Congratulations to Samidha Patel for setting a new WUCA India N-S record in the under 18 year age group in the Female, Upright bike categories.

During this N-S attempt Samidha also set the embedded record from Kashmir – Lal Chowk – to – Vidhan Soudha, Ambedkar Veedhi, Bangalore, India.

Samidha Patel – Ride Report – India N-S Jan 16- Feb 1, 2024

Record attempt: India N-S[Kashmir to Kanyakumari] Solo female [17 and under]
Name of Rider: Samidha Patel, Vadodara, India

Start Date and Time: 16th Jan 2024  13:09hr

Start Location:  Clock Tower, Lal Chowk, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India.

End Date and Time: 1st Feb 2024, 22:30hr

End Location: Kanyakumari(Cape Comorin), India. Near Mahatma Gandhi Mandapam. (8°04’42.6″N 77°33’04.3″E)

Time Taken : 16 days, 9 hours, 21 minutes

• Why did you want to do a record?

I was drawn to endurance cycling since i was 12-13 yeas old. At the age of 13, I cycled from to Manali to Khardungla, taking all the high mountain  passes. I had cycled from Koteshwar to statue of Unity, a distance of 700km, when i was 15. In the mean while i came across Mr. Adil Teli’s K2K record. I was highly inspired.  Now I wanted to do better than this record! Pardon my age, I got a bit over-zealous(…haha). I expressed my desire to my mentor. Without discouraging me, he said, record no record, K2K is a solid distance to endure, even to dream about it requires a lot of courage. It will need serious training and commitment, both. And that is how I started training for it, around two years ago.(Mr. Adil’s record was still on my mind for a long time…hahaha)

• What equipment did you use? Anything special?

I used a, “Polygon Stratos 5” Road bike(Aluminium frameset carbon fork) for my attempt. This was the only bike we had on us. We did carry one spare wheelset and necessary bike spares with us. For ride recording we used Garmin Edge 520, Garmin fenix 5 watch and Garmin Edge 820. Garmin edge 520 became dysfunctional on day-one itself(and the misery begun). 

We used Fenix BC26R Light with max of 1600 lumens which was a life saver, when we encountered extreme fog conditions.

What did you eat & drink? 

Major portion of my diet was Muesli soaked in milk and Bananas, lots of them. Though I hated it, it worked like magic. Other than that I would eat at Restaurants and Dhabas en-route. Though the eateries would change the things we ordered mostly remained the same. We would mostly order Dal khichidi(Lentils rice porridge), Curd rice, Paneer, Curd and Butter milk. As I started riding through the southern part of India, I got to have Masala dosa(Soft and crispy crepes made of fermented batter of white gram and rice) and Steamed Idli(savoury rice cake). I would also have cheese sandwiches cut into portions which I could easily have on the bike while riding. Me being a vegetarian, Paneer(more like farmers cheese), cheese and Lentils took care of my Protein intake. I also used to have a table spoon or two, of Ghee(Clarified butter), daily.

  At times i would give-in to my cravings for Manchurian and noodles, Lays and Vada-Pav. My team would let me, but would make sure that it’s in moderation. I also used to have Fast&Up BCAA post ride everyday. For my Hydration i would have Enerzal, Fast&Up Electrolytes tablets and Mogu-Mogu. Along with bananas I also used to have local fruits and i got a variety of them, as I was changing regions, everyday or so. I ate Apples, oranges, Guava, papaya, Sweet lime and grapes. I remember munching on some dry fruits as-well. 

Training for the attempt:

I started training for the attempt approximately two years ago. It included weekday rides of 90min duration and weekend rides of 3-4hrs. The duration of weekday rides remained the same but over time the distances that I covered increased. The duration of weekend rides gradually increased all the way to 48 hours with minimal rest in between. The 48hrs ride was like a benchmark ride cum simulation for the actual attempt. Over time, weekday rides changed from duration-based to intensity-based training. For intensity-based training, we resorted to Wahoo Kickr Core indoor trainer and Sufferfest structured workouts. Weekend rides were still outdoors and duration-based, mostly. 

 I got my road bike which I used for the attempt almost an year ago, till then I was using my Merida hybrid bike for my training. Graduation to “clipless pedal system” came with its own horror stories, but I survived! As the training progressed I got more realistic and my respect towards all those who have accomplished this distance “soared”. 

Going back to the simulation ride of 48 hours in which I covered more than 700km, the thought process was that, the simulation ride would impart enough clarity in the team and me about what we would be going through the attempt, at least to some extent. It took me a couple of attempts to finish this ride. The reasons for failure to point a few were fatigue due to improper hydration and nutrition, saddle sores, and the team’s immaturity(we all were learning). 

After I finally completed this benchmark ride, we staged forward to Solang, Himachal Pradesh, for the last leg of my training, which was going to last for 4weeks. 

