2GoMaster’s Championships Road Race! One For The Ages/Aged!

2GoMaster’s Championships- Road Race!

58km into the 80km race. I looked back and there was a gap. Should I keep going? But, I was not the one who’s supposed to go! Is it too early, too far away from the finish to go solo?

There was no time to hesitate. Only to commit 100% and go all out!

I got into the drops and began to pound on the pedals.

At the U-turn to the start of the final lap, I could see a rider was chasing. And I heard, ‘Go Venky go!’ It was my cue to open the throttle, floor the accelerator, fire up the after burners and burn whatever the hell I had in the tank. It was now or never!

Deep in the hurt locker! PC: Sam Jaded/Veloscope!

Old Men’s Race on a Course with a Character!

The 2Go Master’s Championships Road race was 80k for men and 40k for women. 4 and 2 laps for men and women respectively, on a 10k out and 10k back course that was used for the ITT on day 1.

Course inside KIADB off Budigere! Less Traffic and more character!

Majority of the 10k going out is against headwind except for the portion through a village where it was crosswind on the exposed part of the road. The blessing is that it makes us look forward to the 10k return to the start which is mostly in tailwinds. The route is devoid of traffic but has plenty of character. Speed bumps, a few rough patch sections, interesting turns, uphill drags, headwinds, crosswinds, and tailwinds. You name it, you have it. And all of it adds to the character and makes it very interesting.

Hemmings at the helm of things at the start! Champion in his age group(35-39) in both ITT and Road race! PC: Deepak Majipatil

It all started pretty benignly. The first lap was like a gentle warm up. Anand Kapoor and Hemendra Upadyay, Team Crankmeister were setting the pace. It wasn’t blistering fast. I tried to light it up a bit to break the pack into a smaller group. In the process we shelled a few but a group of about 20 stayed together. I stayed at the front and kept it a steady clip. As we started the 2nd lap, I went back and asked my main competitor in my age group (40-44), Vivek Radhakrishnan, if we should just go. He said he wasn’t in any hurry and has all day. He suggested we try something in the 3rd lap against the headwinds on the uphill to try and drop others. I agreed and sat back.

The Women’s Race!

Women’s (35-39) champion, Abirami Sudar at the helm of things in the second lap! PC: Deepak Majipatil

Two of the ladies, Abirami Sudar from Chennai and Nisha Madgavkar from Goa, were in the group and riding strong. Abirami wasn’t afraid of being at the front and setting the pace while Nisha was content staying out of the wind and on her wheel. As they neared the U-turn of the second lap, with 10k to go for them, they took off from the group. We thought it would be wiser to let the ladies race against each other without any interference from us slow pokes and let them go. Despite having ridden at the front all along, Abirami took the sprint to the line and took the win. Nisha took a creditable 2nd after making a tactical error of going to the front too early (2-3k to go). Road racing is very new to this triathlete from Goa, but she was all praise for the winner. Girls bonding over a race and appreciating each other. Now, that’s a sight I could get used to. I have seen this with Vicki Nicholson, Lena Robra and Samira Abraham, the three leading ladies of Bangalore racing scene. Fierce competitors and thick friends. Kartika Rajaram finished 3rd in the category (35-39 women) while Anuradha Chari finished first in women’s 40-44.

Women’s(35-39) podium for ITT and Road race was the same!
Anuradha Chari, winner of Women(40+)

When the two women took off, Abhishek Priyadarshi went off the front as well. He wasn’t a threat to any of us. Hemmings, who was in the same category (35-39) as Abhishek made half an effort to keep him in sight by riding at the front.

The Attacks!! Let’s Go..

In the third lap, I knew things would get interesting. As planned, 4k into the 3rd lap, as we took the turn into the headwind, I was firmly glued to Vivek’s wheel as he put in a solid dig. I took it up immediately after him and he went at it all guns blazing again. It was uphill and into headwinds. By the time we got up the road and took the turn, only 5 of us were left in the group. Vivek, Mahesh Iyer(Wolfpack, Pune) and I were in 40-44 age group while Sanjay Krishnamurty(Railways/Bangalore) and Aastad Palkhiwalla(Pilot and ex-National level track sprinter from Mumbai) were in 45-49 category.

At the U-turn in the 3rd lap.. ~50k into the race.. in the middle of all the Vivek induced festivities! PC: Deepak Majipatil

5 was 3 too many according to our plan. So, the attacks started flying again. Vivek would lay the hammer down and I would try to follow and then put in an effort when he shrugged his shoulders. He would take it up again after me. We were not able to distance them at all. And they were not willing to come to the front and work even for a few seconds. Having come to the realization that all of them were strong enough to hang on, we knew continuing to hammer at the front and bringing them to the line would be stupid.

Err.. Plan B?

It was counter intuitive that I was making plans with my main competitor but we wanted to fight it out between us and not have someone else take the win in the process. So, towards the latter half of the third lap, I told Vivek, ‘Dude, I think bringing them to the sprint is a bad idea. You can go solo and I wouldn’t chase but will only follow if someone else is chasing. If they fail to catch you, you win and I take second.” What was left unsaid but understood was, ‘if they manage to catch you, I will be fresh enough to try something on my own and take the win’. He nodded in affirmative although I could see he was a little surprised at my suggestion. If he goes, given his time trialing abilities, it would be highly unlikely that he would get caught even if there was a concerted chase by others.

