The World Ultra Cycling Association has declared Bengaluru-based Srinivas Gokulnath, 40, as the only Indian to have successfully set the fastest circumnavigation record for cycling around Karnataka.
An aerospace medicine specialist with the Armed Forces Medical Services posted in the North Eastern Sector, Srinivas rode 2,240 km in four days and 23 hrs 13 min. “In all I must have slept only for seven hours and rode for almost 22 hours every day to complete the ride,” he told Metrolife.
He hadn’t expected the constant rain. “I had carried a limited number of clothes. There were times when I ended up wearing the same drenched clothes for a long time,” he says. The intensity of the rain was high and the terrain was rough. The roads were bad and cement speed humps made the ride even more difficult, he adds.
Srinivas had a crew of 12 members to assist him on his ride. “Their job was to ensure that I stayed hydrated, had a diet that would ensure high energy levels, and navigate my route away from traffic. They were also there to assist me in case I needed repairs. They worked in two shifts for four days to make sure I didn’t slip up anywhere,” he says.
It started young
The cycling bug caught Srinivas when he was in school.
“I rode a bicycle to school, later to college and to my workplace as well. Cycling offers freedom and the opportunity to explore places,” says Srinivas. His wife Prafulla and eight-year-old son Rohan have been supportive.
“The passion of the cyclist community in the city has also inspired me to no end,” says Srinivas.
Diet: Millets and pulses
Srinivas eats a vegan diet. “I avoid rice and wheat, processed food and sugar. It is millet and pulses for me. I haven’t yet found a product in India that provides nutrition and hydration for multi-day races. You get these in Europe and a few other countries where racing is a part of the ethos,” he says.
Introduced cycling in Sudan
In 2018, Srinivas was posted on a UN mission to South Sudan as a peacekeeper. “There I met a lot of people who were displaced because of the civil war. There were many camps around. I learnt that cycling was a taboo there. I decided to break that and taught about 150 girls how to ride. I also managed to raise money with the help of UN peacekeepers to buy bicycles. The mission was a success and for the first time we saw people ride cycles in this region,” says Srinivas.
Srinivas’ cycling expeditions
Sep 2014: Leh to Kanyakumari (4,000 km in 15 days)
Nov 2014 and Nov 2015: Deccan Cliffhanger (643 km in 30 hours)
Jun 2016: Race Across America (4,250 km in 10 days. He was short of 750 km to finish the race)
Jun 2017: Race Across America (finished the race in 11 days and stood 7th).
Aug 2018: Race Around Austria (2,220 km in five days)