Solang is at an altitude of 2500m(8200ft) which makes it ideal for high altitude training. In addition to hypoxic conditions, it was extremely cold in December. It was difficult to function in that cold initially, but even this was going to help me. The weather conditions that I was going to face in the first leg of the ride were going to be similar. But we had many more surprises awaiting during the actual attempt!

At Solang, we acclimatised for a week before going through testing protocols(FTP and MAP test). Till then I had duration-based easy sessions on the indoor trainer. After a week the intensity sessions started. We focused more on long threshold workouts and maximum aerobic power workouts. The recovery and nutrition were given significant importance during these 4 weeks, at times more than actual workouts! On my cross-training days, we would go for a long easy hike to Anjani Mahadev(2700m). The training at altitude helped enormously during the actual attempt.

During this last training block, I was juggling between bicycle and books. I was studying in 12th standard and my High school final board examinations were due in March, just a few weeks after finishing the attempt! 

The attempt: 

We reached Srinagar on 14th Jan’24, it was cold but not as cold as Solang. I had a sigh of relief, it was short-lived though! 

On 16th Jan’24, we had a ceremonial flag-off at the Directorate of Tourism, Kashmir. I was flagged-off by, Mr. Malik Waseem Ahmad Sir, Deputy Director, Tourism, Kashmir. Directorate of Tourism, Kashmir, as a goodwill gesture and support, stationed their ambulances at intermittent distances for the first 100km. After the ceremonial start, we proceeded to Lal Chowk, Srinagar – the actual start point of, “India N-S(K2K)”. After a few photos with my national flag, I started my attempt from Lal Chowk at 1309hr. 

The 1st 100-odd kilometers felt fantastic! The bike was running smoothly, I felt at home. Felt all the hard work had paid off, until… 

The road conditions were bad on steep downhill ahead. Bone-jarring vibrations and cold made my hands go numb, even though I was wearing technical gloves. I was petrified as I could not apply the brakes efficiently. Noticing this my team asked me to take frequent breaks to warm up my hands. As we approached Udhampur, 1st day-night halt, we had lost significant altitude, the roads got better & the temperature became more humane. On reaching Udhampur, I realised my cycle computer was displaying much less distance than anticipated. 

I was told to follow the night halt- SOP, while the team would check the GPX file. [Night halt SOP: One teammate takes care of my bike. My crew chief (my mother) escorts me to the room with a fresh change of clothes, I finish my shower, then dinner within 40mins and hit the bed and fall asleep in less than 60 minutes, so that we can have at-least 5-6 hours of sleep. **We had decided on a few SOPs for the ride, which looked very much doable before we started the ride. But most of them, ‘collapsed like a house of cards’, as the ride progressed and the fatigue kicked into the team, which comprised three teammates & one support vehicle. Lesson learnt.] 

Coming back to the distance discrepancy in the GPX file, I was told that the cycle computer failed to record the last 18-20km. While having dinner I asked, how shall we proceed? The team told me that we had supporting evidences like photos and videos for this missing distance. I asked, if we could do this distance again, irrespectively. After a brief pause, the team agreed. I am sure this was going to add more pressure on the already limited resources we had(mostly time) but I wanted a complete K2K, GPX route (without any gaps in it, however minor it would be). More importantly, I didn’t want to get into any explanations for the discrepancy.

The next day morning, we drove back to the place from where the distance went missing and continued our ride. The team also realised my cycle computer Garmin 520 had stopped charging. After some fire fighting team managed to extract the GPX file. I continued my ride with my teammate’s Garmin Fenix 5 watch till Jalandhar. At Jalandhar, Col. Shriram sir, who is also an endurance cyclist, helped me with his Garmin 820 for the rest of my attempt. Sir also took care of our accommodation at Jalandhar. which was our day 2-night halt. 

No mercy Fog and Cold:

We had anticipated cold and foggy riding conditions at night till we crossed the northern part of India, approximately the first 1000km. But the conditions were way more severe than anticipated. Indian Meteorological Department had released an ‘extreme cold wave and very dense fog warning’, for the region that we were riding through. Due to severe fog, I could barely see ahead of my front wheel, which led to a crawling pace. I could manage not more than 8-10 kmph for 5-6 hours every night till we reached, Paota, Rajasthan, day 4-night halt. The front light that I had mentioned before was a lifesaver. 

I craved for bright sunlight like never before! And like the saying goes, ‘beware of what you wish for…’ From day 5, Jaipur onwards, the day got extremely hot. The nights were still pleasant. Thankfully fog was nowhere to be seen. Now the team was even more particular about hydration. 

Lunch would be the most challenging part of nutrition as I would feel nauseated towards anything that’s offered, due to heat. The team resorted to porridge-like palatable and soothing meals. They would ensure that I have a stomach full of food.

