More of pictures I captured on the Republic Day are HERE.
My last few months of cycling have been with mixed experience. I could not bicycle a lot; caught up with throat infection that I was bent upon curing without medicines and spent two weeks in the process; went through cycling over a wintery night in a very chilly weather with a very chilling experience; a confusion prevailed if I was going to participate in the Republic Day ride at all due to a visiting customer in my office and I was going to be working on that day, a repeat throat infection just the beginning of the week and so on. All in all, I wasn't prepared either mentally or physically.
But eventually, I was able to go the event, thanks to a supportive decision by our customer that they strictly did not want the India team to be working on a holiday of national importance. So here I am at the Novotel Hotel at 6:15 am, very pleased to be able to make it. Considering that I needed to fly the same day to Pune and also needed to be quite attentive the next two days for managing the customer visit at Pune (finished successfully for Hyderabad the previous day), I decided I will not do the 100 km ride. But this year the organizers announced that in addition to the 100, 50, and 10 km rides, there was a 50 km race as well! How cool! I have never been a person who would do anything fast, nor ever wanted to. When I cycle, my focus had always been doing longer rides rather than faster ones. So when the announcement came in, I never for a moment considered myself for the race.
And then it occurred to me, what the heck! If I turn out to be the last person in the race, so be it. Most likely I wouldn't, despite my age. Most others should be at least a decade younger to me. I decided just before the start of rides, that I would participate in the 50 km race and try and see that I do not come last. And if possible, I will try to be in the first 10-15 guys.
We were asked to go behind the hotel through Hitex over to the Hitech City main road and take a u-turn and reach hotel and onto the main road, instead of directly taking the main road from hotel. The organizers added this to make the 100 km complete for those who were in that ride (it was not a race for them, by the way). So this added another 3-4 km distance allowing me to ponder over my decision. Clocking of the race was to begin from the start of Nehru Outer Ring Road. All the riders whether they were into the 100 km free ride, 50 km free ride, or the 50 km race were to pass through same route. So it was not possible to figure out who was in the race and who wasn't.
So here I am finally signing up for race. My start time was noted by organizers and confirming the bar code badge. As I went through my race, I was making up my strategy to make the best of what I have. In addition to the hydration bag that carried 2.5 liters of water for me, I was also carrying a small water bottle in which I had a concoction of honey and lemon juice mixed with water - my emergency first aid if I were to lose my glucose significantly. I decided I would gulp small quantities of this drink every once in a while to keep my energy levels at optimum level throughout the ride. I was also carrying the peanut jaggery like I would in all my cycle rides. The jaggery helps improve glucose level instantaneously, and the peanut will provide lots of energy for a sustained period (that is after the long period of digesting the nut) due to its high fat. I decided I would eat the peanut jaggery at the half distance point, so I will have maximum energy when I needed most. I further decided I will do a sustained ride and not push myself for most of the ride. I will push hard only towards the end of the ride. This will ensure that I don't give up the ride completely if I were to drain away all my energy during the ride, and retain the best for the last.
I made friends with a few on the way, but made sure that I kept my target in picture to move on with ride and not slow down for long. This time, I decided I will not try to enjoy the beauty along the ride, but rather focus on speed whatever I could, without pushing myself too hard. I used up all the strategies I knew to keep the pace up and ensured none overtook me during the ride for long.
There were a total of 70 people who participated in the race. However this did not include the thorough-bred professionals who preferred the 100 km ride even though it was not a race. So here I am absolutely, absolutely puzzled, pleasantly shocked when the time keeper announced I was the 'FOURTH' in the ride! I guess I am not old yet! How sweet!!!