The monsoon arrived and with it brought the strong northeastern winds. The resulting headwinds/crosswinds made everyone suffer to the maximum capacity at the BBCH Classic road race. The race was designed to push the contestants. They will be pushed from behind(tailwinds) on the way out and pushed back and sideways(headwinds/crosswinds) on the way back. For a lot of them, their limits will be pushed as at 132km, it would be the longest many have raced.
The longer, 132 km elite/master’s category race was started at 7:05 am and the shorter, 72 km, Amateur, U-18 and Women’s category fields were flagged off after about 10 minutes. The Amateur field was easily the biggest(91) on the day and the women and U-18 riders joined and started together.
Among nearly 10 women category starters, the three who survived the initial surges of the field were Vicki Nicholson(Spectrum Racing), Lena Robra(Team Crankmeister) and Samira Abraham. They not only stayed with the amateur category peloton but drove the pace from the front for the majority of the race.
Kamalino Ramodass and Darshan Rajgopal went on a two man break after the U-turn at 36 km mark and rode away from the peloton. Vicki, Lena and Sam kept working at the front of the peloton and kept chipping away against the strong battering crosswinds. They worked strong together, made the race and almost caught the two man break at the finish line. Towards the end Sam sprinted to take the win while Lena finished second and Vicki rolled in at third. These three women are great friends off the bike and fierce competitors on it and showed everyone how to race by leading from the front.
In the amateur category, after breaking away with Darshan Rajgopal, with more than 30km to go, Kamalino Ramadoss took the win by barely managing to keep the fast approaching peloton away. Solvin Tom who was in the peloton beat Darshan to the line by a bike length and took second. Darshan finished third after a hard fought race.
In U-18 category, Anirudh Arvind took the win with Charan Karthik taking the 2nd and Gautam David finishing 3rd.
Winded On A Windy Day!
In the Elite and Master’s race, the pace was high right from the start. In the initial couple of km, I got to the front and tried to set the pace. In retrospect, I should have just hung in the pack and have taken some time to warm up instead of feeling obligated to go to the front and start working right away. I had gone back for a minute to recover and ended up right at the back. I slowly worked my way back to the front after taking a breather and kept chipping away. 15km into the race, I decided to take a breather again and sat up at the wrong moment when there was a surge on an uphill. Within no time, I ended up at the back again and got dropped. At that point I inexplicably sat up instead of making an effort to bridge. Rookie mistakes or lack of necessary fitness or both. Not a great start to my first race at BBCh this year. At least I made to the start line finally. Now, to make it to the finish. How the bar kept dropping this season. I need to buck up!
The peloton rode away from my sight at a ferocious pace. Riders like Maninder Singh(Hyd), Ben Joseph, Sampath Valluripalli(Hyd) were setting the pace initially. Around 25km, Vinesh Chawla, Tarun Rao and Ben ended up breaking away from the peloton and with more than 100km more to go, no one saw any threat from the break. They let them hang out around .5-1km in front before eventually gobbling them up after 10km. After they were caught, the young rider from Pune Wolfpack, Rhishabh Hattarki put in a big attack and went on a solo break. He gained a bit more than a minute lead but the time gain was kept in check by the peloton. He rode strong and stayed away from the group until just after the U-turn at 66km mark. He was working for his teammate, Sudarshan Muralidhar Devardekar, and was trying to force others to chase. After he was caught, there was a brief lull before the attacks started flying that kept paring down slowly as riders kept dropping off the back.
At around 80km mark, less than 20 riders were left in the main peloton. What is left of the peloton was also shattered further when another big attack saw seven riders ride away from the rest. Aman Punjani(Ciclo Racing), Kiran Kumar Raju(Trek India), Craig Raynes(Spectrum Racing), Naveen Raj, Muralidhar and Srinath(Scott India) and Sudarshan(Pune were the seven that rode away from the rest. As they went on, Sreenath, Sudarshan and Naveen Raj got dropped one by one from the group. With 30km to go, with barely any indication, Craig turned on the heat knob by another few degrees on the 2 km incline and only Aman and KKR managed to stay with him with Murali being the last one to pop off the back.
