Pages

Featured Posts

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Windy Race On Winding Roads! - The BBCh Gunjur Lake Circuit Race!

3 km to go. Hari goes to the front yet again after driving the pace on the climbs till then and I stay on his wheel as the pace picks up. 2 km to go. Hari was still driving the pace in the high 40 kmph range. 1 km to go. Hari shows no sign of letting up but the kids finally wake up and take it up a notch higher and I grab one of their wheels. 500 m to go. Another goes to the front and I get on his wheel. 400 m, 300 m, 100 m to go.. it's all a blur. Furiously pedaling legs, violently pounding heart in an aero-tucked chest.. 50 m to go.. I stand up to open my sprint.. furiously mashing on the pedals, dodging a change of line in front, narrowly escaping an high-speed crash and crossing the line relieved, cross-eyed and spent! Phew!

Gunjur Lake Circuit Race!
Gunjur lake? Where is that? Leave it to the cyclist to show you the roads less traveled and give you a lesson in geography including an exhaustive analysis of the elevation profiles involved. Gunjur lake is a small lake in the valley created by a few hills of which Makalidurga, a hill with a fort on top is well known among local trekkers. The Circuit for this race is set in the Nandi Valley, with the imposing rock face of Makalidurga Hill to the west and Gunjur Lake to the East.   
The Route of the BBCh-Circuit Race: Image Source: BBCh FBpage
All of us get bored riding the same roads every day but most of us focusing on just getting a workout don't take the pains to explore new routes as watching the numbers on the Garmin takes precedence over the varying terrain and scenery. But there are those who despite the focus on numbers also go exploring new routes and come back with refreshed minds and stronger legs. Events like BBCh take inputs from such folks and help introduce those routes to the rest of us.

Around 50 of us got together at Nandi base this Sunday and after completing the bib collection formalities, were flagged off exactly on schedule at 7:30am. With the race starting more than 50km away from the city, the comparatively lesser number of riders wasn't a surprise. That was a blessing in disguise for this race as the country roads that the race went through were not that wide and are apt only for a small field at best.

The Rolling Start To The Rolling Hills:
The road from the start point at Nandi base till Doddaballapur is quite narrow and the road widening work going on at the moment meant it was not good for racing. So, the organizers wisely decided on a rolling start for the first 18km, until we get to and out of Doddaballapur town. The rolling start gave the riders a chance to catch up with friendly chat, leaving the sizing up of each other with attacks for later on. 

After the 18km from the Nandi base, once the race gets onto the Gunjur lake road, we were supposed to ride 14km out and then take a U-turn to ride 14km back to the start/finish area and repeat it two more times completing three loops in all making it a distance of 102km overall. But in actuality, the race ended up being nearly 106km as the length of each loop was longer than 28km. Each loop drops about 200m in elevation and gains it back on the way back to the start. With three loops, it was a sort of hill repeats session.  

Route elevation profile! Image Source: BBCh FBpage
Winds Come Calling on Winding Roads!
As soon as the neutral section ended, the racing action got underway. We could feel the howling cross winds right away as they kept pushing us sideways. Naveen John(NJ) of Specialized KYNKYNY Cycling Team(SKCT), Sarvesh Sangarya of Team Trek Firefox Racing(TTFR) and Michael of Team LifeCycle Racing(TLCR) stepped on the gas at the front to pare the group down. That immediately fractured the large group into a peloton of about 25. About 3-4km into the first loop, a few riders rode off to the front while the rest of us sat back and watched them go. It had a couple of Team Mongrel riders from Chennai, a couple of TLCR riders from Pune, Sarvesh of TTFR, Ankush Sharma of Team ProCycle, Naveen Raj of SKCT and Arvind Bhateja of Spectrum Racing. 

