Time trial. The race against the clock. It is a race that can be bloody hard both mentally and physically. In my view it is more demanding mentally. It is just you and your thoughts against the clock and the elements. If your thoughts work with you, encourage you, or just let you be and let you focus, you have a better chance of doing well. Otherwise, it’s not just the elements you are fighting but your thoughts as well and that is not an easy fight.
No drafting. No tactics. Just you, your legs, your bike, your thoughts. Against, the wind, the terrain, the elements. That is why the time trial is often referred to as the race of truth.
|Women’s champion, Vicki Nicholson, on her ITT effort! Pic: Veloscope|
A record number of 121 participants lined up for their own race of truth at the Bangalore Bicycling Championships Individual Time Trial for 2016 season on Sunday, 17th April. The atmosphere was very festive with hundreds of riders lined up at Emerald Isle, Hoskote, from where the race started.
The organizers have done a fabulous job of assigning race start timings for all the participants and published that a day in advance so that they can time their warm up, nutrition etc instead of endlessly waiting and wondering when they are going to start.
I have used this to get my nutrition, hydration and warm up right. With my start time scheduled at 8:05 am, I had a good breakfast at 6 am before starting to ride to the venue. Then started my warm up at 7:40 am for about 15 mins. Then hydrated with the pre-workout drink from FastAndUp, Activate. Just as I approached the start line, I took a FastAndUp energy gel and saved one for the half way mark. May be that much was not needed for a 33.5km TT but I wanted to be sure I was not low on energy and am experimenting on what works for me and what doesn’t.
The course is the same 33.5 km course that we have been using for the last 3 years for these time trials. Having a constant course allows us to gauge our performances over the years.
A Stormy-Calm Start!
I was the second last person to start. The count down began..5,4,3,2,1, Go! I push forward with my right leg clipped in, clip in the left and try to sprint up to speed. The right leg came off the pedal. Dang! Luckily, I could balance and stay on the bike. I always seem to have trouble starting out. Thankfully, I manage to clip in immediately without panicking. After ensuring I clipped in properly, I sprinted up to speed and settled into the saddle. “This is going to be a long one. Calm down”, I told myself.
I reminded myself of the golden rule of time trial pacing. Don’t start out too hard. It is very easy to get carried away at the start with the adrenaline flowing and go into red quickly. So, I kept giving my power numbers a quick glance to ensure that I stick to my pacing at least for the first five minutes.
The first 4 km has a couple of gentle uphills that can get you pushing too hard. I made a conscious effort not to push too much on the uphills which could result in me not being able to put in a proper effort on flats and downhills. I was just above the planned wattage at the end of the 5 minutes but within an acceptable range(less than 5% over).
The pacing notes I made to myself were to go slightly above the threshold on the uphills, stick to threshold on the flats and go slightly easier but not too relaxed on the downhills. I have also decided to go a bit harder on the way out and see how it goes on the way back.
I was not looking at the average speed and didn’t wear heart rate strap having decided not to rely too much on data and go by the feel. But I kept peeking a glance at power once in a while just to calibrate against the feel. I kept shifting gears up or down based on the feel in the legs and the occasional glance at the cadence field on my Garmin. At 10 mins and 15 mins into the race, I seemed to be in a far better position on the course than during any of my previous rides on this course. I figured there must have been a good amount of tail wind on the way out.
Midway Through – Cat And Mouse!
I went past a couple of riders but none in my category(just like last year, I’ve signed up to compete in elite instead of in Master’s category this year at BBCh). As I approached the half way mark at Confident Amoon Resort, I turned back to see if there is any traffic coming before I took the U-turn. I noticed, Naveen Raj, a former U-23 national road race champion, was fast approaching me. He started one minute after me and was the last guy to start. Just then the current National MTB ITT champion, Kiran Kumar Raju(KKR), who started 1 min ahead of me took the U-turn and was on the other side of the road. As I took the U-turn, Naveen Raj went past me. He put in more than a min half way through the race and by the looks of it, I seemed to have gained about 30-40 seconds on KKR. That meant I wasn’t doing too shabbily. I just need to consolidate my position and keep going as hard as I could.
|Aero or not, this was my best TT effort till date! Pic: Veloscope|
I decided to take a couple of seconds to have the FastAndUp Energy gel and a couple of sips of the Reload(electrolyte) drink. After taking the gel and electrolytes, I started afresh mentally on the 16.7km journey back to the finish line. I could immediately feel the headwind after the U-turn.
