Climbing Up Stairs To Heaven In A Hell of Pain!
Day 2 of Tour of Glory got kicked off 20km away from Chickmagalur. Most of those 20km from our hotel to the start of the race was bad roads and downhill. So, the organizers drove us and our bikes to the start of the race route. The 82km race route was on a really winding and rolling terrain. Most of the first half of the route loses elevation and gains all of it and some more in the second half. With about 1200 meters of elevation gain in an 80km ride, it is not the toughest of the routes to ride but definitely a tough route to race in. The climbs that appear after every few kilometers in the second half makes the appearance of the elevation profile look like stairs. Even if you miss noticing the heavenly beauty of the route, the legs won’t fail to notice the hellish climbs.
Arvind Bhateja(Spectrum Racing, Masters), Vicki Nicholson(Spectrum Racing, Women), Kiran Kumar Raju(Trek, Open Men) and Prajwal Pingali(U-18), the leaders of the race from day1 in each category wearing the yellow jerseys started at the front to kick off the proceedings for day 2. Arvind was at the front setting a nice pace. I got to the front to relieve him of the work and started to drive the pace. That didn’t last long as the young skinny lot relieved me of the pace setting duties and got to the front.
The intensity quickly skyrocketed as the guys started going crazy both on downhills and uphills. The winding nature of the route and the constant variation of terrain meant it needed decent amount of bike handling skills to be riding fast in the bunch. I didn’t really feel comfortable with the way we were taking the corners on the descents at ferocious speeds. In trying to avoid jumpy wheels in the corners and braking in the process, I lost the pack quite early. I kept seeing them at about 100-200 meters in front as I began chasing. Vicki and a few others were on my wheel at that time and seeing my plight in not being able to bridge the gap, Vicki took a couple of turns to help. That gave me enough time recover and put in enough to make it back to the pack.
After a few more kilometers, another mad surge on a bad stretch of road and I got dropped again. It was about 20km into the ride and I realized that I was in no position to help Arvind who managed to stay in the main bunch along with Rajani. So, there was no point in trying to bridge. Instead, Vicki and I decided to ride at a steady pace, enjoy the ride and finish strong. In terms of time I was about 7mins down the leaders in my category after yesterday’s misadventures. So, it there wasn’t much to lose.
The action continued to go in undulating manner at the front group with sudden surges and slow downs. Kiran Kumar Raju(KKR), Naveen Raj, Sarvesh Sangarya, Adarsh Saxena, Shiven, Venky Keyframe, Arvind Bhateja and Rajani were in that group. At the 30km mark there was a KOM points climb of 1.5km which got quite a few people in the front group interested. Shiven(Track’n’trail) took off from about 27km mark and the group let him go as they saw that it was too early. They kept riding at a steady tempo while he was going away at quick clip.
As soon as they hit the KOM section the pack exploded with everyone trying to put in their best to get to the top first. KKR not only made good ground on Shiven who escaped early to take KOM but also bet him to the KOM finish line with a sprint.
Adarsh Saxena who was on Naveen Raj’s wheel the whole of the climb sprinted past him to cross the line third, invoking some choice expletives from frustrated Naveen. As if the action was not hot enough, the KOM points animated the race further in the first half.
After the KOM climb, the leaders slowed down a bit to recover and that also gave a chance to Arvind, Rajani and Venky Keyframe put in a solid effort and bridge back up to them.
The group of stayed together until about 38km when Arvind got distanced. A bit later Rajani and Venky were also distanced as did Shiven. On the long climb at about 56km, Sarvesh dropped from the rest and only Adarsh was left with Kiran and Naveen Raj. He lasted till 68km where the two leaders took off on a long climb. So, each of the climbs ranging from 3km-4kms up until that point acted as straws that broke different camel’s back at different points.
The finish line was on top of a 4km climb and KKR took off and put a bit of gap on Naveen Raj to finish first. Naveen finished 40 seconds behind with Adrash Saxena(VeloAmici) finishing third with an impressive show. So, while the top 2 remains unchanged, Adarsh replaces Sarvesh at the third spot on the Open Men’s podium. That was a massive performance by someone who considers himself predominantly a sprinter.
In Master’s, Rajani managed to hang on to the lead bunch longer than Arvind, and finished 3mins ahead of him. He takes the overall lead and the yellow jersey in the category.
Behind the main group, once it went away, we tried to organize a group going with Abhirama Mallela, Kiran Raju(BMR), Nick Hollis, Vicki and myself taking regular turns. But with varying abilities, the terrain is very unforgiving and doesn’t give the same advantage to people drafting as a flatter course would. Abhirama and Nick got dropped and Vicki, Kiran and I kept going. Nick came back for a bit but got distanced after riding for a few km with us. At about 45k mark, Kiran wanted to pick up water from our car. We slowed down for him but he was taking forever to come back.
I went back to get him back to us but he was struggling too much to stay on my wheel. So, Vicki and I decided to march on. We took turns for most of the first half but on the hills in the later-half of the ride, I spent most time setting the pace for her. We rode together till the base of the last climb where I decided to go a little harder and went ahead. Vicki finished strong just about a minute behind.
Prajwal rode a strong race and finished 11th overall today. He still holds the lead in U-18 category.
Volunteers did a fabulous job of providing water and nutrition support on the go! At select points we were handed over water bottles and bananas readily half-pealed. The markings were spot on with warning messages of bad patches of road, turns etc. The motor bike and car support did what they could to control and warn the oncoming traffic as the race went on! The hotel and food at Chikmagalur has been fantastic! Great job overall by the organizers. Looking forward to the final stage tomorrow! It is a 64km stage with about 1200m of elevation ending with a 8km beautiful climb up Kemmangundi!
There doesn’t appear to be any chances of the yellow jerseys changing hands tomorrow. Let’s see how it goes!
Read day 1 report here: https://bvcoaching.in/2017/10/tour-of-glory-day1-bring-your-race-face-on/
Read day 3 report here: https://bvcoaching.in/2017/10/tour-of-glory-day-3-finishing-on-a-high/