With his intent of working for the team and putting me on the podium, our skipper Arvind was seen at the head of the peloton right from the start. His job was to cover attacks and having seen a master's contender Ankush riding away, he just tried to cover that. He apparently didn't realize that he was in a break until one of his breakaway partners at the time, Sarvesh suggested working together to drive the gap bigger. Having apparently seen that there isn't proper coordination in the group and with his main rivals behind, Sarvesh decided to drop back to the peloton. Ankush too dropped back to the bunch while the rest kept driving the break. Naveen Raj rode off on his own at the first sight of a hill and left Gokul of team Mongrels, Chaitanya of TLCR and Arvind of Spectrum racing as the second group on the road. 

Just Another Leisurely Sunday Ride?
Back in the peloton, the action was calm for a while before NJ, Michael and Sarvesh rode away along with a couple of other riders. That made our group about 15 riders 4th on the road. My teammate, Hari Menon was at the head with me close behind him and the rest of the riders behind us. Apart from a few short digs that went no where, there wasn't much trouble from others and that let Hari set a tempo at the front. He continued to do so even after we made the U-turn and took on the climb. His strong pace on the climb kept everyone honest and panting. As we approached the start/finish area, we could see that Naveen Raj had a huge gap from the rest with NJ, Michael and Sarvesh riding as a second group. 

Seeing that the third group of Arvind, Gokul and Chaitanya also had a good gap on our group, Hari and I decided to back off from the pace making a little to give Arvind a chance. If he is able to stick with the break, he would end up winning the master's category since the rest of the master's contenders were all in our group. So, by continuing to set the pace for the group, we didn't want to end up chasing down our own teammate. While we backed off the pace, no one was willing to set the pace themselves. 

Occasionally guys like Ankush(Team ProCycle) came to the front but obviously didn't want to take up the chase on their own. Nagaraj Harsha would get bored sitting in the group and would attack it just to fall back after a minute or so. The rest of the guys mostly cat2 and Under-18 riders didn't have any interest in setting the pace were quite content following the wheels. Vivek Radhakrishnan of SKCT who is one of the main master's contenders didn't want to chase and burn himself out but tried his luck by trying to motivate the younger riders to ride at the front and drive the pace but got no takers. So, Hari and I kept the pace low in the second lap and saw that even at the start of the 3rd lap Arvind was still with the group and had a huge gap on us. We decided to see how he is doing on the final return leg and continued at a steady pace. 


By the third lap, NJ, Michael and Sarvesh caught Naveen Raj and four of them were riding together. As we approached the final U-turn however, we saw that NJ has ridden away from the rest and had a massive lead on the final stretch before the climb started. Sarvesh and Michael were riding together and Naveen Raj was distanced. Behind them, the initial breakaway group of Gokul, Chaitanya and Arvind broke up too with Gokul riding off with Chaitanya a few meters behind him and Arvind distanced a little further. But Arvind still had more than a couple of km on our group and seeing him Hari and I were pretty sure that our team is going to take the master's win. 

The Messy Dash For The Line:
Now, it was just about fighting it out for second with Vivek, Jon and Ankush. At the start of the 3rd lap Vivek got to the front and tried driving the pace and hoped that it would wake the youngsters up and get them to take the pace up. But the kids were having none of it. His repeated assurances that we were no threat to their placings as they are in a different category had little effect as well. He got to the front on the climb part and started driving the pace but slowly Hari took it up a notch higher and I followed him. Vivek quickly took my wheel and stayed there for the rest of the way. I was vary of him being there because if I'm not fast enough in the sprint, I would end up being a perfect lead-out man for him. I had to brush those doubts aside and just focus on the job ahead. By the end of the climb part Hari managed to work up a sweat on everyone.

3 km to go. Hari goes to the front yet again after driving the pace on the climbs till then and I stay on his wheel as the pace picks up. 2 km to go. Hari was still driving the pace in the high 40 kmph range. 1 km to go. Hari shows no sign of letting up but the kids(Makarand) finally wake up and take it up a notch higher and I grab one of their wheels. 500 m to go. Another rider(Aunsh) goes to the front and I get on his wheel. 400 m, 300 m, 100 m to go.. it's all a blur. Furiously pedaling legs, violently pounding heart in an aero-tucked chest.. 50 m to go.. I stand up to open my sprint.. furiously mashing on the pedals, dodging a change of line in front, narrowly escaping an high-speed crash and crossing the line relieved, cross-eyed and spent! Phew!

