Monday, 9 September 2013

It hurt Everywhere! (State trials - Day 2)

As some of you may know I headed to the state trials for the first time ever previous weekend (31st August) at Gadag, Karnataka. Day 1 ended with me scoring a silver medal in the under-18 Individual Time Trial after which I spent 14hrs lying in bed to fight symptoms of flu and cleaning my pair of Oakleys. Pretty boring stuff so I'm not gonna write about it.

  (Go away flu!)

Day 2:

Nothing beats bad luck like waking up to find oneself having symptoms of food poisoning. I decided to skip the morning Criterium race, instead I took a couple of spare wheels to the race venue to help my teammate. 10laps later, the SKCT guys had won the race by a huge margin and the audience were entertained to a high speed bike race followed by post race exchange of words. Fortunately nothing of this sort happened.

            Two hours later, I found myself and a couple of my roommates (11 roommates totally) arriving at the start point an hour earlier than when the organizers turned up, pretty usual. Another hour later I lined up for the start of the under-18 40km road race. I went into the race with no ambition firstly because I had been selected to the nationals after my time trial performance and secondly the distance was reduced to 40km from 60km which made the course easier for other riders.
           20kms later, the field was reduced to half because of a crash (courtesy of a cab driver who tuned into the race track with no prior warning). 30kms in, there were some pretty tired legs in the bunch due to mindless attacks in the downhill sections. I knew from the previous day that there was a short uphill coming up and it was my only chance of breaking away from the bunch. As we hit the base, I jumped immediately and got a considerable gap, after 30secs I looked back to find 3 riders catching up to me but all being more tired than me to make the break work and alas my attack failed. I crossed the finish line in 9th place. I'm a "climber" was my excuse for not contesting in the final sprint.

2013 Vuelta recap: Morkov wins, but Tony Martin the star
   (My attempt at a breakaway is not as heart-breaking as this)

My main aim for the 2nd day was to help my teammate, Siddharth, in the men's elite 70km road race which was his last chance to qualify for the nationals. After finishing my race, I downed a couple of energy bars, a sandwich, a bottle of water, a bottle of coke and a couple of bananas in less than 10mins (only thing worth bragging about that day) and lined up at the start line. Looked around and failed to locate Siddharth at the venue, later I came to know that he had gotten the flu.

"How hard can this be?"

"Pretty hard."


 Was the  thought in my mind when I lined for the start of the elite men's 70km road race. I had two tactics for this race. One, hope a wild elephant knocks out the other 34 guys who are in the race and sprint for the win. Two sit at the back of the peloton and attack at some point before the halfway marker because I knew the pace would be too high after that point (advantages of sharing a room with the strongest guys).

(If could hire this guy for just one day...)
I started the race with legs feeling as heavy as the ones in the above picture. 2kms and after more senseless attacks on downhill sections the pace was lifted and it did not feel like the under 18 race anymore. About 12kms in, there were 4 riders ahead with a gap of 10 to 12seconds from the peloton.
I took in a caffeine energy shot following which the adrenaline kicked in and I was jumping on my seatpost with excitement waiting for the right moment to attack.
"Wait for it.."
"wait for it.."
"Come on man there's an uphill coming up. We've got to GOOO!"
That was all that was needed, I put my head down fired up the rocket boosters (referring to my legs of course) and jumped off from the bunch. As soon as I attacked there was a thought in the back of my mind that I would be brought back to the bunch sooner than later. 5 secs later I hear-
"Go Sarvesh! GO!"
I knew it was one of the SKCT guys which was when I realized my attack had worked. Holy Macaroni! It worked! I put in a huge effort to not get stuck in the "no man's land" and eventually worked up to the breakaway.
We just made the breakaway boys! Long live Jens Voigt!
BOOM! Suddenly it hits me why breakaways are so hard and why its harder to do two races in the same day. As soon as I latched on I realized that the pace was relentlessly being set by a couple of riders who were desperate not to get caught by the peloton which basically meant I had zero time to recover from my effort. My breathing was louder than a howler monkey, I felt as though two knives were forced into my thighs, my sweat dripped down faster than ever before, basically "It hurt Everywhere". Things soon turned from jaw-biting-pain to being-stung-by-wasps-pain  when I was called to the front of the breakaway to set the pace.
         To ensure that the breakaway survived everyone had to take turns at the front. 5 or 6 of these efforts later I felt like my legs had nothing but bones. I sat at the end of the line of 6 riders waiting for the halfway point after which I, rather my legs, decided it was enough and drop back from the breakaway. At the halfway point I couldn't follow an acceleration and waited for the peloton. 2mins later the peloton caught up with me. Passed me. I hesitated for a second to join back, but a couple of motivational shouts from the official in the motor biker alongside and I shifted down a couple of gears and-
"NO! I've had enough. Enough I say!"
Screamed my legs in reply. And the two knives now felt like sixteen. I sat up, checked my garmin and realized I had 33kms to go.
     Sometimes I ask myself why do I ride my bike, that question was answered in those 33kms. Those 33kms were my best time on the bike so far. I saw many riders quitting and hitching a ride till the finish in the "broomwagon" (google it), and I said to myself "There's no way on Earth I'm doing that".
One hour, 3 bottles of water, 610m of elevation gain later, I crossed the finish line and felt a huge wave of satisfaction running through my body. I went to where the car (courtesy of the SKCT riders) was parked, leaned my bike against it and sat down on the road filled with exhaustion and sheer awesomeness. A couple of moments late I laid down as I had no energy to sit up, that's when it hit me -
"I absolutely love this!"


