of pedaling, which made me stay away from pains and injuries.
What fears did you have before heading to far off places? What precautions do you take before going on a long ride?
Since I started to travel more, I was not afraid of going to new places. Initially it was loneliness, which used to haunt me. As I began to ride more and more, I adjusted to changing situations. Sometimes, you will be all alone in the darkest possible roads surrounded by trees and weird sounds. At that moment, all you can do is either tremble in fear or keep riding to overcome that situation with a hope to see light and meet another human.
I always wear a reflective vest, and turn on a good front light and rear light to improve visibility. In addition, I carry spare tubes, puncture kit and mini pump to avoid unwanted scenarios. It is very much necessary to prepare your bike before going on long rides. An unprepared bike as well as a biker will end up in bad situations.
How do you set your goals and what comes to your mind when you think of the ultimate challenge?
Cycling is very addictive. There are lots of people in this community who do a variety of feats. They inspire me to set my next goal. Sanjay Karandikar, from Pune has achieved five SR’s (Super Randonneur) in a year. A super randonneur is awarded to a person who finishes riding 200, 300, 400 and 600 km in a calendar year. He did that five times in a year. I am planning to do that six times in a year. Everything went well so far.
The desire to reach the destination is the only thing that comes to my mind when I think of any challenge. Sometimes, I do fail. Thrill lies in converting that failure to success again. I attempted to ride a 100 X 10 challenge once i.e. riding 100 km for 10 days continuously. I had to motivate myself a lot for waking up at 4 am every day. A delay in waking up would make me go late to office. Only my determination to finish the ride by the 10th day kept me going which allowed me to complete the challenge successfully.
How do you manage your leaves? (You are a working IT professional and your long trips require many leaves)
When you spend a lot of time on your passion, people assume that one has to take many leaves. However, reality is different. The events that I am participating in now do not require many leaves as most of them are on weekends. I get back to work on Monday. Only 600, 1000 and 1200 km events would require absence from work. Since they will be well spaced out in my calendar, it is not much of an issue.
It all depends on planning and nature of work. First, you have to convey your ideas to your team and manager well in advance. It gives a good flexibility to both sides to be prepared in your absence. Moreover, it depends on nature of the ride. I took a two-week vacation for my first Himalayan trip. I took that only long vacation in that year, which is not an issue.
How do you manage your expenses?
Everything comes from my salary. It is very early for someone to sponsor me, so I have to still ride more and perform well, for someone to sponsor me. It drains much of my earnings, but that feeling fades away from the satisfaction I get from being there at finish. I am not bothered much as I do not have any responsibilities back home being a bachelor. I am not sure how marriage would change things.
Can you give tips on how to make a cycling trip of 400+km cost effective?
It comes only from experience. One has to ride more and more to understand. It also depends on life style. Events will charge some entry fee for participation. To make it cost effective, go on your own or ride with a group. Group ride will always cut costs as people share accommodation and food. In addition, there will be a sense of bonding and safety. One has to learn about basic fixes of a bicycle because riding back is the only cheapest way home.
Do you follow a specific diet and exercise routine?
I do not follow specific diet but eat hygienic food. For long distance cycling lot of carbohydrates are necessary. So I make sure that I eat a lot of rice before events. During events, I eat whatever I can find on the way. One has to develop core strength to spend a long time on saddle. Running would help a lot. I have to improve a lot in this area.
Dogs are not man’s best friends during cycling trips, are they?
Dogs, which are normally beautiful, can make your day worse when you are on bicycle. They don’t chase everyone, but it’s a matter of luck if you are chosen on that day. I almost face a dog chase every trip. The scariest being in Himalayas. Night time dog chases are scary too.
Any tips for beginners? What kind of training does one need to take up cycling?
A wise person once said to me that nothing is impossible for beginners. All you need is a desire to ride and enjoy pedaling. That is what I did and I am sure it will take one to places. One has to begin patiently. If someone is taking up cycling after a long time, it is better to start with 10 km per day and increase the bar gradually. Learning to climb on slopes is also important. Furthermore, one needs to learn about food habits and proper food intake.
How does cycling make you feel? What has surprised you the most about this transformation in life?
Exciting, happy, proud, thrilling, blissful, peaceful and may other feelings. It is like meditation when you ride happily on a smooth road. Night riding has its own beauty. For someone who is not into any kind of sport for 25 years and is not a fitness freak, my ability to ride longer distances with ease has surprised me. At times, I feel I am living a new and different life.
Awards and rewards:
This year, I was eligible for MR5000 , an award given to one who finishes 5000 km in a calendar year. Moreover, I achieved the status of double Super Ranonnuer in a single year.
Any final piece of advice for our readers?
Respect your body, it will make you ride your bike.
Respect your bike, it will make you finish the ride.
If you are passionate about something, do not wait for something to happen, instead just make it happen. When you pursue your passion, people will recognize your efforts, believe in you, and get inspiration from you.