OFF TO THE RACES
This blog begins with the caveat that it was put together by someone who doesn’t race, nor wants to. Any inaccuracies here are the writer’s and no reflection on the general awesomeness and tech-mech knowhow of the boys at the store.
ACTUAL START TO THE ARTICLE
The last month has been a flurry of excitement for Pavan & Nikhil, once they decided to take the plunge into the vibrant Bangalore bicycle racing scene. The guys decided to go for the Bangalore Amateur Racing’s TT first. It got moved by a week, due to the Vodafone cycling event, giving reason for more excitement and more nerves. Nikhil switched his cycle from fixie to roadbike specs. Pavan has been taking his brand new roadbike out more often than usual… the excitement has been on the rise for a while.
So off we went. We being Pavan, Nikhil and Karishma who were racing and yours truly, who couldn’t believe, in retrospect, that after 7 years of active cycling, and going for every RFL organised run, I still hadn’t been to experience a cycle race, namma ooru style.
At 5.15am, we loaded the cycles on the SeaSucker rack at the store and shakily set off. Shakily, because Nikhil and Pavan both are nursing colds and were heard saying stuff like “Berida is a dice bige to burjase” to customers last night).
On our way out, we saw (and waved at and cheered) quite a few cyclists on the way out. Goes without saying, most of them beat the automobile to the start line. From long experience, we know this is normal 🙂
At Emerald Isle resorts, we got registered first.
Treated ourselves to the carnival like atmosphere we know precedes a race. Lots of people warming up. This particular scene is really evocative to me. It felt like I had travelled back in time to 2007 and one of my early GKVK runs. One of RFL’s fortnightly runs was organised outside GKVK and the start point looked exactly like this, with lots of cars parked on the side and people warming up on the service road.
A few stretches later, (and regrettably, not having warmed up enough…) the guys were ready to go. The organisers announced that we were good to start. Much appreciation of the kinds of cycles there – there were Cervelos and Treks and Ridleys and a BMC Time Machine.
Lined up behind about 40 cyclists, who were taking off every few seconds, the guys wore an all-too-familiar expression. I remember only too well, that exhilarating but “oh man, what’s coming up next?” feeling that you’ll probably remember from a fast slide down at the playground as a kid. The pre race start expression is similar to that (my experience is drawn from being at the start line of an RFL running event, but the feeling, I’m sure, is much the same). The guys were just thrilled to be somewhere with so many others who like the same stuff – and all through the route, kept shouting appreciation and encouragement to all.
Some last minute banter and bonhomie done and they were all set to go
And having seen the three of them off, I hung about around the organisers. I listened to their banter about cycling and aspects of race organising and inside jokes (all sports have them. There is a vocabulary for each sport, that only people pursuing it will appreciate fully).
The enjoyment that the people organising seemed to be having, just hanging around with each other was lovely to see. Then people started looking for returning cyclists. More of the same experience assailed me, as the first of the cyclists returned. I listened to them recognise cyclists by their riding style, by the expected finish time etc.
I got talking to Deepak Mhasvade, long time runner and cyclist, and totally missed taking a picture of Nikhil at the finish line. By the time I realised it was Nikhil, racing to the finish, I got distracted by the strength in display. I am a big fan of hanging around watching strong finishes at runs – there’s something about people giving their best effort that is so so inspiring. By the time I finished admiring the boy, he was past the finish line and a blur in the distance. And my phone hanging about uselessly in my hand. But here’s a placeholder pic, Niks and a promise of better pics next time!
Pavan returned next, a few seconds after Nikhil did, looking strong as well.
And Karishma returned soon afterward, with Pavan & Nikhil riding alongside for encouragement. She looked really strong as well.
Quickly enough, announcements with winners and their timings happened. The first of the under 25 yr old guys finished at 0.50 mins, the 25-35 yr old winner did 0.53 and the over 35 yrs had real stiff competition, with a .49 finish (and a third place of 0.52, making them faster than the younger category)!Â One of the guys will blog about the kinda great timings that happened and the significance of it all. Â I know enough about the timing to know it is truly amazing and competitive and gets the good folks I saw today put their best efforts. I don’t know enough to comment with any more authority, so I shall desist 🙂
And then it was time to put the cycles back on the roof rack and head back. Pavan & Nikhil took a detour to admire and drool over a parked BMW R1150 GS Adventure (I just asked them what that bike was. It’s not like I know the name of the bike either :D… and as I type this, Nikhil says, “oh oh oh ohhh. What a bike!!” Pavan says, “my claim to fame is that my arse of a brother has it and actually let me ride it this time”. Nikhil says, “my claim to fame is I know Pavan who has a brother who has it” Clearly, this bike is sort of a big deal).
We somehow made our way back to town, dying of hunger as we were (we only had a kilo each of bananas, grapes, a thermos of hot chocolate and strawberries with caramel sauce – all put in the car for recovery purposes. But hey, I am not going to complain :D)
We spent an enjoyable hour with an awesome breakfast at Daddy’s Deli, superb conversations (including this one about Ashwin Bala – as those in the know would be able to immediately discern from the pic above… Bala, we all love you!!), running the always amazing Sunitha Krishnamurthi (Sunitha, we really really love you loads!), it was time to head to the store and business and all that serious stuff.
But…. not before one last pic of the bravehearts who went out to do something new today!
To paraphrase Bogart in Casablanca, this is the beginning of something beautiful. Stay tuned, y’all, for more race stories in the future.