With all the youngsters in the mix, the sprint was messy and we almost crashed. I had to dodge a change of line in front of me and that meant Vivek and Jon behind me had a scare of their life as well. Thankfully all of us managed to keep the rubber side down. In fact, Jon's rear tire rubbed off so much as he braked at that speed that threads were visible on it in a little patch. Sorry guys.

The Results:
The Under-18 riders seemed to have the race smarts to conserve through most of the race and unleash their speed for a dash for the line. They stayed in our group and rode the wheels well. May be with more racing they would understand that it wouldn't hurt to contribute to pace making once in a while. It is indeed heartening to see more and more youngsters getting into the sport and displaying excellent capabilities. 

The podium was an all TLCR(Pune) affair with Aunsh finishing 1st followed by Makarand(2nd) and Rishabh(3rd).
Aunsh(1st), Makarand(2nd) and Rishabh(3rd) in Under 18 cat. An all TLCR affair! 
In women's category there were no surprises. Vicki Nicholson of Spectrum racing did a great race again to finish well ahead of many and won the women's race. Laura May finished second having fought the windy and hilly conditions well.
Women's podium! Spectrum Racing's Vicki followed by Laura May!
In the Master's category, the neuro-surgeon finally managed to tackle his problems with cramps and rode like a boss to finish miles ahead of the field. Arvind took all the suffering and took the pressure off the rest of his teammates(Hari and me). A well deserved victory for our skipper who manages to juggle crazy work schedule, family commitments and training and keeps inspiring all of us in the team. I managed to finish second in the messy sprint ahead of Vivek and Jon May. Hari finished 5th after working all day at the front.
Master's podium!
In Category 2, Gokul(Team Mongrels) and Chaitanya Velhal(TLCR) rode in the break all day and finished first and second in cat 2. A great ride by both of them and a well deserved podium. Karthik Padmanabhan of Team Mongrels finished 3rd followed by Nagaraj Harsha at 4th.
Cat 2 Podium! Gokul and Karthik of Team Mongrels 1st and 3rd! Chaitanya of TCLR, 2nd Photo: Gratian Mathew Govias
In Cat 1, the fight at the helm of the affairs evolved quite interestingly. With Naveen Raj riding away and staying ahead for most of the way and then Naveen John delivering the master stroke to ride to the win once Naveen Raj was caught, it might seem like SKCT had it easy. But that was far from the case. Michael(TLCR) was a real threat in the hills as he showed in the Nandi race and the featherweight Sarvesh(TTFR) of course is a perennial threat when the road points upwards. It was a tough fight for second with the Bangalore lad managing to ride away from Michael in the later half of the final lap.
Cat 1 Podium! Naveen John(1st) and Sarvesh(2nd)
I will update the post with overall results once they are made available. 

Thanks a ton to all the volunteers at BBCh who executed an awesome race again. Thanks to all the sponsors and the medical support team from Sita Bhateja hospital and Spectrum Physio center.

Prizes: The cat 1 winner got a LUMOS solar backpack. Other category winners got a Firefox jersey. For all categories, the second place got a Super-B tool kit while the 3rd place got Super-B bike cleaning brushes.     

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Race Like None Other!! The Nandi Epic - BBCh 2014!

