From a helicopter view on TV, a poleton, or a top notch super-elite cyclist riding XC appears as intuitive as a school of fish. They/he seem to gracefully stretch, bend and adapt to the sinuous, ever-changing trails. It looks all too easy.
This is not how it happens for us. The terrain is punishing, the weather is cold and scorching at the same time, and the climb ahead is always worse. I was imagining how I would be looking from copters’ camera as it follows me. Follows me? I look at my Garmin. 5.6kmph. I am barely moving on that gravelly 14% gradient. Out of sorts, I had been contemplating for a while to get off and push that last 3 km of Stage-1.
I wanted to spit far. Couldn’t. It stuck to my lower lip and eventually dripped on to my jersey later. In the throes of the last few kilometers of XC racing uphill, order and plans gives way to chaos, desperation and self-pity. There are battles to be won. There are strategies to follow. and then there are heroics. Tales of K Kiran Kumar Raju and Devender Thakur that are on every FB page. Even those of us who are not stars, or competing in the men’s open solo, have a role to play in supporting, sharing and selflessly sacrificing ourselves. Or maybe even in some astonishing win.
As a challenging event, MTB Shimla takes the top billing. You will not be spared. It is the only XC+Enduro racing event in India open to men, women and now under-19 (student) category.
This was my second attempt. The first one had ended in a breakdown on day 1. I was not letting this happen to me again.
Happy that I made it to the podium. Behind Douglas Smith, a super cool rider, and ahead of John Hall.
Happy that most from the Pedalyatri group ended with positive experiences, except for Keshav Tyagi and Vivek Guha who had to pull out.
We all arrive with grandiose dreams of somehow spinning a tale of awe at the end of it. But the truth is unless you are Eddy Merckx you will have your fingers on the brake from keeping you going backwards on that climb, and your spit will always fall on your jersey.
Next year, I have something more to look forward to. Defend my No 2 position.
– Jasbir Singh
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