Tribute to the Coaches who shaped me…
You can tell your coach the goal you have set for yourself but the path towards the goal has to be set by the coach. The only aim of a coach is to get maximum results with minimum efforts. He also keeps you motivated and keeps you moving towards your goal. I have been lucky to train with the best of the coaches who have always succeeded in extracting the best out of me.
“Your coach is like a ship`s rudder, they determine where you are going.”
Post successful completion of 1000 km Ultra Spice Race, I was 100% sure to train under a coach for any further event. The strong conviction behind this was due to the fact that a coach has already been through the journey you are planning to take on and can prepare you the best for the event. He wants you not to repeat the mistakes he did and he passes on his experience to make sure that you don’t.
Race Around Austria (RAA) was the first gigantic challenge in front of me and another thing which made this challenge even tougher was the limited preparation time of 4 months, which included the monsoon period as well. At this critical juncture, ‘IRONMAN’ Chaitanya Velhal (Chai) came to the rescue and trained me for the event. My confidence level shot up when I see happiness in his eyes, seeing the improvement in my performance. And it’s an icing on the cake when your coach himself accompanies you to Austria for the event to obviate any failure. RAA was a great success and thanks to Chai for every support. Divya Tate (Director, Inspire India) was the crew chief for the team and her crewing experience in the international races was of great help in finalizing a workable plan.
Later on, I did the 1750 km Ultra Spice Race. This race was a litmus test; to decide whether to participate in RAAM or not. But thankfully it went amazingly well. Ultra Spice Race was a wonderful learning experience and the decision to go ahead for RAAM became concrete.
The biggest dream for any ultra-cyclist is to be a RAAM finisher. Preparations were now on for the ultimate challenge, which is also known as ‘The Monster RAAM’ among the international ultra-cycling community. Preparations for such a big event require detailed planning and absolute flawless execution. Catering for contingencies is also a part of planning. This goal demands dedicated efforts, not only from the rider, but also his complete team and the coach plays a pivotal role in orchestrating the strategy. My earlier part of RAAM training was initiated by Miten Thakkar (Cyclozeal). He primed me with the challenge in front and guided me in the initial planning for the event. His RAAM crewing experience with Mahajan Brothers in 2015 and Team Sahyadri in 2017 was a big asset in planning my training.
A break in training happened when I went for crewing Team ‘Sea to See’ at RAAM 2018 to gain first-hand experience of the race. The experience helped me in preparing for the race with a new zeal and insight. By this time I was in touch with Mr Tracy Mckay for the role of crew chief. He is a RAAM finisher himself and has coaching experience of more than 25 years in the ultra-cycling arena.
It is very lucky for a rider that the coach accompanies you for the event. As Miten Thakker is unable to accompany me in my team for RAAM 2019 due to his prior commitments, it was an obvious choice for me to appoint my crew chief as my coach for RAAM. At present, things are moving smoothly as I am getting ready for the 1750 km race in the 3rd edition of the Ultra Spice Race 2019. My coach will be monitoring my race closely to derive inputs for the bigger challenge. My RAAM crew will be sharpening their skills to work as a team and with clockwork precision.
I have been lucky on this front that I have always been in safe hands in my ultra-cycling journey. They have taught me different facets of cycling and I believe I have tried my best to be a good student who imbibes it all.
A good coach understands the pulse of his athlete and knows how to push the athlete to his limit to extract the best out of him. He ensures the athlete is motivated and is developed; not only physically but mentally as well. He directly interacts with the crew members and involves them in decision making. He loves to see his athlete achieve their aim.
The list of persons who have been guiding me in this journey is exhaustive and I am thankful to each and every one…