The going against the wind wasn’t easy and having Naveen Raj a few meters in front threw my rhythm off a bit. I didn’t want to be close to him and find myself in his draft which is illegal. I didn’t have enough juice to go past him and play cat and mouse with him. After remaining steady for a couple of kilometers, the distance between us kept steadily increasing and he slowly got out of sight. That actually helped me as I could focus back on my pacing. I was going a bit under threshold but I kept going counting down each passing kilometer. KKR was no where to be seen. That meant he was gaining on me on the return leg. I made a mental calculation if I could keep going at the same effort which was slightly lower than that on the onward leg, and try to bump the effort up for the last 5km, I could still manage to keep a slender lead on him.
The Flourishing Finish!?
As I approached 5km mark, I saw Muralidharan on his Cervelo P2 in the distance ahead of me. I crested the last hill and on the downhill, I went past Murali. I had the weight advantage over him on the downhills and I put it to good use there. I tried to go as hard as I could on the downhill but I could see that the headwind was a big factor. Thanks to the downhill section the 1km to go mark approached quickly enough.
I saw the distinct black jersey of Sarvesh Sangarya a few meters ahead of me as I approached the finish line but this time, on the uphill finish, the young man put his weight advantage to good use and I couldn’t go past him although I put all the effort that I could. The finish line seemed to have moved a few meters as I remember the previous finish line to be a bit before. Those extra couple of seconds felt like an eternity but I was happy with my effort as I crossed the line.
I was exhausted but was also elated that I after goofing up in the last couple of years during this event, I could finally give everything I could give. It was one of those rare days where the mind was calmer and let the body do it’s job and the body was up for the challenge. Focusing on the process of pacing instead of worrying about the result also helped.
After spinning a couple of kilometers in cool down, we rolled back to finish line which had nice tents installed by BBCH to protect the riders from the blazing sun as we waited for the results to be announced.
In the Elite category Naveen Raj finished way ahead of everyone with an average of 44.5kmph. I came in second with an average of 42.3kmph while KKR finished just 14 seconds behind me with an average of 42.1kmph.
What was a big surprise for me was that I finished almost 1min 30secs ahead of the strong riders in the master’s category. From having massive doubts about my readiness to race to having finished the second fastest on the day with 121 starters, it was one hell of a roller coaster day for me. Thanks to my teammate, Vandit Kalia, for loaning me his TT spare bike and my skipper, Arvind Bhateja for lending his aero helmet. I couldn’t have done well without the support of my team, Spectrum Racing!
|Elite Category podium! Pic: Veloscope|
In Master’s category, Vivek Radhakrishnan, Ronny Schrijvers and Craig Rhynes finished first, second and third in that order. They were all within a few seconds of each other.
|Results! From Bbch.in|
In Amateur category, Vinesh Chawla of Ministri Racing finished first followed by Leander of Team Crankmeister and Pramod Anantha at second and third respectively.
|Amatuer Category Podium! Pic from Ministri FB Page|
In Women’s category, Vicki Nicholson of Spectrum Racing finished a couple of minutes ahead of Tim Tim Sharma who was second. Kshama Muralidhar of Team Cadence90 finished third.
|Women’s podium! Vicki who was first had to leave early.. Pic from: Cadence90 page|
In Under-18, Niranjan finished at top followed by Rishabh. It is heartening to see youngsters participate in these races but we need to see more of them come and participate.
Winners got gift vouchers from Adidas and Nomadic destinations along with BBCh certificates and medals.
Volunteers and organisation:
BBCh delivered yet another flawless race with brilliant execution. The start time and order allotment well in advance that they started last year continued this year too and is very good. The breakfast sandwich was yummy and the arrangement of tent at the finish line to offer shade to the exhausted cyclists is well thought out. The start and finish were on time and the results were out on time. We could look at speeding up the presentation ceremony a bit although it is difficult to do with so many categories to be covered as well as so many sponsors and volunteers to thank for. Thanks to all the volunteers and BBCh committee for all the hard work put in to deliver another great race. Thanks to Team Crankmeister who took the responsibility of the race and helped team BBCh for this race. Next race is the 100km road race on Mangalore-Hassan highway with Manchanabale Macha’s sharing the responsibility along with BBCh. Looking forward to it.
Thanks to the awesome folks at Veloscope who covered the race with brilliant photography and also provided free downloads of high resolution pics for all the participants of BBCh.