Thursday, August 14, 2014

Suffering around Kere Thonnur - My 3rd Duathlon story.

A big thanks to the organizers and volunteers of Enduro team to manage the permissions, logistics, accommodation bookings, 150+ participants for triathlon/duathlon, pre race pasta, post race puliyogre etc. It was a wonderful event that i plan to keep coming back every year. For more details

I had already biked/run at BAR #1 and BAR #2 and had won both of them. But unlike those here the cycling leg was a mass start. Not a flat course and hence no TT bar on my bike.

You decide well in advance why do you want to race. For Fun or to Win. If it is about winning,
get ready to hurt yourself cause it's never easy to win any race unless your first name is Eddy and last name is Merckx. Just 40.6 km cycling with 363 mt elev gain and 10.6 km *trail* running.

The field had just 5 strong contenders. The rest were never a threat. One of them was a sponsored rider who is also a fast running Frisbee player. The other 3 were sub40 10 km runners and decent bikers. With hardly 10 runs in the last 6 months I less i talk about my running the better.

Marking guys and Watching out for any moves - is complicated for me. As the race started I just split the field. Break away. If you can't run like them at least bike fast is what I said to myself. The idea was to finish the cycling leg before the fast runners finish and start the running leg immediately without changing shoes as the transition time counts too. This is what i have done with my previous duathlons. I know it wouldn't have taken much time but every second counts.

The 1st 2 kms was getting down the hill on a narrow patchy road and go through a village that had
several women washing clothes with street-dogs and hens watching them. SCARY. Adding to it we had excited riders who never had any sort of experience riding in a race or bunch.

Once I hit the highway I decided to time trial as hard as possible till i get the Belgian toothpaste. Solo breakaway. After 20 kms I did turn a few times to check if i was being chased. And yes I was being chased. KKR was trying to bridge the gap with 2 more riders behind him. Every turn same visual. Looked like nobody was helping him and he did all the work against the wind. Making other's suffer is a nice feeling.

After 25 kms, On a steep section with 2 or 3 hairpin bends I heard a gear click noise behind me.
It was indeed KKR. Later we were joined by another rider who was more interested in wheel sucking than sharing the load. We spent the next few kms together but i did manage to drop the 3rd guy though he tried to stay on my wheel. By this time KKR had created a gap. The last 500 meter or so is a steep climb back to the hill top that had the start line. With people cheering on either side I hit the finish line few seconds behind him.

Got off the bike, walked on the mat with timing chip on my ankle I heard the expected beep sound.
Put the bike aside removed shoes and immediately took out the helmet and started running. All this while KKR was on a chair changing into his running gear.

As expected KKR caught me and we ran till the U turn together. The volunteer's put a band around our wrist and we picked up water - all this without stopping. During return we saw 3 fast runners one behind the other - the usual questions. How far they are from us ? How many more mins ? Last 2 kms i did a fake surge just to check if he is keen to follow me. But KKR had his own plans and as usual he attacked during the last km and I didn't had the juice to close the gap. The hill top finish did hurt me more than the blisters on my feet. I finished 22 seconds behind KKR. I hugged him and I collapsed later.

The suffering ends after 2:06:35 seconds into the race.

Friday, August 1, 2014

My Touring bike ... Finally

A dream bike exclusively for randonneuring and touring. Something made of good steel, that can take fat tires and also allows me to load it with fenders and racks. A Versatile bike that i can say it's my commuter, it's my tourer and if needed my cyclocross bike. BUT keeping the costs low by either buying used components or making the most of my unused spare items lying around.

Thanks to Sandeep I adopted his 4 year old Bianchi Volpe frameset that came with fork, new headset, seatpost, crank, crank arms and BB at an attractive price. Along with the baby I also got it 's toys like supernova dynohub powered light,  VO spacers, Cantilever brake units.

I already had the following accessories some of them from Happyearth

3 panaracer pasela tires ( 28 mm )
Decent wheelset
Racks ( VO pass hunter and Topeak rear )
SP Dynohub
Brooks B17 Saddle ( Narrow Black color )
Scor Drop handlebar
Retroshifters 9 speed ( Goats )

Thanks to Crankmeister Bicycle Works especially Riyaaz, Nikhil, and Pavan who built this bike exactly how I wanted it to be built. In fact Riyaaz is so fast that he built my bike and 2 more wheels for Surly Xcheck the same day. Initially I decided to go with 8 speed gear keeping in mind the low maintenance cost of chain and cassette. But I couldn't get good shifters as I didn't like the Sora button style shifter. I had tried to sell my Retroshifters earlier but since nobody brought it  i used it for 3*9 setup.

