February 14, 2014

"How to Piss off Cyclists ???" , Vodafone Cycling Marathon Style !!!!!!

Since I was recuperating from a running injury I couldn't attend the Auroville Marathon in Pondicherry which I had been planning from some time. Hence instead of staying at home, sulk over my bad luck and plan for next years marathon I came across this cycling marathon conducted in Bangalore itself. I registered myself at the last moment since I was not sure how this event would be in its first edition. Its usually the case that whenever an event is conducted for the very first time, it would be conducted in the worst possible manner. And I was not wrong with my prediction. Even though I enjoyed the actual event of cycling so called 40kms, but all the logistics accompanying it was poorly planned.

Registered just 5 days prior to the race. There were 4 categories, Passion Ride(40 km), Green Ride (20km) and Fun ride (10km) for amateurs and Champion ride (60km) for professionals who were registered with the Cycling Federation of India. Since the maximum distance I could take part was Passion ride I registered for it. Even before the race day there was a lot of confusion. First an announcement saying that Passion ride will have a cutoff of 90 mins. Now majority of those registered for Passion ride were flabbergasted, since riding at that speed was close to impossible for the majority ie 40 kms in 90 mins  with average of 27 km/hr.  After a lot of complains in FB they finally changed the cutoff to 105 mins. But the funny part was that the actual circuit was not 40kms as they had advertised, but around 35.5 kms. The next blunder was that they sent a mail to everyone saying that BIB distribution would start at the venue of Kanteerva stadium from 5th  Feb onwards, but when many people landed at the venue they started saying that it would begin from 6th Feb. And all attempts to contact they via email or phone for any queries were greeted with automated messages about a callback soon (which never came back) or the mail being replied 3 days after sending it, making it totally irrelevant. Some people who made it on the right day would be welcomed with a statement that they have run out of timing chips and they can collect it on the race day and when they show up on the race day to collect they were literally shooed away. Hence with this track record the Vodafone organizers managed to piss off a lot of cyclists including me. Luckily I didnt face any problems collecting my BIB and timing chip.

Our Passion ride was the first event on a clear blue Sunday morning of 9th Feb 2014. Hence had to report before the designated flag off time of 6.30 am. Landed at the venue at around 5.50 am and was greeted by huge cycling crowd at the venue. There were close to 1,300 people competing in the Passion ride. But another gross point was that the venue was void of any lighting at this early morning hours. Close to 2k people were struggling to move from place to place and all the lights were turned off... I was like WTF !!!!!... this was the height of incompetence. Anyway at around 6.40am we were let into the road via a very narrow gate. As the count down started everyone started to ring their cycle bell including me, which was music to the ears and sounded very beautiful. Soon enough we started the race. With the lap being around 4.5km, at any point during the race one would encounter crowd on the road and cannot expect a calm stretch at all. Even then the actual race was quite fun. Weaving in and out of cycle-traffic overtaking slower riders, competing with other riders who can challenge you was quite enjoyable. With this sort of an event one could easily imagine what would a vehicle free city look like, with only cyclists and pedestrians on the road.

The Pros: Best in the country

Since the elevation profile of this route (which starts from Kanteerva Stadium, to Kasturba road, to Chinnaswamy stadium and back to Vittal mallya road) was pretty flat, people were able to maintain good speed which was quite thrilling. And there were 3 very sharp turns in this circuit which people including me were belting with full speed. Ofcourse with this amount of crowd and speed , there were bound to be a lot of accidents happening. Especially with the newbies who had a hard time riding in a crowd. And even though there were lots of ambulances,  whenever a rider was injured they were nowhere to be seen even for the first aid. Anyway I finished my ride on a high with a final sprint, with an average of 31kmph which is my best for such a distance(this is after considering the actual distance measured with GPS and confirmed by other riders. If I take 40km distance average is 35kmph :P ) Soon after that the Champion ride with the professionals started and I didn't wait to see the results, but when I saw their videos they were just whooshing by.  Overall both the Passion and Champion riders had a decent experience. But participants from the Green Ride and Fun ride where really shortchanged. Instead of the promised 20km and 10 km respectively , they were made to go around the stadium even after paying the required fee. And to add salt to their wounds they even allowed vehicular traffic on the routes which were earlier blocked for the other 2 rides. Therefore these rides had even more accidents due to overcrowding. And to top it all there were no refreshments provided to the participants which is usually provided for such a sporting event.

Anyway as mentioned earlier all the logistics surrounding the event were pathetic, and with all probability I wouldn't compete again next year. And if it falls on the same weekend as the Auroville Marathon, then "No chance at all!!!!" :)


Race Pos. TAG Lap1 Lap2 Lap3 Lap4 Lap5 Lap6 Lap7 Lap8

Net Time
Passion Ride 143 1512 00:06:21 00:14:48 00:23:32 00:32:18 00:41:12 00:50:12 00:59:19 01:08:21


Official Distance : 40km
Actual Distance : 35.4km
Average Speed(with actual distance) :  31 km/hr
Top Speed : 42 km/hr

Lap Splits :
Lap 1: 6.21 mins
Lap 2: 8.27 mins
Lap 3: 8.44 mins
Lap 4: 8.46 mins
Lap 5: 8.54 mins
Lap 6: 9.00 mins
Lap 7: 9.07 mins
Lap 8: 9.02 mins

Total Distance Travelled : 35.4 + 11* 2 (my ride to and from the venue)= 57.4 km

100's ----------------------------->3 (107, 150, 104)
50's ------------------------------>7 (70,55,86,91,55,81,57)

Images Courtesy : HighOnMarathon

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