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Monday, July 20, 2015

The Nandi Showdown! The BBCH Nandi Race - 2015!!

The Epic Nandi Clash!
The group hit the base and immediately got shattered into pieces. A peloton of about 8-10 disappeared around the first bend on the hill at a furious pace. Some groups of two or three riders formed behind them which quickly became groups of two and eventually of one each. It was each on his own for the riders behind. The screaming muscles in the taut legs, the heaving breath and the pounding heart, the pouring sweat and the burning eyes were ample company as each rider fought gravity and gradient on the famed hills. Welcome to Nandi hills, where the disparity between ones ambitions and possibility is amplified through the simple math of power to weight ratio. Welcome to the BBCH Nandi Epic 100km road race! The grand finale to the road racing season in Bangalore!

Sabina of Team Velohankan's gritting it out on an hairpin curve! Pic: Veloscope! 

Let's Rock 'n Roll!
The left lane on the Hyderabad highway beyond the Bangalore International Airport was flooded with the 65 odd riders in Elite and Masters categories at 7 am on the overcast Sunday morning. We rolled from the start line opposite CCD on the Hyderabad highway at around 7:20 am after the automated timing chip transponders from ProElite were fixed on our bikes. It was the first time that the professional sports consulting company and the Official TAG HEUER Professional Timing Distributor for India, has sponsored the timing services at BBCh and it is hopefully the start of a long and fruitful relationship.

Spectrum Racing and HRL at the front! Pic: Veloscope
 The start was a little hectic as the bunch negotiated the speed breakers near Devanahalli and went past the Nandi turn off dodging an occasional truck. The group then settled into a nice rhythm with an occasional acceleration up the inclines to shell a few passengers. The easier pace combined with the slightly delayed start(around 7:20 instead of the planned 7:00 start) meant the liquid intake plans of some of us went a bit haywire and oldies like me ended up having to relieve themselves much earlier than planned(i.e., at end of the race). I saw Naveen Raj of SKCT adeptly moving to the side of the road and doing the job while still riding the bike. I quickly made a mental note of training for that for next season and decided to stop for a bio-break 26km into the race.

Got To Go!!? The Post Pee-break Chase!!
The first mistake I did was not informing any of my team members about my intent to stop. I slowly moved to the back of the peloton and stopped for relieving myself. When I tried to get back on the bike after the job was done, the chain fell. I had to tinker with it for a few vital seconds. Then I heard, "Venky, let's go"! It was the Specialized master's contender, Vivek Radhakrishnan who also stopped to do the same, a little further down the road. After having spent the precious few seconds getting the chain back on, I joined him to begin our chase back to the peloton!

We could see the peloton around 700m to 1km away. We wanted to get back to the group as soon as possible but it was the strength of the group versus the strength of two. I had certainly under estimated the effort that is required for such a chase. I see the riders falling back from the peloton with mechanicals in Pro races and catching back drafting the team cars etc. But BBCH being stricter than UCI in enforcing the rules, I didn't dare ask my team car to help me as it went past after asking if I wanted any water.

As we kept going, I could see that we were getting closer to the peloton as it crested an incline in the road but the rubber band effect was making sure the distance increased again by the time Vivek and I reached the top. It was frustrating to keep seeing the gap remaining almost constant. We kept passing riders who got dropped from the peloton. The number of riders who were dropping off the peloton also indicated an increase in pace from the peloton. That meant we needed to go even faster to catch up.
Vivek and I during the post-pee chase of the Peloton! Pic: Veloscope

As we kept increasing the pace in the effort to catch up, my HR went into red. Such an effort this early into the race means that we were going to pay the price during the business end of the race when the climb starts. But if we didn't go as hard as we could, we would end up dangling in the no-man's land for the entire race and effectively end our race. Having trained really well during the last three months for this race, I refused to have a DNF against my name if I could help it. So, as we approached the last climb before the U-turn, I have put in a massive dig determined to catch the bunch before they start descending. I managed to make contact right at the top of the climb having navigated through the support cars at the back of the pack. My legs were screaming by that time! It took us about 23mins and 14.5km of chase to get back to the group. If we saved that effort and used it on the climb, who knows, I might have had a personal best on the climb! All the ifs and buts aside, I was glad my race didn't end half way through the race and we got back to the bunch.

