Quitting my job to become a professional cyclist – Chaitanya VelhalFebruary 17, 2016
Hi! My Name is Chaitanya Velhal.
I am a professional Spinning Instructor and Personal Trainer by day and a pro cyclist in early mornings. I have a Master Degree in Biotechnology from Australia with 3 year job experience as a research scientist. Moved into the health and sport industry full time since 2 years. I have a big lust to travel and have traveled across south Asia, North America and all across Australia.
Currently I am concentrating on Ultra Endurance Sports with an aim to complete the Ironman in in 2016 and the Race Across America (RAAM) which is a 3000 mile west to east coast race in 2017.
2nd place finish in Deccan Cliffhanger 2015.
Crewed for Joan Dietchman in RAAM 2015.
Qualified for RAAM in November 2014 by winning a 400 mile race (Deccan Cliffhanger).
Fastest Indian to Qualify for RAAM.
Winner of Enduro Mountain Triathlon (2014).
Winner of Enduro 2013.
Winner of Pune Bicycle Championship, Bangalore Bicycle Championship (2013,2014)
Member of Team Lifecycle Racing, one of the only 3 road racing teams in India.
Won more than 20 races across India which includes Running races, adventure races, triathlons and road races.
Picked up long distance cycling in Australia. Came back to India and started doing brevets and then moved to road races as well some mountain bike races. I have been racing for 3 years now and gained considerable experience in the nascent Indian cycling community about bike handling, mechanical and race/brevet organization.
Born in a middle class family, raised and educated in Pune. I was an average kid in school and college. I studied microbiology for my bachelors. Played football and even coached the girls football team, that was the closest I came to sports. But I always dreamt to become a sportsman all my life. I tried my hands at a range of sports but never really excelled enough to make it a profession. After I finished my graduation I was confused till I got an opportunity to study abroad. I was more excited about traveling to a new country rather than getting to study there. It was a 2 year Master course in Biotechnology.
My time is Australia had introduced me again to cycling. My sole reason to pick it up was that it was the cheapest way to get around and the freedom it offered to go anywhere I wanted. I explored a lot of Australia on the cycle. Even though I excelled in the studies, I dint really think I would be happy practicing it. I did work for a while as a scientist there before coming back to ply my trade here in Pune, India.
Once back, I wanted to cycle here too. My dad to my surprise got me a high end mountain bike, which was perfect to explore the mountains around Pune. I also started working as an asst. professor in Agriculture College of Pune. With time my cycling grew from exploring to long rides to races. In a year I won my first cycle race the Enduro. That was a huge confidence booster as I started taking myself seriously and as a result started winning at the local races. All this happened when I was still employed at the Agriculture College. I had to balance my full time work along with my cycle training. But it couldn’t last long, as I wasn’t happy at work and I also wanted to train more seriously. I was hungry for more. There came a point when I had to finally choose between the job and cycling. So I quit my job.
That was one of the hardest things I ever did. My family and friends had doubts over this decision. There was no other income source. However my cycling continued. I soon got an opportunity to join a gym named Multifit. I found like-minded and passionate people at Multifit and they supported my cycling. They even sponsored my first big race the “Deccan Cliffhanger” (DC) which I won. The DC is a 643 KM cycle race starting in Pune and ending in Goa. I had trained really hard for it with preparation starting atleast 4 months prior. I set a record for being the fastest Indian to qualify for the Race Across America (RAAM). The DC was a qualifying race for RAAM. RAAM is a 5000 km transcontinental race which spans from the west coast to the east coast of the USA.
With RAAM on my mind I even got an opportunity to go and experience the race in person when I crewed for 3 times RAAM finisher Joan Dietchman from Canada. I along with a team of 10 other people from across the planet helped her finish second in the grueling 5000 km race.
I won a lot of other short and long distance races in Pune and all across India. I was even a part of Pune’s First Road Racing Team – Team Lifecycle Racing. Recently I have also been participating in triathlons and Duathlons which include swimming and running. I am currently a full time athlete sponsored by Multifit and Cymour. I aim to do the Ironman Triathlon in 2016 and the RAAM in 2017.
It was hard to get out of the rat race. Everybody thought I was crazy when I quit a promising career in research and science to take up cycling. With the world against me I had to fight with all I had for my passion. After 2 years I am happy with that decision as I am financially stable and on my way to become one of the best Indian endurance athletes. I hope my story encourages people to chase their dreams.
If you are inspired by my journey do check me Chaitanya Velhal out on the following-
https://www.instagram.com/team_chai_/ – Instagram
P.S – I’m currently coaching people for Triathlons training and cycle training. If interested contact me –firstname.lastname@example.org