PUNE: Dr Srinivas Gokulnath, an aviation medicine specialist based in Pune, has become the first solo Indian to finish Race Around Austria (RAA) in Sankt Georgen in Attergau. His official timing was – 5 days 10 hours and 9 minutes.
The race of 2,200 km is played in tough conditions – inclement weather in the Alps, altitude gains that cover climbing of 98,400 ft (30,000 m) and moreover technical know-how to meet strict cutoff times in control points en route the finish. Srinivas is the only Asian to have participated in the 10th edition of RAA this year.
RAA is Europe’s longest endurance cycling event that also doubles as a qualifier for RAAM. In 2017, Dr Srinivas became the first solo Indian to have finished the 4,900 km Race Across America (RAAM). He has also clinched the first position in India’s longest endurance cycling event, The Ultra Spice (1,750 km), in January this year.
Speaking to Sakal Times, Srinivas said that he was injured during training ride a few days before the race began on August 14. “There was a training ride on Hochkönig Mountain. A massive crash on the downhill with giant propel frame breaking into 2 pieces, resulted in injury to my rib cage, right index finger, right ankle and right hamstring. A replacement bike being brought from India by my crew member was damaged en route.”
He further added, “My crew chief Sudhakara Narasegowda joined me on August 8 and we went to a bike shop in Gmund. We decided to go ahead with the available alloy bike, specialised Allez Sprint, 54 cm size, a size bigger than mine, costing 1,200 Euros. There was a mock ride of 32 km on August 10. The race started at 9.40 am on August 14. The first 12 hours were all good. The final 500 km stretch with 32 hours in hand seemed to be an easy affair but later in the evening there were massive rains and the average speed dropped. During the last 15 km, we were escorted by passionate race marshals with Indian flag and that stirred a whole lot of emotions till the finish line. We could make it 2 hours before the final cut off time.”
The crew members included Narasegowda, Rutvik Khare, Thomas Fleischer, Anushik Purushottam, Johann and Keshav Jahagirdar. “RAA 2018 was a successful finish only because of my committed crew members who were selfless and gave all that they had for us to be at the finish line. They worked day and night in one van for 130 hours sacrificing comfort, sleep, hunger and their precious time,” Srinivas added.