|The race track!|
With more than 100 people turning up at the start, the start line looked like a sea of people. All of them were pumped up. The nervous energy was electrifying the air. The count down began and bikes and the bikers jumped into action channeling their adrenaline into fueling the start line sprint that immediately formed a few groups. The red and white kits of Specialized KYNKYNY racing team(SKRT), the blue, yellow and white kits of Team Naesar Racing(TNR) along with a few black and yellow kits of KYNKYNY Wheelsports(KW) and riders from Origin AbhiBus Racing(OABR) were dominating the lead group. Along with my teammates from Spectrum Racing(SR), who were gleaming in their sparkling new team kit, I managed to make it to the second group in the front.
|At the start…|
You surge ahead at 40kmph+, slow down to a crawl to take a turn and/or get over a speed bump, you sprint like hell to get up to speed again and get back on the wheel of guy in front. Repeat. This is what you need to do. Simple.
I was trying to stay with a bunch along with a few of my teammates, frantically trying to keep up with the guys at the front or trying to do some work at the front. We completed one loop safely enough. On the second loop, after the 45 degree turn I noticed, Samim stopping by the road side fiddling with his front wheel and someone was helping him with that. Our group went past and took the U-turn at the round about and started back.
As we took the 45 degree turn and were going towards the narrower U-turn to complete the second loop, Mark(MDA), who was coming from the opposite side having taken the turn, shouted a warning about a crash at the turn. Taking U-turn on such a narrow road(the first one) with so many folks jostling for position is going to be tricky and dangerous. Our group slowed down. What we saw there was people getting physical. Evidently, a fight ensued following arguments on who was pushing whom and who was responsible for the crash.
By the time we got there, I didn’t see any punches getting thrown at that point of time but saw a lot of shoving and shouting. We tried to calm them down and told them to get on with it and sort out their differences after the race. They started again and we were behind that group. They were shouting at each other as they rode and some of us kept telling them, ‘after the race, guys’.
After we took the 45 degree turn and got to the round-about U-turn just as we were taking the U-turn, there was a big crash. I saw that immediately the guys got up and started fighting again. I was right behind and avoided joining the pile up. Wanting nothing to do with the fight and selfishly wanting to get on with my race, I got on to the mud shoulder and was about to sprint past the speed breaker. I looked back to see if my team mates, Mohan and Arvind, were joining me. They were busy!
|The Race that wasn’t… A Road Fight!|
I saw that they stopped and were separating Samim and Loki who were involved in a fist fight. At that point, the question as to how a rider whom I saw stopping with a mechanical trouble in the second loop, was in the front group by the start of the third loop didn’t occur to me. It wasn’t clear if similar questions were being asked when the arguments and fights started. But, it was evident that these two teams who are the top 2 teams in Bangalore with some of the best riders in the country are having huge ego issues with each other and were acting up due to pent up grudges, in the process spoiling the race for everyone.
These are the teams that set the performance standards for us. These are the riders whom we respected and looked up to. These are the riders who have set the performance standards for us to dream about and try to work towards. These are the riders who inspired many of us to the extent to get out and ride almost everyday. It was not only disheartening but also sickening to see the same riders setting such a poor standard when it came to behavior on the day by getting at each others throats like that.
One team accuses the other of racial abuse and the next team accuses the other of cheating. Each of them would, I’m sure, have their reasons and most of them could be very valid. But is crashing into each other and starting fights the way to deal with their differences? Are they not putting the safety of the others at risk in the process of settling their scores? Are they not painting a very poor picture of us in Bangalore who are proud of creating the best amateur racing scene in the country, the BBCh? What do our fellow bikers who have flown in from cities like Chennai, Pune, Delhi, Hyderabad and other places to be part of the race think about us?
Rivalry builds great sports events as long as it is a healthy competitive rivalry and is confined to the sport. Not when it takes ugly turn like this, with people taking rivalry to a personal level. It is important that we as a community do not take sides with these two teams and own their rivalry. It is important, if possible, to help them sort their differences or it would poison the spirit of BBCh.
I think that is exactly what happened at the race. The organizers did absolutely the right thing by stopping the race immediately and debarring the two warring teams from racing and restarting the race with the rest. I think, the message sent to these teams was loud and clear. Although we credit you for taking the competition at BBCh to the next level, we’re better off without you if you fight like this at a personal level. Everyone should thank Rohan, Vasu, Arvind and the others in the BBCh core team for this.
The Real Race And A Fifty Winners!
