|This is what is racing all about! Giving it 100% Dipankar Saikia the eventual winner! Photo: Suresh|
Why Race If Not To Suffer And Exult in Suffering??:
The pounding heart was agreeing with the numbers on the garmin and the legs were pumping away and settled into a nice rhythm. 5-6kms into the ~25km race the speed was just below the target of 40kmph. As planned I was going just below my threshold. And then my worst nightmares came true in broad daylight. Some invisible hand began plucking at the strings attached to the side of my left knee. The sharp tingling ITB that troubled me from time to time during the last few weeks, made its very untimely and villainous appearance.
‘Dude, less than 30mins more. Just hang in there. You can take care of it later’
‘No, it could snap and you could end up with something serious’
‘Come on, its just some mild pain. You endured better before’
‘You could push too hard and end up something bad’
‘You’re a sucker dude! You find all sorts of excuses to put in a lousy performance’
‘Come on, that’s not fair’
‘Exactly! It is not being fair for others in the race if you give excuses. So, STFU and ride’.
I would have given anything to stop that painful mental dialogue and the ability to focus on the race instead. It was only later in the day that I realized how exponentially more potent the pain of giving up is over the pithy pain caused by Iliotibial Band Syndrome. In retrospect, I should not have given up. Ah..well, retrospection is worth nothing in terms of the numbers on garmin or for the race results. But hopefully, I will be able to bottle up this awfully painful feeling of giving up without giving 100% to remind me to keep going when the going gets tough.
|With the awesome folks at Chennai – TCC gang… Thanks TCC! Photo:Suresh Kumar|
Spectrum Goes To Chennai:
The Spectrum racing wagon, with The Demon a.k.a Mohan Kumar, our skipper Dr. Arvind Bhateja and I, started towards Chennai to take us for our first race appearance in Chennai. For me it was my last opportunity of sorts(at least for a while) to appear in an outstation race before my wife and kids come back at the end of this month after being away for the birth of my second kid. Many months of my forced bachelorhood is set to end and although I wasn’t really ready to race with a bit of ITB issue bothering me after last month’s ITT at BBCh, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to visit Chennai and meet the awesome folks at the Tamilnadu Cycling Club. I was hoping to put in a good show in the ITT and was planning to take some time off after the race to sort the irritating niggle out.
New Teams: New Beginnings:
We reached Chennai on Saturday afternoon and made it to the house of our gracious host, Srinath Rajam. We participated in an instructional session he conducted to the budding national cyclists of his Team Trek Firefox Racing. It was great to get an insight into the kind of training and nutritional plans that are set out for them by the coach. The Trek Firefox team is made of budding cyclists from all over the country including Meerut, Ghaziabad, Delhi, Patna, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai.
Srinath Rajam, who is soon to be a certified coach from British Cycling Association is the force behind the team and is mentoring them with great passion and clear goals. I’m sure great results are going follow as that great passion and love for the sport is combined with a scientific approach to coaching the team.
Although Specialized KYNKYNY Cycling Team(SKCT) operates in similar lines, it looks like Team Trek Firefox Racing is the first private Amateur cycling team in India which is paying a stipend for the riders along with taking care of all their nutritional, training and travel expenses so that they can focus on just improving their performance on the bike.
BBCh road race in April is going to be their first official race on their new trek bikes and team kits. The TCC ITT is just a trailer of sorts as they are yet to receive their Trek Madone bikes and team kits. We wish them all the very best ahead and look forward to great competition and sportsmanship with other top teams like SKCT and Team Wheelsports at club level and with other teams at National level.
|The promising young lads of Team Trek Firefox (not all of them are in this pic)|
The Hurried Start:
We retired early on Saturday and got ready early for the race on Sunday. But anyway ended up reaching the race venue just 5 mins before the 6:30am start. Unfortunately, unlike us, the good folks at TCC were very punctual and as we began assembling our bikes and pumping up our tires, the riders were being flagged off one by one. We ran to the registration desk to sign our indemnity bonds and to collect our bib numbers and dashed off on the opposite side for a quick warm up which lasted all of 2-3km before we had to hurry to the start line.
Siddarth Kansal and Adarsh Sexena started ahead of me and Mohan, Dipankar Saikia and another Trek Firefox rider were slated to start behind me. I started off and got into a good rhythm. But soon I began to feel the pain on the outside of the left knee. May be pushing without much of warmup brought it up sooner than I hoped. Although the pain itself was not huge my brain seemed to have moved to my knee and I was not able to focus. Instead, I started to worry about all sorts of dooms day scenarios like not being able to ride for months together etc.
With all the negative thoughts I began to slow down and ultimately resigned myself to complete the distance slowly. In the meantime, a Trek Firefox rider went past me followed soon by my Spectrum racing teammate, Mohan. I wished him all the best and felt better seeing that he was in good form to fly the Spectrum colors. After a while Dipankar Saikia wooshed past me in a graciously smooth motion.
The Course:Not That Fast:
The course although is flatter than most we would see in Bangalore, is not a very fast course. It has very slight 1-2% inclines all the way which are quite deceptive. But I think the main factor that makes it not-so-easy a course is its winding nature and the swirling cross winds that confuse us. It is a very scenic route too. Although the buses stopping at the couple of village stops on the route could pose issues for the riders, I didn’t face such issues. One dog threatened to commit suicide and take me along with it in the process though.
As I continued to trudge along I sat up from time to time to stretch and relieve the tingling pain before getting back to aero position. As the kms ticked by, I saw a volunteer holding a 1km to go board and ringing a bell. I was so relieved that I wanted to stop and kiss that guy. Thankfully, I stopped myself from such inappropriate behavior and ambled across to the finish line.
|From left to right: Jeetaram Gat(TrekFirefox), Dipankar Saikia(SKCT) and Satpal Singh(TrekFirefox)|
Dipankar Saikia of SKCT smoked it as expected and finished the course at 43.5kmph in 34:09, a good 55 secs ahead of Jeetaram Gat(35:04) of Trek Firefox team. Satpal Singh of Trek Firefox team finished third with 36:16. Naveen Raj of SKCT is the only other guy who managed an average of above 40kmph on the course.
In Women’s category out of the three participants Barbara Pidgeon was the fastest and took the sole podium position with a timing of 49:45.
TCC Organization:Splendid Job:
I have heard really good things about the professional way races are organized by the team at TCC. Even then, I was pleasantly surprised by the smooth way the race was organized. They were punctual, professional and thoughtful. Every person who was responsible for a particular task seem to do it like clock work. The complete results were out with-in 15mins of the race completion.
At the finish line we handed over the tags to a couple of volunteers manning a van filled with boxed breakfast. The tags were tickets for the sumptuous breakfast of idli, Wada, Masala Dosa, Pongal and a bit of Kesari bath. No, not any one of those items. The box contained all of them. It didn’t matter if I performed well in the race or not. I did really well in devouring the breakfast and licking the plate clean. The breakfast was delicious and the people were sweet.
Spectrum racing intends to participate more regularly at TCC events and thanks you all for your great work.
It was such a pleasure to finally meet so many guys whom I knew only through online media like FB and Bikeszone.
A special thanks to our gracious host Srinath Rajam for hosting Spectrum Racing and treating us like royalty. Wish great success to Team Trek Firefox Racing.