Friday, 31 May 2013

Summer Vacations here I come! (Part-3)

Meanwhile, after a month of confusions, I came to know that the Kynykny development team was closing. Having felt sorry for witnessing me struggling in java, fate gave me something to look forward to - a Tryout to join the Trek-Firefox Racing team (Fate is not such a bad guy after all). The April BBCh would be the most contested race of 2013, with riders coming in from all over India and from Australia, England, Germany,etc ,Yes, BBCh is truly international.
I'm going to be honest, when I say I was pretty scared during the build up of the race, which might have played a factor in the 2 crashes I was involved in. But I was glad to finish in 20th position out of the 107 who        started. Fortunately the staff at Trek-Firefox were able to look beyond the crashes, and I signed my contract to join their B-Team.
                                    (Surely, calls for a celebration)

Enter May, which would be the last month of being a freshman, also brought back exams. This time I had math as my supporter and nothing could stop, java did slow me down a bit. After three weeks of theoretical and practical exams, It was now time to focus solely on training, and vacationing of course.
Things to do during summer:
- Train better and give a good performance at the team training camp
- Race better
- Get a summer job ( an idle mind is the devil's workshop they say)
- Get a girlfriend, or maybe later
- Last but not the least, enjoy.


Summer Vacations here I come! (Part-2)

After heaving a sigh of relief following the uncomfortable 1st semester and the horrendous Inter-University Championships, I now turned my focus towards the Chemistry cycle and racing in 2013. My goals were simple, get that 9 pointer and win races, which would involve some planning, preparation and again a few  million of cups of tea.

Just 4 days after classes reopened, I packed my bags to head to Chikmagalur with the SKCT guys to compete in a state level race. Good company, good food and good accommodation made this journey one to remember despite a poor performance (not even a top 10 finish out of the 30 who started).
Fortunately, just 3 weeks later was the BBCh Individual Time Trial, an opportunity to plaster up my self confidence which was shattered at the moment. Good training got me 15th place out of the 70-odd who started (Ain't gonna whine about no top-10 position here). 
                                       (With proper training comes the ability to suffer)

If there were two things to point out which made the 2nd semester better than the 1st, one of them had to be  the South Indian meal in our college mess. Unlimited food for 50 INR, and food so delicious that even Dr. Hannibal would've turned vegetarian after eating here. Another factor of influence would be my crazy (ran away from a mental institution crazy), awesome friends. Having successfully gotten back on my feet in math, 2nd semester was set turn out to be a walk in the park.
"What?! That's not right!" - said fate and introduced me to Computer programming. Though I am grateful to the leaps in modern lifestyle brought about by java, I did not understand why I had to start with Java instead of basics such as C or C++! After giving a sluggish performance in java in 1st internals, fortunately I found a tutor and managed to get by.
                                              (Never really got used to coffee!)

P.S. Realized now that there's a word limit in this blog, see you in part-3.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Summer vacations here I come! (Part-1)

I finally finished the first year of my engineering course today. It has been filled with a lot of ups and downs. If I had to choose which would be a better semester in the first year, I would definitely go with the 2nd semester.

First semester was a nightmare. Having joined the college later than others left me racing against time to cover up. This obviously resulted in a lot of stress and hating myself for changing colleges. Math which had been my strongest subject was now my Achilles' heel. Studying Computers was like asking Homer Simpson to write a thesis on modern physics!
Unlike studies, Cycling during this period was growing like the load line regulation of a zener diode (I have studied way too much electronics, so bare with me.). After the podium finish in the May BBCh I joined the Kynkyny development team, at that moment I was the most excited kid on planet earth. I started training with the SKCT guys and learnt a ton load of knowledge. Come october was the Nandi uphill race, which is my favourite as I'm very skinny which gives me a natural advantage to kick some heavy ass. With figuring out the paperwork that comes alongside changing colleges and figuring out how to study, I was left to turn to my mortal nemesis, Commuting, to gather as much training as possible. Surprsingly I finished 6th overall and won the Cat-2.
After the win, I was able to convince my parents to buy myself a trainer, which so happens to be the greatest gift to mankind (according to me at least). With the trainer arriving 2 weeks before the November criterium and the crumbs of motivation from the win last month, I gave a good performance in that race ( finished 9th out of 10 who finished and 9 DNFs). December went by as fast as the old B/W movies.
January brought in the first semester exams with that the constant hair ripping and about a million cups of tea (Never really got used to coffee hence the tea). Fortunately I was able to pull through and scored 8.86 in the first semester.

Holidays after the first semester were a little short of a disaster. I was enlisted to attend the Inter-University championships, which I was looking forward to after missing out the state championships in September. After 2 days into the training camp, it hit me like a menhir that the championship would be hosting only track events and not road races. Track racing was as alien to me as Math and computer of first semester. Following the horrible experience at the championships I returned home on the eve of my birthday. Rode to the Nandi uphill to celebrate my 18th birthday and decided to turn over a new leaf the following semester. And that's the story so far.