Tuesday, 9 June 2015

First ever!

31st May, 2015:

I wake up at 9:00AM to find it raining outside, the third time in the last 4 days. Sweet! The weather forecast predicts rain for most part of the day with a high temperature of 15 degrees Celsius. "Then his favourite thing happened, it began to rain" -  a line from the documentary "Senna", plays in my mind. I silently pray that the conditions remain the same during the race.

Rise and shine!
5 hours later and 13kilometers away, I arrive at Cafe Vrierdenkring located in the town of Marelbeke. The race is scheduled to start at 3:00PM. I make my way to the registration desk and buy a License to race in Belgium, probably the first time an Indian has done so. This being relatively close to Gent, many supporters of Kingsnorth International Wheelers have turned up to watch us race. The team gets a free coffee and we make our way to the support tent to get changed and pin on the racing numbers.

Racing number and License!

Many of the races are sponsored by Cafes who sell a ton of beer and coffee on raceday!

A very kind couple who are ardent cycling fans and supporters of KIW!

At the support tent!

Our Soigneur, 75 years young!

The New Zealand national team were racing that day! *Gulp*

20mins to start time, I go out for a quick spin to try and warm up. With temperature hovering at 10 degrees and riding into a headwind, I miserably fail to do so. While making my way to the start line, I introduce myself to my teammate, Mario Willems. Mario is a living legend. Having won more than 275 Kermesse races and still kicking ass at the age of 42, he is undoubtedly one of the best amateur racers in Belgium.

"Hello Mario. I am Sarvesh"

"You are crazy, man! Its too warm for leg warmers. Remover them! REMOVE THEM!"


I then go and hide myself somewhere mid bunch at the start line. I had kitted up with every single piece of clothing I could find :                             1 Thermal Base Layer + 
                                                            1 Full-Sleeve Team Jersey + 
                                                            1 Wind vest + 
                                                            1 Half-Sleeve Team Jersey + 
                                                            1 pair of team BIB Shorts + 
                                                            1 pair of Leg Warmers + 
                                                            1 pair of Winter socks +
                                                            1 pair of Shoe covers + 
                                                            Cycling cap

If allowed , I would've gone with a rain jacket too. 

As excited as a schoolboy!

At 3:00PM we are flagged off and escorted by the coolest police motorbike I've seen. We are to cover 20 laps of a 6kilometers course. As we take the first turn, attacks are going off the front and I've positioned myself in mid bunch at about 10th wheel.
The amateur racing in Belgium is the toughest in the world because every one wants to get in the breakaway. Every. Single. Person! Due to the countless attacks going on at the front, the speed is relentlessly high. I averaged 44.5kmph in the first 2 kilometres of the race!Into a headwind section!
 The other factor contributing to the agony, is that when approaching a corner, the riders in the first 2 rows intentionally drop the speed to less than 30kmph and then sprint while exiting the corner. This sets off a huge  accordion effect in the rest of the field with the riders in the last third of the bunch finding themselves sprinting for over 40secs just to stay in contact. 
In the first corner, I move up on the inside corner. Rookie mistake. I had to hit the brakes to avoid crashing and nearly came to a standstill. Exiting, I wrestle with my bike swaying it from side to side, like a mad man to get back to the bunch. 

In the fourth kilometer, I panicked. I switched off mentally and was quickly turned into pack fodder. Rather than sprinting to latch onto a slipstream, I began riding at a Time-Trial pace. Big Mistake! After the next corner, we turned into a tailwind section. I was being passed by all the riders in this stretch. Despite spinning the 53X11 at a 102rpm, I made no grounds on moving up the field, I was spat out the back of the field. While riding at 51.2kmph! I lasted 9mins 02secs in the race.

The second lap, I settle into a rhythm. Clearly, I was out of the race, but I wanted to ride along for as long as the commisaire pulled me out. It was drizzling at this point and into the last corner, my right wheels slipped and I swerved uncontrollably onto the sidewalk. My race was done.

The pack!

The pack fodder!

Updates on my next two races will be within 24 hours. 

P.S. Mario won the race!


  1. Nice write up! the photos took me to the race itself. Felt so nice to read this stuff. Keep writing and racing Sarvesh. Now this article increased one item in my bucket list. :) :D

  2. Fun weather and great riding :). HAve fun racing.