The day dawned with chirping birds and moo-mooing cows sizing up a rather large group of strangers that poured into their neck of the woods. Turahalli XC trail was of course their terrain and we just happened to intrude, on this particularly beautiful morning. Some hundred odd folks gathered in Turahalli for the first Dirt race of BBCh-2013, 4 loops of ~5.5km trail making it a 22km XC race.
|At the start line as the race was flagged off..|
63 pairs of tires raised a cloud of dust as the race was flagged off. The start line was on a wide mud road that allowed for a spacious start. A few hundred meters and a couple of left turns later you enter the thorny forest trail. The initial burst has separated the leaders from the rest of the field.
Craig Raynes of BOTS Racing, Richard McDowell of Team Trek Firefox Racing, K Kiran Kumar Raju of Specialized KYNKYNY Cycling Team and Sridhar Savanur of Team Wheelsports pulled away and formed the lead breakaway bunch early in the first loop. Towards the end of the first loop however, the champion road rider, Sridhar became one of the many causalities of the tough trail and took a hard tumble on a downhill stretch. A hard hit to the knee and a twisted ankle meant that the road champion was not going to be able to embarrass the MTB specialists.
|Craig in the lead at the start of the 2nd loop.. You can see Richard in pursuit..|
By the start of the second loop, Craig was leading the race with Richard hot in pursuit. Kiran was a few meters behind them in 3rd position. The rest of the field was more than 5 minutes away and the closest guy, Siddhu Kurani of Team Wheelsports crashed out in the middle of the 3rd loop. That meant that the three podium positions were going to be from among these three hardcore MTBeers(read EmptyBeers) unless they crash or flat out. It was now the question of who will claim which position.
The first two loops were lead by Craig but by third loop however, the rules of gravity began to overrule the sheer muscle power that was being generated and the feather weight duo closed in and dropped him into 3rd position. It was now Kiran in the lead with Richard closing in on him. That cat and mouse chase continued between these three right to the finish line but the positions established in the penultimate loop prevailed and Kiran finished an epic race on his new Specialized Epic 29er.
Kiran Rides An Epic Race:
The first time I noticed Kiran Kumar Raju was when we were doing a recce for an XC race route around Sarjapur around early 2011. Here was this lean guy riding his MTB with the kind of abandon that we rarely get to see. But I didn’t know him or his name then. Then I saw him put in a monster effort during the Nandi race in 2011 on a borrowed bike and sneakers. That was when I knew this guy is actually a really special animal. So did Vivek Radhakrishnan who soon blooded him into his development team, KYNKYNY Wheelsports, for 2012 season. He hopped on a bike after a long gap and finished 3rd in Nandi race 2012.
All those bad-ass performances earned Kiran the red and white SKCT kit and a Specialized bike for 2013. He is the one man army of the SKCT MTB team that made its debut along with the Specialzed Epic 29er.
|Kiran and his Specialized Epic at the start of the 2nd loop|
All the best laid plans of this Epic debut however were in serious jeopardy when Kiran crashed on his commute and did a face plant on concrete exactly one month before the race. He broke his jaw, got operated, got some titanium plates and screws in his face and was on liquid diet for better part of the month preceding the race.
When he appeared at the start line the scars from the lacerations were fresh on his face, arms and legs. The already lean guy lost a lot of weight due to the liquid diet and looked like a ghost. Although I knew him, I wondered if he would last at least couple of loops let alone compete. But what do we know! He went ahead and won the race beating a couple of the best MTBeers to the line. I won’t ask him to take a bow because I know he was struggling with a bad back after the race. Kudos Kiran!
Turahalli Continues to Amaze: Best of The Trails Yet!
Although we have seen quite a few great trails over the years at BBCh, I thought this was the the best XC trail loop so far. It had a bit of everything in it. Loads of climbing, rocky downhills, fire roads, thorny winding trail, a bit of jeep track a lot of single track. It ejected a lot of riders out of the race with punctured tires and punctured limbs. It was one tough course testing everyone to the limits.
|Opendro negotiating a fast rocky downhill bit..|
The first of the hundreds of flats on the day was on my team Spectrum Racing‘s Mohan Kumar a.k.a The Demon, who flatted with-in 200mts from the start line. That was the end of the race for him. By the end of the race, puncture fixing appeared to be the favorite pastime for most.
I didn’t participate in the race owing to a small injury and I walked one loop of the trail taking photos and watching the race unfold. I can still feel the burning sensation all over my legs from all trail rash the thorny bushes on the course gave me. So, I was not surprised to see all the bloodied legs with various art forms etched in dark shades of red by the end of the race.
The women’s podium was dominated by Team Wheelsports. Gitanjali and Sowmya of Team Wheelsports finished 1st and 2nd while Spectrum Racing’s Shilpa Deo shared the podium with a 3rd place. Sowmya reached the race venue early morning from Mysore, borrowed and rode our design guy Aditya TVM’s MTB into podium.
|Women’s Podium: Sowmya(2nd), Gitanjali(1st) and Shilpa Deo(3rd)|
The kids race was 100% dominated by Cleated Warrior younger generation.
|Cleated Warriors- GenNext!|
The Men’s podium was shared by SKCT’s Kiran at 1st place, Team Trek Firefox’s Richard at 2nd and BOTS racing’s Craig at 3rd spot.
|Men’s Podium: Richard(2nd), Kiran(1st) and Craig(3rd)|
The winners in both men’s and women’s categories were gifted an entry into the weekend edition of MTB Shimla along with a cash prize of 2k each.
The guys did a great job of marking and manning the trail. Trail scouting and marking is not an easy job. The volunteers did a great job once again in the smooth organization of the race. Thanks guys!
|Volunteer power at BBCh! Thanks guys!|