The gruellingly enormous distance and uneven terrains make the Deccan Cliffhanger-a 645-km ultracycle-race held annually since 2014-India’s most popular yet the toughest ultracycle race.
The seventh edition of the race, held between November 9 and 10, began at The Cliff, Forest Trails, Bhugaon in Pune and ended in Bogmalo Beach in Goa. Nearly 40 racers from across the country took part in the mega event.
First of all
Sasi Kanth was the first Hyderabadi to be part of the Deccan Cliffhanger. He completed the gruelling race under solo category in 30 hours (stipulated time 32 hours) and finished fifth. What’s more, his finish has catapulted his entry into the world’s toughest race, Race Across America (RAAM), to be held next year.
But for Sasi Kanth, the record-breaking feat has added something within. “It’s incredible; I feel on top of the world. This victory literally augmented my confidence levels,” says Sasi Kanth, who is now preparing for RAAM.
Sasi Kanth, who has been preparing for the race since last year, even worked as a crew under Srinivas Gokulnath, India’s first RAAM finisher back in 2017 in Pune, under whom he learnt all about cycling.
“Apart from doing regular workouts such as squats, weight lifting, etc., to improve muscle power, I used to cycle thrice a week, covering around 100 km,” he explains.
Born and raised in Andhra Pradesh’s Prakasam district, the 41-year-old took to cycling six years ago out of curiosity. “I asked one my colleagues how he spends his weekends, and he replied, ‘cycling’. So one day, I went with him and became a member at the Hyderabad Bicycling Club,” he recalls.
Sasi Kanth soon started participating in races, too. Eventually, he went on to complete 200 km, 300 km, 400 km, 600 km and 1,000 km brevet rides.
Riding the rough roads
Recalling how his two daughters welcomed him with a bouquet when he came home after his win, Sasi Kanth ascribes his success to his wife Jyoti. “She has always encouraged me. She would wake me up early in the morning when I had to head for my training and she ensured that she’d get ready all the meals I needed on my return,” he says.
Challenges were plenty. To begin with, he could spend only one hour with his family through his training all of last year, saying that balancing work and cycling has been extremely demanding. Additionally, during the race, Sasi Kanth even suffered a muscle tear, causing him extreme pain. But Sasi Kanth is quick to remember everyone who added to his victory, and goes on to thank his five-member crew, comprising Krishna Kunam, Dr Vignan, H.S.
Ahmed, Hemanth Chandan and Rajeev Kalwa, who followed him in a car, constantly monitoring him....