Err.. Here?!
Just as I was beginning to breathe a sigh of relief and started to descend the incline with the group, we were ushered into a U-turn two kilometers too early by the volunteers. Having spent considerable time marking the route the previous day with my fellow volunteers and riders Anantha Vishwanathan and Sunil Nanjappa, I knew exactly where the U-turn was. I was not sure why we were being directed well before the U-turn. The same happened during the last Nandi race where we were misdirected 5km too early. This time it was 2kms too early. That meant the race would be 95km instead of the planned 99km. I was cursing the volunteers for rendering our route marking efforts useless but that meant the 2km climb immediately after the U-turn was cut short to about 500m.

Wolfpack captain/Coach Micheal Lehnig at the front! A bit of calm before the storm!! Pic: Veloscope
Thankfully the pace wasn't too high immediately after the U-turn and I was able to hang on and regain my breath.

HRL Pace Setting!
Team Hyderabad Racing League's red kits were prominent at the head of the peloton right through the race. They were setting the pace and were nullifying any attacks. They were doing a brilliant job of controlling the race for their skipper, Jetharam Gat. Spectrum racing's new addition Gaurav Duggal was doing domestique duties for the team and was animating the race from time to time. The Pune Wolfpack was right in the thick of action at the front of the group sitting behind HRL. They were working for their young climber, 17 year old, Rhishabh Hattarki. The other contenders, the Spanish pocket rocket, Enautopoulus Gonzalakis, SKCT's Kiran Kumar Raju and Naveen Raj, the tiny climbing package from Hyderabad, Anubhav Karmakar, Manchanabale Machas' skipper, Rajanikanth Puttabuddhi, the Belgian workhorse, Ronny Schrijvers, Spectrum master's contenders Arvind Bhateja, Mohan Kumar, Shankar Jayaraman, Spectrum Elite bet Rishav Mallick and Gaurav Dwivedi were all there in the thick of things.
HRL at the helm of the affairs right through! Pic: Veloscope
There were a couple of huge digs from HRL and the Wolfpack riders during the return leg to force the pace and distance a few contenders if possible. But those infusions of pace only managed to drop a few more passengers. All the contenders were able to stay in the bunch as we approached the base. Water was dumped from the bottles to make the bike lighter for the climb. Furious shifting of gears to get into the right gear for the climb happened as we took the right at the bull statue at the base of the climb. Wheels to follow were chosen and all hell broke loose!

The Grand Finale: Nandi Climb!
The group hit the base and immediately got shattered into pieces. A peloton of about 8-10 disappeared around the first bend on the hill at a furious pace. Some groups of two or three riders formed behind them which quickly became groups of two and eventually of one each. It was each on his own for the riders behind. The screaming muscles in the taut legs, the heaving breath and the pounding heart, the pouring sweat and the burning eyes were ample company as each rider fought gravity and gradient on the famed hills.

I found myself with Ronny after the steep first bend and rode with him for a minute. I forced the pace a bit and went ahead for a few meters. The legs were feeling the effects of the earlier effort to chase back to the peloton. I was grinding unusually higher gear but kept at it as the legs refused to spin faster in a lower gear. Ronny got back and passed me. I stayed with him for a few meters and then slowly went past him grinding the same high gear. I kept seeing the lead bunch disappearing at a distance and saw that my teammate Rishav was at the back of it. That gave me some heart as I wanted him to do well in this race. He had been very disciplined with training right from the start of the year and had been unlucky with earlier races ending up with a couple of DNFs.
It was a race made for the climbers! Rishabh finished 5th and Anubhav finished 6th! Pic: Veloscope
I kept going and was going past Naveen Kumar of Team Kinshi when he asked if I had any salts with me as he was cramping up terribly and had no liquids on him. I shared my bottle of energy drink and he took a couple of swigs. He felt a bit better and I moved ahead. I kept grinding as the sweat poured into the eyes. Savoring the burning sensation in the legs and the eyes, I eyed the wiry youngster, Vishwesh Sangarya ahead of me. I bridged up to him and stayed with him for a while. Then I slowly moved ahead. He was on my wheel as we made it through the 4km mark and then 5km mark.

After the steep section of curve 33 was done I increased the tempo a bit and didn't hear the rhythmic breathing behind me. I kept seeing the red jersey of a HRL rider a few meters ahead of me and that kept me focused as I suffered through the last km or so. I went past a couple of more riders from the Amateur and elite races but the red kit kept evading me.

