Monday, February 11, 2008

Enduro3, 2008 - Pune (Race Report)

The race for Enduro started right away in Bangalore for us. We were racing against time to catch the flight with our bikes and marginally made it to the angry ground staff at the Indigo counter waiting for us. Paying Rs.500 for each bike as luggage fee (hmm.. damn the oversized baggage rule), we boarded the flight to Pune and found a nice little accomodation in Manjunath's friends house. We named ourselves as "Bosch Bikers" and participated in the "IT All Men Category". Our team code was ITM10. [pic: Sandeep, Gautham, Manjunath)

Feb 8th. It was the race day and waking up n after doing the morning routines, we reached the venue Police grounds, at 6:00 a.m. only to be shell shocked as the organisers had shifted the venue and did not bother to inform us. The flag off was at 6:30 a.m. and we had just 30 mins left and neither of us new Pune well. The few police in the campus asked to go to Kharve road which was a good 8 kms away. (Hey! Organisers, How on the earth can you shift the venue without informing the participants). Entering the new venue, Bharati Veediyapeeth, I got hold of a NEF guy (organiser) and let go my anger. The guy pacified me and said they informed many participants and a few were missed out. It seems Murphy was smiling on us and hence we did not get a call from the organisers. To add further to the agony, the celebrity-politician arrived late, by a oophing 1h 15 mins. The event which was supposed to be flagged off at 9:00 a.m. was flagged off at 10:15 a.m. Do not ask me who is that celebrity politician. He has got enough of the limelight in the last few days and has been making headlines after saying "Maharastra was only for Maharastrians". Interestingly, the politician was flagging off an event in which 200 participants out of 600 were North Indians. The partipants were riding all kinds of cycles from the conventional Atlas ones (fondly called as Dhoodhwalas), BSA SLR, Lady bird, Thunders, Firefox, Treks and Hero Hawks. People in all shapes slim, round, fat and puny were all riding and enjoying the 'un-timed section through the city roads to reach the NDA campus'. Gears or No gears.... It did not matter. This race was strongly advocating the point that its not about the bike, it was always the biker who mattered. Rightly so, I spotted many women in BSA SLR and men on Atlas Goldline ahead of me in the racing section. The unique thing about this race is not how strong you are, its about how strong your team is. My teammate Sandeep could not match the pace of me and Manjunath. We screamed our hearts out to encourage him... but we were n't sure whether it was encouragement or irritation from his point of view. Hmmmm enough, I rather go shooting pictures while I wait for sandeep. Here are they... I shot 200+ pics and a few are here.
BubbleShare: Share photos - eco-friendly toys
See the Nature around the racing track

Press play above and you will see the glimpses of the cycling section. My camera let me down at after 200+ shots. The motor which drives the lens got stuck and I could not shoot more pictures. I missed to freeze the best moments of the event, the swimming and the trekking part.

We did cycling for 50 kms. (Road - 80%, Dirt - 20%), trekking for 50 kms (though the event was only for 40 kms, we got lost in the woods and covered a further 10 kms). Manjunath, my team mate braved the cold waters and swam 200 metres at 9:00 p.m. in the night. The event was paced with cycling, trekking, swimming - close of the day and again at early morning 3:00 a.m. we were flagged off for a night trek back to the place were our bikes were stationed at Panshet dam.

The timed section of the cycling race started from NDA campus. We started cycling at 11:20 a.m. and finished it at 3:31 p.m. at Panshet dam. We started to trek immediately and reached the river bank for the swimming leg at 7:57 p.m. The swimming leg started at 9:00 p.m. for us and it took 8 mins for Manju to swim the distance of 200m. The day closed for us and it was dead time.. means the clock does not tick any more for the participants. We slid ourselves in the sleeping bag and took a nap only to awakened by blaring megaphones asking us to get ready for night trek at 2:45 a.m. The knees were dancing, teeths were drumming and the body was shivering to the 3 or 4 deg cold temp. Braving the cold, the 600+ participants set out with their torch and head lamps in a quest to reach Panshet dam. We reached the Panshet dam TC (time counter) at 12:04. Interestingly, another team ITM12 was close on our heels and we had to sprint to the finish line after a good 13.5 hrs of trekking in the mountains. To delight both the teams, the organisers awarded the same timing of 12:04 p.m. I made the crime of loosing the time sheet just before the last passage counter. While crawling between the thickets, one of the shrubs had pulled of the time sheet tagged on my backpack. I did n't see it falling and was full josh to reach the finish line as early as possible. The ITM12 team said they saw a timesheet lying in a bush, but could not pick it as it was out of reach. The organisers said, sorry guys, we are happy that you finished, but you will not be ranked. :-(. Fine we said, we had a fantastic race and completing it gives us immense satisfaction and top-of-the-world feeling. If we are ranked, we would be finished 5th among the ITM participants. The event was over and it was time to hang up the shoes and chillax.

Now, How do we get back to Pune? ITM12 said guys let's pedal all the way back to Pune and we (ITM10) were game for it. After pedalling our way for 45 kms we settled on a cosy bed and got lost into the utopian world of post-event-dreams. :-)

We were happy to see that another team from Bangalore which consisted of Ravi ranjan, Donald and Sriram finished 3rd among the amateurs category (fiercely contested category, unlike IT)
We will be back next year. Now, we know the terrain, rules and tactics and also from seeing other teams we understood 'what it takes to be a winner'. Next year we will return with a plan and trained team to put a fight for top position in IT Category. Did any one think of participating in Open category? Save it for the superhumans...Open category needs a strong conviction to finish, and months of preparation, becoz you are gonna put twice the effort that of amateurs category.
My next race will be MTB Himachal, scheduled this Sept in the hills of Himachal. The 9 day event starts by Sept 26th and ends on Oct 5th. 258 days to go....