NO it isn’t… But 2 youngsters from Alibag, would have you believe it, as they successfully completed their Full Everesting Attempt.
Meet 15-year-old Satvik Raikar and 16-year-old Amey Vaje, who together went Everesting in December. But they were not the only two young guns, as they were joined by 13-year-old, Devansh Gavand, who whipped out a half-everesting himself!
We spoke to Sumant Raikar, dad of Satvik, who was there for the full duration of the attempt, by all three lads. He tells us what he saw of the youngsters and their single minded dedication to the goal.
Alibag & Everesting!
Everesting is literally climbing the elevation of Mt. Everest on your bicycle. Half-Everesting, is doing the Everest Base camp elevation. You have to accrue this elevation in one single ride and you have to be slightly mad to think of even attempting it. Exactly as the founders of this madcap cycling format envisaged.
Alibag is no stranger to Everesting. The tiny town on the Maharashtrian Konkan Coast, is home to India’s first Everester, Sumit Patil, when few in the country even knew what it was. The town, also saw a group Everesting attempt by the Alibag Cycling Club, which was both a wonderful way to build the community and at the same time removed the fear of climbing, from all the club members.
Which brings us to the present day, where the town now probably has the youngest Full and Half Everesting attempts.
Where There’s A Will…
The two boys, had previously done successfully done Half Everesting attempts, with Satvik doing it in December 2020 and Amey in September 2021. In November, the youngsters of their own accord thought that it would be fun to go the full distance.
They had some amount of experience of Everesting and they felt confident of a successful attempt. They also had a lot of guidance from all the experienced members of the cycling community. Satvik has a particular fascination with climbing on his bicycle and as such, Everesting was the most natural thought which could come to him.
And thus the courageous duo, decided to ride to the top of the world in December 2021…
The Youngest Everesting Attempt…
On a chilly morning of 23rd December, Satvik Raikar and Amey Vaje started their ride at 4 AM in pitch darkness. The sky might have been dark, but their eyes were shining brighter than their bicycle headlights.
The segment they chose for this attempt was a 1.6 km long 5.9% climb called Karle Khind. Every lap was 3.2 km in length, with an elevation gain of 78 metres. Which meant that they needed to do a whopping 114 laps of going up and down Karle Khind. The sheer number of laps to be done could deter the weak minded, but not Satvik and Amey.
The ride started in darkness, with both of them managing about 5 laps every hour. After 5 laps, they would rest at the top of the climb for 5 minutes, eat a banana each and head back to the bottom to resume climbing.
An hour after they started, others from the club joined the two boys to support them. They would ride a couple of laps alongside, to egg on the teens.
Among these supporters was another teen, 13-year-old Devansh Gavand. He had planned to ride a ‘measly’ 30 laps alongside the big boys of the club!
3 hours into the ride, the boys stopped for breakfast and then later for lunch. As the sun got stronger, the boys got slower. The speed might have dropped, but the spirits continued soaring. By 6 PM, they had managed 57 laps, just halfway more to go!
Club members, returned after work, to once again support the duo, as they continued climbing unabated. But Alibag being a tourist spot and the ride being just a couple of days before Christmas, the lot of them were faced with a barrage of incoming traffic. People were travelling to Alibag in droves for the holidays and clogging up the roads.
U-turns at the bottom of the climb were taking up to 5 minutes each. At the top, Sumant would stop traffic to let the boys turn around faster. Nonetheless, the entire evening saw them slow down to about 4 laps an hour, rather than the 5 previously. Post 9 PM, the traffic started thinning out and riding became easier.
At 3 AM, 23 hours after the start, the boys stopped to rest for an hour. That stoppage cooled off their bodies, and they struggled with the cold as they looked to restart the ride. A couple of laps in and they were again warm enough to feel comfortable on the bike.
Sumant, wondered if the boys would have the energy to go the full distance. He had his doubts. But the boys didn’t. They took it one block of laps at a time, kept small goals and went about achieving those goals.
By 1:30 PM, on the second afternoon, the boys completed 95 laps, and the end seemed near. But the cumulative fatigue slowed them considerably and by 8:15 PM, on the second night, the boys completed 115 laps and their Everesting attempt successfully.
It Takes A Village To Raise A Child
An old phrase, which suggests that a child doesn’t grow up in a vacuum or in just the family surroundings. But society at large plays a pivotal role in the child’s upbringing.
Something similar panned out for Amey and Satvik. The Alibag Cycling Community were there always to support the boys. From riding with them in the morning before going to work, to returning in the evening to once again ride.
Rather than making the Everesting attempt one of physical drudgery, it gives a festive carnival’esque’ atmosphere. While Sumant was at the top of the climb, providing support, others came and went to spend time with him. Because even the supporter needs support!
Without taking away any credit from the two young ‘uns, the backbone role which cycling communities play, cannot be discounted. Where the knowledge gained by the experienced riders trickles down to the novices.
Needless to say, food is essential for endurance rides like these. Sumant kept it simple for the boys.
A banana each every hour for them. Bread and jam for breakfast, poha for lunch etc. The motto was to give them what they want and what they are habituated to eating.
They drank plain water throughout, except in the peak afternoon heat. Sumant mixed electrolytes in the water to make up for the excessive sweating in the afternoon heat.
Sticking to the basics was instrumental and sufficed to get the riders across the finish line. It is a lesson we can all use in our endurance cycling.
Devansh, the 13-year-old had an even more extraordinary ride than the two elder boys.
He landed up there on the morning of the first day, hoping to ride with his ‘big bros’ and support them for a few laps.
He ended up riding 30 laps with them and still didn’t show signs of fatigue. Sumant saw young Devansh riding strong and called up his mother (who is also a cyclist), to tell about his progress. They on the go, decided for him to attempt a Half-Everesting distance.
Devansh eventually rode 57 laps and completed the requisite elevation. With no prior planning, thought or consideration, his young mind was flexible enough to overcome all challenges at the very last minute.
Compare and contrast this young boy’s effort to those, ‘organised Everesting Camps’ being conducted in India and ridden by fit capable cyclists. It is truly mind boggling and humbling.
Satvik Raikar is now the youngest Everester in the country, with this ride. Earlier he was the youngest Half-Everester of the country, having done it at 14.
Fellow rider, Devansh Gavand, has now bested him by Half-Everesting at just 13 years of age.
They were not the only ones to do so. To support them, two other riders from Alibag Cycling Club also did their Half-Everesting. 35 year old Milind Patil and 55 year old Manoj Bhagat also completed their individual Half-Everesting attempts.
Kudos to not just these 5 riders, but to the entire cycling club. Because there’s strength in unity…
For the number lovers, Satvik and Amey set about riding 114 laps, as they assumed the climb was 78 metres. But the climb is actually 94 metres of elevation gain!
The duo in reality, without realising it, rode more than a dozen laps extra. And they ended up climbing 10000+ metres each in a little more than 41 hours!