Our stay at the end of day 1 was at a sea facing resort at Agonda beach at Cuba Agonda Beach Shack. We played in the beach like kids and sat gazing into the sunset for a long time! It was an amazing evening capping off an amazing day in the saddle.
The day 2 ride was a 100km ride with a fair bit of climbing. The 13km climbing competitive segment comes after 72km of rolling terrain.Within 5km of us starting from Agonda beach, we hit the challenging Cola climb.
The climb felt like a series of steps to heaven that never seemed to end.The heaven of downhill seemed to be a mirage.
Everytime we got to what seemed like the top of the hill, expecting a downhill, the road rose straight up again.I don’t know how it is possible to have so much climbing so close to the sea level. South Goa feels like riding heaven with amazing route options.Follow
The Leader! Shut up And Keep Up!
I was riding with my Spectrum racing skipper, Dr. Arvind Bhateja, and decided to follow him as he attacked the climb. Usually, I ride very conservatively in the non competitive segments.
Saving the legs by going very conservatively in the initial ride would have been better if one were looking at the tour GC performance. But, in the view of my A race at Bintan at the end of March, I decided to hit the climbs hard.
Abhishek Priyadarshi and Sangram Jena of Team Bros from Bangalore were pulled into the trap as well and followed us.
We kept climbing and kept seeing the non stop kickers pointing up. I asked the boys what comes to mind when they see the never ending kickers. Abhishek says that every time he looks up and finds the road pointing up, he thinks it’s impossible to get up that thing. In his mind there is a constant #HumSeNaHopayega (#NotPossibleForUs) accompanying every such climb. I thought that was a valid feeling for most of us.
The four of us kept pushing on, stopping only for a quick refill at a tea stall at Quapem junction. We wanted to get to Molem, at 71km, as quickly as we can. That’s where the day’s competitive segment starts.
The CS was on a 13km Anmod Ghat climb, gaining 580m in elevation. Although at an average grade of slightly less than 5%, it is not a very steep climb, climbing at race pace for that long in the mid day Goan heat was going to be tricky.
In fact, with the legs that were beaten to pulp by the kickers earlier in the day, it was going to be hard to get up any climb.
The riders were started roughly in the reverse order of day 1 results with the faster guys starting at the end. I started behind my teammates Arvind Bhateja and Russell while Rajesh Nair stated behind me.
The initial part of the segment has a few downhill sections that you can gain a lot of momentum on. Unfortunately, on the way there, I realized that my Di2 battery drained and my front shifting was cut off. I had no one but myself to blame. I should have charged it before coming to an event like this.
Anyway, I was stuck in the small chainring and coasted down in those early sections losing a few seconds. Once the climb started I tried to make up for the last time. However, the legs were not in a mood to follow the orders to push harder.
I resigned to the fact it was not going to be my day and decided to keep a steady tempo at least. I began to see Russell about 5km into the climb and managed to pass him after a km or so. He was going as strong as ever.
At about 8 km into the climb, Rajesh overtook me. He was gliding up the climb with a smooth cadence and rhythm. I knew he was going to be at least a couple of minutes ahead of me by the time the climb finished. Thankfully, he was in not the same category as me.
9km into the climb, I was thinking I should probably try and go hard in the last 3km again. After a bit, I saw Richard Mueller standing on the road side shouting ‘last 50m to go’. I was confused for a moment not sure whether to feel relieved that the segment ended or feel disappointed that I couldn’t push hard at the end.
As it turned out, at the last minute, the organizers had to cut the competitive segment down to 10km from 13k due to bad road conditions in the later part of the climb. Anyway, the legs were happy that the day’s suffering was over.
Rajesh finished first in 45+ category and overall with an excellent climb on the day. He’s followed by Arvind and Russell in the category.
Belinda Mueller finished first in women’s category followed by Su Yin Ong in second. Su Yin still leads the GC with the advantage she gained on the first day.
In the Open category, I managed keep the first place and build on the lead in GC. Abhishek Priyadarshi is second in the category followed by Vishnu Janardhan at 3rd. However there is a 2 second gap between 3rd and 4th with Sangram Jena snapping at the heels of Vishnu for a podium spot.
With the 3rd day’s flat 15km TT, it’s going to be interesting how things shape up for the final GC standings.
After fueling up at end of the competitive segment, we descended down and made our way to Colem our start for the day was arranged in a resort called Jungle Book.
The last day of the wonderful Tour of Goa is already up on us. It is a shorter and relatively flatter stage. The last competitive segment is a 15.6km time trial on Goan flats(gaining 146m). It’s going to be a great for the flatlanders and non-climbers for sure. We end the tour in Candolim after a 73km ride.