BBCh-3- April Road Race/Road Fight

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 at least 90% of the those who participate in these races feel like, 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.

The Race ‘Track’:
The ‘Stonehill International Circuit’ as it was billed, was a boomerang like route that had two U-Turns(one on a very narrow road and one around a sandy Round-About) and a 45 degree turn in about 7.6km. Most of the 100 odd people who enthusiastically turned up there to race were very skeptical about the eligibility of such a track to organize such a race considering how unsafe it can be. With so many people taking turns and trying to be fast in those narrow roads, there are bound to be incidents. There were bound to be incidents, but no one foresaw the kind of incidents that actually transpired. Crazy turns, narrow roads; crazier turn of events and narrower minds. That summarized the first ‘race’ that wasn’t. 
The race track!
The ‘Race’ That Wasn’t:

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. 

The pace was crazy right from the start. People were doing 40kmph+ and everyone needed to be in their best minds and concentrating hard to maintain the pace lines, to be vary of the potholes and the oncoming traffic. Then there was the most dangerous of them all; the errant wheel of a racing tyro who cuts across lanes and surges ahead as if he was on his motorbike, snaking his way through the morning traffic. 

The ‘Incidents'(!?):
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.

The Results:
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:

More photos from Veloscope here:

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.”

13 thoughts on “BBCh-3- April Road Race/Road Fight

  1. Nice write up Venky.

    Let me add that the second crash was created by Samim, who came searching for kynkyny riders group to pick up a fight. We were almost completing the U turn when Samim came straight at us, shouting and blocked our turn. He was on the wrong side, wrong place and forced two riders to crash on to his bike. Next, he gets up from the pile up and have a go at some of the Kynykyny riders. He was shoving and punching people on their face! Loki from kynkyny team happend to be his target.

    Samim, whatever reason or regret you may offer, you had no right to force a crash like that and punch people when the race was going on. You were not there at the first incident also. Your behavior makes one think what kind of sportsman you are!!!

  2. Feeling sad to say, but sick he is 🙁 Lost all respect for him. What ever the excuses be for the act, makes me feel so sick!! I think its better that he keeps himself away from the friendly BBCh races atleast.

  3. Mohan,
    I have read everyone's accounts, heard from those who have been part of the first tussle, been at the receiving end of unsavory words (which, I can claim to have pushed my buttons?), spoke with Vivek for over an hour, going back & forth to understand what transpired between the two teams, had witnesses speak to both of us, Vivek & I, and left the place unhappy with what transpired.

    Post the race, we discussed, tabling all the facts, from first hand narrations to third party inputs, and felt that a sincere apology was what that was needed rather than lengthy explanations, not to slight the fact that cycling is what we were all there for, the passion for it, and the sincerity that lies behind all the efforts, no matter which team one is talking about.
    Having read the posts, mails & comments now, I felt there is a need to write in a bit more detail. This is not a justification of Sam induced crash not a finger pointing effort. Its meant calm tempers that have flared post the race and assure all our friends that this was no attention seeking nor revenge induced incident.

    First tussle: I was witness to shouting on the route, but not the tussle itself. From the account of those who separated them and were part of that group, Asif was cut-off while making the u-turn and was forced to get off the cycle. Post that, one of the other team’s rider held his neck from behind and another manhandled him. They were separated by those who narrated this to us later, in front of Vivek, and the race carried on. Cutting off each other dangerously & swearing had been happening by then, and continued to happen post that. One of the other team’s lead riders, from others’ accounts, started the move by swerving into Santosh, one of our riders, almost pushing him off the road and onto grass.

    Asif was left in the second group, alone when the lead group split and both times Sam passed them by, he asked for help as he was being hit. What Sam saw is this: Other team’s riderswerving into Asif as they came head-on. Without having to touch on what the rider's intentions were, we can say that Asif's & Sam's buttons could have been pushed, just as any others'. What happened next is what you all know and been witness to.

    There is no condoning any moves or countermoves. We came there for a clean race, following all rules, and to set an example for all those who aspire to have a fun or a competitive race. We have utmost respect for all those whose efforts have created BBCh community.

    Morning of the race, I spoke with Rohan to see if we could start the slow/MTB riders later as the course isn't safe with fast riders jostling for space as it is. I was told that wasn't possible. As for pulling out of the race, we asked our boys not to race, voluntarily, not even knowing the teams were asked not to race, except for Nachiket, who was our guest.

