7:00 am sharp on a gaily Sunday morning on Hyderabad highway. 80 odd cyclists took up the left lane lining up at the start of first road race of the season at BBCH. 3-2-1 go! Some of the beginner riders shot off the gun and went to the front. The rest of us knew there is plenty of racing still to do with 97 kms to go and were just spinning easy and watching them hanging out there some 50 m ahead. Eventually they returned to the bunch and the peloton kept moving at a lazy pace.
I was hanging out at the head of the bunch or thereabouts watching the proceedings. After a bit of loitering for about 10km or so, people obviously started getting impatient and the action stated getting a bit lively. The SKCT rider Sarvesh Sangarya who is coming back fresh out of a forced break due to a collarbone fracture tried a few accelerations to no avail. Ronny tried a break away and I and a few others were on to him. I was willing to gamble on a breakaway with someone like him just for the heck of it although my main job for the race was to be there and work for my team.
The Belgian Jet and The Basque Torpedo Take Off!
After a couple of failed attempts that ended up with the bunch coming together, the Basque rider Enaut joined the Belgian power horse, Ronny and they took off. I was trying to jump on to them when I was shut down by a quick call from my skipper. I stayed back but asked our Spectrum Racing skipper, Arvind Bhateja to join Sarvesh who started chasing to join the two rider up the road. My thinking was since Ronny is in the Master’s category, if we had one of our master’s rider up there with him, the rest of us could relax and watch the proceedings.
I was still at the front but was setting a sedate pace to let the riders at the front organize the break. However, since Sarvesh is just getting back to riding outdoors again, he was obviously not in a top shape and Arvind and him couldn’t bridge up to Ronny and Enaut quickly. I obviously didn’t want to chase our own man up the road but didn’t want let others just go either. So, when a couple of young riders started chasing and I quickly got on their wheels and the peloton’s speed quickly rose during the chase.
After dangling for a bit in no-man’s land, Sarvesh and Arvind got back to the bunch but the two man train up the road kept gaining more and more with each passing km since no one other than a couple of us was really putting any effort to chase them down. With Enaut being in Elite category, SKCT’s podium spot on the top step was also at risk if the break ended up staying away. So, Sarvesh offered some help and my teammate Mohan and I joined him and started to work together in attempt to reel them in.
The rest of the peloton was more or less content with hanging on since there is a fair bit of racing to be done especially after the U-turn with headwinds.
The Heat Turns On!As we approached the U-turn one side of the highway was closed for repairs and the traffic was diverted into one lane for about a km or so. We ended up with some vehicles coming head on towards us. Thankfully, we managed to get their attention with frantic waving of arms and shouting at the top of our lungs to get their attention and get them to their side of the road.
Near the U-turn we noticed that the two guys at the front have managed to put almost 90 secs or so on the peloton. As soon as we took the U-turn the action got hotter with a couple of accelerations with Naveen John and Naveen Raj of SKCT becoming more concerned with the gap that Enaut had on them. I managed to hang in there during those accelerations but I noticed that my energy levels were not that great. But I decided to go to the front to make sure our riders Hari and Arvind don’t end up spending time at the front.
Hari was of the opinion that it is time to put in a serious chase to catch Ronny. I agreed and suggested that Hari, Arvind and Shankar do a TTT to catch Ronny since I needed a breather and the rest of the field seemed unconcerned. Just as I was going back to tell Shankar to join Hari at the front, an attack happened on a long hill and I found myself at the back of the pack and slipping further back with energy levels low and the onset of cramps.
It was not even 60km and I was supposed to be there for the team for the whole race. I noticed that I have hardly been drinking as two of my three bottles were still full. I cursed myself for the silly mistake and furiously started gulping down my energy drink. It was too late by then and I needed a bit of respite to recover. I saw the bunch riding away and sat up for a bit to recover and get my bearings right.
The Second Wind!
It took 2-3 minutes but I slowly started feeling better. I joined my teammates Mohan and Ameet for a few minutes. We picked up a couple of riders and started going at a decent pace. We picked up Rajat Roy from Pune Wolfpack and Karthik Padmanaban of Team Mongrels from Chennai. After a while I noticed that my teammates were not with me but I kept working with Rajat and Karthik to keep going. From then on it was a possession of picking up and passing riders. Sri Ram from Scott joined us and so did Anatha Vishwanathan of Cleated Warriors and Sarvesh of SKCT.
We tried to rotate and share the load but it didn’t always work with varying pace of the riders ended up causing occasional accelerations breaking the rhythm. We kept chugging on and I saw someone being attended to on the road side. I assumed it was a crash and was disheartened to see it was my young teammate, Rishav Mallik who was in top shape but ended up unable to finish with cramps.
We continued going at a decent pace when I sawed the familiar Spectrum racing colors of pink and blue ahead. I could recognize that riding style from far off too. It was our master’s contender, Shankar Jayaraman. He was another rider from our team in top shape and I couldn’t believe he got dropped by the bunch. He was riding strong and it took us a while to catch him. When we finally caught him, I learnt that he had puncture and had been doing an ITT of sorts to try and catch the peloton after a wheel change(thanks to Tusker Kiran of Wheelsports). That was another bit of bad luck.
