The 6th Edition of the Deccan Cliffhanger was a hard one. A race organised by Inspire India, covering over 645 kms in under 32 hours, riders had quite a time powering their pedals and acing every kilometer of the route from Pune to Goa. Here’s a lowdown on the route, the race and the winning riders.
The race was flagged off from The Cliff, Forest Trails, Bhugaon, by Everest summiters, Aparna Prabhudesai and Kishor Dhankude from Pune. Both have also raced in the Deccan Cliffhanger team in 2015. They flagged off 3 groups of racers on the 24th of Nov 2018.
This year, 46 cyclists started solo, and almost 100 registered to race in 28 teams. Pune received close to 450 people including riders and their crew members from across the country including Chennai, Mangalore, Bangalore, Mysore, New Delhi, Kolkatta and Ahmedabad. The Maharashtra contingent stood strong with racers from all over the state including including Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Badlapur, Kalyan, Aurangabad, Sangamner, Ahmednagar, Beed, Nashik, Nagpur and Pune.
The Route Map
47 solo racers and 28 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 continued to Dharwad and back to Belgaum over rolling terrain, before descending the Chorla ghat to Goa.
The route and the climate of The Deccan Cliffhanger proved to be tough. Only 15 of the total 47 people who stood at the solo start line finished in RAAM Qualification timings. Only 17 others finished within the time limit and 15 did not finish the distance.
The fastest team this year was from Mangalore, the 3-person team We R Cycling (WERC) of Navin Kotian, Harivijay Kudva P., Venkat Dhiraj who finished the distance in 22hr 41min 35secs. There was a tough fight between 2 four-person teams with Ghatache Raje, Nilesh Wakchaure, Amol Kanawade, Vijay Kale, Sharad Kalepatil from Sangamner finishing first in their category in 22 hrs 42 mins and 16 secs followed soon after by Royal Puranders, Devidas Hole, Manohar Tanpure, Sharad Akhade, Vishwas Tupe who finished in 22 hrs 49 mins 30 secs.
The first all-women-crew and racer team AWCAR with Meera Velankar and Megha Jain finished in a little over time in 34 hr 39 min 10 secs. The grit and courage they displayed all through the race made it a great experience for them and an inspiration for all.
The crew essentially is required to work as a team, have a strategy managing sleep, bike repair skills, navigation and most importantly driving skills at cycling speed or even less – all vital in helping the riders ace the race.
In the men’s solo 18-49 age group, a clear winner, Ashwin Govindsamy from Chennai set an awesome pace to the finish line, consistently racing his first Ultra Race with a rookie crew, to finish in 22 hr 56 min 32 secs. Next at the finish line was Chaitanya Velhal, in 24 hrs and 14 mins 57 secs who won second place, followed shortly by Kabir Rachure in 24 hrs 17 mins and 46 secs for the closest finish for podium. Anand Patil qualified for the 3rd time also winning his category for the third time in 29 hr 02 mins 24 secs.
Among the 4 women to attempt the race this year, Solonie Pathania from Pune, won the race but outside of RAAM Qualification timings in 35 hr 09 mins and 50 secs followed by Jyoti Diwani from Nagpur finishing in 37 hrs and 06 mins.
Others to qualify for RAAM this year include Koken Uzuntas, Bharat Pannu, Balasaheb Wakchaure, Sundaram Narayanan, Sumit Dakhawe, Chandrakant Harpale, Satish Sharma, Abhishek Avhad, Akshay Deshpande, Krishna Prakash, Parth Raichura
The Race finish
This was at the lovely Bogmalo beach at John Seagull beach front restaurant; with the award ceremony followed by dinner. It was attended by a large turnout of 450 cyclists, support crew, officials, spectators, family and friends – all finally able to relax after a very hard and adventurous event.
Winners of the race won slots in the upcoming Ultra Spice Race, Himalayan Ultra and the Dandi Salt Challenge taking place on various dates all through 2019. Stay tuned to our stories to know more about these epic races and how you can sign up for them.