Monday, 23 October 2017

Training Camp - Week 1

It's been one week since I landed in the town of Jamkhandi for a training camp. This camp is for the National Championships happening at the end of this month. Here's a quick recap of this week -

The journey to Jamkhandi involved a 10-hour long overnight bus from Bangalore to the city of Bijapur. The night before, I had googled a Taxi service in Bijapur to get a drive to Jamkhandi. After a lengthy and testing round of negotiation, I brought down the fee from 1300 to 1200 rupees.
Reaching Bijapur early in the morning, I got into the taxi after loading up my bike bag with the Time Trial bike and a borrowed indoor-trainer.

In the 60 kilometre drive, I was welcomed by the sights of endless grain fields, wind-turbines in the far off distant small hills and in the nearby footpaths, people performing their early morning ritual of open-air defecation. Feeling a bit grossed out, I proceeded to look at fields and wind-turbines on Instagram.

Jamkhandi hosted the national championships in 2014 and is set to host this year's edition too. While the nearby city of Bijapur hosts many talented cyclists of the country, the little sister town does not lag behind either.

Upon reaching, the town, I checked into a hotel based on the recommendation of a fellow Bangalore cyclists, Gagan, who too is training for the nationals. I carried the confidence from the taxi-negotiation into the hotel reception desk and was surprised to have them bring down the rent from 4500 to 3750!

Filled with this high, I headed out for lunch at one of the local homemade restaurants, commonly referred to as "Khaanavali". These places make some of the healthiest, cleanest and spiciest meals at a very affordable rate. For a meager amount of 50 rupees (70 cents), the menu consisted of unlimited amounts of Chapatis, Sorghum rotis, vegetable curry, lentil curry, rice with sambhar (lentil soup) and curd.
Feeling quite chuffed with how good the day had sailed through, I hit the bed of my hotel for a short nap, soon after which the power went off. This region of Karnataka is infamous for it's extreme weather. And I experienced this at that afternoon as temperatures soared to a mighty 40 degrees!

The next morning, I was joined by Naveen Raj, a friend of mine. He is one of Bangalore's best cyclists and currently the second fastest finisher of a Speculoos jar I've come across.

Once he set up his bike, we went looking for breakfast and ordered 2 plates of Idlis at the nearby hotel. Halfway through Naveen's Idli, I noticed him pulling out a black-coloured object from his Idli. Not wanting to seem rude by asking, I assumed it was a piece of lentil that somehow got mixed in. "Special idlis", he mentioned and chuckled. "Oh, you mean they come with protein-packed lentils in them?"I asked. "No mate, that was a cockroach leg that I removed." he remarked. Both Naveen & I are very similar in personalities and we expressed out displeasure of this situation by quietly finishing our meal and making a mental note to never return to the place again. Special Idlis indeed!

Over the next three days, life followed a similar routine -
1. Wake up
2. Closed-room defecation
3. Head out for a training ride with Naveen.
4. Stop and check if my wheels are rubbing against my brakes.
5. Return, shower and stretch.
6. Head out for lunch.
7. Wait out the afternoon power cut.
8. Clean the bike.
9. Head out for dinner.
10. Check my brakes before going to bed.

On the fourth day, my routine was disrupted. In the midst of post-ride nap where I was dreaming of Climbing up the Nandi hill at 25kmph, I was woken up by a severe case of Bijapur-Belly. I watched in disappointment as fluids and my form went down the drain, quite literally.

Things turned to worse when I developed a high fever that same evening. Despite the weather being 36 degrees hot, I had to pull on 4 layers of clothing to not shiver.
After 3 liters of ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution), 30 hours of sleep in 2 days and 4 paracetamols, I was back to normal health.

The next day, I lined up for a 40 kilometre Time Trial which was the selections for the state team. Anyone who has ever done any kind of time trial knows that it is more of a mental battle than a physical one. You feel great and invincible if you are catching up to the cyclists ahead of you. On the other end of the spectrum, you question if your brakes are rubbing or contemplate retirement when guys behind you catch up. I contemplated retirement twice today but I knew I was not in the best shape due to the illness.

I was fast enough only to get on to the reserve squad of the state team. Feeling dejected, I returned to my room and took a short nap. I woke up and sluggishly made my way to grab some water. I sluggishly noticed a bed bug underneath my left elbow. I sluggishly panicked and informed the hotel owner about this, who insisted that it couldn't have been a bed bug.

"It had six legs, was sucking my blood and I found it on my bed." I insisted, "No no, it's impossible to find a bed bug in this hotel." he replied. Not-so-sluggishly I told him he was wrong and spent the next 4 hours with Naveen turning out room upside down looking for further infestation. In the 5th hour, both of us reported a clean-sheet and went about the usual routine peacefully.

My first part of the training camp came to a positive end after a few frantic phone-calls to various other teams. I finally managed to get a spot for the national championships and I will be heading into the second week tomorrow.

To be continued..

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