A Race Like None Other:
When you saw 120 riders in their most colorful attire line up along with their bicycles on the Hyderabad highway and was wondering what all the fuss was about on a dull Sunday morning, you didn't know anything about the most eagerly awaited race in the Bangalore Bicycle Championships calendar. The prestigious Nandi Epic 100k race got kicked off at precisely 7am on Sunday, a few kilometers after the BIAL airport on the Hyd highway.
Nandi in the background..  Pic: Chenthil Mohan
About 120 riders in various categories and abilities lined up to battle the distance, the crazy winds on the route and the revered hill at the end of it all. Riders flew in from different parts of the country to be part of the race. Riders from Kerala, NCR, Chennai and Pune came in big numbers to challenge the Bangalore riders in their own backyard and see first hand what the famed Nandi climb is all about. 

Specialized Kynkyny Racing Team(SKCT) and team Globeracers were the major representation from Bangalore while Team Trek Firefox Racing(TTFR) based in Chennai came in numbers from riders all around the country. Team LifeCycle Racing(TLCR) from Pune had a huge representation in Cat2 although their riders were quite capable of giving the Cat1 riders a run for their money. Then there were U-18 riders mainly from TTFR and master's contingent from Spectrum racing, SKCT and a few others along with three women riders.

The Action Kicks Off:
As the race kicked off, the huge peloton began moving north on Hyderabad highway at a brisk pace propelled by the cross winds(WSW) from behind. The early surges to thin the peloton down weren't really successful thanks to the favorable wind conditions and the huge draft that everyone benefited from. As a result the peloton began to hog the highway blocking even the fast lane and thus inconveniencing the outbound traffic. 
The riders strung out on Hyd highway.. Pic: Chenthil Mohan
 To the behemoth buses and trucks always in a hurry to go somewhere, it doesn't matter whether it is an overenthusiastic newbie or a seasoned pro rider marking his opposition moves early in the race, that come in their way. The danger of being run over is exactly the same and it all could turn very nasty. That is a reality of racing on open roads even with the requisite permissions. Multiple efforts by riders like Vivek Radhakrishnan(SKCT), Ankush Sharma(ProCycle) and a few volunteers on the bikes shouting at the top of their voice to instruct the riders to keep the fast lane free turned out to be futile. 

A couple of riders from SKCT(Specialized Kynkyny Racing Team) and Team Globeracers riding off into horizon early didn't elicit any major response from the peloton. They were quietly reined in even before the U-turn. Even with the slightly favorable wind conditions, after the initial pace over 42kmph, the average settled to around 38kmph in the first hour of racing.  Everyone was wary of the distance, the head/crosswinds on the return and obviously the 7.3km climb at the end. 

We Make Our Own Route:
Around 37.5km into the race, there was a volunteer who was signaling the peloton to move to the right to avoid collision into the barricade on the left side of the road. There was U turn right after the barricade and this signal by the volunteer to move to the right was misconstrued by the peloton as the signal for U-turn. A few of us who memorized the pre-race brief that had the U-turn at 42km mark, immediately noticed the mistake but it was too late redirect the peloton and asking it to go 5km further down the road. I wasn't going to complain that the 100km race is now going to be only 90km. It would be painful enough for me, whatever the distance.

After the peloton redesigned its own race route and made the U-turn heading back towards Nandi turn-off(South), the winds(WSW) became crosswinds hitting the peloton from right to left from the front. Impromptu elongated echelons were forming to deal with the head/crosswinds. During one such formation one rider was rode into the gutter and ended up crashing into the barricades exactly 50km into the race. Luckily as it was on a slight uphill the pace was manageable enough that I narrowly escaped getting involved. 

Catch Me If You Can:
By now, having ridden 10-15km after the U-turn, multiple attacks and counter attacks started coming from all the major players in Cat1. With one such attack, Loki(Lokesh Narasimhachar) and NJ(Naveen John) of SKCT broke away sparking a flurry of activity from TTFR and Globeracers. With its high possibility of turning into a winning break, the panicked reaction from the other major teams was quite understandable. 

Sarvesh Arya, the road captain and the main contender from TTFR was trying to marshal his troupes to organize a chase. Any halfhearted efforts by his men at the front were met by choice words from Jetaram(TTFR), and after a few futile efforts to stir their motivation, Jeta himself got to the front and got the chase going in full swing. A few riders from team Lifecycle racing, especially their main rider Michael were smartly sailing on this chase. 

