Asia’s longest cycle race kicks off from Kashmir

‘Race Across India’ being flagged off by officials of Indian Oil at Srinagar on Wednesday. — Excelsior/Shakeel
‘Race Across India’ being flagged off by officials of Indian Oil at Srinagar on Wednesday. — Excelsior/Shakeel

Excelsior Sports Correspondent

SRINAGAR, Mar 1: Asia’s longest cycle race began here today as 29 cyclists, including one woman set off for the first of its kind 3655 kilometres event.
“We have had people cycling from Kashmir to Kanyakumari earlier but this is the first-of-its-kind race not only in India but in Asia, which will cover a distance of 3655 kilometres,” director of the ultra cycling project, Jitendra Nayak said.
The race has been accorded the status of Asian Ultracycling Championship by the World Ultracycling Association (WUCA), Nayak said.
“The cyclists who complete this race will automatically qualify for the World event,” he added.
While the organisers have set a time of 12 to 14 days for the cyclists to complete the race, most participants have set a target of completing in nine to 11 days.
Among the participants is specially-abled cyclist Geeta Rao, who is also the only woman contestant.
“I am very excited and (want) to spread a positive message to all women. If I can dream of it and achieve it, everyone can do it. My one leg is inactive, I would be cycling with only one leg,” Rao said.
“I always do what I dream of and I just take one step to achieve it. For the rest of the things, like failures, everything is part of the journey. That’s how I take every adventure in my life and that’s how I achieve what I dream,” she added.
Nayak said the idea to hold an ultra cycling race came after several cyclists from India participated in such events held in the west and the far east.
“It is a very expensive affair to participate in the races held in the west. So the idea was to allow the cyclists from India to participate in ultracycling events which are affordable. It will cost only 1/10th what it takes to participate in races abroad,” he added.
Nayak said there are 13 time stations along the route which will be manned by the marshals. All riders are tracked using GPS devices.