BBCh-DownHill Championship-2012:: DH Mayhem At Turahalli



The starting ramp of the DH course!

Standing on the dome like rock ramp, you turn around to look down on the vast expanse. The view is majestic. Of course, you did not hike up the hill with your bike to stand here on the rock and enjoy the view. But it does give you a sense of how closer to the sky you’re and which way you’re headed now. You turn and take your turn at the start line. Count down to let you roll down the hill has begun. 5..4..3..2..1..Go!! 

You let the wheels roll down the rock ramp and let the momentum build speed only to brake and bank left into the first 90 degree curve sending the mud flying off the rear wheel. You follow the flowing trail that snakes through a rock and turns right. You try not panic when it suddenly dips into a steep pitch. You lean backwards on the bike and let it roll in a controlled panic by feathering the brakes. You dodge the roots and stumps, try to make truce with the rain water ruts and the gravelly rocks that make your wheels and your heart dance a little. 
You veer a little to the right, brake a little and get the left foot off and push with the right to turn left. Spin up to build the speed up and ride down the trough and ride up through the rock. Lean right and get ready to barrel down another steep one. You remember the ritual and lean back and feather the brakes as you let the bike roll. 



You’re done with steep stuff and roll into the real speed zone, the last quarter of the trail. A couple of crank turns in a big gear and you build on the natural momentum. The bike and the body are in sync and in the zone. You’re rolling down and flying at the same time. You take that last drop and fly into the finish line. Take a deep breath and let the exhilaration sink in. Welcome to the DownHill Mayhem at Turahalli!
The awesome new mascot of BBCh.. Unveiled at the race!
 Rain or Shine..!!
By the time I woke up a little before 5am, it was ‘raining cats and dogs’! I was not sure what it meant for the race. It would be a shame if the rain manages to wash off the months of hard work that Nelly(Nilesh Dhumal), Iggy(Ignatius chen), Modi(Pramod Kumar), Karan and the rest of the guys have put in terms of getting the trail ready for this big day. All the hours they spent hiking up that hill with their heavy bikes to refine their downhill skills were to bear fruit on this fun day. A quick check on BBCh FB page had me quite relieved. The message was, “Rain or shine, the race is on!”

I crashed a couple of times and scraped my knees badly at downhill practice the preceding week(a good case for the right protective gear including knee pads). The wound didn’t heal properly and I feared that another fall could put me off the bike for months. So, I chickened out of participating in the race. Instead of sitting at home feeling deprived of the fun, I decided to volunteer at the race along with Mohan  and Akshay and be part of the great fun.
 


We were supposed to reach Turahalli early to mark the trail but the rain meant we were delayed by an hour and the trail was already marked by Arvind Ganesh and others by the time we got there. Mohan and Akshay took up race marshal duties at various points on the trail while I took up to photography and capturing the event on video. So, I got to roam around like an useless bum and still got to call myself a volunteer.

It was really heartening to see the turnout of both the volunteers and the participants at the race despite the continuous rain. It was a festive atmosphere despite the gloomy skies and an almost continuous drizzle. The most heartening of all, there were about 10 kids ready to have fun at the kids race too. One of our 1000km brevet heroes, Chiddu(Chidambaran Subramanian) was there to organize the kids race along with a few others like Yogesh Murthy. They did a fine job of watching over the kids’ safety and ensured they had a blast.

Contrary to my fears, the rain has actually made the trail safer to ride. The rain made the trail just wet enough to allow for better grip. Siddarth Kansal and a couple of others who completed their practice rides by the time we got there, confirmed that it was safer than when it was drier. So, the rain actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I was delighted for Nelly and gang and for BBCh. 


The Qualifier Round:
The downhill race is essentially a time trial. A race where one has to race against the clock coming down the hill and the fastest man wins. Like in any time trial, the participants ride with a predefined time gap between each other with the slowest one starting first and fastest one starting last. So, a qualifying round would be used to determine the order in which the riders get to ride for the actual race. 


In the qualifying round Nelly was the fastest followed by Gautam Taode(Pune) and Vinay Menon(Pune). Other usual suspects like Iggy(Team BOTS), Karan(Team BOTS), Piyush Chavan(Pune), Kiran Kumar Raju(KYNKYNY Wheelsports), Sanket(Pune), Kalkat(Amarpreet, Team Travelomy) and Sri Harsha(Team BOTS) followed the leaders in timings(not necessarily in the same order). 

