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Archive for March, 2012

As dawn broke over the hill, Turahalli’s resident Coucal was somewhat startled to find that his usually tranquil living room had been turned into something akin to an arena. Wraiths in colours to rival his plumage jinked and jived their way through dappled sunlight at breakneck speed, occasionally interspersed with howls of rage and pain accompanied by the sound of breaking foliage.

Race Two of the 2012 Bangalore Bicycle Championship saw competitors abandoning their anorexic companions in favour of rather more substance, for the cross-country (XC) challenge.

The course had just about everything in it – an open dirt track leading to a stony field which then opened up into a bit of singletrack before riders were confronted with a deceptively short climb. Those who had run the course before knew the perils of being stuck in a pack when confronted by this. Not that it mattered in the slightest though considering they comprised the favourites anyway. The first five broke away in no time and Darren powered his way up the climb with Nelly, Bharath and Craig in hot pursuit. Behind them, Naveen and Sriram fought their way clear of the crowd only just in time.

Then came the hordes.

It was quickly apparent who had actually gotten his knobbies dirty and who had kept them plastered to tarmac. Weight too far forward and rear wheels spun out of control. Too far back and forks lifted. Granny gears on the incline when caught in the queue (for indeed that is what it was reduced to) made it difficult, if not impossible, to shift up quickly. Metal screamed, chains groaned, rubber slipped, spun and riders came to a standstill, only to find out just how awkward it is to get moving again when up against an incline, with no grip, in the wrong gear and your rear wheel playing footsie with the bike behind you.

For quicker riders caught in the melee, the knowledge that the lead pack was opening up a huge gap made life much worse.

Once riders made it up the hill, they followed the trail as it wound around the hill through a dusty construction site with plenty of space to overtake. As the leaders rocketed through the dust, they picked up more speed and entered a sparsely wooded area where they dodged through the trees (where our poor Coucal sat mute spectator).  Breaking through the scrub, the trail suddenly dipped and then rose as riders had to bank right on a long curve with a 15 foot drop on the side. Drama played out here in spades. Darren whipped around the curve without batting an eyelash and hammered his way through. Nelly flew up the bank without pause in thought (as befits one of the best mountain bikers in the country) until confronted with a rather grumpy rock. Going as fast as he was (some 35+ km/h), he did the only thing possible – bunny hop. Boom! Hissssssssssssss.. The Coucal burst through the trees in a panic. Snakebite claimed another victim and it was time for the long walk home.

The course then hit the most exciting section – a lovely 1 km stretch through a grove of trees with a downward slope and plenty of space to overtake. Headlong flight along this section though, came at a rider’s peril. Those who ride the trail regularly will bear witness to the challenges posed by a mix of dappled sunlight, the gradient, undulations in the terrain and quick curves around trees. A rider going fast would be on right on top of a dip, rise and curve around a tree before he could react. Dented helmets and bruised egos attested to the immutability (and immovability) of those trees.

Riders burst out of the trees to barrel down ruts for some 50 odd metres before taking a switchback which led back to the start.

And yet another lap of pain.

For one morning, Turahalli witnessed every twist in every possible plot. A derailleur hanger snapping off after a bike was subjected to two crashes in a lap. A mangled handlebar and stem as its rider literally flew off the dip preceding the long bank. A bruised face stemming from a difference of opinion with a tree. A yellow jersey dodging through the flora as its wearer ran the course after suffering a broken rim – a show of team solidarity. Many long slow walks of shame back to the start with busted bikes in tow. Curses and abuse as the race leaders shredded their way through blisteringly fast curves to be confronted with slow riders too stunned to react in getting off the racing line. A solitary road bike cocking a roadie snook at the MTB plebians.

A day of spills.

A day of thrills.

A day well spent.

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Final burstConcentrateUp and at 'emDuel within a teamOpening up a gapQueuing up
Crank!Shred that trailHot on his treadsBharath opens upKeep on truckin'Silhouette
Stay on top of it!Shred that trail!Please stand asideLost my lineFree and clearScusa!
IMG_5203-1.jpgIMG_5240-1-2.jpgIMG_5253-1-2.jpgLost my wheelsSriram pushing forward

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Glenmorangie

Glenmorangie by Beingthomas
Glenmorangie, a photo by Beingthomas on Flickr.

Takes me back to my time in Scotland and a visit to the distillery. Post on that coming up.Slainte!

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