Namma Nandi Race organised by Life Is Calling Sports is a 100km race with a 36km neutral section and 64km race section. It usually starts on the Hyderabad highway and includes climbing Nandi hills. However, since the hill has been inundated with traffic during weekends, the race stayed in the Highway for it’s entirety.
The race bibs collection and race start was from The Galleria Mall Yelahanka. From there till after the airport toll is a neutral section. We all gathered at after the toll and the race was flagged off again.
The race had participants from across all experience levels and age groups. Once the race started, a front group of fast riders quickly formed owing to the super hot pace.
In the last one year, a couple of traffic signals have come up between the airport toll and Devanahalli. We got lucky in one but had to squeeze through the vehicles at the second. The bunch was well behaved and there were no attacks right after the signal etc to put anyone at a disadvantage at those pinch points.
The Early 2 Man Breakaway!
Once we went past Devanahalli, about 10km into the race, Imaad of team LBB racing and Zeeshan rode off into the front. Since LBB had a representation in the break, it was understood that Ben Joseph and Shaurya Kaushal focused on blocking the pace and shutting down any attacks from VeloStudio riders or any others.
What I did not understand was why anyone from Veloscope was not putting any effort to chase the break. A bit into the race, Abhiram told me Zeeshan was racing for them or collaborating with them and hence they were only concerned with shutting down attacks from others instead of setting the pace to reel the break in.
There were multiple attacks from VeloStudio riders, Rudra and Gaurav Chauhan that were quickly shut down by LBB racing (Shaurya and Ben) or Veloscope (Abhiram and Siddharth).
Ankush Sharma a.k.a baba was trying to get people to pick up pace to chase the break but of course with the guys from two major teams up ahead, not many showed interest apart from the three from VeloStudio. Coming back to road racing after a long break, I was content surfing the wheels and lasting the distance. I had no skin in the game other than getting a solid workout in and enjoying the racing action first hand.
The multiple attacks from VeloStudio riders trying to break and bridge up to the break ahead only served in acting as anaerobic repeats for those in the peloton as they were quickly brought back every time.
The Second 2 Man Breakaway!
25km into the race when the time gap was 1 min 20 secs, I guessed that the break had a really good chance of staying away until the finish line because the number of chasers with any big intent were down to one team of 3 riders.
The surges and attacks continued so did the defence of those attacks interspersed with manageable pace where we got to breathe. The 20-25 odd peloton kept shedding riders with each of those attacks until about 10-12 of us remained in the chase group.
After the U turn at 33km, more of the same continued. By then, Shaurya was certain that the first two positions were secured with his teammate, Imaad likely taking victory. So, from defence he switched to offence and started his own attacks.
At first Sangram Jena of Team BROS followed him and both of them managed to get a few seconds worth of separation. But, Sangam could not hang on to him for long and fell back to the group. Shaurya dangled in the front for some more time but with both VeloStudio and Veloscope riders working to reel him back in, he was brought back in.
But the thing with Shaurya is, he is relentless in his attacks. As soon as he was caught, he attacked again and got a seperation. But this time, VeloStudio rider, Rudra Atreya was able to follow him. The two of them started creating a gap. Now, it was predominantly Veloscope riders Abhiram and Siddharth Kansal that were left to chase.
They managed to bring them back in after much difficulty but as soon as he was caught, Shaurya attacked again and got away again with Rudra in his tail. By this time, the chase group kept losing men with each attack and chase shedding one or two riders.
From 10 rider chase group, it became 4 rider chase group with Gaurav, Ben Joseph, Sangram Jena and myself. Both Abhiram and Siddharth paid the price for their efforts trying to chase Shaurya and Rudra and got gapped. So did Ankush and Vikram who also fell back.
Out of the four, two riders (Ben Joseph and Gaurav Chauhan) had their teammates (Shaurya and Rudra) up ahead. Only Sangram and I were solo hitters with no teammates in the race. So, both of them were keeping the pace high enough so that others that got dropped don’t catch back up but not high enough to catch the break.
It suited fine for me and Sangram. As we got close to Devanahalli though, first Ankush and then Vikram managed to catch back up to us. I was surprised to see Ankush and Vikram catch back. I was shocked enough to ask Ankush if he used a sticky bottle technique to catch back on. But, I could see they put in a solid effort to catch back on. 6 of us kept riding to the finish.
In the final kilometre, on the last flyover, there was a big surge and Ankush and Vikram got distanced. I managed to hang on and go to the line with Ben, Gaurav and Sangram. They fought for the sprint which Gaurav took to take 5th place with Sangram coming in next followed by Ben and me.
Ahead of us, Imaad apparently managed to drop Zeeshan with about 10k to the finish and took the win. Zeeshan finished second. Behind them in the second break, after taking Rudra to the line, Shaurya let him take third with 3 riders from 3 different teams on the podium.
Kudos to all of the teams and their riders for making it a strategic and agressive but safe race. Well done, guys!
Over the years, I was hoping that this type of racing should come to pass and it is beginning to happen. With more strong riders from more teams it is only going to get better.
Kudos to the organizers from Life Is Calling Sports for pulling off a successful event with a large number of participants.