Race of Truth For One And All @BBCH!!
Individual time trial a.k.a the race of truth! The rider, his legs, his thoughts and his machine vs the wind, the road and the clock! There is nowhere to hide but to face the truth! 161 riders have signed up to face their truth at the opening road series race of the 10th year of the awesome Bangalore Bicycling Championships! The participants ranged from the double National Champion, a triathlon National Champion, to a newbie rider who just bought a bike few weeks ago. They aged from 15 years old to as young as 72 years. They came from Mumbai, Goa, Chennai, Trivandrum, and Delhi and all over the country! Over the last 10 years BBCH has inspired countless number of riders from all over the country to push their limits and redefine them. It contributed to the growth of the sport not only by inspiring quality riders but also inspiring others to start similar racing platforms in other cities across the country.
I had lined up for the BBCH ITT after 2 years having missed it last year. While I consider the Time Trial format as my favorite discipline of racing, it could feel like the least favorite when things are not going well. When things go well, you find your rhythm and it could feel like tailwind both ways. People call it being in the zone, finding the flow and a lot of other things. But how do you find that rhythm, that flow? Will Crystal gazing help?
Assuming that you trained well leading up to the event, a good way to increase your chances of finding your flow is to focus on the process without worrying about the end result. Focus on what needs to be done one moment at a time and one pedal stroke at a time.
Focus On The Process! One Moment At A Time!
I had 3 points that I wanted to keep track of. First one was what many refer to as the golden rule of pacing. That is not to go too hard at the start, wanted to keep the effort in check for the first 5mins. Thereafter, rely on how the legs feel to pace myself, checking at regular intervals if I’m going full gas or not. Second point I wanted to remind myself was to make sure that I was on top of my gear; at any given point of time, I told myself not to let the cadence drop below 85. If the cadence is nearing 85 or falling below, it was time to change the gear to an easier one and spin up. Third one was to keep the top of the head as low as possible. Once you figure out how low and flat you are keeping your back by figuring out the height and position of your aerobars, it then comes down to how low you can keep your head to be in line with that back rather than way about it. A trick that a friend of mine (NJ), mentioned some time ago was to imagine that my chin was being pulled down with a weight tied to my (imaginary) beard.
Having trained without aerobars for most of the last 4 months as I was training for a 3 day road race in Indonesia, called Tour De Bintan, where aerobars are not allowed even in the ITT on the first stage, I installed the aerobars on the Lemond only 2 weeks before the BBCH ITT. The first time I tried it, I didn’t go any faster than I went in Merckx style. The aerobars were resulting in my arms resting 1-2 inches about the handlebars while I was able to bend slightly lower with my hand on hoods and elbows bent 90 degrees. So, although the frontal area exposed to the wind was slightly reduced with the aerobars, I was also sitting slightly higher on the bike with net gains not being that much. After a quick discussion with my coach, he suggested that I try getting the bars below the handlebars and tape the elbow resting pads to the handlebars with tape. I tried the resulting position and did a couple of hard interval sessions in that position to check if it is going to work. I immediately noticed improvement and decided to freeze on that position.
The goal for me on the day was to try and beat my personal best time for the course that I had set during BBCH ITT in 2016 on my TT bike. Although I was using my road bike with aerobars this time, I was hopeful of a good time because I have been training well for the last 4 months towards my main goal at Tour De Bintan next weekend. I think I am 3-4 kgs lighter than last time and close to my fittest in a while thanks to my coach, Crankpunk drilling me in training.
I completed my warm up, lined up at the start at the time that was allotted to me and downed a Fast&Up gel. The wind direction while I was warming up was quite confusing. It felt like headwind on the return while it should have been the other way around. Instead of letting it play on my mind, I decided to go back to the 3 points I wanted to keep in mind and just focus on the process.
My teammate, Mohan Kumar, started 1 min ahead of me. Russel Bell, the 72 year young rider from Goa, also part of my team Spectrum Racing was slated to start behind me followed by my skipper, Arvind Bhateja. At the start, I managed to clip in quickly and not fumble for long like I usually do. I quickly sprinted up to speed and settled into the aero tuck.
I let the legs spin at a cadence higher than usual intentionally making sure I wasn’t pushing a big gear and push massive watts at the start. The first 6km is mostly uphill with a couple of respites in between. I knew the speed was going to be low but it was better than what I could manage in my training runs from the weeks leading up to the race. That was a good sign and I wondered if there was tailwind. While going fast is good, if it means going slow on the way back, it is not that great. But, I quickly banished those thoughts and began focusing on the task at hand.
