Friday, 27 May 2016

BBCh 100k road race - Part 1

In the days leading into the BBCh 100km road race, I was provided an opportunity I couldn’t refuse –

Hello Sarvesh, how are you?

“I am good, sir. Thank you”

How would you like to get paid to do something you love?

“Is there a Gulab Jamun eating competition coming up?”

No. Racing your bike.

“Oh yeah, that was what I was thinking too. Sign me up!”

My second-most thing in the world, had to take a back-seat.

Mr. Srinath Rajam, who has been supporting many cyclists in the country, including me, for nearly half a decade, had an unconventional but brilliant idea – to set up an ‘experimental team’ for this one race alone, under the title of “Peaks Racing India” wherein some of the best riders in the country would be provided a financial incentive to come and race together. 
The team would have half the riders under the age of 23 and the others above. This was a win-win scenario, because the younger riders would learn the craft from the seniors in the team, who would still get to race their bike while not having to worry about shelling out for travel and accommodation. 
With the roti - kapda- makaan taken care of, the only thing that the cyclists had to focus on was racing their bikes!

A few days later-

Hello Sarvesh, how are you?

“Apart from a shoulder injury, I am good, sir”

How would you like to do something that would help you grow in the sport?

“Is complan sponsoring me?”

No. We’d like you to be the captain of the team!

“Oh yeah, that was what I was thinking too. Sign me up!”

In the days leading up to the race, a strong and young contingent was assembled – Naveen Raj, Sandesh Uppar, Parashuram Chenji, Ramswaroop Jakhar, Jetharam Gat, Vishwesh Sangarya, Anoop Adhur Kutty, Shaun Varghese, Anubhav Karmakar and yours truly.

The role of captain also involved learning each rider’s strengths, weaknesses, tactile agility, tone of communication, ice-cream flavour preferences, etc. Okay, maybe not the last one.
However it wasn’t entirely an easy-going job. The week leading up to the race had me spending over 1.5 hours on the phone each day speaking with each one of the riders discussing about bike racing (fun part) and then coming up with the strategy, which underwent multiple iterations (exciting but not-so-fun part). 

This process had me step out of the comfort zone because 1) There were clearly stronger riders than me and I was nervous how they would feel taking orders from me; 2) This was the first time I had taken up such a responsibility – going for the win. But I jumped at the prospect for a couple of reasons- 1) It would be a great learning experience in terms of how to co-ordinate and lead a group; 2) How many other 21 year olds in the country would get such an opportunity?

 In the next part - raceday!

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