Gokul shares his experience of the HCC 2012/11 75km Road Race here -
The November race in medchal road was the longest, farthest and probably one of the best organized races of HCC. The start point was moved beyond the toll booth to avoid any race pile ups. Along with the crisp morning air we were greeted by a huge number of volunteers in two booths with all the registration paraphernalia and the podium goodies.
|Registration desk and refreshment counter|
|Goodies if you can get on to the podium.|
Having got very little sleep the night before I was thankful to Mackinlay Baretto for the ride. We picked up Ram Swaroop and Jeeta Ram on the way at Dhola Ri Dhani. While I was semi-awake in the car we noticed Richard McDowell drafting a truck in the dark.
On reaching the venue, we went on a nice warm up ride with my teammate Chitti Babu. I knew that the first 10-15 kms was downhill and the start would be fast. While all the registration and other details were handled well and done in time we were one driver short for Raj who was the designated photographer and had to wait for 10 mins for the last volunteer to come in.
As soon as the race kicked off there seemed to be a moment of hesitation from everyone in the typical “pehle aap” mode. But suddenly Jeeta Ram upped the tempo and a pace line formed with Jeeta Ram, Raman, Richard and myself.
|A few seconds after the start|
Was a tad disappointed that Chitti did not manage to join the pace line. I knew that I was not strong enough to do any work and was happy to suck a few wheels. After about a km or so Ramswaroop just powered his way to join us.
|I just managed to suck a few wheels for around 6 km|
The group kept going at a high speed for some time and then slowed down for a breather. It almost felt like a interval training session. I was somehow able to stick on for about 6 kms after which the speed was too high for me to hold onto the pack and got dropped off.
|But the pace was too high, and I got dropped|
But was quite happy to note that I couldn’t really see anyone behind me and reckoned that I had gained a few mins on the guys behind me.Km 20 to the turnaround point had more climbs of the rolling terrain and I was not really sure how much to push as I had no rider in sight to understand how others were doing. A few kms before the turnaround point I saw Jeeta Ram and Ram Swaroop powering there way down together.
|Jetharam and Ramswaroop|
I saw Richard a few minutes later alone and Raman had pulled up to the side of the road. The turnaround point helped me get a better understanding of my relative position and the gaps of the guys ahead and behind me. Chitti was about a minute behind me and Ramakrishna was about 2 mins behind me. I would have loved to slow down and have my teammate Chitti join me, but Ramakrishna was too close and we risked falling behind, so just continued on my way. Also I realized that since Raman had dropped off I was 4th at that stage and kept pushing myself as I could get into the podium if one of the guys ahead had any mechanical problems.
The first 15 kms after the turnaround had more downhill sections and speeds were higher. I felt an odd tingle in my right calf, tried a couple of stretches while riding but couldn’t do much in a race. I didn’t realize I wasn’t drinking enough water or gatorade. I saw Mahesh and Suma at the feeding station, but had enough food and water on me already, so just kept chugging along. I did munch on my energy bar and realized that I had done a good thing in opening it before I started the race as it made it much easier to eat it.
I spent the rest of the race alone just looking at my cyclo comp and trying to get my average speed up. The right calf tinge started to happen a little more often, but I ignored it. Finally I was glad to see the finish line and heard the volunteers shout out to me to finish in a hurry. I stood up and was about to sprint when my right calf cramped badly, I just had a couple of 100ms to go and had a cramped right calf. I couldn’t even cleat on the right leg and had a sharp pain. Some volunteers suggested that I walk the rest, but I waited as I drifted on the existing momentum. Even at that moment of anguish something sparked in me and I started pedalling with my left leg while my right leg was dangling harmlessly away from the pedals.
|Dragging myself to the finish line|
As soon as I stopped the Doctor came rushing in and helped me stretch to control the cramps. Overall I was happy with my standing and glad that I cramped up at the finish line and not earlier. A big thank you to all the volunteers . Would also like to thank Sphere Fitness and Sports( distributor for Sigma lights and computers, Vredestein tires and tubes, Forza bike components), Ozone Ventures( distributor for Bergamont bikes, Schwalbe tires and tubes,Vincita pannier and saddle bags and Bion Computers), Akslen and Zixtro for all the free goodies. We really appreciate the support.
|Winners - Jetharam(centre), Raswaroop(left), Richard McDowell(Right)|
Contributed by Gokul Krishna