Tuesday, 28 November 2017

National Championships 2017 : Days 1-2

The 2017 Indian Road National Championships were held from October 28th to October 31st. On the night of the 27th, I was quite excited about the upcoming three races. And by ‘excited’ I mean ‘terrified’. Same feeling, really; what’s the difference between butterflies in your stomach and tiny, exploding wasps?

Day 1: Time Trial Day
In the 40km U23 Time Trial, I was aiming to improve on my previous results - 7th in 2015; 8th in 2016.

But come raceday, I was too stressed out. I screwed up my warm-up strategy for the race. And I lined up stressing over the fact that I had screwed up my warm up.

Knowing I did not warm up properly distracted me from my pacing, and I then proceeded to screw up my pacing strategy. I went too hard too early.

Knowing I did not pace properly in the beginning, I forgot to drink and my mouth felt painfully dry halfway through the race.

Knowing that I had messed up so bad, I felt absolutely miserable being on the bike. At that moment I wished I was anywhere else, eating a plate or two or three of Masala Dosas. I staggered across the finish line, only at the 21st position.

In the hurt locker! PC: Chenthil Mohan

I got back to my room that evening and spent a lot of time with my head in my hands wondering if it was worth at all to continue the next day. The 'Race of Truth' had revealed that at least 20 guys were stronger than me in the field.

I spoke with my coach, Lee Rodgers (crankpunk.com), about this and he offered some much needed advice. He asked me to look at how lucky I am to be healthy enough and having the opportunity to do something I love, that is racing my bicycle. He mentioned that I had nothing to lose by lining up tomorrow and I also had the advantage of not having any expectations from me.

This helped me dust my knees and get to work to prepare for the 120km road race the day after.

Day 2: Recovery day

I love cricket.

I love the tactics and nuances involved in a long drawn out 5-day test match. I love the thrill that builds up towards the end of a One-Day international. And I love the unpredictive nature of the T20 games.
Having followed the game on television from as long as I can remember, the commentaries of the game have a relaxing effect on me and the role models of the "Gentleman's game" help regain my focus and motivation in my own game.

On the rest day, I finished my morning spin with leg openers and then prepped my bike for the race next day. Following which, I spent the majority of the afternoon and evening watching replays and highlights of International Test Cricket.

I spent hours watching replays of especially one particular series - the 2011 Test series between India and England - the Titanic of the Indian Test team. Any ardent Cricket fan will remember this series for Rahul Dravid's Herculean effort. 
As I watched him play for day's on end, I was motivated by his drive to give his best despite being part of a sinking ship.

The series in one photo!

I decided to go into the race tomorrow with the mantra - "What would RD do?"

To be continued..

Racing bikes, while fun at its core, involves a lot of people, myself included, who off the bike are lovely, but on the bike can become easily irritated and loud. Rightfully so, for the most part. If you were going about 30mph through a turn covered in crosswalk paint while it was just starting to rain, you would be pretty stressed out too, and GOSH DARNIT HOLD YOUR LINE YOU FRED.

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