I made sure that I was not being lazy in changing gears. As soon as the cadence was going into mid to low 80s, I got the right hand off the aerobars and quickly shifted before getting back into the tuck. I kept reminding myself of the imaginary weight hanging off my imaginary beard and kept ducking the head down. I had done away with the eye wear to make sure I didn’t have to deal with hazy sight with sweat covered lens and there wasn’t one more thing to adjust during the effort as it slipped down the nose.
Legs were spinning well and I approached the U-turn at 42.7kmph. I quickly downed another gel and took a sip of my hydration drink as soon as I made the turn. I was just hoping that the speed so far wasn’t due to a tailwind and the return was not going to be a battle in headwind. Within a couple of kilometers after the U-turn, it was clear that there wasn’t any major headwind and the downhill speed quickly took the average close to 43kmph.
By then it was clear that I was going to get a PB for the course. It then became a game to see if I could push it to 43.3 kmph which would mean that I would shave off almost a minute of my PB and will be 1kmph faster. I hit the last hill 5k from the finish at 43kmph but the slow going on the hill pushed the average down. I did not worry about it much as the downhill run of the last 3k to the finish will be enough to get it back up over 43kmph. But will it be enough to push it to sub 46mins was the question. As I struggled up the crest of the last uphill and began to drill it on the downhill, it was clear that I didn’t have enough to push it to sub 46. I made it across the line in 46:32, feeling satisfied with the PB but also with a feeling that I could have pushed a little harder to save a few more seconds. I quickly reminded myself to cherish the current PB and leave saving those extra seconds to a later date as I rode on to cool the legs down.
It was a day for personal bests. In Elite category, Ciclo Team Racing’s NJ has won hands down by setting his PB which is now the new course record. He stopped the clock at 42:27 (47.3kmph!!!) but was given a 30 sec time penalty for incorrect bib placement(at the back to be more aero instead of at the front). Naveen Raj finished second with a time of 45:15, while Chennai’s Ashwin Govindasamy finished 3rd with a time of 46:33.
Samira Abraham, who won the senior triathlon National championships the previous Sunday at Vishakapattanam, took the win in Women’s category with an average of 40.6kmph on a road bike without aerobars. Team Crankmeister’s Lena Robra finished second with a timing of 53:26 while Spectrum Racing’s Vicki Nicholson finished just 3 seconds behind with 53:29! That was a close one! It was great to see 14 women participants showing up and racing for this race. May the tribe grow. Btw., Women race for free at BBCH this season. So, all you lovely ladies and young girls out there, if you or someone you know want to experiment with cycle racing, just register, show up and have fun. Samira’s first race was less than 2 years ago at BBCH criterium and it was in the first week of her buying the bike. So, show up and challenge yourself. You might discover a National champion in yourself! 🙂
In Master’s category, I took the win with a PB for myself. i stopped the clock at 46:38. That meant a very satisfying 4th overall, 5 secs behind the 3rd place in Elite. Russell Bell finished second in 52:32 at followed by Mohan Kumar in 52:56! It was Spectrum 1-2-3 on the Master’s podium!
In U-18 category, the promising youngster from Mumbai, Sourabh Kajale, put in a great effort and took the win stopping the clock at 50:06. Rishab Satyanarayana finished second with a timing of 54:06 while Vivek Shivakumar finished 3rd with 56:09!
In Amateur category, Spectrum Racing’s Vivek Bhateja took the win with 50:42 followed by Niranjan Iyer at 52:25 and Hemendra Upadyay at 52:46!
In Non-Road bike category, Nithantha took the win with a timing of 59:45 followed by Shashank Ck at 1:01:25 and Abhishek Sheyte at 1:04:17! This new category encouraged a lot more people to show up and have fun. Excellent move from BBCh!
Another Brilliantly Organized Race!
Always looking to find ways to give more riders a taste of racing, BBCh introduced a non-road bike category this year. That got more riders on MTB, hybrid and single speed bikes to the start to race against the clock and thus contributing to the record number of participants.
We received our start time for the TT by SMS and email the day before so that we could time their arrival at the venue, warm up, nutrition etc. The arrangements like breakfast at the end, tent/shamiyana at the finishing point to offer shade for the finishers, porta-potty shows the rider first thought process of the BBCh team.
Thanks to all the volunteers, photographers, sponsors and the organizing committee for another awesome race!
Full results from the race can be found here: http://bbch.in/BBCh18Race02.htm#BBCh18_02_ITTResult