Ila “The Powertrain” Patil

Forward March towards the gloryHistory of sorts was made recently. Imagine this. A software engineer, a job in the industry blue chip Infosys, in the software hub of Pune, assigned corporate cubicle…pretty mundane and par for the course eh? But now imagine this. Chuck it all up, roll out that bike, pull on that lycra, put on that helmet, strap on those cleats, ride…100KM…ride… 200KM… ride… sweat…grind…grime…pain… and become the first Indian woman ever to qualify for the toughest ultra endurance race of the world, the RAAM (Race Across America), a 3000 miles coast to coast race across North America. Quite a transition!

Ladies and gentlemen, CRANK is proud to present Ila Patil.  We caught up with her after the grueling Deccan Cliffhanger.

The solo category of the recently held Deccan Cliffhanger is a RAAM qualifier. For those not in the know, the RAAM (Race Across America) is billed as one of the toughest ultra endurance that tests the limits of a rider’s mind, body and spirit.  It is the most respected annual event that offers the toughest in distance, terrain and weather to navigate. Stringent qualifier norms are mandated through many licensed qualifier races across the world and qualifying itself is a significant achievement.

“I knew I was in with a chance to create history at the DC. My body was tired and my eyes were blurred with tears of anticipation and happiness but I pedaled on. It seemed some supreme energy had taken over. The feeling was special” she tells us. Ila took up cycling only recently, in 2012. A chance meeting with the Audax India team where she would help out with their chores led to participating in brevets that she began enjoying

Ila gives you an insight into preparing for the highest in ultra endurance. “Getting together the right crew and to establish a healthy rider crew relationship so that strategy is executed flawlessly is crucial”. An experienced coach is also an asset. Ila is self-coached and suggests there is a lot of information online to learn from. A well designed gym routine of strength and cardio training interspersed with pace, elevation and distance build on your bike helps. “I also rely on massages and yoga for recovery and muscle flexibility”. For nutrition she normally relies on banana, dry frit and lemon drinks but says its best to find what suits your body and palate “Just get those 500-600 K Cal every few hours and stay hydrated”

Ila adds, “since women’s bodies are different, they need to pay special attention and get used to right type of nutrition. Also since the physiology is different here are limited choices and knowledge about women bikes, equipment, recovery etc. for women cyclists”  Ila sees a bright future for endurance riding in India and hopes bike shops and bike brands encourage these riders. Being the acting director of the Audax India Randonneurs she knows the trends. A multi faced personality; Ila is also involved with the social sector connected with education.

Congrats Ila and all the best….CRANK wishes you more power…. Always!!!!

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