New items that went onto to this bike includes

SRAM hub for rear wheel
9 speed chain
9 speed cassette
LizardSkin bar tape that matches bianchi's popular celeste color
Gear and Brake Cables
30 degree 70 mm Giant stem ( Less aggressive More upright )

Thanks to KKR I got used fenders ( Planet bikes ).

I just rode the bike from the Store to Home ( 20km ). Today i installed the fenders myself. I wish to ride as many miles as possible on this beautiful bike. If you ever meet me during my ride you can drool over this beauty as close as possible. Till then eat more sleep more ride more ...

Monday, July 7, 2014

B2B ride-Bangalore To Bhadra

After successfully executing BMBT ( Blue Mountain Biking Tour ) Balu and Dr. Shankar came out
with yet another endurance ride  - B2B ride ( Bangalore to Bhadra ) - a 280 km single day ride from Bangalore to Bhadra reservoir. Ride till Bhadra Dam, Stay in the forest guesthouse, Boating and Safari the next morning and return by Car. As usual they kept things simple - Overall cost, Logistics, Pickup points, Luggage drop point and Recovery drinks :-)

Thanks to Wheel sports staff and Venkatesh Shivarama for supporting us from the beginning.
Thanks to Mr. Badri for providing support vehicle and staff.

On 5th July 2014, 13 riders met at a point and started riding towards Tumkur road and then took the NH-48 road ( Mangalore ) . The ride on NH-48 was pleasant as the traffic was not as busy as our infamous SH-17. After riding together for 30+ Km I took off thinking that all of us will anyway meet at Mayura hotel for breakfast. I kept on pedaling and at around 100 Km I stopped for Idlis and Coffee.

I continued to ride and just before the Right turn to Arsikere, I had another break for Coffee and Biscuits. The road was smooth, quiet and rolling. A bit of drizzle now and then made me happy.

Arsikere, the town that i didn't explore is on my radar and shortly i might ride again - in touring mode. I have to see the Pond built by a Princess ( Arsikere - Arsi means Queen and Kere means Pond ). I also want to climb the 1300 steps of Malekal hill to see the standing Venkateshwara - The only place other than Tirupathi where the Lord stands. At Arsikere, I had some snacks and got to know that i have to cross Kadur, Birur and then reach TariKere. At this point I am moving from Hassan district to Chikmagalur district.The sun had came out and I was getting tired. I had jack fruits as i crossed the railway gate.

Once i reached Tarikere ( a town that is popular for large number of water tanks surrounding it )
I found that i didn't had water in my bottles. So it was time to refill water and eat some snacks.
I had completed 260 km so far in 11 hours. 20 km more to reach the Bhadra dam (Lakkavalli village).

In spite of the bad monsoon this time, As i entered Lakkavalli ( the site of DAM across Bhadra river )
I was bowled over by the lush green vegetation and the remote grand impressive hill ranges. 
This Dam that is surrounded by western ghats serves irrigation, drinking water supply, power generation.  For Tigers and Elephants, Get into Bhadra Wildlife at the backwaters of this dam..

Around 5:38 PM I reached the Forest Department Guest house where i took bath and stood in a borrowed towel waiting for my Bag that was coming in the support vehicle. The cool breeze from the surrounding lake was the best thing to happen after a long bicycle ride. 

Finally my Shorts arrived, I mean the support vehicles and all riders arrived.

It was a pleasure to reunite with friends and all of them quickly freshened themselves. All of us were eager to enjoy recovery-drinks and hot and spicy dinner. Topic ranged from wildlife to the way cycling tours and races are conducted. The usual gosSIPs with SIPs of Kho-DAYs made our DAY. 

Next day we headed towards the backwater for a boat ride.

It was a delight to watch hundreds of beautiful yellow billed Red Legged River terns screaming and flying so low to catch fishes. These birds breed only on rivers. 

And finally we took the customary group photo and got back into our support vehicles heading towards Bangalore. Every rider was dropped back exactly where they wanted to get down and all of us reached home safely. I would like to thank everybody ( KP, Balu, Vinay, Sharath, Skandan, Diwakar, Satish and All the 4 awesome Doctors ) who made this scenic, memorable ride possible that will be forever etched in my memory. I hope all of you have cleaned your bikes and let's all meet for yet another awesome ride. Till then ..Keep riding.