Thursday, 5 October 2017

Tour of Glory - Stage 1

Tour of Glory:
Today was the first stage of the ‘Tour of Glory’. The ToG is India’s first Stage race and I signed up for it to prepare for the national championships happening at the end of this month. The Tour consists of 3 days, covering 250kms, a total elevation gain of 3000m, and headwinds a-plenty.

We rolled out from Hotel Palms Resort to ride the 7kms neutral to the start line on Nelamangala. The stage would be a 96kms flat day. 23 of us lined up at the start line, eager to get to the finish line as soon as possible and we were flagged off. I had two of my former-teammates in the race – Kiran Kumar Raju and Naveen Raj and I knew that they would be the strong guys to look out for.

At the start of the race! PC: Deepak Sondur

As soon as we started, KKR went to the front of the field and lifted the tempo, reducing the width of the peloton to 1 cyclist ( or 0.75 human) wide. Approaching the next uphill, I decided to put a dig in to reduce the field even further. Following this there were only 8 or 9 of us left in the front bunch.
At around the 15kms mark, KKR launched another move, and was covered by me, Naveen Raj, Master’s racer Bikey Venky, Chennaiite Adarsh Saxena and the MTB rider Shiven.
We began to work together over the next few kilometres, setting a high tempo knowing that the podium for the day would be decided amongst us.

The lead bunch at this point. PC: Deepak Sondur
A game of cat-and-mouse:
Adarsh felt he had the legs to rip apart the already reduced bunch and started to attack at the 25kms mark, encouraging me, KKR and Raj to work together and drop everyone else. 

As attacks flew up the road, I forced Shiven to chase KKR and Raj. Once I realized that he couldn’t bridge across, I attacked and decided to bridge across. But I was stuck in the dreaded no-man’s land - t o o  s l o w  t o  r i d e  a c r o s s  to the front group and toofasttobecaught by the group behind, all the while with a stiff head-wind!

Behind, I saw Adarsh attacking Shiven and bridging across to me. We then worked together but the duo up ahead was too fast to catch up. 

Limiting the losses:
I took the lead during the ascents, Adarsh did on the descents and we shared the workload during the flat sections. But the initial attacks took a toll on Adarsh and I ended up doing most of the work
Over the next 30kms, there were only 2 things in my mind.
2. The tail-wind at the 82km mark. I kept looking down at my Garmin every 30 seconds wishing the distance would go by faster. I realized I was letting the numbers get to me and I switched to a different page which had my power and HR numbers.
When I did so I was shocked to find that despite riding at a tempo pace, my HR was at a mighty 186bpm – way into my threshold region. A rough tissue paper calculation revelaed that I would burn out soon at this effort! 

I put two fingers beneath my neck and physically measured my HR. A second rough calculation revealed it to be at 150bpm. Which is when I realized that my Garmin had accidentally paired with Adarsh’s HR monitor!

 I kept my hydration and nutrition well in-line and was also aided by the well-organized race support crew feeding me at the right times. At the 75kmsmark, we were about 8mins behind the leading two, who were working in tandem!
As we hit the 82kms mark and turned around, a tail-wind blew over us and a new-wind blew over Adarsh and he began to take turns in the front.

 We eventually finished the 96kms stage, about 5.5mins behind the winner – Kiran Kumar Raju.
Tomorrow, we have a 90kms rolling route with 900m of elevation gain in the scenic and picturesque route of Chikmagalur!

Here's another account of today's race from the talented Bikey Venky.

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