Pune was once again host to one of India’s best known Cycle Races -The Deccan Cliffhanger
Pune-Goa – 4th-5th Nov 2017 – The 5th Edition of the Ultra Cycle race The Deccan Cliffhanger was a celebration of Ultra cycling in India. To qualify for the Race across America, the world’s toughest cycle Race, Racers have to complete 645 kms in 32 hours. This proved to be a goal too difficult for over 60% the racers!
This year 35 Cyclists registered to race SOLO, and 126 registered to race in 36 Teams at the 5th edition on the 4th Nov. Pune which is the hub Ultra Cycling in India, received close to 450 people including racers and their crew members. Racers arrived from all over India including Chennai, Mangalore, Chikmagalur, Coimbatore, Bangalore, Mysore, New Delhi, Kolkatta, Rourkela, Ahmedabad, Surat and Dwarka.
And from all over Maharashtra including Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Badlapur, Kalyan, Aurangabad, Sangamner, Kolhapur, Washim, Akole, Satara, Sangli, Nashik, Nagpur and of course many from Pune!
Start – The race was flagged off from The Cliff, Forest Trails, Bhugaon, by very well known sportspersons! 3 women who have been inspiring others to break norms and push their limits, Rutuja Satpute who is the National Champion, having bagged numerous wins at the Indian National meets and has represented India Internationally, Michele Kakade who holds the Guinness book of world records for running 5968 km distance of the Golden Quadrilateral in just over 193 days and Ila Patil who won the Deccan Cliffhanger last year to become the first Indian woman to qualify for the Race Across America. Ultra racers from around the country were also thrilled to have Srinivas Gokulnath who successfully finished Race Across America Solo this year flag off the race!
Participation – 35 solo racers and 36 teams each started between 5:00 am-8:00 am, heading south to climb up to Panchgani, descend by a superb Sahyadri route through Bhilar to Satara, and then continue to Dharwad over rolling terrain, before descending the Anshi ghat to Goa.
The route and the climate of The Deccan Cliffhanger proved to be tough. Only 13 of the total 35 people who stood at the solo start line finished in RAAM Qualification timings. Only 5 others finished within Inspire India time and 2 outside that time limit! 14 did not finish the distance. This is a RAAM Qualifier Race…. we didn’t say it was going to be easy! Race Officials were also proud to have caught and immediately disqualified 1 racer for blatant cheating.
Among the 36 teams, 32 finished within the time limits of 30 and 31 hours, and 2 finished outside of their time limit and 2 did not finish.
TEAM – 8 teams completed the distance in less than 24 hours, with one Team breaking the previously held ‘fastest to the finish’ record of 21 hrs and 57 mins held by Solo racer Michael Lehnig of Pune. Arham Shaikh, Mihir Deo, Nikhil Anandsekar and Vedant Halarnekar of 3 person Team Relay Spirit covered the 645 Kms in 20 hrs and 35 mins, but got a penalty of 15 mins. Advait Khatavkar, Sunny Khandale, Vishal Butte, Kunal Singh of 4 person team Wild Jaunters were the next to the finish in 22 hrs and 12 mins, securing second place in the same category of 4 person 18-35 age group. Team K2 Nandkishor Ahire, Dhanaji Jadhav, Mihir Jadhav, were the next fastest, winning first place in the 3 person team 18=34 age category with a race time of 22 hrs and 26 mins. Nilesh Wakchaure, Sanjay Vikhe of Sangamner cyclists in the 35-49 age group won the 2 person team race in 25 hrs and 7 mins.
S Balasubramanian, Anshul Shah, Shikha Gupta, Pallav Poddar of Cyc’d Riders finished first in the Mixed 4 person team 35-49 category with a time of 27 hrs and 10 mins. Aakash Kanojia, Prafful Jatale, Versha Sasne, Joynal Abedin of Bike studio Aurangabad finished in 28 hrs and 8 mins to secure first place in mixed 4 person team 18-35 category. Bhavana Mehra, Kevin Thycherry, Rajat Mainh of team Air Force 1, finished in 28 hrs and 50 mins to secure first place in the 3 person mixed 35-49 category. All teams with women riders in the Mixed teams reached the finish line, though 2 were out of time limit, including Mahesh and Maithili Jog who was the only female participant in the 2 person team race.
For the first time in India there was a tandem team of 4 pilots and 4 stoker with visual impairments participate in the Deccan Cliffhanger this edition! The team was a mixed tandem team, from Adventures Beyond Barriers (ABBF) a foundation started in Pune by Divyanshu Ganatra to enable people with disabilities to participate in outdoors and sports. The team consisting of Nupur Pittie, Divanshu Ganatra, Bharat Pittie, Manasvi Baheti, (the youngest participant this year) Praveen Raju, Ekinath Khedekar, Kailesh Baheti, Prasad Gurav finished in 31 hrs and 20 mins to a resounding welcome from all participants.
SOLO – In the men’s race Amit Samarth of Nagpur, who has finished RAAM this year and came to race at the Deccan Cliffhanger again, finished 1st in the SOLO 18-49 age category in 25 hrs and 28 mins. Next at the finish line was Anand Patil of Mumbai, in 28 hrs and 32 mins who won first place in the 50+ age group. Yagnesh Ahir of Ahmedabad came in a few seconds later to win second place in the 18-49 age group followed by Kabir Rachure from Mumbai in third place. Notably Mohinder Singh Bharaj the oldest participant this year at 62 years finished to secure second place in the 50+ age group with a timing of 33 hrs and 45 mins. The youngest of the Solo participants Shubham Das from Nagpur also finished strong in 30hrs and 22 mins to Qualify for RAAM.
Others to qualify for RAAM this year include Vijay Kale of Sangamner, Kishor Kale from Nasik, Aruneet Utkarsh from Pune, Kartik Kansara from Ahmedabad, Koken Uzuntas from Turkey, currently in Pune, Neeraj Vishwakarma from Pune and Vasanth Manivannan from Chennai.
Detailed Timings and Results – https://www.inspire-india.in/results/
The Race finish was at the lovely Bogmalo beach at John’s Seagull restaurant directly on the beach, with the award ceremony and dinner sponsored by kingfisher. It was much enjoyed by a large (450 persons) all India gathering of cyclists, support crew, officials and riders who were finally able to relax after a very hard and adventurous event.
Prizes consisting of coupons to be redeemed for travel and tour packages were given by Suniel Ghagare of Tanishq Holidays.
The event was managed by Inspire India, a sports management company helmed by Divya Tate, an Ultra cyclist and the first woman in India to qualify for a 1200 km ride in France. She has also been organizing long distance rides of 200 to 1000 km, in pune for 6 years. She said, “The Deccan Cliffhanger race provides so many people from all over India with an opportunity to challenge themselves, push their limits and yet have fun!”