Everyone apart from Team SKRT, KW and TNR, took the start line again. But it was saddening to see faces of riders like Michael Allenspach, Sanjay, Kiran Kumar Raju and many others from the teams that got disqualified. They didn’t have anything to do with the situation and were unfortunately not allowed to ride because some of their team members didn’t quite act their age and stature.
|Winners lined up at the start of the real race..!|
At the same time, the very fact that more than 50-60 people were part of the race when it started again, shows the spirit of BBCh. The race started and the only elite/national level riders left were from Hyderabad’s Orgin AbhiBus Racing team. The rest of the field is more or less even and the race was more interesting for most of us.
The same exercise of slowing down to a crawl at the turns and speed breakers followed by crazy sprints ensued. The riders from OriginAbhiBus Racing broke away at the end of the first loop and some 14-15 of us formed a chase group. Richard McDowell from OrginAbhiBus racing, Nachiket from Pune, Surya and Durgesh from Veloscope racing, Opendro from Cleated Warriors, Saru and myself from Spectrum racing formed the front of this group sharing the work. Plans to organize a chase to catch the front group didn’t quite work with Richard tactfully controlling the pace and I didn’t want myself and Saru to be completely spent in the process by launching an attack of our own.
Nachiket was riding strong and shared the work well. Opendro was attacking and trying to force the pace from time to time and so were Surya and Durgesh. That, at least helped force the pace although we didn’t allow them to get away. As we approached the third loop’s final U-turn, all of us slowed down to a crawl and started sprinting up to speed again. It was about 3 km to the finish line and I was behind Richard and Nachiket with a couple of riders to my right blocking my attempts to get to the front.
With around 1.5km-2km to go, Saru attacked from behind and that broke the pack and opened some gap for me. I quickly sprinted and joined Saru in the attack. With the doubts that we could have attacked a bit too soon, I wanted to pull Saru for a bit and keep him fresh for a finish line dash. As I saw 1km to go mark, I began giving it all. I was not sure if someone other than Saru was on my wheel and would spring forward but was too bummed with the effort to look back.
The Dash For The Line..
From around 300m or so, as I saw the checkered flag it was one final push to the line. The heart was pumping all it can; the legs were pumping all they can, and quite frantically so! As I went past the finish line, to the waving checkered flag, I sat up straight on the saddle and threw up my right fist towards the sky in a gesture of exultation and victory! Indeed, I felt like a winner for the effort I put in. It felt like the best I could do on the day. What if there were five more guys ahead of me! What if a hundred guys were ahead of me! There were better prepared men on the day and they motivate me to train better for the next race. For today though, I still gave it my all and that is why I felt like a winner. I’m sure that is what 90% of the those who participate in these races feel, be it in BBCh, HCC or TCC. That is what makes them the fun competitive race events that they are. Let us all keep them that way.
I later learnt that I finished 6th closely followed by Saru at 7th with the first five positions in Cat-1 being taken by the lean and mean Bijapur machines of OrginAbhiBusRacing. Have to wait for the results and see the timings.
Adarsh from Tamilnadu Cycling Club(TCC) apparently managed to get into the breakaway group and finished first in Cat-2. Nachiket who finished behind us came in 2nd for Cat-2. With Gaurav from our team finishing 3rd in Cat-2. Adarsh who came in from Chennai and Nachiket who came in from Pune were riding extremely well and glad that they had a great race in the end. Congratulations guys! Thank you and keep coming back!
In the Women’s category, Shilpa Deo finished 1st followed by Manjula Sridhar and Meera Velankar were 2nd and 3rd respectively on the podium.
The organizers didn’t let anything deter them from organizing a fun race for the waiting kids as well. Kudos to them and the volunteers for their tireless efforts to make things right and make them work. Thank you guys, for taking care of things when they got out of hand. Without you all, there is no BBCh!
Will update the post with the link as and when the results get published.
Here are a few photos from my camera: https://picasaweb.google.com/102172342564541481938/BBCh3AprilRoadRaceRoadFight
More photos from Veloscope here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.355550587813349.72834.133075056727571&type=1
Errata(17thApril’12): In this post, I indicated that the organizers have debarred the two warring teams and restarted the race. It appears that it was not entirely accurate. Sorry about that. According to an email apology sent to the BBCh community email group, it was SKRT which volunteered to pullout of the race. The email mentions, “Cudos to the race organizers for all their efforts and decisions made on race day, but I would also like to mention, that we pulled out of the race, and suggested that other concerned parties do the same, so that the race could continue without all the nonsense that happened, and remain a clean fun event.”