As I approached the final hairpin curve the entire road was jammed from both sides with vehicles trying to make their way up and those that were trying to come down. May be my daily commutes through traffic have helped as I somehow managed to sneak through without having to stop. I got out of the saddle and crossed the Nandi arch and stopped there relieved that the suffering was finally over after spending exactly 26:00 on the climb.

As I was crouched on the handlebars and was catching my breath, someone came and told that the finish line was up ahead beyond the arch. I was confused and ran with the bike to cross the wires so that the transponders pick up and register my time. It was later clarified that ProElite was not allowed to set-up the finish line near the arch as they needed to park the car with the timing equipment nearby. It was later clarified that the positions at the arch were considered final as they were taking the positions at both the points.

The Results:
Elite Category:
The Spanish rocket, Enaut managed to clinch the victory on his final race in Bangalore before he goes back to Europe after two years in India. It has been a great joy having him here. He showed us how to race aggressively and smartly at the same time. He had great things to say about BBCH. Kiran Kumar Raju of SKCT finished a close second after a brilliant climb while Jetharam Gat of team HRL finished third. The furious pace on the climb by these guys have left others behind. The top 3 finished the climb in 21 mins and a few seconds.
Elite Podium!
Master's Category:
Rajanikanth of Manchanabele Machas' finished first in Masters. But, registering in elite category by mistake and not clarifying with the registration desk before the race start, costed him his first win at BBCH. Nonetheless, he had a brilliant race and finished in top 10 overall. Spectrum Racing master's contenders Mohan Kumar and Shankar Jayaraman took two steps on the podium while Vivek Radhakrishnan finished a few minutes behind them.

Master's Podium!

Women's Category:SKCT's Fariyal Jamadar took the win in Women's category with Carola of Velohanka finishing second in her first race in India on only her third day in the country. Lena Robra of Team Crankmiester finished third.

Women's Podium

Amatuer Cateory:
Karan Kumar of Team Giant-Just Buy Riders finished first in the Amateur race with PBS Mahapatra finishing second and Santosh CS finishing 3rd.

Amatuer Podium!

U-18 Category:
Ghajendran of Giant-Just Buy Riders finished on the top step of the U-18 podium while Sharath M.V. Jamadagni of Cyclopedia Mysore finished second followed by his teammate Tharun Shiv at 3rd.

U-18 Podium!

Volunteers And Sponsors!
Thanks a ton to all the volunteers and organizers who were there and made this race happen. Thanks a ton to all the sponsors including the nutrition partner Yoga Bars, Medical partner Sita Bhateja Hospitals, Physio partner Spectrum Physio, professional timing sponsor ProElite and photography team at Veloscope. All you guys make it happen! Thank you!

This brings an end to the road season at BBCh. Hopefully the same energy and enthusiasm continues through to the MTB season that starts next month!

PS: With the crazy traffic that turns Nandi hills into MG Road every Sunday these days, it is better to move the race to a Saturday next time!

PPS: I had a great time training for this race for the last three months or so with the goal of a top 10 finish in this race. I didn't quite meet that goal. But, boy! Did I have a blast trying! The process of the disciplined and structured training with my teammates was itself a great learning and probably worth more than the goal itself. Thanks to Rishav Mallick, Gaurav Duggal, Arvind Bhateja and all of my team members at Spectrum Racing for the constant company and motivation to get better!

Photos: Here are a few awesome snaps from Veloscope.
Keep an eye on for complete results which will be out soon.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Bringing On The Racing Action - BBCH Criterium @ Bharatiya City - May 2015

The Dash To The Line!!
It was the final lap of the elite race. The lead group of four has been drilling it at a furious pace lapping and eating up most of the field as they went around the mile long circuit. Enaut jumped from the lead group of four with more than half the lap to go. With another 20 meters to go, with the other three riders fast approaching, he sat up and kept looking back. Was he unable to believe he was about to beat a national time trail champion to the line or was he perhaps over confident that he clinched it although there is still a bit of distance to go to the line? As the fans on the sidelines, some of whom kept biting into their nails while some were vociferously egging him on, the current national time trial champion, Naveen John(NJ), finally jumped and sprinted to the line. Did he manage to outwit the basque rider??

