During his post-graduation studies (2009-2012) in Aviation Medicine, the bicycle was the means of transportation used by Srinivas. He was an active member of the Bangalore bicycle community. He used to go for cycling with the members and gradually he kept on building the distance of his rides. It was at that time he came to know about Race Across America (RAAM).
Race Across America which has a history of 36 years is considered as one of the most difficult cycling race in the world. The participants have to finish the 4900kms race in 12 days’ time (or, in 288 hours). Unlike Tour de France, in RAAM the clock clicks continuously. They had to cover at least 400kms per day, and had to pass through deserts and plains to finish at Atlantic coast.
He came to know that only 3 Indians have attempted RAAM and none of them has completed it. That day, Srinivas added one more item to his bucket list – he wanted to become the first Indian to complete Race Across America. Another bucket list of Srinivas was to go for cycling from Leh to Kanyakumari before turning 40.
First Bucket List and Limca Book of Records
Soon after his post-graduation, he was appointed as Army Doctor in Srinagar. Due to the security problems, the availability of training places was limited there. Still, he used to train daily for hours in the 3kms which was available for training. And in September 2014, he went on to accomplish his first bucket list. He started his ride from Leh and reached Kanyakumari after 15 days and 17 hours. This ride was added to the Limca Book of Records.
A month later, he participated in Deccan Cliffhanger, an annual 460kms Ultra Cycling Race from Pune to Goa and a qualifier race for RAAM. Srinivas finished 3rd in the race. He decided to participate in RAAM in the year 2016. Fortunately, at the same time, he got a transfer from Srinagar to Nasik. That gave him more exposure for training. He had undergone hard and organized training for hours.
After all the training, he participated in the race. But, after 10 days and 21 hours, he discontinued the race. But, he was not disappointed.
“I was not sad or upset. According to me, that was an unfinished business and I was determined to finish it in the next year.”
Preparations for the Great battle
In the next month, he registered for the 2017 RAAM. He trained not only alone but also with experienced racers. He also had a coach with whom he trained for 10 months. His crew chief also came forward to train him. All these made him more strong and confident.
Srinivas had personal, professional and financial problems to deal with. He considered all these difficulties as challenges. Dealing with these challenges made him sharper. While training he always visualized and kept the focus on the finish line. After 11 months of hard training, he went to America to create history!
Cycling Towards History
The race started on 13 June 2017. Srinivas’ focus was on the finish line. He had a strong team with a good plan to support him. The race was divided into 54 time-stations and till the 5th time-station, he was in the top 10. But, by the time he reached 9th time-station from 5th, he was dropped to 27th position due to dehydration.
To make him stronger, the team came up with new strategy and plan. They made sure that Srinivas gets an input of 8000 to 10,000 calories and 16 to 17 liters of water. It was decided that he would take small breaks at every time-stations. Everything was executed in a disciplined manner. As a result of this, he became stronger by the time he reached 16th time-station.
His self-belief system activated. He was gaining confidence and was peddling aggressively. He became more aggressive in the second half of the race, which happens rarely in such competitions. And because of that, media and other contestants started noticing him.
He was advancing with three principles. Firstly, he did it section by section. A Strong strategy was the second one. His team was taking the statistical analysis, and everything was moving in a disciplined manner. And finally, he was racing gracefully. He was staying happily on his bicycle all the while, and nothing affected him.
As a result of all these, he finished the race in 7th position, after 11 days, 18 hours and 45 minutes. Yes, he became the first Indian to finish the Race Across America!
“I was feeling a sense of accomplishment and was relieved. I learned that the self-believe system can do the miracle. It can surprise you by performing some magic.”
Credits and Revelations
He feels that apart from his coach, crew chief, and the team, it was his family which played one important role in his achievement.
RAAM was an emotional race for him. It helped him to explore deep into himself.
“If I can do it, you too can do it. We are our own barriers. Only we are responsible for our failures. We have dreams, but we don’t work on that. Work constantly and hard to fulfill your dream.”