I competed in the first road race of the Bangalore Bicycle Championships (BBCh) last sunday (16th march) and its easy to describe the race in short - Surfing the bunch, Breaking away, Suffering..
But, since I have lots of time in my hands (not really, my internals begin in 10 days), here is a report about it-
noun. A rider or group of riders that has left the main group.
verb. Dish out pain on oneself and others in the race with the hopes of grabbing the 1% chance of winning. (I just made that up)
Jens Voigt version. Successfully drop the peloton on a number of occasions.
Situation at the start line-
There were three main teams who would be influencing the outcome - Team SKCT, Team Globeracers and Spectrum Racing. Since this wasn't an official team event, I was the sole representative from Team Trek Firefox Racing but also had my brother from the newly formed junior team racing alongside.
The way I saw it, Team Globeracer had a strong sprinter in their lineup and would be dedicating their resources to protect him till the finish. Team SKCT did have an equally strong sprinter, but since this was a (relatively) hard course, they would be spending most of their eggs in the basket to form a succesful breakaway with 2 or 3 riders. Spectrum racing would be ensuring that their rider in the women's category would be secured a win, but also at the same time give it a go at the masters'category.
And for myself, I had studied the route on strava the night before (got to love technology!) and marked out crucial climbs wherein I could cause mayhem in the race *evil laugh*.
The race was flagged off at 7:05am with 97 riders starting the race. The course was an out and back course with short steep climbs and crosswinds throughout. With just 4km after the start, two riders, one from SKCT and one from globeracers broke away from the bunch. This was also the point wherein I realised I had not reset my cyclocomp after the warm up! Rookie mistake. My initial reaction was to jump across to them, but I was stuck in the middle of the bunch and decided not to spend energy chasing them. Since their teammates were up the road, both SKCT and globeracers were not willing to chase and the pace was quite slow. I had decided to save energy and surf the bunch till the halfway point.
(Saving energy is what matters..)
After 22km, there was a slight right hand turn. There was an attack and two of the SKCT riders went up the road. I followed pursuit pulling across two riders from globeracers including their sprinter. I thought this would be the winning bunch and was glad to be in it. But then, for no reason nobody wanted to work! I went to the front and put in a short tempo effort but looked back to realize that the peloton was within a stone's throw from us, and I dropped back to surf the bunch again.
With 2km from the halfway point, I went to the front of the bunch to check for the wind direction. As my rule of thumb, I was always staying in the top 10 to 15 positions in the peloton so that I could have a clean view of the proceedings. As we approached the U-turn, I noticed thst Naveen John from Team SKCT, who is also amongst the top 5 riders in the country, swung around the apex of the curve. I realized that by doing so, he'll be coming out of the turn with a higher momentum and he'd be breaking away.
Battle positions! Battle positions!
I took the inside of the curve smoother than I had ever done before. Good to know that the core workouts are paying off. With perfect timing I got onto NJ's wheel along with Santosh from Globeracer and we were "riding in the gutter" to avoid the wind. NJ was working on the front to make sure that the break would succeed. After 500m or so, I looked back and was amazed to see the gap between us and the peloton. My inital reaction was "Wow! That was easy"
Pretty soon, all the three of us started to work together. When I first went to the front to do my share of the work, it hit me how hard the crosswind was blowing across. NJ was taking massive pulls of 1.5 to 2mins at a time whereas me and Santosh would drop back after 15 to 20secs of eating the wind.
(We rollin! We hurtin!)
Photo credits: Rolling shutters
We soon caught up with a rider from globeracer who was in the earlier break. and passed him. Slowly but surely I was burning my matchsticks sooner than necessary when I went to do my share. At 60kms, we entered a stretch wherein the crosswinds were blocked by boulders on each side of the road, creating a valley effect of sorts wherein I had a tough time to stay in the group. After the 65km point we hit the base of the longest climb of the day. Noticing that I was suffering, NJ attacked midway through the climb, and I did not have it in my legs to follow it. Not a pretty sight when that happened.
With 30km to go and no strength to catch with the trio up front, I began to pace myself referring to my powermeter. Did I mention I love technology? I got caught by the chase group containing 2 riders from SKCT, the main sprinter from Globeracers and a rider from Team Wheelsports, with 23kms to the finish. But by this point, I had burnt almost all my matches and could not catch up with the chase in the group. Getting dropped twice can have a negative impact psychologically and I was having one of those days wherein my body was not doing what my mind was telling it to!
With 12 or 13kms to go, I was caught by the second chase group and managed to latch onto them. I tried to sprint at the end to get into the top 10 but found myself boxed in with 300m from the finish and finished in the 15th position.
All in all, a good day of racing. Bit disappointed with the result which was outweighed by the gratification about knowing my ability to be there when "the shit hits the fan". A big kudos to the BBCh organizers and also to Sangamesh from SKCT who was sick with how slow the peloton was riding at and stayed away from it for 96kms!
1. Spectating the Milan Sanremo a.k.a Il Classicissima a.k.a. La Primavera on 17th march.
2. TCC Criterium at the Kari Motor speedway on the 30th of march.
3. 2nd internals from 1st April.