The finish line action.. Pic: HRL
The Action Packed Thriller!
As the elite race that I was part of, got flagged off at the end, at 9:50am on the mile long circuit in Bharathiya City, some twenty four of us took to the line. Five riders from Hyderabad Racing League(HRL) came down to give competition to the local favorites from the Specialized Kynkyny Cycling Team(SKCT). There are other hopefuls like myself who made it to the line with the sole objective of lasting as long as we can before getting lapped by the leaders. Criterium races are time bound and tend to be very intense with a lot of accelerations out of corners. Our race was for 60 mins. If, in that period, any rider gets dropped by the leaders and get caught by them from behind, that rider is considered lapped by the leaders and it is the end of the race for that particular rider.

Since I’m not particularly great at taking the corners at speed and accelerating out of the corners, criterium races are the least favorite of race types for me. I tend to participate only because it provides a platform for me to get better at them. It is a sort of learning by fire. The last time I rode in such a field, I lasted 20 mins before getting lapped. My objective for this race was to see if I could hang on for longer than that.

The action was hot right from the word go and I found myself at the tail end of the field in the first lap. In the second lap, I made a conscious decision to move up and reached the head of the field. By the third lap the accelerations at the head of the bunch split the peloton into several small groups. The Basque rider Enautopoulus Gonzalakis, SKCT rider Naveen John(NJ) and HRL rider Jetharam Gat Jaat, formed a breakaway group. Behind them, Naveen Raj, Kiran Kumar Raju from SKCT, Ramswaroop, Parashuram Chenji from HRL and Gaurav Duggal formed a second group. I found myself with a third group with Aditya Kaul and SriRam.

Enaut hitting the front in the breakaway group! Pic: Veloscope

The next few laps were a full redlined effort for me as I chased to get back into the second group at least. After a few laps, I saw that Adhitya was still on my wheel while we lost SriRam as we made it across to the second group on the road. By then Naveen Raj decided he needs to be in the lead group and started to chase on his own. Now, our group became Kiran, Ramswaroop and Parashuram from HRL, Gaurav Duggal, Adhitya and myself. Kiran kept egging the guys to take turns but the two guys from HRL showed all the enthusiasm of a dead cat to lead the bunch. They were quite content to sit on the wheels and watch the proceedings with occasionally gracing the front briefly.  I tried to take to the front to give Kiran a break from time to time but it was him who was driving the group pace most of the time.

Second group on the road with the third group(with me in it) behind....Pic: HRL

I noticed that my cornering and accelerating out of the corners wasn’t as bad as it was on previous occasions. I was trying to take cues from Kiran(he is an excellent MTB rider and has great bike handling skills) and was trying to take tighter and faster lines with a bit more confidence.

 After a massive effort, Naveen Raj managed to bridge up and join his teammate NJ in the lead group.  Now, Enaut, the two Naveens from SKCT and Jetharam from HRL were the lead bunch. They were fast gaining ground on our group with each passing lap.

Seeing this, the two guys from HRL, Ramswaroop and Parashuram, from our group finally decided to accelerate and Kiran managed to join them but the rest of us were left behind. I didn’t have the legs needed to make that jump at the point. Gaurav then took to the front and set the pace for a while to keep us from getting lapped by the lead bunch. After 50mins the lead bunch over took me and there ended my race. The second group of Kiran and the two HRL riders managed to finish the race without getting lapped.

In the final lap with more than half the lap to go, Enaut jumped from the lead group of four. He got a good gap on the group. With a dangerous sprinter from HRL glued to his wheel NJ was not ready go full gas to reel him in immediately and thus gifting Jetharam the win. With another 20 meters to go, with the three riders fast approaching him from behind, Enaut sat up and kept looking back. Was he unable to believe he was about to beat a national time trail champion to the line or was he perhaps over confident that he clinched it although there is still a bit of distance to go to the line? As the fans on the sidelines, some of whom kept biting into their nails while some were vociferously egging him on, the current national time trial champion, NJ, finally jumped and sprinted to the line. That late deployment of watt bombs would have done the trick if only the finish line was just one more meter further out. But, as the adamant paint on the road refused to move, he fell short by half a wheel length. Enaut, the basque pocket rocket of a power house has won it!
Just about managing to hang on!!  Pic: HRL

NJ finished second and Jetharam finished third right behind him.

Master’s race: A Masterful Show of Sportsmanship!