Both of us were taking turns and kept going while the others sat on. As we entered the finishing stretch of the third lap, I went to the front after Vivek’s turn.

The Hurt Locker!

I wasn’t hammering but I wasn’t soft pedaling either. I looked back and saw there was a gap to the group. Should I keep going? But, I was not the one who’s supposed to go! Is it too early, too far away from the finish to go solo?

There was no time to hesitate. Only to commit 100% and go all out!

I got into the drops and began to pound on the pedals.

At the U-turn to the start of the final lap, I could see Mahesh was chasing. And I heard Vivek shout, ‘Go Venky!’ That was my cue to open the throttle, floor the accelerator, fire up the after burners and burn whatever the hell I had in the tank. It was now or never!

It was head on into the headwinds. I reminded myself that it would be as hard for anyone chasing as it was for me. That meant, the more I suffer the more they suffer. How hard were they willing to try before they give up? How hard and how long was I willing to go before I give in? It was time to find out where those limits are at. I took a Fast&Up gel and took a swig of my hydration drink. I put my head down and continued the fight against the winds and the chasers.

The race support crew moto-bike that had Khuram(BBCH) and Deepak Majipatil(TFN), began to ride behind me giving me splits and offering encouragement. There was a minor reprieve from the winds as I went through the village but they came back with a vengeance as I got out of it.

Another support motorbike came to my side with Naveen Raj offering a banana. I asked him how much of a gap I had. He said 300m. I wasn’t sure if he was making that up or if they were really that close. But I chose to believe it and keep the intensity going from red into deep red. The headwinds and uphills were a deadly combo. I began to feel the effort in my legs and lungs. The breathing became pretty ragged and it felt as if I was wrestling the bike urging it to move forward. I reminded myself to focus on spinning instead of grinding and keep drinking.

If I manage to continue suffering at the same intensity until the U-turn, the final 10k with the aid of tailwinds should be less painful. That was the only incentive I could think of for fooling the mind into letting the body continue to suffer. I kept telling myself that if I manage to build a sizeable lead going into the final U-turn, I should be able to stay away the last 10k with the help of the tailwind.

As I took the U-turn, it was a welcome relief against the winds. I took another gel and some water to regroup and power me for the last 10k. Almost 1km after the U-turn, I saw the 4 guys on the other side of the road and heard another ‘Go Venky’. The gap was much more than 300m for sure. That charged me up again. I decided to keep the hammer down to avoid any late surprises, however unlikely they were. Kept telling myself to keep the effort near threshold and stay on the bike. ‘You got this as long as you keep the rubber side down. Now focus!’ I heard myself telling someone.

I only began to relax a bit mentally once I saw 1km to go and heard that the group was nowhere close. I kept going to finish it off strong and crossed the line immensely satisfied and completely exhausted.

It was one my most satisfying races and the first race on my new Colnago. Not a bad way to inaugurate the bike, I guess. This win is for my Spectrum Racing skipper, Arvind Bhateja, who has been a big support for me personally, the team and all things cycling. He was the one who proposed a separate National level Master’s event 2-3 years ago and now it is a reality thanks to Sunil Nanjappa and team along with others in Bangalore and elsewhere.

First race for the Colnago! Here is to the auspicious beginnings!

At the start of my breakaway, Mahesh apparently chased for about 4-5km alone but sat up once Vivek and others bridged up to him. From then he tried resuming the chase but did not receive much help. Vivek and Mahesh took off from Sanjay and Aastad in the final kilometers and fought the sprint. Vivek took the sprint by a couple of bike lengths. This second the road race comes after a stupendous ITT win on day 1 with a course record of 30:17 for Vivek. Mahesh finished 3rd in both ITT and Road race in our category.

40-44 Podium for the Road Race on Day2!
40-44 ITT Podium! Vivek was the fastest overall on the day by a big margin!

Sanjay and Aastad kept marking each other till the final few meters but Aastad took the sprint. With that, Aastad took the wins in both ITT and Road race in his category (45-49).

45-49 Road race Podium! Sanjay and Aastad!
45-49 ITT Podium!

In 50+ category, Prashant Tidke took the win. He was here with an ankle injury but that didn’t stop him from taking 1st in the road race and 2nd in ITT in his age category.

50+ Road race podium!
50+ ITT Podium! Hari was the winner in the cat and the second fastest overall on the day!

Hemendra(Hemmings) took the win in 35-39 category in the road race as well following his victory in ITT on day1.

35-39 Road Race Podium!
35-39 ITT Podium! Hemmings took the top honors on both the days! Go Crankmeister!

The organization was immaculate with support vehicles, course marking, volunteers manning the traffic and post-race nutrition and hydration etc. Sunil Nanjappa and team has done an incredible job in pulling off the event in grand style. The support from the title sponsor 2GoActivewear is great to see and the winner jerseys were super awesome. Fast&Up provided race day hydration support for the event. Thanks to Veloscope for the media support. Thanks everyone for an awesome event.

Road Race winners across all the categories!

Thanks for everyone who flew down from all over the country (Chennai, Goa, Mumbai etc., to name a few) to be part of this inaugural Master’s Championships. Next year is going to be bigger and better, I’m sure!

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