    Contd in the next post:

  4. We didn't want to put out an account of things, as we didn't want it to be a justifying act. You are reading this now because posts are starting to sound as though boys were out of control for no apparent reason but to discredit the other team. For all claims of our riders being cheaters, and the other team being national winning riders, we will let the claims be. Asif is the only national winning rider among all teams, and he, before every race is called to be threatened & challenged. We will not claim any intimidation or provocation.
    We understand there is pressure on a sponsored team to win & show more podium finishes albeit in BBCh races. What if the other team’s rider managed to crash into Asif when he swerved into him, coming in the opposite direction, which Sam witnessed? Would we be talking about him & not Sam? What if Asif was in the hospital now if he was injured when one of the other team’s rider hit his helmet with a rock? Could we be holding hands to ask for his life? What if one of you was seriously injured when Sam crashed into the group? He could be facing the worst time of his life? What if I had filed an indecency case against the other team’s rider? He will be let off because of his Diplomatic immunity? So where are the answers, Mohan?
    Fist fights or aggression are no solutions, nor is name calling & taunting at races with racial slurs, which were directed at us at the Chennai cyclothon and we let it pass. We might as well throw in the towel and go our way because we don't have a sponsor to claim our behavior stems from that pressure? No matter what the reason for bad behavior is, we took responsibility for our reaction, and apologized in simple words.
    Personally, I would like to apologize to the parents, whose kids were around when I repeated a rider's sexually abusive words, and to our friends & fellow racers who were caught in the crash for no fault of their own.
    We still rest uneasy post the incident. We are angered & hurt too as sour grapes is thought of as the motive, and not the facts. Sam, for his part in wanting to stop the menace, was caught up in the moment and regrets it. To the righteous who has passed judgment against him, there is nothing to be said. This account is for friends who have been hurt, and are angered by the incident, to help heal in a small way possible.

  5. Thank you Kavitha for coming out with your side of the story. At least now it looks like everyone on both the sides involved, understand and accept the fact that nothing can justify such behavior in sports and that it would only poison the spirit on which community events like BBCh run. Please do all you(as in both parties) can to sort the differences out for better.

  6. Venky, we will do our best to offer peace, to everyone involved and the community.

    Samim and I have gone back and forth on posting an account of things, but felt it might just look like we are justifying. It felt right to share it now, given the opinions put forth by friends we care to have.

    Thank you


  7. Kavitha,

    Thanks for putting across what happened out there. The same I had asked for even before others started ranting. But somehow you felt at that moment that Dipankar wants to rant and hence let him rant. It was an opportunity to settle things even before things crossed the line over the net. Only when EVERYONE around started ranting that you decided to share the story. Sometimes its better to have a PR done properly else the damages can be huge.

    Anyhow, Kavitha, your writeup gave a very scary picture of how things were going on around the lead riders. I have no words to express. Cant dream of myself at that position.


  8. Kavitha and Vivek bury the hatchet and move on. All this would take toll on your daily activities. This is actually tabloid stuff for rest so you can douse the fire by talking.

  9. Having read Kavitha's long account with alleged clarifications, a couple of riders who don't belong to either of the teams communicated the same incidents in a way that significantly contradicts the way they appear there. In one case, I initiated the discussion asking for clarification since he mentioned that incident(Darren and Asif's possible collision) to me before. They did not want to be dragged into this and hence did not want to be named. This is only to put the perspectives of other neutral eyewitnesses along side the witnesses from her team that she mentioned. Let me summarize what they told me(summarizing from the chat transcripts) adding to what I have witnessed myself.

    The first incident being talking about happened between Naveen and Asif at the first U-turn which was quite narrow. Apparently, there, Naveen and Asif leaned into each other and fell taking the turn and started shoving each other and arguing as to who was responsible. The holding of neck mentioned there might have happened here when they were shoving each other. Loki who was there tried to calm them down and asked his riders to behave and very politely asked Asif to get on with it. They started again and Loki asked the riders of his team who were trying to ride aggressively and in the process pushed Santosh(?) off the road, to hold back and ride properly. At that point of time Asif apparently started swerving and cutting the lines. Loki asked him to ride properly. All this was observed by a rider from another team who doesn't take sides.

    Then when Sam was passing him Asif who didn't have many of his team mates around asking for support shouted, 'bhai ye log mujhe maar rahein hain' (bother, these guys are beating me). He might have been referring to the first incident at the first u-turn.

    Then in the second U-turn at the round about, Darren was ahead and took the turn first and Asif was coming from the opposite side and saw Darren and started sprinting even before taking the turn. Darren also began sprinting looking at Asif and Asif who didn't even take the turn by that time was sprinting so aggressively that he got on the wrong side of the road and got into Darren's line. Darren held his line and they narrowly escaped a collision which could have been dangerous not only for them but also to other riders who were there. This is what is being reffered to as one of the things that Darren did it intentionally which could have been deadly to Asif. But it was apparently Asif who was in the wrong side of the road. This is the incident that you're mentioning that Samim witnessed. Samim actually replicated the same scenario, only this time very intentionally and caused the crash and started fighting.

    So, in fact riders from both the sides were riding way too aggressively than that worthless track would allow one to ride but unfortunately one much respected rider took it a little too far.

  10. Now what do you say Kavitha/Samim. Samim people were (are??) idolizing you. I still respect you as cyclist but you did not show the real character when it was needed. I think Loki is much matured than you.

    @Kavitha, I have seen many time in BBCh event that you are the one who start the argument, do not know why is it show. Does rider like Samim need to argue for no 3 position in TT? that to in BBCh and more over he was riding better bike than other no 3 rider. What a pity site it was. Last Sunday it was worse.

    @Kynkyn: You guys can never be called pro if you do not behave as one. Plz do not repeat it in future, otherwise you will loose the respect.

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