I bet you're wondering where I've been for the past three months, ey!
...You didn't notice?
Ah. This is awkward.
Well, after the previous BBCh road race, it was back to the drawing boards to tweak my training. Gladly that worked out and I secured the runner up position at the MVS Coimbatore crit in April. Following which I competed in the BBCh twilight crit in May. Boy, is the crit fever in India spreading!
The month of June brought along my two and half month long summer vacations (yes, you read that right!) and also the Biggest and toughest race to take place in South India - The "Bangalore Bicycle Championships Epic Nandi road race". The Nandi hill, at 7.3km long and an average gradient of 5.7%, is a regular pilgrimage for many Bangalore cyclists and the annual race finishing at its summit provides for some of the best races in this part of the subcontinent. This year, with a distance of 100km and plenty of crosswinds, it proved to be a firecracker!
As I lined along with 117 other riders at the start line, I looked around to check out the field. We had 6 from Team Trek Firefox Racing, 7 from Specialized-Kynkyny Cycling team, 12 from Team Lifeycle Racing, 3 from Team Globeracers, 6 from Trek Firefox juniors and several others including from Team Spectrum and team Procycle.
We had studied the race route and the wind conditions the previous night and assigned roles for each rider in the team. Because of my lightweight physique, I was to be protected till the base of the climb.
With the wind coming in alternately from 7 o' clock and 9 o' clock, we knew that it would be tough to breakaway till the round about at the 42km point. So we assigned 3 of our riders - Vishwanath, Surender and Parikshith to ride tempo at the front and slowly but surely chase back any attempts at breakaways. As expected, a couple of riders from team specialized kynkyny took turns to attack and form breakaways. They were quickly shut down by the awesome threesome from our team at the front. The first 35kms were pretty uneventful with attacks being launched and subsequently being reeled back in.
|(The first 35kms)|
2.5kms later, one of the race volunteers directed the peloton to move to the right to avoid road furniture, but due to a miscommunication, riders thought this was the roundabout and in action reduced the race distance to 92kms! As we had expected, two of the strongest riders from Team specialized-kynkyny launched an attack to take advantage of the cross/hind winds. Fortunately, our team captain Jetharam "Sher" Gat shut it down in time.
With strong winds blowing in from 2 o' clock, the peloton was in a volatile condition. Ten minutes later Lokesh from specialized-kynkyny launched an attack and was followed by a rider from team Globeracers. I went to the front of the bunch to inform Vishwanath to begin chasing. When I settled on his wheel, he began to chase...a bit too fast! Moments later I found myself off the front of the peloton which was now spread out, which meant they were not chasing! While we were stuck in the "No man's land" a rider from specialized-kynkyny bridged across to us and took upon the role of the ticket collector. Eventually we were caught at which moment, Naveen, the strongest rider from specialized-kynkyny launched a counter and bridged across to the two escapees up front.
Unfortunately, our guys were napping at this time and it took a bit of yelling to get them organize a chase. When we did get around to form a chase group, we had blown the lid off the peloton, resulting in a beautiful spectacle of bike races - Echelons!
|(Cool to look at! Pain in the derriere to be stuck in one)|
Soon, we had lost Vishwanath who had cooked himself and Surender who had a nasty crash into the barriers. With Parikshith alone at the front, the gap to the breakaway was increasing slowly but surely. To add salt to the bruise, at this point one of the riders from team globeracers took advantage of the draft from a lorry and bridged across the gap.
I asked Jetharam to begin chasing, so that Mudit and I could save for the climb. Jetharam being the locomotive he is, went to the front and dropped the hammer soon bringing down the gap to 20 seconds. I was on the left side of the 20 odd bunch, inches from the sidewalk, elbows spread out and praying not to get a flat tyre.
With 10 kilometers to the turn off from the highway on to narrower roads wherein there would be minimal winds, I and Mudit reluctantly began to take turns at the front and we finally managed to catch the break 5km from the turn off. Instantly there was a counter attack, but he had managed to get on the draft of a lorry! With the adrenaline from the previous effort still gushing in my veins, I yelled "YUCK FOU!!" and chased him to exchange a word or to.
|(No, nothing of this sort took place!)|
As we turned into the turn off the highways, the pace slowed as everyone opted to save their legs for the climb 14km ahead. Phew! There was an attack from a specialized-kynkyny, realizing that he was a sprinter and was not much of threat, me and my teammates did not take up the burden of chasing him, rather we chose to refill our bidons and munch on some delicious rice cakes.
When the climb did begin, Naveen and Loki went up front to ride tempo consequently dropping several riders. Just 2km into the climb, the front bunch was thinned out to 6 riders - Me and Mudit representing Team Trek Firefox Racing, Naveen and Loki from Specialized-kynkyny, Michael Lehnig from Team Lifecycle Racing and Enaut Gonzalez Ruiz. With 3km to go, I decided to launch a false attack to put pressure on the others. Unfortunately I mistimed it, and when an unexpected counter went up the road, I froze for a few moments realizing that I had just lost the race. Eventually I gathered composure and caught up with Mudit and rode alone for the last 1.5kms finishing 5th overall a minute and a half behind the winner and 4th in cat1.
All in all a pleasant day of racing, wherein I learnt a lot in
3 hours 2hours 43mins 55.7secs.
Final Results - http://bbch.in/BBCh14Race05.htm#BBCh14_05_NandiEpicResult