Joseph Pereira, the first Mangalorean SOLO cyclist to conquer the Deccan Cliffhanger Ultra Cycling Race in 33hrs 45min!
Touted as one of the gruelling races in the Ultra Cycling calendar, Deccan Cliffhanger always challenges the best cyclits from across the boarders of India. Starting from the picturesque hill city of Pune, this 643 km race is an adventurous and challenging ride, as the route passes through some humangous climbs of Khandala Ghat on NH48, 21km of vertical ascent to the top of Panchagani, followed by Pasarni Ghat and the rolling terrain from Satara to Belgaum, where the scorching heat and headwinds make it almost impossible to pedal. Taking the inroads from Belgaum to Goa, the route passes through the dense forest, ascends to Chorla Ghat and then slowly descends to the sea level at Ponda culminating at the beach near Bogmalo, South Goa.
Having seen many teams from WERC taking part in the previous additions of Deccan Cliffhanger races, and fresh from his recent Super Randonneure success, Joseph Pereira during one of his casual interactions with team members, showed his interest to take part in this year’s edition of Deccan Cliffhanger. Team WERC guided Joseph sir to speak to team WERC mentor and coach Gratian Govias, for feedback and consultation. Coach Gratian, who is a standout national level coach, having guided several champion cyclists to various podium finishes including WERC riders, agreed to help Joseph sir and consented to be part of the journey. Though the coach would have liked a 3 months preparation at least, it was a kind of 2-week crash course where Joseph sir was advised to simulate several rides of 100, 200, 300km at various times of the day and night and terrains. In the back end, the search for crew members was on. Due to so many prior commitments, several members couldn’t join. Since it is very crucial to have a good crew for the event, as it can either make or break the racers ride, the ever-energetic Ashok, took up the lead and ensured that the best crew team from WERC is put together to accompany Joseph sir for the race. Shivananda and Nithin joined hands with Ashok to support Joseph sir in his endeavours. While Joseph sir’s training was on, in the back end Ashok and his crew team were busy in arranging the backup car, cycle, spares, hotel accommodations, travel plan, registration formalities, route planning, food & nutrition plan including capturing the event as it happens.
5 days before the event, the training volumes were reduced and Joseph sir’s food and sleep conditioning were taken care of. Coach Gratian travelled all the way from Chennai to Mangalore to join the team and the group of racer, coach and crew left for Pune on the 17th afternoon. The registration formalities were completed at the venue on the 18th and Joseph sir was left to take one last good nap a day before the race day, while others rushed to complete all the last-minute documentation, arrangements, race formalities etc.
On the race day, 20th Nov 2021, Joseph sir, was one of the first riders to get flagged off and the race began at 5.30 am. This year, the 50+ age category saw 12 racers including a female racer, which by itself is a new event record.
Pedalling his way, Joseph sir crossed one milestone at a time, with all his composure and fearless techniques. While many were racing, Joseph sir was following Coach’s advice that the racing would start only at the 350+km mark!!
With the excellent support from crew, whether it is food, drink or any kind of support in terms of massage, rest time etc. and apt guidance from the coach on ride time and rest, Joseph was growing in confidence by every km and started leaving behind those racers who had crossed him earlier. By evening Brijesh, the ever-energetic member of team WERC joined the backup crew and took some pressure off by taking over the backup task and driving burden, giving the tired crew much-needed relief.
Joseph Pereira and his team completed this adventurous race in 33hrs 45 min, touching the finish line in Goa around 2.30 pm to huge applause from the organisers, participants and their entire crew and the team WERC.
Many congratulations to Joseph sir and the Team WERC crew of Ashok, Shiva, Nithin and Brijesh lead from the front by coach Gratian. By completing the Deccan Cliffhanger race, our rider Joseph Pereira became the first Mangalorean to complete the SOLO Race, and qualified for the Race Across America (RAAM) too, a feet unmatchable for his age.