You are aware of every passing second and yet the time seems to go by smoothly. You are not bothered about what went by and what’s coming. You are immersed in the moment.
You are aware of every thought that is crossing your mind and yet you are not bothered. You are just an observer.
You are acutely aware of the pain you are putting your body through and yet you are completely okay with it, even cherishing it!
You are in the zone! In your flow state! I was there today on that climb. And it is exhilarating!
Finishing on a High!
The last day of TOK7 took us on a 100km ride from Puttur to Madikeri. The climb up to Madikeri is nearly 20km long and some 17km of it was scheduled to be race segment for the day. A timed individual time trial on the climb.
But, before we get there, we had some 60 km to ride. Every one was in high spirits even though they are apprehensive about the big climb ahead and the weather was perfect.
We rode as a big group and reached the breakfast point at 25km in no time. The TOK team seems to have perfected the art of finding a scenic setting for feeding us yummy food on all the days. Today was no different.
Boarding the Tea Train!
After the breakfast the train got together and started riding. But not for long. There was a sudden commotion at the front and everyone came to a sudden stop. I was wondering what happened and if someone had a flat or a mechanical or an emergency of some sort.
It was an emergency alright. An emergency for having Tea. After tea for all and tea with ‘sutta’ for some, we started riding back.
It was a big group of almost twenty riders taking a few minutes at the front and maintaining a steady pace through out.
The terrain was beautiful, the weather was perfect and the group was disciplined. Before we knew it, we got to the lunch spot at 60k mark before 10am.
The climbing ITT was scheduled to start a barely 3km from there and the organizers announced that they will be ready to flag off at the race segment by 10:30am.
The food available there looked yummy and quite inviting but, I decided to skip it as I did not want to bring it out and waste it on the road as I climbed.
Preparation is Giving Oneself A Chance To Get Lucky!
I used the time to lie down and put the legs up like some others were doing. I tried to visualise the feeling I want to have while racing. The time helped calm down the mind and clear out any negative thoughts and fears.
In the morning, before starting, I ensured I was not carrying anything extra that I might not be using. I even left behind the spare tubes and tools in a calculated risk to depend on the available support in case of a need.
I planned the nutrition with the intent of skipping the food provided by TOK. Replaced the TrooGood bars with the gels I was carrying because it’s easier to have during a race effort. I had my hydration mix ready.
I left my scull cap behind to help with the ventilation and cooling of the skull and decided to leave the gloves behind to keep the palms cool. Of course, it helps lose a few grams too but, it is mainly for keeping myself cool by allowing more ventilation to get through.
At 10:30am, got up from my meditative rest. I downed a couple of Maaza packs they had there and took a gel as my pre-race fuel as I estimated the race start to be about 5 mins away from there.
But, as we went past 63km mark, no one was there to be seen. We kept riding. The climb seems to have started but the timing crew was no where to be seen. It was only after we climbed some 3-4km and got to 66.5km that we saw the race crew and the start line of the ITT.
I decided to get lighter by 100gms or so by taking a quick pee break and taking another gel. I was mentally and physically prepared for the race effort. And it is the preparation that gives us a chance to get lucky. And I definitely got lucky this time.
The Climb! In The Zone!
I started hot out of the gates with a sprint to get upto speed but quickly reminded myself it was going to be a hour or so of effort and I need to ease into a sustainable power.
I sat down and started spinning, consciously trying to keep the effort smooth. I mentally broke the effort into three 20 min efforts and further broken each 20 mins into 4 five minute efforts. As long as I manage to do well for one five minute block at a time, it will add up to an hour.
Thinking of an hour of effort can be intimidating for the best of us. So, this was my way of breaking the effort into manageable chuncks and focusing on smaller targets that I can keep ticking off. That way you get to mentally reward yourself in between for those small wins and stay motivated through out.
I started out at an effort that was just slightly above my planned target with the idea of easing it a bit in the later half. I kept hydrating regularly. I was focused on each moment and each pedal stroke.
I got lucky. I got in to my zone. I was in my flow state.
I was aware of each passing second but the time was going by smoothly enough. I did not worry about what went by or what was coming. I was immersed in the moment.
I was aware of the thoughts that were crossing my mind about how long it is still to go and how difficult it is going to be. But, I just observed and let them be. Did not panic or let it effect the effort.
I was acutely aware of the pain I was putting my body through. But, I seemed to enjoy it at that moment.
I was aware of every tiny change in the gradient and kept shifting the gears to keep the steady power on the pedals.
A Pleasant Surprise!
Five minutes became ten and then twenty and then thirty. I decided to use up my last gel and get ready for the second half. I was on track for a sub one hour effort for the planned 17.3km section.
I was observing how I was feeling and was ready to ease off a bit if it felt unsustainable. But, the gel seemed to have helped continue the effort without a drop in energy.
After I crossed 11km mark, I saw a marking on the road saying 2km to go. I was a little confused but also knew that it was a possibility because the start was from 66.5k instead of from the planned 63km mark. With that, any thoughts is easing the effort went out of the mind and I continued to press on.
It was an exhilarating feeling to cross the finish line knowing that I gave everything I had to give and could not have done it better on the day.
Chethan was everyone’s favourite person in the world at that moment for shortening the race segment from 17.3km to 13.5km.
I crossed the line in 45:52 mins, took the win in 41-50 age category and ended up being the fastest on the day. An added bonus on what has been an amazing four days on this amazing tour.
Once we climbed up to Madikeri after the race segment, we had to descend on the other side into Suntikoppa where our resort stay was organised. It was a beautiful descent and an even beautiful property to ride into to end the tour.
Birchwood is a sprawling property of 33acres of forest like vegetation with villa stays on the property. Birchwood was one of the sponsors of the tour.
Thanks To Team TOK and Cadence90!
We spent the rest of the day in the afterglow of the amazing tour and chatting with the new friends we made in the tour. What an amazing and fun loving bunch we had on the tour. Thanks for an amazing experience guys!
The tour would not have been this amazing if not for the great work of the team of volunteers at TOK and team Cadence90. Every little detail was meticulously planned and flawlessly executed to give an amazing experience for the riders.
Thank you for the amazing hospitality and a memorable tour!