Vilas Silverton of the Sri Chinmoy Cycling Team recently completed a 5,474km cycle ride across Australia - as part of the Indian Pacific Wheel Race.
Vilas from Bristol, England started in Perth on 17 March and finished in Sydney nearly four weeks later. The route crossed the wide uninhabited plains of Western Australia before passing through the cities of Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney. During the race, Vilas rode mostly unsupported, often sleeping in make-shift shelters and buying his food on the way. For over 3,000 miles Vilas had to contend with heat, traffic, fatigue, long straight sections of headwind, the weight of his equipment, and the occasional temperamental kangaroo.
Vilas got inspired to do the ride after following the race in previous years and seeking a new personal target for self-transcendence in cycling.
In preparing for the race, Vilas attempted a few long audax rides through Great Britain, including a ride from Bristol to Glasgow and back. Over the cold English winter, Vilas completed several weeks of high mileage. However, his preparation was hampered by a knee injury from January to March, which meant little training in the final months. But, after an eventful few weeks, Vilas was able to complete the full distance finishing in Sydney.
Interview with Tejvan Pettinger
Q. What inspired you to do the race?
I followed the race closely last year, and I felt great joy in the heart at the prospect of entering the race.
Q. How did you prepare?
I rode the bike a lot! I built up over the year and completed some periods of high mileage. Though in Jan I injured my knee - so from Jan to Feb - I didn't ride much. And I needed to calm fears about not being able to train and even whether I would even be able to enter. But, after the good training in Dec, I felt I would be OK.
Q. How did you find ride itself?
Riding on the narrow roads was quite challenging. With cars passing close by, I found I was frequently inspired to pray for protection while cycling!
There were many challenges which made the ride more testing. On the first day, I was sick and this continued for much of the first week; as a result, I had to recalibrate my timescale. I just tried to ride as much or little as I could without worrying about time. The main objective was to finish. The fact I was sick meant I didn't physically push too much - it was an effort just to complete what seemed like the minimum.
During the ride, I learnt to be more tolerant and understanding of myself and other people. The various tests highlighted the importance of patience and resilience.
During the ride, I tried to be grateful for the moment and enjoy. When cycling I turned my phone off to avoid being distracted and gain an excuse to stop and break my rhythm.
Q. What did you enjoy about the event?
Meeting people by the side of the road who were following the ride on GPS tracking. For example, when I reached Adelaide, I found people were there to support and offer encouragement - I was grateful to meet people who were handing out food, and on some occasions putting me up for the night. Special thanks to friends in the Sri Chinmoy Centres in Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne.
Q. How did you feel about finishing?
I felt relieved, somewhat elated while also being quite tired. When I finished, I discovered a group of riders who had finished earlier were waiting at the steps of the Sydney Opera House. Very unexpected and beautiful. I was also happy not to be riding anymore!
Q. How do feel a week after the race has finished?
It's a really long way! But it is nice to hear people were inspired by the event.