Thursday, December 25, 2008

Day One: Bangalore - Mysore

It's been the strangest day, as most days are that start at 3:30 am. Looking back, a lot of the morning is a bit out of focus and badly framed. I seem to remember my Dad telling me that the person flagging off the Tour is the Additional Director General of Police. "Additional" doesn't sound right and I'm too peaceful here under the big trees of the Windflower Resort to ask keen-eyed questions. His speech was short and pithy. I'm glad my parents came to see the flagging off of TFN even though they only returned from their Christmas party after one. I missed the magnificent sight of fifty-five cyclists sailing out of the gate together because I was worried about the confusion about my own transport, but I remember that many of Bangalore's cyclists enthusiastically escorted the official TFN riders for a while. But even that early, traffic separated and strung out the riders into a long, sparsely beaded chain. But we regrouped at Bangalore University and set out again in two batches; the Road Bikes were separated from the MTBs. This, I conclude, is because the Road Bikes are astoundingly fast.

I ended up in Vivek's personal support car, essentially shadowing him, and at one point he was doing 55km/h on a fairly flat road. I'm glad I was there. I saw the first leg of the Tour from the intense perspective of what it was like for one person. In the process I also gathered what it means to be a support vehicle for endurance riding. Water, juice, water, water, glucose, water, water, salted water, water, water, bananas, more diluted juice, water, water, energy bar, water. And one formal snack stop (where I think I was one of the first at the trough). The final climb, up Chamundi Hill (I want to say 1000 meters, but I could be wrong), was clearly as much a matter of mental endurance as physical.

The hardest part of my day was being cooped up in a car when others were out there riding in the open air. Following the nimble Road Bikes has the same hypnotic quality as watching dragonflies. Even during the struggle over the hill. On the occasional stops to render assistance and succour, the air was so refreshing outside, even in the surprisingly hot winter sun.

Fast facts: Mysore is elegant, serene and green. Mandya is still full of sugarcane fields. Chamundi Hill is full of pilgrims in dangerously driven taxis. According to Vaz's high-tech meter, he burnt 7641 calories today. The highways are as infested with lunatics as ever in motorised vehicles – one of them mangled Seema's Specialized; the only reason she's alive and riding tomorrow is her helmet.

I wish, I wish, I wish I was riding.


anand said...

for those of us getting our dose of adrenalin by following your blog, may i request you for a more detailed coverage for the subsequent days!
was hoping for more in todays blog!
where does one get the facts n figures about how the cyclists fared each day - compared to the planned route as also inputs on things that did not work out as planned / expected
best wishes

Anonymous said...

It was an exciting moment for me also to watch all the cyclists being formed up, and the start. I was thinking if I had been a little younger ( maybe 10 years,) I would also have been in the saddle,
yes,in the saddle of my old cycle!
(with out gears)It had nothing in comparison with all the new ones I saw at the starting point. To compare, it was like an old , old Standard-10 to the new Merc !

But one note of disapproval.....
The organizers could have been, well, organised a little better. There were too many photographers, parents, interested parties etc in front of the cyclists, when it was flag off time. There was a little bit of confusion at the rear also as the support vehicles, like the Ambulance, the Niligiris food truck,the generator van, etc could not follow the moving cyclists as scheduled, plus the parents and the support vehicles of the cyclists themselves were elbowing in to be closer to their own.
Hope things will get sorted out on the second leg, from Mysore

At any rate it was one hell of a good show on the St Joseph's School Ground on that cold misty morning!


Subra ....[ V . Subramanian ] said...

Thanks for sharing .
Convey my wishes to all the riders .
Hope all the riders will get more and more energy to have a nice and trouble free finish .
Keep on posting ...with more and more details .

Thom said...

I do hope there's an engineer somewhere who is concerning himself/herself with facts and figures, and that you won't have to give up the quirky, interesting perspective you bring because people want you to write down total number of calories burned each day!

Keep it you! (Having said that... I wish I had more details of what happened to Seema--how sad that there's already a bike (but thank God, not rider) down on the first day.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Thom.The facts and figures will mar the beauty of your perspective. What happened to Seema.

Krishnan Menon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Krishnan Menon said...

Blog, don't report. Your fellow blogger on the trip has enough details for both of you. Our best wishes to Seema. She deserves a pat on the back of getting off the mat and back on the bike.

Thom said...

Yeah, having read the other blog, you both make a good team. He has the detail, you have the "take".

Re: the food... pastries, cookies, samosas, ready-to-eat stuff, cupcakes, honey cake, chocolate cake... ???

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