The Basque rider, Enaut and I got on the train that momentarily got separated from the peloton to form a chase group. As the only master's contender in the group, I was hoping that this group would go and catch the break and distance the other masters contenders that were left behind in the peloton and that I'd manage to ride to the base with a good time advantage. I knew that in such a scenario I could potentially burn myself out even before I got to the base, but if I manage to hang in there and still conserve, there was a chance. I was ready go broke with the prospect of a reward. 

Hang In There And Suffer:
It was quite mad trying to hang on to the wheels when the action got hectic and I deliberately refrained from looking at my garmin having scared myself momentarily looking at my HR numbers on it. It was time to go full gas and latch on to the wheels. I gave it all I had and managed to hang in there. But with more passengers bogies than engines there was a slight lull in the chase and the peloton that had the other masters contenders caught us back after a few kms shedding some riders from the back in the process. 

But by now the three tiny dots in the horizon, Loki and NJ along with Asif Attar of Globeracers who managed to bridge up to them, became clearly visible carrots and that reignited the motivation of TTFR riders. Another surge to chase materialized. I braced myself for another jumpy ride and was hanging in there. The continued efforts were showing their effects on TTFR riders and the carrots seemed to hang out in the front for a while. I was riding to the left most part of the road trying to sheild myself from the crosswinds when TTFR contender Sarvesh asked if I'd like to contribute to the chase. I could only nod earnestly in negative while trying to keep up. Although I was in no condition to do so, there was no way I was going to do any work at the front with no one in my category in the group ahead and burn myself out in the process. Trying to keep up with the young legs was contributing enough towards that end already.

The Calm Before The Storm:
Eventually at 65km mark, 5km from the Nandi turn-off, the chase organized by TTFR finally reined in the break and everyone settled into an easy pace catching a breath. Arvind, Ronny and myself found ourselves at the front of this group as we slowly got off the highway and turned into the Nandi turn-off. The crosswinds became full on headwinds. Laxman Kurni(SKCT) whose only duty for the race seemed to be either attacking or covering attacks, rode off to the front. Despite my vociferous protests, my team Spectrum Racing skipper, Arvind Bhateja, decided to jump ahead and joined him in the break. 

By now we were around 15 of us in the peloton with TTFR and SKCT riders predominantly making up the group with 4 master's contenders(Vivek, Matt Barret, Ronny and myself) along with Micheal of TLCR and Enaut. Everyone was watching each other. The pace became down right sedentary as SKCT was in no hurry to chase their own man and TTFR knew that the SKCT sprinter and Spectrum Racing skipper were not going to stay away to the line. Michael and Enaut also by then knew who their main rivals were and were just surfing wheels like they were doing all through the race. 

Ronny and myself found ourselves at the front of this group making snails progress. I was nervous seeing this as calm before the storm and was hoping they would pick up the pace to a steady tempo instead of going for all out attacks on each other blowing the old hearts like me in the process. I was trying to see if I can shoot mouth and make them pick up the pace but no one seemed ready to take any risks before they get to the climb. As NJ remarked, it looked like it was going to be a battle of weight to power ratio on the climb.

After 10km of breakaway, our skipper, Arvind was seen tending to his cramps at the final turn 4km from base. His race was over but he had a great race till then, had fun and tried to be there for me when needed. No attacks came with the base approaching but everyone was keenly watching each other. Ronny was still dragging the bunch along at an easy pace and I was right there beside him as we hit the base first. 

This was all it was about! Pic: Chenthil Mohan
The Real Deal: Nandi
The click clicks of derailleurs adjusting were audible over the vociferous support of friends waiting for us at base as we stood up on the pedals and started our ascent of Nandi. The first curve is a kicker and it was enough to break up the bunch into smaller groups. Loki, NJ, Sarvesh, Mudit Sharma, Michael(TLCR) and Enaut pulled away from us along with a couple of other TTFR riders. 