The masters field was small. 12 riders started the race. Right from the get go, Opendro of Cleated Warriors clan shot off from the group only to be reined in by the second lap. Around the third lap, Vivek Radhakrishnan of SKCT jumped ahead of the group and Ronny Schrijvers joined him after a couple of minutes. The two kept riding at the front for the rest of the race with Ronny at the front most of the time. Mohan Kumar of Spectrum racing was behind them followed by Arvind Bhateja of Spectrum racing in between them and a group of three riders behind.

Ronny, the strong Belgian diesel engine was predominantly driving the pace with Vivek taking an occasional short pull. They were way ahead of the rest of the riders when Ronny punctured. Vivek could have taken off and taken the win but decided to wait until Ronny got a wheel change and could ride again. Mohan joined them both for the last few laps. Towards the end, Vivek jumped again from the group of three to distance Mohan but then waited for Ronny to join him and crossed the line together with him. With that little gesture he preferred to show great sportsmanship by acknowledging the stronger rider and showing him respect rather than showing guile and race craft to take the win. We have seen this before at BBCH and BAR where the riders duel fiercely but also have a lot of respect for their competitors and the sport. Kudos to Vivek for keeping up the BBCh spirit!

Amateur Race! Class Act!
About 20 riders started in the Amateur category. After a few laps of riders trying to form a breakaway, two riders emerged strong and managed to get a gap from the group. Amudanand(Anand) from team Veloscope and Vishwesh Sangarya formed a breakaway and started to work together to increase the gap from the group that they left behind. The group behind(with likes of Mohammed Riyaz, Antonio Tardi, Vivek Kabuji, Akshay Raju, etc) wasn’t as cohesive as the leading duo and started to fall behind. With a few laps to go from the finish, Vishwesh left Anand behind and went solo. He was so fast that he managed to lap the peloton some 50 meters from the finish line and sprinted past them to take an emphatic win.

U-18 and Women’s Race:
With less number of registrations in each category, U-18 and Women’s races were held together. The U-18 race was taken by the Tarun(Mysore Cyclopedia,1st) and Sourav(Mysore Cyclopedia,2nd), Niranjan Iyer finished 3rd.
In the Women’s race, Fariyal Jamadar of SKCT won the race while Shilpa Deo of Spectrum racing finished 2nd.

Kids Race:
About 10 kids were there watching the races and have participated in a race of one lap around the course. It was great seeing the tiny tots having fun on the course trying to emulate their elders and outshining them in the process.

Organizers and Volunteers:
Team Velohankans have taken the responsibility of organizing the race and did a great job of it. The breakfast at the end of the race was yummy. All the different category of races were organized very smoothly thanks to the organizers and volunteers on the day. Thanks to Bharathiya City for providing the venue and hospitality support. They have been a great support for BBCh over the years.

Watch the space at BBCH for the details of next races here.
Watch for photos from the race through the lens of the experts at Veloscope here.
Watch for action pics from the lens of Arvind Chenji at the Hyderbad Racing League here.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Heat is On! April Road Race - Bangalore Bicycling Championships 2015!

Horn OK Please!!
7:00 am sharp on a gaily Sunday morning on Hyderabad highway. 80 odd cyclists took up the left lane lining up at the start of first road race of the season at BBCH. 3-2-1 go! Some of the beginner riders shot off the gun and went to the front. The rest of us knew there is plenty of racing still to do with 97 kms to go and were just spinning easy and watching them hanging out there some 50 m ahead. Eventually they returned to the bunch and the peloton kept moving at a lazy pace. 

I was hanging out at the head of the bunch or thereabouts watching the proceedings. After a bit of loitering for about 10km or so, people obviously started getting impatient and the action stated getting a bit lively. The SKCT rider Sarvesh Sangarya who is coming back fresh out of a forced break due to a collarbone fracture tried a few accelerations to no avail. Ronny tried a break away and I and a few others were on to him. I was willing to gamble on a breakaway with someone like him just for the heck of it although my main job for the race was to be there and work for my team. 

The Belgian Jet and The Basque Torpedo Take Off!
After a couple of failed attempts that ended up with the bunch coming together, the Basque rider Enaut joined the Belgian power horse, Ronny and they took off. I was trying to jump on to them when I was shut down by a quick call from my skipper. I stayed back but asked our Spectrum Racing skipper, Arvind Bhateja to join Sarvesh who started chasing to join the two rider up the road. My thinking was since Ronny is in the Master's category, if we had one of our master's rider up there with him, the rest of us could relax and watch the proceedings. 

