Team Time Trial(TTT) is one of my favorite disciplines after Individual Time Trial. While the Individual Time Trial is often called ‘the race of truth’, putting an individual against the clock and the elements to see how fast one can go, the TTT is all about team work and how well you work as a unit to beat the clock and the elements. Like a chain is as strong as it’s weakest link, in the team time trial, a team can only be as fast as it’s slowest rider. How fast the team goes depends on how well the team leverages the strengths and weaknesses of all its riders to fight against the elements and the clock.
|Cleated Warriors-Team A – Riding in sync! Photo: Md Rafi|
Small things like having a rider who isn’t that great when the gradient points northwards at front on an incline, or have a pencil thin rider who would struggle to go fast on a downhill at front on a downhill, can have a huge impact over the period of a race. How long should each rider take the pull at the front? How long should the pulls be in tailwinds and how long in headwinds? Should everyone in the team share the load at the front equally or should the stronger riders take longer turns? The answers to questions like these would usually make up the team’s strategy going into a TTT.
Our team, Spectrum Racing, however, gave all the strategy talks a miss and four of us turned up to race at the Student Foundation of Sports(SFS) Team Time Trial on Sunday. Shankar, Ameet, Gaurav and I made our team to tackle the second SFS 50km TTT. Five minutes before 7am, the captains of all the 9 teams that managed to wake up in time, picked up a token from a box for deciding their starting order. I drew first and got 9 and that meant we get to start last. That gave us a chance to enjoy the satisfaction of dropping a few teams that started ahead of us although its difficult to do that with 2 min gaps the team start at. We started with no pressure knowing that even if we don’t finish on the podium we are assured a top ten finish.
|Spectrum Racing train.. Ameet leading us at the start of the second lap! Photo: Md Rafi|
Instead of pumping each other up with motivational words to go fast, we told each other to ride slow and not drop each other. We have decided the order and duration of our turns at the front after we got to the start line and off we went. I took the first turn and started at gentle pace not to over do the start. As we got going, we kept rotating smoothly without any problems. No one was accelerating unnecessarily and no one was slowing down too much, which would have been exactly according to the plan if we had one.
|Team SFS boys had a great race and finished 2nd fastest! Photo: Md Rafi|
The nice pace we were going at without too much struggle said, it was probably tailwind on the way out. As we approached the U-turn at about 12.5km we could see Cleated Warrior A team of Venkatachalam(DaLam), Deepak Mhasavade and Ganapathy Subramanyam, on the other side of the road. They were just heading back on their first of the two laps that would make 50k. The return leg of the first lap was also quite smooth and we took on the inclines quite strongly. At around 21km mark, we managed to overtake Cleated Warrior team A and Team C(Nalla Konar, Mohammed Rafi and Amitabh Bhattacharya) at once and as I waved as we went past, I heard ‘poda dei'(get lost, dude..) from DaLam and we promptly obliged. We finished the first lap with an average of 41kmph.
The outward leg of the second lap also went well with those of us who are still strong taking longer pulls while others took shorter turns at the front. After we took the u-turn in the second lap for our last 12km, we could feel that our flagging strength combined with the headwinds began to show with a dip in the speed. 5km from the finish, the last incline is always a tough cookie and it took a casualty in Gaurav while Ameet, Shankar and I went ahead, although a lot slower than we would have liked. After the 1km long incline however, the downhill home stretch always brings a lot of relief. We drove it home strongly and finished well satisfied with our effort.
Team Globeracers finished first with the fastest time for the day, 1 hr 09 min 37secs (1:09:37). They improved by 54secs over their time in previous race on the same course two weeks ago,(1:10:31).
|Team Globeracers had a great race and unsurprisingly finished the fastest! Photo: Md Rafi|
Team SFS of Andrew Jerald, Arogya Pradeep, Alwin and Praveen Kumar finished second with 1:12:02. This was a massive improvement over their previous time of 1:16:43. They lost Alwin for a flat in the last race and even in this race he was dropped early on. So, it was effectively the same three guys riding but an improvement of 4:41 is huge. Either they had an off day in their last race or had an incredibly good race this time around. Well done.
|SFS boys showed a massive improvement and finished 2nd fastest! Photo: Md Rafi|
Spectrum Racing, we finished 3rd with a timing of 1:13:30 which is 2:18 better than our last time on the same course which was 1:15:48. Last time we were a team of three as opposed to a team of four we had this time. We were also riding much better together this time with all four riding well as opposed to one of the three in the last race struggling and the other two having to slow down for him.
|Spectrum racing oldies.. Finished third! Photo: Md Rafi|
Did We Get Better?
This was the longest time trial for most of us although it is a team time trial. So, the first race might have worked as a feeler and we knew what to expect and how to pace ourselves better this time. Also, considering almost all of the participants were faster than last time the conditions might also have been favorable but with an out and back course, the change in wind conditions might not be a massive factor. Here are the overall results.
|SFS-TTT-Race 2 Results! Don’t Piss-off team PSYOFF!(Prajval-Shyam-Yogesh=PSY)|
Organizing and Volunteers:
SFS team did a fabulous job of organizing the race again. The volunteer force did a great job. The sandwich and banana musettes each team go as they crossed the finish line were a welcome relief. The results were out immediately without delay. All the finishers received a memento of some sorts with the top three teams getting t-shirts and medals.
|Participants, Volunteers and organizers together! One happy bunch after the race!|
Sponser Details :
Thanks to sponsors, volunteers and everyone at SFS for giving us another great race. We look forward to more races from them in a few months time in June/July.
Photos from the race by Mohammed Rafi Shaik can be found on BAR page here. Thank you Rafi! Photos from IronMan Dipankar Paul can be found here.