Matt(SKCT), one of the main contenders for masters slowly got in front and I managed to get on his wheel. Siddhartha Gadekar of TLCR was with us and two of us were just trying to keep up with Matt's brisk pace. The HR was in red but I was determined to stay with him as long as I can and see what I can do. I was happy to note that no other master's contenders were with us. I later learned that Ronny decided to do a bottle change as the climb started and it resulted in a gap between him and us that he was never able to bridge. Vivek was apparently somewhere behind him battling cramps in his legs on his way up the hill. 

I didn't see Ronny or Vivek on my occasional nervous looks behind and that was a bit of an assurance. I was just praying that the inkling of cramps that were showing up don't siege my legs and that others wouldn't catch up and pass me. I kept taking sips from my bottle and kept spinning as easy a gear that I can spin to keep up with Matt. The first 5k pace was almost 20kmph and this was the fastest I ever climbed up Nandi in the last couple of years. I was in red the whole time and when the gradient kicked up as we got near curve 30, my legs didn't turn as smoothly as Matt's were spinning and the inches of gap between his rear wheel and my front wheel grew to a feet, then meters until he quietly pulled away about 50 meters. He had the extra reserves of power which I couldn't muster at that vital point and that was a telling moment in my race. 

I kept seeing Matt ahead but any effort to bridge was beyond me at the point. I decided to keep going and limit the damage by ensuring to keep spinning and not let the legs siege up there by losing ground to those behind me. My teammate Hari Menon was riding our support car behind me and kept my spirits up with his vociferous encouragement and urging me to keep spinning. His voice was a huge help in distracting me from the pain and I kept getting out of the saddle on the hairpin bends and kept spinning the rest of the way. Any last hopes of bridging up to Matt evaporated as I didn't see him in the final bend as I turned curve 39. I just rolled into the Nandi arch with legs seizing up and heart ready to explode and the lap time on my Garmin showing 25:10 for the climb. My best climb time in two years and just 30 secs off my best Nandi time ever. 

The Cat1 Fight:
As I was suffering through my race, the riders up ahead were suffering and making their competition suffer in equal measures. The lead group of Loki(SKCT), NJ(SKCT), Sarvesh(TTFR), Mudit Sharma(TTFR), Micheal(TLCR) and Enaut were apparently together until halfway up the climb before the two TTFR riders cracked and got distanced. 

The lead bunch 4km into the climb.. before the storm! Pic: Chenthil Mohan
It was then a battle of attrition between the remaining four. When the pace kept being relentless, Enaut was next to crack and got distanced while Micheal from Pune kept on fighting the two local boys up their favorite hill. When the gradient kicked up further, Loki rode away from Michael and NJ and after ensuring Loki got a good gap, NJ got out of the saddle and rode away from Micheal to finish a few seconds behind his teammate. 

Results: 
Epic Nandi Race Results across different categories!
The Under-18 podium was dominated by the future generation of riders from Team Trek Firefox and Team LifeCycle Racing. It was great to see the younger guys riding in the group with discipline and showing great promise for the future.
U-18 Podium! The future stars!
In Women's category, Spectrum Racing's Vicki Nicholson again finished well ahead of the remaining two participants in the category as well as ahead of a lot of other riders across all categories. She continues to challenge herself and keeps getting better with each passing race.
A constant on women's podium, Vicki Nicholson of Spectrum Racing!
In Master's category, the old men didn't do too shabby a job managing to stay with lead bunch till the base and finishing with in a couple of minutes of the top guys. Matt's brilliant ride earned him the top spot on the podium while I and Ronny took the remaining steps on it.
Master's podium!
Cat2 podium was all Pune affair with riders from Team LifeCycle Racing. Michael Lehnig, in fact finished 3rd overall behind Loki and NJ. Great riding from him and his team. 
Cat2 Podium was stormed by Pune with Team LifeCycle Racing
In Cat 1, our local star, the ever smiling Loki managed to show who is the boss when it comes to climbing. He won the prestigious race in style with great support from his team. NJ came in second while the brilliant Basque rider, Enaut finished third.
Cat 1 Podium! Loki is back on the top step!!
You can find the rest of the results here.

