Mumbai's top cop pedals to 1,500 km cycling history

Published: Jun 25, 2019, 08:03 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Competing with much younger men and fighting tricky terrain and extreme weather conditions, IPS Krishna Prakash finishes fourth in men's open category of Race Across West in USA

Prakash holds up the tricolour after a terrific finish to the race
Prakash holds up the tricolour after a terrific finish to the race

Indian Police Service (IPS) Krishna Prakash, special inspector general of police (IGP), administration, Maharashtra, is back home in Mumbai after creating cycling history. The tough cop has finished a stupendous fourth in the men's open category of the Race Across West (RAW) in USA. The race, which requires cycling for approximately 1,500 km across four American states, started on June 11 and ended on June 14.

"Competitors had to finish the RAW race in 92 hours but I did it in 88 hours," said Prakash, adding, "I went into the event hoping to become the first ever Indian to finish the cycling race. I never imagined I would get a ranking." The open category had competitors of age 18 to 50 years, which meant Byculla's 48 year-old Prakash was competing with men much younger to him.

Krishna PrakashDifficult terrain called for high adaptability

Trying terrain

"This is considered the world's toughest cycling course. Like any endurance event, physical fitness is a must, but it also needs vast reserves of mental strength. It begins in California and then it’s nearly four days on the road. After leaving the beach of Oceanside, I climbed the coastal range and dropped into the scorching, arid and bone-dry desert of Arizona-Utah, where temperatures ranged from 48 to 50 degrees Celcius," said Prakash. "The weather changed constantly, and so did the terrain," he added.

Prakash experienced chilly as well as unbearably hot weathers during the four daysPrakash experienced chilly as well as unbearably hot weathers during the four days

Much-needed support

Speaking about his support team, Prakash said, "I couldn't have completed this without them. I used to sleep for a few hours on the road. I would unfurl my sleeping bag near a gas station or somewhere else and catch up on some sleep through the course. The first day I cycled 495 km, the second day I fell short and did 315 km. I had fleeting doubts if I would finish the race, but then I told myself never to quit. I increased my cycling speed to make up for it. On Day 3 I was sleep deprived. I had no clue that I was in line for a ranking. I actually got off my bike and slept on the side of the road for an hour as I was nearing the finishing line. I wanted to rest. If I knew that I could have made it to the third place, then I would have carried on cycling."

Food and philosophy

Prakash said several foods and drinks gave him the necessary fuel. "Plenty of Electral in the desert-like conditions of Arizona-Utah. I also drank Ensure, a calorie-dense food, and also had oranges, strawberries, bananas and watermelon. I also ate a sweet potato and regular potato. One of my power foods was coffee-flavoured Lindt chocolate."

A powerful finish to the RAW raceA powerful finish to the RAW race

Training hard

The top cop had squeezed in training during weekends, taking off from his Byculla home and cycling to Pune. "I had to find a work-bicycle balance," he said with a laugh. "For instance, when I was away on the President's visit duty, I carried my bicycle with me. Once I finished duty, I pedalled back from Nashik to Nadurbar."

Speaking of Indians at global endurance contests, Prakash said, "Indians are ideally suited for endurance events. For years now, we used to think that we would not be able to match foreigners. That was a mental block. Train hard and believe in yourself. You will have a strong mind and muscles. Couple that with a brave, passionate heart and you can be a winner."

Total distance of Race Across West

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