After Murali got dropped he was picked up by Naveen Raj, Sreenath and Sudarshan who were working together to chase. With around 16k to go there was a touch of wheels and Sudarshan went down. He lost spokes and ended up with a bent wheel and couldn’t finish the race.
The lead group of three worked together and kept riding at a searing pace to the finish. Aman realized that his rear derailleur wasn’t shifting properly and he was not able to go to the smallest cogs. So, inquired if there is a spare bike in Spectrum Racing support car. Unfortunately, we were only carrying spare wheels for Craig and wouldn’t have minded giving them if that helped. Aditya TVM who was a bike mech in his previous avatar figured that the RD issue can be resolved but he doesn’t have the skills to do it while hanging out of the car while Aman rode like you see it happening in the pro tours. So, he told that he will be able to help if Aman stopped. That would mean he would at least lose a minute and has to chase back to get to the two leaders.
He decided to take his chances with the available gears and kept spinning out on the downhills. The uphill and flats were not that much of an issue and he was sure he would be under geared if he has to do a proper sprint. So, with 500 meters to go, he went on a long one and soloed to finish about 20 meters ahead of Craig who finished 1st in Masters and 2nd overall. KKR finished 2nd in Elite and 3rd overall soon after him. The next rider to cross the finish line was the young rider from Kerala, Sreenath at 3rd in Elite.
In Master’s category, Vivek finished 2nd some 12 mins after Craig. He rode a solid race, setting the pace at times, chasing the breaks at others but eventually had to pay the price in cramps for the efforts and slow down to recover. Sanjay Krishnamurthy finished 3rd a few minutes behind him. Sanjay rode a conservative and smart race surfing wheels and making to the finish fresher than most others made it to the podium.
Back Bencher’s Team Work!
As for me, I was resigned to the possibility of having to ride the remaining 117 km to the finish like a usual Sunday ride. Thankfully, after another 20 km, a group of 7 riders caught me. It was a relief to see them and have company. Rahul Mohandas, Anil Bapat, Chethan Ram(Cadence90), Aditya Kelkar(Apace, Pune), Suman Satpathi(Trivandrum), Aruneet Utkarsh(Pune) and Rajashekar Dasari(Hyd/B’lore) were trying to organize themselves into rotating pace line. BVCoaching athlete, Rahul Mohandas, directing the effort along with a couple of others. I was thrilled to that things we started practicing in group rides are making their way into races just as they should.
I have joined the group and we kept working together. It took a bit of an effort to keep the pace under control on the inclines with a group of riders with varied abilities, but the group managed well for a good part of the race. A couple of the guys dropped off soon after U-turn but the remaining kept the train rolling. With 40km to go, on the long 2km climb, only Aditya and I remained. Chethan who decided to stop kept supporting us by handing over water etc from his car. After a bit, Aditya and I remained and having taken on water, we kept rotating, fighting cramps and the gusty crosswinds that kept pushing us sideways and backwards. It was a relief to finally cross the finish line although it was not in the same decade as the first few finishers.
Brilliant Organizers And Volunteers! Thank you!
It was another brilliantly organized race from BBCH. The start/finish venue of Century Sports Village was perfect in offering ample parking space and great place to hang out after the finish and do podium ceremony. The pasta by ‘My Cousin’s Place’ after the hard race felt delicious. Special thanks to all the sponsors who back this awesome racing series. The thoughtful communication from the organizers before the race day to ensure the riders have all the information needed, has been great help to all the riders including the ones traveling from various parts of the country.
I’m looking forward to the pics from Veloscope
Full results here: http://bbch.in/BBCh17Race06.htm#BBCh17_06_140KmResult