How I conquered King’s Stage of Trans Siberian Extreme?
The King’s stage of Trans Siberian Extreme is truly a King’s stage. It is the thirteenth stage of Trans Siberian Extreme, comes after you have already raced some 6,300 km and already 19 days in the race since we started on 24th July from Moscow. The total distance of the stage is 1360 kms. The stage starts in a city called Chita. Chita is geographically above the country of Mongolia. The route of King’s stage then progresses above Mongolia and then it curves around the Chinese border.You are riding parallel and going in a curve along the Chinese border towards Svobodny were the stage ends. If you compare it with the RAAM distance you are actually doing 36% of Race Across America in just one stage of Trans Siberian Extreme. Apart from that there is around 12,000 meters of climbing (elevation gain) in King’s stage which means it’s all hills and mountains all the time, typical of Russian topography. The total time given to complete the stage is 65 hours.
Yes it’s Extreme standing true to it’s name.
It was a cold morning in Chita when I woke up after resting from rising 660 kms in Stage 12 from Ulan Ude to Chita. I had a good sleep. I was looking forward to meet Mr and Mrs Nayak from Nagpur who were flying all the way to Nagpur to support me and cheer me during these last three stages of Trans Siberian Extreme. They directly came to the starting point of stage 13th from the Chita airport. I met them just before the start and gave a very tight hug to Jeetendra Nayak Sir and started crying like a baby. Jeetendra Sir has crewed me in RAAM and he exactly knew how to handle me and crew me. He is an inspiring personality himself and I admire him for his success in business as well as social projects. At the start of the stage there was a nice program organized by the local cycling club. There were lot of cheerleaders and dancers. The music really pepped me up. Nayak family had brought in lot of Indian food and it was given to Chetan, who was crewing me in the race. It was really cold at the start. Lot of local cyclist were riding along with us for quiet some time. The start was good. Myself and Patricio were riding along each other. There was a massive hill section in the beginning. i ate almost 10 parathas brought from India during first couple of hours. I was so hungry for the Indian food. All that eating made a major difference in next three hours. I felt good in my legs and good in my mind. For nearly first 250 km I was just behind Patricio, keeping around a average speed of 26 kmph through the hills and i was really happy about it. For some reason Patricio did not wanted to ride along with me so I was hanging on just behind him. At the food stop Patricio took a stop. I was feeling good so I continued with the same rhythm.
As the stage progressed I felt even more better. I was maintaining same average speed. I knew If I go riding throughout the night, I will be able to cover around 550 to 600 kms in first 24 hours. I kept on pushing throughout the night and next day early morning. I took a 15 minute break at food stop in the night to change my clothes. It was very cold and very foggy from 5 AM to 7 AM, typical morning in Siberia. Heavy fog makes it very humid, so you kind of sweat even though it is cold. We reached the next food stop during the breakfast time. I was not yet feeling sleepy so I kept on continuing my progress waiting for the temperature to go up so that I feel more warm and get better speed. Around 9 AM in the morning I felt sleepy and took a 1 hour sleep break after almost cycling for 24 hours. I started again and it was one of the most hilly sections of stage with many climbs of grade ranging from 5% to 12%. This kept on continuing for more than next 400 km. It was hot in the daytime and climbs were relentless. This was the time when the most powerful words of the race – Don’t Surrender were spoken to me by Dimitry. Dimitry is a doctor and works in the medical team of the race. He was following me closely and was taking lot of pictures. In the late evening, I got the news that Patricio has quit the stage, I felt very bad and sad. I also felt if I could have slowed down or slept more he could have caught up with me and we could have together finished the race but I had no information. Jeetendra Sir also rejoined us along the way and kept me cheering and talking to me on the communication device.
I kept cycling throughout the night and had covered some 900 kms. It was around 1 AM in the night, Chetan was talking to me for sometime. My mind was tired and wanted to sleep. So instead of sleeping around 4 AM in the morning I decided to sleep little earlier. I took a sleep of around 1.5 hours and we re-started at 3 AM in the morning. It was not that cold. I had another 460 kms to cover, I felt good and mentally oriented. The major hills had gone and the section was relatively easy. So I picked up speed quickly covered a distance of another 200 km by noon, still i had another 260 km to go. Nayak family brought in more Indian food which was cooked freshly, they had purchased a electric cooker and were cooking in motels for us. As we came closer to Svobodny the geography changed and hills had gone but in the end there was another massive climbing section. We finished stage at somewhere around 10 PM local time. The Head of Jury Alexy was present at the end and he was so happy to see me finishing the stage. He said there are only few who have done this successfully and you are one of them. I just wanted to go to hotel, eat and go to sleep. When I went to the hotel, I was shocked to see my face in the mirror. It was horrible and scary, I can never forget that face. Nayak family had cooked Indian food for the entire crew. I had lots of it and went to sleep. With food and sleep, my face came back to normal in next 6 hours.
It took me 59 hours to finish the King’s stage – 1362 kms. Out of which 56 hours were spent on the saddle and rest three hours must have consumed in sleeping, changing clothes and pee breaks. King’s stage is truly memorable.
Below is the strava link of my King’s stage at Red Bull Trans Siberian Extreme