I was still at the front but was setting a sedate pace to let the riders at the front organize the break. However, since Sarvesh is just getting back to riding outdoors again, he was obviously not in a top shape and Arvind and him couldn't bridge up to Ronny and Enaut quickly. I obviously didn't want to chase our own man up the road but didn't want let others just go either. So, when a couple of young riders started chasing and I quickly got on their wheels and the peloton's speed quickly rose during the chase.

After dangling for a bit in no-man's land, Sarvesh and Arvind got back to the bunch but the two man train up the road kept gaining more and more with each passing km since no one other than a couple of us was really putting any effort to chase them down. With Enaut being in Elite category, SKCT's podium spot on the top step was also at risk if the break ended up staying away. So, Sarvesh offered some help and my teammate Mohan and I joined him and started to work together in attempt to reel them in.

The rest of the peloton was more or less content with hanging on since there is a fair bit of racing to be done especially after the U-turn with headwinds.

The Heat Turns On!
As we approached the U-turn one side of the highway was closed for repairs and the traffic was diverted into one lane for about a km or so. We ended up with some vehicles coming head on towards us. Thankfully, we managed to get their attention with frantic waving of arms and shouting at the top of our lungs to get their attention and get them to their side of the road.

Near the U-turn we noticed that the two guys at the front have managed to put almost 90 secs or so on the peloton. As soon as we took the U-turn the action got hotter with a couple of accelerations with Naveen John and Naveen Raj of SKCT becoming more concerned with the gap that Enaut had on them. I managed to hang in there during those accelerations but I noticed that my energy levels were not that great. But I decided to go to the front to make sure our riders Hari and Arvind don't end up spending time at the front. 

Hari was of the opinion that it is time to put in a serious chase to catch Ronny. I agreed and suggested that Hari, Arvind and Shankar do a TTT to catch Ronny since I needed a breather and the rest of the field seemed unconcerned. Just as I was going back to tell Shankar to join Hari at the front, an attack happened on a long hill and I found myself at the back of the pack and slipping further back with energy levels low and the onset of cramps. 

It was not even 60km and I was supposed to be there for the team for the whole race. I noticed that I have hardly been drinking as two of my three bottles were still full. I cursed myself for the silly mistake and furiously started gulping down my energy drink. It was too late by then and I needed a bit of respite to recover. I saw the bunch riding away and sat up for a bit to recover and get my bearings right.
 The Second Wind!
It took 2-3 minutes but I slowly started feeling better. I joined my teammates Mohan and Ameet for a few minutes. We picked up a couple of riders and started going at a decent pace. We picked up Rajat Roy from Pune Wolfpack and Karthik Padmanaban of Team Mongrels from Chennai. After a while I noticed that my teammates were not with me but I kept working with Rajat and Karthik to keep going. From then on it was a possession of picking up and passing riders. Sri Ram from Scott joined us and so did Anatha Vishwanathan of Cleated Warriors and Sarvesh of SKCT.

We tried to rotate and share the load but it didn't always work with varying pace of the riders ended up causing occasional accelerations breaking the rhythm. We kept chugging on and I saw someone being attended to on the road side. I assumed it was a crash and was disheartened to see it was my young teammate, Rishav Mallik who was in top shape but ended up unable to finish with cramps.

We continued going at a decent pace when I sawed the familiar Spectrum racing colors of pink and blue ahead. I could recognize that riding style from far off too. It was our master's contender, Shankar Jayaraman. He was another rider from our team in top shape and I couldn't believe he got dropped by the bunch. He was riding strong and it took us a while to catch him. When we finally caught him, I learnt that he had puncture and had been doing an ITT of sorts to try and catch the peloton after a wheel change(thanks to Tusker Kiran of Wheelsports). That was another bit of bad luck.

We kept going and a brisk pace sharing the load between six of us(Shankar, Karthik, Anantha, SriRam, Sarvesh and myself). In the final kms with nothing to lose, I started driving the pace again. I was feeling perfectly fine and was thinking if only I hadn't neglected taking care of my energy needs earlier in the race, I would have been more helpful for the team. I could have been there for Shankar to take him back to the bunch. But despite all ifs and buts, we finished about 30secs behind the main bunch. 