My teammates would positively trick me when it came to food and drinks. I remember they would call these, the superfoods of ultra-cyclists, whom I knew. 

Col Shriram: Curd Rice, an extremely soothing and nutritious lunch.

Kabir Rachure: Mogu-Mogu(hydration). A fruit drink with tender coconut pieces in it. And I loved it!

Vedangi Kulkarni: Grapes. I was told that she completed her, “Around the World” bicycle expedition, eating grapes. And I bought that story!

In the later part of my ride, I started seeing windmills and lots of them! Before I could even realise, the winds started dominating the ride. After thousands of kilometres into the ride, headwinds would drain me mentally more than physically. I would start to question myself! My team would do all possible things to cheer me up during moments like these. 

Team fatigue: 

The team of three did get tired. And once the fatigue set in, we made a few navigational blunders, on day 6. 

After this incident, spirit wise my team was at its lowest. The whole attempt became questionable at this moment. I don’t know what went right but thankfully the team recovered from it! And after a good “reset session” in the follow vehicle, I believe, things were pretty much like before. 

At the start of the attempt, we as a team had set two priorities: 

1) Well being at all cost. (non negotiable)

2) Reach Kanyakumari whatever time it takes. 

Probably these two points, also helped the team, to sort themselves out! 

By the time we reached MHOW(greater Indore city) – day 7-night halt, I realised I don’t stand a chance to become the fastest female across K2K(Yes, now I was chasing Preeti’s record… 🙂 ). I felt a bit low. But my team made me realise, what I was attempting was glorious enough and “We Will Reach Kanyakumari”, You Stay Strong. Of course, it came through pep talk over dinner along with a Youtube short – an anecdote of Col. Desmund Hayde, narrated by Captain Raghu Raman (where the Colonel is motivating his troops to accomplish the mission against adversaries). From that moment onwards we all did the best that we could without fussing too much about speed, time, distance etc. Every discussion would at times humorously end on the statement “Rukenge toh Kanyakumari jaake” (we shall stop only once we reach Kanyakumari). This prevented a lot of mental drain and cognitive load of micro calculations. This was much needed for my team as well. [After fatigue built-up, day after day, my team could be only as much efficient. Lesson learnt. ]

Hardest day probably: 

We had decided to go for an embedded record (capital to capital, Srinagar to Bangalore). For that we had to make sure that we crossed Bangalore in the early hours, otherwise once the traffic builds up, the conditions would become unbearable. The plan was to stay put at Nagsandra, which is 16-17km short of Vidhan Soudha (town centre of Bangalore), the previous night. Start at 0400hrs the next day, ride through Bangalore & exit the city before 0700hrs. Perfect strategy on paper! 

The distance that I had to cover was approximately 220km to reach Nagsandra. I had started my day early keeping all factors in mind. But Mother Nature had different plans. Strong headwinds started at around 1000hrs and persisted throughout the day. The temperature soared to 40 degrees Celsius. Riding efficiency was compromised significantly. So far, I had ridden more than 2700 kilometers and the late night the previous day also had a role to play, I guess. I could barely manage 120km till 1900hr which was late, as per plan. I continued riding any which way. Now I was feeling sleep deprived. My team made me take frequent naps. ‘Coffee, nap, ride repeat’, was my motto for that night! 

If I still had to ride through Bangalore via Vidhan Soudha, the only way was to ride without a proper sleep break. In the meanwhile my team gave me an option of taking a night halt, scratching Bangalore, recover & continue towards Kanyakumari, bypassing Bangalore city centre. I thought, we were almost there and it’s doable. I said, a few more naps and we can pass through Bangalore city centre, before the traffic gets to us. And as soon as we crossed Bangalore we will halt for an elaborate sleep break. Team agreed and coffee, nap, ride, repeat continued…. 

I reached Vidhan Soudha around 0700hr. Yes, I was exhausted & we still had to exit Bangalore before the traffic kicked-in! And I am glad we did!!!

Towards Kanyakumari: 

After a long sleep break at Hosur, everyone seemed rejuvenated for the last 600 kilometer approximately. I had started to visualise the finish more clearly than ever before. We were already in the last state – Tamilnadu. Rain was the only weather condition that we were not blessed with! Probably rain went through some fomo and blessed us on the last day. It was refreshing! I think it was also the state of mind. 

On 1st Feb’24, riding through the beautiful sunset & a few more hours, we made it to Kanyakumari! We reached Kanyakumari at approximately 2230hr. Finally, this was the moment “Rukenge toh Kanyakumari jaake”!! 

I am glad, I got the opportunity to realise my dream of riding across my country from, Kashmir to Kanyakumari!  

Now I had to pull up my socks for my high school final board examination which was just around the corner!