Vodafone Cycling Marathon – The day where almost every Cyclist in Bengaluru came along !

9 February 2014 

Till date I still wonder, if it is for cycling, it does not matter how early my day begins..! Today it was at 4:00 am. It does not matter how dark it is out or how deep the mercury might dig to hide in the thermometer. Planned to put on the “I GMC’d” jersey and so had a look at it. Curious I was how my elbow hurt when I fell down during its first ride test recently and yet the jersey’s elbow was so perfect as though nothing happened!

Got ready, light treat for the tummy (bread and Jam All time fav), Gatorade, plain water, lights, helmet, air pressure check, all set. Yogesh, Swanand and I start off for the venue: Kanteerava Stadium. Reached at around 6.15 am, stuck those bib number stickers and joined in last.

The crowd! Amazing, it’s like some herd of raging bulls …. All eyes wide open, excited high on spirits ready to start off! Not sure of the numbers… could easily be some 2000 to 3000 people participating in the 40 km marathon (the first race scheduled for the day and which I participated in). Forget about the crowd, I was floored… loss of words at the sight of those cycles… so many cycles…. And cycles everywhere. MTBs, Hybrids, Road bikes, and Fixies / Fixed gear..!

Sea of cyclists in early morning
Sea of cyclists in early morning

Photo credit: Yogesh Gupta

For the first time in my life in a crowd I never bothered about “yuck! people people everywhere” feeling 😛 . Bangalore ! really is a great city after all.

40 km ride begins at around 6.40 / 6.45 am. The crowd moves slowly. Walking towards the gate was not that easy. People around me were already in the race mood, few running with their bikes picking some corners.

Surrounded by such hundreds of bikes at a given point of time, that ZZZZZZZ ! sound of the rubber on the tarmac ! Wow ! … with that topping of the chill breeze …. WooW!

As expected, in a crowd, things “Not To Do”, are generally done as early as possible. No swords, let the handle bars fight, No bumpers so what, let the tires touch was the motto of few…  Ride just began… slow speeds, balance manageable. 8 laps of 5 km each in 105 mins !… manageable.

First two laps went good smooth… real smooth. Thanks to the previous day (Saturday) ride with BOTS, where I had an opportunity to do a trial lap on the route. Helped me in planning my strategies. Strategy not to win (Pheww !! RR 5.1 with an average speed of 24-25 kmph against some roadies with at least 45 kmph ? forget about it ), BUT STRATERGY TO BE SAFE. 😀

For this route as such it was:

  1. Stick to ¼th of the right area of the road.
  2. If possible sprint behind those safety motor bikes with sirens :P. (This path is a lil clear from cyclists)
  3. Few right sharp turns, careful and take the turn from the extreme left (rush is low there and momentum may not break much)
  4. Maintain distance from every bike possible left, right, front or behind.
  5. Never never never get castled among group of bikes !

40 km ride went smooth (for me and many). Came across some 3 to 4 crashes. One was a ripple effect. Two were at two sharp right turns. At a good pace, a perfect angle of inclination near those turns as I approach… these falls to me were like “Surprise Surprise”. And of course some one’s front tyre kissed my left woodland while I tried to avoid an unexpected shift into my line of path by some female !.

Around 5th Lap, as I pedalled on a mild uphill stretch, as my pace kept decreasing, I could hear some whisper… the air talking to me… ? It said “Push… Push… Push….” . felt like some tractor beam is locked on to my bike and built some momentum…! Looked around and there some familiar pedalling, like some powerful engine’s pistons pumping….. How could I miss … none other than “Kaushik”. The GMC effect is still ON!, but of course on a Tarmac now ! (had a good ride buddy).

Done, quickly parked and rushed out to watch the next ride. 60 km race, never to miss, first time for me to see such speed, platoon of roadies like some galloping horses. 60 km in 90 min… sure they must have put in real extreme efforts but made it look like some cake walk. Thrilled, totally enjoyed J. Then followed 20 km ones with many more fixies.

Galloping Road bikes Created with Nokia Smart Cam

(sorry not many pictures this time)

A video for those who missed ! : 

Rockriders really rocked the ride… not in podium finishes but their sheer numbers ! they just can’t escape from my sight. Here there everywhere !

All in all I had this sense of satisfaction, as I passed 100s of them. Not that I beat them off in the race… but the satisfaction that how I improved over the past one year. The view of cyclists from almost entire Bengaluru made my day !. Riders on a Dhoodhwaala cycle, all those fixies of Hero, Atlas and Hercules and what not, needless to say, taught me what passion for cycling is about. It is all the spirit of participation and being part of some good event that mattered to us. Obvious guys strictly for racing did their race.

Speaking of the bare observations… today’s event had a crowd approximately twice, thrice or may be even 4 times the crowd that many must have seen during Cycle Day. Question is Why?

  1. Cycle Day does not charge and is free… unlike here one eagerly pays for the registration fees (Please don’t say you were one of those 200 hundered free passes rider :P)
  2. Vodafone gave some RFID tags and some flashy BIB numbers (which one could spare some time on a weekday to collect those).
  3. Or may be coz of some certificates? Or the Brand “Vodafone” that pulled in the crowd?
  4. Distance to reach the venue some how did not become an excuse today though.

Sarcasm, it is, but really interested to know what is it that Cycle Day could be made even more bigger (Prize money ? 😛 – Ok enough of Sarcasm now… Guys need to give it a thought)

… Not bad after all ! With this I shall conclude… “Rides with Crowds” shall always be FUN  (with necessary caution).

Vodafone cycling marathon map

Map of today’s track !

 Me :)

 And that is Me !


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