PS1:Thanks to Chethil Mohan for the great photos. Please excuse the aspect ratio on the blog post. Some issue that I'm facing with the comp/blog that I've to resolve. In the meantime, you can click on them to view full screen and they'll do justice to Che's great talent behind the lens.

PS2: Thanks to all the volunteers at BBCh that made the race a huge success and a great experience for all of us. There was confusion about U-turn and some riders who were way behind the peloton missed the U-turn and went ahead apparently as they did not find the volunteers there. Despite these minor glitches the race went very well. Perhaps we can take care of those minor issues as well.

PS3: When I started training for this two months back, I was 6kgs heavier, dreaded climbing Nandi and was struggling to go sub-30. Any hopes of a good show in the Nandi race seemed a distant dream. But I wanted to at least do myself a favor and train to complete the race this time. The last two years I wasn't able to complete the race because of ill timed illnesses and my own stupidity. Trying to lose weight, improve power and staying healthy at the same time is a very tricky proposition.

I'm glad I managed to stay healthy during this period and that I finally broke the jinx by actually finishing my Nandi race in three years! Second place podium in masters, finishing a few secs behind an awesome rider like Matt, finishing ahead of awesome riders like Ronny, Vivek and many others, doing a 25:10 climb at the end of a 90k race after dealing with all the surges to stay with the lead bunch etc., are all bonuses I'll gladly take! Thanks a bunch to my awesome team, Spectrum Racing, for all the support! 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Team Work FTW!! SFS Team Time Trial - Race 2

Everyone In Unison! 
Team Time Trial(TTT) is one of my favorite disciplines after Individual Time Trial. While the Individual Time Trial is often called 'the race of truth', putting an individual against the clock and the elements to see how fast one can go, the TTT is all about team work and how well you work as a unit to beat the clock and the elements. Like a chain is as strong as it's weakest link, in the team time trial, a team can only be as fast as it's slowest rider. How fast the team goes depends on how well the team leverages the strengths and weaknesses of all its riders to fight against the elements and the clock. 
Cleated Warriors-Team A - Riding in sync! Photo: Md Rafi
Small things like having a rider who isn't that great when the gradient points northwards at front on an incline, or have a pencil thin rider who would struggle to go fast on a downhill at front on a downhill, can have a huge impact over the period of a race. How long should each rider take the pull at the front? How long should the pulls be in tailwinds and how long in headwinds? Should everyone in the team share the load at the front equally or should the stronger riders take longer turns? The answers to questions like these would usually make up the team's strategy going into a TTT.

Our Race:
Our team, Spectrum Racing, however, gave all the strategy talks a miss and four of us turned up to race at the Student Foundation of Sports(SFS) Team Time Trial on Sunday. Shankar, Ameet, Gaurav and I made our team to tackle the second SFS 50km TTT. Five minutes before 7am, the captains of all the 9 teams that managed to wake up in time, picked up a token from a box for deciding their starting order. I drew first and got 9 and that meant we get to start last. That gave us a chance to enjoy the satisfaction of dropping a few teams that started ahead of us although its difficult to do that with 2 min gaps the team start at. We started with no pressure knowing that even if we don't finish on the podium we are assured a top ten finish.
Spectrum Racing train.. Ameet leading us at the start of the second lap! Photo: Md Rafi
Instead of pumping each other up with motivational words to go fast, we told each other to ride slow and not drop each other. We have decided the order and duration of our turns at the front after we got to the start line and off we went. I took the first turn and started at gentle pace not to over do the start. As we got going, we kept rotating smoothly without any problems. No one was accelerating unnecessarily and no one was slowing down too much, which would have been exactly according to the plan if we had one. 
Team SFS boys had a great race and finished 2nd fastest! Photo: Md Rafi
The nice pace we were going at without too much struggle said, it was probably tailwind on the way out. As we approached the U-turn at about 12.5km we could see Cleated Warrior A team of Venkatachalam(DaLam), Deepak Mhasavade and Ganapathy Subramanyam, on the other side of the road. They were just heading back on their first of the two laps that would make 50k. The return leg of the first lap was also quite smooth and we took on the inclines quite strongly. At around 21km mark, we managed to overtake Cleated Warrior team A and Team C(Nalla Konar, Mohammed Rafi and Amitabh Bhattacharya) at once and as I waved as we went past, I heard 'poda dei'(get lost, dude..) from DaLam and we promptly obliged. We finished the first lap with an average of 41kmph. 