The Racing Action Up Ahead:
With the break of Enaut and Ronny up ahead, the SKCT riders Naveen Raj and Naveen John apparently decided to liven up the action to catch them. An young rider from Pune, Rhishabh Hattarki managed to join them for a bit before they dropped him and caught the break. Despite riding in the break all day it apparently took multiple attacks to crack and drop Enaut. He finished third behind Naveen Raj and NJ who basically rolled together to the finishline after dropping him. Rhishabh finished fourth.

Ronny managed to stay ahead of all the masters contenders who were in the bunch and took the top step on the podium. What a brilliant ride from the super Belgian! A well deserved and well earned win!

Behind, in the bunch, the young gun from Hyderabad, Aman Punjani, took the bunch sprint with the Madrascals rider Adarsh Saxena finishing behind him. Master's sprint was taken by the Spectrum racing skipper, Arvind Bhateja while Rajani finished behind him followed by Hari Menon. The Spectrum boys had our rocket, Gaurav Dwivedi to work for them as they approached the line while Rajani on his steel steed, Surly Pacer, had his alliances in Akash Ananthaswamy and Abhirama Mallela leading him out. Brilliant racing by everyone!

"Hey There, Don't waver! Ouch! Damn!"
In the shorter 47km Amateur race, that started 20 minutes after the Elite race, U-18 riders and Women were combined. With the shorter race and younger riders, the action is bound to be a bit more agitated than usual. Apparently a few of the U-18 and other younger riders were having trouble riding without wavering too much in the peloton and were causing problems to some of the Amateur riders to stay upright on the bike. This resulted in a few crashes with the big one being a huge pile up for riders with 12km to go. It resulted in quite a few riders leaving fair bit of skin on the road and coming back with severly bent wheels. Thankfully no broken bones were involved and the ambulance support from the medical partner Sita Bhateja Hospital was there to attend to them in time.

In Under 18 (47km race) Vishwesh Arya finished first with Sarvanan and Karan of Gaint-JustBuyCycles finishing 2nd and 3rd. Niranjan finished 4th
U-18 Podium

Women's Category:
Geetanjali of Team Wheelsports finished first while her teammate Shaheera Attar finished second. Velohankan Sabina von Kessel finished 3rd while Lena finished 4th. Their race was  for 47km as well.
Women power at BBCH!

Amateur Category(47km race):
In the Amateur category race, Vignesh M of Gaint JustBuyCycles finished first followed by Darius Koester of Crankmeister finishing second. PBS Mahapatra finished 3rd in the category with Ajit B of Velohanka finished 4th.
Amateur Category podium!

Masters(97km race):
Ronny won the master's race in style riding in the break all day. Arvind Bhateja of Spectrum racing won the bunch sprint in masters taking second place with every awesome Rajani finishing 3rd. Hari Menon of Spectrum racing finished 4th. 
Master's podium with Peter from Aurovelo giving away the medals to the guys!

Elite(97km race):
The national ITT champion, Naveen John and his teammate Naveen Raj didn't let things get out of hand and took control of the situation with aggressive riding towards the business end of the race. They finished second and first respectively although they crossed the line arm in arm. Enaut raced aggressively right from the word go by making the break last for the majority of the race. He finished third. Youngster Rhishabh finished 4th in open. 
Elite podium! Class act!

Record Participation- Riders From Around The Country!
This race saw quite a few outstation riders from cities like Pune, Hyderabad, Trivandrum, Auroville and Chennai. With about 150 riders participating across the two distances of 47km and 97km in various categories, this is record participation in BBCH. I guess having a shorter race also encouraged better participation from beginner riders. 

Credit goes to Team Cleated Warriors for suggesting and planning the two races and helping the BBCH core committee execute them well. They have brought in Decathlon Anubava as hospitality partner who hosted the podium ceremony following a sumptuous breakfast for all the riders and volunteers. Great job by everyone.
The ambulance support from Sita Bhateja Hospital and Physio support from Spectrum Physio were put to much use today as there were a lot of crashes in the shorter, 47km race where most of the young blood was riding. Thanks to them all the injured riders were attended to in time.

Yoga Bars gave away their yummy yoga bars for all the riders who participated in the race.
The volunteer force behind the race!
Super job once again by all the volunteers at BBCH for pulling off another great race! Thanks everyone!

Security Note: We might need more volunteers to look after the vehicles parked at our start/end points. Some cheeky burglers managed to break glasses of 7 cars and got away with valuables from the cars. We need to be extra vigilant from now on.
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