Racing to capture Himalayas

Ambitious

 Chethan Ganapathy participates in Rally of Maharashtra at the foothills of Shiradi. Pics by special arrangement

“A mbition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in” - Bill Bradley, American basketball player.

The winner of this year’s Raid De Himalaya in the Indian modified category, Chethan Ganapathy, a resident of Vijayanagar fourth stage in the city, would probably nod his head in agreement listening to the words of the Bradley.

Having come from staking his claim on the Raid De Himalaya for the second time, Chethan shares his experiences with City Herald about the gruelling race, in which one has to cover more than 2,700 km across seven days.

He says, “I won the title in 2007 and wasn’t able to participate in the races as I didn’t have any sponsporship. This year my friends pitched in by raising money for me and Dunlop gave me six tyres for the race, which didn’t get punctured even once, helping me clinch the race.”

The race starts from Shimla and culminates at Srinagar before passing through Manali followed by the mountain passes including Rohtang, Baralacha La, Tanglang La, the second highest motorable road in the world. Riders have to battle lack of oxygen and temperatures dropping to -15 degree celsius on the route. They also have to tackle the extremely dangerous terrain on the way to the Khardung La, the world’s highest motorable road.

Chethan remarks that he had landed one week before the start of the race to make preparations for the backbreaking race. However, the best experience during the time was while interacting with foreign riders. “They gave me tips about handling the bike, maintaining speed limits and acceleration,” he says. In the first edition of the race, three people had died and this year one rider had fallen into a gorge of 40 feet, he says reminiscing about his fall during the race.

Challenge

 “The major problem in this rally is the formation of black ice on the roads. It’s very difficult to identify the black ice. If a car or jeep had gone earlier then it creates a sort of a water splash trail on the roads, helping us identify black ice. Once you are on black ice, the last thing that you should do is apply the brakes. In one such place, there was a long stretch of black ice, which I managed to clear easily. The next curve had another stretch, but I couldn’t see until the last moment, causing me to crash. Luckily there were no injuries,” he reminisces.

However, Chethan bemoans that there is a lack of sponsors to help him take part in rallies on a regular basis. Chethan has participated in more than 60 motor sport events in the last nine years has won over 55 rallies and was crowned as the overall champion of the Indian National Rally Championship (INRC) in 2010.

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