There is something very basic, yet peculiar, about riding a bicycle to improve your skills on the motorbike; one among the many training routines Aravind KP is following in his preparation for the 2017 Dakar Rally.
Aravind will be one of the three riders for the TVS Sherco Racing team at the off-road event early next year, thereby becoming the second Indian to compete in Dakar after CS Santosh. He admits his target this time is to finish, but even finishing a Dakar Rally is a tall order and hence, Aravind is going to the basics, and more.
For a start, he is riding a lot more. “The time I spend on the bike is important. Earlier, I spent around 2 or 3 hours on the bike, now I spend 6 to 7 hours a day because I would be spending more than that in Dakar. Since I was into motocross, my training was more of short bursts, now it is more endurance.”
Then he will ride a little more, this time without the assistance of an engine. “I have been cycling a lot. If the focus is on high intensity, the heart rate, it is more of mountain and downhill (he trains at around 180 bpm). If it is endurance, then is it is on road bicycle. On a road bicycle, I probably do about to 40 to 50 km a day. On hills, I take my own sweet time.”
The mountain biking, especially downhill, Aravind says, will keep him in good stead for the rally. “You have something under you which has no motor, so you need to know how the cycle behaves. That kind of improves your skill on the bike, it gives you more confidence when you have a motor, to charge and not be skeptical.”
“Downhill… it always tends to buck you over. You have to stay low and not put your weight on it. You have to be a separate entity from the bike. You can’t put your dead weight on the bike. That’s the difficult part I should say. The smallest of braking errors will send you cartwheeling. It gives you mental stability and improves your judgement. It also improves your cornering.”
Aravind, a self-confessed adventure-seeker – ‘I get bored doing the same things,’ he says – has also been swimming, rafting, canoeing, and even surfing. “I used to swim a lot. Now I am mixing things up, though I enjoy swimming more than cycling.”
Beyond this, he would be competing at the Rally of Morocco early October, where he has identified navigation as the focus, as he expects that to be his biggest challenge at the Dakar, before heading to Europe for three months of training.