The Race Begins..:
Once the order was set, the riders hiked back up the hill and started lining up for the race run in reverse order of their timings on the qualifier. The three ladies, Pooja Dave, Sowmya and Meera Velankar, started gunning it down the hill first followed by men; each with a two minute gap. A few were quite adventurous and while others were conservatively so, depending on their risk appetite. All of them had to conquer the fear, control it and channel it to finish the ride safely and as quickly as possible.

You got to know your boundaries and you get to push them only so much as your current skill level allows you to. If you over do it, you’d end up crashing and risk losing more time than you would have gained. It is a fine balancing act that you got to do every fraction of a second that you’re on the trail. The trail and gravity applies the same simple rules to all of us; be it a novice or a DH veteran with an experience close to his age.

Vinay Menon(Pune) and Gautam Taode(Pune) making their way up to start their race run

The big boys most of them who handle the bikes as if they are born on them, began their rides. The action quoitient suddently sored sky high as they blasted down the hill on their full-suspension beasts. The DH rockstars from Pune, Vinay Menon and Gautam Taode showed what a spectacular combination of style and skill they could unleash. It was such a treat to watch them. The collective gasp of the spectators when these guys got massive air on each of the jumps was only bettered by the thunderous cheering that followed it each time. 

The other Pune boys, Piyush Chavan, Anand Sadana, Sanket and Corey also ripped the trail apart with their speed and style. The Bangalore boys were not far behind as well. Our awesome Iggy, Karan Bota, Kiran Kumar Raju, Modi, Sri Harsha, Adithya, Siddarth, Butcher and a few others put in a great show as well. 

Piyush Chavan(Pune) riding himself into a podium finish(3rd)

Our champion, Nelly, who showed who the real boss of DH at Turahalli is by a fantastic qualifying round where he finished first, had torrid luck on the final run. He crashed having over cooked the speed on the first jump. Being the bad-ass that he is, he quickly got on the bike and finished the rest of the ride in style. But it was not enough to defend his 2011 DH championship title. The awesome champ that he is, I’m sure, he will be back with a bang soon.

A Spectacular Show:
Nelly, Iggy and gang did unbelievable amount of work on the trail over time. Kudos to them for the great work they do in trail upkeeping. Nelly’s constant and patient coaching helped many a hungry novice taste that DH fun in a safe manner. The number of participants and a largely incident free event yesterday is a testament to his efforts.

Safety was rightly given a top priority in an event which is by its very nature considered risky. There were coaching and practice camps, bike and gear checks with strict guidelines. That probaly saved quite a few thousands in hospital bills for many. The event needed a huge number of volunteers to man the trail to ensure safety. People responded to the shout out from BBCh team and came in to help and made the event a grand success again!  

It takes a little less than 20 minutes to hike up and a little less than 2 minutes to come down that trail. You have to experience it to believe the high that a trail spanning a little less than 1000 meters can give you. Like me, if you’re too scared to try the trail, however, the next best thing is, being a spectator, as the lucky ones who braved the rains to be there will vouch for. Disclaimer: While watching the DH big boys fly down that trail, if you fail to pick your jaw up in time, it is at your own risk. There are millipedes crawling all over. Be sure to be there next time!

Results: 

The Pune boys made the podium their own this time.. Anand(4th), Vinay(2nd), Gautam(1st) and Piyush(3rd)

 

Women’s podium: Sowmya(2nd), Meera(1st) and Pooja(3rd)

If you don’t know who Vinay Menon is, you’re certainly haven’t seen his spectacular riding or his videos. Here is the lastest sample from Vinay and Gautam. His website has many such amazing videos. Enjoy.

One of the best articles on the DH fun at Turahalli was written by our Rahul. Check it out here: http://beingthomas.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/its-all-downhill-from-turahalli/ 

Here are a few more photos from my camera: https://picasaweb.google.com/102172342564541481938/BBChTurahalliDHRaceJuly15th#



Look out for some spectacular stuff from Veloscope here: https://www.facebook.com/Veloscope

4 thoughts on “BBCh-DownHill Championship-2012:: DH Mayhem At Turahalli

  1. Hits, Videos and super action pics will be out soon from expert photographers. Watch out for them on Veloscope page. My Nokia E71 can only do so much. 🙂

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