Team First, Second and Third!!Team Time Trial:
You’re feeling strong. You’re putting in a great turn at the front. You’re feeling like a super hero. You accelerate further. Your teammates lose your wheel in the process. If you still feel like a super hero, you don’t know cycling.
You’re struggling. Your teammates are doing their turns at the front well. You’re struggling to keep up. You don’t want to let your team down. You dig in more for a turn at the front. You try to keep the speed going. Your struggle only worsened. You get dropped when your next teammate takes over from you. If you still think you did your job, you don’t know team work. Yes, that’s right!
Your team is as good as its weakest link. Even if you’re the strongest cyclist in your team, your city or even your country, you are still the weakest link in the team, if you don’t work for what is best for the team. If there is only one thing that I learned from a team time trial, it is just that.
|Team Naesar rode an impressive TTT and finished second overall.. Photo: Chromoframes|
When the race flagged off, Spectrum Racing’s Team1 took to the line first. Mohan Kumar, Dr. Arvind Bhateja, Gautam Raja and myself made team one for spectrum and got ready to race against the clock as a team. We raced the same route for the BAR TTT last weekend and were aiming to better our time from last Sunday. But it was evident that it is going to be a tough task with much stronger winds this Sunday.
With the wind behind us we were going great guns on the way out. We were turning a big gear and were taking the rollers at well above 40kmph. The first inkling of trouble came in terms of our ever reliable diesel engine, Mohan cracking and getting dropped 12km into the race on the Volvo incline. He had a crash last weekend while going home after the race and was carrying a back injury. We knew that he was not 100% but he agreed to join the team for the race with the condition that we should not wait for him if his back worsens.
We were down to three, the minimum required to complete the race. Arvind and Gautam were doing great until the U-turn point and our first mistake came in the form of a surge from me on the last incline before the U-turn. This distanced Gautam a little but we quickly regrouped after the U-turn and started riding into the headwinds. We were more than a minute ahead of our target time for the half way mark, but we knew that with much stronger headwinds, the longest part of the race was still ahead of us.
A few kms into the return leg, our skipper Arvind who was in great shape began to show signs of tired legs. His busy schedule means that this neurosurgeon is mostly a trainer rat during the weekdays and that shows when the winds offer a bit of a wall. Although there is no denying how much taxing they are on the legs, I think the headwinds have their biggest effect on a roadie mind. When you know that you’re putting in all you’ve got but feel like you’re ambling up a non-existent hill instead of zooming ahead, it is difficult to swallow that roadie pride, stop looking at the speed numbers and just focus on giving your best.
I decided to take longer turns and see how quickly we can get to the finish line with all three of us still alive. Whenever I my effort was flagging, Gautam would take a turn and let me recover before my next turn. After a bit, Arvind recovered enough to take his turns again and that helped. With 5km to go, we were on the last incline really tests the legs one final time. After a bit of effort mismatch on the incline and a bit of SOS communication between the three of us, we regrouped again and began our downhill ride towards the finish line.
Exhausted both mentally and physically we gave one final effort to sprint across the line and called it a race. For all our pain we missed our own target of 51:23(from last week) by about 40 secs and finished the 33.5km course in 52:10. We’re not complaining because it was good enough for finishing first in our age category.
|Spectrum racing on Master’s podium|
Yes, BBCh started a master’s category from this race(35+). That means although we might not get separate oldies race at BBCh yet, we are no longer competing with teenagers and twenty something state and national level cyclists. I hope this encourages a lot of older riders to get going in the racing scene. Good to see BBCh raising the BAR in this aspect as well.
The Bigger Results!
Of course, the real course record shattering efforts came from the pro-teams. Specialized KYNKYNY Cycling Team’s team one shattered their last year’s time of 46min by about a minute and finished first. Their beautiful Specialized Transition TT bikes were put to great use. Team Naesar finished second with an impressive show. SKCT’s team two finishing third with heart breaking 0.7secs ahead of a very strong, Team Wheelsports, which was plagued by flats and mechanical issues through the race.
Team Wheelsports were without competition in women’s and U-18 boys categories and raced for time.
Thanks to all the volunteers and organizers for putting together another great race. The races become big with the level of competition and participation as well. We have seen that the competition has definitely gone up a notch or two with the formation of Team Wheelsports, Team Trek Firefox(absent for this race apparently due to some logistical issues) this year and the come back of Team Naesar. Although the participation levels have gone up from last year, hopefully the introduction of master’s category will give extra motivation to the MAMIL legs to get going at BBCh.
Photos from my camera here and high quality stuff from Deepak Sondur’s Chromoframes can be found here.
PS: One feedback for the pro-teams here from all the MAMILS with time rations from home. It was observed that the non-pro teams were more professional in getting to the start line on time while it appeared that a few pro-teams took their own sweet time in arriving at the race venue and getting ready to be at the start line delaying the proceedings for everybody. The organizers were awake enough to get the non-pro teams going but the pro-teams didn’t start until after we finished our race. This meant that the podium ceremony was delayed for everyone.
While it is great to socialize after the race, spending a couple of hours standing after a hard race is not great on older legs. More importantly, it is not very good for our overall mental health to be late for our weekend domestic appointments. Let us not make the organizers take a hardline approach and take the fun out of your Sunday by not allowing you to start if you’re late. Let us help the organizers be punctual and give them hell if they are not!
Thanks to all the sponsors supporting these races!