We kept going and a brisk pace sharing the load between six of us(Shankar, Karthik, Anantha, SriRam, Sarvesh and myself). In the final kms with nothing to lose, I started driving the pace again. I was feeling perfectly fine and was thinking if only I hadn’t neglected taking care of my energy needs earlier in the race, I would have been more helpful for the team. I could have been there for Shankar to take him back to the bunch. But despite all ifs and buts, we finished about 30secs behind the main bunch.
The Racing Action Up Ahead:
With the break of Enaut and Ronny up ahead, the SKCT riders Naveen Raj and Naveen John apparently decided to liven up the action to catch them. An young rider from Pune, Rhishabh Hattarki managed to join them for a bit before they dropped him and caught the break. Despite riding in the break all day it apparently took multiple attacks to crack and drop Enaut. He finished third behind Naveen Raj and NJ who basically rolled together to the finishline after dropping him. Rhishabh finished fourth.
Ronny managed to stay ahead of all the masters contenders who were in the bunch and took the top step on the podium. What a brilliant ride from the super Belgian! A well deserved and well earned win!
Behind, in the bunch, the young gun from Hyderabad, Aman Punjani, took the bunch sprint with the Madrascals rider Adarsh Saxena finishing behind him. Master’s sprint was taken by the Spectrum racing skipper, Arvind Bhateja while Rajani finished behind him followed by Hari Menon. The Spectrum boys had our rocket, Gaurav Dwivedi to work for them as they approached the line while Rajani on his steel steed, Surly Pacer, had his alliances in Akash Ananthaswamy and Abhirama Mallela leading him out. Brilliant racing by everyone!
“Hey There, Don’t waver! Ouch! Damn!”
In the shorter 47km Amateur race, that started 20 minutes after the Elite race, U-18 riders and Women were combined. With the shorter race and younger riders, the action is bound to be a bit more agitated than usual. Apparently a few of the U-18 and other younger riders were having trouble riding without wavering too much in the peloton and were causing problems to some of the Amateur riders to stay upright on the bike. This resulted in a few crashes with the big one being a huge pile up for riders with 12km to go. It resulted in quite a few riders leaving fair bit of skin on the road and coming back with severly bent wheels. Thankfully no broken bones were involved and the ambulance support from the medical partner Sita Bhateja Hospital was there to attend to them in time.
In Under 18 (47km race) Vishwesh Arya finished first with Sarvanan and Karan of Gaint-JustBuyCycles finishing 2nd and 3rd. Niranjan finished 4th
Geetanjali of Team Wheelsports finished first while her teammate Shaheera Attar finished second. Velohankan Sabina von Kessel finished 3rd while Lena finished 4th. Their race was for 47km as well.
|Women power at BBCH!|
Amateur Category(47km race):
In the Amateur category race, Vignesh M of Gaint JustBuyCycles finished first followed by Darius Koester of Crankmeister finishing second. PBS Mahapatra finished 3rd in the category with Ajit B of Velohanka finished 4th.
|Amateur Category podium!|
Ronny won the master’s race in style riding in the break all day. Arvind Bhateja of Spectrum racing won the bunch sprint in masters taking second place with every awesome Rajani finishing 3rd. Hari Menon of Spectrum racing finished 4th.
|Master’s podium with Peter from Aurovelo giving away the medals to the guys!|
The national ITT champion, Naveen John and his teammate Naveen Raj didn’t let things get out of hand and took control of the situation with aggressive riding towards the business end of the race. They finished second and first respectively although they crossed the line arm in arm. Enaut raced aggressively right from the word go by making the break last for the majority of the race. He finished third. Youngster Rhishabh finished 4th in open.
|Elite podium! Class act!|
Record Participation- Riders From Around The Country!
This race saw quite a few outstation riders from cities like Pune, Hyderabad, Trivandrum, Auroville and Chennai. With about 150 riders participating across the two distances of 47km and 97km in various categories, this is record participation in BBCH. I guess having a shorter race also encouraged better participation from beginner riders.
Credit goes to Team Cleated Warriors for suggesting and planning the two races and helping the BBCH core committee execute them well. They have brought in Decathlon Anubava as hospitality partner who hosted the podium ceremony following a sumptuous breakfast for all the riders and volunteers. Great job by everyone.
The ambulance support from Sita Bhateja Hospital and Physio support from Spectrum Physio were put to much use today as there were a lot of crashes in the shorter, 47km race where most of the young blood was riding. Thanks to them all the injured riders were attended to in time.
Yoga Bars gave away their yummy yoga bars for all the riders who participated in the race.
|The volunteer force behind the race!|
Super job once again by all the volunteers at BBCH for pulling off another great race! Thanks everyone!
Security Note: We might need more volunteers to look after the vehicles parked at our start/end points. Some cheeky burglers managed to break glasses of 7 cars and got away with valuables from the cars. We need to be extra vigilant from now on.