It was very disappointing for all of us who had registered for the 50Km and eventually ended up doing a little over half that distance. It was not really worthwhile to go all that distance for this though the ride was quite enjoyable. In summary, it was an OK first attempt at a mass cycling event and it was nice to see so many cyclists come out a Sunday morning but for those of us looking for a sporting challenge it was disappointing! Rahul did his 5Km comfortably in under 20 minutes - though he had to rent a BSA cycle as he discovered a puncture in his cycle just before his event.
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Monday, October 19, 2009
Bangalore cyclothon 2009
The BSA Hercules Bengaluru Cyclothon 2009 was organized on 11th October by Sport18, a division of Network 18. As per the event website over 6000 cyclists took part across the 7 event categories ranging from 65 Km for the elite to 2Km for kids. Though I am not much of a cyclist I have been cycling 2-3 days a week for the last 3 years or so as cross-training and have found it quite enjoyable. I have done long distance cycling only once - in December 2006 a bunch of us rode from Hebbal flyover to Nandi hills - a distance of about 50Kms. It was a great experience. So I enthusiastically registered for the 50Km amateur ride at the cyclothon. My son Rahul registered for the 5Km teen ride.
I did not research at all about the cycling route on the NICE corridor but based on my previous experience of cycling long distance I decided I need to get a geared cycle. A geared cycle enables one to cycle longer at a constant pace with lesser efforts. After talking to a couple of people including A2 from RFL and Deepak I decided that I will not buy a geared cycle in a hurry. So I borrowed a couple of them including Deepak's Firefox Target. I finally used a Raleigh trail bike on which I practiced a couple of times. Compared to my ungeared bicycle in which I had to work hard to sustain an average speed of 17Kmph I found that I could do this much more easily and even hit 20-22Kmph with the geared cycles. A couple of more people from my apartment community were also participating in the event - so we arranged for a tempo to cart 5 bicycles from Domlur Layout to the starting point at BIEC.
A mailer from the organisers couple of days before the event informed the participants that the amateur ride distance had been changed from 50Km to 36Km due to traffic control reasons. This was disappointing news for many of us who wanted to do a longish ride. The so called expo at the Koramangla Indoor stadium was quite sad - there were hardly any stalls. Moreover there was only 1 counter giving Bibs for the amateur ride even on the Saturday before the event resulting in a long queue. Then they ran out of helmets which was part of the goodie bag and I understand thereafter they ran out of the bags themselves. Given that registrations were closed several days before the event I fail to understand how this can happen. Not surpisingly a few RFL runners who also cycle decided not to participate in the event after their experience at the expo.
Satish, Vani, Rahul, Venu and myself loaded our cycles in the temp around 630am and left from Domlur layout at 645am. We reached BIEC comfortably around 745am enjoying cheese sandwiches and boiled eggs thoughtfully brought by Vani enroute. Though I had feared that the tempo might be drive slowly and take longer to reach there(this was one of those mini-tempos) he actually reached there before us. We unloaded our bicycles and wheeled them to hangar 3 - the holding area for all the events. The infra in the holding area was decent - large and spacious, ample and clean restrooms, lot of stalls with water etc. There was also a lot of activity with people moving or even cycling around in their cycles. Satish, Venu and I moved to the area marked amatuer ride. I met up with several RFL runners : Manoj, Aswin, Amit etc . The event was supposed to start at 8:45am but there were absolutely no announcements as the time passed by. Finally, around 9:05am we were let out from the hangar to the starting point in 'waves' or batches. The start of the race was quite unimpressive. As soon as we started we went over a steep flyover and I thanked myself for riding a geared cycle. In general the route had quite a few gradients. It was great experience going down the NICE corridor with zero traffic. Our event probably had a thousand cyclists. The variety and colour of bicycles was quite amazing. I was mostly able to keep the speed slightly above 20Kmph at times touching 30Kmph.There were a large number of participants from MEG riding ungeared BSA bikes and most of them were faster than me!. Contrary to what was stated in the event booklet there were NO distance markers enroute. There were also no real aid stations - just saw one thinly equipped water station around the 10Km mark. Soon thereafter, when my Garmin showed that we had done about 13Km , we reached a point where lot of cyclists in front were turning around. The rider in front of me argued with someone standing on the road that we needed to go further ahead but he was directed to turn saying no one was going ahead. I followed suit and I think so did many other cyclists. I thought to myself that maybe the return leg has a slightly different route with some kind of a diversion of the main road or somethin. But that was not to be - it seems they had closed the 18K loop early. I ended up doing 26.7Km as per my Garmin in about 1 hour 20 minutes at an average pace of 3:02. There was also no clear finish line - apparently it was on the bridge that crossed Tumkur road.