Suffering On A Merry-Go-Round: BBCh Bharathiya City Criterium

Criterium races a.k.a Crit races are usually organized in on a circuit course that is usually short(1km-2km). They are usually time bound( around 1hr) and the winner will be the one who does most number of laps of the circuit or finishes first in the given time. There are variants of crit races with sprint points allotted to each of the predetermined laps(eg., odd/even numbered laps, bell laps etc.) and the rider with most points wins the race. 

Crits are usually great spectator races as the spectators get to watch the riders go by multiple times and get to watch the race dynamics evolve before them with each passing lap. However, these races tend to be tough on the riders as the shorter the race(~1hr) the more intense it tends to be. With multiple turns involved, the riders need good bike handling skills. Corners and u-turns also mean a lot of slowing down in the corners and accelerations out of them. So, the riders with good bike handling skills and having the capacity to produce innumerable short bursts of high power over the course of the race tend to do better.

The boomerang like crit circuit(1.4km) at Bharathiya City!

The circuit for the final race of the road season at BBCh is a boomerang shaped circuit of 1.4km inside Bharathiya City with a couple of U-turns and a couple of 90 degree turns. It has no major climbs but there is a slight uphill riding into the headwinds after we take the first 90 degree turn after the start. Having to hit it every couple of minutes could get to your legs especially after all the accelerations out of the corners on every lap.

It is all about getting your mind and body into the hurt zone and staying there for the duration of the race. 

Get..Set.. Go Suffer!!
Due to the long weekend and a relatively short notice with the change of venues at the last moment, the turn-out for the race wasn’t like the usual high turnout we got used to seeing at the BBCh. So, the master’s race was combined with Cat1 and we were started together. The action picked up right away as the race was flagged off and the immediate accelerations managed to make a quick selection of 7 riders at the front.

Team Mongrels riders Ramesh and Gokul, team Trek Firefox riders Sarvesh and Surender were the Cat1 riders in the front group to which 3 masters riders latched onto. Dr. Arvind Bhateja and myself from team Spectrum racing and Kevin, a burly Aussie who landed in Bangalore 6 weeks back after 4 years in Shanghai, were hanging on to the front four. I could see my teammates Hari Menon and Bjorn Suetens riding a few meters behind us. Deepak Mhasavade a master’s contender from Cleated Warriors was a bit behind them. Others were spread out through the circuit.

Lap after lap the younger lot kept a high pace and did many accelerations but the three of us managed to hang on. But after 20mins of that, they managed to develop a gap with an acceleration on the little uphill. After that Arvind began to set the pace with me and Kevin hanging on. Hari and Bjorn managed to bridge up to us and the 5 of us formed a second group on the road. With four of us from one team, it was obvious that we wanted to distance Kevin with a strong ride. But he was riding very strong and not only kept up but also did a couple of short turns at the front.

With Arvind, Bjorn and Hari sharing the load, I was conserving and letting the clock tick by. 35mins into the 45 min race, Hari got to the front and hit the accelerator on the uphill section and we could see that Kevin was distanced a little. I decided to get out of the protective shield of my teammates and accelerated to ensure he doesn’t get back to us after we make the U-turn and go downhill. I managed to stay off at the front for the next four laps until the finish with Arvind, Bjorn and Hari finishing after me.

U-18 Category had a solo participant in a 9 year old Shashank Bhat. It was heartening to see the youngster’s enthusiasm for the sport. I’m sure we will see more of him in the futures as he matures and gets himself a better bike. 

The sole participant and winner of under-18 race

Women’s Category saw just two participants in Vicki Nicholson from team Spectrum Racing and Fariyal Jamadar of Specialized Kynkyny Cycling Team. Fariyal had a mechanical(she managed to tear off the pedal from her bike) and could not finish the race. With this race, Vicki winds up a super consistent road season and finishes at the top of overall championship and wins herself an entry into the Tour of Nilgiris.

Vicki claiming her spot on the women’s podium again!

In Cat2 race which had the most number of participants, Karthik Padmanabhan, the diesel engine from team Mongrels from Chennai broke away right at the start and stayed at the front all the way to the finish. No one could bring him back despite trying to work together. It was an impressive ride from him. Vishwesh Arya of team Trek Firefox finished 2nd with the Cleated Warrior duo Ganapathy Subramanian and Thoudam Opendro Singh finished 3rd and 4th respectively. It was great to see some team work at CW during the race. 

Cat2 Podium

In the Master’s category, I’ve managed to finish first thanks largely to the superb team support that I was privileged to have during the race. Arvind who hates crits and was vary of racing because he was coming back from a recent back problem that got him bed-ridden just a couple of weeks back, only signed up for the race to be there to help me. He not only managed that but also finished second with a superb ride through out. Bjorn and Hari finished 3rd and 4th respectively after doing massive work. Cycling is a team sport and only a great team can put an average rider on the podium consistently with great teamwork- like my team has managed to do this year. Thank you guys!

Master’s category podium

In Cat1, Ramesh of team Mongrels finished first with Surender of Team Trek Firefox Racing finishing behind him. The fight at the top was intense and we were there to witness it for the first half of the race while we were trying to hang on to them. Sarvesh(TTFR) and Gokul of Team Mongrels rode very well in support of their teammates and finished 3rd and 4th respectively.

Cat1 Podium, Ramesh of team Mongrels and Surender of team Trek Firefox

And That’s A Wrap:
This is the last race in the road series at BBCh for 2014. Thanks to all the volunteers and sponsors for bringing consistently great races this season. Thanks to Bharathiya City for offering the venue for the race. Although I no longer ride an MTB, I’m looking forward to the dirt series races starting next month at BBCh.

Here are a few photos from the race!

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