The outward leg of the second lap also went well with those of us who are still strong taking longer pulls while others took shorter turns at the front. After we took the u-turn in the second lap for our last 12km, we could feel that our flagging strength combined with the headwinds began to show with a dip in the speed. 5km from the finish, the last incline is always a tough cookie and it took a casualty in Gaurav while Ameet, Shankar and I went ahead, although a lot slower than we would have liked. After the 1km long incline however, the downhill home stretch always brings a lot of relief. We drove it home strongly and finished well satisfied with our effort. 

Results:
Team Globeracers finished first with the fastest time for the day, 1 hr 09 min 37secs (1:09:37). They improved by 54secs over their time in previous race on the same course two weeks ago,(1:10:31). 
Team Globeracers had a great race and unsurprisingly finished the fastest! Photo: Md Rafi

Team SFS of Andrew Jerald, Arogya Pradeep, Alwin and Praveen Kumar finished second with 1:12:02. This was a massive improvement over their previous time of 1:16:43. They lost Alwin for a flat in the last race and even in this race he was dropped early on. So, it was effectively the same three guys riding but an improvement of 4:41 is huge. Either they had an off day in their last race or had an incredibly good race this time around. Well done. 
SFS boys showed a massive improvement and finished 2nd fastest! Photo: Md Rafi
Spectrum Racing, we finished 3rd with a timing of 1:13:30 which is 2:18 better than our last time on the same course which was 1:15:48. Last time we were a team of three as opposed to a team of four we had this time. We were also riding much better together this time with all four riding well as opposed to one of the three in the last race struggling and the other two having to slow down for him. 
Spectrum racing oldies.. Finished third!  Photo: Md Rafi
Did We Get Better?
This was the longest time trial for most of us although it is a team time trial. So, the first race might have worked as a feeler and we knew what to expect and how to pace ourselves better this time. Also, considering almost all of the participants were faster than last time the conditions might also have been favorable but with an out and back course, the change in wind conditions might not be a massive factor. Here are the overall results.
SFS-TTT-Race 2 Results! Don't Piss-off team PSYOFF!(Prajval-Shyam-Yogesh=PSY)
Organizing and Volunteers:
SFS team did a fabulous job of organizing the race again. The volunteer force did a great job. The sandwich and banana musettes each team go as they crossed the finish line were a welcome relief. The results were out immediately without delay. All the finishers received a memento of some sorts with the top three teams getting t-shirts and medals. 
Participants, Volunteers and organizers together! One happy bunch after the race!
Sponser Details : 
1) Medals - Mr. Prasanna Krishna of Shivaram Sports 
2) Caps & T-Shirt - Mr. Durai 
3) Certificates and Nutrition - SFS 
Volunteers :-
Suman , Sam , Santhosh , Anand, Ranjith Joe , Sunil , Sachin , Pavithra , Leelavathi 

Thanks to sponsors, volunteers and everyone at SFS for giving us another great race. We look forward to more races from them in a few months time in June/July. 

Photos from the race by Mohammed Rafi Shaik can be found on BAR page here. Thank you Rafi! Photos from IronMan Dipankar Paul can be found here.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...