The Bulldog Goes To TFN: Day 1: Bangalore To Mysore

At the flag-off at Manekshaw Parade Grounds..

Venue Maneksha Parade grounds, Bangalore. Time: 5:45am. Riders were making last minute adjustments to their bikes, pumping those tires up to a million psi or helping other riders with their stuff to calm their own nerves. Organizers and volunteers were going around trying to make sure everything is in order for the flag-off. Lots of army trucks have brought lots of army Jawans to encourage us. It was a festive atmosphere to say the least.
Breakfast was served to load enough carbs to last us for a while. The chief guests were done with their encouraging words and words of wisdom and the riders were lined up for the flag-off. It was a great feeling being escorted by an army jeep till the city outskirts cutting through the crazy morning traffic.
As we got on to the NICE road, a bunch of us had stopped to regroup with those we wanted to ride with while a few have gone ahead. Mark and I waited for Rajesh, Rakesh, Hari and Vicki to arrive and started. We started riding at an easy pace taking turns. Then a steady downhill has started which seemed to have lasted a long time. I slowly fell behind. That was when I was seeing speeds of 40-50kmph steadily and cadences of 120-148 rpm for around 4-5 mins. I saw those kind of numbers for the first time for that long. Only then could I keep the guys in sight and rejoin Vicki and Hari as the road flattened out.
Great views..
 As we were taking a turn to get out of NICE road, we saw Baba Velo stopping to pickup some water/food from his support car. I thought he would quickly join us as we rode on. But as it turned out, Hari and Vicki were setting a crazy pace and we ended up going far ahead. Mark Hemhauser and Rakesh who went ahead stopped and were waiting for Raj and they joined us thinking that he must not be too far behind us. As it turned out Raj ended up riding all alone for almost 40km or so until we saw him when were waiting to fix Vandit’s broken pedal. Oh yeah, it was the first of the two broken pedals on today’s ride.
Vandit’s titanium spindled speedplay zero pedals apparently gave up on him as the spindle completely came off the pedal. Somebody should tell him that he should not unleash all of the Gaud’s power on the bike however high-end it is. 🙂 As he changed the pedals to his spare pedals( yes, he carried spare pedals too!), the others rode on while Sumit, Mark and I waited.
Just as we were starting again, I observed that there was a slow leak on the Bulldog’s rear tire. I was really disappointed. I had a flat on yesterday’s ride with Baba Velo and he asked me if I was carrying any spare tires for TFN. I tried to get hold of a set but didn’t manage to. So I had no spare tires. These tires(Panaracer Paselas) had around 4000kms on them and I thought they should fare well. I didn’t want to waste the guys’ time by changing the tube etc. So, as Vandit suggested I just pumped it up and reached the next support station which was around 10km away.  
That support station was also the start of the competitive section (CS). I asked around if anybody had a spare tire. Gaurav jumped up to help me and lent one of his spare tires. It was a 700x23c while mine was 700x28c Rubino Pro. I thanked him and my stars for surrounding me with such amazing and helpful friends. I changed the tire and tube(23c tube borrowed from Balu) with the help of Balu and Raman. Thank you guys.
I started out on the CS after the change of tire. The initial couple of kms the legs struggled to respond but the heart was working overtime. After a those initial kms however, I found my rhythm and focused on keeping the HR around 170(I’ve no idea what my LTHR is yet, but 170 is what I hit while climbing Nandi). The route was slightly rolling to begin with and then flattened out. I was happy to complete the 23km section in 40mins 33 secs finishing 14th overall.
Mark Anderson won the CS with a timing of 33mins 56secs and won the blue jersey. Vicki Nicolson has won the women category with a timing of 38mins 20secs.
I saw Rakesh stranding on the roadside around 6km mark and asked what happened. It was the second pedal failure of the day. Tough luck to him since he is now out of contention for GC. But I’m sure he’ll do well in day races with the new pedals that are on their way from Bangalore tomorrow.

After the CS, MarkH and I started riding with my Hyderbad friends Sreekanth, Ranjith and Kishore. We decided to take it easy to reach the support station 3. After around 10km from the SS, only Mark and Ranjith were behind me while Sreekanth and Kishore decided they want to take it even easier.
The Paleton..
 At SS3, we had a veg roll for lunch and had fun chatting around for a while. Then I started riding with a Baba Velo, Arvind, Ameet, Hari, Vicki, MarkH, Amrish, Vandit and Sumit. There was around 50km to go to reach Mysore. Most of that 50km had roads that were bone shaking. The roads were really bad. No pacelining was possible although all of us stayed pretty close together. The scenery around was beautiful but there was no way we could take our eyes off the road in fear ending up drowning in the sea of potholes.
After a few kms of bouncing around on the road, it happened again. Man, now on the front tire! I’m going to change the front tire as well tomorrow. May be I’ve to free Gaurav from his second spare tire as well.
The rest of the guys moved on while Ameet and MarkH stayed back to help me change the tube. Three of us rode together till the final SS where Arun, Aparjeet and Siva joined us. Five of us rode together from then on. After a few kms of easy riding, Mark came to front and I was behind him. We look back after a while and no one was behind. Mark was riding strong and pulled me almost till Mysore.
Just as we got into Mysore we began to see lots of signs on the road giving us directions to reach our hotel. They were a big help although the signs were conspicuous with their absence at a couple of turns. Thankfully the rest of the signs which were plenty in number were good enough for us to make it to the end.
The volunteers did a great job with the markings on the road and the support they provided at the support stations. The kind of enthusiasm they show to help everyone is really heartening to see. The number of cameras and video cameras on most the route made us felt like we were riding in a pro-tour paleton. Right from the pre-tour briefing to flag-off to end of day one it was a very professional show by the organizers.
We have spent the evening having fun in the lobby of the hotel. A lot of the guys waited eagerly for the bar to open at 7 while a few of us were waiting eagerly for the dinner to be served. We got to eat after the day’s winners were enounced and the Blue jersey was worn by the day’s winners. Had loads of fun!! Looking forward to day two tomorrow.
Top 20 of day one’s competitive section of 23km

Here are a few photos from day 1: On Picasa 

Read about the rest of the Tour of Nilgiris:
Day 2: Mysore to Hassan 
Day 3: Hassan to Madikere 
Day 4: Madikere To Kannur
Day 5: Rest Day At Kannur
Day 6: Kannur to Sultanbhateri 
Day 7: Sultanbhateri to Ooty
Day 8: Ooty – Kodanad

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